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Posts Tagged ‘Sisters on the Fly’

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I started to write this post at least 3 times but have let other things get in the way before I could finish, but not today.  As I mentioned in a previous post I went on an amazing trip last spring.  I traveled the Lewis and Clark Trail with the Sisters on the Fly and it was one of the most incredible things I have ever done!  There is so much that I want to write about that I’ve been a little overwhelmed.  After all, I did come home with 4,500 photos!

May 18, 2017 I pulled out of our driveway with my camper, Nadine – a 1972 Nomad that I (with help from Hubby and our boys) totally overhauled.  First, I headed to St Louis, MO, where I spent 2 days touring the city with good friends, Wanda & Jon before meeting up with the ‘Sisters’ to follow the historic Lewis and Clark Trail all the way to Astoria, OR.  In the end, it was 37 days and 6,967.1 miles.  I was one of 115 women who took part in some or all of the adventure with 49 of us making it the whole way and earning the dubious title of ‘All the Way Girls’.  Of that 49, 10 were over the age of 70 and if that isn’t impressive enough, one of those gals did the whole trip on her Harley Davidson trike.  What an inspiration!

Those of you who know me, know that I am a worrier. My husband says I worry too much, but I remind him that I have had many years of practice and that I am very good at it.  But even I feel that when it came to this trip, I brought my level of worry to new heights.  I worried about the camper.  I worried about the pickup.  I worried about the money, the tires, the weather, the road conditions, the animals I could hit on the road, the people I would meet and mostly, I worried about the fact that I had torn this camper apart and put it back together mostly by myself.  What if it fell apart along the way?

Images of trailer trash blowing down a desolate road ditch haunted my dreams but when it came right down to it Nadine performed wonderfully!  We traveled lonely gravel roads in Kansas, cruised at 70 mph on South Dakota interstate, dodged potholes in North Dakota, climbed mountains in Montana and braved narrow city streets in downtown Portland, Oregon.  We drove through fog, mist, rain, sleet, and blizzard conditions with snow & ice – and that was just Nebraska!  But Nadine held together and never hit anything, which is a big plus in my book.  Sure, there were water leaks, check engine lights and a wheel bearing that ran hot but I couldn’t have asked for a better trip.

Before I left home I made a promise to myself, I would keep a journal of this adventure because who knows if I will ever go on another trip like it.  I bought a new Steno-pad notebook to jot down quick notes while traveling and several nice notebooks to write in at night – expanding on my travel notes.  I also threw a handful of pens into the cubby hole of the pickup and another handful in the camper so I wouldn’t run out of ink.  I was ready but as it turned out, Linda D. – the hostess for our trip, was way ahead of me and presented each of us with a beautiful, leather-bound journal our very first night at Eureka, MO.  Here’s what it looked like, along with the compass and canvas bag they came in.

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And here’s how it looks now.

Who knew I would remember how to do beadwork?  Not me.  The last item I beaded was a belt I’d made in high school.  But gazing at so many beautiful beaded pieces in the museums along the way convinced me to try again.  And it must have been fate that I would find a wonderful bead shop less than a mile from our campground the exact day I decided to start.

The finished journal is broke-in now.  The cover’s a little beat up, there’s stains on a few pages and it’s so full of ‘stuff’ that it’s hard to tie shut but I love it because…

It’s crammed full of postcards, with sayings and quotes.

Messages, wishes and pictures of boats!

There’s hair (must be Bigfoots’) and memories galore.

With paintings and stickers and ribbons and more! 

Wow!  I sort of slipped into a Dr. Seuss alter ego for a minute there.  LOL!

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Yet every night (in my own little camper, in my own little chair) I used the scribbled, wonky notes from the Steno-pad to write about everything that had happened that day.  The days were so full that some nights it was midnight before I finished – but thankfully, I did finish.  Otherwise I would have forgotten so much of it, including some things that might be better forgotten, such as the first day which also turned out to be the worst day.

Day 1 – Ready to go.  I kissed Hubby and the dog goodbye, circled the camper one last time, kicked the tires and climbed into the pickup.  I zeroed the trip mileage on the odometer and opened my Steno pad to the first page where I wrote:

“And so the adventure begins.  May 18, 2017 – Thursday.  Odometer Trip reading 0.0 Left home at 7:00 am, terrified at what I am doing.”

And I was terrified.  I drove to the end of the driveway, tears running down my face, wondering (not for the first time) what the Hell was I doing.  I stopped at the mailbox and sat there, suddenly realizing I had never traveled by myself for more that a few days at a time.  This trip, if I made it to the end would be 5 weeks long!!!  Could I do it?  What if the worst happened?  Who would help me if I got into trouble?

I wished Mom was going with me!

Mom would have loved this.  She was always ready for an adventure and we had been on many together – family vacations, quilt retreats & watercolor painting classes and just about any excuse we could think of to hit the road, but Mom passed away 4 years ago and ironically, I hadn’t been on many trips since then.  There I sat – 55 years old and wanting my Mom.

There was only one thing to do.  I wiped away the tears, looked up to the heavens and said, “Get in Mom.  Let’s go.”

And we did.

Now I admit, I don’t know anything about what happens when we die but I have always believed it’s like going home.  One elderly lady I knew a long time ago believed dying was like falling asleep in the car when you were a kid.  You never remembered how you got there but you always woke up safe and warm at home, in your own bed.  I love that.  I can’t prove that Mom joined me for another adventure but from that point on I didn’t feel so alone and throughout the entire trip odd, little things kept happening that made me think just maybe she was there.

For 2 weeks before I left, Hubby had been basically bedridden with a head cold and for 2 weeks I had cared for him while stubbornly refusing to get sick myself.  So of course, 3 days before I left he was feeling better while I was hit full-force with the worst cold I had ever had in my life.  By the time I left I was basically a walking pile of phlegm looking for a place to curl up and die.  But even with aches, pains, a sore throat, sever congestion, and not much of a voice left I was determined to go.  The weather wasn’t helping either.  It was foggy when I left home and the fog became as thick as pea soup by the time I made it to Wind Cave National Park – my first stop.

Trip mileage 47.0 – “I purchased a National Park passport and it was desperately in need of it’s first official stamp so I stopped and got it.  Yippee!  Ok, I’m a nerd… but I’ve had a real US passport for 10 years and never did get a stamp in it so this is big for me.  I didn’t take a tour of the cave today but I did buy a ‘walking stick’ medal which I have decided to nail to the inside doorframe of my camper.”

From there I traveled through Hot Springs, SD and turned south to Cascade, SD and Cascade Falls, a small roadside picnic area.

Trip mileage 95.0 – “Crossed the state line into Nebraska.  The weather is growing worse and so is my cold.  There is no more ‘drizzle’ just rain that comes in sheets.  The wind has also picked up and it seems like no matter which way I turn the camper is hit by a strong cross wind.  How is that even possible?”

I got lost (twice) in Crawford, NE (a.k.a. the Bermuda Triangle of the Midwest) and passed through Ft Robinson State Park even though I couldn’t see it through the sleet and fog.  From there it was on to the Agate Fossil Beds National Monument.  I had planned to take one of their hiking trails to stretch my legs at this point but the sheet of ice on the front of my camper convinced me to just tour the nice, warm visitor center instead.

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I was really looking forward to seeing their ‘corkscrew’ fossils which are actually the ancient tunnels of a prehistoric ‘prairie dog’ like rodent known as Daemonelix.  They lived 19 million years ago and are actually related to beavers.  I watched the movie and enjoyed the great displays then bought a pin at the gift shop (because they didn’t have walking stick medals) and got another stamp in my Parks Passport.  Whoo-who, two stamps in one day, I’m on a roll!

Back on the road the weather had turned into a full-blown blizzard.  Snowflakes as big as horse turds blew across the road and stuck to the side of the camper.  I was sicker than a dizzy Daemonelix but I pushed on and made it to Oshkosh, NE where I stopped at a gas station across from a storage unit named the Cramalot Inn (no, I did not make that up) then drove to North Platte and the Buffalo Bill Ranch campground for a total of 418.1 miles.

I managed to park fairly straight and plug in the camper before dragging my rain-soaked carcass into to the camper where I discovered Nadine had developed a leak.  The pickup tires had been picking up water off the road and blowing it into the bottom edge of the front windows which no longer sealed tight.  Water had soaked into a couple of books, a blanket and my shotgun.  Yes, I’m armed and dangerous when I travel but frankly by that time, it looked more like a water gun than a threat.  Thankfully, the bed was mostly dry so I used towels to wipe everything down then went to get my PJ’s.

Surprise, another leak!!!  Apparently, the gasket on the running light outside the camper wasn’t completely sealed either.  My PJ’s, on the top shelf of the closet, were as wet as my shotgun.  I pulled out the driest set and used the coffee pot to heat water for my supper – Chicken flavored Cup O Noodles.   As I waited for the noodles to soften in their Styrofoam cup, I seriously considered heading for home in the morning.  It sounded very appealing as I sat in my damp pajamas, writing the days events in my soggy notebook and blowing my nose every 5 seconds, but even with everything that had happened I can be a pretty stubborn old broad.  I grew tired as the heater filled my leaky, little palace on wheels with warmth.  Either I was delirious or there was a tiny glimmer of hope because the last entry in my journal for Day 1 reads:

“Tomorrow will be better.”

And it was.

Thank God for stubbornness.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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  Spring is here.  The bees are buzzing, the pastures are full of new calves and the trees are blooming.  Spring also means it will soon be time to get my campers hitched up and out on the road again and I can’t wait.  If you’ve read my previous post (Sept 2016 – yes, it’s been awhile) you will have seen photos of the major parts of the ’72 Nomad (Nadine’s) overhaul.  But since there are always lots of ‘little things’ to finish I have been working on her most of last winter – whenever the weather was nice enough to be outside.

I have added additional cabinets, hooked up the water tank which is now mounted on the trailer hitch, found her an adorable kitchen sink, finished the cabinet front under the bed and added shelves and storage everywhere I could.  Just when I feel like I’m getting close to finishing I come up with something new to add.

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A home for the fly fishing rods and reels.

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A galvanized sink.

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And the storage space under the bed.

But all of that will come to a screeching halt soon, because in one short month I will be hitting the road to join the Sisters On The Fly for the biggest camping trip I have ever done.  We will be following the Lewis and Clark Trail from St Louis, MO to Astoria, OR.  The trip will take us about 4 weeks to complete and it will take me an additional 3 days to get to St. Louis and probably 4 days to return home from Astoria.  Round trip, I will travel over 4,400 miles but some of the Sisters will have many mores miles than that.  There are 59 Sisters planning on doing the whole trip with more joining for parts of it so it should be quite an adventure.

It’s freaking me out a little bit that there is so much to do before I leave – the work on the camper & the planning and packing.  And of course sometimes I have to wake up in the middle of the night to worry and wonder “What the hell was I thinking?”  But the sun rises and my worries evaporate in the daylight and I remind myself to take it one day at a time.   The important stuff will get done and if I forget something it can be replaced.

There are 13 stops along the way where we will spend 1 to 3 days & nights before moving on and our biggest day of travel is still under 400 miles so I know I can do that.   And if the worst happens and I have to pull out the trip part way I will find my way home with wonderful memories of the part I did see.

We have an amazing lady in charge of the trip and she has lined up hostesses for each of the stops.  These gals have been hard at work setting up fun and interesting things for us to see and do such as a paddle wheel cruise at St Louis, campfire entertainment, social events, catered meals, museums and historic sites, a chance to see the original journals of Lewis & Clark and lots of fun (and sometimes unusual sites along the way) such as Ladies night at the Sip & Dip Lounge in Great Falls, MT where mermaids and mermen swim in the pool behind the bar.  OK, I admit I am really looking forward to this stop not only for the mermen but also for their signature drink – ‘The Fish Bowl’.  I’m not sure what’s in it but I’ll let you know how it is, if I can remember.  Ha!

For now, it’s back to the camper to see what else I can work on.

Happy Trails!

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I hope everyone else has been having as much fun this summer as I have!

Of course my garden looks like crap but I have to admit the weeds have had a spectacular year.  It was soooo cold for soooo long this spring that the veggies  that actually sprouted are way behind.  I’m not sure if there will be anything at all except some herbs and a few green beans to harvest.  There are a few tomatoes on the vines but they are very green and with the cold nights I’m betting we will have a house full of green tomatoes this fall.

Since it is just plain depressing to go out into the garden I have been keeping busy with other stuff…  Some really fun stuff.

I have been working on my little camper – Rattlin’ Ruby and she is starting to look pretty darn spiffy.  We have the Custer County Fair this weekend, a Sisters on the Fly event in Buffalo WY next weekend and finally a car show to enter her in next month.

 In a moment of total and complete insanity I started polishing her silver aluminum hide.  Of course when I started this little project it was hot and dry but since then the skies have opened up and it rains just about every evening so my polishing has come to a screeching halt.  Only about a third of Ruby’s back-end is polished and about half of one side.  She looks a little goofy right now but that will not stop us from going to the fair.  We leave today and will carefully weave our way through the masses of motorcycles that are on the road this week for the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.  It should be fun!

This last few weeks have been filled with even more fun.  I know – it’s hard to believe it can get any better than polishing an old camper, right?  Ha!

The first thing we did was the Days of ’76 in Deadwood.  I have never been to the ‘Days’ and I have lived here a really, really long time.  I didn’t get very good photos but we had a blast!  Dalton and Dani were the ones who came up with this wonderful idea and so we jumped in the pickup and drove to Deadwood where we had a fantastic meal at the 4 Aces Casino – prime rib and crab legs.  My advice – forget the salad bar and head straight to the good stuff.  From there we walked (actually we waddled) down to the Rodeo grounds to the vendors who ended up with some of my hard-earned cash and the grandstands which are amazing on their own.  Built from huge logs it’s like a work of art you can sit in.  I’ll try to post some photos when I get back from the fair.

The 2nd fun thing I did was to go to a party at the Antler’s Bar & Grill which was hosted by the Newcastle Library.  You got to love a library which holds a get together at a bar!  This one was for Craig Johnson – the wonderfully talented author of the Longmire series of books which inspired the TV show – Longmire.

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If you haven’t been watching Longmire on Monday nights you have been missing out!  The story is based on the sheriff – Walt Longmire who lives in the make-believe town of Durant, WY (which is patterned after Buffalo, WY).  Craig lives in Ucross which is a small town close to Buffalo.  The Buffalo Chamber of Commerce have celebrated Longmire Days for the past 3 years and I have wanted to go every single year.  I haven’t made it yet but I am definitely going next year.

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Craig is traveling around the state of Wyoming and visiting all 73 Wyoming libraries to talk about his book The Spirit of Steamboat.  What a nice guy!  He is a wonderfully funny speaker and is so humbled by the amazing success of his books and the show.  Its obvious he loves Wyoming and the people who live there and has become something of a local hero although you would never know it to speak to him.  In fact the Libraries ‘pay’ him to come speak with a 6 or 12 pack of Rainer Beer – which is Sherriff Longmie’s favorite drink.  He says he hasn’t bought beer in 7 years!.  What a great sense of humor.

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As you can tell I was very impressed and inspired by his talk.  I may just have to start writing murder mysteries too!  In my free time of course…  Dang, I’m funny!  I suggest you read his books (and the entire Britannica encyclopedia set) while you wait for my book to come out.  I believe the library also has Seasons 1 & 2 on DVD of the TV series.

The 3rd really fun thing I did last week was to join a few people from work who wanted to do a Mud Run.   This event was hosted by the Campbell County Mudders to raise money for the families of the 3 miners who were killed in a bus/car accident a couple of months ago.  It was for a good cause so I figured why not?  How bad could it be?  There were 5 members of our team – some of which actually like to run (go figure) and some of us who were built more for comfort than speed (myself included).

OK – I must admit most people who do these runs actually spend time training for them but since it was kind of a last-minute thing we had less than a week to prepare.  I trained by eating as much chocolate as possible and by running 2 laps around the house one evening.  It took me 2 days to recover from that.  Even with that extensive training, I was not prepared for what we ended up doing.   Silly me.  I imagined we would be jogging around the horse track at  Camplex with a few mud puddles to run through.

Lets just say it was a little more intense than that…

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Turns out that this event was one that would be classified as an Extreme Mudder Run.  As I always say “Go Big or Go Home”.

That’s Beth, one of my team mates in the picture above.  She was in the first obstacle.  Who knew they would build obstacles in a race?  They had dug 2 holes in the track, piled the dirt up on each end of the holes and filled both holes with water.  And that was just the first of many ‘fun’ things to come.  The course was 5K (or 3.1 miles) and was run in 2 laps with 16 obstacles in each lap.  The 1st obstacle – pictured above – we had to do 3 times.

Can I just say one word?

BENTONITE! 

If you’ve never had any experience with this powdery grey mineral you might not realize what water does to it.  I on the other hand I have helped seal off stock tank leaks with the stuff and have learned all the fascinating properties of the stuff.  I have found that combining water and BENTONITE creates one of the slickest, gooiest, stick-to-your-body gunk you will ever run into.  And ‘run into it’ we did.

We ran through it, slid down it, swam through it, climbed up it and slithered on our bellies like a reptile in it.

As if the challenge of wet BENTONITE wasn’t enough there were also huge tires from large mine vehicles to climb over, a cable bridge stretched between two tow trucks to fall off of, barbed wire (one with electricity to zap you) to crawl under, culverts to crawl through, structures to climb over, large round hay bales to climb up and over, a large roll-off dumpster lined with plastic and filled with water you had to wade through and duck under wooden walls and a vast plethora of chances to break a hip on.  As I get older I find myself thinking about that stuff more often.

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Thankfully, Beth’s daughter was there to take pictures of us as we worked our way through the course.  I figured I might need them for insurance purposes too.

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Thank goodness for my fantastic team mates.  That’s Jonathan hauling my lazy *%$ through part of the course.  Actually that was one of the obstacles – to carry a team-mate for a distance.  We had to stay together as a team and surprisingly we did pretty good – less than 90 minutes to get through it all.  We even beat out a team of 21-year-old gals who had to ask another team of guys to help them along the way.  Of course that could have been their plan all along – if you get my drift.

Here’s our ‘after’ photo.

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You can’t really see what a mess we were.  But they did direct us to the livestock wash racks before allowing us into the bathrooms if that gives you any indication of how we looked.  I’m still picking BENTONITE out of my belly button.

I have to admit I am rather proud of our team and even myself.   With a little help from my friends I was able to do every obstacle except one – climbing over a 15 foot wall with a knotted rope to pull yourself up with.  I’m going to have to work my way up to that one.  But all in all I didn’t do too bad for a 52-year-old woman who sits at a desk all day and eats massive amounts of chocolate.

Will I do it again?  I just might.  I must admit that when I hit that first obstacle my first thought was “What the hell did I get myself into?”  But completing each obstacle and crossing that finish line was a rush I haven’t felt for a long time.  Yep, I’ll do it again but next time I’ll train a little better – more chocolate and maybe 2 more laps around the house!!!

Now I’m off to have more fun!

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I did it!  I attended my very first Sisters On The Fly weekend.  What a nice bunch of ladies and they really do (as their motto says) “Have more fun than anyone”. 

Of Course Steve wanted to go with.

Sorry, Big Fella – no men, of any kind allowed.

I took my sweet little trailer, Ruby – or as she’s know now – Rattlin’ Ruby and we spent a couple of days at Stockade Lake campground in beautiful Custer State Park.  It was like a trip home since I had worked and lived in CSP for two years when I was fresh out of High School. 

 I had to wait till after work on Friday before I could head over there but with only 35 miles to go it didn’t take me long.  I had spent the previous weeks getting stuff ready. I told Hubby that I was ready to go since I had packed everything, including the kitchen sink!  Ruby is still pretty ‘rustic’ but nobody cared – their campers had started out ‘rustic’ too. 

And just look at them now…

Everywhere I looked there were cute little campers…

 

OK – got to get a canopy!!!  I got so many good ideas – it was wonderful!

And everyone was so eager to share.  I made it into almost every camper there.

I was in Vintage Camper Hog Heaven and loving every minute.

But the highlight of the trip for me was when this rolled into camp.

 This SWEET little pickup and camper are owned by a local fella I have known for years.  Since this is a very special little camper it’s owner, Jim, was asked to bring her by even though it meant breaking all the rules when it came to ‘ men in camp’. 

I have driven past this camper hundreds of times over the years and always wondered what she looked like inside.  I had even asked about buying it at one point but as soon as I saw inside I realized why it would never be for sale. 

 

Jim is an artist and an amazing person.  I had no idea just how artistic he is until I saw this. 

Check out all the metal egg beaters on the ceiling.  I bet there were at least 70 of them without the handles screwed up there. 

I was blown away!  I just had to sit down and look.  Every surface was filled with hood ornaments, trophy parts and bits and pieces of all manner of things.  There was so much that like me, my camera didn’t know what to focus on so I’m afraid the photos don’t do it justice.

This was my favorite part – doesn’t the bed look like a berth on an old ship – so tiny and cozy.  He said he had to add this wall because the sides of the trailer were pulling out.  So he copied the arch of the camper doorway and made a great little cubbie hole for the bed.  I might just have to steal that idea for one of my campers.  And another thing I’m definitely going to do is copy the way he built his screen door.

Is that beautiful or what?

Jim’s son and grandson were there too.  His son is working on another old trailer that I’m betting will be just as wonderful as this one.  What a nice bunch of guys.

I did have a great time last weekend and will have to do it again.  The SOTF gals will be getting together the end of this month when the people of central Nebraska have their annual ‘Junk Jaunt’.  This event is a 3 day, 300 mile long rummage, antique, vendor filled sale that makes a loop through some of the prettiest country in Nebraska.  I was really thinking about attending until I got home Sunday afternoon and learned we will be moving yearlings that weekend.  Oh well, that gives me a whole year to save my pennies for the next one.

Thank you to all my new sisters for all the fun and especially the wonderful warm welcome I received.  I look forward to seeing you all again!

 

 

 

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Sorry I have been away so long – here we are at the end of another busy summer and I’m not sure where it went.

I know I promised you some photos of my tatted lace but my camera has decided it doesn’t want to work anymore so I guess it is time to go shopping once again. 

I’ve been busy gardening.  The garden has done fairly well – even though we haven’t gotten much rain.  It has been a strange summer with the plants only setting on a few ‘fruits’ that haven’t gotten as big as usual and things ripening up extra early.  I started picking winter squash in mid July – which is unheard of here but I guess if the plants are stressed they figure they better Git-R-Done as soon as possible.

Our youngest son, Morgan moved back home for a month or two.  He was working 6 days a week as a welders assistant on the new pipeline west of Newcastle.  He was lucky to get a really good welder to work with so he learned a lot and had a pretty good time too.  He just left this last weekend for school where he will be taking welding.  He was ready to go but will miss his dog Steve (probably more than he’ll miss his mother).  Steve will be living with us while he’s gone.  This should give me plenty of time to spoil the short little, 4-legged sweety pie.

We’re all missing that kid of ours but we know he’ll do well.

We also have news on our oldest son, Dalton and his wife Dani.  They are now living in Eastern SD where he is working as a welding instructor at the Vo Tech where he went to school.  What a great opportunity for them but we’re missing them as well.

And what have I done all summer beside garden?  I joined Sisters on the Fly – I am now sister #2831 – thank you very much!  And I have been working on my little campers – Nadine and Ruby.  Ruby is the one that has made the most progress.   

Besides doing a whole lot of cleaning I have ripped out and replaced some of the bad paneling, greased wheel bearings and discovered she has electric brakes, cleaned up mouse poop, started sanding cabinets and resealing them, cleaned some more mouse poop, wall papered, bought new tires, screwed her back-end back together where it had come apart after I cleaned up even more mouse poop, and pretty much patched, fixed and refinished everything I touched on her.  I also found a wonderfully talented lady near Custer who re-upholstered the seats and sofa for her too.  You just gotta love those red & white stripes!!!

Check out that new silk wall paper too.  It looked good on the computer but inside Ruby the first thing I thought of was an old-time Western House of Ill Repute.  Yep, looks like the finest little Texas Whore House you ever did see – don’t she?  Oh well, once I get all the photos and stuff hung up and screwed to the walls it should look real pretty.  And even though the curtains aren’t sewn yet the fabric looks very nice with it so I guess it has to stay. 

I hitched up Ruby and went to the county fair a couple of weeks ago and she performed flawlessly except for a few drops of rain that managed to get past all the silicone caulking I forced in around her ceiling vent.  I guess that still needs some work.  She is a work in progress but she is slowly coming along. 

Ruby is up in Rapid City this week getting her propane checked out (which has not turned out so well) and hopefully getting a new water tank and tubing.  The guys in the Service Department are almost as tickled with the old girl as I am.  The kid who parked her in the lot said he figured she was the oldest one they’d ever had. 

I do have to tell you about one wild adventure I had with Ruby early on.  One of the first things I fixed on her this spring was her door.  Someone had tried to pry their way inside at some point in her life so the bottom and top corners of the door were ‘sprung’ and wouldn’t fit snug like they should.  Of course that meant that rain and snow had managed to find their way inside and messed up the wood on the inside of the door.  I removed the door, took off the door latch, buffed off the old paint and primer, polished her up, repainted the arrow (International Red – Sweet!) and added some black pin stripping before replacing the wood with new paneling painted with chalk board paint.  I saw that in an issue of Mary Jane’s Farm magazine – so you can write messages on the door – Way too cute.  Once things were fixed up I replaced the latch and screwed the door back on and after a few minor adjustments (skillfully made with a large hammer) the door shut much better than it had before.  In fact, it shut so well that I couldn’t get it open again.  If I had been thinking at all I would have realized before now that I should have been inside the camper when I shut it the first time just in case but I didn’t happen to think of that until the door was firmly stuck shut. 

I wiggled the latch.  I cussed.  I begged the latch to open.   Then I cussed some more – with gusto – but it still wouldn’t open.  The key was no help either – first because it wasn’t locked and second because she hadn’t come with a key.  There obviously was something else ‘amiss’ with her security system.  I thought – no worries – there are little cubby doors all the way around the outside of the camper so I should be able to pick the lock on one of those and get inside – no sweat. 

I’m afraid to report that as a thief I would not make a very good living.  In fact, I would probably starve. 

Even though old campers come with pretty basic (cheap) locks I wasn’t able to get any of the 3 cubby doors open.  No problem (I thought again) there were screws all along the top of the hinge holding the doors on.  I would just take them off, remove the door and crawl right in.  I chuckled to myself as I picked the largest door to work on.  Heck if the spare tire could fit through it, so could I.  It took me 30 minutes to remove the 20 small screws along the top of the hinge then I stuck my handy-dandy screwdriver in to pry the hinge loose only to find out that the 20 screws on the outside weren’t the only ones holding the door on.  Inside the wall, locked up safe behind the stuck door were another 20 screws holding it from the other side.  This led to another 45 minutes of lock picking attempts and much more cussing.  My lock picking skills didn’t work any better the second time.  Finally, I was down to my last option.

The cubby door that was already bent: 

You guessed it – it is the smallest cubby door on the whole camper. 

Since the door was already bent I could reach my hand inside without causing any more damage and with the help of a screwdriver and a few skinned up knuckles I was able to remove the screw on the back of the lock.  Unfortunately, that didn’t release the lock.  In fact I’m not sure what that screw really does, if anything.  I’m beginning to think it’s just a ‘decoy’ screw and some kind of sick joke to make you think you could actually break in.  Either way, after lots of feeling around inside with my hand and trying to picture the inside of the lock in my mind I realized there was a clip that slid into the back of the lock to hold it in place.  A pair of pliers later and I had the lock out of the door and the hatch open. 

Success!!! 

Then I looked at the opening…

It is even smaller than the door…

I measured it… 

Thought a minute…

Then I measured my ass…

Hmmm… 

I measured the door again…

Pulled off my belt…

Took off my hat…

pulled the tape measure a little tighter around my ass…

Maybe… 

Just maybe…

By this time, my beloved Hubby – who has shown no interest in Ruby at all – till now – realized what was going on and had pulled up a lawn chair for the show.  I glared at him but refused to be intimidated by the smirk on his face.  I knelt beside the door, pulled out the heavy electrical plug and extension cord along with as much of the garbage, mouse poop and dust I could reach.  Tightened my mask down over my face (safety first) and started in – looking like a demeanted yet determined bank robber and wondering how I would explain this to the paramedics who would eventually have to come rescue me. 

After seeing how determined I was, Hubby did jump up and help by holding the door as I wiggled my shoulders – one side then the other through the small opening.  I had made it halfway through when Hubby suddenly yelled,

“STOP!!!  HOLD STILL!”. 

I stopped dead in my tracks trying to figure out if I had caught myself on something or EVEN WORSE if a snake had appeared.  Of course since I was stuck half-way in and half-way out of the camper I feared the worse.  Trying to keep my rising panic in check I calmly (Ha!) asked him what was wrong.  “Nothing,”  he answered, “I just want to get the camera.” 

Ha, Ha, Ha!!!

Damn man!

But I have to admit this did give me the added incentive I needed to wiggle my backside through the opening in record time. 

I had made it…

Well, sort of… 

My boots were still sticking out the side of the camper.

  But since this was obviously a very lucky day for me, things just continued to go my way.  The cubby I had chosen to crawl through opened up to the storage space beneath the sofa/bed so there wasn’t very much extra space and worst of all I realized at this point of the misson that the door I had  just crawled through wasn’t the only door I had to crawl through.  As luck would have it, the inside access door was a couple of inches shorter but thankfully a foot wider and just for added icing on the bundt-cake-of -life –  it was also closed!

Of course it was!

  Damn – I love a challenge!

 But there is a God in Heaven and he loves me – you see that door has a loose latch that I hadn’t gotten around to fixing yet so I was able to smack it a couple of times with my fist and it popped right open.  Yes!!!  Then I looked at the size of the opening and thought about the size of my head.  A short time and two scrapped up ears later I managed a few more sideways wiggles in a 1/4″ of dust, dirt and mouse poop and a sharp 90 degree turn to the side and I was able to squish myself through the last door and out onto the floor of the camper.  

Yep – 50 years old and I am born again.  Can I get a Hallelujah from the choir?  Thank you God for not making me one of those ‘full figured girls’.  Amen!

I laid on the floor covered in dirt, dead bugs and spider webs, with an old receipt stuck to my elbow and crap running the full length of my front but I was in.

  I was sure Hubby would be worried sick about me as I laid there, trying to catch my breath but as I rolled over I looked up to see his smiling face pressed against the window, watching me and laughing his fool head off. 

Let’s just say it’s probably a good thing, at least for the sake of our marriage, that I was ‘locked’ inside the camper at that point.

I am proud to announce the door latch has been fixed – it just needed to be moved back a little bit and I have taken the latch and cubby lock to the lock shop in Rapid City and now have new keys to open the doors on the old girl.  I have also learned three very important lessons:

1.  Always be inside the camper with screwdrivers, pliers and a large crow bar when testing out a door latch for the first time.

2.  When you buy a used camper the first thing you HAVE to do is clean all the nasty stuff out of ALL the cubby holes & storage spaces.

and

3.  Never ever crawl into a camper cubby hole while your husband is home.

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Look out! I’m back up and running and life is good.

And what have I been doing with all the free time I had?

I spent $250.00 and I bought myself something I’ve wanted for several years.

I have looked high and low (especially the last few months) and finally found the one … 

my new project…   

my new ‘baby’…  Nadine.

No – she’s not standing behind this nasty old camper.  She is the nasty old camper!!!

I will love her,and I will take care of her,and I will name her Nadine,and I will bring her home,and I will fix her up,and she will be my favorite camper in the whole, wide world!

OK – that’s a little freaky but it’s true – her name is Nadine. 

I don’t know why – she just looks like a Nadine.

I know – most women have never dreamt of finding an old camper and fixing it up but there are a few of us warped and fun-loving gals out there who do.  Just check out the website for Sisters on the Fly and you’ll see why. 

www.sistersonthefly.com

Someday – when Nadine gets a little more ‘grown up’ we will join them on an adventure or two.  But until then I will tear her apart and rip up and fix the soft spots on her floor and lucky you, I will probably write about every little detail.   I have to write it here, my family is already tired of hearing about her.

Here’s her inside view.  Hmmm – Avocado Green.  Who remembers the ’70s.  I was actually looking for a trailer older than this one.  I was hoping to totally avoid the period of Avocado Green and Harvest Gold. 

Here’s the sofa that pulls out into a bed.  Can you say “Nasty”? 

I knew you could.

Ane here’s her little kitchen.  Actually, the stove and oven work great!  Looking inside,I’m betting no one ever even used it so I’ll clean it up and this will have to stay.  Thank goodness it’s not the bright, neon, glow-in-the-dark green that the counter top is.  This I can live with as if I squint my eyes I can almost convince myself that it is actually Sage Green instead.

Of course there were other issues.  It snowed big time again and her tires were rather ‘iffy’.

After fixing or replacing 3 of her 4 tires she made it home and is now sitting in front of my garden shed. 

Perhaps mud flaps for the pickup should be high up on our list of things to do.  What do you think?

Another big challenge will be getting a title for her.  I’m not even sure what she is.  If I had to guess I would say she was built in the early 70’s – probably 1970 – 1973.  If you look realllllllly close you can make out the name ‘Nomad’ under the big window on her side.  And there is a label by the door that says she’s a product of the Skyline Corporation.  We measured her and she is 20′ from bumper to ball and there are some numbers stamped on the hitch but other than that she’s a woman of mystery so far.  She was last licensed in 1995 in Colorado and has passed through several hands since the title was lost so I’m sure the whole title thing will be a major saga but maybe by the time I get her fixed up we’ll have one.  So for now it’s time to get to work.

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