Do Things Really Happen for a Reason…

Up until retiring  I would have answered, “Yes, things DO happen for a DEFINITE reason.”

Because when computers screw up,  “The reason” that “thing” happens can often be found sitting at the keyboard!!   And unscrambling that relationship had been my profession.    

But that is not what this post is about.  

Don’t worry,  I am not going to go all fatalist on you. I am not religious, other than trying to treat people well, which I suppose is the intent of most religions?  (I guess we could argue about that in the light of the number of wars fought in the name of religion.  But let’s not.)   I am not even an Athiest, because that would imply that I think about these things…too much of an engineer,  I guess.  Just take things as they come without looking for guidance of any kind (except what is in the operators’s manual).    

New Friend Pat…The very definition of “Thrown under the bus!”

Still, some things HAVE happened to us as we wander that make me think more broadly about this…

For example,  meeting Peter Haggins in Casper Wyoming later turned into an Alternator Repair and our direct connection to the Farquharsons, the informal PEI Tourist Bureau.  And repair of our radiator fan at Pat LaBreck’s place in Olympia, WA,  now that I think about it!  Pat was another introduction that Peter made which turned into way more than a friendly face.  

And,  in the past couple weeks,  MORE “coincidence,”  this time NOT related to Maj. Haggins (ret.). 

For a moment, we felt a little like we had somehow inherited a bit of the McDowells’ water-luck.


Water Damage

We noticed a water leak in the kitchen area.    In fact, we had quite a bit of water UNDER the vinyl floor planks in the kitchen area, which was mainly invisible.   We’ve had water issues before, but here is the part about coincidence this time: 

We probably would not have noticed it before a LOT more damage if we had not had a mouse crawl into the Scotch box.   

In the process of looking for signs of potentially other “Fellow Travelers,”   Liz was poking around in nooks and crannies —  and discovered a dripping connection and a puddle (more of a stream, actually) leading under the flooring. 

So,  were we given a mouse in order to notice the water issue?
Could be just a coincidence, but it goes deeper

Old Wooden Ice Boat Gradually turned to Fiberglass

In years past,  I spent more than a little time repairing wooden sailboats.  The main target of my efforts was an old wooden Iceboat, which I more-or-less rebuilt after starting out just planning to replace a single rotten rib. Once I exposed that rib,  the next one needed to go, and so on. Until the entire boat (practically) was new. 

Old Wooden “E” Scow also gradually turned to Fiberglass

I was also an assistant (and by “assistant” I mean provider of tools, moral support and an occasional cold beer)  on repair of an old “E” Scow – a purpose-built class of inland sailing racers.   Same story there – turning a rotten wooden boat gradually into a fiberglass one.     

These projects gave me an appreciation for soft, rotten plywood in a way that no Google or YouTube research could.  And how to repair these,  and with what.  Now,  presented with a patch of soft, rotting plywood in our kitchen,  and because of a seemingly random skill acquired in the past, I knew EXACTLY what to do. 

There is a product in the states called “DrRot” and another called “Git Rot.”  These are very thin,  penetrating epoxies.  You pour them on and they soak into the rotten wood,  then harden.  The result is you are essentially turning rotten wood into Fiberglass…indeed carbon fiberglass….with the wood acting as the carbon fibers for the epoxy resin.    Super strong,  where the rotten wood was most definitely not, and no longer susceptible to rot. 

EXACTLY what I needed to procur. 

Of course, it could not be so easy — the problem is,  in New Brunswick, when I asked for these products or anything like them,  the clerks would give me a dumb (very polite, but dumb) stare.  I tried marine supply places,  Home Depot (it is listed on their website), to no avail.  They have boats here.  And epoxy.  Surely they must have this product!

Turning Rotten Wood into Fiberglass

I finally did find a fella at a large-ish hardware store that seemed to have an inkling of what I was asking for to deal with rotten wood.  He found a product called “PC-ROT TERMINATOR” which looked to be the same product with a different name,  and said he could order this.   Not in time (we moved on the next day), but at least I know the stuff exists.  We are drying out the wet plywood thoroughly,  and will obtain the necessary product in a couple weeks. 

We experienced something similar when we went to Walmart for a couple of routine pharmaceuticals:  Visine (Liz had an irritated eye) and Dramamine (I am planning ahead for what can be a very rough, 17-hour ferry ride to NewfoundLAND in a couple weeks). 

First of all,  “Dramamine” in Canadian is “Gravol.”  Same stuff, different name.  I knew this.   As for Visine,  well it was not named differently, but it WAS locked up.  With the Gravol  (and the opiods,  presumably)! LOCKED UP!! 

In Canada, we learned,  some subset of pharmaceuticals are required to be locked up if there is no Pharmacist on duty.  Not all drugs…Ibuprofin, Zanax, Preparation H (not that I needed any of these) were out in the open.   Just an odd selection that seemed to need to be under the watchful eye of a pharmacist in order to protect the lives and morals of Canadians and the occasional CFA!! 

No prescription required,  just not available if the pharmacist is not in the store. No one could explain why in general, or why Visine and Dramamine fell into this category.   Anyway,  we went to a 24hr pharmacy where the aforementioned products were “safely” out on the shelf – no pharmacist in sight but obviously one was on the premise,  I guess. 

As we have been working on the water issue,  I am also starting to realize that our batteries are not performing as they should.  This is not an urgent issue for us,  as we often have electrical hookups at RV parks,  and when we don’t we have a generator.  But whereas we used to be able to manage an entire evening (TV, Computers, Kindles, lights, etc.) on battery,  I now need to start the generator for a bit. 

So, I am spending the time while the batteries slowly fail (as batteries typically do) figuring out how to re-invent the bus’ electrical systems.   And we are pretty lucky (coincidence, again?) to have access to the “Wanderlodge Owners Group” (WOG).    These folks are owners of Bluebirds of all generations (both the Bluebirds AND the owners).  They have an online forum  where almost every question I have ever had has been already discussed and answered,  usually with Pictures, Schematics and Part Numbers/sources. 

I cannot imagine owning our bus without access to this library of wisdom!  And, if I cannot find a discussion of the exact problem I have at the moment (which is REALLY unlikely…I mean these are old buses…every problem has been had and solved),  I can post my question.  One of the WOG forum users,  who has owned Bluebirds  for 30 years —in fact is likely now on their 5th —   will immediately answer. With the aforementioned pictures, schematics and part numbers!!! 

I am SURE there are online groups for other manufacturers products,  but it is a very happy coincidence that ours came with the WOG forum.  We’ve got an old,  maintenance-needy bus and it came with a repository of information on said maintenance!  If not a coincidence, it is at least fortunate!!

But there for sure IS a coincidence here!   I spent at least 15 years of my working life encouraging usage of online databases for knowledge management as a member of JHI — an International Association of Accounting and Management Consulting Firms.  The goal then was to create an online repository of relevant information; so if a member had a question,  there would be a place to look for the answers and/or discuss.  Such discussions would then become part of an online repository of knowledge – available the next time the question comes up,  somewhere and for someone else.    


My professional efforts were idealistic and intense,  over many years and around the world.  And ultimately not NEARLY as successful as WOG.  The WOG is a FANTASTIC example of how this strategy (a strategy I worked on extensively in a former lifetime) – which encompasses IT tools for managing information AND People who solve problems – works to save members time and money.  It has saved us lots of both!   

It is nice to see that the concept is so very right, even if my past implementation was flawed and under-appreciated perhaps.   And nice that my experience makes me a WOG appreciator immediately — I have projects,  after all!

Speaking of which, with regard to our Battery problem,  there is a WEALTH of information on the forum about rewiring and reorganizing the system, installing new and better batteries (including pros and cons of AGM and Lithium Cells), strategies for maintaining tip-top battery performance over time, etc.  It is going to take me some time to digest all this.  And,  I am sure there will be folks at rallies we are attending this summer who can actually SHOW ME what they have done in this regard. 

I think there will be some project time this winter where we will undertake some of the as yet undefined changes.  In fact,  I have a whole list of “projects”  — I am going to need to find a place down south where I can work under and around the bus, while staying out of the rain. 

Perhaps a post on WOG will secure a shed, pole-barn or other option.  Somewhere where the snow never flies.

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