Today was the last full day of the FMCA Great Lakes Converted Coaches (GLCC) annual Surplus and Salvage Rally. It started with strong storms overnight but they had dissipated by breakfast time. The skies eventually cleared on brisk winds with a chilly northerly component and the high was forecasted to be 67 with some clouds. The clouds turned out to be white, scattered, and fast moving and it turned out to be a lovely late summer day with a hint of fall in the air.
The breakfast provided as part of the rally was pancakes and sausage but Linda and I had our granola and finished up the berries. We decided to stay around the campground and have an easy day. Initially, however, we had some post-breakfast excitement.
Juniper caught another mouse. It was another very small dark gray house mouse, obviously very young but old enough to wander away from a nest in search of food and water. I got it away from her and into the paper cup that we kept for this purpose and put the paper bowl on top. Linda took it back to the woods and set it free.
Even after catching two mice in the last 16 hours the cats continued to show great interest in the base of the bathroom sink cabinet. The front of the toe kick space has one of the many brass colored expanded metal screens for the OTR HVAC ducts and several things were becoming clear to me at this point. 1) We had a nest somewhere in the bus; 2) the nest was likely in the base of this cabinet, or accessible from there, and 3) the baby mice were apparently small enough to get through the expanded metal grate. I also suspected that something had happened to the mother mouse which is why the babies were leaving the nest.
Some of this was confirmed when I got down on the bathroom floor with a flashlight and was looking through the grate when a small mouse came out of the 4″ flexible duct. I tapped on the grate and got it to turn around and go back. I measured the rectangular opening. Linda cut a piece of cardboard about 1″ larger in width and length and I taped it over the opening.
We were away from the coach visiting with Scott Crosby of http://BusGreaseMonkey.com and others before Scott left for home. Scott and Tami Bruner came over too, followed by their friends/neighbors Misty and Gary who brought their GM3751 Silversides to the rally. When we returned to our motorcoach it was immediately obvious that Juniper had caught, or at least cornered, something, probably another mouse. Her posture and vocalizations are distinctive in the presence of prey. What was odd was she was by the front of the new built-in sofa rather than in the bathroom.
I shushed her away and she left the area without much protest. I did not see a mouse and walked to the bathroom to make sure our cardboard cover was still in place. It was, so if there was another mouse it must have gotten into the living area of the bus through some other opening, perhaps the OTR HVAC air return under the sofa. When I returned to the living room the mouse was climbing up onto the top edge of my slippers. I did not see exactly where it came from but it could have been inside one of them to escape the cats. I got the paper cup and bowl and caught it fairly easily.
I put on my Crocs, which we use as easy on/off camp shoes, walked back to the woods at the southern boundary of the campground, and set the mouse free. It scampered under some leaves but its odds of survival were probably as small as it was. The temperature was forecast to drop into the upper 40’s tonight and I heard a Great Horned Owl off in the distance. Still, its survival odds in the bus were probably worse. We had live trapped an adult house mouse under the kitchen sink when the bus was still at home, but that was a couple of weeks ago so there is no way it could have been the mother of these current juvenile mice unless it found its way back into the bus. My assumption was that the mother was not around and the young mice were desperately trying to find food and water. These circumstances made me a bit sad, but we simply cannot have mice getting into the living area and becoming play toys for our cats. Ultimately we need to find a way to keep them out of the bus altogether but so far a solution to that problem has proven to be elusive.
The official rally lunch was leftovers after which folks divided up whatever was left. Linda split the remaining salad lettuce with Vickie and took some bell peppers, onions, mushrooms, and bottled water. I grabbed a mostly full 2 L bottle of diet Coke.
Marty Caverly stopped by to see the bus remodeling and stayed to chat a while. Marty had spent the better part of a day at the Back-to-the-Bricks Rally last month getting Pat and Vickie’s cruise control to finally work reliably. He spent most of this morning getting their air leveling system to work reliably. Marty is an electrician who did a lot of work with electronics in his 40 years with General Motors and is the “go to” guy in our club for most electrical issues.
There was a lull in our social activities and Linda settled in to read while I worked at my computer transferring drafts of blog posts from e-mail to Word. I edited a week’s worth from the third week of July and got them ready to upload but did not post them. I will do that when we get home. I used the MCD day shade while sitting at the desk to cut down the light while still affording me a view. Linda forgot her iPad and was using mine to read one of the latest novels in Nick Russell’s Big Lake series. She went for a walk which gave me an opportunity to work on this post as I write them using the Note app on my iPad.
We saw Pat and Vickie walking towards the office and figured they were making arrangements for next year’s Surplus and Salvage Rally. They stopped at our coach on the way back with the signed contract. The dates are September 21 to 25, 2016 and the nightly camping rate is $35 plus tax for 50A full hookup sites. It’s pricey, but the campground is conveniently located in the heart of the Elkhart area with convenient access to many RV surplus businesses. We also get the exclusive use of a meeting room with a full kitchen, and they always reserve sites for us that are close to the meeting room. It should be a lovely time of year to have the rally, being the first five days of fall. Unfortunately we will probably not be attending as we do not plan to be back from New England by then.
Meals for this rally usually include dinner on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, with Friday also being a business meeting, and breakfast on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. The only lunch is the “must goes” on Saturday. Saturday dinner is traditionally out at a restaurant and the choice this year was McCarthy’s on the Riverwalk. The Elkhart River splits as it comes into the city, joins back up with itself and eventually flows into the much larger St. Joseph River at two points. McCarthy’s features some very interesting Irish fare but the ambiance is slightly upscale restaurant rather than an Irish pub feel. Our food choices were very limited, of course, but we knew that before signed up to go.
We rode over with Pat and Vickie and sat with them at one end of the table. I think we had 13 of the 23 attendees at dinner. Linda had a Guinness and I had a lighter beer that had “cider” in the name. We each had a house salad with a very nice balsamic vinegar dressing but no cheese and an order of French fries. The service was OK but not outstanding. I asked for Tabasco sauce and Vickie had to remind the waitress to get it. I was over half done with my fries by the time it arrived. The serving was small but the fries were good and we did not leave hungry.
Most of us went for a walk along the river after dinner. The sun was already below the downtown skyline, however, and it was chilly. None of us brought jackets so it was a shorter walk than it might otherwise have been.
Back at the campground Scott and Tami started a campfire in the fire pit by their rig. Linda and I brought over our chairs, blankets, a bowl of grapes, and our glasses of wine. Vickie brought her chair, popcorn, and a popcorn skillet designed for popping corn over an open fire. Dan brought his chair and joined us. It was a clear, crisp evening but the fire (and blankets) made it comfortable, the popcorn and grapes made it yummy, and company made it worthwhile.
Although relaxing in some ways, rallies are intense in other ways. We have only been here 3-1/2 days but we arrived tired, ran around taking care of things, and when we finally relaxed the tiredness washed over us. We gathered up our things and went back to the coach at 10 PM where we watched an episode of Grantchester on the local PBS affiliate, went to bed, and fell asleep.