Time sure flies, yet this has been a fairly relaxed year (by design). Instead of breaking ground on something new, it was time for finesse and completion. The prairie has gotten off to a good start without requirements of mowing like last year and we’ve seen lots of interesting flowers pop up depending on the time of season. We had rock brought in to top the stretch of lane from the tracks to the Lodge, and later on the curve that was starting to wash out on the west of the tracks. The tractor came in handy for smoothing those sections and moving material around and I’ve been keeping the weeds down with the sprayer.
The solar array has been working flawlessly since it went online last July and has cut our electric bill significantly; paying us during the summer months which offsets our internet cost. In fact, the savings is on par with the estimated payback schedule.
3.5 tons of cooling was installed last month in CS3 to provide climate control for the ‘artifacts’ upstairs. With storage of film, records and tapes, radios of bakelite and thermoplastics and wooden TV’s, this was sorely needed. And with the plan to spend a good part of my future days upstairs working and tinkering, I’ll be able to do so without sweating onto my soldering iron. This has already been a boon for working downstairs as we’ve had some hot, but very humid, late summer days where being able to work on a car without sweat stinging your eyes as oil runs down your arms is much appreciated.
Back on the ‘summer of improvement’ idea, the Suburban has gotten some attention the last few months with a new headliner, a transmission cooler, a sport tach and cleanup of the inside of the instrument panel and some other maintenance performed. We ran it hard pulling with the Shasta with A/C blowing on max and outside temps soaring for the 7 hour drive to southern MO, then adding a vintage refrigerator to the cargo for its return trip! With cooler weather, it hummed right along for a much shorter trip to Wisconsin recently, then onward without the trailer to Oshkosh, only to re-visit the state a week later…this time to Milwaukee. I suspect a trans filter and fluid change may be in its future. And the valve stem seals should be done at some point.
We’re also learning about the limits of the Shasta. The week I took off of work last year to focus on upgrades has paid dividends on convenience and reliability and I took some time to document them here to help others: http://www.linearlook.com/shasta/shasta.html One of the biggest limitations is in liquid holding capacity. IIRC, 25 gallons of fresh water, 12 gal of gray and 5 gal of black. Fresh water isn’t terrible, the biggest consumer is showering (a Navy shower helps) and worst case you could refill from a 5 gal tote. But 12 of gray* and 5 black is almost laughable (the published figures, of course, are quite different). I shelled out a few bucks last week for a 14 gallon tank I plan to mount up under the rear of the trailer (have to practice my ABS welding skills) which I figure, along with judicial valve placement, will allow for accommodating either holding need in the future. The rear dinette modification meant that we never even set the front bed up as a table on this last trip, and was a nice place to have breakfast and a cup of coffee when you’re not quite ready to greet the fire ring.
*to stem graywater accumulation, I installed an outdoor shower on the right rear which is handy for several uses, but not always practical depending on the shape of the campsite and your proximity to others. The other major advance is a hotwater bypass control. You flip a switch and the hot water lines are flushed of their cold water (which returns to the tank), so when you fire up the sink or shower, you get almost instant hot water without waste.
I had been looking forward to July and the trip up north in 2017, but consider that month a loss. I was fighting poison ivy the days leading up to the trip, which not only meant constant pain, irritation and loss of focus on other things, but resulted in two clinic visits and a trip to the e-room back in CF. I essentially couldn’t do anything productive the entire month and sequestered myself to the air conditioned bedroom and a car with A/C for commuting (the plow truck, actually). It wasn’t until August that things calmed down. Glad to be over that, but I suspect only the minorest of irritations will cause a relapse.
One other thing I’ve been trying to do this year has been spend more time with friends. Time is a precious commodity and at this stage of our lives, will only become more scarce for those our age as people settle down, focus on their careers, have children, etc. The trip this past spring with Micah, Don and Cam was a welcome break to the monotony, and we got to see cars I haven’t laid eyes on in years. A certain trip to the High Life Lounge and an IMAX presentation of Dunkirk was also quite memorable. Now if we could only manage a bonfire this year.