Photo taken near Monument Valley, Utah

Sunday, December 26, 2021

Stuff We Can't Live Without; Did Santa Bring You Any of These?

 At the Lake Conroe KOA, Montgomery, Texas...

I hope all you dear readers had a wonderful Christmas holiday. We have returned to the Conroe, Texas area where we will be spending a few weeks during the holidays. Our grandsons are growing up so quickly, it's scary. They seem to have changed with every visit, so there's always something new and different going on. Below, left to right, is Pryce, Sutton (hiding) Mindy, Tyler and Mason. They are, of course, our pride and joy.

Driving Phannie over here from Hondo was much less taxing than my original venture forth from Fort Worth after only five weeks from surgery. Here I am with my five-week old new knee, pulling out from our convalescing parking spot for the long leg southward.

The 300-mile trip to Hondo was exhausting, which is unusual because Phannie is very comfortable to drive. I had not taken into account that I had been relatively sedentary for five weeks--except for physical therapy--and, while my knee was working fine, my energy level and stamina were not up to par. We made it with no problems, though and, after a day of rest, I felt much better. 

The knee?  Well, it is still a little tender for the first few steps if I have been sitting for a while, but it's getting better every day. Thankfully, the arthritis pain that prompted the surgery is gone. 

Now that I've moved on from that painful and confining episode, I thought I would change the subject completely and write about some RV-related gadgets (some of which I've mentioned way back in the blog) that I just wouldn't want to live without and still do this full-time thing.  This has taken some thought, and I've tried to narrow it down to just the essentials--that is essentials for me--realizing that others' list may be entirely different. But this is based on 16 years of RVing and six years of fulltiming.

These are in no particular order, by the way:

1. Our TST tire pressure monitor:

I have tried two other brands of these, and only the TST has proven to be utterly reliable for such a long time. I wouldn't leave without it.

2.  Max Flow Water Pressure Regulator:

This is a contender for number one in importance. This regulator is amazing. No matter what pressure goes in the inlet (up to 125 psi), it will give you 18 gpm of flow and around 47 psi at the outlet. It reminds me of the Oxygenator shower nozzle in the mystery of how it works. It is not cheap, but I have wasted so much money on other pressure reducers that do not perform. (I can't stand a weak shower flow). You can count on this sucker to give you the same flow all the time, no matter what. I don't even check the park pressure any longer--I just install this thing every time and know it's going to be adequate but not damaging to Phannie's plumbing. More photos:

Above is the faucet pressure without the regulator at our current park--admittedly not too much over pressure, but more than you want.

Above is the pressure at the Max Flow regulator output--51 psi; not 47 as advertised, but plenty safe (and the gauge could have that much error). Plus, you have all the flow you could possibly want in the shower. I'm hoping these are still being made; Amazon is sold out. I've got to get a spare.

3.  Vornado Electric Heater With Thermostat:

Okay, I'm pretty sure I'll get some difference of opinion on this one. I can hear them now: 1) If you pay your electricity, it's too expensive; 2) If I run it, I can't run much else; 3) It won't heat the entire room; 4) Why not run your heat pump or furnace, etc., etc.

Here's my thinking on this: I'm not talking here about new half-million dollar rigs with heated floors; Phannie is hardly that. But we rarely ever find ourselves in really cold temperatures; most of the time, we just need a little extra warmth and, if it gets really cold, that's when we turn on the propane furnaces. As far as the cost of operation goes, propane costs more. Why? We are usually at one of two kinds of parks: 1) The electricity is included in the lot rental; or 2) We are in Hondo, where electricity is 10 cents per kwh. 

As to the argument that if you run one of these at 1500 watts, you can't run much else, well, Phannie has had a workaround for that since day one. When we bought her, we had the dealer install a third air conditioner; back then, they only installed two in the Phaeton. We found out quickly that that wouldn't work in Texas. When they installed the third air conditioner, they had to install another 20-amp electrical circuit, and we use that same circuit to allow us to run two of the Vornado heaters if we need them. The result? We only have to fill our propane tank about once a year. We don't like to use the heat pumps because we want the heat at the floor level, not at the ceiling level. The thermostats in the Vornado heaters allow them to operate without any attention from us; we just set the temperature we want and forget it. Oh, and one more thing:  Did I say we try not to go where it's cold in the winter?

4Indoor/Outdoor Thermometer

Yes, I snapped this photo just as we returned to Phannie, and we hadn't left the air conditioners on. That's why it reads 79 degrees inside. There are any number of different models of these, ranging from very simple to a full weather station, so it's sort of whatever floats your boat. I opted for this one, as it has internal lighting, but it doesn't have the complexity of a weather station. I try to keep to a very minimum anything outside the coach that has to be put away or disassembled for departure, and the outside array of a weather station does not fit that laziness profile. Besides, all I really care about is the temperature inside and out. The humidity is also mildly interesting. Bottom line is that I'm happy with this one.

5. The Tineco Cordless Vacuum

I think we all have things that annoy us, perhaps more than they should. Mine is a vacuum cleaner with a cord.  We have had both corded and cordless ones and hated them all--until now. At more than $400.00, I swallowed hard and ordered this Tineco cordless vacuum, and I must tell you that it is worth every penny.  It is so well crafted that it could be called the Rolls-Royce of cordless vacuums. It has a powerful suction and a battery that, well, seems to last forever. I highly recommend it if you are willing to pony up the bucks for the best.

5. Apple TV

It may be a little difficult to tell what this is, but it represents streaming, which is the future of television. It doesn't really matter whether you get the Apple product, the Fire Stick or Roku; they all seem to work pretty well. I got the Apple TV because it just seems better built and more innovative.  After I ran the cost numbers of our Direct TV satellite service versus getting the same thing plus a lot more by streaming, the choice was easy. The dish has retracted onto the roof for the last time (I'm going to keep it in case a future owner might want it), and the satellite receiver boxes have been returned to Direct TV. We have 100 GB of wi-fi streaming available from an AT&T hotspot and unlimited from our Verizon hotspot and T-Mobile through our phones, so we can get unlimited streamed TV from just about anywhere. We never go anywhere where cell service isn't available so, with all three networks, we're pretty well set at a cost a good deal less than the satellite feed. 

I hope you enjoyed this change of pace from my surgery diary; I know I did. Until next time, here's wishing you a happy New Year and a prosperous and healthy 2022!

 Thank you, Lord, for this wonderful life; 

please forgive me if I fail to appreciate it each day as I should.

We don't stop playing because we get old; we get old because we stop playing. 
 ---George Bernard Shaw

"I get up every morning, and I just don't let the old man in." ---Clint Eastwood

Tuesday, December 7, 2021

End of the Knee Saga - Therapy Begins

 At Cowtown RV Park, Aledo, Texas...

As this is the end of the fourth week since surgery, and life is becoming more normal every day, this will be the last post in this series.  I don't know how many people recuperate from this surgery in an RV but, if it provides some insight for anyone, I will be happy.

So what can I do now--a week or so later?  Well, these may not sound all that significant, but when your world is centered around your knee and becoming more mobile, small things get gold stars, in my book. Taking note of them is sort of like climbing a ladder (not that I will be doing that); climbing to the next rung is a big deal.

I suppose the biggest gold star goes to...walking with some normalcy. It seems like only days ago that I was struggling with a walker, slowly and carefully making my way along, painfully, as if I thought the new knee could break at any moment. I remember climbing Phannie's stairs for the first time, sitting on my behind and using my arms and "good" leg to push me upward. I probably could and should have done it the normal way, but I still wasn't trusting this alien device that replaced the knee God gave me. And now, I can walk up and down the stairs normally--something I couldn't do before surgery. Thank goodness I still have the original left knee--doc said it's in slightly better shape than the right one was. I still can't imagine having both knees replaced at the same time, as some people do; my hat is off to them. In terms of walking at four weeks, this is going very well; in fact, I have jettisoned the walker and my cane, which was the walker's successor. On my first day of outpatient therapy, the therapist noticed that I was limping because there was still a small bit of pain remaining. The therapist immediately called me on it, saying that it had probably become mostly habit (it had), and I was not to do that on the next visit. Huh? That sounded a little harsh but, as I mentioned before, I know these people. They are wonderful and necessary, but I can't help but think they would keep smiling as they were strapping me in the gas chamber. Sure enough, I simply forced myself to walk normally and, by my next visit, I was walking normally with no pain. (I said normally, but it's a new normal. I don't yet have full control over my new knee, so occasionally my foot goes somewhere slightly that I hadn't intended for it to go, but that's getting better every day.)

Smaller gold stars:  1) Getting in the shower and stepping over the raised threshold easily; 2) no need to hold on to something while in the shower; 3) dressing myself with no assistance. (My right sock was the last obstacle, and I conquered it this morning.) 4) Cooking; I cooked lunch today with little assistance by Sandy. I should add that washing dishes afterward was just too taxing. I don't think I'm ready for that yet. 

Here's a biggie:  Driving the car, which I first did yesterday, just around the block. Getting in on the driver's side was very different, but relatively easy with a little help in guiding my right leg with my hands. Once in position, I was surprised that I had to relearn slightly the location of the pedals. It was as though my right knee had no idea what its role was, so I had to move my foot several times from brake to accelerator in order to teach it their locations and functions. Once my knee figured it out, I had no difficulty pushing the pedals as usual.

One of the best gold stars goes to sleeping through the night without being drug-induced and the ability to sleep on my side--another first.

There are probably other things I don't remember that signal a return to normalcy, but it's safe to say that I am thrilled that my progress is speeding along. Fortunately, the dark memories of those first two weeks after surgery are fading, but they'll be back whenever I come back for the other knee's replacement. Don't worry, I'm not going to post about that; this series was quite enough.

Oh wait!  One more thing: My pain medicine completely wiped out my appetite, so I dropped more than 20 pounds--that I really needed to lose--during these first four weeks. However, I'm not taking any prescription pain meds now, and my appetite is returning. I'm going to try to stay motivated to keep control of it.

Since I haven't taken any photos (I don't think anyone wants to see my scar), I'll see if I can find another favorite from our travels. 

Below is our second RV, a Jayco fifth wheel, purchased in 2005. It was actually the second because the first one we kept for less than a day. It was a bumper-pulled Jayco that I knew wouldn't work for us when I pulled it off the lot with our Suburban. So I turned around, took it back, and went looking for a Dodge diesel truck to pull the fifth wheel we bought instead:

 We were such newbies that we obviously didn't know what we were doing. We came to hate the inside layout of this one, and you'll notice from the photo that it had only one air conditioner. Where do we live? Texas. However, we bought another, much nicer, fiver soon afterward, and it served us well until we found Phannie. Sometimes you just don't know what you don't know. 

 Thank you, Lord, for this wonderful life; 

please forgive me if I fail to appreciate it each day as I should.

We don't stop playing because we get old; we get old because we stop playing. 
 ---George Bernard Shaw

"I get up every morning, and I just don't let the old man in." ---Clint Eastwood