Saturday, November 18, 2017

Weekend River Adventure!

We decide to take the gang (and the dogs) on a quick one-night trip! This was our first time going to an RV Campground. We visited the tiny little town of Roanoke Rapids and their Canal Museum. The kids learned about hydroelectric power, the lock system, and the reason why there's a canal alongside the Roanoke River. The museum was really great. If you are in the area, take a while and stop by to check it out.

We took the dogs along on our museum visit, bike ride, and hiking adventures. We were all so impressed with Buster and Piper! The dogs loved trotting along beside the bikes, and it was great to have them with us on our river trip. We wrapped up our trip with a swing through visit to Medoc Mountain and check out the primitive camping area where we might take our horse, Ruby, for a trail riding weekend next year!

Friday, November 17, 2017

Hazel's new Kitchen!

While Mike worked on the roof, Em worked on the kitchen. There was nothing wrong with the kitchen, but Em didn't really like the orangey color of the wood and decided to have a project of her own. We decided to do the top cabinets in a cream color called "Canvas Tan" and the bottom cabinets in the color "Sky House." Both of these are Sherwin Williams colors and we bought the paint at Lowe's Home improvement. Em had heard from a friend that chalk paint took very little prep work and was great for coverage, so she decided to give it a try. It turned out pretty great. Check out the video below!

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Another project??? Hazel Gets a New Roof!

Hazel sprung a leak, and we checked out the whole roof. It was 11 years old, so we decided to go ahead and look into getting a new EPDM rubber coating applied. We called some repair shops, and watched a bunch of YouTube videos on "How to resurface your RV roof." Since we're fairly handy folks, and we're also fairly frugal, we decided to go ahead and do it ourselves.

We researched a few different products and decided on the ProGuard Liquid Roof EPDM coating. It seemed like the most economical and effective product we could get. Mike ordered it online and we brought Hazel to the Cole's house. They were out of town for the month, and have a driveway we could park Hazel in for the project. (Em also used this time to paint the kitchen cabinets, but that's another story!)

Here's Mike's work - he did an excellent job! We now have a leak-free, nearly brand-new roof on our camper!

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Kitchen Slide Repair

Once we got the camper back home, Mike and Anderson were able to take the skirting off underneath the camper. They figured out that the slide could be manually moved in and out, but who wants to crawl under there and do it every time? They inspected the mechanics and determined that the issue was in the gearbox. Anderson helped Mike a lot and learned quite a bit about mechanical engineering. 

We all thought the sticker below was pretty funny, given that we had done some research at this point and found that a good number of Sunny Brook campers have had slide issues. We did end up calling the company to order a new part for the slide. The people at Barker Manufacturing were helpful and nice on the phone. Mike determined that both the main gear and the worm gear inside the gearbox were messed up and he could replace them himself.

Click here if you would like to see the video of the diagnosis:

Once the parts finally came in, Mike had some trouble getting the main gear out of the box. It required some real force and a special tool, so Mike's friend, Scott helped out with that. Mike was able to then get the new gears installed and put the gearbox back together. 

We made an entire episode on Mike fixing the gearbox and reinstalling it (I realize that the thumbnail picture is the same!):

Thank goodness he was able to get that fixed - we had a horse show to go to the following weekend! 

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Is this a money pit???

Hi guys! Thanks for stopping by our blog. I haven't been keeping up with it as much as I should because... well... life. Since Mike and I both work full-time, we don't have as much time as we would like to spend on our hobbies.

When we purchased our 5th wheel camper this spring, we knew it might need a few repairs. We decided it was definitely worth it, though as both of us are handy enough to handle most things that might come up. We took our camper up to my parent's house and stayed there for a weekend without hooking up to anything except electricity. It was really awesome! It was a fun time and we enjoyed being able to spend time getting to know the camper and how it works without feeling stranded if something went wrong.

Well, it turns out that something did go wrong. When we wanted to put the landing legs down, one of them wouldn't go down, and we heard a "thump-thump-thump" sound coming from inside the storage compartment. (NOT GOOD)The bar that goes across from the motor to the leg on the other side of the camper had sheared off somehow.

We couldn't fix it right at that moment, as we didn't have a replacement pin to put in, so we just made do, and made note of that impending repair.

Our set-up went along normally after that and we had a great day at the lake visiting with family. There was a lot of rain that night, and storms rolled through, but all was well in the camper. We had hooked up to our generator and everything seemed fine as we went to bed, but in the middle of the night, the power went out. The generator was still running, but the air conditioner and some lights turned off. That was weird to us. We thought maybe the connections had gotten wet and tripped a breaker in the camper.
We took a look in the morning and still couldn't figure it out, but then again - all of this was new to us. We ended up hooking up to the house power and everything was fine after that. (We figured out later that the battery power inverter hadn't been working so everything that ran off of battery power had drained the battery and then turned off. Since the air conditioner controller runs off of the battery, it had turned off which then turned off the AC! UGH!)

Anyway, when we packed up to leave, we had some trouble getting the kitchen slide to go all the way in. At this point, we were so frustrated - it seemed as if we had purchased a money pit!! The kitchen slide would go in part way, then just stop. The motor was still trying, but the slide wouldn't budge. We ended up having to push it in so we could head home.

So, as of the 1st month owning the camper we have:

  • Landing Leg repair
  • Power inverter troubleshooting
  • Kitchen Slide repair
I just keep thinking, "Is this a money pit???"

Stay tuned for our blogs about the repairs! 

If you're interested in the vlog we're doing about these issues:

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Inventory Check

I thought I would try my hand at a video blog for a change. Next time I will put on some make-up and maybe even make a script before I begin. Anyway, now to check the inventory against what I need...

Here's what I think we need to still get before we go out again:

Water filter for fresh water intake
Black water gloves
Black water tank enzymes
Long Level
Tool Box
Backflow valve for rinse inlet
Water pressure regulator

I'm sure there are other essentials, but these items are what come to mind when looking at the pictures of what I found. If there's something you notice, please let me know!

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Adventures Await Em and The Gang!!!

We bought a camper!

We also bought a truck with which to tow the camper on our journeys. We plan to use it for travelling to horse shows, and adventures anywhere we can drive. I have decided to fire up the old blog again in order to make it easier to document our journeys. I hope you'll enjoy reading all about our gang's new adventures. Here are some snapshots of the new-to-us camper. 

We have taken it on a test run at my parents' house and had a few learning curve issues already! I have been busy learning new lingo having to do with generators, landing legs, motors, black water, gray water, and fresh water. There is a lot to learn and we already have a list of repairs to make (we purchased the camper used, after all). Feel free to share your knowledge with us as we are definitely newbies! 
Adventures await!!

Monday, August 3, 2015

Rescue mode!

If you know anything about me, it is that I really do like animals and enjoy having lots of different pets. However, I feel that our house is currently at capacity with two dogs, three cats, four chickens, a guinea pig, a baby alligator snapping turtle, and various fish.

My parents have a lake house on Kerr lake (aka Buggs Island Lake if you're a Virginian), and at the top of their neighborhood, there are two dumpsters. Living around the dumpsters for years have been a few feral cats. Before this year, we have never seen more than two or three.

This year, there was a baby boom. Someone who lives close by must have gotten a few young females and there must be a male or two also, because at last count, there were 14 kittens living around the dumpster! Spay and Neuter your pets, people!!!!

Well, these kittens were super cute, and their mamas were so sweet, nursing them in the shade of the nearby trees. Each time we ventured up to the lake house over the past month, we would buy some cat food at the dollar store and leave it in trays. Other people also did the same or would leave sandwich meat, roasted chicken carcasses, etc for the many many cats to eat.
Of course, the kittens were looking pretty decent each time we drove by, and they would always scamper away hissing whenever we tried to get near them. One of the mama cats was used to humans and would let us pet her while she ate. For the most part, we just left food, watched them for a while, and then left.

We really liked these two kitties the most though. They were white and calico mixed. The calico has orange stripes and tabby stripes all throughout... so pretty! There was a long haired one and a short haired one, and they looked almost like twins, except for the hair length.

My parents have said that when they're both retired and living up at the lake full-time, they'll get "barn cats." My kids have been convinced all summer that these two we like would be able to be those cats! Well, this last trip, when we drove by the dumpster, there were all of the kittens, hunkered down eating some canned food someone had dropped off. We stopped, put out our bag of food in the trays, and looked around at the kitties.

We saw the longhaired one that we liked, but didn't see the shorthaired one. The longhaired one let Mike pet it, and then also let Taylor Anne pet it. That was unusual, but a welcome change. I asked TA to pick up the kitten so we could have a good look at it, and she tried, but it ran away under a nearby bush. I followed it, and saw the shorthaired one sitting/laying down on its haunches. It hissed at me, and tried to run away, but it was so weak it couldn't move well, and gave up. I picked it up without having to chase it at all. Uh Oh. It was also very very thin, and I could tell it was very dehydrated when I picked it up.

The body condition of this kitten as compared with the week before was insanely diminished. Mike and TA caught the strong one, and I checked - they were both girls! I decided right then that we had to take these sisters home with us and to the vet.  I couldn't stand to think of what would happen if we didn't.

We put them both in the guinea pig cage, and put the guinea pig in a small box for the ride home. The strong one seemed fine, a little spitfire really. Aside from ear mites and seed ticks, she was good. The weak one was obviously lethargic, seemed to have a fever, and wasn't really caring about much of anything.

We got home, set them up in the huge dog crate, and I tried to get them to eat. Mike picked up wet food (which they were used to eating), and I mixed in some non-flavored Pedialite to help replenish electrolytes and maybe perk up the weak kitten. The strong kitten ate well, but the weak one didn't even try. I held her, her heart was racing. I put some really liquidy food to her mouth and she licked it off. She realized it took very little effort to eat this way, and decided to finish the spoonful. I fed her about three more spoonfuls, but then she refused any more. She was exhausted.

Last night, I decided I needed to check on her and see if I could get more fluids into her. I was able to get her to take a little more at 1:00am and 3:00am, but she never had more than a few spoonfuls, and her belly was not getting full. She continued to be listless and limp. This morning, I noticed a sore on her neck, and that the side of her neck and her face were swollen. Anytime I touched it, it was hot, and the kitten protested. It was obviously some sort of infection.

Anderson and I took both kittens to the vet this afternoon. Anderson asked on the way if the vet would have to put down the weak one, and I told him that it was a possibility, but I hoped not. The vet saw the sore, and the swelling, and said it must be a worm - a fly maggot living in her neck, and it was infected. He cut out the maggot, put in two drains and released a lot of the pus, and then gave her electrolytes subcutaneously. I explained to Anderson what was going on. The vet said that the kitten likely would have likely died last night if we hadn't brought her home, and would have died in the next 24 hours if we hadn't brought her in to the vet when we did. She was in bad shape.

The strong kitty was in pretty good condition, and she got flea, tick, and ear mite meds, as well as her vaccines. The weak one also got those meds, plus antibiotics and special food to eat for a few days. By the time we left the vet office, the weak kitty was able to walk on its own, and looked perkier! We will probably not see typical kitten behavior from her for another day or so, but she is on the mend. I called my mom on the way home from the vet to let her know what happened, and that we hope she and dad will take them for their lake house kitties. I hope they'll both be great mousers, and live happy relaxing lives with my parents. I know Anderson and Taylor Anne will like to visit them!

Knowing what has happened to these two kitties makes me feel sad for the other ones living out there by the dumpster. If they don't get themselves cleaned enough, they could end up dying a painful slow death from a maggot. At least we were able to save two of them, maybe the others are stronger. This is a prime example of why you should get your cats fixed. Even if they're feral kitties, and you just feed them... trap, fix, release! It could save hundreds of kitty lives.

Some good places to seek help with those random kitties:

Wednesday, July 22, 2015


I've posted before about my dream home. The previous posts (here and here) were in response to "tags" from other bloggers, but I've seriously been thinking about dreams lately.

Not the kinds of dreams you have while you're asleep, but the things you dream about for "someday." Why do some people seem to be living their dreams, and others just keep dreaming and hope they can achieve that dream some time in the future?

I think it is because some people just jump in - they have a dream, make a plan, and execute it. They take off with their dream and make it work, come what may.

I been really feeling this pull lately. I have three friends who have currently decided to make their dreams reality now, instead of just waiting for "someday."

One of these friends loves travel, and has what we all like to call "wanderlust." She is leaving the country in a few short weeks to work in the Middle East helping to improve their school systems. She will live alone, wear special clothing to respect the culture of her host country, and work with many people who have a native language different from hers. She is jumping in with both feet, is probably a little scared and very excited, and she knows she will have to just make it work. She feels this is her "purpose" right now.

Another of my friends had a dream of living in the mountains, away from the hustle and bustle of city and town living. This past weekend, we helped her family move to some acreage on the side of a mountain in rural Virginia. Their rent is less than their house payment was, and they will be living more simply. Luckily, she has a telecommuting job that allows her to live almost anywhere with a phone and internet access. She's so excited to live with less "drama" and space to let the dogs run.

The third friend has had a rough couple of years. She is divorced, has a grown son, and a daughter in middle school. They've been through some serious health challenges, and come through it all on top and with great attitudes. She has always wanted to live at the beach, and applied for jobs there. Her boyfriend supported her wishes and dreams, and can work almost anywhere. She accepted a new position on the coast, and in about 2 weeks they will be moving into a rental home next to the ocean. She said to me a few months ago, "Emily, live your dream now. Don't put it off, life is just too short."

Of course for each of these people, following their dreams took planning. It will take hard work to transition to their new life. They will have challenges of new schools for their kids, or an entirely new culture to get used to. They will make it work because it is their dream and they're following it.

I think it is my turn.  Remember when I wanted to have back yard chickens? Well, I want this just as badly.

I want to seriously start working toward MY dreams. My "homestead in the country" dream. Not too far away, but not too close to others, either. A place for us to stretch and grow.

I hope "the gang" is ready for this.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Remembering Nick

About a month ago some of our family got together to remember my cousin, Nick Dupre.
We spent the days hanging out together at the house, swimming in the lake, shopping at local thrift shops and antique stores, and eating. We spent the evenings telling stories and remembering Nick. The pictures here are a mixture of old photos of him and some from our gathering. We meant to play cards together, but it didn't happen.
  Nick was a smart, fun-loving, caring guy. He died 20 years ago, and we didn't get to watch him get married, have a career, or have children, but we were able to learn about strength, courage, and love from him before he was gone.
Nick was the one who carried me out of the woods slung over his slender shoulder when I fell and busted my chin open at the Hemlock Inn one Thanksgiving. I'm guessing that I was about 7, he would have been around 11, and he wasn't much bigger than I was. I'm in the green sweatshirt below (with a band-aid covering the stitches in my chin), Nick is in the navy blue.
Nick got cancer around age 12,  and throughout the next 10 years or so he fought it off multiple times. Each time he had chemotherapy, he would lose his hair. When it grew back, it was always different from the way it was before. I found this fascinating!

When Nick had to come to family functions and lay on the couch with the chemotherapy treatment dripping into his port instead of sliding down the stairs or playing in the yard with the rest of us, he taught all of us a little something about courage. He could have stayed in the back bedroom, away from everything, but he didn't. He would sometimes play cards or board games with the rest of us, and almost every time he would win.

Nick was a really good best friend, too. He and my cousin, Jeff, were nearly inseparable during family events. If one of them didn't want to play cards, neither of them played. They just wanted to spend time together. They talked more than any two boys I have ever met. I often wondered what they talked about when they went off on walks together.
We got together to honor, remember, and to just continue the tradition of cousins getting together to have fun! We know Nick would have loved it! 

Because of his Cancer, Nick was a part of a very special community. He had the opportunity to go to Camp Kemo each summer, with other kids who had been dealt crappy cards. He often took along his little brother. He built many meaningful relationships there, and in high school, which are remembered fondly by others even 20 years later.
Nick Dupre is missed by many. As a brother, best friend, and cousin.