Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Our First Trip in our New (to us) Lance Truck Camper!

Our much anticipated maiden voyage in our truck camper was fast approaching and Barb was spending the day before our adventure getting it ready. Bedding, food, you name it. I on the other hand worked in the house and basically stayed out of her way, something I learned is for the best when she is in this mode.

I woke up with a slight sore throat but attributed it sleeping with the window open in the cool wet weather. The next morning I again woke up with a sore throat and some congestion….oh oh. But off we went….. first stop one of our favorite campgrounds and fishing spots Ditch Creek Campground near Deerfield Lake.  
Away we go!
This campground was a pretty much annual stop for us prior to our land purchase and we were looking forward to staying here like reuniting with an old friend. Another reason we were looking forward to visiting this campground was the fact that our friends Guy and Sue were also there! Yes, that Guy and Sue who had left our property a couple of weeks ago with plans to head north to Medora and beyond. But they loved this area so much they decided to stay for not only a few more weeks but it looks like they may be here for a few more months!
After lunch the four of us jumped in our Jeep and went to check out another campground/fishing area. It rained pretty much the entire time as we made our way to Castle Peak campground. It is a very secluded campground requiring high clearance vehicles as it is several miles down a rather rough road.
We met these guys on our way to the campground.....
… and pushed them for about a mile before it was wide enough for them to get off the road
Definitely not big rig friendly but a great campground for a pick up or tent campers. We did not get any pictures due to the rain but we did fish for about 30 minutes. No luck.

The next morning Guy and I were up bright and early to head to our favorite fishing hole. It did not disappoint and I was able to land several nice size rainbows but Guy took the trophy with a nice rainbow around 17”s!

 After lunch and an hours rest we were ready for our next adventure which was  a combo ATV/Jeep ride. Guy and Sue in their buggie while Barb and I were in the Jeep.
We were in search of the infamous “Ice Cave” known to be in the area. It took some hunting and pecking but we eventually found the cave.

Here it is mid-June and this cave still had ice in it!
This picture was of the roof of the cave
Still ice on the floor of the cave as well
You just never know what you are going to find hidden in the hills......

The next day it was time for us to move on to our next location but as we were packing up I noticed it...…. a flat tire. Ugh! Not a fun thing on a normal day but having the camper on the truck added another element. I pumped it up enough with our portable air compressor so we could move to a more level site then we had to take the camper off so I could access the crank to lower the spare from under the truck. Once that was done, I loosened the lug nuts and jacked up the truck.
The next challenge was that the old tire would not come off! Pry, pull and pound I could not get the duallys to separate! I have a big pry bar in our big rig but not on this trip. 20 minutes later Barb walked over to another camper to see if they have anything that would help and she comes back with a wedge for splitting wood. I put it between the two tires, pound it a few times and finally they come apart. I quickly (ok, maybe not so quickly) change the tire and we are back on the road. 

Since Barb did not get out fishing yet we stopped by Ditch Creek for an hour so Barb could catch a few trout.
Our next destination is a boondocking spot 70 miles up the road down Spearfish Canyon. There were two spots that Barb had her eye on and when we got there one of them was open so we slid in and set up for the night. I spent the day in the camper while Barb walked around the area with the dogs looking for potential fishing areas for the future. There are dozens of sites like this scattered throughout the National Forest in the hills.

Still not feeling we and Barb getting tired of being cooped up with me in the camper we decided to cut our trip short. But not before stopping by the D.C. Booth Historic National Fish Hatchery. We love stopping by hatcheries, besides the fact that it is interesting to see how different hatcheries operate, we love seeing big trout!

Me and one of our grandaughters one day......
Since we were already near Rapid City and needed to get some materials for the house we decided to spent the next night in the Cabela's parking lot and get to Menards early the next morning. We did of course go in and walk through the store where I was able to show Barb the spotting scope that she could buy me any day now.....

Overall, although the trip did not go exactly as hoped but we did learn a few things about the camper:
It does not have vent covers so you need to close the vents in case it rains when you are out to   dinner (guess how we learned that one!)
  • It does not look like having the two dogs will be an issue as Dakota found a home under the dining table and just lays there
  • It is no fun not feeling well in such tight quarters
  • The freezer holds ice cream! (our big rig freezer does not)
  • There is a lot more storage than we expected
  • We need to put carpet on the outside stairs as Dakota got a paw nail stuck in one of the holes
Dakota's spot under the table
Now back home, we will be back in building mode as Kevin and Cheryl come out in a week and our son Forrest comes out the following week to help us wire the building! 

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Meeting Blogger Friends

One of the weird things about fulltime RV’ing and blogging is that you make friends with likeminded people across the country, many times before you even meet them in person. Such was the case with fellow FT RV’ers and bloggers Al and Ingrid. After skirting each other several times in the past 5 years our paths had yet to cross. Well, that all ended last week when they stopped by for a 4 night visit on their way east towards Wisconsin.
One little known fact about blogging couples is that one usually writes the blog and keeps up on other bloggers by reading and commenting on their posts. In our case that is me. Barb rarely reads blogs and relies on me to keep her up to date on the adventures of our fellow travelers. So hours before Al and Ingrid’s arrival she was quizzing me. “Who are these people and what do they do?” I would answer her questions so she could get an idea of who was about to arrive and set up camp in our driveway. Little did we know miles away Al was asking the same questions to Ingrid. “Who are these people and what do they do?”
What made it even more confusing is that there were two Jim’s here since the Belisle’s were still on the property. As Ingrid later described it, she referred to me as “Fishing and hunting Jim” and Jim Belisle is “Michigan Jim”
The neighbors horses posed for a couple of pictures

The other unknown when meeting a couple for the first time is whether you will have anything in common. Well no fear there with Al being an avid outdoorsman and Ingrid’s passion for photography. Check out their blog to see some of her great photos. The only downside of their visit was that Barb and I were focused on getting the windows in the house and were not able to spend as much fun time as we would have liked to with them. Ingrid did not let that stop her as she went out exploring Custer and Wind Cave Parks each day while Al and I chatted about all things outdoors while putting in windows.

Our place from across the valley
At the end of each day we relaxed and had happy hour telling tales of past adventures, places to go, things to do and future travel plans. One such tale included Barb’s doctor visit up in Rapid City this week. She was up there getting some tests done when the doctor asked her “Where did you get all these bruises?” Luckily Barb was in a good mood and explained that we were in the middle of building a house instead of blaming me for all her bruises!

How do these trees grow out of rocks?!?
Al and I got out on a 4 wheeler and a jeep ride into the National Forest and Ingrid and I got out on one photographic adventure where she shared some of her tricks and tips for taking great photos. In fact most of the photos in this post are from that outing.

Unfortunately, they cut their visit a few days short as there was rain in the forecast and they had seen pictures of our driveway after a soaking rain and wanted nothing to do with that!

On their last night here friends Phil and Rudee invited us all to see the play Sherwood; The Adventures of Robin Hood at the Black Hills Playhouse. It was something none of us would normally have done but it was a fun and entertaining night.
The Playhouse stage
The next day Al and Ingrid departed heading east towards Wisconsin and Barb and I carried on with the last of the windows in the house. Which I am happy to report…..are all in! Later that day, the rain came and made our driveway a muddy mess, I think Al and Ingrid made the right decision!
I hope the eggs hatch soon!
With the windows in, we are at a point where we can take a much needed break.

Tomorrow we are packing up the pickup camper and take it on its inaugural trip! We are going to stay in the Black Hills area and check out some of the local campgrounds and explore several of the trout streams we have wanted to fish but never seem to have the time. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

More Friends Arrive at the J Bar B!

Each week as I prepare a new blog post, I go back and reread our previous post and am amazed at the progress we make each week. Last week we had pictures of us putting the roofing up, this week it is completely done and water tight which was an adventure in itself.

But before I get into that, our next visitors arrived this week! Jim and Diana Belisle have been making their way north via Utah, New Mexico and Colorado on their way to Michigan and stopped by to help out with our projects. It is interesting, some people like the Alexander's and Belisle’s will go out of their way to visit and help out while others plan a trip to Alaska to get as far away as possible to avoid work! (I won't mention any names but if you click the link about you will find out who went to Alaska to avoid work.)
Jim, Diana, Barb and I out on an adventure in Custer State Park
Jim and Diana have arrived at the J-B!
We reached several milestones this week. Number one was getting the roof sheathed and water tight! You will have to take my word for it as it was quite the adventure and did not have time to take pictures. The day started like all the rest, with a silent prayer that we make good progress and that no one gets hurt. And with one day of roof work left (for now) it seemed God wanted to have a little fun with us.

We had finished the sheathing the day before and all we had left was the underlayment which would make it waterproof. With rain in the forecast we wanted to get it done before the roofing got we so up on the roof we went and started laying the 5 rows of underlayment. The views up there go for miles in every direction and we could storm clouds rain and lightning on two sides headed our way. We hurried to get the rows down doing minimal staples trying to finish the task. We were rolling out the last row when the rain came along with it came the wind. As I cut the last piece off the roll, Barb held it down trying to keep in in place. Once that was secured the rain was coming down pretty good but we were watertight!

What was once a fairly tacky surface now turned into a giant slip and slide with a 16’ not so soft landing with us on the peak of the roof! Barb got down while I finished stapling. She walked across the top of the peak so she was directly above the basket on the skidsteer and did the crabwalk down the roof. At least if she began to slide she would slide into the basket and not the ground.

I stayed up another 15 minutes and got everything tacked down before I climbed down completely soaked. Barb was waiting in the garage and high fived me as we put the tools away for the day. What a great feeling to have the roof watertight!

We are trying to be as careful as possible as neither one of us can afford to get hurt. Besides of the fact that it would bring the build to a complete standstill, we took a chance with our health insurance this year choosing a high deductible policy over the more expensive low deductible policy we have had in the past. We are saving several hundred dollars a month which we are now putting into an HSA in case we need it in the future. According to our calculations should something catastrophic happen it should be a wash compared to the more expensive policy. With all the high risk activities we are doing, this may not have been the best year to do this!

We also took delivery of our windows this week! The delivery guy and I tucked them in the corner of the garage waiting to be installed after we got the house wrapped.
The windows have arrived!
The timing of the Belisle's arrival, like the Alexander's, could not have been better, it was right when we needed three people to complete some critical tasks. Day one of their stay found us wrapping the lower course of the house. Jim would roll out the 9’ high roll of wrap while I followed behind him smoothing it out and stapling it. It got too windy to do the upper course so instead we decided to install a couple of windows!

After a phone call to Kevin we felt like we knew how to cut out the house wrap and layout the waterproofing tape to correctly install the windows so off we went to install our first window! 5 minutes later we were on the phone with Kevin again just to make sure we were doing it right. 20 minutes later we had our first window installed!

Kitchen window in!
The next day with the winds calmer we carried on with the house wrap. With Jim and I up in the basket Barb drove us along the side of the house. While Jim unrolled the wrap I stapled it into place. Although that is an extremely simplified description of how we put it on, it did go pretty well and 5 hours later we had the house completely wrapped! Jim's arms were rubber by the end of the day!

Barb rolling us along as we tape the seams
Sunday we took the morning off to attend a training session for the Mount Rushmore Hunting Retriever Club. This time we took Daisy and more importantly Dakota. One of the members gave Dakota a run through to see what she had and she did great! He said she was a great "marker" meaning she had a good eye for knowing where the dummy fell and thought she would be a great addition to their club. So...… the Mount Rushmore HRC now has two more members!

Black lab on a training run

Daisy watching some of the action
Monday was Jim and Diana's last day and Jim wanted to make it count so we installed 8.... count them, 8 windows! What made this even more incredible is that we installed 8 of the highest and hardest windows. The first two were the heavy traps in the front.
Lifting up the first of the traps

Jim and I were outside in the basket while Barb was inside leveling and adding shims

Side window above the sliding door

6 of the 8 upper level windows we installed!
We are sad at see Jim and Diana go, they are great friends and we cannot thank them enough for their help. The last night of their stay, Jim snapped this picture of Dakota who was waiting for someone to throw her ball. Probably the best picture taken of Dakota to date.

With their departure, we had another arrival. After trying to meet up for the past several years, we finally got to meet virtual friends Al and Ingrid! It looks like it is going to be another action packed week at the J Bar B!