• Rise up! April 24, 2017

    Our lovely Nala kitty loved sleeping in the booth of the RV. We suspect it was corner buttery feel of the booth itself, but who knows. That was kind of the problem – she was the only one who chose to use it. Chris used it as a desk but it was out of necessity than want. We had to face the fact that other than a “cat sleeping area” it wasn’t functional. When we tried eating at it, we knocked knees and the surface was too small. So no, not functional at all.

    Booth Before

    After months of research, we opted to install a desk that would work for us. It made sense. We work from home and it could function as an additional seating area. We used that area as a desk anyhow.

    After planning, we found a carpenter who also did the woodworking for the RV resort where we were staying for the winter. Ron Gatchell listened to what we wanted and immediately drew up plans. He was a month out of being able to start so we gathered parts over time including the computer itself. So what were the basics? Well, a computer of course. A place for laptops. A place for a large monitor. A place for a keyboard. A place for wires.

    The desk drawers would take care of the majority of these items, with exception of the monitor. Hmmmm. A 34 inch monitor is not something you can shove in the closet and we wanted it to be semi-permanent, as we already had two TVs in that area. We didn’t want a permanent third but wanted it to be convenient for us. After some research we found Nexus 21 Concealment Systems. They largely specialize in boats but were very interested in working with us on the RV. They were very helpful with any and all questions they had. Their contribution to the desk is, quite honesty, the coolest. Just you wait!

    So with the vital items in hand and with the help of Michael Kidd (of Coach Proxy and Vegas Envy), we removed the booth. As for the darker area on the carpet, judge not lest ye be judged.

    Blank slate

    Installing the lift took some time. See, you need to make very small adjustments so the lift doesn’t knock the monitor into the box window valance. It could get ugly otherwise.

    The Lift, with creative solutioning

    Meanwhile, Ron worked on the desk and top. He had a few cutouts – one for the monitor and a couple for the wires/plugs. The monitor cutout was tricky because it wasn’t just a hole. It needed to lift when the monitor pushed through and had to close after the monitor was put away. We also had two small circular cutouts for electrical and USB hubs.

    Top with cutout for monitor

    When Ron installed the box part of the desk, we realized the other thing we miscalculated was the height of the desk. The height, even with the chair lifted all the way up, was still too high so elbows were hurting. This was our miscalculation but Ron was very reasonable and quick in getting the height just an inch lower. It took him an hour.

    This is the final product.

    Desk After Install

    And no desk is complete without a chair.

    Desk with chair

    But wait, there’s more! Where’s the monitor, you ask? Remember the picture of the cutout of the top? Also, remember the picture of the lift? They are combined. Now don’t be ashamed if you sound like those aliens from Toy Story about to see The Claw. You will join us and we can be aliens together. Or perhaps we are Gene Wilder from Young Frankenstein exclaiming “It’s alive!”

    Ready? Rise, monitor! Rise! Rise from nowhere! Rise to fulfill your destiny! (Also, while you’re doing that, go back down to sleep. Do both.)

    Recap of people, services and solutions:
    Desk: Ron Gatchell
    Lift: Nexus 21 Concealment Systems
    Amazon purchases: In-Desk USB Hub
    In-Desk Electric Multiport Hub

  • Where the Helicopters Come April 20, 2017

    We wanted to do a helicopter ride around the Grand Canyon for our anniversary. It was (lucky) number 15, we were in Vegas, we felt a moral imperative to go. We did some research online and Sundance Helicopters got great reviews. We went with the Grand Canyon Sunset picnic tour in the EC-130 upgrade (more windows to see the sights). We were considering the private helicopter but decided it wasn’t worth the astronomical cost.

    The limo picked us up an hour and a half before the scheduled tour and we checked in about an hour early (based on region of where they pick you up – the earliness of the pickup was kind of a bummer). Then there was a lot of waiting, and waiting, and waiting. As we were waiting, we were surprised how many people were taking this tour. We were afraid that they would cancel the tour because there’s a minimum of 6 people. No worries there.

    The view on the way to Grand Canyon

    Thank goodness we didn’t opt for the private helicopter! Each timed tour takes off at the same time and lands at the same time, and there were easily 10 helicopters on our tour. Even though there was one couple who did the private helicopter, they sat with the rest of us (6 per helicopter, 60 other people gathered in one small area so it isn’t exactly “private”). We had a small picnic at an approved ridge and hung out for 30 minutes or so. We were a bit shocked how little we got to see of the Grand Canyon. Here it is.

    Break in the Grand Canyon

    The most impressive part of the trip honestly was the sunset and the quick tour around Las Vegas at night. Sure, the lights are just lights but at night they were really something.


    We were happy to have done it. We can now say “yes, we’ve flown in a helicopter” and “Grand Canyon? Check!”.

    Helpful hint 1: you will be walking on ROCKS and you will be near helicopter blades. It also gets very cold in the evening. There were people who had a ton of problems because of their choice of attire. They were freezing, couldn’t walk without looking like a baby giraffe and clearly regretted that decision to leave the jacket behind. Meanwhile we were strutting around because we chose wisely. “Lookit us! Climbing rocks without issue!” Okay, not really strutting. We really didn’t do that. But we were strutting in our minds.

    Yay, helicopter!

    Helpful hint 2: you get a limo ride to and from your hotel (we parked at a hotel around Las Vegas Motorcoach Resort, 5 minutes away from the Silverton). When you leave for your limo, it’s last in/first out. We were lucky that the six other people in the limo didn’t seem to mind going so out of the way from their strip hotels to drop us off first.

    If you’re in Vegas, want to see the Grand Canyon, and only have 4 hours to see the Grand Canyon, this might be a good workaround to see a lot in a very little amount of time.

  • Tank Cleaning April 17, 2017

    We decided to research people who cleaned out tanks because our grey tank always showed 33% full, despite being completely empty. We knew there had to be something on the sensor. We tried Dawn, this solution, that solution, water, filling it, emptying it, getting the suds up, draining them, hot water, cold water, luke warm water, et cetera. And yet, each time, it jumped from 8% to 33% as it was emptying. We knew we had to bring in the big guns. We thought of trying to clean it ourselves. It meant we needed to buy a couple of tools (black tank wand, grey tank wand), spend some time researching the how and probably spent an hour or two cleaning. That, and we would’ve had to come up with something that would be all that with intense water pressure.

    Sure, we could’ve done that. The thought of the potential risks, seeing visions of Christmas Vacation and Robin Williams’ movie RV, no. Just no. We said “if it costs us more than a certain amount, we will try cleaning it ourselves” We called to find out it was $25 less than our cutoff that we had in our minds. Sure, some will say it’s a complete “waste” of money (get it? get it?). But you could give us a Hazmat suit and it still wouldn’t seem like enough. Hazmat suits are expensive. So we call it a “wash” (man, we are witty today).

    We knew the grey tank was probably bad. We weren’t good stewards. We would clean dishes while having food still on the dishes. We knew it.

    After we had Daisy Fresh  come out, we realized that we were TERRIBLE stewards of taking care of our RV. We’re getting better, but as newbies we were terrible. In short, we’re disgusting.

    When we compare before/after, all we can say is “ew”.

    The issue made us keenly aware of our camping habits. Our motorhome is our full-time home so we treated it like our full-time home. Feed the cat? Take the fork we use to put the wet food in their dishes and rinse it with hot water, of course. But wait. That food has oils/grease in it. And it smells like fish (much to the cat’s delight) which is probably the thing we hate most. Same with dog food. Pasta sauce. And everything else. Rinsing the food off the utensils and dishes with hot water goes into the grey tank and sits there until we empty it out or, if the tank is open, let things drip down into your tanks.

    We changed our habits. Wiping off grease and grime before cleaning has become a habit. No Hazmat suits will be needed in the future.

    So be good stewards. Be careful with food and oil going into your grey tanks. Keep the grey tank closed. Even if you are a good steward, once a year, either clean your tanks (spending $40 for tools plus water, throw in an extra $100 for the high-end Hazmat suit) or hire someone to clean them for you with enough PSI to have an impact. Normally we’d go with the cheaper way but considering the nature of the task and time involved, you may be like us and hire someone to do it. Now we have a tank that reads “0%” when we empty it!