Libbys on the Loose:2 Humans. 2 Great Danes. 1 RV.: December 2015

Monday, December 21, 2015

Nyx - "The Greek Goddess of the Night" aka "Queen Nyx"

Great Danes are like Lay's Potato Chips - you can't have just one!  We tried, so hard, to stay with one when we had Guinness.  After Pepper, our second rescue Dane passed away July 4th weekend of 2013, it got to the point where he would just lay around and look depressed. He wouldn't get up to greet us when we came home.  He didn't want to eat and rarely wanted to go outside.  We knew something was missing.

When Pepper was around and healthy, Guinness was like a different dog.  He would taunt Pepper and even get up and try to play (in his way) with her.  He also liked to clean her ears and lay with his head across her side.  For the short time we had her, Pepper helped to fill an empty hole in our hearts left by the absence of our first little girl, Atae.  Not just for Guinness, but for us, too.

When Guinness had his gold bead implant procedure done, the doctor told us that we needed to protect Guinness' neck area as much as possible. This meant no rough playing or jarring (no tug-of-war, his favorite game, wrestling, rough housing, or large toys).  We pretty much all but discounted the thought of being able to get a puppy while Guinness was with us.  After Pepper (a senior rescue), we started to seek out another older Dane that may have been returned to a breeder or something similar.  The most important things that we wanted was a calm demeanor  and healthy.  We needed a dog we didn't have to worry about like we did with Guinness.  An emotional break was needed.

Our beautiful Nyx
KRW Danes near Jacksonville, Florida, is a shower/breeder of Great Danes.  Kelly lives, breathes, and loves Great Danes. She has shown numerous championship Danes, and if you know her, you'll quickly learn how dedicated she is to caring for them, even when they aren't directly living with her.  She truly wants the best for all of her dogs.  We contacted KRW to look for a senior Dane that may been have been taken back.  In our first phone conversation, and after speaking with her for a few minutes, she (Kelly) realized that I had contacted her through their website a few days before.  As soon as I mentioned Guinness and the trials we faced with him, she immediately wanted to help.

After discussing things for a while, Kelly suggested that we inquire with Guinness' specialist as to whether a slightly more personality-developed puppy (read: an older, non Alpha-type personality puppy) would be ok for Guinness to be around.  Upon receiving confirmation from our vet that a submissive-mannered puppy would not only be good for Guinness, but may actually help improve his health by being more active.  Since it had been determined that we could have another puppy, it was only a matter of time (and timing) until we found and brought our little girl home.

At three and a half months old, this sensitive, sweet, and completely loveable little girl took ahold of our hearts within minutes of meeting her for the first time.  She wore a beautifully sleek coat of black as shiny as it was soft.  She had affection and love to give for days. She was definitely exactly what we all needed. Guinness instantly bonded with her and she immediately took to the way that Guinness could play.

The first command we taught Nyx was "no feet".  Since Guinness' neck was subject to being affected by rough play,   We taught her that when she was playing with Guinness, she had to keep her paws to herself.  So they would play the "bitey-face" game where the two would pretty much gnaw on each others faces. No paw action to be had!

Those eyes will make you want to do anything for her!

Nyx, even from the very start, was very in tune with Guinness.  We referred to her as Guinness' therapy dog.  She may not have known exactly what was wrong with him, but she knew that he was different and that she had to play differently with him.  She evidenced this by numerous visits to dog parks.  If she was playing with (or around) Guinness, her play was completely tempered down to his level.  However, if she was playing with other dogs, large or small, she would ramp up the intensity level as far as they could handle.   We haven't met too many dogs that can wear her out, although there have been many that have kept up with her! To have other dogs chase her is by far her favorite game.  Since her strides are multiple times the length of most dogs, she makes covering a large distance look effortless.  The other dogs just can't keep up and eventually give up!  
Testing the waters of Lake McDonald in Glacier National Park
To this day, Nyx is extremely sensitive to the energies around her.  If Moose isn't behaving and gets yelled at, she becomes very "apologetic" and looks into your eyes begging forgiveness - even when she isn't the one in trouble!  In her quiet way, she will take care of Jeanine and keep her company if she (Jeanine) is hurting.  She wakes us up during the night if she senses something isn't quite right (she used to do this when Guinness needed something).  She will follow us down any path.  A few weeks before we lost Guinness, we started looking for another puppy.  We knew Guinness' time was limited and we were hoping to make one last effort to help him by bringing in more puppy energy. This is how we came to find Moose - another KRW/ARW Great Dane!

After Guinness passed, we had a period of about three weeks where Moose wasn't yet old enough to come home with us, so Nyx was an only child.  While she loved all the attention, she was definitely missing having a "sibling" - someone to play with.  After all, she was still very young and still had loads of energy!  Moose was not just for Nyx though.  Moose was just as much a part of healing and the grieving process as anything.  Moose was/is also a pleasant, albeit annoying (in the cutest way), distraction from grieving over the loss of Guinness. 

Fast forward to today and we have Nyx who is 2 1/2 years old and Moose is 9 months.  Moose has passed her in both size and weight as he is a full two inches taller than she and at least 10-15lbs heavier. While he isn't nearly as agile as Nyx, he can keep up with her. Watching them play is like nothing you've likely seen before.  Like two small horses jumping up and beating the snot out of each other.  Nyx is still pretty strong in comparison to Moose, despite his size.  She's like Muhammad Ali, fast and quick, whereas Moose is like an immature George Foreman, large, but lacks the experience and maturity to beat her.  It works out well from our end - they tire each other out on the regular.  This keeps our sanity, and the RV, intact!

Nyx probably would have been just fine on her own without having Moose as a brother.  The amount of emotional ups and downs with Guinness assumingly had to be just as difficult for Nyx as it was for us.  Maybe even more so because she didn't understand what was going on with him. Even though she knew something wasn't right with "Squishy", she was always there for him when he needed it. She's been the same for us..

Did we get it right? Do you have experience or knowledge about this post? Please make yourself heard! Comment below and we will respond as soon as possible. As always, thanks for following us! Disclaimer: We are not paid writers. We write for enjoyment and to share information about our travels with our families, friends, and our followers. The information that we provide is based on our experiences with the products, services, etc, that we write about. It is 100% non-biased!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Troubleshoot & Repair RV Water Pump

The freshwater systems in RVs are relatively simple.  A series of inlets, valves, pipes, a pump, and the connections between each of those components - and that's about it.  Usually, it's pretty easy to spot a problem as they usually manifest themselves as leaks.  The problem is when the leak is intermittent, slow, in an area that is not easily viewed, or a combination of any of those.

When we picked up our RV and had everything inspected, our water pump and freshwater delivery system were working just like they should.  The pump was the requisite RV pump But after running all summer and not doing any dry camping, we hadn't tested out the water pump at all.  Since summertime usually included "plugging in" at campgrounds to run the air conditioning, every campground we stayed also included city water hookups, so there was no need for a water pump at that time.  Naturally, we figured that if it worked then, why wouldn't it work now - lesson learned!

RVs are a lot like boats in a lot of ways.  There are a lot of different systems - freshwater, graywater, blackwater, heating, cooling, moisture control (humidify/dehumidify) as well as the electrical and propane and/or diesel/gasoline.  Each of these systems is connected via hoses or wires (electrical system example below).  The problem with this is that because there are so many systems crammed into small (sometimes VERY small) spaces, finding a problem can prove to be very difficult.

I am, by no means, either an expert or even close at rv repair.  What I am pretty good at is troubleshooting - problem solving and "Googling" Logically seeking out the cause of a problem by eliminating variables that have no effect on the problem is the first step.  If you know that the pump is not doing anything at all (no power), you don't need to check the lines first - start with the pump first!  I know it sounds silly and is common sense, but believe me, starting at the beginning is the best place (speaking from experience!)

The issue that we faced with our water pump wasn't a "no power" or lack of operation, it just wasn't building pressure.  The only thing it was doing was moving a few air bubbles in the line back and forth.  This should have been an easy thing to troubleshoot.  The pump lost suction somehow, so there's either an airlock (bubble of air inside of the pump head that causes excessive cavitation to the point where it can't pump water until the air is removed) or there is something else that is not allowing the water pump to draw water from the water storage tank.

RV Electrical Sytem example
The easiest way to troubleshoot is to work backwards from where the problem started.  Since ours was a suction issue, the first place I checked was the connection point between the intake of the pump and the output of the inline water filter.  On my first observation, I thought that the reason for the problem was a missing seal, but upon further investigating, I discovered that the fitting was a compression fitting that required no seal.  No luck there.

 Next, I checked the connection on the other side of the inline filter only to find them tight.  The next step down the line was the check valve (check valves keep liquids flowing in one direction - in this case, the check valve keeps water flowing into the storage tank from the city water hookup if the valve is open - prevents backflow).  The check valve is also connected on both sides by compression fittings.  When I checked the output fitting, it was nice and tight requiring no pushing, etc, to get it to fit the pipe.  However, on the intake side of the check valve, the fitting had worked itself loose enough to allow air to be sucked into the line thereby causing the airlock in the water pump.  Easy fix!
Never in easy spots to work!

What if it wasn't as easy to fix?  Well, I gave the abridged version of how this story actually went.  I thought the water pump head was shot (the head is the part that propels and pressurizes water through the lines) so I went ahead and ordered a new pump to the tune of about $70.  Of course, I replaced the "old" pump and put in the new one only to experience the same problem - the pump wasn't bad!  Had I properly done effective troubleshooting of the problem, I would have found that the pump itself worked just fine.  So what should I have done?

First, identify what the problem is.  Is the pump not turning on?  Is the pump not pumping water?  Is the pump not turning off?  Is the pump moving water but not building pressure or enough pressure?  This is a crucial step in troubleshooting.  Once you identify what it is that is or is not happening, it makes it a lot easier to hone in on what's causing the issue.  So my problem was that I wasn't pumping water at all.

Like anything, there aren't any dumb questions, so I always ask myself those dumb questions.  For this one, "Do you have water in the water tank?" it seems like a no-brainer.  "Of course I have water in the water tank, I'm not an idiot!"  Don't fall into this trap.  Making a mistake doesn't make you an idiot, it makes you human.  Also, are you sure that your water tank gauge is accurate?  Once you've eliminated these as potential causes (kill two birds with one stone by putting some water in the tank - you can always drain it out later if you need), you can focus on what's actually the problem!  So now you know that you've got water (not air) to pump.  As long as you have a self priming pump that's operating correctly, you should be able to pull water from the storage tank with no problem.  If you still can't, you now know the issue lies somewhere in the tank or between the tank and the pump - this is where I found my problem.
Typical RV Water System

So what if your pump isn't turning on at all?  First things first, make sure you have power to the pump!  This is accomplished by turning the pump switch on (check for illuminated light if yours has this option) then checking for 12VDC power with a test light on the wires connecting the pump.  If no power is present, you will need to (again) trace your way back to the power source.  Is an inline fuse blown?  Is the water pump switch bad?  Is there another water pump switch (common to have more than one) that may be bad?  Is there a wire pinched, cut, or grounding out that's causing the problem?  Once you eliminate these as potential causes, you can then go to the pump.  Alternatively, you could run jumper lines from a known power source to the pump to test it before troubleshooting back the entire length of the wire run.

The pump is running, but very little to no pressure is coming out of the lines.  This could be a problem with the pump itself or with the freshwater delivery system.  Again, work from the problem then downstream (if you know it's not a suction issue).  Disconnect the output from the pump and connect a piece of tubing (most pumps come with a fitting to allow this) that will run to a bucket.  If the pump is pumping water from the freshwater tank to the bucket and you can crimp off the tubing and allow the pump to build pressure (it should shut off), then you know the pump is good but something downstream from it is causing the pressure loss.  Take it step by step and look for leaks, etc, the would cause pressure losses in the lines.

While many things in an RV can be repaired by someone handy, some things should be left to the professionals.  If you've gone through the steps of troubleshooting and trying to diagnose the problem but simply can't figure out what's causing it, swallow your pride and take it to a repair facility.  I hate doing it too, but sometimes it's not worth the time wasted to try to figure out how to fix something only to figure out that it's beyond your ability.  Granted, anyone can learn to do anything, but sometimes (especially if you aren't comfortable with something) it's best left to those who are the most experienced.

Did we get it right? Do you have experience or knowledge about this post? Please make yourself heard! Comment below and we will respond as soon as possible. As always, thanks for following us! Disclaimer: We are not paid writers. We write for enjoyment and to share information about our travels with our families, friends, and our followers. The information that we provide is based on our experiences with the products, services, etc, that we write about. It is 100% non-biased!
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Monday, December 14, 2015

Devil's Tower Belle Fourche Campground Review - Devil's Tower, Wyoming

Devil's Tower National Monument
Belle Fourche Campground
Devil's Tower, WY 82714
(307) 467-5283
Rates:  $12/night first-come first-serve

First off:  Thanks, Lauren!  We are SO glad that we decided to stop here.  Not only did we thoroughly enjoy the tower and areas surrounding, the campground was amazing!

As the first national monument in the United States, commissioned by Theodore Roosevelt, this place has an amazing feel to it.  Not only is is spiritually and culturally significant to the Lakota Indian, but it is also the site of the movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind.  In addition, Devil's Tower has come of the best crack climbing in North America if you are a rock climber (Eric even got to do some light climbing while we visited!).  And, although we didn't get to see much of the night sky, we were told that some of the best stargazing around can be had here - next trip!

Eric scaling his way up some crack formations
The campground is sparse when it comes to amenities.  All things considered, we would call this a primitive campground although they do have restrooms, so it is a step up from dry camping or boondocking, but not too big of a step!  The location of the campground is unbeatable.  Only a few minutes from the base of the tower, the campground offers easy access to trails for hiking, biking, and access to lower level bouldering rocks (the higher areas offer great crack climbing).

On the lowest part of the tower, the bouldering ranges from easy V0 and V1 problems all the way up to the nearly impossible!  Further up the formation (where the pic above was taken) offers some very good crack climbing opportunities.  Ranging from very easy to very difficult to ridiculous on any scale, climbing this beast would prove a feat - it's on my (Eric) bucket list! At 1267' in height, it's not for the faint-of-heart!
Amazing pic taken by Jeanine along the road outside the tower
The geological history around Devil's Tower is also not completely known, from what we gathered.  Some geologists think that it was formed by igneous lava flowing upward then suddenly cooled. Others feel that the Tower is merely a remnant of a much larger volcanic formation. From what we heard about its history, all geologists agree that the stone that comprises the Tower, phonolite porphyry, is a much harder substance than the surrounding softer clay-like soil that makes up the ground material in the valley around the base of the tower. So all of the material around the Tower eroded away leaving just the harder material behind.  Imagine the thousands of years (and millions of gallons of water) it took to carve out nearly a quarter of a mile thick of earth!  

Not only is Devil's Tower a worthwhile side trip just to see and experience this spectacle of nature, it's also a great place to camp (if you aren't in need of full hookups).  We definitely recommend adding it to your list of must-see national parks/monuments!  If you area traveling west, it's a great stop-off after the Badlands, and/or Yellowstone!

View from the base of the tower

Did we get it right? Do you have experience or knowledge about this post? Please make yourself heard! Comment below and we will respond as soon as possible. As always, thanks for following us! Disclaimer: We are not paid writers. We write for enjoyment and to share information about our travels with our families, friends, and our followers. The information that we provide is based on our experiences with the products, services, etc, that we write about. It is 100% non-biased!