Saturday, September 25, 2010

Northwest Camper's Fall Jamboree - Kelso, WA

The Redneck Express is once again assembled and this time the road leads us to Kelso, WA for a nice little Jamboree getaway with the Northwest Campers!

In the past, the group had held their Fall Jamboree at the Kelso Elks Lodge, which has a fairly basic gravel parking-lot type campground. This time around, our Wagonmaster, Les, located a nice RV Park by the name of Brookhollow.

The park itself is situated in a large earthen bowl, surrounded on its perimeter by a 10-15 foot high earthen dike to protect it from winter and spring flooding by the river that runs along its edge.

For group gatherings, they provide a discounted rate of $27.00/night for full hookups, which includes a very efficient and well distributed wifi network (From which I am currently writing this blog entry ;) ), and a quality cable hookup that has a wide variety of regular and digital cable channels (For this with Television sets that have a built in Digital Cable Tuner).

The Jamboree officially began on Friday, and I had planned to make a quick disconnect and departure to join then after I got home from work.

That turned out to not quite be the case. For a couple days prior, I labored to stem a water leak problem that had been coming from my fresh tank. At the onset, I had thought it was being caused by a poor seal from the rather annoying PVC reinforced tubing I had used to replace the earlier leaking Polyethylene pipe that the previous owner had used to fashion a replacement fill tube.

After several failed and rather wet attempts at trying to use regular RV Fresh tank fill tubing (Which uses its own magical measurement system, if you need a tube that has an interior diameter of 1 1/4 inches, I don't know what its magical listed size is, cause it certainly ISN'T the tubing that says 1 1/4" on the side of it!

Eventually, I discovered that the side of the tank where the fill port actually attached had cracked. As per the norm for my life, this is always something discovered at 9pm at night, on the proverbial 11th hour before departure.

Thanks to luck and the purchase of a fresh water tank patch kit I had bought with plans to use to patch my waste tank (And never used) I was able to repair the tank through the combination of heating a flat head screw driver till it was red hot on the stove burner to weld the cracked plastic tank back together and then using the fiberglass reinforced patch kit to reinforce the repair area.

In the end my new fill tube became an amalgamation of new 1 1/4" polyethylene tubing and 1 1/4" PVC with elbows that had threads since for some reason known only to home depot, 1 1/4" was the only size the didn't carry a regular elbow for Polyethylene pipe.

The plus side? My fresh water fill is stronger than the camper.....

But, the story doesn't end with the fresh water tank being a pain, far from it.

Rather, as I'm readying for departure, and checking all the lights around the rig, I discover that my driver's side taillight has once again ceased to have a functional running light element. The signal worked, but not the running lights.

First off, a little background. Since the day I bought this camper, the tail lights have conspired to drive me insane. If it isn't a turn signal stopping working for no reason other than the camper just having sat in one spot for a while, its the bulbs popping out of their bases.

So, I go to remove the bulb. The glass bit turns in the base.

I put on my gloves and grab the bottom of the bulb to twist it out of the base. The whole base brakes loose of the back plate, then shorts out, sending my blinker module into a ADHD Sugar High from hell before blowing the fuse on the line.

So, now my signal has fallen apart and the blinkers have stopped working all together and I still haven't pulled out of camp.

Duct tape, electric tape and a new fuse, I get the signals working again, but the running light is still dead. Screw it, I decide to take my chances as the daylight has begun to fade.

My flasher module still works, but has schizophrenic fits if I turn on the hazard light button, it works normally when just turning left or right.

I finally pull out of my site, go to put the hitch step on and discover that the replacement cotter pin for the hitch pin won't go on.

Somewhere around 8pm I finally hit the road, stop at Fred Meyer's in Scappoose, air up my tires with the diabolical air pump that only runs long enough to pump one truck tire up at a time to 80 PSI (For $0.75 a pop), grab gas, get McDonalds, and finally drive on to Kelso.

The next morning, after a night of really spastic and serial weird dreams, I drag myself out of the camper and meet up with the rest of the Northwest Campers group.

I believe, since their inception, the Northwest Camper club has been doing a '60s tie dye/Hippie theme to their meetings. Their big yearly rally, is called Hoodstock, held up near Hood River, Oregon.

In keeping with the theme, our Wagonmaster, Les, dons his helm/hat/wig/Mullet of Power to champion us through this great quest of relaxing, eating, relaxing some more, touring each other's classic or slightly newer RVs and discussing the various modifications we performed, then eating and relaxing a bit more.

As prerequisite to our great undertakings, we all donned our ribbon/head bands of power to ready us for the trials of too many pies and other daring feats that lay before us :).

Little did we know what lay ahead of us! BEHOLD! The great beast known as....


In all seriousness, though, we had quite the feast, my small contribution being two pies, one of cherry and the other raspberry (Sara Lee, of course, I'm still mastering the art of fresh pie making).

Our evening wrapped up with the aforementioned "tour of homes" with my little camper being the new guy on the block as I was not able to attend this years Hoodstock.

All in all, its been an enjoyable little weekend Rally and a nice lead up and kink-remover for the big fall colors rally coming up in two weeks!

Check back with me again, with luck, I will be able to post about the Rally as we go!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Mjgcamper Visits for the Weekend

Howdy folks, time for another little update to my blog. The old Redneck Express and I haven't gotten out much this year, such is the fate of those moving into new locations and getting settled in.

But, the years not over yet, so keep your eyes peeled and you may wind up getting rewarded with a few more camping adventures.

This time around, my buddy mjgcamper, came to visit for the weekend with his Northern Light Truck Camper (Or as he calls it, his Northern Leak ;).

We started our little weekend adventure by my taking mjgcamper out to one of my regular Cigar Haunts, the Greater Trumps Bar, one of the several libation stations that are apart of the historic McMenniman's Bagdad Theater in Portland, Oregon.

Mjgcamper got his first try at smoking a La Gloria Cubana cigar and enjoying one of their Terminator Stout Chocolate Milkshakes.

The next morning (late) we roused ourselves from slumber, had a nice breakfast then loaded up with plans to scout out a good location to fish on the island. Because of a rather nasty mosquito hatch that had happened during the summer months, I'd had to skip alot of the days I would have normally gone fishing.

Since the bug problem had finally died back, I looked forward to wetting a line again.

On our way out, we stopped over at Reeder's Beach where the local residents were having their annual yard sale. I acquired a nice pair of upholstery shears (My new kitchen scissors :p) and an interesting paperback book that I will take a stab at reading.

Mjgcamper found himself a nice set of stereo speakers for his truck.

After our little shopping interlude we set out to find an ideal fishing spot.

First stop, we revisited the Oak Island wildlife area in the center of the island.

No Dice. Haldeman Pond was fished out, and Sturgeon lake was so shallow it was a muddy marsh all along the shore.

So, off we went to the spot where I had fished Steelman Lake earlier in the year.

Struck out again. Same problem, water had gone down so much that the lake was shallow and full of tall weeds, eager to steal away a fisherman's tackle. On a plus note, I discovered my float was still stuck in the tree where I'd left it, and no less inaccessible than it had been when I first got it stuck several months prior.

Finally, we went down a little dirt road that had been flooded out the last time I had visited and wound up at [b]Big Eddy[/b].

Big Eddy is as it's name describes, a giant eddy in the Gilbert River formed by a sharp 90 degree turn the river makes on its way to emptying into Sturgeon Lake, or emptying Sturgeon Lake into the Multnomah Channel, depending on the tides and the time of the year.

We set up in the shade and settled in. Our bait was nibbled and teased many a time by the catfish, but none took the hook.

However, we did enjoy our time, soaking our lines while the sturgeon jumped all around us, snapping bugs out the air above the water.

After several hours fishing, we finally returned home and had ourselves a nice barbeque on my deck, then sat around the campfire chatting till it became late and we finally turned in.

The next morning (Slightly less late), we roused ourselves and dined on omelets of fresh tomato, chopped up kielbasa sausages from the night before and plenty of Cheese.

Afterwards, we sat back on my screen patio and chatted, we talked about going back out fishing again, but both of us were a bit worn out and Mjgcamper still had the chore of mowing his grass to complete that evening.

So, after a enjoyable weekend visit, we said our goodbyes and Mjgcamper moseyed on back to Beavercreek.