Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Alaska Trip 2017 Cancelled

One of my bucket list items “Work Camping” or “Camp Host Position” just worked it way to the top of the list.  I have been looking for the right position and I think I have found it in Bonners Ferry Idaho. 

I have applied for Camp Host position in the past but they were filled before the park received my application.  My criteria was to have hiking, backpacking, fly fishing, and a place to ride my bicycle preferably in or close to the Rocky Mountains.

I was looking at my options to possibly camp host in Alaska this summer when I stumbled on several listing for campground host for USDA NFS in Idaho.  In lieu of submitting applications as in the past I started calling the listed phone numbers for the campground managers.  The first couple I called I had to leave messages so I thought no luck here.  About an hour after I left a message for Robinson Lake near Bonners Ferry ID I got a call back.  The park manager and I had a short discussion on my qualification and basic duties of the campground host ending with him asking me to go online and submit an application. 

Within minutes of submitting the application I got one email telling me no position available and another telling me my application was forwarded to Robinson Lake.  I thought same as in the past…then I receive another email from the manager I spoke with confirming he received my application.

Within 2 hours of submitting I received another email from Robinson Lake campground manager asking for references.  Later that same day I got a second call from the campground manager after he had checked out my references with an offer for the Campground Host Position at Robinson Lake for the summer.  We discussed duties in some detail and expectations for both of us.  My official dates are 25 May thru 5 September with the options of arriving 1 May and leaving 30 September.

No Alaska pictures this year but plenty of pictures of my adventures as a campground host at Robinson Lake, Bonners Ferry Idaho to come.

The pictures below are off the following site

Robinson Lake

Kootenia River Valley

Kootenia River

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Review of Feldman Chevrolet Service Center Livonia MI

Current Location: Livonia MI
Next stop: Brighton State Park MI

Overall Rating: Very Good Experience Great Service 

I arrived a head of the 7am appointment and waited for the service department to open.  At 7AM sharp they opened and took me right in.  Within an hour I was talking with a technician explaining what had happen and what type fuel and DEF I had been using.

The Customer Lounge was in the same area as the cashier office.  The seating was spacious with both tables and lounge chairs with movable mini tables attached to several of the lounge chairs.  The area was clean and orderly with newspaper and magazines for reading along with new on the TV.  There was an area with toys of the little ones.  There was a large display screen that gave status of vehicles in the service area.

They had fresh brewed coffee not only did they have creamer and sugar there were several favors of coffee syrup available.  There was complementary water and fresh popcorn in the lounge area.  The coffee was good I had several cups thinking about taking a morning walk while staying with my daughter Christina and stopping in for coffee.

To go along with the coffee, popcorn, and small bottles of complementary water there are vending machines with a variety of drinks and snacks.

They have free WiFi that seems to be more than adequate for checking email, and doing some web surfing.   The WiFi was not password protected you did not have to look or ask for the password just start using it.

They offered a shuttle service but why leave great coffee and popcorn with TV to watchJ

10:45 repairs completed and ready for pickup.  When I got there my Service Advisor Don asked if I would like to speak with Bill the technician about the repairs.  I met with Bill and he was very informative on the test and actions he took to correct the issue with DEF quality.

I took my 2012 Silverado Duramax in for “Diesel Exhaust Fluid of Low Quality” message I received on my dash display.  I also cleared a P2201 NOx Sensor code a couple of days ago with my new fancy code reader?  So it looked like clearing the code may had made things worse????  In the end I found that clearing the code had no adverse effect on the truck.  The problem was corrected with a few test to confirm my DEF was not contaminated then a forced regen (a soot cleaning process) and an update to the ECM (engine control module).

Bottom line the customer lounge gets top rating, the service gets top rating, and customer care also gets top rating.  

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Elliott's Landing and Campground Review

Current Location: Elliott's Landing and Campground Pinewood SC
Next Stop:  Ridgeville SC early next week

Elliott’s Landing is a small private campground with 48 site most were 50 amp service all with water and sewage.  They are located on Lake Marion near Rimini SC part of the Santee Cooper Lakes System.  It was established in 1945 when the Santee Cooper Lakes were flooded making it the oldest campground on the lakes.

The sites are all full hook ups with plenty of space for my 33 foot fifth wheel and tow vehicle.  The road into the campground is about 1 mile of gravel road with potential of plenty of dust and or a little messy if there is a heavy rain.   The sites are level grassy pads with a sandy base some shady sites with most being limited shade.  The roads in the campground are easy to maneuver for a big rig.  The sites on the lake are pull in and back out the other sites are all pull thru.  They have a 300 foot fishing dock, a boat launch, a general store and two bath houses.  I watched my brother catching some large shell crackers and catfish off the bank at his camp site.  During the spring and summer it is reported that the dock is a fishing hot spot with plenty of action.

The Verizon Wireless reception was good with a solid 4G connection.  Over the air TV reception was good I was able to pick up all the major networks and more.

I stayed at Elliott’s Landing March 2017 for several weeks.  I found it to be a great place to stay.  A lot of the sites were long term residents but only a few of them actually stayed in the campground the others showed up with their boats for the weekends to enjoy some fishing and relaxing time.  The area is a little remote with the nearest shopping area a 20 mile drive to Manning. 

Sunrise at Elliott's Landing
Sunrise at Elliott's Landing

Sites on the left are on the Lake where you pull in and back out.  
The sites on the right are pull thru

Sunset at Elliott's Landing

Sunset at Elliott's Landing

Sunrise with a view of Fishing Dock

Entrance to Elliott's Landing a long retired General Store

Friday, March 10, 2017

Strawberry Jam

Current location: Elliott's Landing and Campground Pinewood SC
Next Stop: Ridgeville SC 3/13/17

Okay I have a pressure canner and been successful with canning salmon, beef, and chicken.  I now think I have this canning thing under control so why not make some strawberry jam…I done my research and talked with my tech support (my daughter Christina) and figured this will be easy.

The first part getting the strawberries was fun and easy with a trip to a local berry farm.  I visited Hickory Bluff Berry Farm where my daughter-in-law Karen works with her parents Kathy and Walter who own and operate Hickory Bluff Berry Farm.  I always enjoy visiting the farm the last time I visited I assisted with sorting and packing some of the best broccoli I have ever had…yes it was fresh out the field.  If you have not had fresh cut broccoli you are missing a treat.  Back to the strawberries I was there early in the morning for their first picking of the season.  Like the broccoli there is nothing better than strawberries fresh from the patch.  Being the great people they are they let me help with the sorting and packing of the strawberries but in turn they had to listened to some of my stories from the road.  A great day at the farm. 

They offer U-pick your own strawberries or if you are in a rush they have some freshly picked and packaged available.  Strawberries are the first in with blackberries and blueberries to follow as we get into spring and summer.  They also have local honey and jams along with other farm produce as the seasons come in.

The next step process the berries and make the jam.  I followed the well established process of cleaning, mashing, and cooking the strawberries then sealed them with a boiling water bath.  The resulting jam was very good with lots of flavor but it was more of a syrup than a jam.  Back to my tech support and more reading.  It appears I did not understand what a rolling boil looked like and did not get the jam up to the required 220 degrees.  I needed a larger sauce pan to allow a more violent boiling without over flow.  The second batch turned out great with it setting to a preserve as required.  The first batch is not a lost its just a matter of recooking the batch and resealing it in a boiling water bath.  I opted to recook the first batch in small batches as I needed the jam and place the reprocessed jam in the refrigerator in lieu of resealing it.  I started with 5 pounds of strawberries and made 4 pints and 8 half pints of jam with berries left to allow some snacking of the sweet berry.

The Heart of Operations at Hickory Bluff Berry Farm

Some fun for the little one's when they are not picking berries

No I was not out there picking my own someone had to take the pictures

Time to sort and pack the berries

Andy put that camera down and get back to work

Kathy admiring the variety of the berries

Mother Nature is amazing

The crew hard at work

Now it is time to start the jam...clean the berries

Prepare for the mashing

Now they are ready for the stove Lemon juice and pectin added
4 cups of berries 1/4 cup lemon juice and pectin per the package

Bring to a boil and add sugar all at once.  
Looks like a lot of sugar, that is because it is a lot.
 7 cups of the sweet stuff

Processed and sealed cooling down.

It may seem like a lot of work and it was time consuming
but just hanging out at the farm with Walter, Kathy, and Karen 
was a joy in itself...but the end product was the icing on the cake.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Tiny Home

Current Location: Elliott's Landing Pinewood SC
Next Stop: Ridgeville SC mid March

I met Josh at Riverside Estate Campground in Covington GA.  He had just moved into his new Tiny Home.  He built it himself and was still in the process of finishing it.  He is a MasterTradesman…Artisan and you can see from the attached pictures knows his trade.
He had sold his conventional house of 1195 sqft and decided he wanted a simpler life.  As he was putting his house up for sale he started him tiny home project.  And as most plans go the house sold within days and left Josh scrambling to complete his new tiny home.  He was able to make it live able and is completing the finishing touches on the road.  He is currently 92 days into the project with 2 weeks of living in his tiny home.
His new home is just over 60 square feet packed full of fun and free living.  He has all the comforts needed and a few extra.   You cannot see it in the photos but here is an apartment size washer/dryer inside his Tiny Home.

As I as taking the pictures and talking with Josh he was making plans for his next stop Edisto Beach SC.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Riverside Estate Covington GA Review

Current Location: Elliot's Landing Campground Pinewood SC
Next Stop: Ridgeville SC TBD

I stayed at Riverside Estates from December 2016 thru February 2017.  This may not be an RV resort, but it is a good place to stay if in the Atlanta area.  The Park offers full hook up’s, and has both 30 and 50 amp service.  WiFi was included with the site and, for the most part, I had good wifi service - as good as or better than other campground’s wifi.  Many of the people in the Park were long term and, except for a few, all rigs were in good condition.  The sites were well maintained. 

The campground is an older campground in need of a makeover, and the current management is in the process of giving it a face lift.  The sites are concrete and level with some cracking of the site pad due to age.  The sites are not large, but are of average or larger than other places I have stayed.  Most of the sites are in the open with a few trees scattered throughout.  There are both back-in and pull thru sites with plenty of room for maneuvering thru the park.

I selected B Section next to the Yellow River, which I was told was a flood plain before I decided on the site.  During a heavy rain the river started to rise and the management team went to each camper and informed them they may have to relocate, gave them new sites to move to, and an emergency number to call if needed.

I enjoyed my stay at Riverside Estate’s everyone I came in contact with were friendly and a pleasure to interact with.  I had great neighbors, some same your neighbors are the same no matter where you are…

My friend Josh's Tiny Home with more information to come on his project..