Sunday, September 8, 2013

More Catch-up for a Sunday Afternoon - Milo McIver State Park, Oregon

Sunday 9/8  3PM

We just arrived and chose a site at Milo McIver State Park, about 25 miles from Portland.  Here's the post I wrote this AM.  I'll get caught up soon.

9/8/13 7AM

It’s Sunday morning at The Cove Palisades SP.  We’ll be heading to the Portland area today, although I’m not sure exactly where.  I bought Internet minutes but have hardly been able to use them.  First of all, evidently my Firewall or some security prevented me from accessing any of my URLs without first giving permission to each individually – that took almost half of the first 60 minutes I purchased.  That was on Saturday.  Then yesterday when I tried to use either of the 2 user names / passwords I got a message “invalid user and password.”  So, I’ve been without Internet and cell phone.  My Verizon Jetpack is working perfectly but there’s no Verizon signal.

The camp host, Terry, who’d bought the time for me, was mentioning yesterday that those cell phones one purchases with which you can add minutes as you go seem to work better than lots of the Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, etc. plans.  She says it’s because they pick up signals from all plans rather than having their own.  I think I might check that out, as it could be useful in a pinch.

Well, I’d be less than honest if I said I weren’t nervous about the possible outcomes of the Petunia saga.  I feel as if I’ve done well in the worry department, but now it’s getting close to tomorrow when I’ll find out what the story is and what the damages are.  Remember girl, one foot in front of the other; one day at a time; investigate the possibilities; get advice – that’s the hard one.  I’m not sure whose advice to consider.  I feel confident that I’ve followed all the instructions for driving and towing Petunia; I really don’t think her issues are ‘driver-related’ ones.  I checked and rechecked the Smart Car manual regarding ‘towing’ and know that the manual’s instructions and those given me by Allied Trailer Supplies were totally in agreement.  Terry (camp host) was relating my story to a man camping here and his response was, “Oh, that sounds like ‘rack and pinion steering.’”  Well, without Internet, I have no idea what the significance of that statement is.  Hopefully I can find out what that is and if it does have any relativity in this issue.

On a lighter note, Lincoln ‘escaped’ from Floribunda yesterday and ran into the bushes by the rig.  I didn’t try to get her back, but rather opened my Tommy Bahama beach chair and sat on the lawn next to the RV to read my book.  In just a few minutes Lincoln sidled up to me for a good petting; then, as I continued to sit there I’d call him, from time to time, and he’d come to me.  A little later, Lacy and I took a walk and Lincoln, as he does at home, followed along with us – but only to a point; then he turned and headed back to our site.  I’m really happy that it seems that he can get the lay of the land when I walk him on a leash (with which he’s becoming much more proficient) the first couple of days; then it appears I can let him out if it’s a relatively safe area.  Another accomplishment for him is that he appears to know the command, “NO,” because often as I’m heading out he runs to the door, but when I say “No,” he backs away, knowing he must stay inside.  Eleanor, too, showed some interest in the world outside yesterday so I put her on a leash and carried and held her as I sat in my chair where she was completely content to just look around.  She made no effort to get off my lap to explore and, after about 20 minutes, she wanted back in Floribunda.  So, maybe one day I’ll have two trained cats!  Less litter!   I certainly won’t try it in one-night sites or Walmart parking lots!

Another subject:  I’m reading the second of a trilogy of historical fiction novels by Thalassa Ali, called Beggar at the Gate.  The first, A Singular Hostage, I enjoyed so I bought the second and third to read as I travel.  I spent a month in India in 2009 and am fascinated by the history and culture(s) I learned about during my sojourn.  The trilogy follows a young English woman who was sent to India to live with her aunt and uncle with the purpose of the voyage to be finding an appropriate English husband.  The era is 1840s when the British Empire was expanding its hold over all of India.  The history is accurate but the story is fiction; I’m really enjoying it.  Oh, by the way, the third novel is Companions of Paradise.  The author was born in Boston to an Indian family, married a Pakistani and lived in Karachi for years before returning to the USA; so much of her knowledge of the culture, customs and history of that part of the World is through her own experiences.  I love historical fiction that doubles as education of the World.

I’ve mentioned before that I usually have two, sometimes three, books going at the same time.  Lots of people have told me they don’t like to read that way but it works well for me.  I love listening to audible books while I drive, cook, knit, exercise, etc.  Then, there’s nothing like cozying up with a good book in the afternoon or at bedtime.  And, now I can pass several hours reading because I’m RETIRED.  Yea!


  1. I sure hope your little car is okay.

  2. Tomorrow will be a big day for you. Sounds like you are handling things just fine, good for you. We are all sending you lots of positive thoughts and energy.

  3. also the tow bar needs to be true level
    We purchased a new 2009 Smart car just for towing " flat four". Owners manual says "Yes"! We have towed this over15000 miles with no problems. No warming up trans. etc. Put the trans in neutral, leave key in ignition accessory position, disconnect battery and you're "Good to go"! One tip: attach a 2 bungy cords from steering wheel to under front seat! x pattern This will eliminate a nasty steering wheel back lash on slow tight turns. The car is so lite I dont bother with a brake control. Another tip" When re-connecting the battery, hold down on brake pedal before turning key to on position! The transmission has to re learn the codes. It takes about 10 seconds. When the "P" park symbol shows on the dash the car will start and you are finished. Hope this helps! I had to learn the hard way!

  4. Towing a Smart Car
    March 8, 2013
    Filed under RV Tech Q&A

    Four years ago we purchased a used 2001 Coachmen Mirada. While searching for a dinghy, we came across an article on Smart cars. We liked that these can be towed four wheels down, and we liked the idea of these vehicles. These Smart cars were so new to the United States at that time that we had to wait for Blue Ox to come out with a hitch that would work for the Smart car. Our local RV dealership installed the hitch but we didn’t have much success towing the Smart. Sometimes (usually when turning corners) its front wheels would begin slamming right then left, back and forth. We didn’t go far from home to camp so usually my husband drove the motorhome and I drove the car, which sort of defeated the purpose of having a Class A coach.
    We recently upgraded to a 2003 Pace Arrow and, now that we’re retired, plan to go farther from home. As we started to install the old hitch onto the new motorhome, we saw a notice that said the height of the hitch and connection area on the dinghy need to be within 4 inches of each other. Maybe that explains why the Smart car didn’t tow well behind the Mirada. We ordered a hitch adapter that put the hitch and the Smart car within the 4-inch limit.
    We thought we had covered all the bases and were ready to go without any more issues, but when we hooked everything up, the Smart car’s front wheels still slammed back and forth.
    We contacted Blue Ox, and a company representative told us that the problem is caused by the Smart car’s “narrow wheel frame and caster of the wheels.” The representative suggested that we crisscross two bungee cords from opposite sides of the steering wheel to under the driver’s seat. That seems like a strange solution to a fairly serious issue. And there was no mention of how long the bungee cords should be or how tight. We noticed the Smart car is no longer listed in MotorHome’s 2012 dinghy guide. Perhaps it has been determined that flat towing Smart cars is not advisable?
    Can you help us determine what we need to do so that we can tow this cute little car behind our motorhome? We are so excited about traveling around the country, but we need a solution before we can head out.
    Vickie and Bob Carlton
    Monticello, Ill.
    You may have noticed the car is “darty” on the highway at speed. Normally, a driver’s hands would damp this action right away, preventing it from getting worse. But with no hands on the wheel, it can develop into a real shimmy at a harmonic frequency that builds upon itself. This has happened to some other brands and models of cars over the years that were dinghy towed.
    The recommended solution for the Smarts and other models has been to attach a pair of regular bungees. These are fastened to the seat frame and crossed diagonally and attached to the steering wheel at the 9- and 3-o’clock positions. They need to be long enough to allow the wheel to turn in normal corners (when towing the steering wheel doesn’t normally go all the way around). You can ride in the car while it’s being towed in a large parking lot to verify that your setup works. It may not be a very elegant solution, but it seems to work for many people, and it’s simple and inexpensive.
    As for the tow bar, yes, it should be as close to horizontal as possible.
    We should note that our 2012 Guide to Dinghy Towing did not include the Smart car because the manufacturer does not approve flat towing of the vehicle. According to a representative from Smart, “We never approve flat towing on any of our cars. But, if you have to or need to, you must follow the specific instructions of the owners manual. It is very critical to avoid damage to the engine or transmission.” The Smart car is also not included in our 2013 Guide to Dinghy Towing.
    – Ken Freund

  5. Wow, lots of info here. I was told to go to one specific trailer hitch company, which I did. They told me they've done several Smart Cars. They also measured the connection area making sure it was 4 inches or less. (I haven't personally measured it but they told me it is.) We'll see what they say tomorrow but I think it's kind of suspicious that the manager of the trailer company exchanged several calls with me the day before they took the car to Portland; he told me he was in communication "with my boss" all during that day. Then when it was decided the car had to go 280 miles to Portland, their calls stopped abruptly and they haven't returned my calls since then either. Hmmm!
    I'll keep everybody posted on the continuing saga.

  6. I hope Petunia will bloom once again. I prefer to buy used both vehicles and RV. That way the kinks are out.
    I too love to multitask. I can't do one thing at a time. Hubby drives while I knit and listen to an audiobook. I love to sit outside with an audiobook or podcasts and listen while knitting or crocheting. Watching TV? I also have to knit or crochet, and during commercials I read. Never idle, but usually relaxed. Really enjoying your blog. I do hope your Petunia woes are resolved without too much expense. It's already been way too much of an inconvenience.

  7. Thanks so much Debbie. We have lots in common with the multitasking. I'm waiting for the Portland MB service manager to call me back. I just talked with my son, Jeff, and his encouragement helps a lot. More of the saga later.