Saturday, July 14, 2012

7-14-2012 Working in the Garage on a Gloomy Day.

Levi and I took a trip to Lowe's today.  We had a little RV project we wanted to get started on. During one of our stays at a campground (the place escapes my mind since it was about a year ago), Levi and I saw a wooden walkway (almost resembling a ladder) trailing to the door of an RV. The walkway was a simple idea: walk across the boards to the door and get any loose gravel off of your shoes before entering the more tracking in chunks of dirt and debris. It's an issue we deal with quite a bit. The tarp we sit out in front of the trailer doesn't help too much and although we typically leave our shoes outside, it would probably be more advantageous and safe (spider in your shoe anyone?) to keep them inside. We decided to make our own "Portable Walk Ramps" as we have dubbed them.

I was a little camera crazy today and ended up documenting the steps we took to complete a ramp. The supplies were pretty simple to figure out. We fortunately had the tools to use, so no equipment purchases were made in this project. The following were supplies we picked up from Lowe's:

1X2X8 Pine strips
3/8" Vinyl tubing

3/16" Nylon Rope
Other supplies used were: a hand saw, electric drill, 1/4" drill bit, electric sander, sand paper, 2 saw horses, wooden plank to serve as table top on saw horses, measuring tape, heavy duty scissors, pencil, permanent marker, twisty (the kind you use to tie garbage bags), and lighter. (F.Y.I. We fortunately did not get hurt during the making of this project wearing our flip flops. Exercise caution and wear closed toe shoes!)

 Step 1: Measure and mark 16-inch long strips of wood. Cut along this line with your hand saw. Continue until you have 28 strips (each measuring 16 inches...or close to that...LOL.)

Step 2: Turn the strips so that 1" side is facing up.  From each end, measure 4 inches inward (the measuring tape should be extending toward the center) and mark with a dot, making sure to keep the dot centered in between the edges of the 1" side.  There will be two dots for each strip of wood, one for each end. Use your electric drill with 1/4 " drill bit to drill the two holes in each strip. You will be stringing the wood strips and vinyl tubing together here.


Step 3: Sand down all sides, ends, and edges of each strip.  The sanding process should be quick.The purpose is to LIGHTLY smooth down any jagged areas.


Step 4: Measure and mark 2 inch segments on your vinyl tubing. We used a permanent marker.  Use heavy duty scissors to cut through the tubing.

Step 5Levi tried a number of different ways to begin stringing the rope through the strips of wood and vinyl tubing segments.  The best method was to burn the end of the rope before threading and cinching a twisty through the rope just below the burnt area.  The rope used was approximately 17 feet. Start out by lacing the rope through a hole of a strip of wood; then lace a vinyl tube. (Make sure you keep about 5-6 inches of slack at the ends of the rope so they can be tied at the end.) Continue this pattern of wood, tube, wood, tube, etc. until you come across your 28th or last strip.  In a U-turn fashion, after lacing through the final hole of your 28th strip, loop over to the strip's second hole, lace the rope through the hole, and continue the pattern back up the strips (tubing, wood, tubing, wood, etc.). 


Step 6: You should end up back at your first wood strip with ample rope hanging out of each hole.   First pull and tighten both  rope ends to get rid of any excess slack.  Tie knots at each rope end, making sure that they are larger than each hole. Use a lighter to burn each knot and secure its position.

 Step 7: Admire your handy work!

This project took about two hours to complete and it costs a little over $10 to make. The process was time consuming but we really enjoyed working was relaxing!  Levi and I now understand why woodworking was such a big past time for both of our fathers!  We have extra supplies and think we might make more ramps....a possible items to sell (discretely, of course) at future campsites...


Why the gloomy day, as the title of this post mentions? Well, it was overcast all day, but that's not the reason. Right before we took off to Lowe's, Levi got a phone call from his mom. Jade, the family dog (part Chocolate Lab and Chesapeake) of almost 14 years was having trouble breathing and she was going to the vet later today.  The prognosis did not look good at all. If you had to put Jade into words, they would be beautiful, loving, adventurous, motherly, strong-willed, and undoubtedly loyal!  This was pretty upsetting and we stayed close to our phones for any news during the day.

Jade was diagnosed with congenital heart failure.  Her lungs were slowly filling up with fluid and she was having trouble breathing, let along getting around.  She slipped away peacefully, Levi's family later told us, with Levi's mom, dad, and sister all around her. Jade's body will be cremated and her ashes will be put in a river....Jade always loved the outdoors and swimming....I am certain she was a fish in her previous life!  We miss you loads, Jade!  R.I.P. beautiful girl!

7-13-2012: RV Expo at the Orleans Arena

Levi and I took a drive down to the Orleans Arena (located behind the Orleans casino) just off the strip on Tropicana to explore Camping World's big RV Expo.

Levi and I have been going back and forth deciding upon a suitable RV for not only us but our traveling companions: our pooch and cats... 4 cats. ( I know! We are insane, but there are many people that travel with their pets, however few or many. So, essentially, that makes them insane too. It is possible to function in a sanitary manner provided you are consistent and frequent with cleaning routines.) Our intention was not to purchase a new RV ( which we didn't, surprisingly), just find traits about models that would be beneficial for us.

The admission was free! There were rows upon rows of travel trailers, fifth wheels, Class As, Bs, and Cs. We stayed away from the Class As as they were way out if our price range and didn't pay too much attention to the Class Bs ( or oversized vans) since they were too tiny for our feline family.

The fifth wheels on display were a bit overdone. I know they appealed to several spectators there, but we felt like they were too over the top. The fifth wheels were exceptionally nice with giant living rooms, gourmet kitchens, and walk in closets. They felt like your typical suburban house...a feeling we want to get away from when we start this full timing lifestyle. We were pretty surprised with our reaction. Fifth wheels have typically been our top choice in discussions. Maybe this expo just had models we weren't happy with.

Inside the Heartland Pioneer
Inside the Keystone Vintage
We were pretty impressed with the travel trailers, though. The space was just about right...the space was comfortable and provided enough room for our animals to move about and lounge. Plus there were areas (out of the way of the kitchen, bedroom, and living area) where a litter box or two could be put. The Heartland Pioneer caught our eye along with the retro Keystone Vintage that resembles an Airstream but without the weight. The Pioneer felt almost cabin-like and had a separate bunkbed room we figured the cats would like. The Pioneer was lacking an insulated bottom for cold temperatures...sometimes known as an "Arctic Package" or "Four Season Package." The pipes are insulated to prevent them from freezing over. There were other trailers at the expo that had this like the Keystone Cougar (which had a nice floorplan too, now that I think about it). The insulation package does bring the price up, too.   The Vintage was much longer than what we'd like (over 30 feet) but had loads of storage and a nice layout.

Inside the Freedom Elite
We looked at the Class Cs and were pretty impressed with the Freedom Elite model. It was spacious for being only 27 feet. We determined that we would probably have to tow our Toyota Yaris in the back. However, the storage space was impressive and the price, we figured, would be close to how much we'd spend on a truck and trailer together. Also, we liked the fact that our pets would be in an air controlled environment and at arms reach during our travels. (We could purchase a suburban or attach a camper over our truck to remedy that problem when towing a trailer, though.)

We decided to talk about our thoughts over dinner and reviewed the models we liked: travel trailer and Class C. We came to the conclusion that the Pioneer was closer to our preferences. It wasn't too long (27 feet) and was lite weight. The layout was to our liking, especially with the slide out.

Levi and I felt this trip was very beneficial. We learned that we are particle to travel trailers and have chosen specific aspects we want from it! I encourage other RVers and wanna-bes to attend an expo close to their home town AND to visit their local RV dealerships. You don't know what you want until you see and try it out!