Thursday, November 19, 2009

Back in Texas (Again)

Two days after leaving T & V's, we ended up in Amarillo, Texas. There were a few things we wanted to do in Amarillo: see the Cadillac Ranch, and do a little exploring.

The Cadillac Ranch, located along the south side of historic Route 66 (I-40), was built in 1974, brainchild of Stanley Marsh 3, the helium millionaire who owns the dusty wheat field where it stands. Marsh and The Ant Farm, a San Francisco art collective, assembled used Cadillacs representing the "Golden Age" of American Automobiles (1949 through 1963). The ten graffiti-covered cars are half-buried, nose-down, facing west "at the same angle as the Cheops' pyramids." Bizarre stuff, for sure, and it's encouraged that you re-decorate (ie, spray paint) the cars! We found several half-full cans, and Donna caught me in the act of using one.

The path in

Weird, just weird!

Yellow spray can in hand

Donna's favorite?

Later that day, we headed off to Palo Duro State Park, several miles east of Amarillo. If you've ever been to Amarillo, it's a typical west Texas city. Windy, dusty, flat, sagebrush, and cotton fields. Did I say windy and dusty? On the drive over to Palo Duro, all you see are the flatlands...but after getting inside the park, you realize it's a huge canyon area! Trees, beautiful rock formations, streams, wildlife. Not at all what you expect in west Texas! We didn't stay here, but they do have RV sites.

Juniper in the canyon

Nice rock formations

This is the flatlands of Texas? Palo Duro SP

Donna's sister Cheryl has told us about a restaurant in Amarillo that they always go to during their travels: Big Texan Ranch Steak Ranch. Of course, we had to try it. They advertise a free 72 oz. steak...well, it's free if you can eat it, along with a baked potato, salad, five fried shrimp, and a dinner one hour. Many try, most fail. I didn't even think about it, and got the 8 oz version. By the way, if you try the "free" steak, and don't finish in one hour, it's $72...a buck an ounce!

I don't think so, podnuh!
From Amarillo, we headed east to McKinney, for a stay at MCD Innovations. We wanted to replace our front interior shades in the cockpit area. Country Coach had installed black drop down shades in this area, and, at night it looked like a cave up there. We spent a week at MCD, and they manufactured new shades for us that matched our interior. We are very happy with the change, and recommend them.
We left MCD on October 30, and headed south to Lake Whitney for a few days. We had always wanted to stay in this area, but ended up being disappointed. The campground wasn't that nice, and there was nothing, I mean nothing, to do in the area. And of course, our anniversary is Halloween, October 31. We ended up driving up to Fort Worth for our celebratory dinner (at Saltgrass). This anniversary was special: 40 YEARS! Wow, it's hard for us to fathom it's been that long! And I love Donna more each day!
While we were up in Fort Worth, we stopped at a Sams Club. They were setting up a NASCAR display when we came out, and we got to see the Cheerios car. Sorry, we're not NASCAR fans, so I can't name the driver. They fired up the car, and revved it up to about 10 grand - talk about LOUD. And I wonder why my hearing sucks!
On November 1, we moved down to Spring, TX, where we will stay until the end of the month. Donna has been catching up on her sewing and quilting, and I have been doing a bunch of maintenance stuff on the coach. I'm not a Michael Jackson fan, but Donna convinced me to go with her to see the tribute movie, This Is It. I'm still not a fan, but after watching the movie, I can appreciate the creative genius that he was.
We leave here on the 30th, heading down to Houston for some maintenance work on the coach. The hydraulic leak that we thought was fixed is still dripping. We are again excited to soon be on the move again. We'll be staying south and heading west.
I can't believe it, the blog is actually up-to-date!!

Kamp Katherine

On August 14, we became Grandparents again! Katherine Dale came into the world courtesy of Todd and Victoria. We couldn't wait to see her in person! We left Idaho the day after Labor Day and headed for Colorado. After settling in at our RV park in Monument, we headed over to T & V's to see Baby Katherine. That Friday, our daughter, Jenna, and our two other granddaughters, Beatrice and Olivia, flew in from California to meet Katherine. It was great seeing our newest grandchild, and catching up with the other two!

Grandma meets Katherine


Grandma in Heaven!

Todd and helpers feeding Katherine

Victoria, Bea, and Livie get serious

We had a few projects to complete while in Denver. The first, and foremost, was to get the electrical service for the motorhome installed at Todd and Victoria's. I started the project in 2008, but the bulk of the work had to be completed. After some trenching, drilling, digging, caulking, and electrical panel work, I finally finished. This project benefited both Todd and us: he got electrical power to his shed, and we got a hookup for our motorhome. As soon as it was finished, we moved the coach over from Monument.
Last summer we installed a shed on T & V's property. We placed it behind his existing shed - just kind of plopped it down. The ground was a little sloped, but we did what we could at the time. Nature being what it is, small cracks, leaks, and seepage occurred. Time to make it right. There is a pad next to the existing shed, which I expanded. We emptied out our shed, took it half apart, moved it onto the new pad reassembled it, and reloaded it. Whew!! We now feel that our remainding belongings are secure.
T & V had their home painted this summer. It turned out beautiful. They did not have their shed painted, so we volunteered to paint it to complete "the look". I did it in conjunction with the moving of our shed.
All projects complete, we needed to head out again, before winter weather set in. We got out just before the first snowstorm of the season, and headed south.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

How We Spent Our Summer

I've really gotten bad about posting. It's just that being retired means never having a spare moment! To those of you who are retired, you know what I mean. OK, that excuse is now used, and I'll have to dream up something else next time.

We arrived at our summer place in Blanchard, ID on May 28, a few days before Donna's birthday. The weather was nice, then cold, then nice, then rainy, etc. for a few weeks. We got our golf cart out of storage, and then it was golf time for me. I had a goal in mind...break 100, then break 90. Last season, on my last golf round at Stoneridge, I managed to hit 100. This year, I was determined. I decided that I needed help, as it's hard to see your own bad practices. I took several lessons, and gradually the scores dropped. I'm happy to say that "most" of the time, I'm now under 100. I managed to get to 95 this year. Without a couple of blowup holes each round, I'm confident I could be in the 80's. So I'll keep working on it! I now have an established handicap of 28.

We and several other couples formed a 4-wheeling club this year. We took several trips of varying durations in the surrounding countryside. On our first trip, we wanted the fresh air blowing on us, so I took the moon-roof panels off. BIG mistake. By the end of the run, we had about 1" of dust on everything inside the Jeep. Donna and I also took a couple of off-road trips by ourselves. We managed to rediscover a spot by a lake north of Usk, Washington, that we visited last summer. I lost the coordinates when our Garmin crashed, so we just kind of winged it. Just when we were about to give up looking for the spot, we happened upon it quite by chance.

Secret spot (N 48 28.582' W 117 21.619')

Secret Spot

Secret Spot

Hoodoo Mountain view of Stoneridge

A backroad somewhere in Washington/Idaho

Bob, Elyse, Donna, Terry, and Artie

We found our way down to Lake Ponderay

Lake Ponderay

On the 4th of July, we had a golf cart parade. It was great seeing all of the carts decorated up in patriotic colors. Next year the community will publicize it better, and the parade should make the local newspaper.

Emma is geared up for fun!

The cart lineup after the parade

The yellow-jackets were bad this year. They were around last year, but a simple swipe of your hand would send them packing. This year, they were aggressive. I got stung 3 times: twice on the golf course, and once while I was attaching the water hose to the coach. Donna got stung once while sitting outside in the shade. No warning, the sucker just dive-bombed and zapped her on the finger. We kind of got even though - I bought 2 yellow jacket traps. They work good, and I think by the end of summer the score was Yellow-Jackets 4, R&D 10,238. Towards the end of summer, our friend Ben discovered where they built nests: in the fenceposts marking our property corners. Had we only known earlier!
In August, we headed over to Oregon. Last February, my sister and her husband sold their home in Huntington Beach, CA, and moved to Oregon. They own property in Waldport, and are having a new home built there. We stayed in Florence for a few days, and got to see their home site. It's a great site, and it had been graded and prepped for foundations. We shared in their excitement, and are following the building as it progresses.
Jim & Yvonne's property

Oregon Beach near Jim & Yvonne's property
After our visit, we took the motorhome over to Coburg for it's annual service, and then headed up to Albany for a Country Coach rally. Things have changed significantly from last year. There were 350 coaches in attendance then; this year there were 147. We met up with several CC owners that we knew from previous rallies and service, including Norbert and Helena, friends from Germany! They travel in the US during the summer, then put their coach into storage, and fly back to Germany for the winter months.
I took up pickleball this summer. This is a relatively new sport, which is played on a modified tennis court. Instead of rackets, you use paddles, and instead of a tennis ball, you use a giant whiffle ball. It's a fun game, and you can really get a good cardio workout a lot of running. This sport is really big in Arizona with the snowbirds. We plan on playing this winter when we're down in Casa Grande.


For several years now I've been trying to get back to playing my guitar. You may recall that I did some restoring to it and bought a new case while in Nashville. This summer I actually took it out and did some playing. There are several people at Stoneridge who play, and I sat in on a couple of impromptu jam sessions. I can't remember some chords, but it slowly is coming back to me. While we were in Oregon, the "Stoneridge Boys" had a festival for the residents. I heard it was a lot of fun! I'll continue to practice, and hopefully will improve. Donna misses my strumming and humming...

We left Stoneridge the day after Labor Day, and headed for Colorado, where a new grandbaby was waiting!!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Emma Turns One!

I'm a "bit" late on this post. I drafted it in July, but never published it...

Emma was born on July 1, 2008, in Livermore, California.

First meeting

On August 21, 2008, we met Emma for the first time. She was a mere 7 weeks old, and I don't think she was much over 1 pound in weight. We met at the breeder's home in Livermore, CA, to see if we there was a connection. While we knew that just seeing a puppy is enough for most people, we felt there had to be some kind of initial bond before we made a final decision. She was quite a little handful, and started out a little shy, but soon warmed up to us. When she flipped over on her back and stared at me, we knew she was the one!

Who you lookin' at?

Take me home soon OK?

I think this person should be my new Mom!
Having made the decision, we needed to wait until she was 12 weeks old before the breeder would release her. There are developmental things that need to occur in that time frame, including dog and people socializing.
On October 1, we picked her up. After spending a few hours with the breeder (Georgina - check her website at getting orientated, we headed out. We were staying with our daughter and her family in San Jose, so the trip home was quick and uneventful. Once we got there though, things changed! It had been years since we had had a puppy...they are a LOT of work! One thing about new puppies: you never know what's going to happen. They eat a piece of fuzz - they throw up. They swallow a leaf - they get the runs.
One of the feeding instructions that Georgina had given us was to take 1/4 cup of dry food and mix it with a tsp of canned food. Emma seemed interested, but would not eat, so I called Georgina and asked for some suggestions. She had neglected to tell us to soak the dry food in a little warm water, then mix in the canned. As sharp as those puppy teeth are, little Emma didn't have the jaw strength to chew the hard dry food. After we softened it up, she caught up on her meals quickly.
Last winter, in February, we were staying with friends in Benson, AZ. While there, we were referred to a vet in Tucson, who spayed, micro-chipped, and pulled her remaining baby teeth. That day was her worst day out of her young life, but the next day, she was amazingly back to normal.
We never thought we'd get through the demanding puppy stage with Emma. She turned into quite a wild child. People we met on our journey told us to wait until she was about 10 months old, and then she would settle down. Well, at least their Yorkies had! Gradually though, she did seem to mellow slightly. At one year, while definitely still a pup, she has matured quite a bit (she's almost 14 months now, and is still quite a handful!).

Guard duty
At our summer place at Stoneridge, in Blanchard, Idaho (, she is known throughout the Motor Coach Village, and she is getting recognized around other parts of the property now. She has been called the "town slut" by some, due to her submissiveness around dogs she is just meeting (she flops over on her back so they can get a good sniff). We are hoping she will get over this soon! Emma has lots of dog friends there, including Abby, Jaxson, Jake, Kate, Cobber, Sadie, Tucker, Yogi, Zoie, and "big" Sheila. By far though, her best friend is another Yorkie, also named Sheila. Sheila is about twice Emma's weight, but that doesn't matter. When we let them off-leash, they play crazy Yorkie games until they poop out. They would do this all day if we would let them.
Emma at 1 year
Emma now weighs somewhere between 5.4 and 5.7 pounds, well within the breed standard. Her black puppy hair is gradually changing to silver. She's one year old, and we're glad she's a part of our family!! Happy Birthday Emma!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Ketchup Time

OK, where have we been, and what have we been up to?

After leaving Texas, we headed for our home park in Monument, Colorado. We planned to be in Colorado for about 5 weeks, before heading to our summer spot in Idaho. If you have followed our blog, every post about Colorado involved "cleaning out storage". This time was no different, and we were focused on the task at hand! When we began full-timing, virtually everything in our 3300 sq ft home put into a 15x45 storage unit. It was jammed full floor-to-ceiling. Last October, we managed to get rid of enough stuff so that we were able to move to a 10x24 unit. This time, we FINALLY managed to close out our paid storage unit! Our son and his wife graciously allowed us to construct a 8x12.5 storage shed on their property last October, and we began transitioning. After bombarding Craigslist, Castle Rock Task Force, and Goodwill for the past 2 years, we managed to downsize enough to get everything to our shed. Whew! We have not been able to enjoy much of Colorado for the past 2 years, as it was "work" every time we passed through. This October we'll finally see some friends on our way through!

We had one interesting week that I can recall on our last visit. We had put a set of Caphalon cookware on Craigslist, and Donna got a call on it. After about 2 minutes on the phone, she said, "I'm going to give the phone to my husband." She whispered to me "I can't understand a word this lady is saying!". Another 2 minutes went by while I listened and tried to respond. Eventually, after a few more phone calls, we arranged to meet for a possible deal. I swore to Donna that the lady was Asian, maybe Vietnamese. We had agreed to meet at Costco in Lone Tree, by the gas station. We arrived on schedule, and waited...and waited. Finally the phone rang, and they told us they didn't know where Costco was, but they were a a big mall, outside of
"Richards". I had no clue. They spelled it: D-I-L-L-A-R-D-S, and then said "Richards". Wow, again I was speechless, but we headed over there and found them. And, they were not Asian, they were Iranian! They were very apologetic about their lack of English skills. We all laughed. And they did buy the cookware!

The second interesting thing that happened occurred while we were donating some things at Goodwill in Castle Rock. As I was backing the Jeep up to the door, I saw who appeared to be Ed McCaffrey of Denver Bronco fame. I told Donna, and she got out and said hi to him. Turns out he was trying to donate a treadmill, but Goodwill wouldn't take it. I told him about "Play-It-Again-Sports", where he could consign or sell it outright. I asked him what he thought about the Broncos this next season, but he laughed and said we'll just have to see. He thanked us for the tip and headed off.

We had a great Mother's Day with Todd and Victoria - they took us out to dinner at the Texas Roadhouse in Parker. Yummy steaks and good company!

We are excited to get back to Colorado in the fall - there will be a new granddaughter waiting for us there!

Towards the end of May, we decided it was time to head for Idaho. Last year we purchased an RV spot on a golf course in Blanchard, Idaho (check out and click on sales, then Motor Coach Village). It's hard to believe we've been here 5 weeks already. I'm playing lots of golf, and Donna has been busy with many activities, although she hasn't done as much quilting as she'd like. That will probably change! We've also started playing Pickleball, which is quite popular as a winter sport in Arizona with RV'ers. I've played a few games, and find it fun and a good workout. We traded our golf cart in this year on one of the new street-legal golf carts that qualify for a tax-rebate as an electric car. It can go a whopping 25mph, quite fast for a golf cart.

We plan on doing some offroading in the Jeep in the coming weeks. August will be a busy month for us. We have some friends who will come up and visit us for a week or so. Then we will head over to Albany, OR for an RV rally, and afterwards will drop in and visit my sister and her husband, who are living in Florence, OR while they build their new home.

The weather is warming up, and the golf is good, so if you're in the area, drop on by! Please be patient with us, and the Internet and cell phone service here suck. Verizon will be putting in a tower on the property "by the end of summer", so things will improve significantly next year.

By the way, Emma turned 1 year old on July 1. Stay tuned for a special blog entry!!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Being Texans

About 6 months before we began our full-timing, we got an address in Texas, through The Escapees RV Club. Early in 2007, we actually got to Texas, and got drivers licenses, car & RV registrations, insurance, and got registered to vote. That made us official, we were no longer Coloradans. This year, 2009, is the longest we've actually been in our state, thanks in no part to my driving mishap. After leaving the Denton area, where our coach was repaired, we headed south to Willis, which is about 50 miles north of Houston. The RV park where we are staying is on Lake Conroe. Very pretty, but it seems that there are a lot of permanent residents here, and there are absolutely no social activities. We signed up for a month, and have about 2 more weeks before we head out. Our plan is to move slowly towards Colorado, and get into Monument the 3rd week of April.

What were we doing in Willis? Hangin' out of course! Donna has been working on several quilt projects, and we've both been working on digitizing our vast assortment of cookbooks. This last item has been on our "to-do" list since we started full-timing in January of 2007. The end is finally in sight! Completing this project will allow us to get rid of a lot of cookbooks, freeing up cabinet space and weight.

We also drove over to Brenham, about 50 miles west of here, and took a tour of the Blue Bell Ice Cream factory. The tour was so-so, but the tasting at the end was great! It's our newest favorite ice cream. So far on our journey the best ice cream was in Tillamook, OR. The cheese factory also makes excellent ice cream.

The weather here has been very changeable. A few weeks back it was sunny and warm, in the 80's, then it changed to overcast and muggy. Then fog. Then we had severe weather. Tornado warnings, high winds, and heavy rain. Then cold weather. Just the thing when living in an motor home! Hopefully, Spring has sprung. We think so, because allergies have kicked in big-time!

We also scouted out a park for our return here in November. We'll be a little further south, in the town of The Woodlands. The park is rated a triple-10, one of only 3 in the USA. We made reservations 2 weeks ago for the month of November, and there were only 4 spots left!

After leaving Lake Conroe, we headed north to Gainsville, TX. There is a small RV park at the Outlet Malls there, so we stayed a night. The last time we were in this area, the outlets were booming. Now, with the economy, about 1/2 of them are closed.

From there, we moved up to Amarillo. I had received a campaign (i.e. "recall") notice from Cummins, indicating that our Engine Control Module (ECM) needed to have upgraded programming. When I called them, they informed me that there were 2 additional campaigns that needed tending to. No worry, they had a electrical only site that we could use. As it turns out, this Cummins dealer doesn't work on motor homes too often, and they could not figure out access to the front of the engine, so the ECM programming was all that got done. We'll get those 2 items done up in Oregon this summer.

We moved north about 45 miles to Dumas, TX, where we thought we'd spend a night before our trek into Colorado. Unfortunately, Colorado has been socked in with a major Spring snow storm. So 1 night turned into 2 nights, and 2 into 3. The storm is moving out, so tomorrow we will move northeast about 180 miles to Raton, NM, and Monday will go up to Monument, CO. We're anxious to get back and see family and friends, and get our storage cleaned out for good!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Emma Turns 8 Months!

On March 1, Emma was 8 months old. It's hard to believe, but we've had her for 5 months. When we got her, she was 2.25 pounds, and her legs were barely long enough to keep her tummy off the ground. She is now 5.1 pounds. Her baby coat was coal black, with brown eyebrows and feet. Now her head is a silvery, brown, black combination. The black on the majority of her body is changing slowly to silver, and her legs are now a light tan. She is looking more like an adult Yorkie every day.

Emma at 8 weeks (we adopted her at 12 weeks)

Emma at 8 months

Emma and bully stick
The one thing that hasn't changed is her energy level. Puppies have a lot of energy...a LOT! She keeps us hopping, that is for sure. We take her for walks several times a day. On her evening walk (here at the collision center), her new favorite game is moth chasing. Moths congregate under the fluorescent lights, get scorched, and fall to the ground, where they flop around until they get their bearings again. Emma loves to chase them. She is also proving to be quite a runner, so, like it or not, I am turning into a short distance jogger.
Emma "in the zone"
Emma doesn't eat people food, but she does love carrots. She has a ton of toys, and she uses all of them. One of her curious habits is to take her lambswool ball, and hold it in her mouth while lying flat on her tummy. It seems to put her into a trance, kind of a Zen thing. She loves the space of the motor home, and has her favorite haunts: keeping watch on top of the sofa tops the list. We are amazed at how she can walk on the narrow sill, then sit looking out the window, one hip on the sill, the other on the sofa.


On patrol

We are glad to have Emma as part of our family!