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  1. 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.
  2. Picking up the story where I left off with the previous entry, we are on a trip from Western Oregon to our winter home in the southern tip of Texas. As I write this we have been at home for three weeks. Returning home means a flurry of activities which have now started to normalize. I'm back to writing... Leaving the Susanville area we continued south toward Reno, Nevada. Once across the California line the 55 MPH speed limit for vehicles which are towing is behind us. The speed limit rises to the regular speed limit for other vehicles. It doesn't sound like much but getting the speedometer up to 62 or 63 is significant when you are driving all day and on a trip of 2400 miles. At least it sounds and looks as if you are going faster. Counting utility poles goes just a bit faster! We take US 85 south through Nevada. We're through Reno in the early morning and a short jaunt east on I-80 to Fernley to US 95 South. A check with the Gas Buddy app takes us to a service station with diesel at 3.699 which looks really good after purchasing fuel in California and Oregon. Even Seven Feathers Casino in Oregon had diesel at $3.919. It is the 18th of October at this point and the fuel prices are dropping fast everywhere but on the west coast. The traffic is really light south of Fernley and there are long stretches of flat straight road that allows faster traffic to easily pass. We cruise on with the occasional slow section through a town. Towns are few and far between on this section of highway so it is generally easy traveling, just keep it between the lines. Cruise control is my standard mode of travel in situations like this. Death Valley lies just to our west and we see highways that lead into the National Park. Our first RV trip west in 2002 we spent three weeks exploring Death Valley and we still have fond memories of that trip and the time in Death Valley. We are talking about our rate of travel and possible stopping points as we travel along. As sunset is approaching we are near Las Vegas. I'm thinking that Las Vegas would be a good stop, we just need to find a good place to stop. Louise starts checking with campgrounds for rates and availability of campsites. We spent last night in a rest area and the truck noise has me wishing for a nice quiet RV park for Saturday night. In our quest for our first choice of campgrounds we took a wrong turn and ended up taking a tour of part of southern Las Vegas. While turning around we were on several side streets and passed the pawn shop that is featured on Pawn Stars. We also briefly followed a truck painted with advertising for the Machine Gun Experience. We passed another campground that advertised overnight RV sites and ended up spending the night there. We had water and electric and a good nights sleep. In the early morning we paid for our stay, checked out and continued on our way. Before we left Las Vegas we fueled up at a nearby station which had diesel at $3.659 per gallon. Because we are anticipating less expensive fuel around Phoenix we take on just enough fuel to get us to Phoenix with fuel to run the generator. Highway 95 continues south into California. US 93 takes us on across the Colorado River at Hoover Dam. The new bridge that bypasses the dam is a spectacular engineering project. We've crossed the dam many times while the bridge across the canyon was being constructed. Our last few trips have been over the bridge which is an equally spectacular trip. Large vehicles are instructed to drive the center lanes, presumably to avoid strong winds which frequent the canyon. From the Hoover Dam we continue on US 93 to Kingman, Arizona. Here we join I-40 for a little more than 20 miles before US 93 turns south directly toward Phoenix. The desert scenery is spectacular along the way. Part of the route is designated Joshua Tree Forest Parkway of Arizona. Saguaro cactus are common sights along the southern part of this route. Once in Phoenix we used Gas Buddy to find a station with the lowest cost diesel in the area. It was a small station but the pumps were accessible so we pulled in and filled the tank, 95 gallons at $3.259, the least expensive fuel of the entire trip. To get to the station we were on city streets for about 2 miles south of I-10 and then the return to I-10 was about 5 miles to the east. The distance was almost exactly the same, we simply went south then east while the interstate went east and then turned south toward Tucson. Approaching Tucson we saw dust clouds as a storm whipped the area. We pulled off the highway briefly to let the fury of the storm pass then continued on in Tucson. We pulled into Wal-Mart on the north side of Tucson and spent Sunday night there after receiving permission for our stay. Up to this point we have been fortunate to have very comfortable temperatures for traveling and with clouds we've had one of our better trips. When it gets really hot we turn on the roof air conditioners to keep the interior comfortable. On this trip we're using the vent air and occasionally the dash air conditioner. Overnight temperatures have been comfortable with only a little light duty from the heater. Even in Las Vegas and Tucson we found the overnight temperatures comfortable.
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