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Light Fire with Fire

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I was peacefully camped in my Prowler near the St. Croix River in a Minnesota state park, when a group of young Chinese students approached my campfire.
“We are camping near you, and can’t get our campfire to stay lit. Can you help us?”
They had piled a stack of damp wood on top of some crumpled newspaper, which burnt away without starting the wood.
I had a sack of easy-start instant-light briquets (which come saturated with starter fluid) in the storage locker in my trailer, so gave them a few with instructions to pile them together under their logs. The briquets soon resulted in a merry blaze for the youngsters to roast their marshmallows, hot dogs, etc.
So if you’re RVing and need a way to get your fire going, invest in a bag of these things. They seem to last for years, and since you aren’t using them to cook over, the fumes shouldn’t be a problem.i

Written by rvgolfer

June 15, 2013 at 3:57 am

Posted in camping, Minnesota, rving

Growlin’ at Golf

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I went and done it: bought a tow vehicle. Since I own a 31′ Prowler already, I wanted something that would handle it easily. Not a pickup, although I looked at a lot of them. Instead, I chose a big 2000 Ford E350 7.3 liter diesel. Yep, a cargo van.
It had all the racks pulled, so there is a hole or two in the floor. It is the extended version, about 18" longer than regular. I've only run one tank of fuel through it so far, but it seems to get about 15mpg in town. I had to learn that diesel pumps usually have two size nozzles; mine takes the smaller, while the bigger are reserved for semis that pump to fill 150 gallon tanks.
Of course, it roars. I’ve nicknamed it Growler for now.
Am I going to make a conversion van out of it? I haven’t decided. My first investment for the interior, though, was a futon mattress from Ikea that folds down.
I paid a fairly inexpensive price on the Ford, but spent $425 for two alternators four days after I paid for it. Yep, two. The one on the bottom of the engine was cracked like an eggshell. It also has two batteries to deal with. It was an “as is” purchase, but the dealer soaked up part of the cost on the installation. If I’d gone to a Ford dealer, it would have run $570 for one.
There are no side windows except for the driver and passenger. I’m considering having some sliding screened types put in to allow a little extra light, not to mention ventilation.
It also has a problem with the dome light coming on when the driver’s side is open. I’ve bought a Sears multimeter, and will try to track the problem down.
Now, I’m waiting for the chance to take it on a long trip–with my golf clubs. I’ve been planning how to build a rack that will hold four sets at one time. That would also mean I’ll have to install a bench seat so I can carry passengers.
Why buy a van?

  • If I want to leave a trailer parked and go on a short golf jaunt, I can sleep in the van.
  • I could get a battery jumpstarter that has an inverter, and use that on occasion for a microwave.
  • I don’t like fifth wheels, so didn’t need that capability.
  • I wanted a diesel, to pull a trailer.
  • Storing things is a lot more secure in a van.
  • Keep posted. My time in the full-time work force is drawing to a close. Maybe this time next month I’ll be on the road, looking for a few nice courses.

    Written by rvgolfer

    October 4, 2009 at 8:45 pm

    Motorhome Madness

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    For years I’ve been looking and dreaming about trailers. I own two already, a 19′ and a 31′, both Prowlers. Of course, now that Fleetwood has declared bankruptcy, it makes it a little less attractive to own one of their products. Not to mention their closing American plants to shift production to Mexican ones infuriates the very people they hope to sell to: the lower and middle class.

    After all, when’s the last time the Donald hung his combover out the window of a motorhome as his apprentice du jour drove? It isn’t the rich that are customers for trailers and motorhomes, at least not the low-end ones Fleetwood makes.

    At any rate, I’ve started to shift my focus from trailers to motorhomes. It all began when my girlfriend asked about the buses–conversions, actually–I was looking at, as a costsaving idea, “Couldn’t you buy a bus and then haul a little auto inside it?”

    H’mm. Interesting. Of course, most of the buses I looked at were physically very high, to make room for storage. You’d need a mountain goat of a car just to get it inside the body of the unit. But conversions were much less expensive than buying a tow vehicle to pull a trailer. I mean, $2500 for an old one. And these are units that can travel a million miles, so they say.

    However, most of them seemed to require some sort of mechanical expertise, and my specialty is writing. So I thought I’d look at a motorhome, specifically the Airstream, which also has a good longrange record. And that’s what I’m up to nowadays. Older ones seem to have as good or better quality as newer, so I’m on the hunt.

    Once I get situated, I’m on the road toward lots of golf. Great fun, eh? Plus, my 90-year-old mother would love to visit an old friend who lives 1000 miles away, and this way she could do it in comfort. We’ll see.

    Written by rvgolfer

    March 29, 2009 at 1:55 am

    The Party´s Over

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    My golf season–the first league I´ve ever been in–is coming to a close tonight. I´ve suffered from cold weather and a few rainy outings, one or two really hot days, and many nice ones.

    I had hoped that, with retirement from everyday toil in the offing, this frequent shot of golf might help me get a little better. As I look back on my skill level, I might, maybe, be a leetle bit more accomplished.

    Of course, I’m still in the D flight. To move up to C, I have to:

    • Shorten my stroke
    • Set up by opening my left foot a little, rather than parallel to my right
    • Swing a lot easier
    • Put my putting on autopilot, rather than thinking
    • Practice chipping for distance
    • Avoid lifting my head on impact
    • Keep my weight, as Sam Snead recommended, in the saddle (on my heels), rather than toe dancing (ending up tippytoe). Actually, opening my foot seems to help with that.

    It has been fun, which is the important thing. And I´ve discovered I´m really accomplished at one hole in particular: 19.

    Next I’m heading for Calif., then the Golf Today magazine tournament in Las Vegas at the Suncoast Hotel and Badlands Golf Course. Three days driving to Jamestown, Calif., a few days visiting my mother, one day to Las Vegas, three days visiting my son, his wife and daughter, then three days driving back through the Rockies.

    My only concern is my left eye. Since I suffered from Bell’s Palsy, that one gets tired more easily than my right. On a long trip like this one, I’ll be using drops often, wearing my dark glasses, and being cautious. We’ll see. I may have to adjust my distances.

    While I’m visiting mom, I’ll try and whip my Prowler 31′ trailer back into shape. I bought it in 2000 while I worked in San Jose, as a cheap way to live in Silicon Valley on a contract tech writing job. It paid for itself in a year by costing half what it would have cost to rent even a studio apartment out there. Then my brother, while he was in the last stages of colon cancer, was able to stay in it in warm weather. Since 2003, it’s been parked on my sister’s farm near Jamestown.

    I’ll have to see whether I can fix various parts on it–the rear door, for example, is ripped to shreds. Wheel bearings will need greasing, at least. I’m hoping there aren’t any open seams where water has leaked in. Etc.

    If I can get it working, I’ll use it for awhile after I retire. If not, I’ll have to buy something else. Time will tell. It always does.

    Written by rvgolfer

    August 19, 2008 at 5:19 pm

    Posted in golf, roadtrip, rving, travel

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    Happy 3rd of July
    No big plans this weekend if you don’t count a trip to Taste of Minnesota, or a look at fireworks. No golf, though, or traveling.
    When gasoline is jacked up to over $4 a gallon, one does tend to think a little more about where they want to go bad enough to spend the money. A family reunion or wedding, perhaps? Maybe a carpool to a sporting event.
    Those long, aimless “go for a drive” days of the ’50s are gone. Mom was usually the instigator, after working all week at Lockheed. Dad would pack my brother and sister and I into the back of whatever Studebaker or Ford we owned, and we’d go over to Santa Cruz from Los Gatos, or to Santa Rosa from Eureka, or just about anywhere.
    I’d sit in the back with a high school history book “liberated” by the sons of my parents’ friends. I’d look out the window, then read, look, and read some more. (By chance, I attended the school that used that book later on, and boy did I get good grades in history.)
    Jouncing along in the back of the car, though, must have zapped me with the travel bug. Now that I’m about reaching the age I can head out, though, without worrying about the world of work, gasoline is heading for the stratosphere.
    But you know something? I’m going to head out anyway. Maybe I won’t travel for four or five hours just to spend the afternoon, but the open road still beckons me. And there’ll be a golf course along it often enough.

    Written by rvgolfer

    July 3, 2008 at 8:04 pm

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    I´ve always known I´d shoot my age someday, but I always thought that meant I´d live to 135. Today, however, I´ve accomplished it. I just didn´t know it would be on 9 holes.
    We played the Platinum nine at Emerald Greens near Hastings, Minn. It wasn´t raining for the first Tuesday in two weeks, but the elements made up for it with wind. In that flat Minnesota farmland, where the only thing slowing it down is a barbed wire fence, the wind kicked up dust, fuss, and anything else. Even the birds were walking. My playing partner, Texan Ron, drawled “This isn’t the worst it can do.”
    Platinum is the toughest and longest of the four nines at EG, with one hole at 632 yards from the blues. From the whites, the hole at 576 yards played hard, and then the fact I kept hitting it sideways really didn´t help. I don´t know whether I was lifting my head or setting up too far away or what, but I hit far too many shots off the toe.
    After my drive on the big kahuna, I was right on the OB line, so whacked it toward the fairway. Grass slowed that shot down, and when I took my next shot–sure enough, away it went OB. Damn.
    About the only thing that made the day any fun at all was my putting. If I could start my play on the greens, I´d have a great day. I sank 8 footers, 10 footers, even one long, twisty 30 footer; then on 9 I chipped, bounced off the flagstick with backspin that drove it right into the hole. (Of course, the swing before that I´d completely whiffed.)
    So, swing thought for next week is: Keep your head still, stupid.
    Thoughts about RVing with the gas price crunch: I’ve dreamed for years about retiring, then going on the road in a trailer or motorhome, playing golf at different places, visiting friends and families, seeing new places. Now, though, when they talk $6 a gallon gas, it gets a little trickier.

    The chart at left shows how much it costs to drive 10,000 miles at different mpg and the new horrendous prices. Get 12 mpg, and with gas $3.89, it costs $3,241.67; at $5.99, almost $5,000. If you could travel at 20mpg, those same 10,000 miles would be a little less than $3,000. At that price, if your pension is $1,000 a month, one quarter of your income would be spent on fuel alone. So perhaps a little less travel will be called for.
    Remember when you were a kid and left food on your plate, your mom would scold “Eat it. Don’t you know children in India and China are starving?”

    Well, we should have left those vittles on the plate: those children didn’t starve. Instead, they grew up, and now they all want to drive one of their new status symbols. Which drives our gas price up.

    Unfortunately, I cleaned my plate. So I’m looking at smaller trailers and smaller tow vehicles. The Casita 17′ seems like an option, since it’s got a 6’3″ height, and that’s exactly how tall I am.
    Stay tuned.

    Written by rvgolfer

    May 22, 2008 at 1:40 pm

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    RV Show is over, Golf Show coming!

    The Minneapolis St. Paul RV show was held at the Convention Center in frigid Minneapolis from 2/8-2/10, with vehicles from $1500-$450,000 on display. I attended Friday night and videotaped various units and some interviews, then did some rough edits on Saturday, following up with another session Sunday to try and fill in necessary information.
    All of this footage I plan to assemble into at least one show for Minneapolis Telecommunications Network, and I’ll probably break that down into a number of shorts to plug into the ‘net.
    In the next few weeks I will get together with some of the vendors to add extra information.
    Meanwhile, I’m going to try and get permission to videotape the Minneapolis Golf Show starting 2/22. This will allow me to interview some of the pros and course managers from a wide variety of venues, both in the Twin Cities and outstate as well. Plus, perhaps I’ll get a chance to play with some of the new equipment.
    Again, I’ll put together a show for MTN and some shorts for the ‘net.
    Keep an eye here.

    Written by rvgolfer

    February 11, 2008 at 4:32 pm