Sunrise in western Minnesota

Monday, December 19, 2016

LED lights!

Our van has a closet we use as a pantry, the only real problem was it's dark inside. It came with a single bulb at the top that was great when you hung clothes in there but not so much when you have shelves & stuff. The bulb was attached to a switch that activated when the door opened. Then the bulb broke. It was dark.
These LED lights are great!

The LEDs on the top shelf of the pantry 


I had an LED strip light that I'd picked up at Ikea some years back, I moved that from the mini-van to our class B. It worked well! The very top however could use some work.

The Ikea strip light running down the side
I ordered a spool (16') of led lights. These are 12v, cutable and have a sticky back so you can just attach them where they are needed. We can now see the top shelf!

The roll of LED lights
The ends with the clip attached ready to be hooked up 

The LED strip attached to the inside of the cupboard

That was only 12-18 inches of lights used in the pantry... The cupboard above the sink is always dark, if you really 'need' light a flashlight will work but I have all these adhesive led lights left!


I wired them into the existing 12v system and ran them through a common on/off switch,  I ordered micro switches so opening each door will turn the appropriate light on. Nice!


Here are the lights & the connectors I ordered off Amazon. The connectors were listed below the lights & these are a lot easier to use than soldering a wire to each strip as you want to use it.
Package the lights came in



Connectors

I did have to go & find directions on using the connectors, it was a lot easier when I'd seen how it was supposed to go.





The led strip in the connector (connector still open)

These things work well, easy to install & they don't cost much. If you decide to give this a try be sure and read everything on the Amazon page, it helped me.


Micro switch from Amazon





Monday, December 12, 2016

Tie-wraps

The other day I was under the van running a 12v wire up front from the house battery fuse box in the back, I was attaching the wire to the van with tie-warps.
This is what I call a tie wrap

Tie-wraps is what I called them in the Coast Guard so that's what they are now. Some people know them as zip ties, plastic wraps, cable ties, hose strap or zap strap.

They are a pretty good way of attaching things that you want secure & quick to put on but not permanently.
Good to hold things in place

I went & grabbed my bag tie warps and noticed I was almost out. Way back I bought a bag of 500 ties, that turned out to be a good thing to do... I use ties all over the place!

My years old (now) empty bag of tie wraps

Yesterday I was in Lowe's looking for something in the electrical section (without luck, I ended up ordering what I needed from Amazon) and noticed I was in the tie-wrap section.
This bag was $25 & worth every penny

I bought another bag of 500, I went with black this time just to change the pace & bought the longer they had in big bags.

I'm probably good on tie wraps for another 10+ years!

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Chickamauga

I went to my first civil war battlefield.
Along this drive were monuments to Ohio, Pennsylvania & Texas too. 


Over the years I've 'talked' with many people about the Civil War on the internet. It was there that I first heard it called "The war of northern aggression" & the argument that it was about money. I'd heard that it was about slavery too.
The only thing I know for sure was that more Americans died in it than any other war & it settled the States Rights question.






Chickamauga  is up by the Georgia/Tennessee state line, it's the first established National Battlefield and it's a big place.



The 20 minute movie in the visitors center was well worth the time as was a trip through the museum there. Taking a close look at the cannon on display out front was a help during the rest of the day.

Start here, seriously!
 ID the different cannon, watch the video & see the timeline


For me, the timeline they have running around the walls in the museum was a huge education on that war...
I had many misconceptions on when things happened, that timeline straightened out those misconceptions.

The battlefield is huge. There are markers, placards, statutes & cannon scattered everywhere. "Scattered" is not the best word, they are put up where event actually happened & explain who was there, when they were there & what they did.
Forest or cleared, the way didn't care

Names, dates, times & the number lost

War was hard on the horses


Drive, park, walk & read, walk & read. Read the signs, look at the small map from the visitors center, walk & read. Go back to the car & do it again.






It took us several hours and we just browsed. There were many people on bicycles & that looked like a good way to view the battlefield.


Some states had people on both sides of the conflit

Karen did not expect to get into this, it's not her choice in history....but she did.

It was more than a historic battlefield, it's a park. There were families having picnic's, groups having outings and a kid trying to fly a kite (with his mother's help).

Markers & cannon & signs that explained

Monuments from the states,
this one is from Georgia

This was new to me & interesting

I learned a new bit of history


A very moving place.


Sunday, November 27, 2016

I got married!

The first of this month I got married, her name is Karen and I'm really happy!
I gave some thought about bringing my personal life into this blog, it's a good place for it.  Marrying Karen is one of the best things I've done in my life and my blog is a good place to mention it!



We went traveling....

Tybee Island Georgia was our first stop. We parked in the yard of the brother of a friend of Karen's, I cannot say enough about the hospitality shown by Clark & Nancy!
The Tybee Is house we stayed at

Parked in front

Tybee is was a nice place, the recovery from hurricane Matthew was still going on but the place was intact.
The collected debris 

Dolphins 


We played tourist in Savannah  for a couple of days. A pleasant city where tourism was just a side show, a view of the old south through it's architecture & the stories in the museums & other tours. Spent one night at the American Legion on Tybee Is (great people there!) & another at the Savannah visitor center parking lot

American Legion building on Tybee Is

A fountain at one of the many Savannah squares 

A house off a square

Standing in front of a fountain 


We were tourists in St Augustine Florida. The oldest city in America, Ponce de Leon's Fountain of Youth? This was the place!
It's a picturesque town but I got the feeling that tourism is the major player in the town.  There is a lot of history to be seen & touched. We Walmart parked for several nights.
The gates to the walled city of St Augustine


Savannah was a city that had tourist stuff to do & St Augustine is a city that had lot's & lot's of tourist stuff. A nice beach too!


We went camping, there is going to be a lot of camping in our future...

At Ft Clinch state park in Florida


Ft Clinch State Park in Florida was a fine place to spend a couple of days.
We stayed at the river camp, nice sites & great showers! Not really happy about the cost but it's a state park, almost everything was already reserved but we lucked out and did get a spot for two nights.
Walking on the beach we found sea shells, a brown snake ... a really fast brown snake and a around that last bend a fort! The fort was a great place to wander around and read the signs.
From what I've seen Florida parks need to be reserved well ahead of time if that's where you want to stay.

Coast Guard at Ft Clinch


A "fast" brown colored snake
Sea shells on the Ft Clinch beach



Ocean Pond National Forest campground  was a great place to spend a couple of days. It's not too far from Lake City Florida & I-10. The drinking water was good, a lot of the sites were a real good size & level.
The showers at the bath house were great, in my book great campground showers are a thing of joy!  These were a good size, unmetered hot water, four hooks and a bench. These were good showers!

This whole thing was our Ocean Pond camp site

Sunset over ocean pond


This is a national forest camp so if you have an America The Beautiful pass  (The "old farts pass" it's $10 & good for life if you're 62 years or older) the site rates are 1/2 price.  19 sites had electricity if that's important to you.

After that were visited some SE GTG vandwellers at Cobb Camp  not too far from Ocean Pond, this is a no service dispersed camping kind of place... that means it's free!
It was good seeing Cuzzen Dick, Mimi, Dave & Ken again (I'd met them at the spring se gtg).

A few days at Cobb Camp. Good food, good friends, good talks around the campfire & it was time to move on, we had obligations for Thanksgiving.

Cobb camp


I do have an observation... solar on your camper is a good thing, a really good thing... it's magic! So much of what we did was powered after dark with electricity harvested from the sun, it just worked.


We plan on heading to Quartzsite after Christmas.... Like Barney (The Old Fat Man) & so many other bloggers say,  "Don't wait. Do it now."



Monday, October 31, 2016

Secret ingredients

We were talking about cooking the other day and a "secret ingredient" that pushes a food over the edge from good to 'real good!'There was a time I thought that was garlic, garlic is good but not that good. Besides garlic use is hard to keep secret....

Can't be "secret" if you put it in everything

Cream cheese was my partners secret, it can be used in more places than you might suspect. I stopped at the Horseshoe Cafe in Benson AZ while on my way to Tombstone & Bisbee Arizona ), I tried their "Horseshoe Signature Burger", cream cheese & jalapenos. Oh wow! Who would have thought! I'll stop again when I go by, the cream cheese on that was great.


My secret ingredient is bacon. Who doesn't like bacon? Just the smell of it can get the taste buds going. Bacon is everywhere these days.

Voodoo's bacon maple bar

At Voodoo Doughnuts in Portland Oregon t you can get a maple bar with a piece of bacon on top, there has to be something going on there because there is always a long line. I've been there three times and there has always been a long line.

The line at Voodoo Doughnuts in Portland Oregon


Chop some up, fry it & add it to spaghetti sauce or chili. Chop (or grind) some & add it to what ever ground meat you use for hamburgers.

I Know! Add some to cream cheese & use that to stuff a chicken breast!


Sunday, October 23, 2016

Junk mail and other thoughts


I picked up my mail the other day, I do that every month or 6 weeks. I had three pieces of junk mail from Jimmy Swaggert, it had been some time since I got junk mail.

I have a friend who likes junk mail, she gets a lot of  mail every day.

A week's worth of catalogs
I don't usually get much mail, I've gone paperless as much as I can, banks & credit unions do it, most every one does it. I just went back to State Farm for my car insurance, they don't do it. Yet.


Fall is here, really here. The leaves are changing colors and falling everywhere... It looks good!

This was in southern Tennessee 


The fall vandweller southeast get together (SE GTG) & pig roast happened, we were there for 6 days. A pleasant time was had and the solar panel at the end of an extension cord did the job in that treed area.


Camp & kitchen set up by Tumbling Creek

.
The way the pig was cooked was really different. It was cut into pieces & covered with rub, set on a rack over hardwood coals and covered with half a metal drum,  from time to time the cover was removed and the meat turned. A thermometer & the odor of the cooked meat told us when it was done. It was really good, my compliments to the Chef Robert!

The pork being covered up


There is something basically "good" about nice weather for camping, an evening campfire, good folk & roasted meat!

camp fire


There will be several roving get togethers over the winter in Florida if you're interested plus the RTR in Arizona in January.


On a side note....
When I started this blog I told myself that I was going to stay away from my personal life, politics & religion.
I'm glad there was a pig roast to talk about!