Wednesday, May 26, 2010




Campsite eighteen, Aspen Glade campground. Nestled down deep  in the Conejos canyon,  right beside the Conejos River, just off of Highway seventeen, about halfway between Antonito Colorado and Chama New Mexico. Elevation 8500 feet.


Here is a look at the giant Ponderosa Pine that stands silent sentinel at the entrance to our campsite.


Spaced widely apart in a picturesque setting.


With full hookups. It is a fantastic place to await the snow’s melt off up high at our campground in Trujillo Meadows.


Note that the Trout filled Conejos River is right there in the immediate background. This photo was taken just as you turn off of highway 17. The lower loop of the campground has many sites that back in within 25 yards of the river.


Today as we went to Chama New Mexico to check the mail, go by the hardware store and take care of a few other chores, we stopped by the road that leaves the highway and starts the climb up to the Trujillo Meadows campground. We turned in to the road and began the climb to see if we could get through to the campground.

As we turned off of the asphalt we found this Forest Service Notice posted.


We were able to climb up the road for nearly a mile, but at the top of the mountain, the road became a snow mobile trail.


Disappointed, we engaged the four wheel drive and turned around, knowing that it would several days more before we might be able to get into the campground.

Then, in addition, we knew that there was a place that every year the drifts were always very deep and the sun couldn’t reach. That place was still further yet, about a half mile past where we had to stop. There was no doubt that we hadn’t seen the worst of the snow blockage yet.

Monday, May 24, 2010


Spring time in the Rocky Mountains. Weather changes are the norm. Minutes after taking this photo,


as we were at the breakfast table looking out of the window, this was the view.


The startling blue skies had turned deep gray and snow began to come down. Lightly at first, but soon, heavier.

It is warmer here at 8500 feet, so the snow that originates up around 10,000, and is drifting down to us, will not likely last long. 

Sudden weather changes and all, it is great to be back in the Rocky Mountains. The humidity here this morning was a pretty dry 27% and I took the photos while wearing a tee shirt.

Before I could write this short blog entry, the sun was shinning again, He, he, the Rocky’s, ya’ gotta’ love em’ !

We will go into Chama new Mexico to check mail sometime today and maybe i’ll get a chance to post a few entrys up to the blog, getting caught up for a change !


After breakfast on our first day we begin the settling in process. Since we have electricity here at the Aspen Glade campground we heat our trailer with a oil filled electric heater. To circulate the heat we have put a fan on the floor behind the heater, it is set on low speed for quietness.


Note that Poco doesn’t have his coat on yet so he’s staying near the heater. 100_1914

Here is a view of the heater from above.100_1915

The office where I am writing this from. He, he, note the coffee cup. Coffee just seems to taste better at elevation.


We are back in the Aspen-Glade campground ! It is the campground where our area manager resides. Located in the Conejos River canyon, Aspen-Glade is quite picturesque. This is the view that greets us each morning as we step out of our front door.


That is the Conejos river,famous for it’s excellent trout fishing. We will stage here as we wait for the snow to melt off so we can get into our campground at Trujillo meadows.


We slept great last night with the window near our heads open.


We could hear the breeze in the giant Ponderosa pines.


It was quite a pleasant symphony to sleep to, with the river down below making it’s gentle rushing sound as light breezes whispered through the pines. Yeh, you know we slept in this morning !

Aspen-Glade is at 8500 feet of elevation and our campground, Trujillo Meadows,  is above 10,000 feet.


The Diner in Norman Oklahoma is another cool eatery that has been featured on The Food Networks Diners, Drive inns & Dives, hosted by Guy Fieri.


While enroute to our workamper job of managing a campground in Colorado’s National Forest, we passed through Norman Oklahoma. And, Norman is the home of the twice State champion chili recipe. That chili recipe resides at the diner. We knew that we just had to make time for a stop.

A quick check of driving times told us that we would most likely be able to overnight in Norman and be at the Diner for their famous breakfast. We did and on Saturday morning when the doors opened we were the first in line.

Betty asked as we walked in, “where would you like to sit ?” “ Near the grill, so we can watch”, I respond as I remove my old worn camera from it’s case. Here is the way the chef & his helper had the grill prepared.


Home fries and Hash browns cover the grill and flats of eggs are at the ready. Obviously they are ready for a large breakfast crowd. Though we were early on a weekend morning, the place was packed by the time our order arrived at the table. Half of a cup of coffee kind of quick. I ordered the three egg omelet from the menu that is called “The Kitchen Sink”. It starts with three eggs and has five other ingredients of the chef’s choice. Here is a look, plumb pretty, ain’t it !


The kitchen sink comes with Biscuits and gravy. Man, all of my favorites ! I have to tell ya’, I nearly hurt myself EATING THE WHOLE THING !


The coffee was great and the atmosphere was local home folks friendly.

All too soon it was time for us to get on down the road.


We arrived at the location of the Diner on east main street in Norman Oklahoma, just before dark.

With beat up camera in hand, Betty and I found a place to park and walked up to the diner for a look. Closed already for the night, we noted the opening times.


A couple of city police officers walked up briskly as I snapped the photo above. They were responding to a silent alarm nearby. I asked about over nighting on a nearby parking lot. They told us of one that would have less traffic noise and we were set for the night.

Early the next morning we found a place to park near the diner.




At the front door of the diner we met some of the locals who are regulars. They bragged on the chili and wanted us to know that they thought the main meal of the day that they were there for was breakfast.

Then the door rattled and a hand flipped over the open sign as the neon lights came on.

Thursday, May 20, 2010


While traveling in our Oliver we would often stop for a few hours sleep in the middle of the night. We would try to find a place that had as little highway noise as possible, where delivery trucks unloading noisily wouldn’t keep us up.  If possible, in a place where we would not draw attention to ourselves.

On this trip to Fort Benning Georgia to view a Grandson’s Basic Training graduation, we parked amid the vehicles parked for sale in front of a Citizens Band Radio shop. We seemed to just blend in. Kind of hiding in plain sight.

It was a very hot and muggy night so we ran the Yamaha generator to power the air conditioning.

Here is a short video of our stealth camping spot for a few hours sleep. Note that we are parked beside a camper that is for sale.

I wonder if it is possible to stealth camp in a 36 foot long fifth wheel that is pulled by a white one ton dually ? We leave for Colorado in the morning, so we’ll soon have our first try at stealth camping in a all white 54’ long tow vehicle and 5er. Sounds like we are in for a challenge !


The Olympian Wave 3 Propane catalytic heater is mounted in it’s place. But we are running out of time to get everything done before we have to leave out for Colorado. So, I will have to find time to run the propane line to it, on down the road somewhere.

Here is a look at the heater that won’t heat, yet.


We really like our wave 3. It uses no electricity, is nearly 100% efficient and is totally silent. It is imperative, however, that windows be left open just a bit to insure a that a constant supply of life sustaining oxygen can migrate easily into the trailer.

In our Oliver we left the Fantastic Fan open just slightly and the same for the windows at the rear of the Ollie. A similar practice will be put in place in our Coleman fiver.

Each morning as we have breakfast and drink coffee while waiting for the Sun to come up, we plan our days “getting ready to go to Colorado” chore list. It seems to go on and on.

Will we ever get to the end of it ? Or will we just finally give up and leave out with stuff undone ?

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


It ain’t CHRISTmas, nor is it Thanksgiving, yet, Betty is stuffing SPF-60, like a turkey !

With all of the practice that she had in our Oliver’s limited space, she is ready to really pack it in the 36’ Coleman 5er. Here is a quick video look while in mid stuff mode.

How to Stuff a Coleman

We are within a couple of days of  hitting the road for eight months of workamping in Colorado, North Dakota and Kentucky.


As some may remember we spent the Winter down on the Border  .  .  .  .  .  Well,   .  .  .  .  . . ..

What happens on the Border stays on the Border !

We weren’t quite up to the Fandango, Yet.

Next Winter, look out Fandango !


Hooks, hangers, racks, clocks and stuff. So far today I have been hanging stuff here and there for Betty.

Where does she get all of these ideas from ! The bathroom has so much stuff mounted to the walls that it nearly looks like a porcupine ! Here is a look.


Now, I have to admit that it is nice to have a place to park yer’ overhauls when yer’ in the shower.100_1867

And it’s good to be able to find the truck keys.100_1868

Then there is the necessary items such as Police Scanner and international shortwave broadcast receiver. He, he, maybe some of this stuff is mine ?


This reads the basement temperature instead of the outside temp. That’s handy for freezing weather camping, like at the Sugar Beet Harvest and Amazon, in Campbellsville Kentucky.


Small vacuum cleaner.100_1874

Solar powered atomic clock.100_1876

Charging station that includes a USB outlet.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


On our recently acquired fifth wheel, the fresh water and all three holding tanks are located between the frame rails, under the basement. They told us that the basement and the underbelly were both heated. But the sales staff didn’t know about things like cubic feet per. minute or duct size.

Today I made it a point to have a look see for myself. When we workamp in North Dakota near the Canadian Border and in Campbellsville Kentucky, the weather can be quite fierce because it is late in the year.

Total freeze up happens to those that aren’t ready for the serious wind chill conditions. Staying in a totally frozen trailer while trying to complete a workamper assignment might be nearly impossible. Completing the assignment means a bonus for each of us. A bonus that we will enjoy while down on Padre island in January.

Here is a look at the basement and underbelly heat duct system.


The silver duct runs down into the underbelly and puts hot air right between the 46 gallon black water tank and the 46 gallon front gray water tank. The rear 46 gallon gray tank has another heat duct between it and the other side of the black water tank.


Our Ford Dually had a RV plug on the back bumper when we bought it. It worked well, but the light and brake cord had to run from the trailer’s neck, over the tailgate and down to the plug.

It made me a bit nervous, that cord hanging over the tail gate like that. So, while at Lakeside Metal Fabrication, I asked Johnny to put a plug inside the truck bed, where it would be less likely to catch on something while going down the road.

We all know how such things just seem to happen at unexpected times, well, last year one of those events came our way.

We were coming off of LaManga Pass, a steep and crooked 3000 foot drop in five miles of switchbacks. One of the Rocky Mountains finest views, but potentially deadly if you are not prepared.

Someone had sideswiped a guardrail, and there was a large wide chrome trim piece in the road. it had been ran over so many times it was twisted badly.  One end was sticking up off of the pavement about four inches or so and that was the end that our Jeep ran over. There was no avoiding it. It flipped up and back, bouncing up into the under carriage of the Oliver all the way to the back, clanging loudly every inch of the way.

A safety pullout was ahead so we pulled in to take a look. Everything was ok, but our brakes were too hot to proceed on down the Mountain. We sat and waited for the brakes to cool off. We had got lucky.

We turned the negative event into a positive experience by choosing the opportunity to photograph the beautiful scenery.

Meanwhile, back at the dually with the cord hanging exposed over the tailgate.

Remembering the chrome piece, I knew that if something like that hit the trailer cord on our much heavier 5er, we could possibly loose our trailer’s brakes. Now, on a pass like LaManga, that could spell disaster. It was time to make a change and put the plug inside the pickup’s bed.

Here is a look at the completed project.


We are getting chores such at this done on a daily basis as we prepare to leave for Colorado.

It snowed today In Trujillo Meadows according to the National Weather service.

Monday, May 17, 2010


Our jobs that we have chosen and the places we stay and play, are places where the weather can swing wildly in a days time. Backup fuel for cooking, hot water and occasional heating during our extended stays off of the grid, seemed like a good idea. With that in mind, we picked up a few fittings and a hose while we were in town one day.

The idea is to carry a 100 pound propane tank on a dolly, standing up in the bed of the tow vehicle. Normally the tank would be empty except for a couple of the Winter extended stays such as the sugar beet harvest up near Canada and the Campbellsville Kentucky CHRISTmas stay, while working for Amazon dot com. Here is a look at the valve and hose set up that is hooked up to a test tank in the driveway.


100 lb. propane tank strapped to the dolly.100_1883

Looking past the outside tank towards the valve inside.


A close look at the extra fittings and the valve.


As I sat there on the ancient tractor with the propane engine gently purring and the brush hog angrily whirring, I paused a moment to take it all in.


In a few brief seconds I had created a brand new spring in the North Pasture, out by the mail box and the water meter. WATER METER ! Oh geeze, now I remember what I placed that t post there for !

Yupper, I done it ! I brush Hogged up the water meter.

Right as Betty is getting lunch ready in the kitchen, the water goes off. All I had wanted to do is get in one last pass over the place before we leave for Colorado to host the campground. Here is a look.


Betty put the lunch on hold and went to town for fittings and pipe glue.

I hunted up the shovel and some tools. Simple you say ? Not ! Well not for me anyway. Betty gets back and I have the broken off fitting hack sawed out of the meter. I immediately stripped one of the new fittings and back to town Betty went. Man I am hungry by then.

When Betty gets back with the replacement parts she informs me that lunch can’t wait for another catastrophe.  By then I have mud from head to toe and am bleeding in a couple of places. Luckily the camper is in the yard being loaded so I was able to wash up for lunch. Betty made me stay my muddy self outside to wash up at the tip out sink.


The repair is made, lunch is behind us and we are waiting for the pvc glue to set before turning the water back on. I wonder is the saga of the new spring over with yet ?

Sunday, May 16, 2010


Betty cooks. All of the time, Betty cooks and bakes. Her kitchen is a place of action, one where things are going on. Lots of cooking means splatters and so forth.

Here is a look at her cook stove before her modification.


That pretty trim and interior paneling just made her nervous. She needed a backsplash that would match her kitchen appliances and be easily cleaned. Fabrication Technician Matt to the rescue ! After listening to what she needed, Matt found just the right piece of painted aluminum and cut it to fit. Here is a look.


By the time Betty and Matt had solutions, Johnny and I had finished up on a couple of more projects.

Lakeside Metal Fabrication, Mena, Arkansas, they are the BOMB !

Saturday, May 15, 2010


Our Coleman 5er is 36 feet long. The Ford F350 Dually with the large brush guard on the front, when measured to the trailer’s back bumper is 53 feet long. That leaves a few feet to pull a small trailer with a ATV or Golf Cart on it should the occasion ever arise.

Hey, ya’ just never know, right ?

Today we had Lakeside Metal Fabrication put a receiver hitch on the Coleman’s rear bumper.


At first glance it looks like it was just stuck onto the thin back bumper, AKA: sewer hose holder.


Not ! Carefully fabricating braces and reinforcing brackets, Johnny made sure that you would have to look close to tell that extensive reinforcement had been added.


In these photos the spare tire is removed and the bare metal hasn’t been prepared for paint.

The spare will move over to the driver’s side of the rear bumper after paint work is completed.

Johnny finished up the project by wiring the hitch for lights that tie into the front of the trailer instead of splicing into the wiring at the rear.

Can the dude lay down a sweet welding bead or what !

Later in the day:

Finished the paint work and installed the spare over on the drivers side of the bumper. Here is a look:


Having a place to put “extra stuff” has Betty’s imagination working overtime.100_1865

Some of the suggested uses for the receiver hitch were:

Carry a deep freeze on a cargo rack.

Put stackable washer & dryer to have more space inside.

Carry hand tools there to clear up basement space.

Carry Bar-be-Q grill.

Carry all of those extra lawn chairs, just incase we had lots of company.

I am afraid that I may have to give in to one of those wild ideas before she decides to put my recliner back there !

Friday, May 14, 2010


That clever little rascal Poco, our three year old rat terrier, figured out that he could easily defeat the screen door by pushing the screen out.

Here is Betty’s solution:


While I was at Lakeside Metal fabrication, located at 2610 Hwy 88 E. Mena, Ar , getting our friend Johnny Herring to install a receiver hitch on the back of our Coleman 5er, she talked to fabrication technician Matt. Here is Matt’s fix for the screen pushing pooch situation:


Matt noted that there was a small channel that the expanded aluminum could be placed into if it was measured and cut carefully. Here is a close up of Matt’s careful fitting.


The best part is that it requires no screws to hold it in place or to remove to clean, yet the air can flow freely through.

Clever, imaginative craftsmen, that’s why we keep coming back here to get our stuff done right. As some might remember, Johnny is the fabricator that made the cool generator box for the front of our Oliver.

Though we no longer have the Oliver, we still have the generator box if you know some one that might need one.