20 September 2017

Heading to "PickUp" the Camper, or prep, prep, and more prep

Are you ready, yet?

The months and days running up to Sept 10

We have spent more time on the internet in the last couple months than probably ALL the time previous. And our data consumption seems to support such! 

So much to learn.

So much to plan.

So much to buy! Our credit card has been groaning after each use.

We have successfully packed up (we think): the kitchen, bathroom, closets, and dogs. And, together with our tent, and the vast majority of our camper accouterments, stuffed it all in the Jeep. Thank goodness we have a 4 door, it would not all fit in the two door.

And off we go ...

 Yep, it all works

 Canine 1, Check

 Canine 2, Check

Sept 10, 2017
Abilene State Park

Our first day driving the truck while towing the Jeep is exhausting! We are not used to sitting this much, nor used to paying this much attention to our driving.

We have a completely different dynamic while towing than not. And we have to adapt our turns. While the truck has a remarkable turning radius ... for a truck, it is still a truck.

We take plenty of rests.

Narvarro County does a rest stop right.

And watch too for beautiful poison ivy plants at nose level!

 These two have such a twisted relationship!

Abilene State Park, south of Abilene, TX

Campsite 41, a lone "pull through" in the tent area, Cedar Grove. A tight squeeze between two stands of Mesquite, and the posts bordering the road.

Thankfully, we are more maneuverable than a commercial truck, though we approach that length. Our untutored driving, therefore, mimics the grace of experienced commercial drivers steering much less flexible rigs.

In short, we did NOT have to unhook the Jeep! 😆

Lots of deer, and other wildlife we can neither see nor hear ... but the dogs definitely can! Their highly excitable barking can be heard throughout the entire park, I'm sure.

The sites are rocky, but most of the big or jagged edge rocks have been removed (both to be expected in a long established campground in this region of TX). We lay out our camprest air mattresses. I would not want to be resting directly on the rocky ground!

The park appears nicely laid out ... though, as we arrive late, we do not venture far from our campground.

Our neighbors are quiet and well behaved. Even their little boy.

However, the pump for the wastewater treatment plant is LOUD, and right next to our campground, ugh. By morning, it has become part of the ignorable background ambiance.

The temperature dropped to 55 before we awaken for the day (I left my socks in the Jeep, dagnabit - burrrrr), and the pups ALWAYS have a restless night out first night out. It takes a while to adjust to the new schedule. We knew they were feeling the cold when our formerly tent mesh window watching pups wanted to snuggle (and shiver). 

We are up and gone in a little over an hour. We have many long road days ahead of us.

I wish I had brought a hard copy calendar.

Driven 365 miles
Fuel expenses $117.38

Sept 11

Today, driving is easier. I'm constantly making minor adjustments to my seating position, so the truck is beeping with each save. 😜

We spend more time shunpiking and less on interstates than previously. This makes for less road width and more maneuvering required by monstrosity and myself.

We arrive to Black Mesa State Park near Kenton, OK in the early evening hours.

It is hot, at 91 degrees in the shade.  (pant, pant, pant)

When the sun goes behind clouds the mosquitoes and no-see-ums come out to play. Slap, slap, slap.

We chose tent site 7, right on the water. Lovely rock formations. Plenty of space between sites, and a ring, table, and grill.

We spend some time cleaning our site ... I collected this in the first 2 minutes.  :(


We can hear generators for RVs on the hill above. Less disturbing than last night's pump!

Another site that we do not have to disengage the Jeep. Nice!

The pups sleep the night away, and again find 60 degrees with 77% humidity worthy of snuggles. 

We fall asleep to lowing cattle, calling coyotes, and serenading insects (lots of insects)!

Clouds hide the starlight.

And two neighbors have spotlights on ALL NIGHT LONG! Really?!? Ugh.

854.6 trip odometer

Mosquitoes irritating, but not horrendous.

Sept 12
There was some moisture on the tent, so we simply folded it up, and stuffed it in the the Jeep.

We take county roads out of Black Mesa into Colorado. The Garmin RV unit is NOT happy! 😆 It keeps wanting us to turn around. Not gonna happen. We hit dirt roads in Colorado and put the towtector to the test. It works well at keeping most stuff from flying onto the jeep hood.

We specifically bought the vehicles we did so offroading was encouraged, not discouraged.  The Garmin RV unit needs a minor adjustment to the "dirt road" setting!

Phone cameras simply cannot capture the color.

The dusty road are lined in wild sunflowers, the rock formations and colors are gorgeous, and there's hardly another soul on the road.

I am fascinated by the rainbow of hemolymph scattered across the windshield. #Entomology

Everyone should travel off the interstate. I never knew what I was missing!

Comanche National Grassland. We will have to return one day.  The panhandle of OK deserves more attention from us at a later date.

Driving North along 109 towards Purgatoire River Valley is an interesting area. But once we pass the river, we enter the Colorado of my memories. Dry, shrubby, and not very interesting.

Denver and Grandma bound

Goals for the day:
- get to Grandma's
- unload Jeep into garage (so, you know, we can DRIVE it!)
- unload truck
- do laundry in preparation of moving into camper
- rest and relax

We fill up our temporary storage in the garage (Thanks, Grandma!), start a load of laundry, and start prepping for truck drop off.  The dealership will need it for a day.

Another couple hours spent on the phone trying to deal with a must fill prescription and transferring from state to state ... within the same pharmacy company! The gal, who's name I cannot remember, at Wal-Greens on Drake in Fort Collins, called my local pharmacy (in hurricane ravaged TX) to transfer. She spent quite some time on the phone, and followed up with a quick message to my cell. Thanks! You were remarkably helpful.

The relaxing at Grandma's part is handily accomplished

Sept 13
We got to see our camper! A drive into Henderson, CO to Five Star RV Center to drop the truck. 

Bill Barton, salesman
Troy, truck prepper
Randy, camper prepper

These guys spoke to me (the female), answered my queries, and know their stuff! We have asked GOBS of questions the last couple months, and Bill Barton has been patient and helpful through our learning process.

Sept 14

There they are!  Ready and waiting for our introduction.

I recommend Bill Barton as the best truck camper guy, hands down. If you stop by the shop, tell 'em the other Kira says, "Hi." The crew is knowledgeable, they get along well, and they have an excellent rapport with (each other and) customers. (I saw NO horseplay with these guys, they are committed and serious).

They fully acknowledge they are not the slick presentation you find at other dealerships. They are gritty and real, and all the employees we talked to travel or live full time in campers. (Some even rebuild campers). They have decades of experience and are happy to share.  We could not have asked for a better intro to our camper than we got today from Troy and Randy.

And Happy Birthday, Troy!  Thank you for coming out on your special day to get us prepped and ready for this new adventure.

Unexpected additions to camper:
- I like the new faucet for the kitchen
- there IS a medicine cabinet in the bathroom
- there's a cap on the waste piping for the exterior
- the mattress has a firm mesh underlayment to minimize trapped moisture
- the kitchen has a towel holder

It IS a medicine cabinet!

 Driving back to Grandma's, dreaming about packing

- the cutlery drawer divider is very space wasteful, so it came out immediately, now cutlery AND all spices fit there
- refrigerator is huge, but OUR commonly used items will not fit ... a Mavea water filter and a 6 pack of bottles ... sob
- A poorly placed heel bends the drain cover in the shower.  First cheap/crappy bit we've found in the Northern Lite.  😒

Divider OUT!  Spices and cutlery (and measuring spoons) IN!

There a LOT more storage than first appears

Fold your clothes based on the Kon Mari method, and they will easily fit

I am shocked that our shoes fit under the table cubby space! I wear Women's 10, the hubby wears Men's 12.

Dog stuff in bottom drawer under dinette.

The closets could really use some adjustable shelving. We have to figure out a way to make those spaces more efficient. Maybe a locker room shelving system?

Sept 15, 16
Load camper

Lots of loading

Buy: groceries, produce at farmer's market, new leashes and harnesses for pups, ice blocks for fridge, teflon fluid to make locks easier to open, lotion, etc.

JAX in FC is a fun outdoor store, quality camping goods and canine accessories, and the store is MASSIVE.

Another example of a feisty family

On a family note, I love my Grandma.
We three generations: Grandma, Mom, and I share several personality traits. We come by it naturally (genetics? environment? Probably genetics.)

A friend described us as feisty. An example -

A typical conversation I hold with my Grandma follows.  To preface, she believes EVERYTHING is better in Colorado (and I, as a born and raised Texan and family member, am legally bound to disagree.)

G: "They held the first rodeo in Deer Trail."  Grandma was born in Deer Trail.

Me: "Well, they may have first used the word, but I doubt it was the first gathering of men to show off skill with hooves and ropes."

G: "It is in the history."

Me: "Yeah, well, so is a LOT of BS. You know, humans have a very long relationship with horses." 1000s of years older than Deer Trail.

Grandma does not appreciate my non-Colorado centric perspective. But, she didn't kick me out for my blasphemy.  Instead, she cut my hair.

Grandma is a hairdresser, approaching her 9th decade on this earth. She is one of the few stylists that actually listens to me. I look forward to my Grandma hair cuts. Thankfully, with hair as long as mine, I can go a year or two between snips. 😆

19 September 2017

Steinjager Grab Handle Review, Jeep Wrangler JK Unlimited

I left the below review on Steinjager's website, 3 out of 5 stars.  Submitted to the WebMaster.

And, since it was character limited, I had to lean it out ... seriously.

My view upon climbing inside

 Driver's Side

Passenger Side

"I'm disappointed by: installation difficulty of passenger side, and the permanent logo.  I have concerns regarding the deformation of the plastic door frame molding at several contact points (most noticeable on the driver's side).

The passenger side install took several hours, requiring reshaping the mount points in order to bring them into alignment with the vehicle.  Additionally, two bolts were VERY poorly finished and required squaring of the end and chamfering.

Finally, the gray logo was an unwelcome surprise, most photos and video do not show the presence thereof and they are not easily removable.  Result, another hour was spent sanding them off.  

On the positive side, these grab handles are manufactured out of good material.  The welds are of good quality and aesthetic appearance.

These were installed on a brand new 2017.  The time and labor required for our install is unreasonable."

Of course, all my photos are post-logo sanding!  I should have taken a pre-sanding photo.  Alas.

After I submitted my review, which I figured they would not put up, they deleted the other two reviews.  I just checked again.  My review has yet to be posted (surprise!), but the other two reviews are back.