Thursday, August 29, 2013

Altoona, IA - Hitch Itch Part 2

Our neighbors on the left have left heading south

Our neighbors on the right have left heading east.

We are still here, a bit lonelier but still in the park.
Saw this butterfly in the campground today as we walked around.

We’ve been working all August on lots of little things that need to be done before we hit the road:

        We’ve had our dental appointments and I’ve had a bonus appointment for a filling repair.

        We’ve visited the doctor.

        We’ve had our eyes checked.

        We’ve moved our safe deposit box closer to my sister-in-law who has a key.

        We’ve picked up the hiking poles and winter hiking clothes from the storage area to take with us.

        We’ve had our road haircuts, shorter so we won’t have to have another for 2 months, although it looks as if Gary got a 4 month haircut.

We’ve bought and installed things on our RV to make our life nicer - and safer:



        a new stronger tow bar

        a new tire pressure system

        some new shelving in the front cupboards

Then, if we’ve done so much, why are we still here? Well, because I’ve made plans to leave on the 1st, shucks.

Tonight, we’ve heading over to Cathy and Tom’s, Gary’s sister and brother-in-law, for dinner. The thing we miss most about Iowa is visiting with friends and relatives. Though, when we moved to Iowa from New England, we noticed that Cathy and Tom were not just relatives but best friends. Luckily, they have just bought an RV and plan to meet us for a week at the Grand Canyon. And, maybe we can talk them into joining us sometime in the spring for a Seattle/Vancouver visit.

Dinner was, as usual, great but we enjoy talking with them. Then Cathy brought out a box of Russell Stover chocolates for us as a going-away gift. That was in memory of Lug, Gary’s and Cathy’s father who died in January, whose favorite gift to his 3 children was a box (or two) of Russell Stover chocolates. Lucky us, he liked the 2-lb boxes.

Time to leave and we’re all sad. But, we can all look forward to the October Grand Canyon week.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Altoona, IA - Cute Little RV

We’re always looking for new places to walk. Walking through the campground gets old quickly, we’ve walked the old railroad tracks which used to go near the campground but they are gretting overgrown this late in the summer and it’s a longer drive into Ankeny to find a new trail. So, today, since we are in Des Moines for our dental appointments, we decided to walk around here. Even though we’ve walked around here before, that was many years ago and it’s all new now. We turned a corner and found this:
Now, lest you think that this is just an old rusty RV in someone’s back yard, let me tell you that it is hooked up to electricity as you can see in the picture, it has new chintz kitchen curtains and a cute little wind-chime inside the window. It reminded me of the Shady Dell Campground in Bisbee, AZ where there about 15 old RV’s which have been refurbished and which you can rent for a night or two. Or you can tour as a history lesson.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Altoona, IA - Would You Loan a DVD to This Person?

My driver’s license says I live in West Des Moines, IA. but we sold that house in June.

I’m staying in an RV park in Altoona, IA, but we’re leaving on September 1st.

My official address is in Sioux Falls, SD. but we won’t get there until September 4.

If you were a librarian in Ankeny, IA, would you loan one of your most popular DVD’s to me?

If your answer is ‘yes’ then you’re as nice as the librarians that I met in the public library in Ankeny.

Gary and are not TV watchers, in fact, we watch the national and local news in the evening when we dinner eat and that’s the only time our TV is on. (So, you ask, why do we have 3 TV’s in our RV? I sometimes wonder that myself. But, that’s the way it came and that’s the way we’re leaving it - in case we ever want to trade it in. We actually took the bedroom TV out of our last RV and put it into the kitchen in our stick house so we could watch the news when we ate dinner. However, when we were in Arizona and traded that RV in for the RV we have now, the TV was still in our house in Des Moines.)

However, last year I happened to hear that Shirley Mclaine was going to be on Downton Abbey along with one of the stars, Maggie Smith, one of the greats, I knew I couldn’t miss this so tuned in that Sunday to watch it. It was spectacular drama and I vowed to watch the rest of the season. Did I ever get to any of the rest? What do you think? Nope. I forgot, or I was out hiking, or we changed time zones and I missed the starting time. But, I was only able to watch the last 5 minutes of one of the remaining episodes. Shucks. And, of course, I haven’t seen any of the shows in the first two seasons either.

This summer I had all 3 seasons on my reserve list for both the West Des Moines library where we live and the Des Moines library where I usually go. But, I was so far down the list that none of the three seasons ever came in.
Today we are in the Ankeny library getting some long computer downloads and I happened to see Season 3 on the shelf, just waiting for me to check it out. But, how am I going to explain my address? But librarians are patient and service oriented. I explained my dilemma and they are trying to figure out how they can loan me the DVD. They weren’t thinking this lady is nuts, but rather: but what address can we use. We want to get her this DVD, how can we do this?

And, I now have Season 3. Someday I’ll get to Season 1 and 2.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Altoona, IA - In Training for the Canyon

We have a Grand Canyon hike coming up in mid-October. This is the one that I spent 52 minutes redialing on the phone before I got a human voice to take my reservation back in October 2012. This hike is so popular and the lodging so scarce at Phantom Ranch at the bottom of the Canyon that you’ve got to make reservations at least a year in advance. So, we’ve been waiting for this hike for a year now. 

Are we ready for this hike? Are you kidding? We’ve been walking in West Des Moines, our campground and in Ankeny, IA. Do any of these resemble what we’re going to do in the Grand Canyon? Not a chance. All of thes are too smooth, too short and too flat. Nothing like the Grand Canyon. But, at least we’ve been walking our usual 3 - 4 miles a day. Today we tried something different. Our campground was actually carved out of a field about 15 years ago and today is surrounded by corn fields on 2 sides, a creek at the bottom of a very small deep creek bed and several hay fields where the cattle graze. Whereas we usually walk the flat roads in the campground, today we decided to walk along the fence line surrounding the campground.

Hey, look, the fence is open, the cattle have been moved into a pasture closer to the barn and we can walk around their old pasture too. Why not? I’d rather make a big circle than 2 small ones.

Walking the fence line was uneven, with tufts of grass and weeks, rocks and cracks in the ground from the drought Iowa is in. It’s also got some small hills on it which start level with the campground but then go down to the creek in several places. Not a great training hike but at least it’s got some promise. The next day we tied on our hiking boots and took off to explore. Uneven terrain, some hills where we’ve got to switchback and a real bonus: cowpies in the pasture - to get us used to stepping over the little presents that the mules leave on the Bright Angel trail down to the bottom of the canyon. What more could we want?

We noticed that after we curved through the pastures, we came to an open fence and, lo and behold, there was a path through the corn field, where they had cut down 2 rows of corn so a vehicle could get through. At the end of this path is the campground office. We can hear this new path calling our names.
At the end of the path we found ourselves in the farmyard and the cattle ensconsed in their new pasture.
We waved at the cows, turned the corner around the hay shed and into the office to pick up our mail.
The walk back was equally exciting.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Altoona, IA - The Auntie Adventure

Here’s a frightening sight for any RV’er. It’s a large tow truck from Hanifen, a tow company in Des Moines. Who wants to see one of these in front of their RV? Certainly, not me.
But let me start at the beginning. The adventure of the day is traveling with Cathy, my sister-in-law, and Gary’s aunt Darlene to visit another aunt, Marylee, in Boone, Ia. about 1 hour away. Darlene and I are to meet at Cathy’s and go from there. Between Cathy’s home and ours is a 12’ 1” bridge, pretty low for us in 12’ 7” RV’s. There are signs on either side of the bridge giving you enough time to turn off onto the entrance ramp to the highway over it. However, there is a slight rise between the sign and the entrance ramp which make it hard to see this entrance ramp.

As I approached this bridge in my Jeep, I saw a line of 10 cars waiting to get through a single lane of traffic. In front of this line of cars and to the left were brinking red and blue lights and off to the right, perpendicular to the road was a 45’ RV on an upward slant into a driveway. Looks like the driver of the RV had seen the low bridge sign, had not seen the entrance ramp and had turned into the first driveway that he or she could, an uphill slant. That’s when it scraped its rear end and was hung up between the driveway and the road, blocking one lane of traffic. Ouch.

And, that’s where Hanifen came in. If you’re in central Iowa and have something big that needs towing, you call Hanifen.

If there's something weird
and it don't look good

Who you gonna call?

It looks as someone is having a bad day and called Hanifen.

I got to Cathy’s house and we all toodled off up to Aunt Marylee’s farm. The trip was full of chatter about family and was lots of fun and the visit with Marylee was also. They are both in their 80’s, lively and full of laughter with stories about growing up in a house with 11 kids and 3 bedrooms. Who stole whose ‘hairpins’ and sweaters? Seems that they both accused the other of this. And, have I heard this story before? Sure, but it was still funny.

Then it was time for lunch and Marylee showed us that she still knew how to feed the farm hands.
Maid-rites, fresh corn on the cob, fresh tomatoes straight from her garden, fruit salad, potato salad, cranberry lemonade and, if that all was not enough, she then brought out these homemade tarts: peach, apple, rhubarb and cherry. Of course, none of us could choose what flavor to have so she cut them in half and we all got two favors. Did anyone say ala mode?
Wowsa, wowsa, looks like a small salad for dinner tonight. She also had a large baggie of beans she had just picked and a plastic container of 9 tomatoes for each of us. Oh, the joys of Iowa in the summer. And that was the Auntie Adventure. Just like I said - making mountains out of molehills.

Marylee just got done painting a small shed on her farm.
Then it was time to head down the driveway towards home.

On another topic, have you seen the story about 2 New Yorkers living in a 325 sq ft micro-apartment in the Museum of New York? They think that 24 hours in this exceptionally small space is an amazing feat and have specially designed furniture to make this ‘small’ space livable. But I’m thinking this smacks of elitism. Why do they think that 325 sq ft is so amazing? Don’t they realize that there are many people who cannot afford any more than 325 sq ft? Do they not realize that there are many people who chose to live in smaller homes? Don’t they know anyting about full-timing in an RV? Do they need to get out of New York and see the rest of the world?

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Altoona, IA - Adventures? What Adventures?

Adventures are few and far between here in Altoona. Not that Altoona and Iowa don’t have adventures, it’s just that Gary and I are so busy getting ready to get out on the road. September 1 comes mighty fast this summer - much faster than in previous summers (ha, ha). We are still trying to clean up from the sale of our home and furniture and getting the RV ready to move that we’re behind the 8 ball here. The past and the future are the priorities, not the present. Yeah, yeah, I know - we’ve got to stop and smell the roses every now and then. And, we do. We attended the Iowa State Fair. We’ve also visited with our neighbors, Jo and John, in our townhome development who have also moved. Finally, we attended a pool party at our old townhome development.

Jo and John have moved to a Senior Living Center, called Scottish Rite in Des Moines, which John’s father designed and for which John, who is also an architect, designed the continuing care area. We went for lunch with them and had a marvelous time. Scottish Rite is not only on a hill but is also 13 stories tall. So, the views are tremendous.
This is the view of downtown Des Moines from the ‘penthouse’ on the 13th floor. I could sit on the deck and look at this view forever.
We also got an e-mail from our old townhome development (they must have forgotten to take us off the e-mail list) announcing a pool party for everyone. We called up and asked if we could come. When we sold our townhome, we had very little time to actually move so we didn’t have much time to go around to say good-bye to all our friends there. We just vanished. Here was our chance.

When we walked in, Dottie and Pauline, who were getting the room ready, dropped their jaws, smiled and welcomed us. They also felt that we had vanished. What a great time we all had and I got to take pictures of all of them for our memories.

Russ and his wife, Gene, have also moved out to a senior living apartment.

Meanwhile, we’ve been getting all of our dentist, doctor, optometrist visits out of the way until next year. Gary’s been spending time working on the ‘basement’ compartments to organize them and to see if he can find any more space. When we moved into this RV, in the parking lot of the dealer, he just put everything in as fast as he could. Now is the first time he’s had some time to organize. On the other hand, does this look like he’s organized?
He keeps saying something like having to break some eggs to make an omelet. On the other hand, several people have stopped by to offer him money for the things he has in his yard sale. 

In the meantime I’m working on our travel plans. Gary teases me about wanting to have reservations for many of the places we go but, in the end, he’s happy that we have place to be at the end of the day. Of course, I also plan boondocking but, at least, I know what boondocking site we’re supposed to be at the end of the day, whether it’s BLM land or something from Escapee’s Day’s End or a Walmart lot, I like to know what we’re aiming for.

We try to walk about 4 miles a day and, often we find ourselves tooling around the campground. If we take every road at least once, we can get in about 2 miles. So, double that and we’re all set. The entry to the campground looks like a ranch out west, with a fence and an archway above.
There is a horse on either side of the gate to welcome us. This one looks like it’s had a bit more espresso this morning than I had.
The campground owners also have the regular kind of horses which she races at the local track. ‘No ‘darn’ good is somewhat how she describes their record this year.
We get beautiful views of the sunsets out of our front windshield at night.

And, that’s the way it goes. We’ve both got a case of hitch itch but have things to do before we can leave Iowa. One of them is getting a new roof on my brother’s home - but that’s another story.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Altoona, IA - The Iowa State Fair

We are quintessential Iowans, we were born and raised in Iowa, we both attended Iowa colleges, we returned to Iowa after many years in other states (drawn by jobs and the Navy) and - here is the salient characteristic: we attend the Iowa State Fair. And, those of you who have not attended the Iowa State Fair are really missing a treat. It’s got everything: it’s got the animals,
the horticulture,
the arts and crafts,
the celebrities, (why is the driver dressed in a suit and tie?)
the contests,
the camping (more about that later) it’s got a midway, and - it’s got Sham-Wow’s and the Miracle Mop. You name it, it’s got it. And, did I mention the food? How could I have forgotten the food? Isn’t that why most people go?

Actually, I’ve got to confess, we had not planned on going to the Fair this year. But, when we were getting the Jeep serviced a few days ago, someone ran through the waiting area, asking if we had gone to the Fair yet. We said ‘no’ and he handed us 2 tickets. Karma. We had to go. Today was the day. We arose, had a fruit smoothie for breakfast (don’t want to spoil our appetite) and headed on over, parked in the Bunny lot and walked through the gate with our free tickets.

Now, it’s time for breakfast. We have been to the fair so often that we have our favorite foods at our favorite booths. However, this year we decided to mix it up and eat at different booths. Part of this is because we saw a story on TV about food for less than $2.00. The clarion call of ‘cheap eats’. One booth mentioned was the Wooden Shoe which had $1.50 cinnamon or raspberry rolls and donuts, creme filled Bismarcks and 50 cent coffee. Let me repeat that: $.50 coffee. So, instead of $2.00 coffee and $6.00 cinnamon roll, we spent $4.00 and got 2 coffees and 2 rolls. Delicious. What could be better? Oops, there goes Gary back for a second roll, $6.00 altogether and breakfast is done.

But, I haven’t even told you the best thing about breakfast: Mervin. Yep, Mervin was alone and looking for a table so we invited him over. He’s been to the Iowa State Fair ever since 1934 (except the war years when they housed the army here). That’s almost 80 years of fair attendance. And, he comes every day. He showed us his 10 day pass with every day, except the last two, punched out. He lives pretty close to the fair so it is convenient. He used to camp here but his wife didn’t like the camping (after 30 or so years) so he comes alone. We asked him what he finds to do every day and he told us that there was always something to see and do. He was wearing his Iowa State Fair hat, too. I suppose he was so much fun to talk with since he reminded me so much of Gary’s father, the same red hat, plaid shirt, jeans and the same stature and walk.
But he went off in search of adventure and we were on our way also. Our first stop was at the Pella Wildlife booth where we saw a show about cats in Iowa. No, not house cats, but mountain lions and bobcats, two cats one doesn’t usually associate with Iowa. Being hikers we are aware of mountain lions in the wilderness and often see signs on trailheads so we were very interested in what they had to say. Of course, they were talking about mountain lions in Iowa but some of their information was about the west too. Firstly there are probably only 6 - 12 cougars in Iowa since more than 95% of our land is farmed and not a suitable habitat. And, these cougars are transient, moving from the forests of Minnesota to the forests of Missouri. (I guess Iowa is not just a fly-over state, but a walk-through state as well.)

Do they kill much livestock? Nope, they mostly eat smaller animals but also deer. In fact, predators such as wolves and cougars do not kill much livestock even out west, where we hear so much about this. It seems that respiratory disease and digestive problems are the biggest killers of livestock as reported by ranchers themselves. Ah, but what to do if we should have a close encounter with a cougar while we are hiking? Well, the presenter told us that generally a mountain lion will sense human presence before humans know they are in the area and the mountain lions will quickly vacate the area. The odds of being attacked by a mountain lion are 1 in 300,000,000. However, he also mentioned what to do if one does spot a mountain lion. But in the end, I figure that my fear of a mountain lion outweighs the probability of seeing one on the trail. Though - we’ll be prepared.

Hey, did I mention the food that is served at the fair? I”m sure you’ve all heard about lots of the foods at the fair. But, did you know that there are 64 items that come on a stick: from a Bacon Wrapped Riblet On-a-stick to a deep fried cupcake on a stick to a deep fried brownie on a stick to pb&j sandwiches on a stick to - well, you get the idea. (No wonder there’s no more forests left in Iowa - we’ve turned them all into sticks for the Iowa State Fair.) Last year they introduced a new food: fried butter on a stick. Oh, my. I can’t even imagine that fried butter might be tasty though those who bought it said it tasted like a flaky biscuit. They even have hard cooked egg on a stick but that is given away by the Iowa Egg Council and is a fair staple. Here we are on the main concourse in front of the deep fried Twinkie, Oreo and candy bar booth. Note the pose on the left. He saw me coming with my camera.
But the fair is not all about food, it is about the animals. And, we always enjoy seeing the young 4H’ers show off their prize goats and miniature heifers, and piglets. They work hard raising them and grooming them for their showing. What a treat it is to see them standing proudly with their groomed animals waiting for the judging to begin.
It’s about families and getting together. Here’s a family section of the sheep barn. Look at all those ribbons! And, trust me, these families live at the fair. Look at the chairs, the mattress, the cooler, the shoes. They’re here for the duration.
It does get tiring.
Here’s a sheep that’s been shorn, ready for his (or her) big moment in the ring. But, first, you’ve got to protect that white, shorn body. This is one forlorn looking sheep.
We found a scoop of ice cream for $4.00 at the Dairy Barn or 2 scoops for $5.00. Why not share the 2 scooper and save $3.00? Sounds like a plan to me.
The big news this year is that the fair icon, the Butter Cow, was sprayed with red paint to protest meat eating. It happened over night but the Butter Cow carver and the maintenance crew had it cleaned up for the Fair by the next morning.
buttercowiowa-2013-08-16-19-02.jpgThen in a marketing coup, they turned this lemon into lemonade and are now selling Butter Cow Security t-shirts. They sold out of these shortly after they went on sale and had to order more. After the fair you can order one online.
One of our goals today, besides the fair, was to find my great grand-father’s grave in a cemetery about 5 blocks from the Fairgrounds. And, that’s another story.

Altoona, IA - The Cemetery, the Campground and the Lumberjacks

As I said earlier, one of our goals was to find my great grandfather’s grave in a local cemetery. Gary had done some research online and, not only had found the cemetery on line but also the # of his plot in the cemetery. It was a beautiful day, sunny with temps in the low 80’s and a bit of a breeze so the walk to the Laurel Hill Cemetery was a delight. We had some rudimentary maps but knew that we’d have to walk the graves to find it exactly. It took us a while since the descrription we had said it was in the SW corner but we found it in the SE corner.
But, here’s the view. That’s the gold-domed capitol on the right and the city skyline in the center.
However, finding the grave probably posed more questions that it answered. Yes, Charles is buried here but what happened to Wilhelmine? Her dates are not filled in. And, who are Constant and Sophia? I assume that they are twins but given the dates of their birth, they couldn’t have been children of Charles and Wilhelmine.

We have a book on my father’s family but only very sketchy information about my mother’s and the only person I can ask in my aunt in San Diego.

We then walked back to the fair via the campground. Now, this is a unique campground. It has over 1500 sites but most of them are on hills. Didn’t know Iowa had hills? Well, just try to find a level spot in this campground. Not only is it hilly but it is difficult to maneuver when all of the fair goers are in their spots.
We have never camped her since we live in the area. However, it is difficult to get a campground spot during the fair since people have had spots here for years and pass them down in the family or to friends. They are probably in wills. Here are two people who have camped next to each other for 40 years: one lives in Dubuque and the other across the state in Carroll. But they meet for 14+ days during the fair.
But what impresses us the most about the fairgrounds is the engineering jobs that people perform to get their rigs into their spot. Here’s a 5th wheel on one of the hills. What is in those black bags? And, look at those ramps. I can’t imagine saying ‘Sweetie, back up just a little bit more.’ What would happen if we got a typical Iowa thunderstorm?
And, another view. I’m not trying this is my motorhome.
Now, here’s a ‘level’ spot but it also needs some engineering.
Here’s a 40’ Winnebago Tour. Looks like he’s got some specially designed ramps that he brings along.
But the campground is absolutely chock full for the fair.
Back at the fairgrounds, we went to the Lumberjack contest. One of the entertainment options. Here are some of the contests: the pole climbing contest:
the chainsaw contest:

the sawing contest:
and the log rolling contest:
Pretty interesting. But, it was 5:00, it had been a long day, there were no more foods we wanted to try out and we decided to leave. On the way out we found several people giving away soda. I took a diet Dr. Pepper (big mistake it had caffeine and I had a difficult time falling asleep) and Big Gar had a Root Beer.

We had free tickets to get into the fair and free soda when we left. 

Remember, now, we parked in the Bunny lot.
A small salad for dinner, showers and relaxing.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Altoona, IA - Gary's Fantastic 'FAN-TASTIC' Adventure Part 2

And, if you thought that the FAN-TASTIC Fan installations was fun, they you’re going to really enjoy hearing the saga of Gary’s fantastic FAN-TASTIC fan adventure part 2. It just keeps gretting better. Now, he’s going to install the two roof-top vent covers for the fans. The fans themselves were my idea but these were his idea and were on his list so he can’t blame me for this one. This is all on him.

But these instructions were as good as the instructions for the Fans. Finally, after trying to make them work. Gary finally called FAN-TASTIC tech support, left a message and waited. Then he made another call and waited. Finally today he called, held on and Sharon answered the phone. She told him that the instructions explain installation A whereas all Winnebagos require installation B - which is not included with these vents covers and she e-mailed installation B to him. (By the way, we bought these covers at the Winnebago Customer Service desk. Gary suggested that the specific Winnebago instructions be included with all Winnebago sales.)

Unfortunately, installation B instructions are as vague as the installation instructions for the fan itself. Gary called back, got Sharon again who called in Robert, the guy in the cubicle next to her. Gary heard these lines:

        ‘We don’t actually have a vent cover here in the office so we can’t see it.’

        ‘Sharon’s been here since May and I came in February.’

        ‘I’ve never seen an installation done.’

‘Does anybody really know what time it is?’ Again, I kid you not. I was here, I heard the conversation and that is really what they said. Sharon then called someone on the engineering staff, Aaron, and then e-mailed him copying Gary.

Meanwhile Gary and I took a movie of the installation as it should be from their instructions to show how much it moved on the roof. It was not stable and there was no way he could seal it. He then e-mailed this movie to Sharon. Have we heard back? Is Aaron on vacation? Tune in tomorrow for more of Gary’s fantastic FAN-TASTIC adventure.
Yes, Aaron got back to Gary but not with any real hints about how to install this. Gary then made up his own installation, it works fine and, knowing my huisband and his work, it will work forever.

Now, let me add a caveat to this story about the FAN-TASTIC fans. We’re really glad that we upgraded ours to the remote with thermostat and that Gary installed the vent covers. The fans work amazingly well and, with the covers, we will not have to close the fans down when it rains. I recommend both of these items for any RV’er. I also think that the techs helped us as much as they could and with a pleasant attitude. But I’m not sure that their training and support were as good as they could be. They need a fan and a fan cover in their office so they can actually see how they operate. They need to see an installation and then actually install a fan and fan cover themselves to have a better idea of the problems that others face. But, the instructions were written as many instructions are: not complete, not in layman’s terms and not always feasible. Do engineers at companies who design these intricate devices that we all use, ever try to install them? Do people who write the instrtuctions ever try to follow their own instructions? My guess for both of these questions is a resounding: NO.

Hey, have I mentioned the recurring problem with our braking system in our Jeep? Anyone who thinks that the RV lifestyle is always care-free and that we are on one continual vacation, let me disabuse you of those thoughts. We’re not on vacation, we’re just living our lives in an RV - and we have issues just like anyone who owns a home or lives in an apartment and we have to solve these. In this case, we have a Jeep which we tow behind our motorhome. Because RV’s and Jeeps are heavy, we also have a braking system in our Jeep so that, in an emergency situation, when we apply the brakes to the motorhome, the brakes in the Jeep will also be applied.

TryingtoImproveEvenBrakeSetup-2-2013-08-1-13-05.jpgFor those of you who do not travel in an RV, a braking system is a box with an arm in front attached to the brake pedal of the car which obtains its force by pushing against the seat of the car. In the picture below, you can see the braking system and the black handle which pushes against the seat. You can’t see the arm pushing against the brake pedal, but, believe me, it is there.

This brake worked perfectly will in our old Jeep Grand Cherokee, which we traded in 2 years ago. It does not work so well in our new Jeep Liberty, which has a higher, more rounded seat. When we simulate an emergency situation to test the brake, the black bar hits the rounded seat and rides up over the seat rather than pushing against it. Thus it does not brake as well. Oops. We spoke with another woman at the rally who had this same problem. And, I’m sure, we’re not the only ones. Gary, my problem solver, has now constructed this board which fits between the brake and the Jeep seat and prevents the brake from riding up over the seat.
Will we solve all our problems before we leave on September 1? We’re sure working on it.