Saturday, April 21, 2007

Oops, I did it again

The photo is how Carl looks after 11 1/2 hours on the bike. It was taken on our second trip together in the RV, the 2007 MS 150, the first trip being the one where we broke the skylight. In between there were two solo chick trips where I broke nothing at all. After this trip, we don’t have an awning any more.

Before you make any unfair inferences connecting Carl to the tragedy, I have to take full responsibility for this one. I didn’t anchor the support legs and the wind whipped the awning up and over the top of the RV. There were at least a dozen witnesses on the MS 150 team who could have come to the rescue, but they were all just as amazed as I was when it went sailing. We think Carl can repair the brackets and replace a couple of broken pieces for a fraction of the cost of the new skylight.

The RV was a perfect vehicle to take as MS 150 support. Although the fog was so thick Saturday morning I drove to Katy at 20 mph with white knuckles, we made the rendezvous in time to rescue everyone who needed a flushy before riding off at 7 am. After spending our first few trips using the flushy for emergencies only, we really broke it in this trip with 16 riders and 4 support crew. And we left it all that flushy stuff in Austin at the end of the trip. I am now Vice President of the RV, and Carl says the Vice President gets to hook up the dump hoses. I checked for other officers who might want the job, and apparently, I am the only officer.

Saturday night we slept in the RV near Smithville at our host family’s lovely country home, and Sunday morning when we started moving around in the RV, we startled the resident border collie named Cowboy. He let loose a round of barking at that darn thing shaking in his driveway. Cowboy, by the way, is in love with a golf cart and sleeps by it in the garage whenever possible, so it is my theory that he was afraid the golf cart might get hurt by the monster parked nearby.

I drove the RV 384 miles this weekend. I’m thinking of bus driver as my next career. At one time I had 8 passengers, another time I had 6 bikes. Another time I had three bikers sleeping. What a versatile house on wheels.

Friday, March 30, 2007

The Shakedown Trip and the need for a checklist

One month after the impulse purchase of the RV, we took our shakedown trip to Lake Somerville and an MS 150 training ride. It was April Fools Weekend, and we were foolish just once.

We had a non-RV spot Friday night, with beautiful TV reception and a close-by bathroom. We weren’t on the lake, but Rocky Creek Park is a peninsula, so the water is everywhere you look. Deer were abundant. There was a giant storm in the night, but I just LOVE storms in the outdoors.

I voted to stay another night in Rocky Creek at Somerville, and we were rewarded with a utilities site opening up. We did the water and electric hookups for the first time, got comfy, and discovered my perfect tree heavy site had no TV reception. It was minutes before the Final Four playoff game. This would not do.

We threw things together. The slider room would not come back in. Out came the manuals, which described putting a wrench on it and cranking it in manually. We had no such tool. I made a phone call to the dealership, and they said, "Is the emergency brake on?" No, it wasn't, but sure enough, setting it made the slider operate just fine.

The slider panic ate into the time, and we began a frantic search for a site with good reception. Carl was driving and I was rotating the antenna every 100 feet or so. That’s when we did the foolish thing ...we left the skylight up and trashed it on some tree limbs. It was flapping around. Without some repair, we would be in trouble in another storm, and we certainly could not drive home that way. What we needed was some duct tape. Of course we didn't have any. I borrowed some from other campers, and Carl taped it back together.

I said “No reception for the Final Four, broken vent, and bugs flying all over the place. It’s an omen. I’m going home.” But by the time the roof was fixed, I had decided we should just stay there and get in some more experience. How often do I get Carl to spend a night in the great outdoors?

I was glad we did. I rode the bike out at dusk to see the deer and got an extra treat of a bunny and lots of buzzards. The park shower was great. Cooking and cleaning up all went smoothly. I slept like a medium good baby. Unfortunately for Carl, Georgetown lost.

We woke up to buzzards mating overhead in the trees, cranked up the RV and went to Brenham for breakfast. Carl is looking for a skylight to replace the broken one ($500, thank you very much), I am working on the drive-out checklist, and there's duct tape in the tool kit now.