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SEIKI TV'S

Hi,  My wife & I are new to RVing. We recently found out that the 3,  32" SEIKI TV's in our Thor coach will not receive/download digital cable channels. I have covered every possible solution and come up empty. I was told that this type of TV doesn't have what is called a QAM Tuner; therefore is unable to download digital channels. I didn't realize that anyone in this day & age made a TV that wasn't cable ready? Has anyone else experienced this problem and if so does anyone have a solution, short of buying new TV's. My coach is a 2016 and I would think that the MFG (THOR) would have put better quality TV's in their coaches... I'm frustrated and upset. Cal Jennings

jentech48

jentech48

 

Frank Vargish

We are planning a trip in the spring to the Florida panhandle.  Any thoughts on where to go, sites to see, etc.  We have a 43 foot rig.

vargish

vargish

 

Jerome & Judy

I am interested in. seeing some spring Braves baseball I was thinking of camping at Fort Wilderness in Orlando. Has any one tried this ? Let us know. Thanks Merry Christmas12

jeromepoole

jeromepoole

 

Snowbirding in Florida

Over the past 16 years, I've done a considerable amount of travel in Florida.  I did some of this travel as a vacationing tourist, then as a cyclist, and more recently as a Florida snowbird. Living on the east coast, Florida has been an easy and warm place to get to.  It's also a diverse and fun place to visit. I can't say I've been everywhere (like Johnny Cash) nor am I an expert on Florida.  But I've been to enough places that I felt I could share some of my Florida snowbird wisdom.  This post is not meant to be complete or exhaustive.  It's just my take on some areas and things to consider when snowbirding in Florida.  Let me start by telling you why I started going to Florida. Discovering Florida Growing up in Maine, I endured my share of harsh winters. As a kid and young adult, it was actually a fun time because I was an avid skier. But as I got older and couldn't handle the black diamond trails any more, winters became something that I had to tolerate and wait out. When I became a long distance cyclist, spring became a favorite time to head south for a week-long biking vacation. Even though I was still working, each March I would head to Florida for a week-long bike ride with the Bike Florida group.  I did those rides for 8 years and got to explore many areas of north and central Florida from the seat of my bike.  It was these rides that gave me the notion for escaping the New England winter and spending that time in Florida When I retired 8 years ago, the winter escape notion became a reality.  It was so easy to hop in my car, drive south for three days, and be back in summer like weather. At first, we started out going down to Florida for a month and renting a condo.  We began our stays near the northern east coast areas, which I was familiar with.  Then we tried extending our stays to two months.  We rented houses in The Villages and in New Smyrna Beach, condo's in St. Augustine Beach, and quickly got hooked on the snowbird lifestyle. When I started RVing, I did the math and found out that renting a site at a Florida RV park for 2 months was much less expensive that renting a condo.  It was a no brainer to turn a two months stay into three months.  This year we'll be staying for four months. We've spent our snowbird time at many places in Florida.  You can see the places we've stayed on the map below.  Some of these places have been for months at a time and others have been for a week or more. Areas of Florida Some may think that once you cross the border into Florida winter weather disappears and summer time magically appears everywhere.  Based on my experience, that's not the case. Some areas can be down right chilly during the winter.  Here's how I separate Florida into climates zones. North Central - from the GA border down to Daytona, over to Ocala, and up to Lake City. Jacksonville, the east coastal areas, and Gainesville are the populated areas.  Everywhere else is pretty rural.  This area is more of as summer time destination and less of a snowbird destination.  Winters can be chilly with daytime temps getting up into the 60's.  Some days may hit the low 70's, but those are infrequent.  Other than Daytona, the coastal areas are not as developed with high rises as they are in the southern area. There are some nice coastal State Parks in this area.  Fort Clinch, Little Talbot Island, and Gamble Rogers all have camping near the water.  Anastasia State Park in St. Augustine is one of my favorites places to stay. The Panhandle - those areas west of Lake City to the Alabama border.  Other than Tallahassee and the coastal areas, it's very rural.  It's one of the most diverse and prettiest areas in Florida.  Also, it's my favorite area to visit.  The Emerald Coast with its white sand beaches and emerald colored water are beautiful.  The area from Panama City to Fort Walton Beach is densely populated and a very busy area.  Winter temps can be cold (in the 40's and 50's) and the weather can be wacky (e.g. snow, hurricanes). Like the North Central area it's more of a spring summer destination and winter is the off-season.  My favorite area in the panhandle is the Forgotten Coast near Apalachicola. There are several nice beach side coastal State Parks in the panhandle.  St. Joseph Peninsula State Park is my favorite. Central - those areas south of Daytona to Melbourne then over to Tampa and up to Ocala.  The big cities of Orlando, Tampa, and St. Pete dominate this area.  The large 55+ community of The Villages just south of Ocala is in this area.  There are lots of RV parks along the I-4 and I-75 corridor.  I did theme park trips when my kids were young so those aren't a draw for me but they are for many.  We have spent snowbird time in the Tampa area and found the winter temperatures to be moderate with lots of days in the low 70s. Southern - everything south of Melbourne to Tampa.  The winter weather in this area is more warm with daytime temps in the 70's and 80s.  Overnight freezes are rare.  The coastal area from West Palm down to Miami is very developed.  It can also be pricey. The gulf coast side is less developed and more laid back.  I don't know the reason but this area seems to attract folks from the Canada, Central and Mid-West states.  I like the gulf coast side the best.  To me, folks on the gulf coast side seem more friendly.  The winter weather is warm, it's doesn't have the high-rise sprawl like the Atlantic side, and the casual atmosphere is easy to take.   Securing a Place to Stay If you want to spend some snowbird time in FL, I recommend that you reserve a place ahead of time.  Heading to FL during the key winter months of January thru March without any reservations is a recipe for major disappointment.  Most of the nicer RV parks and campgrounds in popular areas are booked months in advance Florida's State Parks are popular places during the winter because of the price and their locations. But stays are limited to 14 days.  Sites can be reserved a year in advance and in some places like the Keys, they are booked within minutes of becoming available.  The demand for campsites seems to follow the weather.  State Parks in the southern area get booked up more quickly compared to the Northern areas. For my winter stays at Florida State Parks, I've booked six months in advance and have always found a site. If you wait until October and November, the selection and duration will be limited.  Many state parks hold a certain number of sites for walk ins.  The popular municipal Fort Desoto Park near St. Petersburg gets booked up quickly.  Non-residents can reserve sites 6 months in advance and the good sites get taken quickly. Private RV parks are popular places for snowbirds.  Many offer amenities like swimming pools, pickleball, tennis courts, and cable TV.  The social amenities like theme dinners, card nights, golf outings, and dances are also draws for the snowbirds.  Parking shoulder to shoulder for a few months in an RV park may not be for everyone.  But I have found that the social interactions and making new friends is an unexpected benefit of the RV park lifestyle. Many RV parks offer seasonal discounted rates for month-long stays.  The park where I stay in Fort Myers Beach offers seasonal rates for 3 month stays.  Many snowbirds find a park they like and then keep returning year after year.  Some parks cater to their returning customers and will let you keep the same site as long as you reserve it a year in advance. This is what we have started doing.  Before we leave Fort Myers Beach in April, we'll book our reservations for the following year. Renting a house or a condo, works almost the same as getting a campground or RV site. You need to book in advance.  Many local realty companies offer rentals or you can try sites like vrbo.com and airbnb.com. If you rent a house or condo, you may not get the social interactions that you can get at an RV park.  I found this to be true when we rented at St. Augustine Beach and at New Smyrna Beach.  The Villages is an exception to that statement.  We spent one winter renting a house in The Villages and it was one of the most fun times we've had.  I played golf all winter on the free golf courses, rented a golf cart to get around, took several dance lessons, and went to music events just about every night.  It was a blast and I really got hooked on that lifestyle.  When my RVing days come to an end, I may settle down in The Villages. One strategy for finding a place is to select some different areas and do short stays to see how you like it.  Trying different areas for a week at a time is a great way to explore Florida and find out which areas appeal to you. Cost The cost to stay as a Florida snowbird is all over the place.  As I mentioned above, the coastal areas are more expensive than being inland. The Florida State Parks are the best deal at around $28 per night for most parks (some are less and some are higher).  But you are limited to a 14 day stay.  You can move around to different sites within a park, but in many parks you must leave the park for 3 days before you can return.  The max number of days you can stay at a specific State Park is 56 days within 6 month window.  Moving to different parks is also an option. Private RV park rates vary widely.  A beach front site at the Red Coconut RV Park in Fort Myers Beach will run you over $100 per night (no seasonal rate is offered).  The monthly winter rate at Bryn Mawr RV Resort at St. Augustine Beach is around $1,200 per month ($40/night).  A seasonal 3 month rate at Blueberry Hill RV Resort in Bushnell will cost around $600 per month ($20/day). For a 4 month stay at Fort Myers Beach (just a mile from the beach), I pay a monthly winter rate that averages out to be around $37 per night.  The normal daily rate is $62 per day. Boondocking opportunities in Florida are limited.  There is dispersed camping in the Ocala National Forest and in the Apalachicola National Forest but stays are limited to 14 days in a given month.  I've been through both of these forests and they are very remote. Not all Wal-Mart in Florida allow overnight parking due to city and county ordinances. There are some truck stops along the key Interstates that allow overnight parking but these aren't intended for snowbird stays.  Boondocking may work in some places if you're doing a short stay or just passing thru but it's not a strategy I would recommend for an extended stay. Condo and house renting prices also vary by location.  We rented an ocean view condo in St. Augustine Beach for around $2,900 per month.  A small house in The Villages will cost around $3,300 per month and higher during the winter months. Snowbirding in Florida can be pricey,  If you are focused on reducing expenses, then look for places away from popular areas and try for places in the Northern and Panhandle areas. The Snowbird Lifestyle For me, I put lifestyle over cost.  It all about how I want to spend my days.  I prefer to spend my winter months in a warm climate near the ocean.  I like to spend my days being outside walking, biking, kite flying, or just sitting on the beach.  I also like not having to drive to get to places.  In the afternoon or evening, it's an easy walk to several places where I can enjoy some live music. Also, I have grown to enjoy the RV park lifestyle where I get to socialize and spend time with my fellow snowbirds.  We attend the weekly Saturday morning breakfasts at the RV park and play in the weekly corn hole tournament.  Sunday afternoons are usually spent dancing at Doc Fords Rum Bar. It's a great way to spend the winter. You can see more or my journeys at my website:  jdawgjourneys.com   Disclaimer:  References to specific campgrounds, RV parks, or websites is for example only.  These aren't listed as recommendations and I have no affiliation with any of the businesses or websites that are listed in this post.  All rates and prices listed are approximate based current published rates at the time of this posting.  

italo

italo

 

A Half Year in Pictures

I thought I would  tell a happy story. It is a picture story, about what we have done,  and where we have been, the first half of this past year. I have heard that pictures are worth a lot more than words.Take a look, if you please: Half Year in Pictures

-Gramps-

-Gramps-

 

jerome poole

We have just purchased a used RV and are looking for the best insurance coverage.  We would like replacement cost.  Any suggestions or experiences would be greatly appreciated. We also like any suggestions on what we should include in the purchased coverage as some policies let you pick and choose. What would be the best companies to deal with in customer service and coverage.

jeromepoole

jeromepoole

 

Mail forwarding while out of town for 2 months.

We plan on an extended trip January through mid March. Has anyone dealt with DakotaPost or other services. Thinking about having a family member check and forward our mail but a little concerned if it becomes a problem for them. Your thoughts would be appreciated. eagle43

eagle43

eagle43

 

Consumer Alert

Merchant Alert!!   Recently we experienced a failure to our cooling unit on a Norcold refrigerator.  I opted to purchase a new cooling unit with a lifetime warranty.  The Cooling Unit was purchased from Arcticold Refrigeration--Renaud Mills. New Brunswick E4V2X3 at a price of 700.00 delivered.  It was supposed to be in stock and ship right away.  MISTAKE.  We have been taken for our money.  Searching this companies background we find they have been shut down and seized in the past.  Canadian law allowed one of the owners to reopen and they are right back at it again.  We are not negative people and we only want our money returned.  To date we have involved FMCA, Good Sam Trouble Shooter, Better Business Bureau of Canada, and the Consumer Protection Agency of Canada.  Its been over 2 months and Arcticold will not answer emails, phone calls, or respond in any way.  Since Canadian law is so lax we just wanted to warn other FMCA members and any others that may read this to not make the same mistake we did.  It can cost you!!!!

jonesdnl

jonesdnl

 

Motor Homing and Family Visits

When last you heard from us we were winding up a huge tour of the National Parks in the Four Corners area.  We arrived in Las Vegas for an extended stay.  Actually, it was planned as a departure point.  We stayed at a park in Henderson, a southeastern suburb of Las Vegas.  The rates were good and the security was by all accounts very good so we felt comfortable leaving our coach there while flying to St. Louis to be with family for the big 50 birthday party.  Las Vegas RV Resort turned out to be an excellent choice.  In early September, the park is mostly empty but the staff is on duty taking care of the park.  During the winter this must be quite a busy park but for now, it provided easy access to the Las Vegas area and the good security we wanted.  There is a gate house with someone on duty 24/7.  We spent several days out on the town.  I had a Euro recliner that was part of the original coach equipment.  It was showing its age and I had been considering replacing it.  I figured a larger city like Las Vegas would provide a good selection of furniture stores.  A little internet browsing and we picked several stores to visit.  The first had recliners, the big puffy kind, not exactly what I needed.  The second store had one that looked good and it was on sale but, they didn't have it in stock.  It would be several weeks, we weren't staying that long.  On the way to the car, we walked past a tent sale for the same store.  We decided to take a look and found a nice chair and ottoman combo that fit our needs.  These were clearance items so I figured what we were looking at was the item on sale.  It looked to be in good condition so we caught a salesperson between corralling children playing on the furniture and put in our request.  Over to the register, provide all the information and we get directions for picking up our, new in the carton, chair.  It was half the price of the one we had looked at in the main store and was quite similar.  I'm in it now!  I put the old chair out on the street in the RV park with a  note attached, "Free to a good home."  The next morning it was gone!  We did the obligatory run through some of the big casinos on The Strip.  It really isn't as exciting as it was when I was young.  They even charge for parking these days.  We drove out to Hoover Dam one day.  We've done the dam tour before and I'd recommend it to everyone who is interested in taking a look at this amazing piece of engineering and construction.  This time we took the walk across the Mike O'Callaghan - Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge.  This is the amazing engineering project that allows US Hwy 93 to bypass the dam.  The views of the dam and the canyon from the walkway are spectacular and unlike a helicopter ride, you can linger and take all the pictures you want.  There is a great array of informational panels and displays about the project.  We flew Southwest Airlines from Las Vegas to St. Louis on Thursday, September 8.  Friday we attended a practice marching band performance at our oldest grandson's school.  He has found his calling in marching band and we enjoy the seeing the performances.  Saturday we pitched in and helped get everything cleaned up and ready for the big birthday party.  We had several people in the family turning 50, my youngest sister and our oldest son-in-law were both celebrating.  I myself had just turned 70 but nothing was said about me being one of the celebrants.  About an hour before the party my brother and his wife who are living in Kentucky arrived.  There was a decorated table with my name on it and a sign that said, "70 Rocks!"  My grandchildren had picked out some special rocks to anchor the sign, rocks that we had brought them from our travels.  Our oldest daughter and her husband hosted the event using their garage, driveway and patio to entertain the crowd.  We had great weather, a musician had been hired for the night, there were plenty of snacks, beverages, and several campfires with chairs set up around.  We had a very enjoyable evening visiting with family and friends.  Sunday we slept in then went to an RV Show with the other two birthday celebrants who are both into RV's now.  My oldest daughter and her husband have a nice travel trailer that they have been using for some nice family trips.  My younger sister and her husband have a Class B that he used for commuting to work across the state for years.  The RV Show had a good display of trailers and motor homes all on a shopping center parking lot.  In previous years the venue was indoors but for various reasons they moved outdoors, more appropriate I thought.  It is fun to look at the state of the industry even if we weren't shopping.  Monday morning we were on our way back to Las Vegas.  Tuesday we had an appointment at Freightliner in North Las Vegas, to look at a few chassis problems.  They were short handed and didn't think they could do more than look at any problems.  So we left there disappointed.  We had a Wednesday appointment at Cummins in  North Las Vegas and went there to see if we could get in early for engine maintenance.  They were booked so we ended up at Walmart for the night and got in early the next day.  Wednesday we departed North Las Vegas about 1:00 p.m., temperatures still near 100, and headed into cooler weather in northern Nevada.  US Hwy 95 along the western border of Nevada is a common route when we leave Northern California on our way south to Texas.  This was the first time we'd traveled that route headed north.  It does make the scenery a little different.  We covered a little over 300 miles that afternoon and settled in for the night in a "dispersed camping" area alongside Walker Lake.  Temperatures were in the 60's overnight and by morning, the coach was nice and cool.  A little more than 200 miles through the Sierra Nevada on California Hwy 88 to Jackson and on to Valley Springs to our youngest daughter's home. We've been here two weeks now, temperatures in the low to mid 90's are a little warmer than desired but a cool front has come through and they have dropped into the 70's into the afternoon and 50's at night.  That's more comfortable.  It never (hardly ever) rains when we are here in the fall and this fall is no exception.  We stock our wine rack while here in California.  We have a favorite winery nearby and we will take several cases of their wine with us as we return to Texas.  There is also a liquor chain here, BEVMO (Beverages and More).  They have periodic 5 cent wine sales.  Buy one bottle at regular price and the second bottle is 5 cents.  We enjoy a variety of wines and this gives us a chance to spend a little more than normal on a bottle of wine and still keep it on budget.  So we'll look a little like bootleggers as we head for Texas.  It's all legal!  The motor home makes a great truck. Our two youngest granddaughters live in Valley Springs and their schools year-round schedule has them on vacation for the next two weeks.  That is our mission, to keep the girls busy while they are on vacation.  Their mother will be on vacation next week and we'll all head north to their "OHO," their Oregon House.  Several years ago they purchased a house on the banks of the Umqua River in western Oregon.  The whole family loves to fish and the river is in their back yard.  The house is on a good sized hilll, well above river level so anything resembling normal flooding will be no problem for them.  We'll spend a week there then depart for Texas as the family returns to California and back to work and school. 

TBUTLER

TBUTLER

 

No Power

The house was empty. Well, not quite. The rooms were full of memories and anger, my anger. I was mad at all the people who were jerking us around, and at God who was allowing them to do so.  No Power (Buyers From Perdition Part 2)  

-Gramps-

-Gramps-

 

Running Hot and Cold

Our travels have taken a turn for the hot lately.  We've been spending most of our time in southwestern Colorado, northeastern New Mexico and northern Arizona.  The temperatures we've faced have been moderate to cool.  Several weeks ago we decided to visit Louise sister in the Mohave Valley in western Arizona.  The elevation is 483 feet alongside the Colorado River.  Needless to say the temperature was quite a bit warmer than in the mountains and high elevations we were used to.  Temperatures were in the high 90's during the day.  We had a nice site at Moon River Resort with a little shade but not too much.  We enjoyed three days of visiting.  On Saturday we spent the day at Oatman visiting the donkeys that roam the town and doing some shopping before having a fine dinner at the Oatman Hotel.  Our next stop was Lake Havasu City.  This is where Louise's parents settled when they retired.  The state park was almost empty and we had a nice site with a view of the lake.  We visited the cemetery where her parents are buried and spent some time around town.  In Lake Havasu City, elevation 459 feet, the temperatures at sunrise were 90 degrees and it warmed into the mid 100's.  We took the Copper Canyon Sunset Cruise the night before leaving town.  The best part was the breeze when the boat was cruising.  We left town headed for Williams, Arizona.  We had stayed at the Canyon Hotel and RV Park in Williams, elevation 6924 feet, just a week before.  Returning, we were delighted to find more moderate temperatures again.  We were back to comfortable daytime temperatures in the upper 70's and low 80's.  We spent one day in Flagstaff at the Lowell Observatory.  The Lowell Observatory was built by Percival Lowell, an astronomer famous for his drawings of the canals on Mars.  This is also the observatory where Clyde Tombaugh discovered Pluto.  They have a spectacular program of lectures and tours of the telescopes that are well worth a visit.  The next morning we were on our way to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.  As busy as the South Rim is, the North Rim is uncrowded and very available.  We stayed at the Jacobs Lake Forest Service Campground, elevation 7900 feet which has no hookups but has some nice sites the will accommodate large RV's.  We ran the generator morning and evening to charge the batteries and only needed to run the furnace at night.  Air conditioning was never needed.  We were parked among trees and the daytime temperature was in the high 70's while the nights dipped into the high 40's.  We drove to the North Rim one morning and came back after dark.  There are many overlooks into the Grand Canyon and you can drive to each one.  There were plenty of parking places at each viewpoint.  There were never crowds at any place until we reached the visitors center and the lodge.  After a day of exploring along the northeastern reaches of the canyon we spent the evening at the Lodge and the viewpoints in that area.  It was a little early for dinner but Louise wanted to get dinner at the lodge so we asked and were given a table by one of the big windows overlooking the canyon.  Wow, was that a fantastic setting for dinner.  Louise had roast duck, I opted for the blackened chicken fettuccine Alfredo.  Both dishes were gourmet quality and the service was excellent.  Following our meal we made our way to the overlook below the lodge.  We enjoyed the view and visited with several of the people who were there.  Everyone was quite talkative, maybe the bar above had something to do with it.  From there we made our way to the Bright Angel Viewpoint to watch the sun set.  We drove back to the park and arrived by 8:00 p.m.  On the way back we saw a few cattle near the road (open range) and several deer but none challenged us for a spot on the road.   The next day we moved on to Hurricane, UT.  We stayed at Sand Hollow State Park, elevation 3040 feet.  We're back to warm again.  With highs in the upper 80's and nary a tree in sight, the air conditioners are running all day.  We are headed for Zion National Park tomorrow morning for a little hiking and exploring, then we'll leave for Las Vegas, elevation 1672 feet, on Friday.  Once more into the desert heat.  Maybe they will have a cool spell while we are there though the forecast calls for highs near 100. 

TBUTLER

TBUTLER

 

Replacement third brake light lens

I am looking for a replacement lens for the center brake light on our 03 journey.  The existing lens has faded a great deal. Winnebago has the entire assembly, but I was hoping to find a replacement lens.  Any ideas?

F233381

F233381

 

Celebrating National Parks

Happy birthday to our National Park Service.  One hundred years ago this week, Congress created the National Park Service.  There were national parks before the park service was created.  The park service became the agency that managed the national parks.  In the last few weeks we have visited four parks.  At each park we found amazing views, exciting experiences and crowds of people enjoying their heritage. Our first stop on the way west from Denver was the San Luis Valley of Colorado and Great Sand Dunes National Park.  The dune field at GSD is located on the east side of the San Luis Valley.  Winds picking up sand particles from the dry lake bed of the San Luis Valley drop them when they encounter the Sangre de Cristo Mountains.  We've seen and walked dune fields before but these are unique for several reasons.  The highest dune in the field is over 600 feet high.  You can rent sand boards to surf the dunes and many people climb all the way to the top to do just that.  Younger sand surfers were busy learning on the lowest dunes.  But before you reach the dune field, you have to cross Medano Creek.  In the spring, Medano Creek carries large amounts of sand from the Sangre de Cristo Mountains to the southwestern edge of the dune field.  Choked with sand, the stream periodically experiences blockages and then breaks them creating pulses of water that people surf on.  In mid-summer the stream flow becomes more docile and it is filled with young children with buckets and shovels who enjoy a great cooling sandbox.  Shortly after we reached the dune field, the wind began to pick-up and we were treated to the marvel of dune formation.  Sand grains began dancing around our bare feet.  With each gust of wind the sands around us began to flow along the ground toward the dune field.  Our footprints in the sand were quickly turning into mini-dunes.  Moving on toward southwestern Colorado we stayed at a campground across Highway 160 from Mesa Verde National Park.  Mesa Verde is a very large park and features hundreds of cliff dwellings of the Pueblo people.  There are overlooks to view many of the cliff dwellings but the real highlight is to actually tour some of the dwellings.  There is currently one that can be toured on your own.  Another that was open to touring is currently off limits because of potential rockfall.  Ranger guided tours are available for three others.  To manage the size of the audience, you purchase tickets for each tour.  The ticket specifies the time of the tour.  Tours involve walking and climbing stairs or ladders.  To walk the ground where the Pueblo people lived and learn about their lives and their history in this area is an amazing experience.  There are also museum exhibits with some of the artifacts from the park.  A recent series of fires on the mesa has exposed hundreds of archaeological sites on the mesa surface.  Prior to the cliff dwellings, the population lived on the surface where they farmed.  The cliff dwellings are the final phase of their history at Mesa Verde.  After about 100 years living in the cliff dwellings they were abandoned as the Pueblo people moved on to other locations. In northeastern Arizona is Canyon de Chelly (pronounced Shey) National Monument.  A National Monument is designated by Presidential proclamation, National Parks are created by an act of Congress.  Canyon de Chelly is an example of a national monument.  It is administered by the National Park Service but has limited visitor information.  There are cliff dwellings at Canyon de Chelly but none are open to visitation.  There are places to view them from a distance.  One can be viewed up close by hiking two miles down into the canyon and back out.  We made that trek one afternoon.  Along the trail we encountered many Navajo people on their way to visit the cliff dwellings.  Near he site we witnessed a religious meeting of the Navajo people.  In fact, the national monument is located on the Navajo reservation and many of them live within the national monument.  Access to the canyon floor is limited to Navajo escorts at all other locations.  Jeep and horse tours are available.  The canyon itself is quite spectacular in its beautiful formations.  Sandstone layers were formed by ancient sand dunes that migrated over the area many millions of years ago.  The cross layering within each layer tells the story of the passage of another dune. From Canyon de Chelly we traveled to the granddaddy of all canyons, Grand Canyon National Park.  It had been a long time since either Louise or I had last visited the Grand Canyon.  Needless to say, things have changed.  Louise had been there as a young teen (no year given ), I was there in the late 70's.  While the experience was different, the park service is doing a wonderful job of managing the crowds and keeping the canyon accessible to all.  Visiting the south rim, large parking lots at the visitors center are the starting point.  There are shuttle buses, tour buses and a train to bring you to the park in addition to your own private vehicle.  Yes, they do have an RV parking lot.  Parking becomes difficult to find early in the day during the peak summer season.  Once at the visitors center, a bus system will transport you around the central park area and out to the viewpoints which are scattered along the canyon rim.  Walking part of the Canyon Rim trail gives you a constantly changing view of the canyon.  You can also ride the shuttle bus from one major viewpoint to another.  As interesting as the canyon was the amazing variety of people visiting the canyon.  Foreign languages were as common if not more common than English.  The story of the formation of the Grand Canyon is the story of Earth's history.  Along the rim trail there is a timeline of Earth history.  Markers on the trail about every 30 feet mark the passage of 10 million years.  Our national parks are a national treasure.  Our Senior Pass allows us free entry to these parks.  When we got our lifetime pass to these parks we became members of the National Park Foundation, a private foundation which assists in funding the parks.  It is a way for us to continue support of our parks while we enjoy our Senior Pass.  Find a park near you and drop by to visit this week. 

TBUTLER

TBUTLER

 

Where Is My Wallet?

Where is my wallet? (The Buyers From Perdition Part 1) I was in a panic condition….my head was buried in one of my wardrobe drawers looking desperately for my wallet, which of course, contained all my credit cards, driver's license and other important pieces of plastic. Read More!  

-Gramps-

-Gramps-

 

Exploring Old Territory

This summer is our 15th summer on the road.  We've traveled in every state in the US (except Hawaii) and every province in Canada (except Nunavut).  Given that experience, there are still new things to do and see.  We left Scottsbluff, NE on August first headed for Denver.  We have family, a sister and daughter there and we've stopped there at least once every year.  Still, we found something new on this trip.  Louise's sister and her husband have now retired and we had a nice visit with them and their family.  We've done dinners out with Elaine and Lou before but this year we had the younger generation making suggestions for places to eat.  We found ourselves in old Arvada, a ten block area in the center of the old town.  The old town area is thriving as an evening hot spot for the younger generation.  Bars, restaurants and parks all with music make it a world of pleasant experiences.  The Grandview Tavern and Grill has a back yard patio and it made for a relaxing meal and conversation.  After enjoying a good meal we spent some time strolling the streets marveling at all the activity.  Lou and Elaine took us on a tour of the old town, pointing out points of interest and places with family connections.  Our next stop was the Old Arvada Tavern.  In Lou's memory, it was a rather drab old bar, a place he hung out while waiting to pick up his son from ball practice.  Today it is alive with young people.  Downstairs there is a full menu and the place was packed.  Our social advisors had directed us to take a right inside the entrance and go through the "telephone booth" to the upstairs.  We followed instructions and were welcomed into a world of entertainment.  Like many of the bars, this one featured live entertainment on the weekend.  The band for this evening was a bluegrass band.  They were just warming up and adjusting the sound.  We found a vacant table next to the stage.  I've never been a big fan of bluegrass but a live performance would be a first.  Once the band was warmed up they launched into their performance.  Watching the musicians and listening to the music was a real joy.  We stayed through the first set then retreated to quieter surroundings at their home for the rest of the evening.  After a week and a half in Denver we drove to Sheridan, WY to spend time with our daughter and her boyfriend.  Karen works in Westminster near Denver but is dating Brent who is living in Sheridan.  The occasion was the Sheridan Rodeo.  We settled into Peter D's RV Park for the week on Monday evening.  Tuesday morning we explored the town.  If we're going to spend a week here and there is going to be a crowd, we had better know our way around town.  We found the rodeo arena and got an idea of the schedule.  Wednesday evening we purchased tickets to the rodeo and watched the program on our own.  I had been to small town rodeo's years ago but this was a much bigger deal.  For Louise this was all new.  The evening began with the Indian Races.  Teams of Native Americans race around the track surrounding the arena.  Starting standing on the ground they have to mount their horse, no saddle, ride a loop then change to a new horse, off of one, on the next without assistance.  Run one more loop and change to a third horse for the final lap.  Pandemonium reigned at each change of the horses.  The rider had to do this unassisted.  Other team members were charged with managing the horses during the race.  Some horses had their own mind how this was all to work.  More than one horse ran a lap without a rider.  One rider chased the horse all the way around the track then grabbed the next horse and completed the race.  Another rider rand several hundred yards holding on the the horse's tail before giving up.  After four nights of racing, the team with the best time would claim a $10,000 prize.  Other events were pretty much what you can see on TV but far more exciting and amazing when watching it in person.  While in Sheridan, waiting for Karen to arrive for the weekend, we played a round of golf at the local golf course.  We also toured King's Ropes downtown.  This is a western store and more.  The Kings have been saddle makers for several generations.  They also stock a whole warehouse of ropes that are made on site.  You can watch the ropes being made by hand.  There are also several workstations for saddle work  You can drop off a saddle for repair or restoration or order your own custom saddle.  Behind the store is an amazing museum with hundreds of saddles of all kinds, photos, books, guns, spurs, cowboy gear of all kinds and old time photos.  You can stand in one place and look from ceiling to floor to see everything on display in that area.  We spent an hour and a half in a quick walk through.  Karen arrived late Friday so we met her and Brent at The Silver Spur for breakfast.  From there we were off to watch the bed races.  Teams with specially built beds race down the street for two blocks to a packed house on the sidewalks.  Fun is had by everyone.  To get front row seats, you have to park your lawn chair on main street Friday afternoon.  Following the bed races is the big parade.  This is a major parade with horses, cars, floats of all kinds, and audience participation.  Watchers and float riders battle with water cannons at various locations along the route.  Mars candy magnates live in the area and there is no shortage of Mars candy distributed along the route.  Lunch followed ant then I spent several hours at the Native American Pow Wow on the lawn of the Sheridan Inn.  Native dancers performed a variety of dances with narration to explain the significance of each dance.  We had ordered tickets for the Saturday night finals more than a month before the rodeo.  The grandstand was all sold out so we purchased tickets in what we learned was the new stands on the west side of the arena.  The rodeo clown labeled this area as the newbee section!  We had front row seats, just a fence separating us from the horses and livestock.  We were just a few yards from the gates and had a great view of the entire arena.  All the participants were pushing their limits for the final performance of the rodeo and the show was spectacular.  Sunday was a day to relax and wrap up visits.  We slept in then joined Brent's family for a birthday celebration for his sister.  We said good bye to Karen then returned to the park for the evening.  We would leave Monday morning to return to Denver for another week and a half.  On the way south we drove over the Bighorn Mountains enjoying the spectacular scenery on US Hwy 14. We stopped for a few days near Thermopolis, WY,  Camping at Boysen State Park.  One of the surprises of the trip was our entrance into Thermopolis.  The hot springs there has a spectacular travertine terrace visible from the road as you enter the northern end of town.  There are several venues offering hot springs for swimming and soaking.  The grounds are pleasant to walk, offering great views of the spring and the mineral shelf.  Just south of Thermopolis is the Wedding of the Waters.  An informational display marks the place where the Wind River changes its name to the Bighorn River.  The river was given different names upriver and at the mouth and when it became apparent that it was the same river a compromise arrangement was to use both names for the same river.  The Wedding of the Waters marks the location where the name changes.  Up stream, the Wind River Canyon is a spectacular sight.  At the upper end of the canyon is Boyson Dam and Reservoir.  There are numerous campgrounds there, above and below the dam.  All campgrounds are dry without electric which made the stay a little uncomfortable with temperatures near 100 during the day.  Fortunately, breezes off the lake made for cooler evening temperatures.  We stopped in Rawlings on Wednesday night and spent Thursday night at Cummins Rocky Mountain in anticipation of scheduled maintenance on Friday.  We were in and out Friday morning and into Dakota Ridge RV Park that afternoon. 

TBUTLER

TBUTLER

 

On the Road Again

Our summer travels began in April with a trip to Rusk, Texas for a Lone Star Chapter Rally that included a train ride on the Texas State Railroad.  The trip from Rusk to Palestine takes about an hour at 20 miles per hour.  They turn the steam engine around on a triangle track then return to Rusk.  It's a good time getting together with friends and making new friends.  As chapter participants, Louise and I are fickle.  Like our trips to FMCA National Conventions, we'll get there if it is on our way for our summer travels.  We have never been weekend RV'ers.  When we go, we're on the road for months and our journeys are usually guided by family commitments or vast travel plans like our 2006 trip to Alaska.  So this summer we're out West while FMCA rallies in Massachusetts.  Last year we were in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine on our way to Newfoundland and Labrador.  Maybe next year we'll synchronize our travels with FMCA. Leaving Rusk, we were headed for eastern Missouri to visit family.  Louise suggested that we make a stop in Hot Springs, Arkansas.  She was thinking horse races but the horses weren't running, the season hadn't started.  So we did the hot baths.  The real old fashioned ones at the Buckstaff Bath House, a hot soak in spring water so hot they have to add cold water, loofa sponge scrub, a Sitz bath, 360o needle shower, massage and hot wax for the hands.  Follow that with breakfast at The Pancake House and you have a great day ahead of you!  We strolled the shops and stores collecting fun stuff along the way, custom soaps for the ladies in the family, wine souvenirs for our wine lovers.  We drove the scenic drives and enjoyed an overview of the area from the tower atop Hot Springs Mountain.  Arriving in Missouri we took care of doctors appointments then turned our attention to our children and grandchildren.  Our oldest grandson turned16 last month.  His sister just turned 13.  Mom and dad have their hands full and grandpa and grandma are just grinning!  We have another grandson who will be 16 in November.  He and his dad just took a trip to northern Illinois to get a 1979 Trans Am for his car.  He has a sister who will be 12 and a young brother who is on his way to being 3.  He also has a girlfriend.  Grandpa and grandma are laughing!  Actually, we are quite impressed with the parenting that our children are doing.  They are active parents, involved in their children's lives and doing their best to encourage their children and keeping them involved in school and community.  While we were there we monitored my youngest sister who has gone through a radical masectomy and chemotherapy.  We just received a message from her husband, the reconstructive surgery is complete and she is healing.  We are hoping that this will now be behind her so she get on with her life. From Missouri we headed west for a short visit with our friends in Yankton, South Dakota.  Bill and Laura sold their motor home last year but we still like them.   Louise was nursing a sore toe so she wasn't exactly running about.  I played golf several times with Bill and a neighbor and even lent a hand with "The First Tee" instruction one day.  We visited the National Music Museum in Vermillion one day and I highly recommend this as a destination for those interested in music.  One of the unique features of this museum is the iPod guided tour that describes a small percentage of the instruments on display.  That narration is also accompanied by, what else, music.  In fact they have the various instruments that are highlighted playing in the background.  You can see the instrument and also hear it.  What a spectacular experience.  We followed that with lunch and then a visit to Valiant Vineyards in Vermillion.  We also enjoyed an evening concert in the park next to the Missouri River in Yankton.  Evenings were spent in competition as we faced off, playing a variety of games.  The highlight of the visit had to be Czech Days in Tabor, SD.  We had lunch, toured some of the town, enjoyed a celebratory Mass and choir performance, Bill and Laura sang in the choir.  Then there was the beer garden with imported Czech beer.  The evening featured Czech dancers performing traditional dances. In late June we headed for Deadwood, SD.  We have been through the Black Hills on many occasions but never been to Deadwood so it was our objective on this visit.  Our campground was humble, narrow sites on gravel.  The town was filled with visitors on the weekend and so did the campground.  From the campground we were able to walk through town and when the day wore on we could take a shuttle back to the park.  With casinos, bars and gunfights in the streets, it doesn't sound like a family kind of place, but it is and there were many families.  The museum in town is a first class museum highlighting the history of Deadwood.  They have an extensive collection of wagons, buggies, stagecoaches, horse drawn hearses and more in the basement of the museum.  We enjoyed all of Deadwood including Saloon Number 10 featuring the murder of Wild Bill Hitchcock and the trial of the killer.  In every case, the professional actors involved children in the skit and took time to detail the actual history as the dramatization took place.  Sunday we did the cemetery tour and then hiked to the Friendship Tower on Mount Roosevelt which overlooks the northern end of the Black Hills.  It was a thoroughly enjoyable visit. To the south of the Black Hills in Nebraska is Scottsbluff.  We had passed through the area several years ago and it looked worth a stop so we made a three day stop there.  This is a prime area for learning about the Oregon Trail and the Great Plains in the mid 1800's.  We drove to the top of Scott's Bluff National Monument and hiked trails to various overlooks on the prairie, played golf at Monument Shadows golf course just below the bluff, and toured the Museum of the Prairie.  The various stories and exhibits transported us to a time of incredible hardship as the pioneers struggled to make their way west through what was at the time a very hostile area.  One hundred and seventy years later, it is hard to imagine that times could be so hard and now the plains so much different now.  In 2004 we followed Lewis and Clark across the country and I had the same impression, from wilderness with life and death struggles to modern times, the world has been radically changed in just the last few hundred years.  That statement comes from the perspective of someone who has lived a significant portion of one hundred years.  Next we continue to push west...    

TBUTLER

TBUTLER

 

Residential refrigerator Installation

Well the new residential Fridge is in. I had it done at RV Services in Ashland, VA. They did a great job. They were able to take the old one out and move the new one in though the passenger side window over the couch. They had to trim the fridge space opening frame just a small bit. They widened the front frame by about an inch and the height by about 3 - 4 inches. I will add a piece of quarter round trip on the right side but overall it's a done deal. Wife loves it. Definitely won't have any problem keeping the beer and soda cold.  Also had the oil changed, fuel filter changed, and chassis lubricated.   .

oldgrape

oldgrape

 

Just a House with Wheels

So as time passes with RV ownership I find it really is like a house, projects never end. We have barely owned our 06 Tour for two years and the wife's list has not gotten any smaller. So far we have had the flooring replaced with laminate, both dash and outside radios replaced, 2 of the 3 TVs replaced with LCD/LED TVs, replace cloth couch with leather one, and found a remnant piece of Corian for the table that matched the counter top exactly. I installed a WIFI antenna on my TV antenna and had the front end, front cap, and the side gutter areas repainted due to the clear coat peeling off. I just finished installing a LED flat rope light on slide awning cover on the passenger side. Snaked the wires through the Microwave vent opening. Also slowly replacing all of my interior and porch lights with LEDs. The next items on the list are replacing the Norcold with a residential refrigerator (this week) and two new captain's chairs for the front. We'll be doing that in 2 or 3 weeks.

We also want to re-upholster the window trim boxes. I can't remember what they are called . We plan to move the TV in the bedroom and use the space to add a separate, stacked, washer and dryer.

oldgrape

oldgrape

 

The Beginning

Our RV lifestyle began just about 2 years ago. For a few years my wife and I would see RVs pass us on the roads and we'd both say that we ill do that when I retire. Then about two and a half years ago we went to an RV show in Hampton, VA. That put a bug in our ears that we could not shake. Also the more we thought about it we realized waiting till I retired was not a very good plan. My Dad's health deteriorated very quickly after he retired when he was 65. He was a heavy smoker, drinker, and pretty much that is what really got him. But you just don't know what will happen and waiting for a pie in the eventual sky was not a plan the wife and I wanted to follow any longer. So we started looking. We test drove a class C and A. We decide a class A was for us. So I scoured the internet. Came close to a deal a couple times but just did not close the deal. I searched many dealers' websites, EBAY, and Craig's List. We finally saw something down in Florida at Lazy Days. After a week or so of phone calls and emails we hit the road to Florida and to buy a RV. The RV was a Class A 2005 Damon Day Break 35 footer with a gas engine. The interior was immaculate. They showed us how to work everything, The deal was done and we hit the road. Now that coach was an "As is" coach and my salesman (sold insurance previously) was almost as new to the industry as we were. So we made it back to VA with no problems. Took it into the local RV dealer to get the safety inspection and a complete once over. That is when the other shoe hit the ground. The frame under the coach was severely rusted. The leveling jacks were barely still attached. The generator mounting frame was so rusted that the mechanic warned us to not use the generator cause the vibration would probably cause it to fall off the coach. The coach did not pass the safety inspection. Technically there was no one to blame but myself for not requiring a complete check out by a third party down in Florida before I actually signed on the dotted line. To say the least we were heart broken and very upset. I contacted the dealer in Florida and informed them of the issues. We were greatly surprised when Lazy Days told us to bring it back and they would basically cancel the deal. They would also help us to find another coach in better condition. So the end result was we ended up with our 2006 Winnebago Tour 40KD diesel pusher. We love it. And that is how we began. We have been down to Kitty Hawk and the NC Outer Banks, Lake Gaston, a couple camp grounds in Florida, and a couple here in VA with our granddaughters. That has been worth all the ups and downs. They are both at the age that they may want to go with us one or two more times but not sure. But we have the last two years of them going with us that they will remember and so will we!

oldgrape

oldgrape

 

2004 Itasca Horizon

We bought our coach last February and have been having a/c issues since last summer. It has a TrueAir basement system, which we thought we would love. The heating system works great but the cooling system can't seem to keep up with temperatures at 90 and above. We have had to replace circuit boards, a relay switch, both blower motors and a fan over the course of a year. Each time we think it's fixed for good as soon as the temperature gets really hot it still can't keep up.  As we speak, they're now doing a freon check (because the temperature coming out of the vents is reading slightly higher than it should be). If it's a freon leak we will probably get two new compressors.  If not, the Tech is saying that brand just may be putting out as much cooling as it can( as with the factory installed units on all Alfa motorhomes. That company then started offering an option of adding a rooftop unit to compensate for the basement unit.)  Our Tech is suggesting we may have to do the same.  We have an extended warranty and so far they won't authorize a new unit because we haven't completely exhausted all possible solutions. Can anyone contribute any advise/solutions on this? We love the coach but this is driving us crazy.  A rooftop unit would be installed in a cut out already housing a vent so the job would probably cost about $1200. It would be located in a central area so air flow would supposedly flow forward and back.  Spending the money on this is one thing...as long as it solves the problem.

jananddave

jananddave

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