Archive for May, 2012

There are certainly differences of opinion when it comes to when to replace parts on brakes and I’m in the position of having to “trust” the mechanic and the reputation of the shop I take it to. I consider the ability to stop quickly and easily vital to road and personal safety. I don’t want to risk the security of my dogs, my precious travelers!

Bruce’s Auto had given me the A OK on the LT brakes yet suddenly they started squeaking. My Ford has had squeaking brakes as a mater of course, I keep taking it to my tire place, they rotate the tires and tell me everything’s fine. I can still get more use out of them, not to worry. The same is not true for my little RV. It’s very heavy so stopping it takes a lot of force. The squeaking worried me;  I’ll be hitting steep mountainous roads soon enough so I figured an extra opinion would be worthwhile. I bought my tires at Ians, so that’s where it is now, at an Ians; they pride themselves on doing top quality work.  As the serviceman told me, they use the better parts, of course these cost more, but (hopefully) one can expect a greater longevity.

Perhaps ethics is at issue here, one can save money on a vehicle they don’t plan to put a lot of miles on. If you’re thinking you may sell or trade up your RV in a year or two you can shirk on high quality parts, but I never like doing that. Ians told me my front pads were less than 15% and the rears 10%; not a sure thing for continuing a long road trip if I planned steep mountain driving; on the freeways, maybe. He then explained “to do it right” the front rotors should be done; he quoted me a heart stopping price. . . I could spend a large chunk of my travel budget just for brakes! In the end we settled on new pads for the front and new pads and shoes for the rear; enough, he said, to see me though 20,000 miles or so. The front pads will wear quicker than normal since the rotors are not smooth, this can also cause squeaking so that  may continue even with the new pads on the front. In the end it will cost $450 without the doing the rotors. Lucky me, I’ll save that for somewhere down the road.

………  ………………….  .,……………..

The bill was $309.. . . more reasonable, but they left greasy hand prints all over including on my steering wheel cover. And of course I thought I heard a new noise, a growling, knocking sort of noise. Dear mechanics of the world, sure I know your boss is telling you to hurry but can’t you use the door handles. Cleaned up the grease. Will have the engine re-inspected tomorrow. Seems weak on hills and at about 60 – 65 – 70  mph it still makes that nasty whining sound.

Up Hill

I copied this partial post below from  so be sure to check them out! Really valuable info even for little RVs like mine. Those hills get longer and tougher as times goes by. The LT is a good 15-16 years old with lots of miles. I think it used to have more uphill power last year but maybe I was only dreaming.

Currently I’m resting, recovering from allergies and tiredness. Will start up again soon.

Driving uphill

To get your RV through an uphill climb more easily, you need to run your RV within its power band. Your RV’s power band is its engine’s RPM span that delivers the most horsepower. Depending on your RV’s type, the power band can range anywhere between 2,000 to 4,000 RPM. When you drive uphill within its power band, your rig will generate the extra pulling power it needs to ascend the incline.

It is important that you start getting your RV within its power band before you ascend the hill. To achieve this, will have to down shift to a lower gear and then step very gently on the gas pedal. Keep your feet off the gas pedal entirely at times so your engine can do its job more comfortably. If you keep pushing hard on your pedal, you’ll end up with black smoke out of your exhaust and the smell of burning rubber from your tires.

What happens when you are out of your RV’s power band while you are making the climb? If that happens, there is a risk that your RV will be unable to ascend at all. In case your engine stops in the middle of your climb, the first thing you need to do is not to panic. Pull the handbrake, shift to neutral then restart your engine. Once your engine is running again, release the handbrake, downshift to first gear once more and step gently on the gas.

Driving downhill

Experienced RV drivers claim that driving their RV downhill on mountain roads is more difficult than driving uphill. That’s because when driving downhill, you need to maintain absolute control of the wheel and be fully aware of your surroundings. Failure to pay attention can be disastrous – think runaway rig.

To drive your RV safely downhill, prepare for the downhill descent while you are still on top of the hill. The first step is to use your engine for braking, as opposed to using your brakes. To accomplish this, bring your speed down to 40 mph and shift to second gear. At this point, you should feel your engine slowing down to a more comfortable coasting speed. If the engine is not slowing down as much as you’d like it to, shift down to first gear and then decrease your speed to 20 mph.

Slowing down, downshifting and using your engine to brake while driving downhill ought to keep you at a safe speed during your descent. If, despite these efforts, you feel that you’re still going down too fast, don’t hesitate to step on your regular brakes intermittently. Step on your brakes in hard and short bursts instead of pushing the brake for the duration of the descent. If you keep your foot on your brakes, they will end up overheating and your RV’s brake components could be damaged permanently.


Mason in the LTOlympia in the LT

Weather in the Sierras… abnormally cool pressure area yesterday and today. . . .10 to 15 deg cooler than normal and lower pollen count today!!!!!

Nose and breathing apparatus is healing nicely!

Grasses and trees are very high


Am suffering severe bouts of burning eyes, itching, sneezing, running noise, postnasal drip, face and head pain, shortness of breath, dizziness here in Oakhurst, CA. . . you get the idea. Better at certain times of day and location, much worse at others. Was terrible late last night, woke me from my sleep and terrible most of the morning today. Potential thunderstorms on the way.


Very high winds on the way up, blew out some electronics so can only plug in either the GPS or the Back Up monitor or the phone (I’ve been switching them as their battery power dies) brakes are squealing, so-so handling (maybe mechanic changed the tire pressure?)


Am considering aborting trip for now. Dogs however are having a blast!!! And my friend did a great job fixing up her Dad’s house for guests, had a good day looking at too expensive property with her and then a quick visit with Forrest to see his land and all the great work he’s done; nevertheless am sortof lonely: friends have departed to families on the coast for the Holiday and am oddly tired; not resting that well.  Lots of deer, squirrels, spiders, crickets and big black bugs. Foxtails are almost but not quite to the highly dangerous level. Oh yeah…  and crazy holiday starts today! It is quiet here, maybe find a nice lake for a picnic lunch???? Somewhere the tourist don’t know about, and somewhere the pollen doesn’t know about!

At Last

Am tired so here’s a quick list of LT updates…leaving in the morning… 1st stop Great Uncle Norman…then the Sierras!


  • Business Cards to give folks on the road
  • Folding Rake …. Many campgrounds have stickers….  Not good for the dogs
  • Camp Shovel
  • Camp Ax
  • Grill
  • Fire Starter blocks
  • Skewer thingy for marshmallows …maybe roasted bananas?
  • Tablecloth holders… they keep the tablecloth from blowing away
  • Camp lantern
  • Outdoor mat Outdoor clean your feet rug for RV door
  • Mosquito netting for doors
  • Outdoor attachable table
  • Outdoor folding table
  • Lots of shorts and cool tops
  • Extra towels
  • ….  See a theme here! Last year outdoor living was severely limited
  • New campground memberships
  • Sewer fixed
  • City water fixed
  • TV cable fixed
  • Toolkit!!!  Thank you Frans!
  • Solar insulation…floors, windows, windshield and cabinets … double as blackouts for obnoxious Campground lights.
  • The rear view Clover camera and monitor
  • A GoPro video camera
  • Cassette adapter for my cell phone to play out the car radio…  my old cell phone
  • A mount for my Garmin GPS… also the old one… should probably update it.
  • An atlas
  • Folders for maps and stuff
  • Better cook pots
  • New floor rugs
  • New color scheme…  blue, pink and brown
  • Waterbed for Olympia….in her crate
  • Better leashes for the dogs… they can be easily hooked to objects
  • Beautiful collars with names and address on buckle …no dangling tags
  • Reflective collars for night-time
  • Padded interiors for doggy comfort
  • Additional mirror so I can see entire inside of van while facing forward
  • ……  okay I’m taking a nap                                      Jamie Rosenthal

I did manage to get my haircut. It was a strange expensive $45 experience. Five dollars off because she didn’t wash it or use any product; she straightened it with a hot iron then sniped off the ends. She didn’t cut off nearly as much as I’d hoped but now that it’s straight and silky it reminds me of Jamie Sommers.

I’d picked the name Jamie when I was 12. Jamie was a boy’s name and I knew it except there was a girl on my street who changed her name to Stormy…her name had been Jamie! She was the only person I knew with that name and I was disgusted with my birth name. There were at least 3 girls with the same name in my homeroom and more in my grade at school; at home my name had been shorted to a screeching…IT with a hard dragged out T at the end, you see I was a Janet. These days I like the name Janet, Janet Beth but I’m not her anymore. No, I’m a rebellious Jamie. Who changes their name at 12? It’s been a fight with years of struggle to get my new name to stick. I finally had to “officially” change it in my late 30s due to tightened security with the feds and banks not going for “two” first names at all.

I liked having an ambiguous name, when I was growing up mostly only boys were permitted the fun stuff. I wanted to be a boy but still be a girl, that’s why I traded skirts and garters for boy’s button down the front 501 Levi’s. I wanted the freedom and approval to be the one on the white horse, the hero, the one do to the saving….I had no interest in being the damsel in distress, Cinderella or Little Red Hiding Hood; no I wanted to be Mighty Mouse, the Lone Ranger or Bat Man! But I couldn’t even be Bullwinkle. So being “Jamie” suited me, no more just one more in a crowd, I was unique, a girl named Jamie; different things were expected of me. People looked at me weird and lectured me that I shouldn’t be going around with a boys name…I liked it. Everything was fine until the Bionic Woman!

She stole my name! As it says in the post:

The name “Jaime(and I spelled it that way until I got tired of being called Hi-Me) was predominantly a male name (a derivative of “James”) before the television series began. It is probably not a coincidence that in 1976 the name Jaime became one of the 100 most popular names of the year in every one of the 50 US states. The female name Jamie (a variant spelling) also gained enormous popularity at the same time.


Oh, how I’d loved my friends saying to me, “Let’s go James, Take me home James,” Then all of a sudden I was a superstar. I was supposed to be larger than life. There were different expectations; I was supposed to be able to do anything now!!!! Oh Bionic Woman…what did I ever do to make you steal my name! Did I run into your creator down at Hollywood and Vine or maybe on Melrose at the Bodhi Tree, or in North Hollywood running around the streets and backlots of the studios and you thought, wow what a great name for a girl, I think I’ll steal that for my new show! You thief spoiled my life! See it on TV and everyone has to do it, now there are a million females named Jamie. So I have to compete, I don’t like it. Since the late 80s I’ve wanted to change my name again. How do I know it’s me if there are so many others that come running when the name is called? How do I know it’s me when people have images of a blond dynamo who can do everything just a little better and faster and smarter than I can!

So, dear bionic woman  it’s time you acknowledged where you got your name. Here I am trying to do a million things at once and do them all perfectly. I am the original Jamie, except for Stormy who changed her name and her name hadn’t originally been Jamie anyway . . . it’s not Jamie Sommers and her dog Maximillian . . . it’s Jamie Rosenthal and her once upon time Gigi and Sambo the poodles, then Bisschen the boxer, and my beloved PWD Hero along with Taiko the lab/chow and now Mason and Olympia!

Last year I ran over my sewer hose. Eager to try the features of my first 60-foot space with complete hookups and being already parked and settled, I decided to try the cable TV service. Lo and behold my cable wouldn’t reach to the jack….no problem, I revved the motor and crept carefully forward just enough to reach the box. Woops! Crushed my (painstakingly) pre-attached sewer hose. I didn’t have the, Rhino Extreme, which claims you can run over it and it bounces right back; it wouldn’t have mattered if I had, since the LT’s “pre-attached” hose, resides in its own tube hidden under the van …  I’d pulled the hose loose from its attachments leaving only a rubbery hard to cut thread to mock me. . . . .

I sat in the waiting room of the RV shop in Tacoma WA with the dogs, bored; it took well over two hours, maybe three even though the owner told me they’d do it right away, it wouldn’t be a problem, etc. etc. . .  I was treated to an earful of how he and his wife had found Southern CA too expensive and had been relived and delighted to find their new home / horse ranch on the outskirts of Tacoma. I did get suspicious when I was chewed out “for looking” at my van parked outside the RV bays. It had been driven onto two wooden blocks to provide a little elbowroom to reach the underside. I was watching from a safe distance, curious about the procedure. It looked like an easy job. I took a picture before I was chased away and told to remain in the stuffy windowless “waiting room.” At one point the owner popped in and asked if wanted to pay for the premium hose, I said yes as he said it only cost an additional $10.

This was my first emergency repair. I thought they were being nice to help me out. They “s-e-e-m-e-d” so friendly, asking lots of questions about Santa Barbara and my dogs, especially they inquired about Olympia and her breed. The long wait wore me out, I was eager to get back on the road and find a spot for the night.

Late that night after driving a long long distance from Tacoma, I pulled out my shiny new premium sewer hose . . .  you could have heard my shouts across the campground, except I’m very courteous and kept my dismay quiet. I’d not only been harshly overcharged but I’d been rooked. I suffered the rest of the trip with a too short, too cheap sewer hose that dripped and spilled, my nice fittings were gone; the replacement hose barely came out of the tube and hung there in midair, which resulted in a mess with every attachment and detachment to my secondary hose. I cursed the brown thing and the “fortune” I’d paid for this travesty. So you can’t blame me for wanting to forget about it.

A few weeks ago I wrote to Leisure Travel in Canada with a list of issues, including the sewer hose arrangement, the answer was that the tube is intended to hold 15 to 20 feet of hose and there on their website is a 2012 model like mine, but built on the Chevy with the same sewer configuration. I began to see the sewer hose arrangement is SUPPOSED to make it easier for us mortals. Although I’d still opt for a complete redesign if it was possible.

So I set out at a late date to address the problem. Wanted to also repair the backside window, which has a worn gear, which means one can turn the nice black knob all day long, but to open or close the window one must go outside and manually give it a push or a tug. My prior experiences with the RV shops vaguely in my area…they are a min of 45 min to over 2 hours away have not fared well with high prices, very long waits and unpredictable quality of work so with vague hopes I checked Larry’s Auto Parts in Goleta, they have a small second room with a few select RV supplies….Santa Barbara at one time had an RV repair shop, Larry’s is now all we have….someday….. perhaps Santa Barbara will have RV service again. (probably after I leave town.)

Larry’s had a window gear…turned out to be the wrong gear but they also had a 3-ply heavy-duty 20 foot sewer hose! Now who can get excited to see a sewer hose sitting on a shelf? They didn’t have a Rhino Extreme with its fancy fittings but I decided I’d settle for not having to drive out of town. That left me with the problem of attaching it. I was sure it was an easy job in spite of the grumbles and complaints and high fees delivered by the RV shops. It turned out my solution was a few blocks away in Goleta at Bruce’s Auto. I drove by telling him about my troubles, for some reason he wasn’t busy and to my delight, he said, “sure bring it in.” Bruce is a man of few words. I had to drop off the LT early so I could work on my final project for printmaking class. When I picked it up Bruce told me that he managed to get all 20 feet of the new hose, as well as the old hose all nicely in the “container.” I was stumped, “really?” I asked. I couldn’t believe it, but he ginned and said it was easy. The window gear had to be ordered and for twice the price I could ask for overnight delivery so I went back to Larry’s to inquire and met up with the one fellow I do not like. He yells at customers with a guilt trip making me frequently leave their shop without whatever I came for. This time I stuck it out but finally gave up when he insisted that Bruce had come in but had not ordered any window gear because it wasn’t in the book and so couldn’t be ordered.

Well, I’d live without it, but my brain was nagging about the how Bruce had stuffed so much length of sewer hose into a 4-foot tube. Tired and exhausted when I arrived home I nevertheless dropped down to the pavement on my dangerously busy street—the sewer connection is on the driver’s side next to traffic to open the tube and check. Something ugly and brown and way to short dangled out of the tube. Oh no!!!!  I ran around to the storage compartment on the other side and sure enough there was the new hose all coiled and tightly squeezed into the box alongside the old hose sporting the new fittings which I hadn’t wanted. I thought how he’d charged $65 for the hose—that was the system with the fittings—I’d asked him to get the $58 hose without the fittings….   This problem seemed to be cursed!

I rang him on my cell and sputtered my dismay…”oh” he said” that’s what you were talking about, bring it back. I’ll take care of it.”

Another early morning at Bruce’s but this time I popped off the cover to the tube and showed him the ugly monster…”Oh you have one of those terrible hoses!” He told me he hadn’t seen a system like the LT….I’d forgotten how unusual it is, I liked his cheery tone when he said, “Oh I see I can unbolt it here and here; no, this won’t be a problem.” His pronouncement about the brown hose was that it wasn’t even worth $10. I mentioned that the emergency repair place had stolen my fixings (the connectors holding to hoses together) and what an unpleasant mess it was.

At last that afternoon it was ready, I went to pick it up expecting I’d have to pay dearly for this onerous job. But NO!!!! No charge, he said! (Mind you I’d already paid for a tip check the day before.) “It only took 10 minutes to put it on” Wow, I was happy but feeling even more disgruntled by the pervious two RV shops, especially the shop in Tacoma and I’d paid hundreds of dollars for this 10 min job. I’m taking it on faith that everything is okay now. I saw the ugly brown short monster lying on Bruce’s worktable…. Tomorrow I’ll check the tube and see.

I’ve been busy working on the LT so I’ll try to post some of what I’ve been doing and researching starting with some little bugaboo RV traveling issues, like how to keep bugs and bees and mosquitoes from getting inside.

It’s nice to have the doors and windows open for the delicious cool afternoon air and the appearance of the evening stars. So, in an effort to enjoy more and not resort to a tightly contained box, I thought of screens. For example there are these nifty Magic Mesh Instant Screen Doors,  but like many Seen On TV products these received poor reviews. This is moot point, as the size offered will not cover the LT’s side doors or the rear door. . .too long and nowhere near wide enough. There are other companies that make similar products with better ratings but the size is an issue; they are made for house doors, not van doors.

I found these interesting things: Skeenz.  it’s unclear from the photo and description if the doorway and hatchway are covered, but I assume they are, and if so, then how do people and dogs move through them? The front window screens can be applied over the windows if I first remove the rain vents. . . a bit labor intensive putting the screens on, taking the vents off and then reversing before driving. Too pricey both in time and money for my needs but looked interesting.

Another take on side window cooling, letting the air in while keeping the LT locked, I discovered BreezeGuard metal screens for car windows, These don’t offer solar protection or bug protection but I like the way they fit. Now if they just made them with a small mesh to keep bugs out in a solar reflective material they’d be perfect.

Custom decals would be fun for the rear window but it doesn’t look as if they offer any solar cooling … too bad.

Back to the side windows I spotted these: Solar Auto Vents  Reviews not promising, really would be nicer to find a Solar Fan that would fit in the van side window.

Another approach, sans screens, to repel bugs, mosquitos, yellowjackets (which I’m sensitive to) check this link!  Listerine in a spray bottle applied to the doorways and such! I will definitely try and report along with my results with stuffing sheets of Bounce into the LT’s crooks and crannies; hey, maybe I can color them and hang them like silkscreen flags around the doorways and windows!

Found a suggestion utilizing brown paper bags inflated with air (like a balloon,) tied off and hung to resemble bee’s nests. The idea being that bees won’t trespass another’s territory. I’ll be trying!

Humm. . . another tidbit touts zinc and coconut oil to keep bugs away. Or coconut soap and skin cream with citrus…  not sure about these, I think someone is vying for soft skin. I tired grapefruit peel rubbings last year, no effect, even the promising non-toxic keep away bug spray did nothing, ‘cebt the bees loved it.

Think I will rig a hanger over the door and drape mosquito netting as a curtain. . . . might help. Maybe there are certain colors of light that do not attract bugs?

These are nice slide blocker screens for outside . . . if I ever acquire an awning to attach it to, I’d try it.  I can toss my ripstop parachute sheet over it at night to block offending park lights and enjoy a bit of shade by day.

This stuff looks super useful: aluminized Mylar shade cloth.  Wonder how fast they ship?

Ah! the Burning Man crowd for nifty ideas!!!  Dig the bike rack and cargo shelf (am still weighing the pros and cons of a bicycle, electric or not, with carriage for the dogs….  Bulky to carry around if I don’t use it much.) Love the amino box for stowing messy hoses… of course the LT has a ladder in that location.

Some Completed Additions: now have a velour fitted dash cover, Love it! A Clover Electronics rear view camera and 7” monitor… love this too. It’s clear and bright and I can see to back up and park! I installed thermorelfective carpet padding under the carpet area where Mason sleeps, it keeps the floor cool in the summer and warm in the winter. I ordered too much so I installed pieces in the closet and under the driver’s seat where Olympia likes to curl up. . .then I cut the padding to create half-way-up from the bottom of the window, solar blockers for the rear side windows. I can easily slide them out and stow them in the overhead cabinets. They block heat, nighttime lights and obtrusive views from neighbors while allowing me to see the sky and the stars. I bought a Silver Weatherbuster  from Advantage Truck Accessories pre-cut to fit the windshield, of course it doesn’t fit but it’s close so I’ll make it work.

Stuff Still In Progress: Ordered two reflective collars for the dogs from Gun Dog Supplies. . .very inexpensive and they come with name tags. These are heavy duty so will save them for night walks. Lusted for two of these attractive glowing collars, but I balked at the price and having to change the batteries. The comfort halter I carefully measured for Mason arrived today . . . doesn’t fit.

Thought I’d finally found shoes for Mason. His little feet are a challenge. A few days later received a message, the perfect shoes were sold out…..bummer so I ordered some cute sandals from another company — they didn’t fit. If I return them I incur a 15% stocking fee plus the cost of sending them back. I’m not happy….. I can exchange them without the 15% and may do so, but the better shoes, Neo Paws, are sized differently and Mason is in-between two sizes on his front feet. . . and they cost three times as much. Okay, did someone say carrying Mason over rough patches and hot pavement is a good way to build nice strong arms?

Olympia’s gear includes a Ruff Wear Swamp Cooler Dog Cooling Vest which I found on-sale from Altrec. RuffWear will be coming out next year with an updated model. The vest will keep her cool and give me piece of mind as she rolls in weeds and prickles… hope the vest can endure the treatment she’ll be giving it. ….  sure enough the first one I received was too small….  had to send it back at my expense and reorder the one that fits (sigh. . and that was after talking to the nice guy at RuffWear.)  Would have loved Ruff Wear’s vibram hiking dog shoes but was told they can’t make them small, so they won’t fit either of my dogs. BTW, an important note here: shoes should be only on your dog as needed, then taken off; a dog regulates temperature through their pads, a good fit is necessary for ease of getting them on and for their ability to stay on. Take a look at the bottoms too, many are slippery or simply not intended for outdoor use.

I have more. . but as per usual using WordPress from my home COX connection is slow, difficult and tedious. . . so more news on the way. . .later