Thursday, November 27, 2008

A Terrible Time

Donna and I hope this holiday finds you well and happy (and full)! We realize how fortunate we are to be living this lifestyle, while so many are struggling.
This year, Thanksgiving finds us in Pahrump, Nevada. Why here? We've been on the road for almost 2 years now, and I can't tell you how many people have told us to come here, and stay at Terrible's RV Resort. Pahrump is about 50 miles west of Las Vegas, at about 2700' elevation. We have to admit, this park is beautiful, and we have a lakeside site. The park is full right now, but we think it will thin out considerably on Sunday, when all the families head for home.
It's hard to believe that, a year ago, we were in Colorado at Todd and Victoria's. The day after Thanksgiving, we headed for Florida. We miss being with family today, but, in a few weeks, we'll all be together for a big celebration.

A Terrible Place

Looking across the lake at the Casino

Our view

Looking at the lake behind our site
We left Earp, CA, a day early, as heavy rain was predicted for Wednesday, our original travel day. We did encounter some rain on our journey, which ruined the wash job I had given the coach and the Jeep. We were at a park that did not allow washing, so it was a job done slowly with only a bucket, no hose. Now I have something to do here! And, I get to do it the same way, as this park does not allow washing. Before we left, we visited with some friends, Bob and Elyse, who live across the river in Parker, AZ. They are our neighbors up in Stoneridge, where we spend the summer. They have a fabulous place right on the Colorado River! It was great catching up with them.

When we were in Desert Hot Springs, I left out two activities that we did, and really enjoyed. Every Thursday night in Palm Springs there is a street fair, with vendors selling everything from food to jewelry to you-name-it. They close off about 10 blocks of the main drag (no pun intended). We had a great time, and, even better, managed to buy nothing! Also, on Saturdays, there is a giant flea market at the local community college. This was also a great time, but it was a bit toasty due to the hot weather.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Headin' South

After whining about leaving wine country, we smiled as we arrived back in San Jose. Another visit with the grand-daughters and their parents! On previous visits, we have stayed south of San Jose in Morgan Hill. This time, we elected to be close in, and stayed in-town, less than 10 minutes away. We really enjoyed the visit, and even though it was only 3 days, it was over a weekend.

Bea and Emma

Olivia thinking about what a pain it is to pose for Grandpa
Time to get south! From San Jose, we made a power run to Banning, CA. We had reservations at a Coast to Coast park. From now on, we'll read the directions a little closer: we had missed the part about "steep, mountainous roads". This park was not actually in Banning (flat desert), but was off of Highway 243, about 10 miles south of Banning, on the road to Idlywild at 3800' altitude. The road was so steep, with hundred foot drop offs next to the road, that Donna had to keep her eyes closed much of the way. Once we got up there, it was a nice park, but not without problems. After finding a nice spot and settling in for the evening, we heard a clunk. It was the transfer switch taking us off of shore power and putting us in the inverting mode. Then, a minute later, switching us back, and then get the picture. The next day, another camper said that the park had high voltage, so evidently our surge protector was doing its job. We had planned on staying here for a week, but left after one night. Needless to say, Donna went into the back for the ride down to the desert floor.

We ended up in Desert Hot Springs, and much warmer temperatures. The resort we stayed at had the main pool and spa fed by a natural hot springs. It was real nice swimming, and then soaking, in non-chlorinated water. It was a nice week to relax. Unfortunately, Donna felt a bug coming on. We had made plans to see some of our friends from Stoneridge (Bruce, Adair, and their dog Yogi). Donna didn't want to pass the bug to them, so Emma and I went over for a visit. She gave me a biscuit to give to Yogi (she had taken care of him several times last summer, and always had a treat for him). It was great seeing them, and we hope to get back there again before seeing them next summer.

Emma meets Yogi

Another week had passed quickly. Off to the local Flying J, where we met up with Donna's sister and her husband. We were heading out to Earp, CA, which is across the Colorado River from Parker, AZ. Our original plan had been to spend 2 weeks at this resort, so that we would have Thanksgiving together. Unfortunately, this resort has a closed door policy if you aren't a member of this park - it's closed to members only on holidays.
No problem, we're flexible - we'll be heading for Parumph, NV, Wednesday morning, and will have Thanksgiving there.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Wine Country

Napa Valley

As we move southward, we thought it would be fun to re-visit California wine country. Back when we lived in California, we spent time up in the Napa area whenever we could...whatever excuse! Then we moved to Colorado...1300 miles is a bit far for a weekend in Napa. Back in the 1970's we came across a small winery that had just recently re-opened - V. Sattui. It became a favorite place, as they have a cheese/deli as part of their facility, and their wine is so good! Our kids often accompanied us there, and now as adults they go there whenever they can.

So here we are, back in wine country, in a small RV park in the heart of Napa. Today, we decided to try a new place. We headed to the north side of the valley, and took in Sterling Vineyards. Sterling has a bit different tour - you ride a gondola up to the facility, then take a self-guided tour, with several tasting stops. We liked the wines, but they let you taste the expensive stuff. Stuff we don't normally drink.

Back to Sattui, where things have also changed. No more "free" wine tasting, it now costs. Wine prices have also escalated. Ah, well, times have changed. We did purchase a couple of bottles to enjoy.

Castille di Amorosa Winery

A real Iron Maiden in the torture room

We also toured the winery Castello di Amorosa, which is showcased by an authentic Tuscan castle that took 15 years to build. Darryl (or Dario as he is now known) Sattui spent 15 years and $38 million to build this castle. It is truly remarkable. If you get the chance, take a tour of this place!

BR Cohn Winery

Odd sculptures outside the winery
The following day, we headed over to Sonoma. Many years ago, we had toured a cheese factory called Sonoma Cheese. It was still there, but they no longer make cheese on site. Progress, I guess. On to the next winery! We went out to the BR Cohn winery. I had read in a brochure that they also had olive trees, and made and sold olive oil and vinegars. The owner, Bruce Cohn, was and is the manager of the rock group The Doobie Brothers. Every summer, the Doobies perform at the vineyard for a charity event. We missed it by a couple of weeks. Since we were "wined" out, we sampled only the olive oils, vinegars, and dipping sauces. Yum!! A couple more bottles were purchased. With cupboard space at a premium, we'll just have to consume!!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

39 And Counting

Rod & Donna - 39th Anniversay

Another Halloween - another anniversary! A bit of history: to those of you who didn't already know - Donna and I were married on Halloween in Las Vegas in 1969. I was headed off to active duty in Texas (basic training and advanced training) in the California National Guard, and we had one weekend before I shipped out. Her parents, my parents, Donna's sister and husband, and her brother made the quick trip from the L.A. area to Vegas on a Friday morning.

We got there Friday afternoon (on Halloween) and I headed to the county office to get our wedding license. After 5:00pm on Fridays weekend rates took over, and that was the difference between $8 and $15 for the license. Hey, remember it was 1969, when a dollar was worth 50 cents! I plucked up the $8, only to have the clerk tell me "holiday" rates applied. After mumbling something about Nevada recognizing Halloween as a real holiday, I was informed that it was Nevada's Admission Day. Ooops.

License in hand, we went scouting for a problem there! We settled on The Courthouse Chapel, which I tried to get for Saturday, November 1. It was time for both of our parents to intervene (remember we were young, and it was 1969): "You guys aren't staying together in the same hotel room if you're not married!" That settled that, we got married on Friday night, Halloween!

So now you know the story!

Back to the present...since it was Friday, and our coach was in service, we asked the Customer Care people to suggest a place for us to have breakfast - a bagel place came highly recommended, so we headed downtown for a bite to eat. We did a little shopping, then went back to Country Coach. While waiting for our coach to come back, we got another recommendation for dinner - The Oregon Express restaurant. Dinner in an old railroad diner car sounded great!

Donna opted for scampi, and I had prime rib. We followed it up with a raspberry and vanilla chocolate cake dessert. Excellent choices! Thanks for the recommendation, Country Coach!!


We had a couple of items to be done (again) at Country Coach. Besides the leaky AquaHot, our backup video display was still not working properly, and the replacement odometer still did not fix the problem with the engine monitor lights not working.

We pulled into our pre-assigned spot, noticing that there were only a few coaches in for service. Monday morning, we checked in, and the coach was off to service again. We were told that another round of layoffs had occurred - this time service lost 3 mechanical techs and one phone tech. The recession and it's affects on the RV industry are definitely being felt at CC. At least this is is privately held company - we've heard that Fleetwood and Monaco stock prices are really hurting.

Monday afternoon the techs brought our coach back, and reported that the leaky water in the AquaHot was a bad pressure relieve valve, which had failed due to a malfunction in the water pump. The pump was putting out 70 psi, not the 40 psi it is supposed to. The backup monitor still was not functioning to their satisfaction, so a new one was installed. And the infamous odometer was also not working correctly.

In our coach, the odometer (made by Medallion) is the brains of the coach. Everything that comes out of the coach's computer/engine control module runs through the odometer. We first had a problem a year ago in Florida. All of the engine gauges were working only intermittently. We sent the odo back to CC, it was "fixed", and returned to us. Then the gauges worked, but the dash information lights didn't. We sent the gauge back to CC when we got parked in Grants Pass. It was again "fixed" and sent back to us. The fix didn't work - still no dash information lights. So Country Coach stuck a new odo in. Problem solved? We thought so, as the information lights were working.

Thursday morning we headed north to Clackamus, to go to Westland Sales - our Splendide washer was taking 3 hours to run a cycle that should take 40 minutes. On the drive up, I noticed that I seemed to be going really fast - the odo showed the coach going 82 mph. But I was not passing anyone up - so were we all going that fast? I flipped the odo readout to digital, and saw that I was going 62 mph - but the needle was showing over 80 mph! I called CC service and let them know we would be back to see them.

The trip to Clackamus was quick - "someone" had worked on the coach's plumbing, and had left the hot water inlet to the washer closed. And that someone wasn't Donna or I. Anyway, we headed back to Camp Country Coach with a now-working washer. When we pulled in to CC and parked, we noticed the odo was showing 40 mph even though we were parked!

Friday morning the coach was back in service, and got another new odometer. Finally, all of the lights work, the digital and dial speeds match up, and the gauges all work!

The Oregon Trail

Seems we know our way around Oregon now. The road back to Grants Pass from Elizabeth, CO was quick - one night in Wendover, UT/NV, and then back to our home, which was parked at Leroy and Carol's home. Due to a leaky water problem, we opted to head for Junction City, OR first thing Saturday morning. This was no problem except for one minor detail - before we left Colorado, we had requested our mail to be delivered to General Delivery, Grants Pass. It should have arrived Friday, but it didn't. And just about every post office in Oregon is closed on Saturday! We don't get our mail all that often, since we get almost everything electronically via the Internet. Unfortunately, our absentee ballots for TX were in the packet.

We couldn't chance it - I'd have to drive back down to Grants Pass on Monday after ensuring that the packet did indeed arrive (it did, and I did!).

We are getting very familiar with the road between Grants Pass and Junction City, almost to the point where I don't need our Garmin to get around. All's well, we found our way back to Camp Country Coach.