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!