Why does it always take three tries?

This is the second attempt at a mitered border:

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It's way better than the first, but still a little loosey-goosey, especially at the corner.

Actually, now that I'm looking at it, I might be picking up too many stitches. So, that's what I'll try next.

We were supposed to head to a campground today after work, but it's raining and cold and it'll be getting dark by the time we get there... I could handle it without the rain. So, we're going to wait until tomorrow morning.

We picked up Ducky at the RV place on Tuesday and I'm so happy! They replaced some corroded wiring and the outside running lights all work, not to mention the brake lights! We're still going to keep the magnetic ones on and plugged in (since we have both 7-pin and 4-pin ports), because you just can't be too safe. The Explorer is such a better match than the Escape for towing, but we had to get (another) new ball mount because the hitch receptacle is so much higher!

It's only money.

Meanwhile, and apologies if you've already seen this on IG and/or FB, but we are STOKED!

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Before > After. We could play SPOT THE DIFFERENCES! haha. I'll give you two that aren't discernible: all of the lens covers for the light fixtures were removed and cleaned (b-bye bugs) and the bulbs were all replaced with LEDs!

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I'm very proud of my matching stripes, which was done from memory because the big seat cushion was in Ducky at the RV place when I sewed the little ones. The stripes actually match seat-to-back, too. Originally there were little strips that joined the back cushions to the seat cushions... that would have been a real pain to replicate, but I might have to come up with some sort of solution. It would help keep the cushions together when they're acting as a bed, though that hasn't been an issue we've noted.

I'm thinking out loud.

Can't wait for a long weekend... and to go.

 


Camping: Big Lake

Our trial run to Calumet was made with a longer trip in mind, and a couple of weeks later we packed up and headed 3.5 hours north to the "rustic" Big Lake Campground at Northern Highland-American Legion State Forest.

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Kate had gone tent camping up here a few times earlier in the summer, and this was her favorite campground. We gave our site a good look upon arrival to determine how best to situate Ducky. Let me just say that we are newbies, and we're gonna be newbies for a long time... we learned a lot on this trip, too!

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Most trailer campsites are either "back-in" or "pull-through." Well, we pulled right in to our back-in site, which we determined would work best given the lay of the land and the layout of our camper. We realized later that the better thing for us would have been to move the fire ring and the picnic table in order to back in, as that was the most level spot and would have given us a lot more privacy. Not that we were exposed or anything, we were in a nice hollow and there were lots of trees around us and between sites. And, obviously, we were able to maneuver my Escape around to the other side and, eventually, we (Kate) backed OUT of the site. That was surprisingly easy! We are both getting more comfortable and confident with the backing-up-a-trailer thing with each excursion.

You can see that our stabilizers are atop some levelers in the front (four, I think, under each), and there was barely room for the stabilizers alone in the rear. It was level and stable and it felt okay.

And then it rained. I'd mentioned that it only rained at night?  It did, but oh my goodness, DID IT EVER RAIN!! (And thank god for earplugs!) It came down so hard, so fast, so much on that first night that there were rivulets through our site... right under Ducky... right where those levelers and stabilizers are. It rained the second night, too, though not QUITE as hard. We still needed earplugs; both admitted later to middle-of-the-night thoughts of being washed away!

Oh the drama! We were fine, but these are lessons that will never be forgotten.

We only saw the sun on our last afternoon, but it was certainly comfortable enough to spend almost all of the daytime outside... the bugs weren't even bothersome.

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We were there for peak autumn color -- you can see the difference between arrival on Thursday and departure on Monday.

We spent a lot of time building and tending campfires (and running to procure more firewood)... not the easiest thing when it's been rained on all night, every night! But we managed.

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And we had McGregor!!

Our timing was perfect for a meet-up on Friday with my Uncle Jim and his friend Pat at the Discovery Center in Manitowish Waters where he was picking up a bat monitor to record activity near his place for a few days. It was great to see him, even just for a little while, and to meet Pat!

The campground was a bit more woodsy and interesting than Calumet, but I didn't hike much other than trips to the toilet with an occasional detour to the beach on the way back. It sure was gorgeous.

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And, similarly, I spent most of my time working on the Safe At Home blanket for Davy... weaving in ends and seaming.

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Lots of ends (that's a drop in the bucket)! It took a few tries to get the seaming method/look that I wanted, finally settling on backstitch and it's moving along -- I feel like the end is in sight.

So, Big Lake Campground is "rustic," meaning there are no hookups of any kind; there are vault toilets and non-potable water available at a pump. So we were truly on battery & propane power the whole time, and had to haul in our own drinking water! Ducky's "plumbing" isn't functional right now, anyway, so we didn't even miss it... though we did spring for a "luggable loo" type of setup (which we perched in the bathroom shower area) because there's no way I'm hauling my ass to a vault toilet in the middle of the woods in the middle of the night! And, you know, at least for me, having to GO in the middle of the night is an unavoidable fact these days!

We did some more campfire cooking:

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Chicken & veggies in foil packets, foil-wrapped potatoes to have with a yummy smoked pork chop from Nueske's. Those coals were HOT, and I'm still learning/perfecting my campfire cooking techniques, so the potatoes got a little singed (okay, burnt) on one side, but they were amazingly good. Yeah, okay, the chicken & veggies were also a little singed... I'm the type that likes my s'mores marshmallows FLAMING, so obviously I'm okay with some burned-y bits. Haha.

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It was really lovely and, though not completely unplugged from everything... we were unplugged enough and it was great to take a break for a few days!

We cleaned Ducky up on Monday when we returned, then hauled him over to an RV service center to have a few things fixed/checked out. We're thinking of taking one more short 2- or 3-night trip in a couple of weeks, before it gets too cold, at a campground less than an hour from home.

 


Camping: Calumet

I scrolled through the blog looking for my post about our first camping outing for reference... and there isn't one! I never even wrote one because all of a sudden (though not unexpectedly... heheh) there was a new baby and it's been a little chaotic and nonstop since then (except for our second camping outing) (coming soon).

So, first things first!

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We hitched up on a Tuesday afternoon and hauled Ducky over to Calumet County Park, only 20 miles from home, for a two-night stay.

Newbies, we did our best backing in and setting up under the observant (but not intrusive) eyes of our neighbor a couple of sites away. A little nervous, perhaps, and wary of site conditions (level), we ended up about 8 feet short of being able to plug in our power cord. I'd had a fleeting thought about throwing the extension cord in the car when we were packing up, but didn't do that... so we were on battery power! We also had to remember how to turn on the propane power for the fridge.

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This was before replacing all of the interior lamps with LEDs that use a lot less power. We also have at least four small portable LED lanterns and headlamps, so we are not lacking for light!

Also at this point in time, I'd only replaced the "living room" couch cushions and the "dining room" area still had the originals from 1987. I slept in the living room and Kate slept in the dining room, and we could have held hands if we'd wanted. It's very cozy.

We made quesadillas for supper and didn't dally much that evening, but I do recall talk of dogs, and my photo roll supports that because...

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...while searching for "Scottish boy dog names" or somesuch, I came across this photo of Ewan McGregor and his adorable dog and, well, the rest is history.

I had coffee on Wednesday morning in my new insulated and practically indestructible camping mug from KC&T!

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I posted this photo on IG and ended up shipping two mugs to the east coast for friends who had to have one themselves!

We made a run on Wednesday for a few supplies, including an extension cord exclusively for Ducky! Otherwise, I spent a lot of time knitting that day and finished the strips!

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The little blue marker is holding a dropped stitch and was a reminder to pick it up when I picked up stitches for the roof.

We were close enough to home that Rusty came out late in the afternoon for a hike and to have supper with us.

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The park is located on the Niagara Escarpment, and it's pretty cool.

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It's also home to a few effigy mounds, of which Wisconsin has many.

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A few leaves were starting to turn... and it was just a nice walk.

While Kate and Rusty stoked the fire, I prepared fish & veggie packets to cook over the coals.

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They were overcooked a little bit...

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...but delicious!

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Not a bad day.

Day 2 began with coffee and pancakes (or panpakes, as the kids say) for breakfast!

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We cooked 'em on Ducky's little stove and dined at the picnic table.

Playing tourist a little bit, we drove down to LaClare Cheese Factory. We are no strangers to the area, as we prefer traveling on that side of the lake whenever we're pointed south -- Milwaukee or Chicago or beyond -- but in "travel mode," we rarely stop anywhere.

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We greeted some goats, and bought some great cheese and sausage!

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I took a photo of these cheese wheels through a window, aren't they gorgeous??

After that outing, we de-camped and headed for home. It was a great little first trip and gave us a little more confidence to head a further afield and for longer. More on that outing soon!!

 


Weekending: Still No Baby!

Ali & the kiddos stopped over yesterday.

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Here's a new thing: Skater Boy! (He's so adorable!!)

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And another new thing: Ginny's drawing anatomically "correct" portraits. That's Rusty. Malina is giving him the "pandemic hair" treatment. (A haircut for Rusty is on my list!)

I had a long, relaxing, and productive weekend!

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While I finished the last of the curtains...

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Kate finished the floor in Ducky, and Rusty did the same in The Garden Room. It was SO NICE to read the Sunday paper in there yesterday morning.

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I laughed out loud when I spotted the rug in this ad from a flyer in said paper. We are SO ON TREND! Heh.

We made a shopping trip and started to pack up Ducky for our little mid-week trip, and I sewed up the seat cushion for the couch. I still need to do the button tufting, but that'll be quick and easy! That seat cushion was the largest & most unwieldy, by far, so I'm really happy to have it done.

Someone asked about Ducky sleeping arrangements: the couch at the front slides out to make a bed, and the narrow table in the kitchen is removed and that seat also slides out to make a bed. There's also a little fold-down "loft" over the couch that would be big enough for a kid (it will be storage 99% of the time). It's all very cozy!!

We all had a nice chat with Maddy over the weekend. They are leaving tomorrow (I think... was it my Tuesday or hers??), taking their time and a leisurely scenic route from Northern Territory to New South Wales. Hopefully, they'll have secured housing by the time they get there!

Ann called yesterday and wondered if we were watching the football game. They weren't having any luck tuning in from Peru, so she wondered if I could prop up my phone in front of the TV... and we watched the last quarter together that way. (Go Pack Go!) Malina was nearby and sort of fascinated by Ann. Mack popped in, similarly fascinated by Malina (you know how he is with the babies!)... and I was gobsmacked by the change in his voice! That should be no surprise, given his age and, well, it's only natural, but c'mon... my first "practice grandchild" is getting so old!! He's as tall as Ann and, well, next thing you know... it'll be Addie, too. Haha.

It's not official yet, but likely that Annie & family will depart Peru in early December and quarantine with us/in the apartment for a few weeks, then back and forth to Madison over the holidays and into January. They'll still be working & going to school for some of that time, and the apartment would be perfect for them!

I have finished all the houses and roofs on the baby blanket, and have started the last of the skies. (Note: I have trimmed ZERO tails in this row... it's pretty shaggy right now!)

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It was awfully dim when I took this photo on the back sidewalk this morning... it was dark enough that the solar motion step lights illuminated when I took a bag to the trash can just moments before.

I hope y'all had a good weekend!


3TT: It's Not All Ducky All The Time

It is all Ducky a lot of the time (lately)!

Joining Carole & friends for Three Things on Thursday...

I have three photos to share.

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Roger the RV Inspector came yesterday and spent most of the day with us... inspecting, testing, teaching, advising. In the past week, we've acquired a valid propane tank and a working battery, along with a few other little things he needed to check operations (and that we just needed). And, lo, THERE IS LIGHT! We have one burnt-out light bulb inside, but otherwise SQUEEEEE! The refrigerator works, the stove & oven work, there are no gas leaks, and the electrical is good. There are a couple of little water issues, and the water heater appears to be cracked, but the tanks had all been replaced at some point and the pump is good. We need to clean off & re-seal the roof and all the outside joints, but our little Ducky is in remarkable shape overall for a 33yo travel trailer! The To-Do List is long, but not one single thing on that list (except perhaps the sealing, if it looks like rain) is holding us back from hitching up and taking off right this very minute. He's encouraged us to do so... drive for an hour to some little park, stay overnight, come home.

More likely, we'll be hitching up and driving to an empty parking lot again to practice backing up and parking and stuff like that.

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So far, Kate's been the only one behind the wheel. I give directions (we're figuring out how to communicate) and run around with the level, levelers, and wheel chocks. I found this absolutely genius leveling/chock system and I just can't get over how easy it is to use!

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I forgot to take a photo, so did a little Photoshop doctoring to show how close I'm getting to the end of this project!! I've knit the last block with horizontal stripes (yay! those were not my favorite)... I have a roof & sky to knit, a block of vertical stripes, two more houses to finish Row 8, and then the final row of nine houses (which I am really looking forward to).

Hopefully, with the holiday weekend ahead, I can finish the two cushions for Ducky that I'm working on, and also find plenty of time for knitting! Correction: I will take plenty of time for knitting. I've also a three-day weekend coming up after this one... though I expect there will be a new baby by then, and some much of my time will be taken up with things related to that!

 


End of August Weekending

The new cushion foam arrived, tightly rolled & compacted into a box, which we then set free! It was recommended to unpack it within two weeks of receipt, and to let it fully re-expand over a few days. These are the cushions for the "sofa bed."

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We have fabric for that part, so I set to work on Saturday... dismantling the old back cushion, first.

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You can see how dirty that old foam is, and it was never wrapped in anything at all. I'm so glad we're doing this... even if I'm a bit out of my comfort zone.

I removed the zipper and decided that it really needed a wash, so I carefully secured the ends and threw it into the washing machine along with the other one I'd already removed.

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I cleaned off both my work table and sewing table better than they've been in months! These cushions are 75" on the long end, so I need ROOM!

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It was pretty genius to buy fabric with a built-in grid along which to measure, cut, and sew -- everything's so straight! I've reached a pretty futzy part and decided to stew on it for a little bit... watch a video or two before I dive back in.

It was a "payroll weekend" for the coffee shop, and I told Ali that I'd drive out and pick up the checkbook. It was a gorgeous day yesterday with nothing much planned, so Kate came along and we grabbed the kids to give Ali a little break. We took them to Lower Cato Falls, a park that we visited in early April when we needed to get out of the house. The water was a bit lazier than in spring. Junah & Ginny led us through the woods, following a trail (for the most part), though I'm pretty sure we forged at least part of the trail back!

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It's not the easiest path, full of roots & rocks, steep in places, but the kids did great... and they were so encouraging! "You can do it!" "C'mon, Nona!" "C'mon, Kate!" Even little Malina, in her tiny voice... so cute! When she fell or tripped, she'd get up and say, "I'm OK!" Anyway, they played for a while on the ancient playground equipment and we had a little snack (I actually thought ahead) before returning them home.

It was a pretty great weekend... hoping it was the same for you!

 


3TT: Loose Interpretation

First Thing: SAFE AT HOME - 7 Rows

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Last night, I took the photo that I'd hoped to take in the morning, and got started on Row 8!

Second Thing: AT HOME - Let There Be Light (and Space)

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We finally strung some lights in The Garden Room. Rusty had put an outlet near the ceiling and it's controlled by a switch, so PERFECT. All three strings have different types of bulbs, but whatever... let there be light!

The ceiling in the new part is going to get painted at some point... thought we could live with it (the exterior trim color) but nope. I'm thinking the palest of sky blues. The floor (and a million other things) are more of a priority, though, so who knows when this might happen.

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There will be some major sewing projects happening soon and I'm going to need some room! I managed to clear off that little bit of my worktable the other day. Heh.

Third Thing: DUCKY - It's All Ducky, All The Time!

One of the biggest changes we're making in Ducky is replacing all the "soft goods." Fabric for new window coverings is in the house (washed, dried, and ready for cutting & sewing).

We've purchased new fabric for the "couch," and samples are on the way for the "dining area," and new Dacron-wrapped foam to replace all of the cushions is arriving today!

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B'bye 1980s brown plaid!

I'm planning to re-use the zippers from all of the cushions, along with the flannel-backed vinyl that's on one side of every cushion except one.

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The zippers are 33 years old, but hardly ever (if ever) actually used, so they're in pretty great shape -- and they're metal. Thankfully, they were super easy to remove & save. The vinyl is also in great shape, with only a few minor dings & tears that will be easy to repair. The upholstery fabric itself has some yucky stuff on the inside that's just deteriorated into a dusty mess, so I'm happy to be getting rid of that. I took a bunch of detailed photos of the taking apart of my practice cushion to hopefully aid in getting it all back together!

Meanwhile, I found a mini bar!

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It's a Trav-L-Bar! The whisky is our addition, and the "Tin Cup" could not fit in better.

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It came with this hilarious "barguide" from 1976 -- the year I graduated high school! Maybe you'd like to try your hand at ranking the Top 15 Best-selling Drinks of 1976!

In the Let's Be Practical Department, I am nixing the inspection at the local RV place. We have instead hired a freelance RV inspector who will come and spend a day with Kate & I. He will not only do an inspection, but will also give us an intensive lesson on the care & feeding, as it were, of our vintage travel trailer! That day will be this Wednesday, and the process begins with a phone call this evening to make sure we'll have everything prepped and ready. This is a lot more expensive, of course, but more hands-on and educational and... well, practical. I think it will be a fun day, and I'm really looking forward to it!

 


Introducing Ducky*!

It may seem impulsive to have all of a sudden become 33% owner of an RV with my daughter Kate, but it's been a weekly (if not daily) topic around our kitchen table for a long time... and especially since March.

For me, it actually goes back to May 2019 when I realized that the vehicle I bought came with a "towing package," and suddenly I had the desire to tow a camper into the woods. (This is NOT NORMAL!)

For Kate, it goes back a few more years, having witnessed her friend Shannon (with the help of their friend Claire & her family) completely gut and re-do an Airstream trailer, and take it on the road. Plus, Kate has The Wanderlust even worse than me!

So when everything 2020 started to fall apart six months ago, the idea of a camper came up again -- big -- as a project to keep occupied while stuck at home and, also, as a means for escape. We bought a trailer hitch and magnetic tail lights so we'd be ready to go when the right thing came along.

Well. A whole bunch of people had that same idea! We'd call the minute we saw something interesting to us and already be 14th on the waiting list. It was very discouraging and deflating, so we were sometimes more into the search than others, and the whole idea was even temporarily shelved once or twice.

Kate's been going tent camping for 3-4 days at a time over the past month or so, and loving it. The weather's been great, for the most part, but rain has been an issue a couple of times and, well, it's really no fun at all to be in a tent in the rain. Thus, a resurgence of interest and determination last week to look for a camper and, on Saturday night, Kate found a 1987 Mallard Sprinter travel trailer in Wisconsin Rapids that seemed pretty great. By miraculous stroke, she was the first to call! Our Sunday plans spun on a dime. But first! It was a cash only sale, so we counted what we had on hand, ran out to withdraw our daily ATM limits from whatever accounts we could to get as close as we could... and thankfully, those limits are "daily" and not "24 hours," because we needed to withdraw just a little bit more on Sunday morning. We were on the road at a little before 6 a.m. to make the 1.5-hour drive and be there at 7:30 as arranged.

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I'll have to qualify the following statement by saying that we truly don't know what the hell we're talking about, but IT WAS EXACTLY WHAT WE WERE LOOKING FOR for in terms of size (15') and condition. The lady counted our cash, we hooked 'er up, and we were home by noon!

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The interior is very, um, let's say vintage '80s! It all seems in shockingly good shape considering that it's 33 years old. Most of what's "wrong" is due to sun damage -- faded paneling in places (I'm sure the walls & cabinets were originally much closer to the same color), deteriorated (brown plaid) upholstery & curtains, some plastic elements that have become discolored and/or brittle.

A lot of that will stay the same. We have no interest in a complete overhaul, nor in making it into a (gag) "glamper." A lot will also change... is already changing.

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Curtains are down, tools are emerging!

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Always the simplest and least expensive "upgrade" with the biggest impact -- changing the hardware!

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The exterior was dirty but cleaned up SO GREAT (well, the one side so far). I think there are a few missing covers, there are a few little dents, and some of the decorative decals/painted stripes are a little worse for wear, but no sign of major water problems -- so zero complaints -- all fixable and/or waiting to be made-better-able.

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Things like this fiberglass window flap/shade... which will likely be the canvas for a seascape painting. With a mallard flying over. Haha.

Now the bad news. Not really bad, but definitely a wake-up call and illustration of how much we have to learn. As mentioned, my vehicle came with a towing package and we acquired a hitch & ball, and an emergency towing light kit. When we were getting things ready to tow, the guy said, "You need a 2" ball." So we ran off to get one -- along with something else we needed, I don't remember what -- but I noticed that we already had a 2" ball. We got everything hooked up and hit the road for home. There was a little play in the ball/hitch, noticeable when we'd start/stop, but otherwise the camper towed beautifully behind my car. Turns out, what we actually needed was a 2-5/16" ball, so we looked for one when we went to get the beautiful new hardware. We couldn't find one with the properly sized shaft for our hitch... because, it turns out, I have a Class II towing package, and a 2" ball is the maximum. Ay yi yi. So now, a Class III package is on order and will be installed sometime next week. Once that's done, we'll get a properly sized hitch & ball. **

And, when THAT'S done, we'll tow it over to a local RV Service Center to have it/systems checked out. We already know that the obsolete heater doesn't work and that replacement parts are unavailable. This will give us a Ducky* To-Do List and we can figure out our priorities.

Meanwhile, we are RESEARCHING & LEARNING, LEARNING, LEARNING... and not thinking about just wallcovering, flooring, and fabrics. As much.

It's going to be a work-in-progress for a while, but usable. Adventure awaits! And I aim to go camping at least once or twice yet this year.

Thanks for your interest & cheerleading & coming along on this crazy ride! Hints and tips and things you love about RV'ing are more than welcome!

*Our travel trailer/camper/RV is a 1987 Mallard Sprinter. The TV series NCIS has been our go-to for a while now (many seasons & episodes, not requiring much commitment/attention, entertaining) and one of the characters -- the medical examiner, played by David McCallum -- is Dr. Donald "Ducky" Mallard (pronounced mal-LARD). Who knows if it will stick, but for now, we have a Mal-LARD Sprinter that we (it's maybe only me) call DUCKY!

**Turns out... the 2" ball is the correct size. LEARNING STUFF EVERYDAY.

 


Unraveled Wednesday: 2nd-to-last House in the 7th Row

I'm joining Kat & the Unravelers today to share what I'm knitting & reading.

KNITTING

On the right...

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I knit these rows from right to left, so that house on the left is the second one I've completed but it'll be second-to-last in the end. THE END! It's (almost) in sight!

READING

I haven't been reading a thing. Well, except for all kinds of information about vintage campers.

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It would be really great if I could find an owner's manual, but so far nothing. There's not much out there about this little baby at all! Luckily, there are lots of similar Prowlers and Jaycos and, boy howdy, there are websites and forums and groups galore. I haven't even dared peek at Pinterest. Ha. It's a crazy week, but I'll fill you all in, and I'm starting a new category: 1987 Mallard Sprinter Travel Trailer