Borrego Springs, CA

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Finally home for the winter

I made it from the casino in Kinder, LA, to Winnie, TX, today by noon.  And it was a good thing.  It seems every time I near this location the winds along the coast pick up.  Today was no exception, and I knew by the forecast that a very wet front with possible severe thunderstorms was approaching.  I had a few showers along the way, but I was able to do a basic set-up before the rains began.


As I said yesterday, I won’t be staying at the volunteer village on the refuge.  Instead, I set up in one of the two new volunteer sites in the Winnie maintenance complex.  This new facility was just finished this past January, and serves several refuges in the area.  The fact that I would be the first ever volunteer staying here made me a little apprehensive after Monday’s experience, but I needn’t have worried.


Perhaps Bayou Cocodrie NWR could take a lesson on what a volunteer site should look like.  I just may send the volunteer coordinator there this picture.  Notice that the pad is paved with cement, has a large patio area, picnic table area, and very easy access in and out.  This site is a real beauty!  Bayou Cocodrie needs to understand that the site we stay in is our home, and shouldn’t be some hole in the wall place.

I was surprised to see huge chunks of red mud still falling off of the car after I arrived here.  I had tried to kick most of them off before I left Delhi.  I’m very relieved to be here, and have come to terms with declining the commitment to Cocodrie.


Not all of the facility is paved with cement though.  There’s a nice trail with a pond, foot bridge and gazebo.

IMG_0474 IMG_0475

In the picture on the right, if you look very closely you can just barely see my rig in the distance just to the right of the bridge railing.  I certainly won’t be seeing the wildlife at the rig that I would if I were staying on the refuge at the volunteer village, but compared to what my choice was earlier this week, it’s 100% better.

I’ll be meeting with Stephanie tomorrow, and the plan is to get me a refuge truck that I can use to do my bird surveys and other duties.  Eventually, I’ll need a little refresher on running the new VIS.  I have to admit that it was pleasant for me to recognize familiar places as I made my way here this morning.  It’s been two years.  Where does the time go?

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Heading southeast before the front arrives

I spent a rather restless night as I couldn’t help but worry a bit about where I was going next since Bayou Cocodrie NWR didn’t work out.  I made myself wait until 8:00 this morning to try to give Stephanie at Anahuac another call.  As fate would have it, she was attending a meeting in another location, but after pleading my case, the office manager gave me her cell phone number.  I left her a message to call me back ASAP, and she did.  When I explained my situation she said, “You’re coming to Anahuac now?  Whahoo!  We really need you!”  I was so happy, I thought I’d bust!  What a relief.

She also said that the RV pads at the volunteer village on the refuge were all full, but I could stay at their new maintenance facility in Winnie, TX.  There are two new paved RV pads there.  No caliche, and unlike the volunteer village, the water from the hook-up is potable.  I won’t have to haul drinking water from the reverse osmosis tank.  I got an address from her for the GPS, and I should be there by lunch time tomorrow.

Stephanie called me back early enough for me to pack up and be on the road by 10:00.  After dumping the tanks at the park dump station, I drove about 200 miles to the Red Shoe Park campground at the Coushatta Casino just north of Kinder, LA.  It’s my first time staying at a casino.  That kind of gambling has never appealed to me, but for $18 I have a paved full hook-up site with an easy off and on from US 165.

When I left Delhi this morning, I wasn’t sure how US 165 was going to be for traveling.  You know I prefer the Interstate highways for making time to get somewhere.  It turned out to be mostly four lane divided highway through the whole state.  I drove through quite a few towns, but it was much better than I had expected when I looked at my map.  No rest areas for a pit stop for both Emma and me along the way, but we managed.

After about twenty or so more miles on US 165 tomorrow, I’ll hook up with I-10 and boogie on over to Winnie, TX.  Once again, I told Emma, “We’ll be home tomorrow.”  I’m not sure she believed me…

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

Monday, October 28, 2013

Time for a plan B?

Emma and I were out the door shortly before 10:00 to drive the 75 miles or so to Bayou Cocodrie NWR to check out the lay of the land for our moving in tomorrow.  There have only been a few times when I’ve checked a place out with my car before driving in with my rig, but I’m sure glad I made that decision this time.  After weaving my way through some challenging turns for a motorhome in Ferriday, LA, I ended up on a non-paved road that was coated in red mud.  It was three miles in second gear with the mud flying the whole way.  My stomach wasn’t feeling too good about that as I imagined having to drive the rig through it with the toad on back.


Eventually I made it to the headquarters and maintenance building on the refuge.  At least there was some gravel on the road there.  Charman, the volunteer coordinator, was not there even though she knew I would be there before noon.  So, I introduced myself to several of the brown shirts and asked to see the newly constructed RV pads. 

My stomach was not doing any better as I was led through the small fenced maintenance area to a small section outside.  In my 17 other volunteer assignments on National Wildlife Refuges, I’ve never seen a volunteer site area to compare with this one.  On a scale of 1 – 10, this place scored a big fat ZERO!  They’ve made a flat pile of about two feet of wet caliche.  If you’re familiar with caliche, you know that when it is wet it clumps around your shoes when you walk on it like cement.  What a mess!  How they ever think two RV’s will fit in this area is beyond me.  If, and that’s questionable, I could ever maneuver the rig into this place I’m not sure I’d ever get out if a second rig pulled in.  Besides that, the hook-ups were installed on the wrong side so the electrical cord, sewer hose, and water hose would have to go under the rig to the other side.  Although they seemed quite proud of what they had built, I had to tell them that I was very uncomfortable with this set up.  The more I looked at it, the more I knew I couldn’t do this.

I’ve never backed out of a volunteer commitment, but today was the exception.  I emailed Charman after I got home, and told her I was sorry, but I it would be impossible for me to volunteer at Bayou Cocodrie.  She was understanding about it.  I can’t imagine that any volunteers would be happy with that set up unless they had a little pop-up camper.  The brown shirts there did say they thought volunteers would have little trailers.  I guess they haven’t done their homework about RV volunteers.

So now I’m on to formulating a plan B for the winter.  Only last week I had an email from Stephanie, the volunteer coordinator at Anahuac NWR, asking if I couldn’t please come early to help them out.  I was slated to be there after the first of the year.  As usual, I told her I was committed at Bayou Cocodrie until the new year.  With today’s shocking disappointment, I’ve reconsidered her request.  I tried calling her when I got home, but she won’t be in until tomorrow. 

All of this does make me wonder why I decided to not just drive directly to the refuge with the rig this morning.  As I said, I’m sure glad I didn’t, but it’s a little eerie none the less.  Some kind of premonition? 

On a much lighter note, I finally beat my son, Daniel, on this last week’s fantasy football competition.  I’m still near the bottom of the barrel in this league, but I just wanted to beat him once, and I did it.  We had a side bet if I ever did better than he did, and now I have to figure out what to do with that magnificent five cents!  Party smile  Ahh!  Life is a wonder, isn’t it?

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Almost there

I left Tom Sawyer RV Park in West Memphis, Arkansas, early this morning with a plan to drive about 300 miles further on my journey south.  We started in Arkansas, but were shortly driving through Memphis, Tennessee.  Memphis on I-55 always puckers me up some because of their low underpasses.  I always end up deeply inhaling and crunching down in the driver’s seat as we go under those 13’ 11” passes.  Not that it does any good, but I just can’t help it.  My rig is just about 13’ 6” tall, and I always worry those roads overhead have sagged some…

Then it was on to a couple of hundred miles in Mississippi.  I have nightmares about my last stop outside of Jackson, MS, at Swinging Bridge Campground, so today’s plan was to head over to Louisiana on I-20 at Jackson.  To get to I-20, I took I-220 to the west.  OMG!  What a horrible road that is.  I drive at 57 mph, and I just can’t understand why anyone would do this road at the posted 70 mph limit.  It’s in terrible condition, and I found myself levitating above my seat because of the severe dips almost constantly.  Amazingly, all cabinets and drawers stayed closed during this harrowing section.  Thankfully, once I got on I-20 the road smoothed out, and I was able to unclamp my white-knuckled hands from the steering wheel and get some feeling back into them.

By 3:00, I was pulling into Poverty Point Reservoir State Park in Delhi, Louisiana.  I’ll post more about this park tomorrow.


Yesterday while I was enjoying a day of no travel and rest, Emma and I spent time watching the barges pass by on the Mississippi River.  We also took a couple of walks.  One of them was to see the ‘tree house’.  It’s a ways back from the river and affords an elevated view of the Mississippi after you walk up a couple of ramps.


There are several wooden benches carved out of trees on the deck surrounding the tree house.  Don’t know what this is used for, but there’s electricity up there, and a fridge and bar looking area inside.  Maybe things happen there during the summer?


                                                   It’s kind of neat how it really is a tree house.


Inside you can see where the high water mark was with the flooding of the river a couple of years ago.  That was pretty sobering.


Here’s a shot from the deck of the tree house of the motorhome sites in the campground.  That’s the Mighty Mississippi on the far side of the rigs.  It seems like the river was quite low at this time of the year.  The far side is all sand.  Just made me think about how the water can rise in the spring to a point higher than I was standing.

I’ve paid for two nights at Poverty Point State Park.  Tomorrow, Emma and I will hop in the toad and drive the 75 miles or so to Bayou Cocodrie NWR to get the lay of the land.  If possible, I like to drive to my refuges where I’ll be staying in the car first before bringing the rig.  Sometimes that has saved me from getting into some real pickles with the big rig towing the car.  Since I’ll be their first ever RV volunteer, I want to feel comfortable with what approach I’ll make to get into the site.  Maybe it will be a snap, but I’ve run into situations with low hanging power lines, or dead ends with no place to turn around.  I’d rather check it out first to avoid the stress of challenging situations.

So, I’m almost there.  I’ll be more than happy to settle in on Tuesday, at last!

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy 

Friday, October 25, 2013

A short trip to West Memphis

It was only about a 140 mile drive to Tom Sawyer RV Park in West Memphis today, and I appreciated the shorter drive time.  I was closing in on 700 miles the last three days, and was getting a little road weary.


This campground, as many of you know, is located right on the banks of the Mighty Mississippi River.  The cold front has extended this far south and the breeze was brisk, but it was nice to have beautiful blue skies.  I was ready for a break and will stay here two nights.


After getting set up, Emma and I enjoyed a walk along the river.  The road into the campground over the dike is a little interesting, but once you descend to the campground it’s pleasant.  Full hook-ups with the Escapees discount is $32/night.  It’s a much nicer place to stay than I had two nights ago for about the same price.  I’m parked next to the shower/laundry facilities.  Doing your laundry is included in the price, so it’s been quite busy.  I think I’ll try to get a couple of loads done in the early morning tomorrow.


Most folks stop here to enjoy the barge travel that goes on just outside your rig.  This is one of the smaller barges that are being pushed up the river.  The traffic flows both directions, and I must say it’s more relaxing than listening to trains, and all their noise, going by.  Of course, I’m not a big fan of trains, so this is more to my liking.  The forecast for tomorrow calls for a sunny day, so I’m just going to kick back and sit on one of the many benches along the river. 

Had to chuckle this afternoon, as I watched all of the men in the campground out washing their rigs.  Apparently you are allowed to do that here.  Don’t know what all the ladies were doing inside, but for me the last thing on my mind is washing the rig.  Considering the miles I have left to go, I’ll choose to wait until I get to Bayou Cocodrie before I consider washing things.  Lots of folks from Ohio here tonight, and it made me wonder if Ohioans always want their rigs sparkling clean?  Or is it a way the men stay busy and get away from the ladies inside?  They were all like little worker bees.  Sure did make me wonder.


                                                                              THE END!!

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

Thursday, October 24, 2013

I’m pooped!

Not too much going on the last two days other than driving.  After 200 miles yesterday, I spent the night in a not exactly stellar campground.  Left at 8:30 this morning to head for Sikeston, MO.  I’ve stayed at the Hinton RV Park before, so it was a known entity.  Due to a couple of little delays, it took me until almost 4:00 to arrive after driving 327 miles.

A couple of folks had recommended not taking I-70 to I-55 outside of St. Louis.  They had suggested US 65 to US 60 to Sikeston, but I ignored their idea.  I checked it out on line last night, and not only was it a longer route, but it took me through what I think was the Missouri Ozarks.  If I had a lot of time, and it was warmer, I might have taken that route. 

When I have to get somewhere quickly, I have always preferred interstate highways.  I know a lot of people disagree with that, but it’s a whole lot easier for me, with no navigator, to use the interstates.  They have been the quickest routes for me, and the best chance of finding fueling stations that I can get into and out of without any incidents.

327 miles is about 127 miles over the top for me for driving in a day, but with the cold air shooting down from Canada, I took advantage of an almost all-day tail wind.  Even here in southeast Missouri the temps tonight are predicted to go down into the 20’s.  Brr!

On the bright side, I’ve made reservations for at least two nights at Tom Sawyer RV Park in West Memphis, AR.  I’ve only read good things about this park, and am looking forward to taking a little break, not determined by the wind, on my dash to Louisiana.  Then I’ll make the final push to Bayou Cocodrie NWR.  I didn’t want to arrive on a weekend anyway.  No one works the weekends…

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

A honey crisp afternoon

The weather guessers got it right for today.  The winds were once again whipping around in the 25-30 mph range.  I decided not to move on.  Instead, I unhitched the toad and took a drive over to the Missouri River Basin Lewis & Clark Center.


Did you notice that National Park Service arrowhead on the entrance statue?  Ha!  It turns out that the only thing that has to do with our National Parks is that statue!  The Center is run by a local non-profit group that has nothing to do with the National Park Service.  I thought that was a little misleading.

74 On the way to Bayou Cocodrie 20131So, the old farts pass didn’t do me any good here.  The center is interesting, and I enjoyed my time viewing the 30 minute movie and the exhibits.  The cost for seniors is $4.50 for those that are interested.  There were quite a few activities for kids to enjoy, but nothing inside inspired me enough to take any photos.  I’ve been to quite a few Lewis & Clark exhibits in my travels, and I would rate this one as mediocre in comparison.  I think the movie was the best thing, and it certainly refreshed my memory about the Corps of Discovery Expedition. 


The second best part of this visit was the view of the Missouri River outside the back of the center.  I took the trail down to the ‘unobstructed view’ of the United States’ longest river, but found that view much less inviting than this view.  It was closer to the river, but the whole foreground was railroad tracks.  Not very scenic in my estimation. 

I had also hoped to visit the Mayhew cabin today.  It was an historical cabin for its role as a stopping place in the underground railroad back in the days before the Civil War, but alas, it was not open on Tuesdays.  Sad smile  I guess I’ll have to save that for next spring.

Instead, I headed for a couple of orchards.  Did you know that Nebraska City is the place where Arbor Day began?  Well it is, and I wanted to taste some of the fruit of all those trees.  I ended up with a half a peck of Honey Crisp apples, and a small jug of Cherry Jubilee from the orchards of Arbor Day Farm.  Honey crisps are one of my favorite apples, and I’m going to try out some of that cherry jubilee tomorrow morning with my breakfast.  I would have bought one of their fresh apple pies, but they were just too big.  I wish I could have bought just a slice.

I also stopped off in town to get my annual flu shot at Walgreens.  The pharmacist recommended that I get the super-dose for folks over 65, so I did.  It’s covered by Medicare, so I didn’t need to produce any cash.  Next on my agenda will be getting the shingles shot.  Have any of you done that?

The winds are supposed to drop overnight, so I plan on leaving here tomorrow.  I’ll be going through Kansas City, and heading east towards St. Louis.  I have two possible stopping places picked out along the way depending on how it goes.  One is 200 miles, and the other is 270 miles.  If I did the 200 miles, then I’d see if I could stop at Sam and Donna’s the next night.  If I did the 270 miles, Sikeston MO would be within shot for Thursday night.  Decisions, decisions…

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy 

Monday, October 21, 2013

Found a gem, and had an embarrassing moment

When I battled the winds, and came off of the highway on Saturday, little did I know that Sunday would be even worse.  I wasn’t about to attempt to drive the rig anywhere.  Holy buckets!  I’m surprised that Emma has any hair left on her, and that I wasn’t stripped of any apparel as I took her out for her walks.  Needless to say, we stayed another day within spitting distance of I-29.

It was 28* when I got up this morning, but the winds had pretty much calmed.  Time to head out!  I had chosen a destination a little over 200 miles south in Nebraska City, NE.  I-29 hugs the western border of Iowa, and ten miles before the Missouri state line, I snuck four miles west into Nebraska.


I found Victorian Acres on the RV Park Reviews site, and decided to give it a try.  It had nice ratings, but you never know about those.  What a gem it turned out to be.  I paid $31.45 for a full hookup site with 50 amps, but it’s 100 times better than the KOA that I stayed at in Sioux City for $47 in the spring on the way up to Tamarac. 


I have a large pull-through site, the owners are super friendly, and I was led to my site.  I always appreciate that.  After getting set up, the owner returned to chat a bit about my rig and the Ford Focus toad.  During the conversation, he noticed that I had a rear engine and a heat pump (part of the residential central heating and air conditioning unit).  He then politely suggested I might want to clean the fins on the heat pump thingy.  Eek!  How embarrassing.  I had noticed that the heat pump was switching over to propane lately before I thought it was cold enough out to warrant that.  I just never made the connection.  I do try to keep the fins clean, but my only excuse is that I’ve been so upset about the fridge crap, that it has slipped my mind.

You can bet that I was out there shortly afterwards to get that little square black area under the back slide cleaned out with my handy whiskbroom.  Amongst the pine needles, pollen, and dust, I also dislodged about three dozen of those nasty Asian beetles.  Confused smile  Shame on me for waiting so long to do this.  I was thrilled to notice that within minutes, the heating switched back to the heat pump rather than the propane furnace. 

74 On the way to Bayou Cocodrie 2013

Emma and I went on a leisurely walk around the campground this afternoon, and really enjoyed all of the fall decorations and plantings throughout the park.  This is really a pleasant place to stay, and I’ll be sure to stop here again on my way north next spring.

After our walk, I checked the weather for tomorrow, and it looks like another ‘Alberta Clipper’ is due to hit overnight.  That means the forecast calls for winds in the 20-30 mph range again tomorrow.  Nuts!  That gave me the incentive to investigate what I might like to see in the area while I once again wait for the winds to abate.  It turns out that the Missouri River Basin Lewis and Clark Interpretive Trail and Visitor Center run by the National Park Service is near by.  Seems like I should take advantage of a visit there. 

Sometimes I have to remind myself that I’m retired.  If I want to stay another day to visit things in the area, I’m going to do it.  I had already told the folks at Bayou Cocodrie NWR in Louisiana that it would probably take me two weeks to get there.  I’m old, and travel slowly.  Winking smile

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Inching my way south

When I got up this morning, it was raining, and the wind was blowing.  I checked my weather sites, and finally decided I’d give it a go to get a little further south.  For a change of pace, I actually had a tail wind for about 100 miles.  I was happy as a clam as I seemed to fly down I-29.  There were a few sprinkles along the way, but no torrential downpours.

About fifty miles down the road, I needed to clean the front windshield from the dirty stuff kicked up by passing 18 wheelers.  So, I hit the windshield washer button, and things were fine for about two swipes of the windshield.  Then the damn wiper on the passenger’s side went bonkers once again.  It stayed on the arm, but just like this spring, the metal arm began scraping on the glass.  They are both brand new blades and holders, so I just don’t get it.  I stopped at a rest area to tape the blasted thing together.  I sure hope I don’t have to use it again.  Baring teeth smile

About 40 miles outside of Sioux Falls, the winds shifted and I ended up with high winds directly on my right side.  It was a bit of white knuckle time as I made it the last 50 miles to my chosen stop for the night.  I found Countryside Campground, which is within spitting distance of I-29, last spring when I got stopped by severe winds.  It’s an easy gas stop for me which is high on my list, and there’s a full hook-up campground for $25/night.  I was set up for the night by 1:00 in the afternoon with only about 150 miles traveled, but I’m just not comfortable driving in high winds.  At least there’s no snow in the forecast for tonight.

I’ve looked at several forecasts for tomorrow, and I’m hoping to take advantage of a very small window in the morning before the winds return to the 30 mph stage.  My plan will only take me a little over 90 miles further, but at this point a little progress south is better than nothing.  I just may end up at a casino to park tomorrow.  Never done that before.

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

Friday, October 18, 2013

The wind is howling, so I must be in South Dakota

This morning dawned crisp and cold.  Cold enough that I could have used a scraper to clean off the car windows.  It was 10:30 before I could finally pull out of the refuge and hit the road.  I’d like to thank Larry, of the maintenance staff, for helping me get my bicycle up onto the holder on the back of the toad, and for checking the air pressure on the rig’s tires.  After sitting for five months, they needed some air.  I can do four of the six tires, but two of them just need more finesse than I have.

Thankfully, it was an uneventful drive to Summit, SD.  Summit is a small town along I-29, but it has a nice flat campground with pull through sites.


I stayed here a couple of nights this spring during a two day wind storm.  It’s a Passport America camp during the week, but since everything is shut down except for the electricity this late in October, it’s $20/night.  Paying for a site at this time is on your honor, and the bathrooms and laundry are of course closed.  I’m just happy to find a stop with electricity. 


As you can see, I’m the only rig here.  Since it was 43* when I arrived, I thought my heat pump could warm things up a bit inside, but I was wrong.  With the cold wind, I’m having to run the heat straight off of the propane tank.  I’ll be looking for a campground that sells propane before long.

I’m hoping the winds die down enough tomorrow morning so I can drive the 150 miles to my next stop.  Shortly after I plugged in this afternoon, a storm cloud passed and dropped some hail on the rig.  Possible snow flurries are in the forecast.  I’ve also noticed that local fire hydrants now have those tall red sticks attached to them so they can be found in the snow.  It’s definitely time to be way south of here!

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Time to say Adios!

When I awoke this morning, just about all of the staff were making their way back to work.  Yahoo!  That meant I had a chance of getting my fridge moved back where it belongs so I could blow this popsicle stand at long last.

73 Tamarac NWR, 201336

                    All of my pics tonight are favorites of mine from my time at Tamarac NWR this year.

Shortly after 1:00 this afternoon, three muscular staff members showed up at my rig to do battle with the refrigerator.  What a battle it was!  At one point, all three found themselves stumped as they tried to maneuver the fridge up a foot or so off of the ground to it’s home.  I brought up the pictures from the initial installation in 2011 on my computer, and they were able to figure out how to twist it around to fit. 

73 Tamarac NWR, 201337

Considering these guys aren’t refrigerator installers by trade, they did an excellent job, and it only took about an hour or so.  I, of course, was a nervous wreck the whole time until it was safely ensconced and bolted down.  Then it was time for the true test.  We plugged it in; Viola!, it worked!  How do you spell relief?  (not R-O-L-A-I-D-S for me!)

73 Tamarac NWR, 201338

The people, that visited me or that I worked with, made this spring, summer, and fall very memorable.

At the top of my list, once I was sure I would be good to go tomorrow, was to check to make sure my first campground along the way was still open.  Late in October, that can be a real problem up north.  It’s open, but electric only.  Since the cold weather has arrived, they’ve shut off the water.  I can live with that.  It’s about 180 miles away in South Dakota.  I figured that was a long enough drive for me to get back in the groove.  I’m not going to rush this trip to the point where I’m not comfortable.

73 Tamarac NWR, 201339

Then it was time to run around in the cold sprinkles packing up the DISH, my outside rocker, and water hoses.  I also dumped the tanks and packed that away.  Temps are forecasted in the lower 30’s tonight.  It was hard enough battling with the hoses at 43*. 

I’m more than ready to move on.  I really enjoyed my time here, and look forward to returning next spring.  In the meantime, I’m open to some new adventures in warmer temperatures.  Winking smile

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Could it possibly be true?

Could my departure from Tamarac NWR actually be within sight?  Maybe.  It all depends on a couple of things.  I haven’t posted in several days since nothing has been happening besides rain and cold temperatures.  It turned out cold enough last night to freeze my water hose.  Not nice. 

The first thing my departure rested on was receiving the new fan blade from Samsung.


It arrived this afternoon just before 5:00 thanks to a considerate UPS driver.  With the shutdown, the manager goes home at 4:00, and the gates are locked.  This UPS guy called me this morning, and said he would meet me at the locked gate to deliver the fan blades since he figured he wouldn’t be able to get in.  Thank you kind sir!

The Samsung tech that replaced the compressor told me it was an easy matter of just sliding the new blades onto the shaft of the fan motor.  Oh yeah?  Well after 45 minutes of struggling to get in on the shaft, and a big blood blister on one finger, I gave up.  Crying face  I guess I just don’t have the oomph to do it.  This whole refrigerator thing has been so frustrating for almost a month that I was on the verge of tears.  I mustered through, but just barely.


              Noticed a new crop of different mushrooms in my front yard today in the welcome sunshine.

The second challenge I have to overcome is getting the fixed refrigerator from the middle of my floor back to where it belongs.  The refuge manager will not be in tomorrow due to a funeral he has to attend, and the Law Enforcement guy is off until the weekend.  Sad smile  But I have hopes that the shutdown will end tonight, and staff will return tomorrow.  Neil, the refuge manager, has assured me that getting me able to travel is a top priority should the staff be back on duty in the morning.  I’m banking on plenty of muscular men being available tomorrow to install the fan, and lift the fridge into its compartment.  If those knot heads in Washington don’t come through tonight, who knows how long I’ll be stuck here.


With a possible departure date on Friday, I went to town today to restock my larder.  I’ve about consumed everything I had ready for my trip to Bayou Cocodrie NWR in Louisiana during the last three plus weeks.


                                           The mature mushrooms here are about 3” in diameter.

Once again I’m crossing all my fingers and toes, but they’re starting to get cramped up from overuse!

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

Friday, October 11, 2013

Another little bump in the road?

What a day!  I sat by my phone waiting for the repairman to arrive today.  Finally about 2:00, he showed up to replace the compressor.  It was quite a job, and took close to two hours.  He had to use a torch to remove the compressor and attach the copper tubing to the new compressor.  The smoke from that set off the smoke alarm so I had to get a stool to get that thing turned off and get the Fantastic Fan going to get the smoke out of the rig. 

After the new one was installed, I plugged it in and it began cooling.  Yahoo!  As he went to replace the little plastic fan that runs to keep the compressor cool, I noticed that one of the fins on the fan was misshapen.  I asked if it would work in that condition.  He said probably not, and proceeded to order a new one for me.  Personally, I think he was covering his a$$ about it.  Since I knew that fan was working just fine before he began working on the fridge, my guess is that he should have removed it before using his torch.  I think the torch melted one of the fins and it twisted beyond hope. 

When he told me the first date available for them to put the new blades in was October 25, I said, “Forget it!  Show me how to do it.  I can’t wait here that long.”  So now I wait for a new fan.  I’m hoping it arrives on Monday.  I talked to the UPS man this afternoon about Monday, since it is Columbus Day and not even the refuge manager will be here.  Uf-dah!  He offered to call me on Monday one way or the other.  If it arrives, I’ll meet him at the gate to get it.  Then on Tuesday, the refuge manager and LE guy will work to reinstall the fridge where it belongs.  Another little bump along the way.  In the meantime, the fridge remains in the middle of my floor.  I didn’t want the guys to try to install it today only to maybe have to take it out again next week. 

While I was talking to the UPS guy, he mentioned that he had delivered another compressor to me today.  What?  Seems the first repairman ordered two, and the second one arrived today.  What the heck am I supposed to do with that?  Unless I hear from Samsung, I think I’ll keep it just in case.  Too bad it’s so heavy.

When I started writing this post there was a tornado watch posted for the area, and several warnings not too far away.  The wind is whipping around, and there is off and on again rain.  I’m keeping my ear pealed to the TV.  If need be, Emma and I will make our way to the basement of the temporary office building.  I hope that isn’t necessary. 

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

Wednesday, October 9, 2013


On my trip to get ice today, Emma and I made a little stop along the way.

73 Tamarac NWR, 201335

Do you remember that stop-and-go light monument I spotted in a little country cemetery way back in June?  Well, I’ve been unable to find anything further about it, so we stopped again today.  The homemade light stands next to this monument to Raymond Olk.  Seems he was a veteran of World War II and the Korean War.  Nearby are other Olk graves, but no clues as to the reason for the stop light with the big butterfly on it.  The mystery continues.


Since the wind wasn’t blowing like crazy today, I stopped at a couple of ponds on the way home to see if I could get some nice reflections of the fall colors.


Lots of the trees are now leafless, and the colors are past peak.  It’s still very pretty, and I’m glad I got to enjoy them while they lasted.

A little after 4:00 the refuge manager came up to my rig carrying the new compressor for the refrigerator.  It had just been delivered by UPS.  They always come late in the day here.

I immediately called A & E Factory Service and have an appointment for Friday.  I’ve requested a morning appointment, but they can’t promise anything.  Friday is the next time that both the manager and LE guy will be here.  After that, I’d have to wait until next Tuesday for them to reinstall the fridge.  I’ve got my fingers crossed once again.


I got the levelers lubricated today, and tomorrow I’ll clean the outside windows so I’ll be able to see when I finally pull out.  That’s about all that’s happening in this neck of the woods other than the zillions of bombarding beetles.

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Another plague?

In my early time at Tamarac, I was plagued by ticks, mosquitoes, and deer flies.  After most of them were done, I had almost six weeks of pretty bug free weather.  Then last week, with the lowering temperatures, the mice decided to try to live with me.  I’ve pretty well conquered them for the time being.  We’ve most recently had some beautiful sunny afternoons, and that has brought on a new plague.


Now there’s an invasion of those miserable little Chinese beetles that look like ladybugs.  Ugh!  My poor rig is covered with hundreds of them.  It has red freckles everywhere!  And they’re all trying to get inside.  I don’t want to squash them because, if I remember correctly, they stink to high heaven.  I just tell myself, this too shall pass.


Some of you may be wondering what happened yesterday when the repair man finally arrived.  Well, first I had to get someone to get the thing out of where it was installed and out into the middle of my floor.  Luckily the LE guy for the refuge showed up in the afternoon, so I grabbed him and the refuge manager to accomplish the fete.  They thought it would be a snap, but I knew better.  After an hour’s struggle, they were successful, and here it sits.

The repairman was scheduled to come sometime between 8:00 and 5:00. Isn’t that always the way?  Like people don’t have anything better to do but sit and wait by the phone.  He got here about 4:00, and it took him about five minutes to figure out that the compressor was shot.  As he figured out the estimate for repair, I whipped out my Samsung handbook, and mentioned it was covered under the five year warranty.  All I had to do was produce the sales slip from when I bought it.  Not to worry, I keep every receipt from work done on the rig.  Open-mouthed smile

Of course, A & E Factory Service doesn’t keep compressors in stock, so it has to be ordered.  I expected that.  Now I’m waiting for it to be delivered.  My guess is it will be next week before I get to leave.  I did complain about having to wait so long for service, and he gave me a special number to call when the compressor arrives to help speed things up.  I hope it works.

73 Tamarac NWR, 201334

There’s not much else happening around here besides watching the life and death of my mushroom village in the front yard.  Tonight’s challenge will be trying to watch TV from my favorite chair with the blasted refrigerator in front of me.  However, I think maybe I see a light at the end of the tunnel.

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Another trip for ice

After vacuuming and cleaning the inside of the rig this morning, I unlocked the front gate and headed out to get another load of ice.  The little store is about 10 miles away, so I figured the round trip would take me less than an hour.  Turns out, I had a couple of delays along the way in and out so it took a little longer.

IMG_0380I had barely gotten on the road when I had to stop to let this family of trumpeter swans cross the road safely.  This is one of the reasons I always bring a camera with me when I leave the rig.  My motto is “Don’t leave home without it!”  Winking smile


If you visit Yellowstone, you’re bound to have to stop for a bison jam.  I guess this is Minnesota’s form of a jam.  Wildlife has the right-of-way on a refuge.  This pair of trumpeters has done well to raise three signets this far.  They ought to be learning to fly pretty soon.


Of course I had to stop a few times for some foliage pictures on the way out of the refuge despite the overcast skies.


A little further down county road 21, I saw a grandfather type person standing next to a pick-up with the hood up.  Steam was rolling out from the engine.  On the other side of the road was a man and his teenage son walking down the highway.  I stopped and asked if they needed help.  I knew I couldn’t help with the truck, but as it turned out I gave the father a ride to his house about two miles down the road.  It seems a hose or something had burst on the truck motor.  The father and son were going to walk home while the Grandpa stayed with the truck.  I had room for one, since no one in their right mind would want to sit in the back seat with bouncing Emma.  I did my good deed for the day, and continued on my way.


I picked up three more bags of ice, and on the way home the clouds cleared out and this maple tree just seemed brilliant in the sunshine.


I liked the contrast of the red leaves against the greens of the white pine and balsam fir boughs.  Can you see the remodeled headquarters and visitors center in the background?  Those are all solar panels on the sloping roof.  Staff was supposed to move back in and the visitors center reopened this coming week.  With the shutdown, who knows when that will now happen.

It was a short, but interesting trip for ice this afternoon.  I was thrilled to see the sun come back.  I’ll leave you tonight with another mushroom comic from my anonymous reader.

mouseroom copy

                                                     The mouse count is now up to five caught.

I’ve got all my fingers and toes crossed that the repair person will set me free tomorrow…

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy