Sunday, December 30, 2007

Shimmy, Shimmy, Cocoa Beach

OK, so I plagiarized the title of a song from the late 50's...hey, at least I can still remember back that far!!

The path to Cocoa Beach

Cocoa Beach

We decided to take a drive down to Cocoa Beach and check out the beaches and attractions. After wandering in and out of a local beachwear place, we pulled into a city park, where we found a trail through some heavy trees and plants leading to the beach. The beach was pretty, but a recent bout with red tides had killed many fish...which had washed up on the beach at high tide. The smell of rotting fish was too much for us, so we turned around and headed down another path away from the beach. Later on the news we heard that the City was using jail prisoners to pick up and bury the dead fish. We came across a boardwalk leading through a semi-tropical rain forest. Not bad for not having a book of things to see and do in Cocoa Beach! I think the elevated boardwalk was to keep us from finding an unexpected alligator. It was a 1/4 mile loop right next to the beach, and we found it very interesting, to say the least.

The path

Twisty vines

A single bloom

A break in the thick canopy in the middle of the forest

An old oak
Berries of some kind
From there, we went to the most famous surf shop on the East Coast: Ron-Jon. You know it's a mega-store when the billboard advertisements say: Open 24 hours. It was a giant store, and we did a little shopping - I ended up with a new T-shirt, and Donna with a new sun-dress.

The Great Outdoors Resort

Looking at our site from the pool area

Yup, the HD satellite is beamed in!!

Silly squirrel - find a real tree!

Early on Christmas Eve Day, we left New Smyrna Beach and headed the 26 remaining miles to Titusville. It was lucky we left when we did (around 10:00am), because we found out when we arrived that everything at The Great Outdoors closed up at noon! The last burning question we had about NSB was how do you pronounce "Smyrna"? Donna prefers "smerna", where I slang it up a bit saying "smearna". I guess in the big picture, who cares?

The further south we get, the less pine trees, and more palm trees, we see. Our site here for the next 2 months is right next to the pool. It's a nice site, but a little noisy due to the pool. People swim and soak up to 11:30pm at night, so we're having to adjust a bit. Also, it's a little weird seeing squirrels climbing palm trees!

On Christmas Day, we attended a potluck that was held at the onsite church. I had called about a week before to reserve a spot, and found that we were #99 and #100 to attend...the last 2 spots! We met 2 couples that we hit it off with, so we now have some new friends here. On New Year's Eve, we're going to attend another potluck.

The temperatures have been in the low 80's and humid...quite a change from our time in Colorado, where we could have anything from 70's to snow and cold, with humidity levels in the teens. New Year's Day is supposed to be quite a bit cooler - down to the high 50's. For right now, we're enjoying sitting out in the patio with the tropical breezes blowing.

Saturday, December 22, 2007


Last month, while staying at our son's, I related that Donna had fallen when a portable step collapsed. She's been nursing a sore spot on her back, and it progressively has been getting better. Last night, she rolled over in her sleep and felt (or dreamed?) a sharp pain accompanied by a "pop". Today she was very sore, so we headed off to the local hospital to get it checked. Amazingly, for a visit to the emergency room, it only took us 1-1/2 hours. The X-rays did reveal one broken rib, so now we know what we're dealing with. The prognosis is good, but the doctor told her it will take another 4 weeks to heal. Luckily we will be in one place for two months!

Eastward Hoooooooo

From Biloxi, we headed east, and ended up in Summerdale, Alabama, at the Escapees RV Park. We had heard that this was a great park, one of the Escapees best, from a couple we met while in Livingston. They told us they were heading that way, and would be spending some time there. We didn't get their names, and had no idea what type of RV they had, but hoped that we would see them again.
Leaving Mississippi, we were pleasantly surprised at the change in Alabama. Unlike the devastated and otherwise depressed areas we encountered there, Alabama seemed very nice - nicer roads, nicer towns, and friendlier people. Upon arriving in Summerdale, we walked around the park looking for familiar people, but didn't see anyone we knew. The next day, there was a knock on the door, and there were our new-old friends from Livingston. After proper introductions (Pat & John!), we spent some time talking, and hit it off. Turns out they were parked about 2 RV's away from us. We convinced them to meet up with us again at the Good Sam RV Rally in Perry, Georgia in March. After several days, we decided to head east, and get closer to our final winter destination.
Our next stop found us in De Funiak Springs, Florida, which is located in the Panhandle. The day's travel, while not long, was punctuated with off-and-on rain. When we got about 5 minutes from the park, the downpour began in earnest. Luckily, we had a pull-through site, and all I had to do in the rain was get the electricity and water hooked up. Pressing the satellite button inside, I found that trees were obstructing the dish, so I had to go out in the rain to get the cable plugged in. I turned the weather channel on, as the rain seemed to be getting worse. Very worse, as there were severe weather warnings for the area, including torrential rain, tornado warnings, and hail alerts. On top of that, I discovered a leak at the front of the rig, coming in through the driver's side window. So, armed with a dishcloth and bucket, I spent the next 2 hours bailing! The weather finally passed, and the next day was nice, with no after-effects of the storm.
Jacksonville was the next stop - after watching the weather patterns on the Panhandle, we decided to get to the coast. We stayed at Flamingo Lake RV Park on the north side of town. It was a nice park, and we loved that the weather was much warmer than out on the Panhandle.
Now we're heading South, as the road East has ended at the Atlantic! Our current location is New Smyrna Beach, Florida. We're enjoying the warm weather (70's), although the humidity is a bit higher that we're used to.
The park at New Smyrna Beach

A land yacht! Yes, they are RV'ing in their boat!!

Squirrels in palm tree territory?

We drove down to the beach yesterday, and found that they allow driving out on the sand. So the Jeep got it's first taste of sand.

Relaxing on the coast!

We are less than 50 miles from Titusville, where we will spend the next 2 months. On Monday, Christmas Eve Day, we'll head on in to The Great Outdoors.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Our Hard Rock Experience

As we drove through what is left of the coast highway through Biloxi, there were many sad sights, and some surprises, as detailed in my previous post. Coming around a corner, there was a surprise - a Hard Rock Resort/Cafe/Casino appeared, brand spanking new! We thought this deserved further investigation (and we were hungry, and they advertised a buffet). We have been to a few Hard Rocks, but this complex was huge. We found out that they had reopened only a few months ago.

We asked a host how they had stored this stuff with Katrina coming, and he told us that they did not expect the hurricane to hit them, so they had not stored or removed anything. When Katrina turned towards Biloxi, they simply evacuated, so nothing was saved. The picture below is some of the stuff that was salvaged from the Gulf in the aftermath. We did see some things, like the Army uniform that Elvis wore, that had been recovered, cleaned, and redisplayed; but most of what we saw was new to the facility.

Memorabilia in the foreground, and a pic of the destroyed Hard Rock in the background
These montages are huge. We thought that they were made of fabric, but, upon closer inspection, found them to be made of woven newspaper! Can you figure out who the artists are?
Who are they?

And these four?


One of Elton John's flamboyant costumes was quite impressive, as was a banner on display from Pink Floyd's movie "The Wall", and one of John Lennon's smoking jackets.

Not quite my style!
Banner from Pink Floyd's "The Wall"

John Lennon's smoking jacket

As the Hard Rock was getting ready for Christmas, their bakers had prepared two huge gingerbread houses. By huge, I mean 5-6 feet in height! To all of us amateur gingerbread house makers (T&V and R&D), these set the standard for the future!!

Now that's a gingerbread house!

This is the "small" one

This place was so impressive, and there was so much to see, that we came back a second time (the buffet was great both times, too!). Our next time through this area, we'll definitely stop here again.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Katrina vs Biloxi

Shrimp boats behind the Hard Rock

We arrived in Biloxi, MS on Sunday, hoping to see most of the city and surrounding area back in commission. It became clear to us that the cleanup efforts from Hurricane Katrina are nowhere near complete. There are entire city blocks along the ocean front that are empty. Concrete parking lots with weeds. Some of the casino owners elected not to rebuild. A friend's daughter once worked at the Casino Magic here - but that casino is no more. It was obvious where the reconstruction went; big money gets big results. The Hard Rock Casino/Cafe was recently reopened (I'll have an another post for that), as did several other casinos.

We saw churches with the lower level stained glass blown out. Apartments and condos abandoned with their lower floors gone. Gas station signs, restaurant signs were evident, with no buildings to go with them. Amazingly, there were signs posted on beachfront parking lots indicating that luxury condos would be built. Uh, huh, try getting homeowners insurance on those!

Remains of a restaurant

We had planned on visiting the Jefferson Davis museum and library in Biloxi, to get a bit of Civil War history. Unfortunately, that historical place was mostly destroyed. They are planning to reopen sometime in 2008.

Out of the destruction we did see a rebirth of sorts. Dead oak trees are being removed down the center strip of the highway, but some of the stumps are being sculpted into works of art depicting coastal life.

Oak seahorse

Oak dolphins

Our campground was about 4 miles inland, and, while it had great reviews, we found it to be about 90% occupied by long term tenants. Two nights was enough for us, and we headed for Alabama.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Lucky Thursday

Last Thursday was our last day in Livingston, TX. I took my Class B driving test at 10:45am, and passed! So now we are legal as far as Texas is concerned. We headed out about noon, eager to see new places. Both Garmin and our mapping software pointed us down highways that avoided freeways for the first part of our trip - quiet roads, but very bumpy! We arrived at Beaumont, TX and picked up was worse! It is being renovated and repaved, so we had narrow lanes to navigate...and they were bumpy! Crossing into Louisiana, we hoped for the best, but the construction continued. Our exit was 44, and at about 43.75, the construction ended.

We've been staying in Kinder, LA, at a casino RV park, and have liked it a lot. Arriving here around 3:30pm, we got checked in and headed to the casino to check things out. I sat down at a video poker table (that I thought was a quarter machine), inserted a $20, and began playing. On the third hand, I hit $160, surprising Donna to no end! She had walked around a bit after I sat down, and couldn't quite believe it that I had done so well so quick. We usually only play about $20 between us, so this was a big deal! On Friday, I went back to the same machine, put in another $20, and won $52. Of course, today I did the same thing, and didn't win anything!

Tomorrow we're heading for Biloxi, MS. The last time I was there was 1998 for a job walk. No stress this time!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

"Houston, we have a problem" (er, no we don't, I just always wanted to say that!)

The tour starts here

We're getting itchy to hit the road again. The weather here has been nice, and 2 days ago, it got up into the high 70's, with the humidity level just a little higher! Yesterday it was much cooler, and today was supposed to be just about right! We decided it was time for a little diversion, so we headed down to Houston for the day. First stop - the Space Center! We got there about 10:50am, and found out that the 90 minute tram tour started at 11:00am! Good timing...the tour was excellent!

First stop on the tour - Mission Control!
This is the actual Mission Control used to put a man on the moon. All of those terminals are just that - TV sets that provided real-time data to the engineers. These are not computers - there are no keyboards. The computer feeding the data occupied a room a few floors down (and it's capacity was 300kb!). There are now 2 other mission control rooms with updated equipment, but this is the original one.
The Apollo Building
The building in the background houses a left-over, never used Apollo spacecraft. It had been built, but never was launched, as funding for the program ended. It sat on a field for 23 years (!) before funding was allocated to preserve it as an historical landmark. Amazingly, the building was build around it at a cost of $1.5M.
The Apollo inside the building, with all stages, is 332' long
I can't remember the exact numbers, but I think they said that, during takeoff, the first stage burned 1-1/2 tons of fuel per second - and the first stage lasts 50 seconds!!
Space Shuttle simulator
This dashboard is almost as complicated as our motorhome!

Friday, November 30, 2007


Finally, we are in our home park, where our legal residence is! Our main purpose in coming here was to get the coach and Jeep registered, and to have my driver's license upgraded. In Texas, if your motor home is over 26001 pounds empty, you have to have a Class B, non-commercial CDL license. Is that a contradiction in terms? Basically, it means I have to take a written and driving test.

The park office informed me that they had a copy of the drivers manual that I could read there or check out. So, while Donna took a nap, I went to the office to study. While I was reading, a couple came in to register. They looked real familiar to me, but I didn't make a connection. Later that afternoon, I told Donna that I remembered where we had seen them. On our way to Oregon to pick up the new coach, we had stopped at the Ambassador RV Park in Caldwell, ID. This couple was parked next to us - we actually shared a few bottles of wine and some stories! Donna and I headed over to their site, and we renewed our acquaintances. Small world! From Idaho, we had gone west, they had gone east (to Florida), and here we all were again in Texas.

Today I took and passed the written CDL test. They had an opening for the driving test, so we hurriedly closed the coach up and drove it to the test site. When the examiner walked out to the rig, she told me I couldn't take the driving test until we had it licensed, which was a different procedure that when we had our truck and 5th wheel. So, I've been postponed until next Thursday. The rest of the day we took the rig back and got re-set up. Feeling brave, we decided to go to the tax assessor and get the Jeep and coach registered. Gulp!! We had to pay
Texas sales tax on them, as both were bought out-of-state with no sales tax paid. The savings account took a hit, but at least we are legal now!

A Situation

We left Thackerville, OK, anticipating a short drive (150 miles) to our next campground in Athens, TX. We picked a place that was 7 miles from where we were to have our auxiliary braking system installed, reasoning that, from there it was a mere 150 more miles to our home RV park in Livingston, TX. That would put us in to Livingston in the very early afternoon on Monday.

Upon arriving, we noticed it was a very small, brand new park. A guy in shorts and an old army jacket slowly made his way over to us. He instructed me to place our payment in an envelope and put it in the drop box, and then take any site we wanted. The park was empty except for his rig and one other. We picked a nice spot where the satellite wasn't blocked by trees and began to set up. As it was cold, Donna plugged in a portable heater to get things warmed up. She heard a pop, like a circuit breaker tripping, and noticed that the heater was off. I was outside getting the utilities hooked up. She asked me to come in and reset the breaker; however, when I opened the panel, no breakers were off. Hmmmmm. Then we noticed the power display said "inverting". Uh, oh, that means we were running off the batteries with no 120v power. I went and checked the breaker at the park panel, and it seemed to be OK. To be sure, we changed sites, ending up in another row. Same result = inverting. I fired up the generator - still inverting. This is not looking good!

I called tech support at Country Coach (remember, this is Sunday on Thanksgiving weekend). Surprisingly, a person answered. We did some diagnostics over the phone, and the tech came to the conclusion that our "transfer switch" wasn't functioning. That is the device that looks at your power options (120v shore power, 120v generator, or battery power 12v to 120v inverting), and picks the best source for your energy needs. Nothing we do can get us off of battery power. He advises me to take the rig to one of their authorized service facilities - of course, the nearest one is back in Dallas - 100 miles NW of our location. Needless to say, it was a long night. I had to start the coach up every 2 hours to keep the batteries charged.

Bright and early Monday morning, we arrive at M&G Engineering in Athens, and have the brake system installed. Now we are legal to tow our Jeep in any state, and we have the peace of mind knowing we can stop a lot better in an emergency situation. While the installation was in progress, I made a call to Buddy Gregg RV in Dallas. The service advisor said he would work us in as soon as we got there. We turn back north and head for Dallas to see what's up with our power.

At 12:30pm, we were 1 mile away from Buddy Gregg RV when I-635 came to a screeching halt. There was a big accident right at our off ramp. So 6 lanes of traffic had to merge into one lane and then exit the freeway. 1-3/4 hours later, we made it off, made a short jag, and arrived - a bit frazzled, but safe. We got checked in, ran a few errands, and went back to the dealer. I saw our rig being backed out of the bay - all done!?! Turns out there was a breaker coming out of the inverter that had tripped all 120v power. So it wasn't the transfer switch - it was something I could have done without driving 100 miles out of our way! And here it was 3:30pm, and us facing the prospect of finding an RV park in Dallas at rush hour. The service advisor at Buddy Gregg saw our frustration and offered us a site at their mini-RV park. He got an attaboy and some homemade cookies for taking care of us.

We're a little ticked at Country Coach for not having us check the breaker before we drove 100 miles out of our way, but we're thankful that there wasn't a major problem. At $3.49 a gallon and 7.5 mpg, it was an expensive detour.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Time Flies When You're Having Fun(?)

Wow! Six weeks in Colorado went by fast!
First, getting settled in at our son's home was fairly quick. But I did not get a major goal accomplished while there - the permanent electrical service didn't get done. Maybe I'm just getting old (hmmmm?), but my re-arranging the basement bins in the rig did the trick on my back. Sore back=no digging. So that project will become a spring chore (in April). The temporary service worked out fine, and at least the wire has been purchased for future installation.
Next, we celebrated our 38th anniversary (see the previous post).
Next, Todd and Victoria got married!! Wooo-hooo. We have a new daughter-in-law! Welcome to the family, the newest Mrs. Thalimer!!
T & V did all of the wedding planning and arrangements themselves, and they did a fantastic job. Family from both sides converged on Colorado. My Dad flew in with Donna's sister and husband, and Jenna and Josh (and Bea and Livey) flew in from San Jose. We all stayed at a hotel in Parker. Dad even learned how to play Euchre with Victoria's family.
The day of the wedding, I ducked into the groom's changing area to see Todd before the ceremony. He exclaimed, "I can't find my tie!" After I rechecked his garment bag, we realized it was nowhere to be found. So, I stripped off my tie (it was black and formal), and he was ready to go. Luckily, Eric, one of his groomsman, lived close by, and he went home and brought me a substitute tie.
The ceremony was beautiful, and the dinner afterwards was fabulous. Donna and I were tasked with picking them up the next day and getting them to the airport on time for their honeymoon flight to DisneyWorld. After that, it was house (and animal) sitting for a week. What did we do with all of that spare time? What do we do every time we come to Colorado? Work on reducing our storage. I put about 20 items on Craigslist. A bunch of it sold. Storage is shrinking, but we really needed to sell at least one of the bedroom sets so we could reduce the size (and cost) of our storage. We came close this time, but there are a lot of people who promise but don't come through. We're confident that more will sell in April.
Due to the slope on Todd's property, we had the front end of the rig up real high, necessitating the use of an additional portable step by the entry door. The Tuesday before Thanksgiving, Donna was exiting the rig to go into the house, and the step broke - it collapsed, and she fell down hard onto the step on her back and side. Her head hit the ground and she heard a crack before seeing stars. Luckily, her injuries were limited to a very sore back, some bruises, and a slight concussion. She's doing much better now, and we are all thankful that she is recovering OK.
The Colorado weather "almost" stayed perfect until we left. Two days before Thanksgiving, the weather was in the 70's. Then Wednesday came and it snowed. Thursday and it was nice (as was the dinner prepared by T & V!). Friday, our day of departure, it was foggy, drizzly, and snowy. A storm from the south meant we changed our route to head east out I-70, rather than south down I-25. We didn't want to risk going over Raton Pass, at the Colorado-New Mexico border, in a snowstorm. We didn't beat the storm - it followed us down I-70. The only benefit to our new route was that there were no mountains or passes to contend with. All I can say is: it's been cold, very cold. And to boot, we ran out of tank water at T & V's - it was too cold out to refill. So our primary source of heating (AquaHot) couldn't be used. Doh!
While Thanksgiving is still fresh on our minds, let's give a cheer for all the stupid drivers out there! We had an encounter with one today. I'm cruising along in the slow lane, doing about 60, and this idiot who was stopped on the right shoulder decided it was time to rejoin traffic. I was about 200 feet from him when he pulled into the slow lane, doing about 10mph. Luckily, there wasn't anyone in the fast lane, so I did a quick swerve, missing him by a few inches I think. Donna and I both thought "oh no-accident", but the sound of two airhorns and the shadow of a 43' bus must have brought the guy to his senses. Somehow we missed each other and we will both be telling this story for some time to come.
Tonight we're in Thackerville OK, about 5 miles north of Texas, and right off of I-35. Tomorrow we're heading down to Athens, TX, where we have an appointment Monday for the auxiliary brake installation for our tow vehicle. After that, we'll be at our "home" in Livingston for a week or two before heading off to Florida.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Halloween #38

Happy 38th to us!

Celebrating at Maggiano's, downtown Denver.

Halloween is one of our favorite holidays - why? We got married in Las Vegas on Halloween in 1969. Why pick this day to marry? Well, in 1969, I joined the National Guard. I got my papers to go on active duty, and that weekend was the last one before I shipped out (to Ft. Bliss, TX). Donna and I, our parents, and her sister and husband drove to Vegas that Friday (Halloween). I rushed in to get our marriage license before the weekend rates went up, only to find that holiday rates were in effect. No, Nevada does not recognize Halloween as a holiday - coincidentally, October 31 is their admission day to the Union. So it cost me $10 instead of $5 for the license. Our plan was to get married on Saturday - but both of our parents insisted that we get married that night - they didn't want us spending the night in a hotel together unmarried! Remember, this was a long time ago!!
This year, since we are back in Colorado, we decided to go into Denver to eat at one of our favorite restaurants (Maggiano's). Instead of driving, we took the light rail in. What a treat - no parking hassles, no traffic to contend with. It dropped us off 2 blocks from the restaurant. We had a great meal and dessert. If you ever eat there, try the Nonni's pound cake with caramelized bananas and ice cream. After eating and window shopping, we headed back, where we waited at T & V's for the trick-or-treaters. Rural Elizabeth is quieter than Larkspur - the doorbell rang only once!

Monday, October 22, 2007

October in Colorado

Cold & snowy

Our new ride!

Oh no, icicles on the new coach!!!

The weather for our first week here was great - until last night. It's been in the 70's, picture perfect - but Colorado weather changes - and fast! Yesterday in Elizabeth it was 78...then about 8:00pm Saturday night, the front hit. The wind picked up to 25+ mph, with gusts in the 30's. Todd has his own weather station on his property, so he can forecast just like the TV stations attempt to. He said Elizabeth was expected to get 4"-8" of snow - and we did. Aren't we supposed to be where it's warm now? OK, tomorrow will be in the 50's, and then we're back up into the 70's for the rest of the week.

Thursday I called a local hitch dealer and got parts on order for our tow set up. Later this week we'll get hardware, tow brakes, and lights installed on the Jeep, so when we make our get-away sometime after Thanksgiving, Donna and Abbey will be able to actually be in the coach with me. Todd, Donna, and I took the hard top off of the Jeep, in order to get the soft top out (Jeep installed them both together for shipping purposes). We actually did OK getting the hard top off and back on.

Victoria & Donna at the shower

Donna took Victoria to her wedding shower this morning - in the middle of the snowstorm. The Jeep did fine, but it was a little scary for Donna, as she usually isn't a snow driver. By the time the shower was over, the storm was too, so their drive back was a lot easier.

I have several projects to keep me busy while we're here: 1) put in a permanent 50amp RV service (I have a temporary installed right now); 2) make shelves in at least 3 cabinets; 3) clean out the shed here and get my "stuff" organized; 4) sell more "stuff" out of our storage in Castle Rock; and , 5) clean out the basement of the rig, removing anything we're not using, and adding things we think we need. We've sold some furniture from storage, which is giving us more room in our storage unit - it's still full, but at least it's not piled all the way to the ceiling any more! We have a goal to get into a smaller unit as soon as possible.

Is it a coincidence? We get back to Colorado, the Rockies win the NL pennant, and the Broncos break their losing streak. When we first moved to Colorado in 1996, the Rockies won their division, and the Broncos won back-to-back Super Bowls a few years later...we'll see, it would be nice to see the Rocks win the World Series, and we'd love to watch the Broncos in the Super Bowl (from our winter place in Florida!).

Monday, October 15, 2007

Back to Colorado (Again!)

After all of my rantings about not having Donna drive behind the new rig, we ended up having her do just that. Costs to ship the truck back to Colorado, or to set it up as a tow vehicle, were just too high. Besides that, with our walkie-talkies, I was able to get instant feedback on my driving. Driving a big Class A motorhome isn't that hard once you get the hang of it - the hardest part is getting yourself centered in the lane. I found that my tendency was to drive the rig close to the right shoulder, rather than being centered. Donna was able to critique me, and I finally got it figured out.

Our travel plan was to drive about 200 miles a day. We ended up just east of Portland on our first day. The weather was drizzly, so we elected for a quick BBQ (steaks of course!) between showers, and an early sleep. The second day was gorgeous, as we drove through the picturesque Columbia Gorge.

There we are - stuck on I-84

Looking east at the parking lot

The second night we ended up in Pendleton, OR. Now, what could that city be named for? Hmmm, as a hint, we took the 3:00pm tour at a wool was a 20 minute tour, but very interesting. Pendleton is an interesting little town, and we'll take some time and explore the area next time through. So Day 3 we headed east on I-84, for a 200 mile jaunt to Caldwell, ID. We were on the road at 8:00am, and figured to be there by noon at the latest. WRONG. As we headed up a grade, the weather, which had be drizzly, turned very very foggy: 30mph foggy. Finally, after reaching the summit of some unnamed mountain, the fog began to lift, and we sped up again...only to stop after about a mile. And I mean stop. The whole interstate was closed eastbound - flashing signboards said "accident ahead". So we parked on the interstate for 2 hours. We finally got in to the Ambassador RV Park about 3:00pm. After a day like that, we opted to stay 2 nights. Besides, Donna had found a great quilt store that she just had to visit again!

Our next journey took us to a little town in SE Idaho called Declo, and a nice RV park, Village of the Trees. Again, we had stayed there on our trip out to Oregon. We met the owner, who was very nice, and remembered us from our last visit.

One of the interesting things about being on the road full time, is that you meet all kinds of interesting people. In addition, you tend to find "lost" friends from your past. If you've read earlier blogs, you might recall we met up with Leroy and Carol, friends from my days back at Southern California Edison. Turns out we had been "following" some other SCE friends, Roger and Ardelle, for several days during this period. We were even staying at the same RV parks...2-3 days apart. Weird! We almost caught up with them, but ended up staying about 2 days behind. When we began our journey last February, we almost crossed paths in Louisiana and Texas. Maybe this winter we'll catch them in Texas, where they winter.

From Declo, we headed east, and ended up in Evanston, WY. From there, we decided to do big travel day (280 miles), and get to our son's house back in Colorado.

Some interesting (at least to me) facts: 1) our Chevy pickup averaged over 28 mpg on the trip back, while the new motorhome averaged 7.5 mpg. The part that gets me is that the tank is so big, you don't have to fill that often - but when you do...yowser! I filled in Odgen, UT, and the next fill was in Cheyenne, WY. I could have gone all the way to Denver from Odgen.

Anyway, we are settled in at our son's now until Thanksgiving. I'm watching the drizzle turn over to snow...SNOW? This had better stop!

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Whattaweek! (or two)

Woodburn was OK...just OK. The park had changed a lot since the last time we were there in 2004. A lot of long term residents seemed to be there now, and there were snooty little cliques. No friendly people like we are used to. But, it WAS a very short walk to the Outlet Malls, and since there is no sales tax in OR, we contributed to the local economy.

At the sneak-peek
On Thursday the 20th, we departed south for Junction City, for the big swap over on Friday. There are 3 lots at Country Coach - 1 with 11 full-hookups, 1 with 8 partial hookups (water & electric), and the final lot with about 10 electric only hookups. Because we were doing a trade-in with a move out/in, we ended up in the last lot. The first 2 lots are reserved for service customers. After checking in, we asked if we could see our new home. Alas, it was still over in detailing. Around 5:00pm, they told us it was in, and we could sneak a peek if we wanted. We did, and can remember saying WOW a lot!

On Friday, we met briefly with our Country Coach Sales Rep, signed all the paperwork, then began our walk-through. As we are motorhome neophytes, it took all day. About 5:00pm, they drove it over and parked it next to our 5th wheel. Now the real fun would begin. We did some bedroom transferring, then called it day. Some of our full-time friends recently moved from a 5th wheel to a motor home - their experience: it took much longer than they anticipated. Comparing our experience, we can say the same. Although the motor home is 43', a full 7' longer than the 5th wheel, the storage space is less. We had planned on leaving Monday for our shakedown trip, but postponed until Wednesday so we could get more organized.

Bright and early early Wednesday, we pulled out and headed for Florence, OR, about 65 miles west. Donna drove our pickup and tailed me, watching my driving. This worked out quite well, as we talked on our walkie-talkies during the drive. She gave me great advice on my road positioning and handling, which helped with my confidence level.

Lake Woahink

We ended up at Woahink RV Resort, which backs to the Oregon Sand Dunes. If you get a chance to visit this area, it is spectactular. The sand dunes are huge, and go for 50 miles or so along the coast. We took a drive down to Coos Bay on Thursday, and really enjoyed the coast scenery. Friday, we hung out and Donna went to a local quilt store that had been recommended to her. And Friday, it started raining...ah, Oregon in the fall!

Dunes looking South

Dunes looking North

Dunes looking West


Saturday, we packed it up and headed back to Junction City with our list of fix-its. We've found that there are spaces open on Saturday, but it fills up quickly on Sunday. Tomorrow, we will hang out while the coach gets worked on. Hopefully, our list won't take too long, as we need to begin our trek back to Colorado.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Behind Again

Wow, I can't believe I haven't posted since August 29! A lot has it is mid-September, and we are now are back in Oregon.

We had planned on spending 15 days in Colorado, but stretched it out so that I could visit the doctor one more time. We had our annual physicals, and both Donna and I passed with flying colors. However, I felt "something" coming on, so we elected to stay an extra day and get me checked out (some antibiotics fixed me right up!)

It was great seeing old friends at our home park. Eventually we hooked up with our friends Tom and Roe - we will be staying at the same park in Florida this winter. I took some time and visited my old work - had lunch with the boss and a former co-worker, and visited with everyone. Donna managed to get a quilt day in with her old quilt group, and had a great time. We even got some big-ticket items sold on

Of course the "call of the new rig" motivated us to hit the road again. We took our time coming back up, spending a few days in Wyoming, and a few more days in Idaho. We made some new friends in Caldwell, ID, and enjoyed talking and sipping wine in the evening. The next morning, we headed for Bend OR, where we thought we'd stay at Tumalo State Park. We were inside of the timeframe for online booking, but the park looked wide open. When we got there, however, we found that the park was very popular, and we couldn't get in. OK, things don't quiet down immediately after Labor Day. Grumbling, we headed down the road to La Pine, where we had stayed in July. The park is in our Coast to Coast network, so staying here is cheap, BUT...cell phone coverage sucks, Internet connections suck, and there are a zillion little flies to contend with. It's doubtful we'll be back there.

On our previous stay in Oregon, we met, by chance, Dave and Jeannie McKay, who developed the RV game Rally Ho! This game has just taken off, after several years in development. We met them at a restaurant McKay's Cottage, in Bend. The name is pure coincidence, as they are not affiliated with the restaurant. Anyway, we told them that if we got back in the area, we'd meet up at McKay's again for lunch. We did meet, and had a great long lunch. They invited us to stay at their home if we brought the new rig up to Bend. They are going through what we did last year - house for sale, hoping to full-time. We wish them success, both on their business venture, and getting the house sold!

We moved up to Woodburn, OR, for a week, to relax (?) and get the rig ready to turn in. We'll also do some sightseeing in the Portland area. Our current dilemma is getting our truck situation worked out. We are purchasing a new Jeep to tow behind the motor home. So, to get the truck home, we've either got to drive it (we are not going for this option - we want the new motor home to be a shared experience), tow it, or have it shipped back to Colorado. To tow it, I either have to find a rental unit that will tow a 3/4 ton truck, or buy the tow bar and hardware, then change (i.e., buy more hardware) the setup for the Jeep once we get back to Colorado. So once I talk to U-Haul, we'll crunch the numbers to see which option to go with.

Weather here has been cool, with intermittent rain. Yuck! We're hoping the weather will be perfect when we go down to Junction City on Thursday. We are very excited about seeing and taking ownership of the new motor home. We are not excited about moving - that will take a few days. Although we have much less to move that we did when the house sold, it's still a chore.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Da New Rig

Since July, when we ordered the new coach, we have been anticipating getting back to Oregon to pick up the new rig. We've been too caught up in figuring out the logistics of moving from a 5th wheel to a motor home to worry too much about how construction has been moving along, but it was always on our mind. Fortunately, we asked Country Coach to take pictures as our rig was being built, and they have done a great job - they actually set up a web portal for our private viewing.

For the past week, the coach has been in photos were available during this time. Today we got a glimpse of what we'll soon be riding in.

Close to the beginning...

A 425HP Cummins Diesel - not quite ready.
Walls at last!
Out of the paint shop
Can I really drive this?