Bees and BBQ

I had trouble figuring out how to start this blog post. It’s about family and a hobby. I sat around thinking, “how the heck should I start this.” Finally decided just to jump in. No reason to make a literary work of everything. I hope you find it a little more interesting than a couple future posts I’ve been contemplating which are taking a social security benefit at age 62 and my system for evaluating fifth wheels.

We traveled to our daughter Catherine’s home for BBQ. Her husband John is one of those (us) people who researches the heck out of everything. He purchased a very heavy Green Egg grill to smoke meat. Catherine has been a vegetarian forever. We did our part in trying to eat all the meat and keep it out of her fridge. Of particular interest was a wire hanging out of John’s BBQ smoker. It’s attached to a meter that sends signals to his phone telling him important data such as temperature. It even has an alarm to wake him up at night to let him know he is about to ruin our meal by sleeping when he should be adding charcoal to the grill. Speaking (writing) of charcoal John says Missouri is the leader in production of the best chunk wood charcoal that being manufactured by Rockwood.

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John’s Big Green Egg smoker with wire for temperature monitoring

Regarding BBQ, Karen has been perfecting her recipe for BBQ wings and pulled pork using her Instant Pot. It’s wonderful!

Switching topics now to honeybees, not that honey is a great ingredient for BBQ sauce. The start of fall weather marks the time we extract honey from our beehives. This year was special as my sister Mary and friend Russ were visiting and gave a helping hand.  They really seemed to enjoy the process while I thought I was glad they liked it because it’s one of the more labor-intensive parts of the process. Briefly the process is; nectar is gathered by the bees and in this case stored within separate boxes known as supers which are above their living quarters known as brood boxes. After the bees reduce the moisture content of the nectar, which has been mixed with enzymes they produce, it becomes honey. The bees secrete wax which they cap over the honey.  Each of these boxes contain nine or ten frames on which there is comb the bees stored and caped the honey on. We remove frames and cut off the wax with a hot knife. We place the frames containing now exposed honey in an extractor. The extractor spins thereby using centrifugal force, throwing the honey to the sides of the extractor. Then we open a gate at the bottom of the extractor. The honey gushes out into a series of filters on top of buckets. Later, the honey is bottled from the buckets and enjoyed by all.

Here are photos for those more inclined to learn that way:

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Run – There are Bees!

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Frames in super (honey) boxes

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Mark gorged with honey holding frame to place in extractor

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Frames are placed in extractor which has a handle to spin the contents

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Open gate at bottom of extractor and honey strains through filters – And dog wonders if he will get some!

Regarding bees:  They seem to be one of natures several varmints folks can be afraid of. A number of people have come out to our beehives to get over that fear. Personally, 70,000 bees in a managed beehive or even a large swarm don’t even get my heart beat up. Now, throw in a snake and I’m running for cover.

For those afraid of bees there is not much I can write to get you over that. But… here are a few points to keep in mind when you run into them. Foraging honey bees have no interest in stinging you. Stinging occurs when they get swatted by you trying to brush them away such as when they get stuck in your hair.  Certain times of year, when nectar flow from flowers is low, they also tend to be more protective of their hives so stay away. Bees flying well above your head from a hive are no issue. Our bees tend to gain altitude about 20 feet from the hive at which time they are overhead. When I mow the grass in front of their hives I drive the mower slow. That way the bees have a chance to maneuver around me as they want to avoid contact.  When bees swarm, in that big black cloud so many are worried about, they are at their most docile state. Before leaving the hive to swarm they gorge on honey which has a side benefit of them not wanting to sting anyone..

In some southern states Africanized bees have made homes. They are a different creature and tend to be more protective of their hives. Wish I could tell you more about Africanized bees but I have no experience with them. I can tell you this, when a bee stings they sometimes put out a pheromone that smells like a banana. Beekeepers use smoke to mask the pheromone. If you do get stung and smell bananas the bees have marked you as a threat. On another note, it takes about 20 seconds for a bee to inject all of their venom into you. More precisely, they sting and their stinger, attached to the venom sack, is left behind which kills the bee. Don’t grab the “stinger” with your fingers because by doing so you are squeezing venom into your -whatever got stung place. Use something with an edge similar to a credit card to brush the stinger off.  If you are in Kansas City within the next two years I’d be happy to let you play with my bees to get over that fear!

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Final Product

Debbie and Steve of the Down the Road Blog are heading to Kansas City tomorrow on their path through Missouri. According to their blog she is afraid of bees. This jar of honey is for you guys!

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Life in Kansas City – A Laundry List of Ideas

It’s been nearly a month since I’ve posted anything on the blog. It has been busy at work and I’ve been spending most of my RV research time looking into electronics and evaluating the 2018 trailer models. I’ll most likely write about that later.  I keep a list of ideas that may be worthy of a blog post as the ideas come up. Thought I’d take a quick moment to write about a few and hope at least one area is of interest to others:

  • Missouri celebrates 100 years of state parks: On April 9, 1917, a state park fund was created to buy land in Missouri. Parks are funded by a one-tenth-cent sales tax passed by voters in August 1984, with monies generated split evenly between state parks and soil and water conservation efforts. The tax has since been reapproved by voters three times. I found a wonderful PBS video that highlights a century of Missouri State Parks for those interesting. Click Here for Video.
  • Spectrum RV of Australia is entering the US fifth wheel market. They claim to have a European look and build trailers to withstand the rough Australian roads. Their USA website is not complete. Here is what I believe to be a link to their Australian site. These trailers have an interesting interior. I played around converting Australian currency rates to US dollars and believe the MSRP’s on three fifth wheel models are somewhere around 100K (US)  and below when sold in Australia. According to Spectrum they have imported American RV’s and modified them. They claim “Australian roads demand better suspensions.” They reinforce the chassis, the outriggers are doubled in strength to support the walls. They dismantle the nose and strengthen the pin box area and add steel reinforcing to prevent cracking and breakage.
  • Still researching trucks. A favorite YouTube Channel is Big Truck Big RV. I’ve been reading early information suggesting the 2018 Ram dually one ton will have a tow capacity of 30,000 pounds and is rated higher in torque than even the all-new 2017 Ford F350. Not for sure yet, but on some of the truck forums there is talk Ram will have a complete new design for their heavy-duty truck in 2020 – but who really knows for sure! We are hoping to find a slightly used and more affordable 2016/2017 Ford Lariat or Ram Laramie. I’m not sure it is legal to cut and past an interesting poll found in the Keystone Montana fifth wheel owners forum so I’ll just mention a few results comparing 3500/350 one-ton dually trucks. 846 people responded to the poll. Of the total, 70 pull with a Chevy/GMC, 75 with a Ford and 177 with a Ram truck. The remaining pull with a variety of trucks. Check out the link above for more.
  • I had been wondering if checking out live web cams would be a good way to find interesting places to tour. Earthcam.com is an excellent place to spy on a few areas. Here is an interesting one at Seaside Height, New Jersey that includes audio. The Silver Lake Sand Dunes in Michigan is where we have thought about workcamping. I’m thinking the Old Faithful Geyser is most interesting.
  • After reading a few blogs where folks were traveling with a theme in mind, such as following the Louis and Clark Expedition, I found another that might be worth a trip. Route 66 in Missouri starts in St. Louis and runs down I-44. My grandfather recalled when the road where I-44 is now located was dirt. Then the feds decommissioned it. Missouri is the first State to recognize it as a historical landmark and put up signs on the route with Springfield Missouri being the first to install the signs.  RV dealerships are banding together to provide RV repair service along Route 66.

Well – that’s a long list of a few research projects I’ve been into over the past few months. On the family side, I spent some time learning how to throw a Frisbee. There is way more to it than what I recalled there being. I received a quick lesson from my son-in-law John. He carried out a backpack full of different colored Frisbees with each disc serving a specific purpose such as long, medium and short-range shots. Some curve in a particular direction when thrown. I’m just wanting a disc that goes in the basket when thrown! John tells me this is a sport one can get a lot of exercise out of. His instruction included several grips and throwing positions. After looking at the photos I got to wondering if he just wanted me to look like a clown when I did it.

All jokes aside, I’m thinking with all the Frisbee golf parks popping up in the country, this might be an excellent hobby for a mobile lifestyle. Three discs may be all one needs. That does not take up much RV storage space.

John’s a good guy and it’s darn nice to have him in the family. I know his own father is proud of him as well. John is somewhat of a jokester however. Karen and I gave his parents a trail camera to guard their home one Christmas. John got ahold of the camera’s disc and added a few scenes his folks might have found alarming when they returned home from a trip. I had nothing to do with it other than maybe egging him along.

How would you like to come back to those images on your trail camera!

 

 

 

Family Time in Another Wonderful Missouri Park

I has been a while since my last post. We got busy living life. Our family just completed a four-day campout which was wonderful. More on that later in this post.

Over the past few weeks we finally finished replacing appliances in our kitchen with installation of the new stove. It has a convection oven which is a first for us. Seems silly but Karen and I watched through the glass window as a pan of biscuits cooked evenly in half the time of our previous standard electric stove. She is looking forward to learning to cook in a convection microwave once we get our rig. I know from experience and having talked to contractors who restore homes for sale that fixing up a kitchen and bathrooms adds value to the home at the time of resale. We decided to remodel the kitchen a couple years before we sell the house so we could enjoy it. The appliances should still look good as new by the time we sell, perhaps as early as the spring of 2019. A friend’s family is in the real estate business and says around here they are having trouble getting enough listings to sell. Everything is selling quickly. Hope the market holds out for a while!

Wallace State Park – North of Kansas City Missouri

A couple weeks ago while looking for a day trip to take, we decided to head up the highway about 30 minutes from home to check out a potential RV parking spot for times we return “home” for a longer visit. Friends of ours who have been on the road fulltime for six years split their visits between a local county lake and a state park which we decided to tour. We continue to drive out to all the local RV spots in search of the perfect place to park for a few weeks or a couple of months. This is the 100th year of a special Missouri tax for conservation. We have wonderful state parks because of it. Wallace State Park could be a place we split our time when back home near Kansas City.

Our family got together at Pomme De Terre Lake/State Park in southern Missouri over the holiday. Much of the shoreline camping is flooded from recent heavy rains. So was the first choice for tenting camping. Fortunately, several family members live a short distance away and were able to recon a replacement spot (thanks Matt and Mary). We ended up near the dam at Damsite Campground. All I can say about the camp spot was thank you Mother Nature for flooding the lake. Turns out we had a point on the lake to ourselves in a little-known camp area. The spots were designed for shorter RVs so the tent campers don’t know about it. With the flooding, a circle drive became our beachhead from which we launched our kayaks or fished. Some just sat in chairs watching the skyline and enjoying the weather and I suspect wondering when someone would tip a boat. Karen, myself, sister, nieces and nephews gave our Sea Eagle Fast Track a workout. (Click to enlarge photos)

The girls came up with a menu for each day. Food was brought or purchased from a very reasonably priced, and nearby, store. As the family had booked all the spots that were not underwater in this area, we had one spot just for eating and meeting. Each arm of the family had a spot to themselves. Two family members had RVs while the rest of use enjoyed deluxe tent camping. There was not a dull moment. Games during the day, movies off the side of a RV at night or just sitting around the campfire listening to guitar music to name just a few of the events. A very special event was being witness to a nephew’s baptism in the lake by a minister.

Karen spent a day secretly dropping items around the camp area which were later to be found as an item in the scavenger hunt. But most of the items were provided by nature. I wanted her to put collection of a poisonous snake on the list but was overruled. My nephews would have found them, this I know for sure.

The entire family shared the feeling of reliving our yesteryears when family campouts were setup with our grandparents and parents. There are no words that can describe what the trip meant to each as it’s somewhat spiritual and individual. We all could agree, without talking much about it, that our parents were looking down from heaven. I’d like to think they had a part in pushing the bad thunderstorms around us that came up one night. Seems like we were inside about a mile stretch of a relatively calmer area.

Karen and I took 156 photos. That was not enough to capture the event and all the family. I mined out a few to show the family in this blog and would be happy to email the others. Love you guys. Thank you to the entire family for bringing their special personality and love to the mix. By the way, “look at the size of this snake” turned out to be a wonderful phrase to use in order to get someone to face the camera for a photo. Here are a few of the photos: (Click to enlarge photos)

 


Don’t want to forget to write about it. I spent considerable time researching battery operated lighting for the tent camping event. I highly recommend the Steamlight Siege 44931 LED lantern. I bought the one that operates on D size batteries because it’s the same battery size as my air mattress pump so I have extra batteries if needed. Works great for hanging inside a tent and lasts forever on one set of batteries. Here is a link to the model I bought through Amazon. (I don’t get a kick-back from Amazon, it’s just a good place to point people to the actual model.) The low setting will light a tent and is advertised to last 295 hours on one set of batteries. Glad I left the gas lantern at home because on the bright setting the Steamlight easily replaced it.

During my next post, I’d like to discuss a few changes in the RV industry, specifically for Forest River, that has a potential of causing an effect on the timeliness of RV repairs and certainly response to recall notices. I have also found a couple articles on RV size selection and depreciation schedules I’d like to share.

Truck Research and Snow in KC

Just when you think winter might have shown its face for the last time it snows in Kansas City.  Fortunately, it was beautiful to look at and gone later in the afternoon as the temperature went up.  I’m hoping our plumb trees bear fruit because they have already bloomed and there are a couple freezing nights ahead of us. The boys find a place to hang out when it’s bad outside.

Ringo found a pile of sheets to sleep on because Huck already took up a position on the dog bed.  We also have two cats.

Sylvester appears in the above photo in a typical position after he eats. Sylvester prefers moderate weather and often stays inside when its bad outside. We don’t plan to travel with all these animals in the future. The dogs are getting older so we will have to see who is with us in a couple years.  Sylvester came home with Karen from the veterinarian’s office as an adoption (two years ago). She is looking for a new home for Sylvester which I hope goes well. The dogs love to travel but the cats are used to roaming the acreage outside which is not going to work in an RV.

I spent time inside as well. Finally gathered up all the canning jars, pressure cooker and such to post on Craigslist.  I’m trying to sell off items in larger groups. Next might be the motorcycle, helmets and bike pack. The end of my vegetable growing hobby reminded me of my Uncle Don at about my own age. As I recall, we were standing in his backyard near the base of the stairs leading from his deck and noticed his garden plot was not planted. Don said he stopped planting because it was too much work.  I am like him in a lot of ways. His garden included a watering system therefore so did mine.  Life is a heck of a lot shorter when you think about others who have passed and what they were up to at your own age. No doubt Uncle Don figured out everything he wanted to know about gardening so he moved on to something else. That’s a family trait.

I’ve been hacking away at truck research, adding a new section on the blog to keep my notes. You can find the truck page here.  I stayed up late one night building trucks online to get the base prices. I know what our budget is and am working on finding out the price points each of these monsters come in at. That way it might narrow the search to a model or two from each truck manufacturer that is in line with our budget. These diesel suckers are expensive. I can remember when $10,000 would buy a new Cadillac.

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The starting prices shown include necessary options such as fifth wheel hitch preparation, on-the-fly electronic 4×4, minimum of cloth interior and running boards. The prices include rebates or incentives as of today at the manufacturers suggested retail price (MSRP).

It’s interesting to note additional options sometimes come in a package when selected. Such as Chevy/GMC requires you get a spray in bed liner if you select the fifth wheel hitch preparation.  I also found the base price between all the trucks are within about $500 to $720 of one another. Not much of a price difference to be concerned about.

I’m in the process of learning about what options influence the trucks weight capabilities. Hopefully learning what others mean by a “properly equipped truck can handle” a specific fifth wheel weight.  And along the lines of weight. There are a ton of places to consider such as gross cargo weight and rear axle weight where the front of the camper rides over the truck.  There are assumptions that might factor in such as what is the average cargo weight stored in the front of a fifth wheel. And people are posting in forums you can’t always trust the fifth wheel manufactures posted weights. Some are suggesting pin weight is 10 to 20% (update, a couple readers said their pin weight loaded is 19 and 21%) of the total fifth wheel weight. But then again cargo loaded in the rear of the fifth wheel will offset some of the weight in the front when it pushes down on the rear of the camper, like a teeter totter.  So much to learn. I may be sick in the head but I’m enjoying the research.  Those guys over on the truck forums really are proud of their trucks!  Someday I hope to know enough to ask intelligent questions. Give it a try. Go online and build a truck. Watch how the weight capacity changes when you select gear ratio, 4×4 and engine.

Once I get the spreadsheet done I may post a link to it so folks can look it over.  I’m off to start learning about all the optional equipment so I can build one of each truck online and get closer to the actual MSRP with the options we are interested in. What’s cool about building the truck online are the links to similar equipped trucks for sale in the area.

 

new flash  Here is an informative blog post by Hebard’s Travels titled How to Travel with Cats in an RV

Life in Kansas City – Spending Time at Home

We spent Christmas and New Years at home in Kansas City. Last year we donated our tree to charity. Karen kept her collectable ornaments that includes many hanging Santa Claus figures. She still has not decided to give them up before we hit the road. 

Although Karen did decorate a small tree!  It’s a stick with a broken bulb hanging from it. I lost the photo somewhere.

We got a big dose of Christmas spirit by visiting the Hall of Waters in Excelsior Springs. The facility was built in 1937 as a place to bottle and distribute the healing, medicinal mineral waters of Excelsior Springs. It now serves as our City Hall.  Per their website, the city was founded in 1880 on a site where 20 springs were discovered. There are four distinct varieties of water that gives Excelsior Springs the distinction of having the world’s greatest group of mineral waters. The springs include two of the world’s six known iron-manganese springs. We sure are going to miss our wonderful water once we hit the road!

Lined along the walls of the building during the Christmas season are decorated trees. Local businesses and organizations decorate their tree with various themes.

 

 

Karen and I both hope you all had a wonderful holiday season. I’ve had a fun time reading about where each of the bloggers I follow spent their holidays. And thank you to my sister Lisa for hosting the family over at her house! That was very special.

Next week I should be posting about the basic fifth wheel floor plans Karen and I have been able to narrow down to during our search.  Our local RV show is next week! It’s like a holiday for me.

Aunt Tancy

Let me begin this blog post with a small amount of RV related material.  The remainder is dedicated to my family but might be interesting to you as well.

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I purchased the 2017 JR Consumer RV review eBooks on Thanksgiving Day because they were priced half off. I’d hoped their section on RV construction would be good because it’s hard to find one consolidated source of information covering construction. For the most part the construction section was okay. They also had some information about the 2017 trailer models. It might have been better to wait until the end of the year, about October, to purchase their guide for more reviews of 2017 models. If someone was not willing to do about a year of research these books would be of greater value.  I do think they are a good purchase at the discounted price even for those that have already done much research.  It’s a good way to compare your findings against their ratings and confirm other conclusions.  Now on to some family stuff….

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RV Factory Tour Planned and Visiting Family for the Holiday

This will most likely be my last blog post until after the Thanksgiving holiday. I hope you all can spend the holiday with family or another special location. Karen and I are heading to Michigan to visit with her mother and family. To other family I miss you all. I’m not sure yet if I’ll be on-call for the Christmas holiday and must stay in town or if we can come see ya then. I’ve got no excuse for not visiting those in the Kansas City area.

On the way north we are stopping for our first RV factory tour which is already setup. It will be a one on one tour with a product specialist. I had been figuring the tour being held with a group of people but perhaps with the holiday others are not taking factory tours. I’ve got my list of questions and interest prepared and will report back what we see and learn while in Elkhart Indiana. The 2017 fifth wheel models are important to us. For the more expensive RVs I could see buying one from the 2017 models a couple of years from now. We also hope to see a few more floor plans to narrow that selection as well. We are heading to Augusta RV for our first tour!

On another topic, I took some photos of our pets, mostly to show off the fancy dog harnesses Karen bought months ago. Like so many other dog owners we have gone through about every available collar configuration.  The Unho Dog Body Harnesses are awesome.

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Here is a photo of the Unho Body Harness and our boys wearing them. Karen wanted a setup that would not put pressure on their necks to avoid restricting their breathing while still maintaining control of the boys. Both dogs tend to see something interesting and try and run off towards it. That might be the nature of Cocker Spaniels who are hunting dogs at heart. Years ago, I hunted game birds with my then English Setter. I took Karen’s Cocker Spaniel along a couple times. The dog had no training but instinctively pointed birds and searched for the dead ones.

Another important development for me is an opportunity to keep a current part-time job while traveling. In 2014 I sold a small construction contracting business to a key employee. I kept an office job that requires on average 10 hours of my time per week. The new owner has suggested I keep the job when we travel. I’ve not made the decision to do this yet but it sure opened an income option. Frankly, this job pays enough that we might not need a sessional workamping position to meet our budget. Although Karen and I would want to at least volunteer for a spot at times. So enters yet another planning opportunity. I would need to keep a computer, two smaller printers, have internet access for a few hours each week and most challenging would be mail service. I’ve been running through the options in my mind and know this is doable. I’ve got two years to make the decision so there is time for more thought. For sure if I decide to keep the job this would solidify my retirement date by greatly reducing what income we need to save up before hitting the road. Although I would of course keep saving whatever we could. I called my work’s pension company. A full year of work credit is based on having completed 1,000 hours for the year. With my usual overtime, I get to the 1,000-hour mark by July. Although in my final year on the job Karen and I plan to use up six to eight weeks of vacation while traveling in our then new RV. I’m not sure how the vacation time will affect the 1,000-hour requirement in 2019.

On the same topic, I read a job posting at the Workamper News site which is now free to join by the way. Historic Images.com: Hire people at .30 cents a photo to add text to photos. Says you can do 35 photos an hour ($10.50 per hour equivalent) and requires 150 photos a week to keep the job.  You need internet service and they will send you a 1099 for taxes.  From what I understand, Historic Images works with newspapers to help digitize their historic photos. The job requires you to enter data from the back of the photo. If you have the internet service I could see doing this while siting by a nice lake. They send your pay to a PayPal account. This might be a not so interesting job yet something you can start before hitting the road and then carry over the income to a mobile lifestyle. Contact is evelyn@historicimages.com. That’s all I know about it. You might surf the web for more details and reviews or call the company. I would post a link directly to the Workamping News listing but I’m not sure that’s possible or within their policy.

 

new flash  RV Factory Purchases Augusta RV, combining their operations. This will be interesting to watch as among other processes, the RV Factory uses laminated walls on their toy haulers while Augusta uses hung wall construction on their fifth wheels. More on this later.