Wednesday, December 12, 2012


Nov. 11, 2012

Murphy has been determined to undermine this trip for the last few weeks, but so far we are holding him off at arm’s length.  Here’s hoping we can hold him off completely, even while on the trip.

I’m going to give you a run down of what we ran in to so you might head off such Murphy problems yourself when planning a getaway.

We have been plugging away hard at saving money for the trip, but things keep popping up.  The biggie was for some strange reason airfares for the time dh would normally fly to Las Vegas for the AutoCad University DROPPED considerably, like nearly $700!!! OW!  That hurts the fuel budget like crazy.  Because after all if we weren’t vacationing he’d fly out there on the company dollar. 

I’ll be truthful, I was NOT amused when he came home and told me what his expense check was, but rules are rules and this was the agreement we had with his employer.  So that difference had to be met.  A hard look was put on the budget and quite truthfully I considered staying home, but oh I wanted this trip so bad.  So we adjusted the budget plans to cut expenses on things to see and do.  We also added more boondocking to the schedule.  I also decided that certain clothing items I had planned on purchasing just for the trip and would not have normally purchased were not really needed and therefore that budget travel expense could help cover fuel costs. It was a simple matter of deciding what want was the strongest and the desire for the trip outweighed getting a nice evening wear outfit when I had clothing that would work already in my wardrobe. We are, if nothing else, flexible.

Next the truck insurance I had on the schedule as due in December turned out due late November.  So my sinking fund was going to be a little short for that, but not bad and we couldn’t leave without being properly insured.  Jumped that hurtle and moved on.

Next on the Murphy hit parade very nearly killed the trip entirely.  We knew that with all the boondocking we’d be doing in cold weather we needed to replace the second battery in the camper.  I’d actually budgeted for that, it was a major problem it uncovered that caused us to worry about finances big time.

After he hooked up the new battery Gary went inside the camper to check the power of the two batteries and discovered the electronic read out panel for the holding tanks wasn’t working.  Now you don’t need those to use a camper, but they sure are helpful and that wasn’t the big threat, it was what he discovered next. 

When you live in the woods, as we do, no matter what you do there is always a rodent problem.  We knew that the readout panel probably wasn’t working due to a chewed wire.  This gave us concern that other wires might be chewed so he backed the truck up to the trailer and hooked up the wiring for the tail and running lights to see if they would work.  NO! 

This is a MAJOR problem, you can’t safely or legally travel without tail or running lights and we’d had this happen before about 5 years ago and then it was over $600 to get the wiring fixed.  That was when the repair people were getting $69 per hour for the work and now they were getting $99 or more per hour! We simply could not pay that type of money on top of everything else and still make the trip. 

We discussed staying at cheap motels and going without the trailer, after all our fuel economy would be much better and if that was the only trade off it would be close in cost, but we’d still need to do the repair when we got home and that would put us eating most or all of our meals out of an ice chest or at a fast food restaurant.  This would add an additional $600 to the trip costs.  A no go for us.

Plus I’ll admit it, we both worried about the possibility of picking up bed bugs at some hotel along the way, not an option on either of our parts.  One of the main reasons we like the camper is we always know who slept in the bed last and that it was NOT a bedbug!

That left only one other option, repair it ourselves.  Now for those of you who have never worked on fifth wheel camper wiring don’t bother to look for wiring diagrams on the web for a Sierra fifth wheel because they don’t exist per the manufacturer.  It seems each individual Sierra is wired by an individual in whatever manner he sees fit.  Which in turn makes for some interesting searches for the wiring in the walls and floor of the camper should a repair ever need done.

We knew the last time the chewed wire had been in the back section so carefully dh removed the convertor box, the layers of paneling checking each individual wire as he went.  Late on Saturday he found a single chewed wire and repaired it.  He then tested the lights.  NOTHING again, so he moved on to toward the paneling directly behind the driver’s side tail light.  Jackpot!  Every single wire was chewed completely in two.  Much testing, wire splicing, more testing for safety. Much later that evening we had a full set of working running and tail lights. 

He spent Sunday re-installing the paneling so professionally you could not tell it had ever been removed.  He added two extra things as he worked. The first was a LARGE dose of rat and mouse killer. 

We use Just One Bite brand.  A vet recommended it to us years ago and we have had great success with it.  It mummifies the rodent so even if they die in your wall they don’t smell. 

The vet also said that as long as our mousing dogs and cats did not eat the poison directly they would have to eat numerous of the poisoned rodents at once for it to affect them.  Since none of them will touch a rodent they didn’t personally just kill we have been secure in using it because we NEVER put it anywhere there is even the slightest possibility that a pet would get it.

The second thing was an easy access panel behind the convertor box, out of sight, for future replenishing of said poison so perhaps we will not have this problem ever again.

So with two days worth of work we figure dh saved us $1,000 he says that is well worth every sore muscle in his body from doing the chore.

We still don’t have a working control panel, but dh is already working on possibilities as to where that problem might be to do the repair himself when we get back home.

Murphy, however, was not finished with us.  We both take some minor medications and I called them in for refill to make certain we had plenty for the trip.  The pharmacy called the doctor and the doctor insisted upon seeing both of us BEFORE the trip.  NUTS that was scheduled in the budget for January.  Doc wouldn’t see it any other way and he wouldn’t refill our prescriptions without a visit.

Okay, we have a medical sinking fund, but if it went the way it normally does the two of us at once  two months before we had it scheduled it was going to more than sink the sinking fund.  Thanks Murphy!

Only guess what, it seems we had met our deductibles under our new insurance plan –we thought we still had a bit to go, and what I thought would be $200-$300 extra turned out to be $30 from the sinking fund, no extra vacation money had to be spent—gotta love sinking funds! Talk about a big sigh of relief.  Even better, we found out we were both in far better medical shape than we were a year ago.  That was music to our ears!  I guess the extra walking, home grown and prepared organic foods are paying off.  While we both are still nearly 100 pounds overweight we are in much better shape blood pressure wise and cholesterol levels.  Sweet!

All this extra work, doctor visits and overtime put us way behind schedule.  Once the repair was complete and the mess from doing it was cleaned up we found we only had four short days to do a major packing.

I usually start packing a month or so before, but since we kept running into Murphy we hadn’t been certain I would even be making the trip or that Gary would do no more than fly to Las Vegas without me.   No sense in packing only to have to unpack it all.  Or if we decided to go without the trailer then packing would have to been done an entirely different way. So we had waited.  Stay tuned the trip is about to begin.

Jan who hopes nothing else comes up now that we’ve paid all our non-refundable fees in OK.

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