Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Close Encounters of the Kinglet Kind

One of my favorite Winter Texans is the Ruby-crowned Kinglet.  This Little One is a frequent companion to me, as I quietly bird the winter trails of Brazos Bend and other wooded parklands.

The problem with photographing the RC Kinglet is the same as with the Gnatcatcher:  this little one never, EVER seems to sit still; and they don’t come out to greet me, at trail’s edge, when they are in their hidden stillness of sleep.

The second problem with photographing these Little Ones is when they do greet me, they are often within five feet of my stand-still position.  Too close for my lens to acquire focus. 

Sometimes I find myself falling backwards in attempt of a close-range photo.  But mostly I’ve learned to leave my camera at my side, and leave my binoculars around my neck, and just use my eyes to watch these delightful little kings (Kinglets) and queens (I would have named them Queenlets!) that frequently show their ruby-feathered crown.

This set of photos won’t win awards for close range detailing.  But I was tickled to get the “look and feel” so uniquely Kinglet with these close-range photos.
First, a “regular photo” of the Ruby-crowned Kinglet, in his matching living room:

And my close encounters, of the Kinglet kind (how can this Feathered One not bring a smile?):

When I first began birding, and first faced distinguishing the Kinglet from other Little Ones, I thought of Kinglets as the Little Ones with a “bar and a half” on their wings.  Experienced birders are good at noting wing bars; the number, the slant, the distinctive look, and so on.  As a beginning birder (before the RC Kinglet became a familiar friend in look and voice), I made up the concept of a wing “bar and a half.”

These last two photos show a hint of the ruby crown:

May your New Year's Eve be birdy!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Chasing the Gnatcatcher's Chase

My favorite “Little Ones” seldom make it past the “Delete File” button on my computer.  Gnatcatchers, Kinglets, Chickadees and such will NOT sit still for my camera!  

But their boundless energy doesn’t stop me from trying.  Sometimes I’m amused to the point of laughter at the funny (and blurry) “action shots” that I catch, and delete. 

My recent trip to Brazos Bend gave me a few keepers of a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher.  I caught this Little One attempting different techniques to “gnatcatch” and dine on a slow moving, protein-based life form, innocently perched on a leaf. 

The Gnatcatcher eyes the protein meal:

I swear the Gnatcatcher looked over at me as if to say “Watch this!”

First attempt was an unsuccessful fly by:

Then a surprise attack by leaping upward, and missing:

Finally a calmer, slower,  reach up and grab--success!

And then a rare moment of stillness:

May your day be birdy!

Sunday, December 28, 2014

December Days (at Brazos Bend)

Winter weather finally arrived yesterday; a rainy cold front, with temperatures this noontime still in the 40’s and the lovely sound of rain to keep me company.  I have a lot of great Airstream memories in this kind of weather. 

I’d gear up with rubber boots and a rainproof jacket as my outer layer, and bird and walk in cold drizzle.  Back into the Airstream I’d be greeted with the warm furnace, and a sofa to put up my feet and pour over bird guides.  Hot tea would bring me cheer.

But today I’ll give thanks for my little stick home as the furnace and LP system of the Winnebago View don’t yet fall into the trustworthy category. 

With this constraint, the upcoming week’s weather forecast will keep me close to my stick house, day tripping and running errands.  That’s OK because I have a zillion-bites of photos to develop. 

And after all, this is the Texas Coast.  Soon the low temperatures will be warmer and I’ll be back out in the View.  (By the way, thanks to Patty for the electric room heater suggestion.  It works great as long as the temperatures don’t dip too low.  It works perfectly for nighttime temperatures that stay in the upper 40’s.)

Last night I caught up on the December posts of the four blogs that I regularly follow (and link on my blog page).  Reading those posts brought back memories of years when opening Christmas presents was a part of my life.  Catching up with Patty, Judy, Hazel and Trisha, and the wonderfully unique lives they live, brought me great cheer. 

Joey and Scout's digging and running and dressing up in new PJs chase away my blues, and Patty’s beach photos made me want to say “You have a photo of a Willet on a beautiful beach!” 

Hazel’s day-in-the-life of roof and awnings and care-giving for her beloved four-legged Ones makes me want to say “You stay strong!” 

And Judy’s stories always blow my mind with her amazing NWR volunteer work—but December’s photos make me envy Emma’s lake view! And the ongoing story of Emma and the bees cause me to call out “Bendadryl is the emergency drug that every medicine cabinet should hold!”  (Benadryl has saved me from severe allergic reactions more than once.)

And then there is Ms. T, and her “wonderfully flawed” life.  I’m blessed to know the sound of her voice behind those gentle-spirited stories she so openly shares, addressing current events with an honesty that has no hint of proselytism.  Please keep writing.  Facebook?  What’s that?  J

So to all four of you, I give thanks for your wonderful stories and photos that I opened last night.  Christmas morning is what you gave me.

And now it is time for me to start sorting and developing those zillion-bites of bird photos. With photo development as my focus for this last week of 2014, I hope to post several daily blogs with species photos rather than stories. 

But for today’s blog, I’ve developed these “scene-catching” photos from my recent three nights, and four days at Brazos Bend.  Brazos Bend is my Holy Land. 

The iconic tower and forty-acre lake:

I love having access to my bicycle when camping at Brazos Bend.  I can ride from the campground to different locales and habitats in this large park, and walk and bird with bicycle in the wing.  I was tickled by this group of (out-of-focus) White Ibis.  They ambled down the wooded trail in front of my bicycle.  When I got off my bicycle to bird, they’d fly up into the trees and watch me.  When I’d return to my bike, they’d return to “leading” me on down the trail.

This year has brought a bounty of rain.  I’m always drawn to the reflections:

And the concept of being alone, or lonely, is a bit of a fabrication if we are in Mother Nature’s Land of the Living.  I constantly find myself being watched by the feathered Ones; in this case, a Tufted Titmouse was watching me photograph Swamp Sparrows:

And then there is this park’s most famous icon; the trail keepers that (patiently?) deal with my almost tripping over them:

May your day be birdy!

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Christmas with My Feathered Friends

Can I call it intent to not blog for almost a month?  Can I call on that age-old phrase that our grandmothers gifted us?  “If you have nothing good to say, say nothing at all.”

I’ve traveled a good bit this month, in the Winnebago View. I returned to the valley for furnace repair; I visited Port Lavaca and drove about the back roads of the coastal bend, sadly seeing more roadside trash than birds.  I spent several days at Brazos Bend, thankful to stay in the park rather than daytrip back and forth to my stick house. 

I’ve taken a good number of bird photos, which I plan to develop and share. But I haven’t had the best of times.  The “I’ll say nothing at all” phrase has to do with the continuing saga of this View’s manufactured problems.  

OK—I’ll say one thing, because this one makes me really mad as it seems a safety hazard.  Neither the outside nor the inside LP shut-off switches work.  As best the furnace repairman could tell, the shut-off switches aren’t connected in anyway.  OK.  NO more RV talk today.

I’ve been back at my stick house for awhile, debating my next steps.  But with the holiday season, there is no place I enjoy more than the Upper Gulf Coast of Texas.  And so I spent Christmas Day driving about Galveston and the Texas City Dike.

My feathered friends did not disappoint.  And as usual, the common winter Ones gave me the best gifts.

This Great Blue Heron seemed most interested in my truck, allowing me to get ever so close.  We visited a good long time, and I took more pictures than any grandmother would.  I don’t know why, but Great Blues always remind me of the Three Wise Men.  

I never grow tired of Galveston’s winter Texans, the Sandhill Cranes.  I have so MANY blurry photos from afar, taken over several years.  But this Christmas Day, a small family of three allowed me to get out of my truck and stand surprisingly close.  I was on a remote road, with no traffic; these three were watchful of me, but did not turn their backs and walk away.

But my favorite feathered friend of Christmas 2014 is the good ol’ Mocker.  I was at Lafitte’s Cove, with not a soul around.  Walking the boardwalk back to my truck, I noted a Mocker doing what Mocker’s do:  perched in the very top of a shrubby tree, and calling out to all who would listen—“This is my little corner of the world!  Look at me!  I am the center of the Universe!”

And so I stopped and listened.  How human-like is a Mocker’s behavior.  And after giving him my full attention for a good several minutes (sans taking photos), I turned and walked the thirty yards back to my truck.

And would you believe it!  That same Mocker flew toward me, perching on the post at the front of my truck!  And there he stayed, allowing me to get back out of my truck, ever-so-quietly, and stand behind the shielding of my driver’s door to take about a million pictures.  He would look at me and turn this way and that, posing for the camera in the same way three-year-old humans pose for the iphones of their adoring grandmothers. 

And only when a stranger came calling did the Mocker leave me.  But I believe he would be pleased with these attentive photos:

And then two text messages came my way, from human friends.  One hoped I was having a peaceful Christmas. And the other, from a friend who knows  me well, gave me the best words to close out this post:

Hoping for comfort and joy among the birds and nature and nature’s Creator.

And with this blog post I want to give my thanks to those bloggers who read my blog, and who gift my life with their blog stories. 

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

The House at Home

The RGV got some much needed rain yesterday evening, followed by cooler nighttime temperatures.  I caught sight of a rainbow.  The rain was a soothing familiarity for this Upper-Gulf-Coast gal.

In terms of my house-on-wheels, I’ll mention that I’m SO thankful for the “warming blanket” that I bought at Bed, Bath and Beyond.  This electric blanket lets me leave the Winnebago View’s thermostat in the “kind of cold for sitting around” position during nighttime sleep, avoiding too much dysfunctional-furnace noise or heat pump noise.  

The furnace, the noisy refrigerator, and the “pressure relief” dripping of the hot water tank into the shower are but a few of the many reasons this View has not yet become my home. (The shower is next to the corner bed; the dripping only occurs when the hot water heater is on; another day’s blog)

I definitely don’t think of this View as my beloved condo-on-wheels.  It is a house-on-wheels that is currently filled with regret.  Maybe the fix-it possibilities will bring my pressure relief.

But my RV house is not the subject of this day’s blog.  I wanted to share a few photos of a House Wren, giving me a peek at his home, in a broken snag in Bentsen State Park:


This lovely House Wren fussed at me as I slowly birded the path to the Hawk Tower.  When I stopped my movement and stood still, and let a good bit of minutes pass, this lovely feathered One went from fussing to singing his beautiful song. 


Moving about the front door of his snag-house, there was no question in my mind; I’d sighted the House at Home:

Monday, December 1, 2014

The Price of Freedom

When riding my bicycle around Bentsen on Saturday, I was delighted to meet Helen and Don, riding their bikes with binoculars around Helen’s neck and a camera around Don’s neck.  Like me, they were birding the park.

As Helen, Don and I chatted we soon learned we are neighbors, in the same RV park.  I got a good chuckle when Don commented on my accent.  Me?  A Texan?  An accent?  It turns out that Helen and Don are from Nova Scotia. I could listen to them talk all day, so delightfully lovely is their accent.

As we talked of birding Don showed me an image on his camera—a bird I’d never seen before.  But as soon as he showed the photo to me, I knew it was an exotic that had escaped its cage, or been dumped by an owner.  Don said this Cockatiel was pictured in Sibley’s and that he’d taken the photo sitting outside his RV, from a grassy area that back’s their RV sight.

Saturday evening I looked in my Sibley’s and sure enough, this bird was listed alongside other Parrots and their allies.  My 2001 edition of Sibley’s casts doubt as to whether Cockatiels can survive as feral populations.  I’ve sighted colonies of Monk Parakeets in other Texas locations, but never this bird.

And so yesterday I got back on my bicycle for a planned short outing to Bentsen, taking my binoculars but choosing to leave my camera behind; my version of a day of rest. 

As I rode out to the front entrance of the RV park, some hundreds of yards from Helen and Don’s RV sight, I noticed an odd bird in the grass.  Putting binoculars on it I immediately knew it was the Cockatiel.  This sunshine-cheeked One was alive and feeding.

I debated my own set of ethics and values and whatnot; I could come up with no good reason to NOT go back to the RV, grab my camera, and get a photo.  And so I did:


The fact that the Cockatiel was a good distance from the location of Don’s photo makes me believe it has some ability, perhaps limited, to fly.  The fact that it was actively feeding seemed a good sign.  The fact that both sightings were on the ground leads me to believe that this escapee's living days are probably very shortly numbered.

I could have approached the Cockatiel, but that is not in my nature, as observing rather than impacting Mother Nature’s feathered Ones is my baseline goal. I could have reported this Cockatiel to someone, but if caught, it would again be caged.  And so I returned my camera to the RV, and rode on over to Bentsen for a quiet afternoon.

I can wonder about this bird’s day and can hope that his circle of life comes to conclusion due to a hawk or other non-feral, non-human, predator.  I know that there is always a price for freedom.  We the living pay daily for it; we fight for it. We must not forget to cherish it.
Returning to the RV Park after a nice time in Bentsen, I noted two Great-tailed Grackle’s giving chase to something scurrying around a parked car of someone’s RV sight.  The small object turned out to be a very, very young rabbit.  My immediate gut reaction was to cry out NO!—and to ride toward the hunt to chase off the grackles.

But I caught my cry and bottled it in my throat.  And I swerved my bicycle away from the chase, stopping my want to impact.  I knew that these two grackles were expert tag-team hunters and that this young rabbit would soon be their protein dinner.

The price of freedom is not too high for most of the living, on at least a few days of our lives; and the price of freedom is so very high on other days, until it is no longer an option for any of us. 

The Cockatiel, the baby rabbit and the two grackles remind me to cherish the vast complexities of what we humans call a life of freedom; and perhaps what Mother Nature would call no more, and no less, than a day in Her life, eternal.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

The Black-necked Stilt and the Bike Rack

Tomorrow was my planned day to head toward hill country state parks.  As a newbie to the motorized RV world, I’m currently traveling without a dinghy tow.  That’s OK for now, as I want to get a feel for the capability, freedom and constraints of traveling with just 25’ of RV. 

Long term I’ll certainly want a day tripping vehicle, not to mention the capability to pick-up groceries or run other errands without breaking campsite.  But for now I want to make sure this RV and I are going to have a long term relationship…so far, I haven’t felt the love.

But traveling without my bicycle, especially in Texas, is not OK.  My bicycle gives me a lot of capability, in a lot of state parks, to cover ground from the campground to trailheads and/or multiple hike and bike trails, not to mention bird blinds.

My bicycle rack is the kind where the bicycle hangs from the arms of the hitch-mounted rack.  This rack worked great on the back of my car.  But what I discovered with the Winnebago View is that the rack is so high off the ground, I must lift my heavy mama-style bicycle above my shoulder height to put it onto the rack’s arm cradles.

Well, my old neck and back injury allowed me to lift the bicycle above shoulders just once; and then my body spoke loudly to me:  “This isn’t happening!”

So I got a little frustrated with myself and wasn’t happy over hauling my bicycle around without taking it off for use.  And then it dawned on me:  “Hey, I’m in a full hookup luxury site in the RGV; a site in an RV park with a mailing address. I bet I can order a bike rack from Amazon and have it delivered to my RV door step!  

And so I’ve ordered the same bike rack that I’ve owned in the past; the kind where the wheels sit in the cradle and a clamp comes down over the bike’s frame to hold it in place.

Problem solved—I hope.  Penalty?  Another lovely week of birding and biking in the RGV; and carefully rationing my food so I don’t have to RV to the grocery store.

With order in place yesterday, I rode my bicycle to Bentsen State Park and had a wonderful 4 hours in the park.  The wind picked up by afternoon and so I enjoyed a quiet rest in the RV, with maps and bird books as my day-dreaming companions.

But before I develop yesterday’s photos, I wanted to catch up by posting these Black-necked Stilt photos from my Thanksgiving Day at Estero Llano Grande.

I see a good number of Black-necked Stilts around the shallows of Galveston Bay, but none ever let me get close.  This beauty seemed to ignore me, as long as I didn’t try to move ahead of him for better lighting!

It feels pretty good to be a valley girl; especially knowing I’ll soon be a hill country girl.  And for today, I've got an interesting state park that is only a bike ride away.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Thanksgiving at Estero Llano Grande

Spending Thanksgiving in state parks is my second favorite way to give thanks on this all-American holiday.  Spending time with family and friends is my first favorite—that is if any of these good folk join me at a state park!  J

Estero Llano Grande State Park is a part of the RGV’s World Birding Center network of destinations.  It makes for a relaxing day of birding or just walking the lovely trails that meander through an old orange grove and around a series of ponds.  Dogs are welcome, if on leash and any poop is scooped.

The park has a covered veranda, with chairs, that looks out on one of the busier ponds; a park store and a nice set of bathrooms flank the veranda.

I especially enjoyed  yesterday's visit to this lovely park.  It was my first full day of NO RV-related maintenance work.  I give thanks!

I got exactly zero stellar photos, but it surely felt good to sit in the RV last night and develop my day’s digital view.  I thought I'd share a few:

A first photo of one of Estero Llano Grande’s ponds.  All of the ponds have nice, wide hiking trails and/or boardwalks surrounding them:


A photo of a Northern Pintail in the foreground.  (Note the Gadwall, at photo's back center, and the Green-winged Teal at back right).


This photo shows a Cinnamon Teal following what I believe to be a Blue-winged x Cinnamon Teal.  I see a lot of Blue-winged Teals at Brazos Bend but yesterday it was lovely to see so many of all three species:


Mr. and Ms. Gadwall watching me with a Pintail’s bottom up:


And I know I’m in the RGV because Least Grebe’s are everywhere:


And Great Kiskadee’s are watching my every move:


But this Upper Gulf Coast gal never tires of seeing “my” locals in other habitats, such as this pretty Tricolored Heron:


Well, my laundry is done—time to go outdoors and play!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

And Then There is the Furnace!

The 2015 Winnebago View issues continue!  On Monday’s blog, I mentioned cycling the furnace on, so that I could use it Monday night instead of the noisy heat pump (I’ve never met a quiet RV heat pump).  When I cycled the furnace, I was also running lots of water in the RV, including flushing the toilet, to test and resolve the holding tank monitoring system issue of being backwards (previous blog).

With the water noise, I did not focus on the burst of noise that came out of the furnace—until Monday night; all night Monday night.

And here is THIS RV dysfunction story: 

Each time the furnace cycles on, I hear the normal “click” of the furnace activating, the normal blow of the blower, the second “click” to ignite the pilot, and then after about a 10 second delay, a LOUD shrill-like whistling, SCREECHING noise that lasts 10-30 seconds.  The furnace does come on, and it does blow hot air, but EACH TIME it cycles on, this LOUD noise erupts.  As you would guess, I got NO sleep Monday night.

Now here is the good news:  I’m in the RGV.  Three recent winters here taught me about the Winter-Texan neighborliness and the sharing of good and bad experiences.  And so in previous years I’d learned of a RVIA licensed repairman, who is recognized by multiple appliance warranties, and drives TO YOUR RIG, to perform repairs on an assortment of RV issues.

Thankfully, I still had access to his phone number; and THANKFULLY he and his wife still bring their RV to the RGV half the year (and spend the summer half of the year in Colorado); and THANKFULLY he is warranty-work licensed with Suburban, the manufacturer of this Winnebago furnace.

This handy repairman was at my View within 10 minutes of the phone call.  I cycled the furnace while he listened at the outside furnace bay and he immediately confirmed this unit should NOT be making that noise.

Now I like to watch people who are good at what they do, and take pride in what they do.  I’ve watched artists paint; quilters quilt; mechanics repair; teachers teach; and hardware builders and repairers work their magic with their tools.  This RVing entrepreneur with his own business takes pride in what he does, does his work well AND neatly, and shows an incredible integrity of NOT ripping off the customer.

Mr. Harris worked over an hour, taking out the furnace and listening to it by running it from his small portable LP tank and a battery.  The removal of the furnace showed that the entire housing was cracked; the screws that should have mounted the furnace to the subfloor were screwed into thin air; and the internal system of the furnace had shavings and debris in it.  A really, REALLY shabby job was done when Winnebago installed it.

And as I’m typing this morning, Mr. Harris called me.  He has already called Suburban, the furnace manufacturer, and they are sending him a new “burner” and a new housing.  It will probably take a couple of weeks to arrive, and I will GLADLY return to the RGV to have him install it and as he said, confirm that the problem is truly solved.

Mr. Harris did all this work yesterday as warranty work, with no charge to me.

I asked his permission to share a photo while he was working; I did not think to take a picture when he hooked up the furnace to his LP tank and battery—I was too interested in the work being performed.


This picture shows the cracked housing of the furnace:


And so I think my readers would agree with Mr. Harris’s expertise and with my ongoing RV brokenness:  if the dealership had performed a true PDI of the furnace, they would have heard this LOUD off-nominal noise!  But I am SO thankful that Mr. Harris is working the problem and that I don’t have to leave my condo-on-wheels at a dealership.

And if you are growing weary of my RVing product issues, here is some good news:  I rode my bicycle into Bentsen State Park yesterday!  I decided not to lug the 400mm lens on this first-in-a-long-time bicycle birding, but my binoculars, daypack and pocket camera were grand companions:


I have no birding photo to share, but I got long, amazing looks at a male Lazuli Bunting!  A new lifer for me!  I frequently see, and saw yesterday, Indigo Buntings.  One winter I sighted the rare Blue Bunting.  And yesterday the Lazuli!

The birding was fabulous, but no more writing this morning; this beautiful day is calling me back outdoors.
(One correction from last post on birds--I saw a Couch's Kingbird, not a Western.)
Hope you have a birdy, RV trouble-free day!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Black is Grey and Grey is Black

The lovely news? I spent last night in my new View!

With this week being Thanksgiving, I realized the delayed timing of my maiden voyage would not make for a state park being a good destination.  Most school year weekdays are lovely and quiet in Texas State Parks, but I give over Thanksgiving week, two Spring break weeks and a few other times to the masses that take their family vacations in the parks. I'm glad to see this holiday use by families, and so I gladly avoid these holiday times.

And so a bit of good luck came my way, and I'm renting a lovely RV site, with full hookups, in the RGV. I drove seven hours yesterday. Some other day I'll blog more about the feel of this RV on the road. Summary: great driver's seat and ergonomics; but horribly rough and noisy ride.

And so I was exhausted on arrival in this lovely place and mainly focused on getting water and electric and leveling and other basic needs set up. But one thing boiled my frustration: when I turned on the air conditioner, HUGE amounts of sawdust and metal shavings and other debris blew out of all the ceiling vents! All over everything--including my bedding!

Cleaning that mess after such a long day was exhausting. AND I realized why the dealership PDI person left all the vents closed when he cycled the A/C!

 I hoped for an easier day today but ended up spending more than expected time on testing the holding tanks and monitoring system. Are you ready for what I discovered? The monitoring system has the tanks backwards!

When filling the grey tank with kitchen sink and shower water, the black tank monitor showed the sensors going from Empty to 1/3 to 2/3 to Full while the grey tank monitor stayed Empty for its reading! And just the opposite when I filled the black tank by flushing the toilet and running the bathroom sink--the black tank monitor showed Empty and the Grey tank monitor went to Full! (And yes, one of the compromises was buying an RV where the bathroom sink is dumped into the black tank--I don't know what type of maintenance issues I may face in my future, especially if not using the RV over the hottest summer months.)

Do you think the dealership PDI or the manufacturing Quality Control get a passing grade for the tank monitoring system?  Imagine a new RVer that didn't test the system--I think they would have black water mess in their RV, thinking the black tank monitor was sitting with an Empty reading!

But at least the monitoring system works. It's just backwards.  I'm rolling with that punch--for now.

And so this evening, I'm beginning to relax. I tested the furnace today and I'll be able to run it tonight.

And I did go for a short walk late afternoon with binoculars around my neck. The RGV is an amazing place where East meets West meets Far South for bird specialties. Where else will a casual walk give me Chacalacas, Green Jays, Western Kingbird, Orange-crowned Warblers, Golden-fronted Woodpeckers, Verdin and Black-and-white Warbler to name not all?

Tomorrow's goal includes more play time; a bit of cooking; and getting out my camera and laptop.

This post is my first try using my iPad. So the font and grammar may be awful. But this gal is SO glad to be blogging with RV WANDERING in my immediate future!

And if you are WONDERING why so many winter Texans come to the RGV, take a look at the Weather Channel's 10 day forecast for Mission, Texas!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Filth + Brokenness = My New RV

Wouldn’t it be lovely if I hadn’t blogged these past two weeks due to being out and about in my NEW RV?—in some remote location that didn’t have internet access?  Yes, that would be REALLY lovely.

The good news?  I closed my eyes, swallowed really hard, and two Monday’s ago I DID buy the new RV. 

The bad news?  I haven’t spent one night in it—yet. 

I realized, while going through the buying process at the dealership, that this brand new RV was too dirty to use that first night.  Being six hours from home, I did what I most hate:  I parked the RV and spent a sleepless night in a hotel.

Early that Tuesday morning I faced an unexpected long drive home in strong crosswinds and cold--and a realization that this RV wasn’t just dirty—it was FILTHY—and would require a whole LOT of cleaning before I could put anything into it, much less use it as my condo-on-wheels.

I went from being disappointed; to being frustrated; to being angry—to being really P___ OFF!  (And that is not a term that is in my usual vocabulary.) 

Regarding my use of the word filthy—as I got into the cleaning process I quickly realized three things: 

First, no cleaning from the manufacturing process had occurred.  EVERY surface was filthy.  Even the insides of cabinet walls (where I’d put clothes and groceries) were covered in sawdust and dirty hand prints.  The vinyl ceiling had oily handprints.  Every surface was covered in a fine sawdust, metal shavings and oily grime.  The toilet base and surrounding area were FILTHY from what I assume was installation.  The shower corners and piece-parts could have come from an automotive garage’s  workbench.

Second, what I assume to be abuse from the manufacturer’s driver, driving this new RV from the IA manufacturing plant to the Texas dealership, added to the filth.  He/she had spilled coffee or cola or such in the driver’s door drink compartment.  The driver’s floor area was black with grime; and so on.

And third, what little “pre-delivery inspection” occurred at the dealership before my arrival seemed to add to the filth.  Even the foot pedal for the toilet flush had mud and grime on it.  I found small pieces of hard, clear plastic in the toilet bowl.  Whatever broke during manufacturing installation may have found its way into the black tank!

This was and is a brand NEW Winnebago View RV.  My anger at the filth echoed what I’ve already learned from this past year’s RV search:  the RV industry has NO respect for the products that they make and sell. (The exceptions may be Tiffin and Foretravel, but I don’t know as unfortunately, I can’t afford either.)

But this time, I was purchasing; not walking away.  This time, I felt personally disrespected!  Shame on THEM for thinking it was OK to be so disrespectful to my purchase. 

And then there was the brokenness that I found, while cleaning: 

At the dealership I knew that the bathroom door was not closing correctly (as it had obviously banged against a drawer during the trip from IA to Texas).  The dealership told me it was just the latch that needed adjusting and that they’d fixed it.

As I drove away (and toward the hotel), the door banged open.  In the midst of my deep cleaning this week I realized this curved door is extremely warped, top to bottom.  AND I knew that THEY knew!  And my anger boiled a bit.

But it was when pulling off a piece of random masking tape from the side of the “leatherette” dinette that I reached the PO state.  Guess what was under the masking tape?  Yep, about a 3/4 inch rip in the leatherette material.  That masking tape was NOT an accidental placement by SOMEONE.

I could go on about the kitchen sink's trap leaking; and other brokenness that I've uncovered, while cleaning.  I could wring my hands over all the unknowns I now face since I haven’t yet spent the night; I have not yet tested the major systems such as furnace, appliances, hot water, etc.

But late yesterday evening I’d cleaned all I could clean.  I FINALLY placed clothes and kitchen items and such in the RV.  I found a place to store my binoculars and day pack.

This morning I got an EZ tag for the RV. And then spent the rest of this day on my stick house sofa, doing mostly nothing.  Until now; blogging and typing therapy.
Tomorrow I’m going to stay in my stick house and do nothing much more than watch it rain.

And Sunday?  I’m going to begin my first adventure in my brand new Winnebago View.  Will I love it?  I surely hope so.
Right now?  I’m too frustrated and angry with the manufacturer’s poor treatment and the dealer’s mistreatment of this rig; and therefore, mistreatment of me.

I’m ready to wander; I’m ready to wonder about Mother Nature’s beauty.  I’m ready to see less of human bad behavior.

Thanks to my readers for letting me express a bit of what I’m now ready to put behind me.  If all NOW goes well…

I’m ready for traveling in this condo-on-wheels that I hope to end up loving; and I’m SO ready to spend time with the feathered Ones.

But mostly, this Texan is ready to be on the road again…