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Found 24 results

  1. Has any one used the FMCA roadside assistance program? How good was it? how quickly did the appear? Is it better than AAA? Which would you use if you were selecting one today?
  2. Hi Everyone! I am new at the forum and planning to get the services of fmca services for my travel to Miami. Actually, I husband is stationed at Fort Knox Base of Kentucky and in the mid of April, he will be at home on vacations that’s why we decided to go to Miami with both kids Allen & Jessica. However, I also want to take my kids’ pet Joffy with us but I don’t know fmca will allow or not. On the other hand, I also want to know, is any specific legal documentation will also be required in this regard. I would be grateful for your suggestions & cooperation.
  3. Just a reminder or if you did not know, National Parks Seniors Lifetime Pass is set to change on the 28th of this month, for the $10 lifetime pass for seniors 62 years or older. It covers everyone in your car. After August 28th, they will still offer the lifetime seniors pass, but it will be the same $80 as the annual pass, but for seniors 62 or older, it will be the seniors version lasting the rest of your life. At $80.00 it is still a steal but If you can get one for $10.00. ;D https://www.nps.gov/planyourvisit/passes.htm#CP_JUMP_5088578 Bill
  4. This is just to introduce myself. I go by Little.Kopit. Lord knows why I can have a two word name. My forte in helping people is travel in Canada, especially Atlantic Canada. Ok, what is Atlantic Canada - Newfoundland & Labrador, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island & New Brunswick Re. the rest of the country, I've also lived in Quebec & Ontario and have only two provinces I've not slept in. It's very useful to use http://www.google.ca/ the same way you use google for AU domain. You get to what you want faster. Of course, I answer all those border, pet........ questions all over Canada.
  5. We are going to go to Arizona from Michigan this winter, it will be our first time. We are looking for advice. Do we just head south, avoid the snow storms and worry about getting a campground as we travel down the road. We are thinking about 2 weeks getting there, then stay in a Park for a month, and then spend another two weeks coming back. Anyone have thoughts or advice? It would be very much appreciated.
  6. When we purchased 1st and 2nd RVs, MH dealers offered 1 yr "free" Travel Assist insurance plan, by the associated provider to that franchise dealers, with each purchase. ( FYI- 2013 was only our 2nd year in a RV, but looking forward to many more.) It is time to decide IF we need / want this, and WHICH provider plan to choose if we purchase again. We are interested in hearing from those who have more years RVing, and or full-timing experience: - Do you have travel assist insurance, - What experience have you had if a "claim" situation arose for you, and - Does which provider make a difference - or are all basically offering the same services? Thanks for any advice and info as we consider merits.
  7. After our stay in California, we set out on our way east to St. Louis, Missouri. We’ve made this trip many times. The default trip going either way is to travel to I-80 east to eastern Nebraska where we pick up I-29 south to Kansas City and then I-70 to St. Louis. When we make this trip we are usually on a schedule so time is important and the interstate fills the bill. We’ve detoured several times, to visit friends, to see the Grand Tetons. We sometimes stop in Denver to visit relatives so the trip isn’t always exactly the same. This time we decided to take our time, traveling fewer miles per day and take a route which is not fast but has scenery we haven’t seen before. We departed on Sunday afternoon headed up California Highway 88 into the Sierra Nevada Mountains. In Carson City, Nevada we turned east on US 50, known as the loneliest highway in the US. It wasn’t lonely as we left Carson City. We parked at Wal-Mart for the evening in Fallon, NV. Fallon is home of the US Navy Top Gun training center. Leaving Fallon on Monday morning the road narrowed to two lanes with little shoulder. The scattering of houses and buildings soon disappeared. We drove for miles across the desert. There were other cars and a few trucks, and only an occasional small town. Historical markers, the Pony Express ran through this area. Imagine a man in the 1800’s riding a horse through this area. Even today it doesn’t look that friendly for one man or for the horse. The road rolled ever onward. For miles it was straight making only occasional slight turns to weave the way between the block faulted mountains that give the area the name, basin and range. We pulled over at a wide spot overlooking the community of Austin. Here the road began an assault into the Toiyabe Mountains and Bob Scott’s Summit which was 7205 feet, a climb of about 1000 feet from the floor of the basin. After we cleared the Toiyabe Mountains, the road once again straightened out and continued weaving between mountains. In places the desert was noticeably green and we saw water standing in low spots along the road. Then suddenly there was a car approaching flashing its headlights. Over the hill came a highway patrol car with lights flashing. But wait, he was weaving all over the road, into our lane and back to his lane. I slowed and he pulled up alongside us to tell us we had to pull completely off the road. He informed us there was a wide load coming toward us. I slowly pulled to the side, putting our right wheels in the ditch to get clear of the pavement. Louise grabbed the camera and handed it to me. Two more highway patrol cars appeared followed by the mandatory wide load escort vehicle and finally the load appeared. It was a dump bed from a mine truck. If it were driven down the center of the road it would have completely filled the road. The truck hauling the load must have been doing 60 MPH. It was gone in no time. I thought about the mountain roads we had traversed and wondered if they had to go that far. I guess US 50 was the highway to use for this trip, there were few vehicles to be cleared from the road and we hadn’t seen any overpass on the route. Soon after the wide load passed, it began to rain. It was cloudy and cool and we were crossing the vast span of desert. We realized how lucky we were to have such mild weather. The rain lasted for half an hour and we met several trucks. Of course the toad was stuck to our tail and all the spray we generated was sprayed onto the toad. I hate when that happens. In the desert, rain makes mud and the toad looked horrible by the time we parked for the night. We stopped in Ely, Nevada and stayed at the Valley View RV Park. Ely is the site of one gigantic copper pit mine. The tailings were visible as we drove into town. Now those in tune with mining know that there are copper ores in other countries and mining in those countries costs less than in the US for a number of reasons. Anyway, Ely’s main source of employment has dried up and it is easy to tell by driving through town. We spent a quiet night and slept well. For the first time since we left California we had internet access and our phones worked! I think that those who live in the heavily populated areas of the country would be amazed at how little of the modern electronic communications has touched the remote areas of the US. Even in Fallon, we had marginal phone service and I learned that many of the apps which I have are useless if we don’t have 3G service. Our hot spot was useless and we were totally out of touch for most of the day. From Ely we climb over another mountain range and then descend as we travel the remaining 70 miles of Nevada before entering Utah. US 50 joins I-15 for seven miles and then we’re back on US 50. About 70 miles into Utah we come to the town of Delta. Here we find beautiful farmland. Vast fields of hay and crops and a thriving farming community. We encounter I-70 next, now we are on the fast road. I-70 in Utah runs just north of the canyons, Zion, Bryce, Capital Reef, Canyonlands NP and Arches NP. As such, I-70 has spectacular scenery and numerous scenic areas. We spent the night at the Sand Bench viewpoint. The sunset photography was wonderful. In the morning we drove on stopping at several other scenic view areas. In Colorado we decided to continue our slower trip and diverted to US 50 at Grand Junction. We went up and over Monarch Pass at 11,000+ feet and down into the Arkansas River valley. We spent the night at an RV Park near Salida. We are in the mountain time zone and losing an hour but not losing that hour at night, we get plenty of sleep and wake up late. We pass the Royal Gorge area which has been destroyed by fire. The bridge is still there and will reopen sometime in the future. There is still a zip line in operation and all the Arkansas River float trip operators seem to be doing well. Colorado highway 115 takes us into Colorado Springs and US 24 takes us to Limon, Colorado and onto I-70 for the remaining trip back to St. Louis.
  8. Hi everyone! Check out “Extreme RV’s” new episode on Tuesday, September 24th at 9:00PM ET/PT on Travel Channel! Hope you tune in or set your DVRs!
  9. One night on my way home from calling Mexican bingo at Flip Flopz, the community building in our park, my cell phone fell out of my pocket. I got home, noticed it missing and retraced my route. Turning a corner I saw something in the middle of the street and it was my phone. Unfortunately, someone had run over it with a golf cart. It wasn't destroyed but was damaged. I tested it and it worked. Within a week it became apparent that it was not fully functioning. I was getting static during calls and missing a word here or there. So it was time to replace the phone. This was a dumb phone, just basic functions, call, talk, voice mail, With the standard numeric keypad you could text if you were really patient, I wasn't. I started searching for replacement phones and found few as simple as my old one. A trip to the phone store and I'm looking at one that has a slide cover that functions as a keyboard for texting for about $80. On the other hand there is an iPhone 4 that is offered for the grand sum of $0.99! Yes, the iPhone 4 was yesterdays nifty gadget but I like old stuff so I jumped in. Now I have a smart phone. For a whlie the phone was smarter than I was. I still don't use it like the kids do but it is growing on me. We left our winter retreat in extreme southern Texas in mid-March to head north to Missouri. We do a stint every spring taking care of grandchildren while their mother, our daughter, is working as a tax preparer. Who decided that tax season would be a good time for spring break anyway? As we traveled north I found the iPhone handy for checking on weather. I had installed the Weather Bug app soon after getting the phone. With the iPhone, I can open the Weather Bug and it knows where I am located and gives me the weather for my present location! Tap the radar icon and there is the radar for my location. You can do this with the computer but you have to tell the Weather Bug where you are located, name a city or put in a zip code. With the iPhone the phone tells the Weather Bug where it is and you get instant (under a minute) local weather information. Cool I said, I could learn to like this phone. Now it is late on the first day, we have been rolling nearly constantly and we are north of Dallas, heading into Oklahoma. It is getting dark and we should be finding a place to stop. The Next Exit does no good on US 75/69 so I tell Louise to pick up my phone and lets see if we can use it to find Wal-Mart! She knows zip about my iPhone so I'm driving and talking her through the App Store. She has searched and found something on Wal-Mart when we spot one! So the search stops there and so do we. Next morning we're heading for I-44 east of Tulsa when our son-in-law calls and says that snow is expected in Springfield, Missouri after noon. With constant driving we'll make Springfield by noon so it looks like a horse race between us and the weather. Check the iPhone to see where the storm is now. We're ahead of it but not by much. As we clear Springfield we see blowing snow but are quickly clear of that flurry. By nightfall we are at our daughters home near St. Louis. It's great to see the grandkids and we're on duty the next morning. During our stay we sit through a monster snow storm, about a foot of snow accumulates on our roof and all around us. It was Sunday so we just sat inside and enjoyed watching the storm. We went through 70% of our full propane tank in a 12 day trip. Boy were we glad to be headed back to Texas! We left Friday afternoon as soon as our son-in-law got home and made it to Joplin shortly after dark. By this time I had downloaded the iPhone app which allowed us to look for Wal-Mart stores near our current location. Louise Identified the exit and guided me into the Wal-Mart where we spent the night. The Weather Bug indicated a big storm complex coming in on us, likely in the early morning. I slept too long. By the time I got outside to check tires and the toad it was already raining lightly. I put the get-away in high gear and we were on the road in a steady rain. As we hit the Will Rogers Turnpike the rain started coming down in earnest. Pretty soon it became a regular frog strangler. Then the wind hit, fierce winds blowing across the road in a driving rain. That lasted for about five minutes before giving way to the standard thunderstorm. We departed the turnpike at Big Cabin and headed south on US 69, retracing our steps south. Louise was keeping me posted on the storm using the iPhone. We stopped at Wal-Mart to have breakfast and then continued on our way, trying to outrun the storm. We finally broke into clear weather about 50 miles north of the Texas border. My goal was to clear Dallas late on Saturday afternoon and be well south for the start of the final day of driving. We made that easily and then consulted the iPhone again. I had updated the Wal-Mart app to a full-featured app, Allstays Camp and RV. This is the greatest thing since the Swiss Army Knife, sliced bread and/or peanut butter! The Wal-Mart app is just the beginning. The full Camp and RV app has rest stops, it will display them on a map, not just any map, the map moves as you drive. Zoom in and you can watch yourself zipping down the road. Of course I never looked at it while driving! You can choose what you want to see on the map, rest stops, Wal-Mart, Cabellas, truck stops, gas stations, pick what you want. If you are headed south, indicate you want the southbound rest stops and that is what it shows. I knew there was a Cabellas south of Dallas so Louise looked for that, Louise took me to the correct exit and we were able to pull in to spend the night. Looking for a place to stop and eat? Name it and it will find the nearest one for you. I've got a GPS, new last year, can't find a fraction of what the iPhone does and the GPS is really old technology when you try to find something. It turns out it was my lucky day when someone ran over my old phone! I love my new iPhone. This is going to be great for traveling in the motor home.
  10. Louise’s mother, Irene, lived in Lake Havasu City, Arizona, for many years. When we visited her one of the things she would always talk about was the production of her fruit trees. She kept count of the number of oranges, lemons and grapefruit that each of her three trees produced. We used to laugh about her recordkeeping tendencies. She did serve as the chief accountant for the Denver airport for many years, so she came by the recordkeeping honestly. Tonight as I was recording our mileage for the day, it occurred to me that I’m just like Irene, keeping records of all our travels. The records help me time and again as I write comments on a forum discussion or when I want to know what we were doing in any given year of our travels. Each time we park, on the road or in a campground, I record the town, the mileage and the distance traveled for the day. There is an entry for every fuel stop and maintenance stop with the date and mileage of each occurrence. I have another record where I list all the states we visit each year. I can tell you how many times we’ve taken the motor home to Nebraska (6) or Georgia (1). I started this listing later on when it occurred to me that I didn’t have a brief descriptive record of our travels. It all helps me recall all of our travels. Sorry Georgia, I’ve had better intentions, but interestingly, both of our planned trips were canceled by health emergencies Irene experienced. Shortly after purchasing our new motor home at a Monaco International rally in Louisiana, we planned to take our time making our way along the Gulf coast and then up the Atlantic coast to Kitty Hawk for the 100th anniversary of flight. We got a call from Louis’s sister, Carol, who had been staying with her mother. Irene had been in the hospital and was recovering but needed someone at home with her during the recovery. Carol wanted to get back to her family, so we were off to Lake Havasu City. We drove from Louisiana to Lake Havasu City in a matter of four days. We left after several weeks and rushed back across country, stopping only to fuel up and sleep. We got to Kitty Hawk in time to enjoy the celebration. Several years later we planned to get to Florida to see a launch of the NASA Space Shuttle. We had reservations along the Florida coast for the launch and also made reservations for the flying celebration, Fun N Sun, in Florida. From there we would journey north up the Atlantic coast. Again, Irene was in need. We got a call, heart attack, in the hospital, it sounded grave. We packed up our winter camp in 24 hours and 48 hours later we were in Denver at Irene’s bedside. To this day I have not seen a shuttle launch and of course we know how that story ends. We buried Irene this spring, shortly after her 91st birthday. She leaves behind many memories stored in our minds and hearts. Her fruit trees became an important part of her life and the records she kept were evidence of her dedication to them and her success. Many of her friends and acquaintances remember her for all the fruit she shared with them. She would load up sacks of fruit in the trunk of her car and share them with anyone who wanted them each Sunday after church. Over our ten years of full-timing, we spent many days parked at Irene’s home. She had a 30-amp outlet on the outside of the garage and water available from the spigot in the backyard. We could come and live next door to her as needed. Our motor home has given us the freedom to be there for our families. Those times are even more valuable to us today.
  11. Who's going on the FMCA's Cruise aboard the Carnival Liberty in January? http://fantasyrvtour...beancruise.html We are booked and looking to arrange Dining Room seating with other FMCA members. We thought it would be automatically done that way, but it seems that is not the case. Why sit with people you may not have anything in common with - when you could dine with other RV'ers. Lets get together for Dinner. Debbie and Dennis DeLorenzo
  12. We have traveled 6500 miles so far this summer. One of the things we have noticed while on the road is that there seem to be many more motor homes on the road this year than in years past. I can recall the days when we considered purchasing a motor home and then first hit the road. We would drive down any road and see lots of RV's of all kinds. Then the industry fell on hard times. Fuel prices went up and motor homes pretty quickly disappeared from the roads and highways. We traveled through New England in 2005 and saw many RV's sitting by the roadside with for sale signs everywhere we went. We saw very few motor homes on the road. That has been the case ever since. I'm sure other FMCA members have noticed the same thing. Based on our informal observations, this year is different. Everywhere we have traveled we have seen other motor homes on the road. Noticeably more people are out and traveling this summer. We attended a Lone Star Chapter rally in late May and the turnout was considerably larger than in the past. I wonder if this will be reflected in the turnout for the FMCA gathering in Indianapolis this month. We're moving on to a new park tomorrow. We've been in Sequim, WA for two weeks. We'll move to Elwa Dam just west of Port Angeles. A week, maybe more there will give us a chance to explore other areas of Olympic National Park. Most of the park is wilderness so there are only a few roads that provide access to the park. Our days of backpacking are past so we don't get far into the interior. Still each road is an adventure. We drove to the Deer Park Campground and Blue Mountain viewpoint on Saturday. Deer Park Road is 18 miles long from Hwy 101 to the peak of Blue Mountain with the last 8 miles being a narrow gravel road. It is winding, steep and quite scenic. Louise was quite tense as many of the views were out her window on the way up the mountain. She was frequently looking down a very steep slope extending hundreds of feet down the mountainside. I was busy looking for oncoming traffic because the narrow road required negotiating with other drivers to find a place to pass. Fortunately, all drivers were taking their driving very seriously and they were watching for us as much as we were watching for them. Once we got to the top, the view was well worth the drive. We had the mountaintop experience without making the climb ourselves. We did walk a short trail up to the peak. To the south we could see the interior mountains of the park. Even now in August, these peaks up to 7980 foot high are holding significant amounts of snow. To the east we were looking down the steep slopes of Blue Mountain to the foothills of the Olympic Mountains. Off to the north was the town of Sequim where we are staying. Beyond that we could see the Strait of Juan de Fuca and across the strait we could see the southern shore of Vancouver Island. On the horizon to the northeast the snow capped volcano, Mount Baker, stood out above the surrounding terrain. All around us the view was spectacular. The trail guide highlighted the role of rain or in this case lack of it in shaping the flora and fauna in this area. Blue Mountain and Sequim are in the rain shadow of the higher mountains to the west. Those mountains take all the moisture from the Pacific air as it is lifted over them. As the air descends the eastern side of the mountains it is too dry to drop much precipitation, this forms a rain shadow. One of the other delights we've found here on the Olympic Peninsula is the Olympic Discovery Trail. This bicycle and walking trail extends 130 miles from Port Townsend in the east to La Push on the Pacific Coast. Much of the trail in the area where we are is paved. In other areas the trail is unpaved and in many places to the west it still uses the shoulder of roads. We've ridden two sections of the trail here at Sequim. To the east the trail crosses two wooden railroad trestles. One is 410 feet long and stands 86 feet above the stream below. The section passes through Sequim Bay State Park and goes on the Blyn, a community of Pacific Coastal Indians. We ate a snack at the Hwy 101 rest stop next to the trail then went on to the native art shop to browse the work of some local artists. Our return trip was easier than we expected and we enjoyed a happy hour beverage sitting in the shade when we got back to the motor home. Just as we are seeing more RV's on the road, we are seeing parks closer to full capacity. There have been a few no vacancy signs at parks so we are making reservations as we move. This is something we have seldom done in the past. If this is a sign of the times it is a good sign.
  13. Leaving the midwest in late June we battled temperatures near or above 100 degrees on a regular basis. Even as we traveled to Montana we were still enountering temperatures in the high 90s. When we got into eastern Washington we began to notice some cooler temperatures. Now, after crossing the Cascade Mountains we have arrived at Chehalis, Washington. We are about 90 miles south of Seattle on I-5. Temperatures here are in the 50's and 60's at night and highs have been in the upper 70's or lower 80's. We've had some rain and plenty of clouds. This is more like what we expected when we decided to travel in this direction. Our ultimate goal is the Olympic Peninsula and Olympic National Park. The weather will be even cooler, cloudier, and wetter than it is here. We'll see how long we can stand the cool weather! We are having some repair work done at Cummins Northwest here in Chehalis. The parts should all be waiting for us now and we have an appointment on Monday morning. If all goes well, we should be on our way to the Olympic Peninsula by Monday afternoon. We have had a great time in central Washington. This was our second visit to the Grand Coulee area and we learn more each time. The tour at Grand Coulee Dam has changed as they are now remodeling the powerhouse which used to be the tour area. This time we toured the pumping facility for filling Banks Lake which serves as the reservoir for irrigating this part of the state. Banks Lake fills the Grand Coulee from near Grand Coulee Dam on to Coulee City where a small dam across the coulee blocks its flow. The town of Coulee City has a wonderful community park there with a beach on the lake. The RV sites have full hookups with 30A for some and 50A for others. The pull through sites are not real level but we managed to find a spot where we could level the coach. We fell in love with the town. Everyone was friendly and helpful including the people at city hall where we had a package shipped. Just below Coulee City is one of the truly amazing features of the area, Dry Falls is a waterfall that was active for only 48 hours as the glacial lake, Lake Missoula, emptied when its ice dam failed. Lake Missoula was larger than any of the Great Lakes today and was as much as 2000 feet deep. Imagine pulling the plug on that and the ensuing havoc that occurred. The Grand Coulee and other coulees in the area were formed by this sudden flush of water over the land. Dry Falls is 3 1/2 miles long and 900 feet tall. When the water was flowing over the falls it would have been 300 feet deep and reached speeds of 60+ miles per hour. This ripping force tore away the columnar lava flows in the area easily forming these great gashes, called coulees, in the landscape. It is a wet year in the northwest and all the dams in the area show this. The spillways are running at or near capacity to keep the level of the lakes from becoming higher than dam design. This makes for a very dramatic scene and the sound is nothing but pure power. Of course the Corps of Engineers sees this as a tremendous loss of resouces, energy and irrigation that will be needed someday. On our tour of Grand Coulee Dam where we got a ride across the dam in a bus and a stop to look over the dam to the spillway with its flowing water. Several days later we toured the Chief Joseph Dam, about 30 miles from Coulee City at the town of Bridgeport. This turned out to be a hidden gem. We pulled up to the security gate and called the security office. It indicated tours were available so we asked for a tour. We were checked through security, ID's, car inspection, under the hood, opening doors and hatch, and finally using a mirror to check under the car. Then we were given our visitors badge and directed to park in an area where the tour guide would meet us. After a wait of about 10 minutes our tour guide arrived. She loaded us into a golf cart, just Louise and I, no one else. Hard hats were brought along, this was going to be good. We drove past the power house with its 28 generators all in a row, right up to the base of the dam. Unlock the door and we were inside the base of the dam. An elevator took us to the top where we were able to look over the side of the dam above and get the layout of the flow of the Columbia River up to the dam. This dam is a "flow of the river" dam, designed to allow all the rivers flow through the dam. As a result there is only a small lake above the dam. Even with 28 generators, there was still water going over the spillway here. We walked down several flights of stairs to the trunion bridge. This is a walkway along the front of the dam at the level of the trunions or bearings on which the flood gates pivot up and down. Just below and in front of us we were looking at the water spewing from below the gates which were all lifted except for four and an additional one under repair. The roaring water on the spillway was below our feet about 20 feet. We made a pass through the visitors center which has exhibits that are only seen on tour now. In the good old days before September 11, 2001 people could drive across the dam, park on top of the structure and then walk into the visitors center and take a tour. Now the tours are on-demand and no one staffs the visitors center. We viewed a short film on construction of the dam and its operation then put on our hard hats. We were escorted into the power house to walk along the top of the generators. One was being rebuilt, new bearings, new turbine, etc. This gave us a chance to see the equipment disassembled. There was the monsterous rotor, sitting on the floor. Its massive magnets visible as were the windings of the stator past which the magnets spin to generate the 60 cycle current we all desire. Our guide points out an assembly on the floor next to the rotor and gives a Jeopardy clue then asks what those blocks look like. She mentioned automobile work and I correctly identified the brake pads which are used to stop the generator when it is shut down. Easy, they were 2 feet by 3 feet and looked about 4 inches thick. An arrangment of eight were spaced around a huge brake shoe which had a hole for the shaft, they had to be brake pads! We stand atop one of the operating generators and feel the vibrations in our feet. Then it is down a long flight of stairs to the operating floor. We walk past several generators in operation to go down a short stairway and walk right up to the spinning shaft that connects the turbine to the generator above. We are encouraged to reach out a hand a touch the shaft. For a science teacher, this is a cool as it gets! Then we go down two more flights of stairs and now we are looking a the top of the turbine assembly. This one is operating and water is flowing through the turbine just below us. We can see the actuators which move the gates that direct the water into the turbine. On our way our of the power plant we pass two small generators which provide the electrical power to operate the power plant and dam itself. I laughed and pointed out to Louise the cover of the "in-service" light atop one of the generators was off and there in all its glory was a twisty flourescent light bulb. Here we are in the middle of a facility that is generating more than 2000 megawatts and they are using a flourescent light bulb to save electricity. We were touring the dam for almost two hours. It was without a doubt the best dam tour we have ever had. The only downside was that cameras were prohibited so we have no pictures of all this great stuff. Back to the car and into Bridgeport for lunch. Surprise, this little town is larger than we expected. We are welcomed into town by a series of creative sentinals. Trees that once lined the street had died and their stumps were carved into figures of people, animals and other art forms. Wow, another unexpected find. There was an advertisement for Nel's Cafe and Bait Shop so we had to eat there! We enjoyed a nice lunch then drove around town to see what else this town offered. We found a nice RV park right along the Columbia River. As we exited the town we drove across the bridge over the Columbia River which gave us our best views of the Chief Joseph Dam. Louise snapped pictures as I drove across the bridge. Then it was back to Coulee City for a BBQ and rest watching the sun set over Banks Lake.
  14. It is hard for me to add things to my BLOG when we are living in our fixed home. Now that we're back in the motor home for the summer I have dozens of things to write about. At home I've been busy settling in for two years now, kind of like a dog turning around several times before it finds just the right spot to lay down. During this period of settling in I am afraid that I've been pretty much ignoring the motor home through the winter. It's plugged in and we keep minimal heat and air conditioning on to keep the interior in top shape. When we hit the road this spring we found out all the things that had quit during the winter. As I explained to Louise, if we were living in it through the winter these things would have occurred one at a time rather than all in the first week back on the road. The list is long, but not overwhelming. We will be making repair stops as we travel. Our first three stops have been complete wash-outs, 0 for 3. Things will get better, I know it. Our first stop out of the blocks was at the Lone Star Chapter of FMCA rally in Rockport, Texas. Being new residents of Texas I want to be involved with a local chapter and Herman Mullins has been inviting us to join for several years so we had to give it a try. We got a royal welcome from the assembled membership. Herman was there to help us get parked! We found lots of friendly people and plenty of good food. We managed to drum up a golf game the first morning of the rally. A happy hour circle, games and other activities gave us plenty of opportunity to get aquainted with the 40+ members at this rally. To top it all off, I was on the championship bean-bag toss baseball game and got a ten dollar signing bonus! That was topped off when we got our official chapter license plate. And then we ran off with the grand prize in the door prize drawing. We actually got our entire registration fee refunded! What-a-deal! Leaving the rally we found out that the generator wasn't in a working mood. It gave us overheating errors on two tries to start it. So, just turn on the dash air for some relief - wrong, it blew only warm air. Louise gave the generator another try out of desperation. We planned to drive 500 miles from Rockport to Little Rock, AR and it was going to be blistering hot. Thank goodness, the generator finally gave in and ran. We turned on the roof air and kept our fingers crossed. Thank goodness it has been working ever since. The dash air is out of commission until we can get the compressor replaced. It's on order... The KVH dish has quit so we're back to broadcast TV. I was surprised to find that the number of channels that are available have increased. Our stop to determine the problem revealed a faulty computer card, no replacement available. The company wants the entire antenna unit returned to the factory... I'm thinking about it. Arriving at our destination in Missouri the next day, we picked up our two grandsons for a ten day tour of Nebraska and South Dakota. At ages 10 and 11, they are really interested in paleontology so we made the U of N State Muesum in Lincoln, NE our first stop. These are two exceptional 10 and 11 year old boys. They actually stop to read and learn from the displays. Sure, the gift shop is not an optional stop but they really love all those bones! Then we were off to Custer, SD. We made that our base for four days of exploring. We hiked to the outstretched arm of the Crazy Horse Monument with the annual Volksmarch. The boys would get 20 or 30 yards ahead of Louise and I then wait for us to catch up. I have lots of pictures of them standing by the side of the trail waiting! Our next day was a visit to Mount Rushmore followed by a drive through Custer State Park. I've been through the park several times and seen only an occasional bison. Thank goodness this trip was different. We saw many herds of the giant of the plains. Frequently they were only a few feet outside the window of the toad. And there were huge numbers of calves. We arrived back at the campground just before dark. Speaking of the campground, we stayed at Beaver Lake Campground and found it to be a great place for the boys. They actually had a collection of bicycles for use in the park, free. The boys would pick their bikes to ride and the next day get a different one. They enjoyed the playground, pool and the rabbits. Our final South Dakota activity was on the way back to Nebraska. We stopped at the Mammoth Site in Hot Springs, SD. We had arranged two special experiences for the boys. They learned to throw an atlatl in a hour session with Chelsea. We ate lunch in the motor home parked on the parking lot. Then returned to enjoy the advanced lessons in paleontology. The boys learned to map and record their finds and how to preserve the fossil bones by plaster coating them. Then they were tunred loose on a plot to find bones. With each find they would record the find on the map then continue excavation until they had exposed the bones sufficiently to identify them. As the proceeded they would update the information on the map. Chelsea was our instructor and with the help of several assistants they even got Louise and I through the exercise. We then drove on to Nebraska and stayed two nights at Fort Robinson State Park. We explored the reconstructed buildings on the frontier cavalry post. We walked the ground where Crazy Horse died and learned about the life of late 1800's cavalry soldiers in the western prairie. They also have a paleontology museum at Fort Robinson which the boys still found interesting! The boys are cousins and they really enjoy each others company. I told Louise we got double points for this vacation with the boys, one point for the places we took them and one point for their chance to be together for an extended time. Through all this they never tired of each others company. Our final stop with the boys was at the Ashfall site in northeastern Nebraska. Here there are rhinocerocus bones that were buried in a volcanic ashfall. The rhinos had clustered at a waterhole along with camels and horses and other animals, trying to cope with a smothering ash cloud. Four feet of ash fell and the animals suffocated and were buried. The site was discovered about 40 years ago and has been preserved inside a large building that protects the unfossilized bones. There are dozens of skeletons and excellent information about the nature of the animals. Both this site and the museum at Fort Robinson are extensions of the U of N State Museum in Lincoln. We returned the boys to their parents and picked up their sisters. Two girls ages 7 and 8 are a world apart from the two boys. We planned an eight day trip to Indiana and Kentucky. We visited the zoo in Evansville, Indiana. The youngest was disappointed that there was no elephant. They managed to make friends with a jaguar. Both girls got to hand feed a pair of giraffes and they enjoyed the many play items on the grounds of the zoo. Then drove on to Palmyra to stay in the county park there. Our first day we toured the Schimpff's Confectionery in Jeffersonville, Indiana. This is a great place to take kids and adults. The tour covers the history of the business which has been in continuous operation by the same family line for over 100 years and they have the equipment to show for it. We got to watch them make their signature red hots and then got a sample that was still warm. We got a special treat at the county park has a swimming lake with a sand beach. The girls enjoyed several hours of play in the water and on the beach. The next day we drove the toad to Lexingtion, KY to vist the Kentucky Horse Park. The girls weren't ready to leave when the park closed. The horseback ride around the park was followed by several visits to the Children's Barn where they learned all about horses in hands on activities including a brush and shine lesson with a real horse. Thomas, a large black Frisian, stood absolutely still as a dozen children brushed and combed him to be show ready! We saw several shows and rode the horse drawn trolly around the park. After all that it was Pizza Hut, a break for Louise, and a long drive home. Their final experience was at the Indianapolis Children's Museum. This museum is a wonder for young children. We've visited this museum a number of times and it never disappoints. They seem to find ways to make it more interesting every time we visit. The girls loved the carousel and then spotted the play houses. They even enjoyed the Lego's and Hot Wheels exhibits. Taking after their brothers they even enjoyed the dinosaurs. After returning the girls we attended a baseball game for the 11 year old boy and then celebrated fathers day with my son and the 10 year old boy and the 6 year old girl. Today we rested. Louise caught up with the laundry and gave the entire motor home a thorough cleaning. I was off to spend the afternoon working at my mothers home, helping to get the house ready for sale. We buried my mother in late April followed by Louise's mother in mid-May. Both were near/in their 90's and had been in failing health over the last few years. We are parked at my daughters home and they are leaving on vacation tomorrow. I'm looking forward to some quiet days ahead. We'll leave Missouri mid-week next week and be pretty much on our own for the rest of the summer. Dozens of things to write about... more soon.
  15. Any concerns for the route from Salt Lake to Denver on I-70?? We are 40 feet and a toad. AAA advised us to go up to 1-15 to I-80 and back down to Loveland
  16. We recently made a typical trip that included some sightseeing and maintenance stops. I submit this description as an example of full-timers' travel experiences even though we are no longer full-timers. This trip is like many drives we have made as the final trip of the summer travel season. We left south Texas in early May of 2011. We visited family and I had knee replacement surgery during the summer. We left Missouri September 7 and arrived in California on September 16. After a stay of a month we departed our campground about noon on Thursday, October 13. We had an appointment to have our entry door lock repaired at Paul Everett RV in Fresno on Friday morning. They have an adjacent area with water and electric hook-ups. By sunset we were parking and hooking up electric. We had water and empty sewer tanks so no need for any other hook ups. We had been to Paul Everett for service before and they were always willing to take us in even though we have never purchased a motor home from them. Friday we lined up for service as the shop was opening. After a brief check in the motor home went into the shop. I browsed the parts store and found a few handy items we needed including a new propane detector. They were happy to install that for us. With the lock repaired we were departing Fresno just after noon. Our next destination was Albuquerque, New Mexico. I had Southwest Airlines tickets from there to St. Louis for a 12 week check-up after knee surgery. The doctor appointment was for Wednesday the 19th so we didn't have to push too hard. Still, I'd rather be sitting in a campground than driving an extra day so we didn't let any dust collect on the tires. Friday night was spent at Wal-Mart in Barstow, CA. Saturday night we parked at the Wal-Mart in Winslow, Arizona. Sunday night we were in the Santa Fe Skies RV Park in Santa Fe, NM. We talked over plans as we traveled. When it became apparent that we should be near Albuquerque on Sunday we decided to spend some time in the Santa Fe area. This was not our original intent but it was going to work well on several counts. I could take the car to the airport, leave it overnight and pick it up the next evening. Louise would be fine in camp for a day and a half without a car. We would be better off making one trip to Albuquerque for the plane flight than staying in Albuquerque and making multiple trips to Santa Fe for sightseeing. Monday we spent most of the day exploring Santa Fe. Tuesday I left for the airport shortly before noon arriving in St. Louis just after dark. Wednesday morning I saw the doctor and got the OK for six months until the next appointment. I was back in Santa Fe by 9:00 p.m. Wednesday evening. On the drive back to Santa Fe I was listening to the St. Louis Cardinals beating the Texas Rangers in World Series Game 1. Thursday we did more touring in Santa Fe. Friday we decided to drive to Taos. As we drove through the gorge of the Rio Grande on the road to Taos we enjoyed the brilliantly colored leaves so much that we made numerous stops to photograph the scenery. We picnicked along the river in the middle of a grove poplars with bright golden leaves. We barely made it to Taos when we decided to return to Santa Fe. The trip in this case truly was the destination. We would return to Taos another time and explore the area further. Saturday we left Santa Fe taking the most direct route toward San Antonio. Saturday night we stayed at the Wal-Mart in Lamesa, TX. By Sunday night we were parked at Cummins Southwest in San Antonio. Monday morning, October 24 the motor home goes into the Cummins shop for an oil change and lube. We're out of the shop before noon. We had a rock hit the windshield during our drive from Santa Fe. I used the waiting time at Cummins to arrange a stop at the glass shop for the afternoon. They were very flexible. We pulled up and parked on the street in front of the shop. Ten minutes later they were at work on the windshield. I called our next service appointment while work on the windshield proceeded. We would be at Iron Horse RV after their lunch hour. They had installed a water pump which had failed. A second had been installed and it was showing the same problems the first pump did. They made some adjustments, I changed water filters, it was working better. Will it last? We'll have to use the pump for a while to see. Now I called ahead to Texas RV which had ordered parts for repairing our toilet. They would accommodate us for the night on their lot with electric hook ups. The next morning, Tuesday, we had a tech at work removing the toilet. Inspection showed that we needed new vacuum breakers. They hadn't ordered them and it could be several days before they could be shipped from the manufacturer. After some checking they found them at another dealer in San Antonio. Now it is 2:00 p.m. and we are leaving San Antonio. We used our passage through San Antonio to take care of several maintenance items so we would be ready to go next spring. Tuesday as the last light faded from the sky we were pulling into our winter residence in Edinburg, TX. We park the motor home next to our mobile home which makes the unloading process easier. Still, late in the evening we pretty much settle for just getting a few items into the house before hitting the sack. The next day we would take the motor home out for its annual safety inspection. Once that is done, we can park for the season. By Wednesday evening the motor home is on its wood pads, leveled and we're unpacking and storing the contents in our house. Several days later we close up the slides. We left the campground in California on October 13 and have parked the motor home for the winter on October 26. Thirteen busy days from summer travel to parked for the winter.
  17. When my computer feels neglected it starts running through my photo files. One by one, pictures from our life and travels pop up on the screen. Some pictures fade in and out, others come in pairs. After a while they switch from color to black and white so I'm seeing them in a completely new way. They remind me of the rich life Louise and I have. Clearly, we are not wealthy in the conventional sense. Our bank account would not impress anyone. Still in so many ways, we are in the current vernacular, 1%'ers. I'm certain that the number of people who have lived in a motor home for any length of time amounts to less than 1% of the population. Even in today's mobile world, the number of people who have traveled to all states in the US is less than 1% of the population. Not only have we traveled all over the US, we have lived in our home while doing this. Spending a week or even a few days living in a location is so much different than flying in, staying in a motel and flying back home. Speaking of flying, my pilot's license also puts me in the 1% category and Louise has shared much of that flying with me. Many of my pictures are from our flights. I have pictures looking up at Denali, Mt. Hood, Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Ranier, Death Valley, the Florida Keys and the Gateway Arch in St. Louis. There are pictures of deserts, rivers and lakes, crops, plains, glaciers and so many other beautiful places. Each picture reminds me of another adventure, experiences and people we've met. All that said, there is nothing like the feeling of lifting off from the ground into the air and experiencing the freedom of flight. With no roads to follow, the possibilities are limitless. Louise and I were able to retire at an early age. We worked another job for several years beyond our retirement then gave up full time work at age 55. Looking back on this now, from the age of 65 and still not being eligible for full Social Security, I really appreciate the years of travel when I was physically able to take on some of the adventures we did. To retire at such an early age probably puts us in the 1% category again. I wrote this several months ago as you might suspect. I still feel like I'm in the 1% category. I recently gave blood for the umteenth time and after shoulder surgery and knee replacements on both knees I'm back on the tennis court. I bowled a 200+ game last week and got a 96 (I broke 100) on a golf course we've played for several years, so life is good. The last few months I have devoted my time to getting certified as a Texas Master Naturalist. The certification requires 30 hours of class time (generally in 3 hour chunks) and 10 hours of field trips. A final 40 hours of volunteer time is required before you get your certification. After that, you can work with the parks and nature centers in the area as a volunteer on a regular basis. Needless to say, my time has been at a premium. I have completed all the requirements for graduation. Still, there are intersting field trips and classes. Tomorrow, Monday, I'll take a cactus field trip. I've seen tons of cactus in the last 11 years but there is always something to be learned. Meanwhile, I'm consumed by homeowner responsibilites that I haven't had for years. It's just a mobile home on a small lot but there are endless projects to be tackled. I'm battling the spring bloom of weeds in the lawn and beyond. I spent the day attending to the drainage system, gutters, downspouts, etc. We'll depart for the summer in six weeks and there are plenty of things that have to be done to get the house ready. Then there is the list for the motor home. It has been sitting in "storage" next to our house, for almost six months so I'll have to turn my attention to getting it ready for a summer of travel. I can't wait to get her rolling and leave the house in the rear view mirror. It promises to be a great summer. We are planning to take our grandsons on a trip through Nebraska and South Dakota. Fun you say? Yes, there are numerous palentological sites (boys and dinosaurs, mammoths and other ancient creatures) in both states as well as the historical and scenic sites. We're hoping to get them to the annual Volksmarch at the Crazy Horse monument near Custer, SD. Our two oldest grandaughers are overdue for a trip to the Kentucky Horse Park and some stops in Indiana including a great candy store and the Children's Museum in Indianapolis. After that, we're off to enjoy ourselves, heading for a long delayed destination, the Olympic Penninsula of Washington. We may stray into Canada to visit friends on Vancouver Island if time allows. We have two young grandaughters in California to visit. Then we'll return to take care of Louise's mother in Denver while Louise's sister celebrates her husband's retirement on a cruise. That is small payment for their care of Mom in their home for the last 9 years. Our final journey will be back to home in south Texas sometime in October. If you own a motorhome, the possibilities are endless. Life is much better when you can travel at will.
  18. We are taking care of our two granddaughters, age 5 and 3. Our first day was a trip to a local zoo and amusement park in Lodi, California. Day two we planned to stay at home. It turned out to be a very good plan as the second day it rained all day. We had planned on being outdoors for part of the day but we were all inside the motor home for the day. A day indoors with the girls is eased by Louise's experience as an elementary school teacher. We keep a supply of crayons, stickers, coloring books, scissors and drawing paper in the motor home at all times. On a rainy day those are available on the table-side counter all day long. Anytime the girls want to draw or color, they can sit down and go to work. We also have a variety of favorite animated movies available. The final piece of the hat trick is the Wii game. The girls also bring a few toys from home. Finally, every young child needs a nap after lunch. Louise was catching up with the laundry all day long. The girls enjoyed watching the Splendide washer/dryer tumble the clothes as it washed and dried. They had never seen a washing machine with a window so this was a novelty. That evening they wanted to watch the washer TV so the girls set up a step stool and a seat cushion in front of the washer. Louise picked up on that and got out my construction flashlight, placed it on the bathroom counter and aimed it at the washer door. The girls thought this was real fun. We had to referee who had the best seat a couple of times. This now ranks right up there on my Art Linkletter list of things our grandchildren like about our motor home. Our final day with the girls we planned a picnic lunch at Columbia State Park. We woke up in the morning to the sound of rain on the roof. I checked the Weather Bug and there was some hope. As the morning continued, so did the rain. About 11:30 we decided to go ahead with our plans. Columbia State Park is an 1849 era gold rush town. Many of the original buildings remain and have been preserved. Some of the buildings are dedicated to their original purpose, a bank, the assay house, a pharmacy, a fire house, a bowling alley, a livery and blacksmith shop. Other buildings house shops, restaurants and stores. They have a gold panning experience for people to try and some lightly excavated mining areas the kids can climb around on bedrock left between mined areas. The drive from San Andreas where we are staying to Columbia State Park is about 30 miles and there are two ways to get there. We decide to make it a round trip, taking a different route going to and from the park. The route on Parrots Ferry Road has spectacular scenery. We cross an arm of New Melones Lake on the Stanislas River and then drive along it for some distance. We'll cross the reservoir in another place on the return trip. When we arrive at the state park it is still raining lightly. The picnic tables are in a low draw between parking lots and water is standing around the base of the tables. We picnic in the car. Louise makes restroom runs with one of the girls before lunch, the other after lunch. As we finish lunch the rain stopped. We venture forth to explore the town. The first building we pass has an ice cream parlor. The girls have been here before and we explain that we will get ice cream on our way back to the car. Our next stop is the gold panning shop. They have rocks and minerals on sale but the gold panning is closed on a cool rainy week day. We walk through the panning area looking at the water troughs that would house the running water for panning. At the far end is a rock maze, granite bedrock that remains after the quartz veins were mined from it. The girls enjoy exploring various passages and then give climbing a try. There is mud everywhere but that doesn't stop the girls. As the day goes on they find many a puddle to walk through. If you are young, there is nothing better than a wet muddy day out playing. We visit most of the shops and stores. As we exit each building the youngest asks if we are going to the ice cream parlor. One of our first stops was the candy shop. Everyone picked out candy they wanted. We spent a while at the bowling alley. There is a nine pin set up complete with pins and balls. I was the pin spotter, Louise helped the girls get the balls off the return rack so no fingers were smashed. The girls took turns knocking down pins. We spent a few minutes at the blacksmith shop picking out a dinner triangle for our new house. We found some period toys at a general store. A penny whistle and a ball and cup for the girls to play with. The youngest is fascinated by a guitar on display. The rule is look but don't touch but a three year old can't remember that for long. I go to remind her and see the price on the guitar, $3000. I picked her up explaining I didn't have enough money to buy that guitar! We took a quick tour of the visitors center and museum. By the time we got back to the ice cream parlor they were closed! Disaster. We knew of another ice cream stop on the way back to the girls home so we said we would stop and get ice cream there. They took it well, no complaining. Our trip home was delayed for about a half hour as an accident was cleared from the road. We were several curves back so couldn't see the action. On our way through Angels Camp (of Mark Twain Jumping Frog fame) I spotted a lighted ice cream cone in a store window. I pulled into a parking spot, hopped out and hustled the girls to the shop before they closed. It turns out they serve food as well and they were open when we left. The youngest ordered a bowl of spotted frog ice cream, the oldest wanted double chocolate. I ordered a bowl of gold nugget ice cream and Louise had a cup of hot coffee. The spotted frog ice cream was mint with cookie crumbles. My gold nugget ice cream was butter pecan. This was the perfect end to a fun day. We stopped on the way back to pick up a couple pizzas at the Pizza Factory in Valley Springs then returned the girls to their mother. We regaled their mother with their adventures over pizza. The girls were mastering their new toys and telling tales of their own. Louise and I left, ready to put our feet up for a while.
  19. Our trip to California had one commitment, taking care of our two granddaughters, ages 5 and 3, during their two week school break. The school is on a year round schedule which explains the vacation this time of year. We look at this as a special privilege of grandparenthood. Monday we stayed with the girls at their house. Tuesday morning Dad dropped the girls off on his way to work. The girls would be ours for three days and two nights. Mom had several night events at the school where she works. Dad's schedule runs in 12 hour shifts. We'd save traveling to and from and the girls get the fun of staying with us in the motor home. All of our grandchildren think that the coolest thing about our motor home is that the couch folds out into a bed. We have wheels, a big engine, we can go anywhere. We have satellite TV, satellite radio, hot running water, cold drinks in the refrigerator, air conditioning and heat on demand. But none of that matters ... the first thing the girls want to do is turn the couch into a bed! It's ten o'clock in the morning and they want to turn the couch into a bed. We had plans for the day, a trip to the local zoo and amusement park, Micke Park in Lodi, California. After two weeks of near 100 degree weather, the weather has been rainy and cool this week. We arrive at the zoo after several attempts to navigate an area with roads that have been rerouted after our GPS data. There are about a dozen cars in the parking lot. We pay to enter, where are the restrooms? We enjoy walking through at a child's pace. Check 'em off, eagle, snow leopard, turtles - yawn, baboons - he-he!, iguana, doves and ibis. Thirty minutes later, we're leaving the zoo. The attendant at the zoo had told us she didn't think the amusement park was open but a short walk and we found the open gate. The young man who sold us the tickets for the rides left the booth to be the train engineer for our first ride. This is a small amusement park, the most challenging ride is the scrambler which grandpa rides with the girls. They both love the scrambler. The girls ride the cars, the airplanes, merry-go-round, the strawberries and the fish. Along the way the girls make friends with a boy who is here with dad. They exchange names, become friends in an instant. They are the only three children in the amusement park. The two boys who are running the entire park today take turns escorting us all from ride to ride. There is a Japanese Garden so the three children and adults go to see the carp swimming in the ponds. The girls love fish and enjoy watching the carp, marveling at all the interesting colors and patterns. Did I mention that dad is an avid fisherman and the oldest girl has a stuffed fish that she sleeps with? Yes, as in a mafia novel, she sleeps with the fish! The fish was with us this morning, waiting in the car while we enjoyed the park. Both girls give their new found friend a hug goodbye and we're off to the parking lot. Lunch comes next. We're off to Denny's where the girls start with a trip to the restroom. They order kid pizzas and smoothies. And yes, there is another trip to the restroom for both. We need a quick stop at Wal-Mart which turns into another trip to the restroom for both girls. Boy, grandma is getting a real work-out doing restroom duty. A quick stop for gas and we're on our way home. Day one comes to an exciting close as we fold out the couch into a bed! The girls sleep well through the night.
  20. We have just completed our trek across country from Missouri to California. We've done this trip many times since we have grandchildren in both states. The quickest route is to travel I-70 west to Denver then jog north on I-25 to Cheyenne, Wyoming where we pick up I-80 on to California. This trip we decided to take a different route. We planned to visit friends in Yankton, South Dakota so it seemed that going north into Iowa and then west to Sioux City, Iowa would be a nice change. Interstate 70 across Missouri is always a race track, loaded with trucks and lots of auto traffic. Avoiding the interstate tangle of Kansas City was another plus. So we decided to drive north on US 61 and US 281 and I-380 to Waterloo, Iowa. That was the first leg of our trip. US 61 is four lane from I-70 almost all the way to the Iowa border. The road surface is fair to good and traffic is light. US 281 is good surface and four lane most of its distance. The only heavy traffic we encountered was on I-380 from Iowa City to Waterloo. This may not be consistently busy, it was Friday afternoon about 4:00 p.m. when we passed through Iowa City. We arrived at the Wal-Mart just off US 20 in Waterloo about 5:00 p.m. I spent an hour or more working on replacing our water pump. When we unhooked and switched to the water pump preparing to leave my daughters home, the water pump wouldn't work. I found a blown fuse, replaced it and it blew again. Calling ShurFlo I found that we would have to send in the old pump to get warranty service. I wasn't ready to do without a pump for a week while we waited for a replacement so picked up another matching pump at a local dealer before we left town. Now I'll return the defective pump for an exchange and have a spare on hand. Saturday morning we drove west on US 20 through central Iowa. Traffic was very light and the highway was excellent. About 100 miles from Sioux City the four lane pavement gives way to the old two lane highway which wanders from town to town, up hill and down dale. That part of the trip was slower but still comfortable travel with very light traffic. On our way, our friends from Yankton, South Dakota called to let us know that I-29 was still flooded by the Missouri River and was closed south of Sioux City. We laughed, if we were on our regular route to their home, we would have been searching for a route around the flooding. As it was, we would not be affected at all by that closure. We took I-29 north from Sioux City to US 50. The final ten miles of I-29 was littered with orange barrels and two way traffic which slowed our travel before we arrived at Junction City and US 50. We spent two days with our friends, sharing our summer experiences. They took us to the Gavin Point Dam on the Missouri River to see the water being discharged from the dam. We marveled at the 90,000,000 cubic feet per second discharge from the dam which was considerably smaller than the 160,000,000 cubic feet per second discharge that was occurring in May and June of this year. The force of water is a spectacle not to be missed, whether from a dam, waterfall, rapids, or waves on a shore, water is awesome. Of course that force is also threatening as the people downstream from the dam learned this spring. We enjoyed dining out at a nearby restaurant overlooking the Missouri River. We went bowling one evening which gave me a chance to try out my new knees. I didn't have my ball or shoes so bowled using a spare ball loaned to me by my friend. By the end of the evening it felt like my own ball! I was back to bowling my average. That was reassuring to everyone as the four of us are a bowling team in the winter in south Texas. By the end of the evening I was ready to get off my feet and ice down my knees. With the recommendation of a neighbor we found a welder to fix part of our towing linkage. One of the two brackets that link the car to the tow bar had developed a crack. The welder was able to clean up the crack and put a good weld on the crack. It is holding well and should get us home for the winter. Then I'll have to pursue a replacement. Leaving Yankton, we drove south on US 81 to US 20 in Nebraska. This is the same highway we were on in Iowa. Right away we experienced several sections of road repair. We were beginning to question our decision when the repairs stopped and we traveled many miles before encountering more repairs. There is very little traffic on US 20 in Nebraska, the road surface is generally good and travel is surprisingly fast. The towns are small and widely scattered so you travel many miles before the next town. Most of these small towns don't even have a stop sign so you can keep on rolling. After miles of crop and pasture lands we reached western Nebraska which has beautiful scenery of sand hills. These are ancient sand dunes, now supporting grasses and trees. As US 20 continues into Wyoming, there are more rocks and mountains. The scenery is beautiful. We encountered a few showers but arrived in Casper, Wyoming before dark. The Wal-Mart parking lot, our overnight stop, is packed with RV's, many are on the way to or from Yellowstone we suspect. US 20 joins I-25 about 50 miles before reaching Casper. Wyoming 220 from Casper south to Rawlins, Wyoming gets us back to I-80 and our normal route west. Rain hit us again on I-80 in western Wyoming and eastern Utah. Louise and I are sharing driving duties. I simply can't sit in the drivers seat for an extended time. I set the timer at 2 hours and when it goes off I look for a spot to pull over so we can change drivers. Louise takes the wheel for an hour then looks for a stopping place. While she drives I have my legs propped up on pillows on the passenger seat leg rest. That coupled with wearing the surgical stockings from the hospital keep my swelling in check. Louise drives the approach to Salt Lake City until we reach the Park City area where the slopes become steeper and the curves tighter. I'll get us through the city and to our fuel stop at Lake Point, Utah. From there Louise drives to our next overnight stop. Near Knolls, Utah is a wonderful rest stop which we have used frequently. Most of the truck parking is on a slope but there are a few nearly level spots at the western end of the west bound rest stop. The rest stop is well off the highway and high above the highway so there is no highway noise. A truck pulls in next to us late in the evening and immediately shuts his engine down. We both sleep well tonight. Thursday morning we are up and away about 8:00 a.m. We've been making really good time and our scheduled arrival in San Andreas, California is assured. We're stopping for fuel as we travel west because the fuel keeps getting more expensive as we travel. We'll grab some more fuel in Winnemucca, Nevada and then head on to Fernley where we leave I-80 for the short cut to Carson City, Nevada. We find the Wal-Mart posted "No Overnight Parking." This is a change, we have stayed there many times before. We continue on south on US 395 to Hwy 88 which will become California Hwy 88. This will take us over the Sierra Nevada. It is now late and we're not going to tackle that highway at night so we find a wide area along a river and park for the night. We are alone and it is quiet. I bookmark this spot in the GPS for future use. Friday morning Louise fixes a fine hot breakfast and we're on our way. Only 90 miles to Gold Strike Village in San Andreas, California. These 90 miles are real mountain driving. We're on two lane roads, plenty of turn-outs and lots of tight turns. The engine brake gets a workout on the down slopes and the engine has lots of exercise on the climbs. We arrive in Jackson, California just before noon. Louise wants a grocery stop so we make our way to the Safeway in Jackson. After shopping and eating lunch we are into our campground by 2:30 p.m. Saturday morning we are watching our five year old granddaughter play soccer. It's just too much fun to be missed. It makes the whole trip worthwhile. We'll be here for a month enjoying both the 5 year old and our 3 year old granddaughters. More soccer games, reading books, babysitting, and just being grandparents. The girls want to know what the scars on my knees are. They trace the line of the scar on my right knee and talk about stitches. I laugh and tell them they used staples. Ewww! Wait until I get the x-rays on disk. They should arrive in the mail next week. That will keep the girls entertained for five minutes.
  21. The weather is taking one last lash at us. Temperatures have been in the high 90s and into the 100s the last three days. Friday and Saturday are forecast to be in the 100s and then we should see cooler temperatures for the remainder of our stay here in Missouri. My right knee was replaced on July 28 and is now 5 weeks old. I'll see the surgeon for the 6 week check on September 7 and then we are leaving. I will need to come back for a 12 week check and will do that by flying back to St. Louis for the appointment and then returning to the motor home the next day. I got a bargain fare out of Albuquerque on Southwest Airlines that will be cheaper than driving the motor home all the way back to Missouri before heading to Texas for the winter. Meanwhile we have two granddaughters waiting for us in California. Next week will be busy. After being parked for over 3 months, there are always plenty of things that need to be stowed in the motor home. In addition, we've collected some family heirlooms from my mother who is cleaning house. We'll take them with us to California and then to Texas. Mom saved all kinds of memorabilia from my childhood and career. I'd have discarded lots of the stuff at the time but now, looking back they are more interesting. Some make me laugh, others are serious stuff. It is funny how our lives seem pretty routine, just getting by one day at a time. When you look back at it from a historical perspective, it becomes so much more interesting - at least to me. So we'll head west the end of next week. I sure hope the fuel prices plummet after the holiday. It is funny how the price of gasoline fluctuates wildly while the price of diesel remains pretty constant. I guess the trucking industry keeps the demand pretty constant. I checked the fuel prices along our route and as usual they increase as we go west. We'll pay about $0.30 more in California than we do here in Missouri. That means that as a rule, I'll keep topping off the tank before leaving each state. I'm looking forward to getting the wheels rolling again. Even though we've been over this route dozens of times over the years, it is always good to be rolling down the road. There is no greater freedom!
  22. Our winter this year was spent in our new mobile home in Sandpipers Resort in Edinburg, Texas. The motor home has been seriously neglected during this winter. We don't have to winterize in the normal sense. Tanks are drained and the refrigerator emptied and unplugged. We left the heat on and air conditioning when needed. Tires were inflated to maximum inflation pressure and we were parked on wooden blocks. I did wash the motor home several times through the winter and we were in and out moving items to and from the motor home. Still, we were occupied with the new house more than the motor home this winter. This is quite a change after almost ten years living full time in the motor home. Our goal was to leave south Texas on Sunday, May 1. Everything was going according to schedule until Louise came down with a serious cold just days before we were to leave. Fortunately, she had a good head start getting things into the motor home before the cold hit her. The final day was mine with all the mechanical things to tend to, check fluids, fill fresh water tank, move the coach off the blocks and adjust tire pressures. I finished loading the last of my personal items and closed up the house about 5:00 p.m. - yes, 5:00 p.m. We had delays, the starting batteries now 7 1/2 years old decided today was the day to quit. I started the coach using the battery boost from the house batteries. Then the Trailblazer wouldn't shift into neutral for towing. It has a chronic loose connection that no GM dealer has been able to fix. After a number of tries we finally get a shift and we're on our way - out the gate at 6:30 p.m. Our first stop was just 200 miles down the road. We were scheduled for maintenance at Iron Horse RV in San Antonio. Top of the list was to replace the starting batteries. Then there was a drip from the hot water heater that turned out to be a loose connection. That took several tries and replacing a broken fitting to finally solve that problem. The water pump was failing so it was replaced. The big job was replacing the refrigerator. The Norcold 1200 had finally become unusable during our last trip of the fall so when we unplugged it for the winter I knew it was the last time it would run. Our food was packed in ice chests for this trip, it would be transferred to our new refrigerator once it was installed. We chose to have a residential refrigerator installed in place of the Norcold. Iron Horse identified a model which would come close to fitting the space occupied by the Norcold. It was about 4 inches taller and three inches deeper but was the same width. Removing the old and installing the new took about two days with some interruptions for our tech to do other jobs on our coach and occasional assists working with other coaches. We left Iron Horse RV about 2:30 p.m. on Wednesday with good batteries, a working water pump, no drip from the water heater and a cold refrigerator. We spent the night at Riverside RV Park in Waco and then drove to MCD Innovations in McKinney, Texas the next day. The first of our pleated shades had broken just before we parked in the fall and we were unable to get repair because the shade couldn't be disassembled. Knowing that all the rest of the shades are 7 1/2 years old, we decided to replace the whole lot. Being on a schedule we elected to have MCD Innovations measure the windows for us and then ship us the shades for self installation later. With the roll up day/night shades and all our other fix ups we'll have a much improved coach. They got us measured Thursday afternoon and we were ready for an early morning departure on Friday. Our next destination was Denver, Colorado for a family wedding. It is an easy two day drive of about 400 miles each day. We had never driven the route from McKinney to Amarillo before and I really enjoy seeing new country and a new road. From Amarillo to Denver is a route we've traveled many times. We stayed overnight at the Wal-Mart in Dumas, our first night boondocking with the new refrigerator and it did just fine running on the inverter for the night. We arrived at Golden Terraces RV Park about 3:00 in the afternoon on Saturday, right on our planned schedule. Now we have a week of preparation for the wedding. Family visits, planning, scheduling, and on Saturday our youngest niece will be married. For now, we're sitting out a fine spring rain in Denver. The temperature is a cool 43 degrees. Wednesday morning I brushed snow off the Trailblazer. It is good to be back on the road again.
  23. It all started as we prepared to depart from a one-night stay at a campground on Matagorda Bay in Texas. We couldn't resist a morning walk along the seawall in Palacios. When we returned I completed most of the outside work while Louise cooked breakfast. French toast was delicious and welcome on this cool coastal morning. We were just beginning to clean up the kitchen when Louise reached for the refrigerator door to put something away. She pulled the right-hand door on the two-door Norcold 1200LRIM just as she had hundreds of times before. This time the door came off the refrigerator and dropped to the floor! The bottom of a bottle of wine broke from the bottle. A plastic container of tea dropped to the floor and the lid popped off. A variety of other jars and bottles rattled on the floor with the trays that contained them. Louise stood there in shock - holding the door and just looking at this completely unexpected mess on the floor. I finally took the door from Louise's hands and placed it on the floor out of the way. We used half a roll of paper towels to clean up the liquids and rinsed the other containers before putting them back in the half-open refrigerator. As Louise continued with the cleanup I began to analyze the door and the hinge on the refrigerator. How had this unimaginable mess occurred? My post-crash analysis showed a piece of plastic about 2 inches long by 3/8 inch that was held in place by two screws with a metal plate of similar dimensions backing the plastic. Further analysis showed a screw hole in the bottom of the door - but no screw. We had lost a key screw in the door and the door had been hanging by the plastic for who-knows-how-long. When the plastic failed, there was nothing to hold the door on the lower hinge. The upper hinge is simply a pin on the refrigerator that inserts into a hole in the door. Since the pin is inserted from above, the entire weight of the door rests on the lower hinge. When the lower hinge fails, the door falls and "down will come cradle, baby and all!" So if you have this model of refrigerator, get down on the floor and look up under the hinge to see that the screw that anchors the door to the hinge is still in place. Without it, the door will eventually fail. I found that I could put the door on the upper hinge and, with the lower hinge in the open position, the hinge supported the door while the vertical section pinned the door against the refrigerator. The door doesn't open normally, but we can reach around to get anything stored on the right side of the refrigerator. A healthy application of Gorilla Tape made sure that the door didn't move off the lower hinge. There was one small glitch: The door kept dropping out of its latch, which sets off a beeping alarm. Louise can't stand to listen to the beep, so I got a few washers to insert under the door to lift it about 3/16 inch and that did the trick. No more beeping. We traveled non-stop for about six hours before arriving at Rayne, Louisiana, just before sunset. This is a place of special memories for us. We purchased our current motor home at a rally at Rayne. There is a convention center with hundreds of RV hookups. We were told to stop by any time the facilities weren't in use and stay overnight or for a few days. Sure enough, the convention center was completely empty. We pulled in, followed shortly by another motor home. We talked briefly with them. We were looking for 50A, they were happy with 30A. We went on to look for our spot. We arrived at a point where a turn was going to be difficult, so I elected to drive through the dump station. We were almost back to the main road when, WHOA! I hit the brakes. There, resting on the windshield right at eye level was an electrical wire, a single cord of insulated wire supported by and wound around a bare metal wire. It was twilight and I felt lucky to have even spotted it in time to stop. It would likely have cracked the windshield or even worse if it slipped off the windshield onto the front cap of the motor home. I put Louise into the drivers seat and went outside to assess the situation. We could unhook the car, 20 minutes, and then hook up the car in the morning, another 30 minutes. Or I could find something to raise the wire above the motor home. One option was to get on the roof and walk the wire down the roof as we passed under. Then I thought of the wash brush. With its extended handle and a rubber covered handle, I thought it would work. We started off and I had to shout instructions through the window to tell Louise if there was a problem. After a short trial, I moved to the other side of the coach and used a radio to communicate with Louise. We eased our way along without a hitch, over the satellite dome, the front air conditioner, fan vents and sewer vent. Finally the back air conditioner and the ladder and we were free! We found a place to hook up and plugged in. In about 30 minutes a city employee showed up to collect our camping fee. Water, electric and a dump station for $20 a night. I told the employee about the low-hanging wire. We had encountered more than our usual challenges in a single day on the road. The refrigerator was working, maybe better than before. The encounter with the wire hadn't damaged the motor home - or me. We slept well that night. The next morning, the electrical company was out with a truck and secured the line. We were on down I-10 headed for Montgomery, Alabama, and our next adventure.
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