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Home for the Winter!

Catching you up on where we are now until the end of March.

When we started this journey we had 2 places in Florida to choose from for our winter stay.  We made deposits on both and figured that we would take a chance that the site we really wanted would actually be available.  Well…. it was!  We ended up at Melbourne Beach Mobile Park in Melbourne Beach, Florida.  Couldn’t ask for a better place to make home for 5 months!

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Our rig set up

We have great wide spaces and ample parking for ourselves and any guests we may have.  The neighbors are all wonderful and unlike our stay in Washington, these folks are here for the season.  That means you get to know people.  We have people from just about everywhere as neighbors and our knowledge of the U.S. and our surrounding countries will grow with this group.

Here is a little bio on some of our new “neighbors” and a collage of photos below.

We have Cal and Jane from Nova Scotia better known as our “Mayor” and “Social Organizer”.  They are great fun and have been coming to this location for 20 years.  They own a bed & breakfast (without the breakfast) in Nova Scotia.  Cal is my Sequence partner and for now, we are the champs!

Pete and Marilyn are from Kentucky.  Actually pronounced in Kentuckian as Ken-tuuck-eeeeee.  They were actually the first couple we met upon arrival.  At our first get together with all the crew, Marilyn did the introductions and Jim is now called Jiiiimm.  This is their first year here as well. And… Jim and Marilyn are Sequence Partners.  Pete and the aforementioned Jane are the two remaining Sequence partners

Mark and Cheryl  are returning snowbirds as well.  They are from South Carolina.  Along with Cal and Jane they are the “social co-organizers”.  We really enjoy their company and they are so welcoming.  They have been back home for a couple of weeks for the holidays so we haven’t had too much time together.

Ed and Elaine live here at the park full-time.  They used to be in a rig but now have a double wide home across on the river side.  Elaine is a decorator extraordinaire and her home looks like it came straight from Pier One.  She is also the life of the party! Ed is quiet guy with an infectious laugh if you can get him to laugh. LOL

Tony and Shantelle are from Michigan (brrrrr).  They have the neatest collection of shells and are so interesting to visit with.  Tony says they are Carnies but Shantelle is quick to correct that they followed the circus and fair circuit with a food truck… they are NOT Carnies, LOL.  They too have been home for Christmas so we haven’t had a huge amount of time to visit.

Sharon also lives across by the river side.  She is a true sweetheart and is my shell hunting buddy.  This may be her last season at the park as she has her unit up for sale. She will be heading back home where her kids want her close.  She also makes the best chocolate sheet cake I have ever eaten 🙂  YUM

Nelson and Betty are our next door neighbors.  They are from Indiana and just flew home to welcome their 1st Great Grandchild just before Christmas.

Teddy and Jeannie are directly across from us and are also long time snowbirds.  He is quite the fisherman and Jeannie is a lover of plants.

Phil is another full-time resident.  He lives in a small trailer ocean side and has ridden out all the hurricanes.  His trailer has taken a hit a few times but repairs have been made and he loves it here.  He is a substitute teacher and stays busy.

Nancy & Jay are also our neighbors and are new to this park this year.  Nancy is a seamstress and I can’t wait to pick her brain on a couple of projects I have. We don’t know Jay too well just yet.

We also met Jim & Diana from ExploRVistas! They live just across the park on the river side from us.  They have a blog as well.  https://explorvistas.com  Jim has been working for UPS this Christmas season and has quite some funny stories should you want to head over to their site to read 🙂

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Sunrise – Right in front of us.
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My shell collection is growing!

That’s our neighborhood for now.  We will keep you updated on our adventures.

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It’s All About the Boys!!

This blog is mostly pictures of our little grandsons and some of our adventures so far!  (For those that aren’t family or friends, sorry for all the pics but so many requested to see the boys.)

October 30:

We managed to get set up by noon at our spot and Kara brought the boys over to see us. Carson is already 9 months old.  Time flies!

It was so fun to see Landon come up and knock on our door at the RV Park and see his face light up to see Paka and Bwanga there! He knew that we were coming to see him, but only as much as a 3 year old can understand.  We don’t think he actually understood  that we were going to be here in person instead of on FaceTime.  It was a kick for sure.  He was so excited!!!!

We had arrived 2 days ahead of schedule just in time to help with the Trunk or Treat that Kara and Garrett’s church had organized.

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How’s this for Cops and Robbers?

We try to pick up Landon from pre-school at least twice a week and do something fun.  Here are a couple of excursions 🙂

Turtle Sanctuary Visit

Beach Day, Right in front of our rig!

Preschool Thanksgiving lunch!

And Landon’s first slumber party with GMA and GPA.

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We are sure enjoying the Florida sun and sand.  Next up we will give you a tour of our home for the winter, Melbourne Beach Mobile Park.

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Louisiana and Northern Florida

We survived the I-10 through most of Louisiana, and early evening we made it to:
Breaux Bridge, Louisiana at the Poches Fish & Camp RV Park 

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Surrounded by water

You could see evidence of Hurricane Harvey everywhere, even as far inland as we were at times. Trees were down, debris all along the freeway.  So much that I’m sure the clean up involved only the specific travelling part of the freeway and the sides and ditches would be dealt with later.   The I-10 was HORRIBLE through this section of our travel. Unfortunately I don’t think Hurricane Harvey could be blamed for that.  It seemed to be neglected for a much longer period of time.   

We also experienced our first leak in the rig.  We had been dancing with storms all day and the rain at times was relentless.  Once we arrived at our spot for the evening we realized that the passenger side window had been leaking and I hadn’t even noticed it.  Jim determined it was the window seal and we were able to “make-shift” a solution till we could get to drier weather.  After a thorough examination of all windows, we were relieved it was only the one window.  Another plus was the new flooring we chose being Engineered Vinyl, so no damage to floors at all 🙂  

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Very Rustic Check In
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Setting up
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camps on other side
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cabin rentals
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looking across the lagoon
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Our drive in. One wrong turn and you are in the water!

Here is a small photo set I took from the rig while on the drive along the Louisiana Bayou:

Passing through Alabama we drove by the USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park.  I attempted photos from rig as we passed the USS Alabama, and the B-51:

Holt, Florida, Rivers Edge RV Park

Last stop before seeing the daughter and grandbabies!

We didn’t get any photos here.  It was just a quick nights rest and it was pouring down rain.  Jim went out to secure the rig for the evening and took a few camera shots, but nothing good enough to post.  An okay place to stop for the night but a little run down.  We wouldn’t stay here other than passing through.

Next up, Melbourne Beach… Home for the Winter 🙂

 

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It’s Official, We’re TEXANS!!!

texas sealcolorWe arrived at Livingston, Texas the third week of October. We set aside a week for getting all our legal paperwork done and our new domicile created. Good thing we did.  As always, with us… nothing is ever smooth.

Unfortunately you don’t have one office you go where all of your “official” items can be done, like the DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) in California.

First stop was to obtain a Texas permanent address.  Escapee’s was our choice.  We went first thing on Monday morning.  Paid our forwarding mail service fee’s for the year and got our new address.  Easy stop 🙂

Second, you have to obtain Texas insurance.  For us we had to obtain RV Fulltime Insurance which isn’t as simple as just basic vehicle insurance.  There are only a few companies out there that offer this option.  We have always had AAA but they do not offer full time insurance so we had to choose another option.  This is where it gets confusing.  You see, no matter how many reviews you look at in regard to insurance you are going to get conflicting reports.  We love it, we HATE it, it was okay except for…  So basically you just have to go with your gut.  We chose GEICO.  Actually a smooth transition over the phone and we were set.  We will see how that plays out.

Third, you have to have your vehicle inspected.  Yep, unhook, unplug, etc… and drive your rig to another venue (one of about 3 choices) and honk your horn, turn your windshield wipers on, pay $7 and you get your inspection confirmation paperwork.  We also had to do the same for the car.  Unfortunately for us, we did not have our motorcycle with us and we were in hopes they would let us get our tags without it being there.  Nope, no go.  Knowing this, Jim would have to make a return trip on the motorcycle to get all this done. Sigh…

Fourth, you have to go to the tax assessor’s office to obtain your tags with all the paperwork from the first two stops and your application for the tags.  Now those of you that know me, know that I have it all alphabetized and categorized in my handy dandy folder to present when we arrive.  I had left a couple of lines blank on the form because I wasn’t quite certain “which” data they really wanted.  You know.. like Driver’s License Number.  Well, do I put our California DL numbers or what?  I don’t have a Texas DL yet so a little confusing.  Also, a few little hidden boxes that were unclear.  Well, these gals must have taken their training from the California DMV staff because they were not-so-nice.

HER: “Complete these blanks over there (away from her window) and return to the line.” 

ME: “I have a couple of questions”

HER: ” What?” (emphasis on the “t”)

ME: “I only have a CA DL now, but it sounds like they want your TX DL and I don’t have one yet”,

HER: “Well, duh, put the one you have.” 

ME: “Well, duh… okay”

Like a good little girl, I completed the form and returned, but to a different line.  This gal was not Miss Congeniality either but we killed her with kindness and actually got a smile before we left.  Thank goodness when Jim comes back with the bike I won’t be here.  Took all I could muster not to pull out all my sarcasm sayings about their nastiness.

Fifth and finally you go get your driver’s license.  We had to go to a different town because the Livingston Driver’s License office was closed due to flood damage from Hurricane Harvey.  So, the closest office was about 30 minutes away.  We arrived to a long line out the door of the Drivers License office.  We went in a drew a number.  We were 48.  Got to talking to one of the people standing there that was number 35.  He had been there an hour and half.  So after doing the math, based on the number ahead of him and between us, we figured we would get in the door in about three and half hours! Not counting a lunch break for the staff of two! So we kept our number, got in the car and drove to another town another 30 minutes away from there and while the line was long here as well, there were 6 people processing as opposed to the two back at our number 48 spot.  We decided to wait it out.  Took about an hour and half and our number was called.  My neatly stacked paperwork (all the above) and our Drivers License applications neatly sat in front of the clerk.  To which she stated:

HER: “So which one of you will I be processing?”

ME: ” Aaaa both of us?”

HER: “Nope, you only drew one number,  so one number, one person.”

ME: “You gotta be kidding me?”

HER: “Nope”

Well, now that is a dilemma.  So… we went with Jim to be processed and were thinking that maybe we should head back to the other office (our number 48) office and wait for our number to be called.  In the meantime, while she was processing Jim, I went back out and drew another number just to see what the time frame there would be to wait there again.  Just then Jim calls me back behind the counter and she takes the number I just drew and begins to process my paperwork.  I didn’t ask questions, just let her do her thing.  Problem solved, right?  Nope!

You have to do a vision test.  This test is a small counter top item somewhat like an old picture viewer when we were kids only larger.  Well, I have mono vision, meaning I see far with one eye (20 – 20 laser surgery) and near (very near) with my left eye.  Well, when she flipped that little switch for my left eye I couldn’t see anything but blur.  Needless to say I did not pass the vision test and was given a form and told that an eye doctor had to complete the form.  By-the-way, it’s now 1:45 PM.  We haven’t eaten and my eye doctor is in California.  Lovely.

You know these people are really holding your life in their hands, so while you may want to lash out with a snarky quib…. you can’t!! 

So we faxed the form to my CA doctor and called the office telling of our dilemma.  He is not available till later in the day and as we are 3 hours ahead I knew that today was not the day for me to get my license.  We would have to do this all over again.  Ugh!  Well…. the clerk where we faxed the document said, you know there is an eye doctor across the street?  So , we took a chance, called them and they could squeeze me in.  My full year for an exam via insurance wasn’t up yet (of course) so we knew it would have to be a cash visit.  We were somewhat stuck so we figured may as well go for it.  Only thing though was we did not know if the DL office would even take a form stating that I had mono-vision.  Even the local doc wasn’t sure they would take it.  But we figured what do we have to lose.  Saw the doctor, he completed the form.  Paid $100 cash. We returned to the DL office, pulled a number and waited another hour to hopefully have them accept the eye doctor’s explanation on the form.  We got the same clerk again and she took the form, barely looked at it.  Stamped my paperwork and gave me my temporary license.  SCORE!

It was a long exhausting day and I’m curious how it would have played out had we stayed at the first DL office.  One thing is for certain though, there would not have been an eye doctor across the street to utilize as it was a super small town with barely a gas station.  So all-in-all a good thing we had to drive the extra 30 minutes.

Now the only legal thing left to do is dissolve our California Living Trust and establish a Texas Will as we no longer own property to put in a trust.  We met with the lawyer on Wednesday and determined how we wanted the Will to be worded along with filing an Affidavit of Domicile and our Power of Attorney’s and DNR paperwork.  Very smooth meeting and transaction.  Expensive but well worth it for peace of mind.

Now we have a few days to relax and visit friends that live at Escapee’s Care.  We met Waymon and Shirley last March at an Escapee’s Convention in Tucson.  Hit it off and enjoyed each other’s company promising to look them up when we came to do our legal paperwork.  We were able to go out to eat with them a couple of times and we sure enjoyed our time there.  Waymon is an Korean and Vietnam War Vet,  B-52 Pilot.  Lots of stories to tell and Shirley is so energetic, she makes me tired.  Jim will spend time with them when he comes back in a couple of weeks to get the motorcycle tagged.

 

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Waymon & Shirley in Escapee’s CARE cafeteria

While there we were able to volunteer for a day trip for the people at Escapee’s CARE while they had a road trip over to an assisted living location.  The organization fed the group on the law and gave tours for those that were looking to go to a more “specific” type of Care Giving.

Friday morning we woke up ready to head out, and you guessed it.  Right rear inner flat tire.  Thank goodness for the tire monitoring system we invested in 🙂 Without it we would not have known the tire was flat.  Here is a link to ours: TireTracker  With that being said we used another one of our great purchases to air the tire up to a safe pressure so that we could get it into town to have the valve stem repaired.  Here is our handy gadget for all kinds of things.  Portable Power Station (we did not pay this price by-the-way)

We managed to get out of town by noon and made great time.

Only 2 more stops till we see the grandbabies!

 

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Texan Shenanigans

Welcome to Texas!!

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We arrived in Weatherford, Texas at our friend’s Robert and Patti’s house on Saturday.  It was our goal to get there before Sunday so that we could attend church with them.  Seemed appropriate since we first met at church, goodness.. I am not even sure how long ago.  I’m guessing 1992 or 93 ish…

Since that time we have watched their little family grow with the addition of Kenna and Benjamin.  Both our girls spent many an evening babysitting those two and they became just another part of our family and well, we just butted into theirs.  It was a sad day when the little family shipped off to Texas nine (I think) years ago. We have been able to stay in touch over the years.  They made sure they made it to both our girls weddings and even provided the (timeshare) condo for our family to stay in at Kara’s wedding.  We were so happy to get to spend a week with them.  They graciously allowed us to homestead in the driveway even trimming trees so the rig would fit.

Kenna greeted us with a large size Texas filled goody bag. Texas Pecan Delight, Texas Almond Delight, and Okra Chips.  Yep, we are in TEXAS now!

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Kenna’s Beautiful Calligraphy 🙂

 

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Jim’s normal look

 

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Not sure he is going to share!
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Our set up for the week

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now the busy week begins!

Sunday morning we went to church followed by lunch at Babes in Granbury, TX.  Oh my goodness was that lunch awesome.  If you ever get a chance to go there..DO!  It’s family style with options of Fried Chicken, Chicken Fried Steak, Fried Catfish and more, all with sides of Mashed Potatoes, Corn, Green Beans and of course, BREAD!  http://www.babeschicken.com/our-kitchens/granbury/

We managed a little side tour of the town of Granbury and the Hood County Jail while we walked off our lunch.  You seriously do have to walk that lunch off!

The rest of the week was a blur as I had forgotten how busy it is when there are two teenagers in the house.  Kenna and Ben both are active in their youth group and school activities all the while holding part-time jobs. (and homework) Ben also plays soccer and is working on his Eagle Scout status in Boy Scouts.  Needless to say we didn’t get to spend a lot of time with the kids.

Robert took Jim on a tour at Lockheed.  Of course Jim had a great time and was amazed by the mile long assembly line and the engineering of what it takes to put a plane together.  Sorry no pics of that.  No cameras allowed 🙁

Patty and I spent a whole day driving to and from Waco, TX.  Home of Chip and Joanna Gaines, hosts of Fixer Upper and Yep,  Magnolia Farms.  I had always wanted to go there and I was not disappointed. While their show is no longer in production, the Gaines have done well to bring life to their small town of Waco. It is abundantly clear that they understand customer service.  Every employee sports a name badge that states their name and where they are originally from.  They spend time talking to you.  I mean really sincerely talking.  Almost everyone asks where you are from and the conversation goes from there.  They all know the products well and are clearly there for your needs.  We were bummed that our visiting day wasn’t a “surprise” visit day from Chip and Joanna.  Evidently they will on occasion just “pop” in the store to surprise customers.

On a side note, I had asked the sales rep if she was a Baylor University student.  I had figured since they were both alumni of Baylor that it would make sense that they hire the college students to work for them.  I was right!  Many of their employees are indeed students but then there are many others.  For instance, Chip and Joanna hired many people from the nearby town of West, Texas after it’s fertilizer plant exploded.  Everything was demolished and hundreds of people lost their jobs.  Chip and Joanna knew that if they did not step in to help that West would quickly be a dying town as Waco once had been.  So they stepped up and hired all they could afford so that the community would still thrive.  (this was relayed to me by the sales rep, I tried to fact check but could not find any legitimate data, I am going on good faith she was telling me the truth)

Ben had been waiting for a cool evening so that he could work on his Boy Scout fire making ability.

On Wednesday we were able to meet up with Callie and the kids for a walk in the park, picking up pecans, petting dogs and then lunch.  Later the kids, moreso Seely gave us a tour of their house.  He just might be getting trained by Papa Frank on how to sell real estate.  The kids are getting so big!  Wished we had more time!

Friday afternoon Robert, Jim and I took a trip to the Bureau of Engraving and Printing in Fort Worth, Texas.  Another place that cameras are not allowed.  It was a self-guided tour featuring the various steps of currency production.  Amazing! Definitely go there if you are in the area.  By-the-way do not take your cell phone, a knife, or an ear piece into the facility with you.  Pretty much don’t take anything other than some cash if you want a souvenir.  We made 3, well Jim made 3 trips back to the truck to make himself legal to enter the premises.  Those of you know us, know that this is a typical adventure for us.  Here is a few pics of the brochure and the website: www.bep.gov

On Friday night we were “allowed” to attend Friday Night Lights – The Aledo Football Game.  Yes you must be privileged 🙂 Aledo has taken the state title for many years, many of them consecutive, and they are SERIOUS about their football!  Got a good pic of beautiful Kenna.  We didn’t see Ben much as he was off with his group of friends at the game. (mostly girls)  Hmmmm…..

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Saturday morning we hit the road.  Headed to Livingston, Texas to take care of all our legal paperwork.

Our Saturday EARLY morning send off.  No make-up, No hair fixed.  Aren’t we lovely?  See you guys when you visit Florida for the holidays!!

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Side Trip to Oklahoma!

October 5 – Edmond, Oklahoma – Tuepker Farm

Today we arrived at Jim’s sister-in-law’s family home. A quiet 40 acres in the middle of the big city in Edmond, Oklahoma. One of the few acreages left before the big city swallows it up.  We thought we would spend a quiet week visiting the family but it seems like everywhere we go there is so much we want to do that it is run, run, run.  So little time to accomplish it all.

Family Get-Together with the Cowans

We spent the better part of the week visiting with Jim’s mom and brother and sister-in-law.  We took a drive to the old family homestead in Duncan Oklahoma and of course that means a stop off at Bill’s for catfish.  On the Thursday before we left all the siblings, granny, John, Jacki and myself all got together for an afternoon of catching up and eating. (of course)

SURPRISE:  Jim and I took a chance a drove my the last known address of my best friend from high school.  We slid in behind a car into the gated community and thought we’d give a knock on the door.  No harm, no foul.  Right? We were in luck!  They still lived there but she didn’t recognize this old gal.  She recognized Jimmy though.  No one ever forgets Jimmy!  We spent about 2-3 hours catching up.  We figured it had been close to 20 years since we had seen each other.   On Sunday we were able to attend church with them and on Wednesday of that week I was able to go spend the day with Viola at her office.  We had a great time.

Get together with my high school best friend Viola and her husband Danny along with a visit to the famous Arcadia Round Barn and Pops on Route 66.

 

Me and my BFF from high school Viola.  She still looks like a young thing.

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My dear friend from high school, Viola and me

Meet up with my great childhood friend from church,  Melody.  Harrah was having an event at the city park and Melody came and hunted us down!  I’m so glad she stopped in.

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My friend Melody from childhood. We were the first babies in the church in town where our parents attended. Melody was about 9 months old when I was born.

Off to high schools where we both went back in the day.  The top line photos are McLoud High School (now the Elementary and Middle school) where I went K-11th grade.  The bottom line photos are of Harrah High School where Jim went K-12 and I attended only my senior year.

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Chasing the Sun – UT to TX

October 1-2 – Moab, Utah – Archview RV Resort and OK RV Park

Ahhh, Moab.  Just as you drive into Moab you think, Wow, just Wow!  We were arriving later than planned (those stupid sunglasses) and there was not an RV spot to be found!  Hello? Is there a special event?  We couldn’t figure it out.  We drove from one end of the town to the other.  Tons of parks but not a single availability.

Now before you think I didn’t plan well, you have to understand that I usually call ahead while on the road to get a spot but because of our delay and weather, we weren’t sure we were going to make it to our destination and just took the chance we would find something.  Well, not in Moab.  It’s prime season there and most people had booked 6 months to a year ahead.

We took one last run through town and tried the last RV Park on the far outskirts of town and got lucky.  They had two spots left. We barely fit but it worked.  At this point we were exhausted didn’t care what it cost and hadn’t really seen any of the scenery so we decided to stay a second night so that we could head to Arches National Park and get my Passport Book stamped 🙂  We spent nearly the entire day in the National Park.  It was a perfect day, somewhat cool after the storms but sunny.  We couldn’t have picked a better day.  I must have taken a bajillion pictures and none of which do this place justice.  There are just a few below.  We will come here again for sure.  We will book far in advance and stay a week no doubt.

Our spot at the $60 RV Resort (never again).  I still can’t believe we paid it.  A couple of cars nestled in the hills and the Hole In The Rock.  Not sure how they got the painted up there but for certain they are not afraid of heights.

Arches National Park

October 3 – Grants, New Mexico – Bar S Ranch

Leaving Moab we took the route through the Navajo Nation and Colorado.  The roads in that section of Utah were horrible, by far the worst we have been on.  I swear that they all get together, chew some bubble gum (pink), spit it out and spread it across the road.  We even bottomed out on one section after slowing down as quickly as we could when we saw it coming.  Also along that route we were surprised and sad to see the poverty of the small communities along the way.

As the Navigator I saw that Mesa Verde National Park (Colorado) was just a 10 minute drive from our turn off to head down to New Mexico.  So we went for it.  After all, I needed that stamp for my Passport Book.  As we had both visited Mesa Verde before, we didn’t see the need to go all the way through the park again.  I just wanted my stamp.  We took a 30 minute stop to view the exhibits, get my stamp and make a sandwich before the hitting the road again.  We have to come back here with Tim and Sherry.  Sherry will LOVE this park.  The cliff dwellings of those that went before us are amazing to see.  The exhibits below are so life like you have to do a double take.

After a long day of driving,we landed at Bar S just to get a good night’s sleep.  We weren’t even in our spot yet and Chatty Charlie shows up.  Hey! Hello neighbor!  Oh, you are from California.  Well, I’m from….and my wife, and my kids, and my house, and my other house, and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, and blah.  30 minutes, seriously.

Really?  I’m all for being friendly but cut me some slack.  I’m trying to park and set up here!  I finally said, “gotta go”…..

Hurry, close the door and put the shades down.

No pics from here because I had to be a hermit.

October 4 – Amarillo, Texas – A- OK RV

Another quick stop after a day of skirting storms and stopping to let the rainstorm pass.  This park used the honor system.  $13 in an envelope if you have a Passport America card (Score!)  It didn’t have the best reviews, a little run down, but full hook ups (except cable) and it worked for us.  Can’t beat the cost.

No pics –  as we pulled in late, slept and took off early.

We are tired and looking forward to a week in one spot.

Next up Oklahoma!

 

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Chasing the Sun – WA to UT

September 27 – Yakima, Washington – Harvest Hosts – Mike and Jen

Our first driving day after leaving Port Angeles was fairly uneventful.  Driving in and around Seattle at any time is absolutely no fun whatsoever.  We took the road least travelled that would get us to our destination for the night, Yakima Washington.  We used our Harvest Hosts membership and stayed for FREE.  The drive up the “hill” (more like a small mountain) to their home was a bit narrow and steep in places.  So…worth it in the end.  We stayed the one night and took off the next morning. (note the house seen below is not their home but a neighboring farm)  They have a beautiful home which overlooks apple orchards everywhere! I never post photos of their homes unless they have given the okay and here I did not have a chance to ask permission.  Just take my word for it that their home was beautiful, it was at one time an older church that was later remodeled and nestled among apple orchards overlooking the Yakima Valley.

September 28-30 – Star, Idaho – Stan & Ellen’s house

We arrived in Star Idaho early evening at our hosts Stan and Ellen’s house.  We had not seen them since June of 2010 at Scott and Sarah’s wedding.  Jim had been to their home before on a motorcycle trip with his buddy Tim, so it was a first trip for me.  They have the coolest house that they have redone on the outskirts of town.  Well, it used to be the outskirts of town.  Now it’s slowly being surrounded by the town.  After staying up till nearly midnight catching up, we woke up the next day to have Jim spend a day washing the rig and doing a little maintenance work while Ellen and I took on the town by shopping at thrift stores.  Sounds like a fair trade.  Right? Friday night we headed to one of our favorite hamburger spots Red Robin and enjoyed having their daughter Katie join us.  What an awesome young lady! Well done, Stan and Ellen! We were up and off on Saturday morning with the hopes of all of us glamping together in the future.  (Tim & Sherry, that means you too!)

September 30 – Ogden, Utah – Wasatch RV View Estates

Leaving Idaho mid morning caused us to catch up and pass some storms along the drive.  We went through a bit of lightning and mostly rain before arriving at Ogden.  It was early evening and we were anxious to get a bite to eat.  As we planned on leaving early the next morning we didn’t want to unhook the toad so we began a short walk (500 yards) to a burger joint across the highway.

As you can see in the photos below, the storm we had passed was very quickly catching up with us and we no more than got to the door of the burger joint and the winds of the storm hit.  We both looked at each other and began running back to the rig before the rain hit.  Okay, we didn’t run, it was a quick jog through traffic.  But in my mind I was 20 and running like the wind.  We waited for the storm to pass as it was fast moving and Jim unhooked the toad and drove to get us burgers.  Gosh we’re lazy.

Sunday morning was beautiful after the storm and we got up and followed our routine for heading out.  Just as we were rounding the corner to leave the park, I realized I could not find my sunglasses.  Hmmm.  So we park by the office to dig and find them. The last time I remember having them (I thought) was on that “run” back from the burger joint last night.  Surely I didn’t drop them in the wind and rain in traffic or the field we ran across? After searching the rig for nearly 30 minutes, Jim took a wandering tour through the fields and over to the burger joint retracing steps to see if I dropped them.  NOPE!  So the dilemma was do we head out and hope they pop up somewhere or tear the rig apart looking again?  As these are RayBan sunglasses ($$), we opted to “walk” (talk) through our steps of the evening thinking that I may have been mistaken about having them with me on our evening adventure run.  In doing so, I suddenly remembered having laid them down on the desk as we checked into the RV Park the evening before.  Yep, I was certain!  Did I pick them up or did I leave them on the desk was the question.

Well as our luck would have it, and being Sunday the office did not open till 11:00 a.m.  It was 9:30 a.m. Ugh, so we sat there until the office opened and seriously praying that my glasses were indeed on that desk.  I was sure they were, I mean after all I was sure they were with me last night at the sprint across the freeway too.  Dear Lord, let them be there or I think Jim’s brain will explode.

TADA!  I knew they were there! No pics though, darn it.  Didn’t even think about it because now we are getting on the road 3 hours later than planned.  Ugh.

Cowan luck.

Next up: Utah to Texas

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We Say Goodbye to the Pacific Northwest

It seems we just arrived and here we are saying goodbye to our Pacific Northwest adventure for this year.  We managed to squeeze in a little fun and a couple of day trips before we had to say “so long” till next year.

We took a day trip to Port Townsend, Washington which is a vintage town built in the 1800’s and is SO pretty.  We had an overcast day which was great for having the windows down while driving through the town looking for photo ops.  Great historical landmarks here.

Fort Worden was constructed between 1898 and 1920. During World War I and World War II all of the artillery pieces were eventually dismantled for use in the field.  This fort  as you see it below (all the white buildings) is immaculate and still looks like it did when it was an active military base.  There are more than 70 historical structures centered near the parade grounds.  Fort Worden State Park, created in 1972 is one of the most visited state parks in Washington.  At the end of the state park is the Point Wilson Lighthouse.  Unfortunately, it is closed for repairs.  Actually after talking to an Fort Worden employee they stated that the powers that be are arguing over who is responsible for what in regard to the lighthouse and it’s surrounding property.  We could see that the shoreline was eroding and the cost to repair I can imagine, is astronomical. At this point, my dilemma was “where do I get my lighthouse passport stamped”?  Off we drove to the commons area of the fort and no luck.  After asking around, we were directed to the gift shop. Score!  Even though I was disappointed we couldn’t actually go up into the lighthouse I was happy I could get my stamp!

After leaving the fort grounds we meandered downtown to Water Street. where we parked the car and walked to all the shops.  We managed to get pictures of the Fire Bell Tower and a few of the U.S. Post Office.

We always ask the locals where to eat so we ended up at Sea J’s.  A little hole in the wall totally off the beaten path where there were only 5 tables that each seat 6 inside.  The rule: everyone comes in and takes a spot at one of the empty chairs, enjoy the company and the food.   I had popcorn shrimp and Jim had fish and chips.  All-in-all a good place to eat.

After lunch we headed up the hill to a beautiful red brick building that we could see off in the distance.  Winding through the streets and pulling around we found the Jefferson County Courthouse.  A beautiful site.  So much of the original stone!  You can only see a few areas where they have had to replace old with new material.  The bright yellow doors welcome you and the inside was like walking back in time.  If you have to go to court at least the views are spectacular!

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Fall has arrived with Winter on her tail!  The end of our trip has brought showers and that definite cool crisp air in the evenings. Tomorrow morning we leave the park and head to Brooke’s house for one last night with them, then we are off taking a Southeast route.  We were hoping to go to Yellowstone but with the snow already dusting the mountains we decided that will have to be in the Spring when we return.

We are scheduled to arrive back here the last week of May 2018 so that we can train for a week before we begin our stint as Camp Hosts here at the John Wayne RV Resort.  We were so thrilled that Tracy asked us to be hosts for the 2018 summer season.  I guess that means that we are good campers.  🙂   It works perfectly for us!

Next up is approximately 10 days of travel across 6 states to reach Oklahoma where we will spend a week, then off to Texas to do all of our legal domicile paperwork and visit friends. We will catch you all up as we move along.

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John Wayne RV Resort – Home till October

August 14th,

We made our way over to the John Wayne RV Resort in Sequim, Washington.  This will be our home until the end of September.  This resort is small in relationship to most big RV resorts and in general is somewhat old fashioned per say.  They have a bathhouse and lots of grassy area where the guests can play yard games like badminton, corn hole, horseshoes, etc….  They even have a garden with Zucchini, Tomatoes, Lettuce, Snap Peas, Kale and Strawberries.  There is Wild Blackberries everywhere here.

The staff here is wonderful!  Tracy runs the office and Lorraine and Linda are camp hosts that will help in any way possible when it comes to the customer.  This park is a small portion of the 220 acres that John Wayne owned along the Sequim Bay.  His trust (mainly his son Ethan Wayne) still manages the operations here at the park.  Across the street is the John Wayne Marina which he (John) gave the land to the city of Sequim to build and maintain.

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We love having the water of Sequim Bay right in front of us!  Here are a few shots of our rig and the bay from our rig patio: (Continued Below)

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We have met some great folks here as well.  Since we are here a while we have had about a dozen neighbors in our 1st month.  We have made some friends that I know we will stay in contact with through the years as well.  I can honestly say that we have really enjoyed this gypsy style life so far!    We keep a business card type book by our front door and we put each person’s business card in the book.  ( A lot of people that full-time have business cards – really a contact card that they give to people that they want to stay in touch with) I keep blank cards there and if they don’t have one to give us I just have them print me the contact info on the blank card and insert it.  Works!

I promised a few of our new acquaintances I’d drop a line about them in my blog.  LOL

First we met Stan and Anya who had a small boat and furnished us with our first real fresh Dungeness Crab for dinner.  How nice is that for someone you have known all of 2 days?

There is also Rick and Connie who have 2 Kayaks with them and a sailboat.  Rick has been Jim’s mentor in the Kayak world because he clearly knows what he is talking about. We plan on taking a water trip together.  Rick and I will sail on his 2 person sailboat and Jim will take his kayak and we are going to sail to the Dungeness Lighthouse on what they call the Spit.  (Connie is sitting this one out) Walking to the lighthouse is an all day affair and I have zero desire to hike the terrain to get there, so this is my only means at this point.  As I write this we only have 2 weeks left here so we have to check the tide charts and plan a day for this event.

Next to arrive was Rena and Robert.  We can now say that we have camped next to a Macaw named Maiya.  I was cracking up and telling Jim that I had now “seen it all” after I had seen a gal walking her Parrot.  Well….they were our neighbors and stopped to chat.  Shortly after our chat started there must have been a news flash about a parrot in camp and we had an ample amount of new visitors visit our site and begin to take photos with the bird.  I honestly thought that I should start charging a $1 a shot.  LOL  It was fun and interesting.

Behind us was Jim and Nancy.  They were here long enough for us to know that we will be visiting them when we travel through Arkansas where their homebase is.  We had lots of fun visiting and swapping stories.  They had a dog name Zoe, which was our latest dogs name. So we liked her immediately, she was the cutest puppy.   

Also just behind us is Sherry.  Sherry is a single gal who has had 2 years of tragedy and suffering in her family.  You would never know it until you got to know her.  She is so sweet and is doing far better than I would be, given her circumstances.  She recently sold everything and got a storage unit for her items she is emotionally attached to with plans on settling down somewhere near here in the next year where her son is nearby.  As we leave John Wayne this summer season, she will become one of the camp hosts for next season so she can keep us up on the happenings here at the resort we have come to love.

Rich and Sue are travel bugs.  They were actually only camped by us a couple of days before they headed to another park where they had reservations.  They had just returned from a long trip through Alaska in their rig and the stories were great, along with multiple cracks in the front windshield from the Alaska wilderness!  I may go to Alaska but I’m not taking my rig.  We actually met up with them for dinner at “their place” a few days after they left and we also managed to squeeze in a night at the city park for “music in the park”.  Great fun.  Another couple we will stay in touch with, hopefully we will get to meet up in Florida where they have an RV resort type spot they own.  (as I type this Hurricane Irma is hitting Florida hard so we will see what’s left to go to)

Next up the Canadians.  Now they are a fun group.  Ernie and Sieward are brother-in-laws that get along like real brothers.  The gals,  Jo and Ina are constantly cracking up so I know those two guys are feeding them stories.  We sat with them one night trying to learn the Canadian travel routes and I was lost within a minute.  Of course they measure in Kilometers and we do not.  We laughed until 10:30 PM and realized that oops, it was quiet hours! Now we have someone to visit in Canada 🙂 Sieward will probably just die if we were to come there.  He gave me a hard time (sarcastically) the entire time we were here.  Which, is why if given the opportunity, I will go there just to annoy him.  HA!

As stated above it’s now September 10 as I type this and Irma is hitting Florida hard.  We are awaiting word as to whether Brooke, our youngest is going to be deployed before we make our final plans on leaving here the 26th.  Should she get deployed (the odds are high) we will stay here to take care of Little Miss while she is across the US doing her duty.  With Harvey just having hit TX it is likely that all the volunteers have been dispersed and they will start mandatory deployments.  We also don’t know the status of the RV Park that we have reservations for in Melbourne Beach, Florida.  It is right on the water so I’m sure the damage is significant so we will make phone calls later next week to determine status of that.

For now we are doing little hiking and riding our bikes a lot.  There are trails everywhere here.  We went to the Sequim Air and Car Show a couple of weeks ago and actually took a helicopter ride.  Lucky us got to fly for about 20 minutes over the Straight of Juan De Fuca and right over our rig! So cool!

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Here we are hiking Hurricane Ridge with the kiddos.  You can see Little Miss peeking out from her queen’s chair and you can see Canada between the two mountains:

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Will post more on our visit here in Sequim Washington after we leave.  Only two weeks left.  Time sure does fly!  So much to see and we haven’t had time to go see it all.  We will be so sad to say goodbye for a season to the kids and our Little Miss.

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Our Rig Remodel

Most of you know that we remodeled our rig from top to bottom.  Literally the tires to the roof!  Inside and outside!  So many have sent requests to see the rig but we ran out of time to show it off in person before we left.  So here she is in full color 🙂

Below Jim writes about our rig being in the shop for an add-on to our current horsepower system!

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Jim’s Blog addition:

So if you have been following our RV adventure, then you are aware of our remodeling of our 2002 Fleetwood Bounder. If you are new to our excursion then here is a very quick recap.

In June of 2016 we decided to remodel our Bounder. We have owned it since 2005. So, we gutted it, except for cabinet framing and then remodeled it from floor to ceiling, wall to wall, and nose to tail. It is new from rubber to roof, except for the undercarriage. All that took us about a year, because during this time frame we sold our house, along with almost everything we owned, and had to temporarily relocate to finish the remodel. My wife has been the main person documenting with photos and stories related to that remodel. So, today I get to add a small part 🙂 

The only thing we have not rebuilt/remodeled/improved on our Bounder in the years we have owned it has been engine and suspension related. We have been looking at all the various ways there is in which you might obtain improvements to your RV in these two areas. Needless to say there are several ways and depending on who you talk to, the recommendations are numerous, actually overwhelming.

We decided to go big and get a Banks System which involves a new intake and exhaust system along with a transmission reprogramming, a new fuel filter, a track bar on the front suspension, and an upgraded sway bar setup on the rear. We sought out recommendations for the Sequim and Port Angeles areas, and the same name kept coming up, Eric’s RV in Sequim.  

We met with Eric, the owner and you couldn’t help but like the guy.  He is a man in his 60’s with an infectious smile, a gearhead with lots of stories, and a man that by all appearances knows his stuff. He is one of those guys that has that smile, you know, regardless what he tells you, he’s smiling. And regardless what he tells you, you’re smiling.  

He worked up the proposal, we knew it was going to be a big ticket item, but we also knew it was long overdue. Eric gives us the price, smiling of course. He told us he thought it could be done in a day…. unless there were problems, as he flashes his grin. I really wish he would stop that.

Appointment day we take the RV to Eric’s bright and early so his guys can get an early start. Eric’s parking lot is not very big so I park across the street in the shopping center lot and walk over confirm where they want the rig.  Just as I start to drive in, two big diesel RV’s with tow-cars pull in, right in the way.   (Some folks!)  Luckily they get ushered out of the way and the staff gets our RV in and the work begins.

About 4:30 we head back to check on status of the rig just as they are calling us.  Yep, just as we feared, there’s a problem. The new Banks System is in and appears to be in working order but the rig won’t shift, we only have 3rd gear. With corporate Banks already closed the rig will have to spend the night on the rack and they will trouble shoot it tomorrow.  As it is an outdoor lift and it is our home and has all my belongings are in it, it makes me a bit nervous.   He says, “You can stay in our high-rise RV area overnight” while flashing his signature smile. Makes you feel like you are getting something really special.  They provide an electrical plug in and I can stay in the rig for the night.  Problem solved.  Brenda goes to Brookes and I stay with the rig.  So there I am, up on the RV rack, leaning slightly to the right, stuff piled on the bed, sleeping in my chair, camping in town. Long night, I couldn’t sleep very well as you can imagine.

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The next day Chris (our main mechanic) begins work on the rig early. After much work and diagnostics it appears that the solenoid in the transmission or the PCU (brain of the motor) is bad, but most likely the solenoid. The part is in the next town, where Brenda is spending the day with Brooke and Little Miss.  So, to speed up the process, she picks up the part brings it to shop. A quick check of the new part plugged into the transmission and voila! That’s not the problem! Great, that means the old solenoid is still good, I can save money. Finally something I can smile about. So now work begins on the PCU. Chris begins the tedious work of troubleshooting an electrical short/problem. In the mean time we know the bill will be more than we planned. We resign ourselves to this fact. Cowan Luck.  While they are working on the RV it is discovered that the shocks are leaking. They are 17 years old and must be replaced, Cha-Ching. Chris completely goes back through and checks all the work done the previous day. He works backwards and at each point when he runs a check, there are no problems. Good news. Now Chris needs to put the solenoid back in the transmission to finish the repairs, but the old solenoid is leaking transmission fluid and WILL fail soon. So we opt to replace it with the new one; there goes my smile, Cha-Ching. The transmission is buttoned up, the electrical system is checked, no error codes. Ultimately Chris, found an electrical pin that was bent and not connecting properly causing the engine not to shift from 3rd gear. Not sure if it happened during installation or was it bent prior to the work being done? We don’t know but, either way we found the solenoid problem and fixed a future problem. We found the shocks were shot and fixed those. We are feeling overwhelmed and over spent. But, we still don’t know if the transmission will shift? Chris and I (riding shotgun) take it for a drive. It performs as it should, so we praise the Lord.

Work completed, we go back to Eric, he smiles and starts typing on his computer. Calculating our bill, we ain’t smiling. He ‘cuts us some slack’, so he says, as he grins. Anyone that has known us and knows how ‘our luck goes’ when it comes to projects, won’t find this unusual. This is how we ‘expect it to go’! So we pay, talk hotrod stories with Eric and Chris. That was fun. As I drive away Eric asks with a smile, “How does it feel”? I tell him my right hip pocket seems light. 

I notice there appears to be more power and better shift points. Handling is much improved. Really better, not as much body roll or swaying. This is not a cheap improvement. It’s a big ticket item that make immediate and long term improvements. Everything we were doing will make our RV better, safer, more efficient, and much more reliable.

It’s hard to say that we had a “good experience” with this, because you only have a “good experience” when you spend that kind of money and you are on holiday in a really expensive hotel that’s all inclusive.   But if I have to spend this kind of money on something not fun like vehicle maintenance then you could say using Eric’s shop was a good experience.  

Next up will be our blog on the John Wayne RV Resort where we have been since mid-August and will be staying till the end of September. Make sure you enter your email on the upper right and we will email you when a new blog is up.

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Our Little Miss

July 26th:

We arrived in Port Angeles, WA early afternoon.  Our Little Miss was napping so it was perfect to get a few things settled before the bundle of energy woke and we wanted to spend all our available time with her.  We can’t wait!  The trip here was beautiful.  Most of our trips to the Pacific Northwest have consisted of snow and fireplaces, so this was a “warm” welcome!  We will be parked outside Brooke and Kent’s house for 2 weeks while she heads to Seattle to do her two-week duty for the Coast Guard.  We get to enjoy Mia and get to know her little personality.  Here is one of my favorite photos of her.  Below I have some more in slide show format, but I felt this one needed to be showcased all alone 🙂

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We didn’t get out much for the 2 weeks but sure enjoyed our time with Mia!  She’s a bundle of energy and is always happy (unless she’s “hangry” or hurt).  She talks a mile-a-minute and keeps you on your toes.  Just like our grandsons, she is all eyes for Paka!

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Next up is the John Wayne RV Resort in Sequim, Washington! It’s about 20 minutes from Brooke and Kent so we will be back and forth from Sequim to Port Angeles frequently!

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Laid Back Country

July 23, 2017

Today we head to Chehalis, Washington.  There we will stay at one of our Boondockers Welcome members property for 2 nights.  Another membership that has already paid for itself.  We are about 4 miles off the 5 freeway.  We missed the turn initially and went on an adventure hoping we wouldn’t get stuck in the rig but we managed to find a straight slow area of the country road and unhooked the toad so turning around would be doable if needed. We are definitely in the country and the property is beautiful!  Kevin and Julie have a beautiful home with deer roaming freely. We have an allocated area for the rig with electric (an added plus) and water if needed.  We made a short trip to town in car, bought a few needed items and returned to rig to take a leisurely restful evening.  No sooner that arriving back at the rig, we were visited by a doe and her fawn.   They were not super shy as Jim was outside strumming the guitar and they walked right past him.  Hmmm maybe they enjoy music?

Today’s road trip is off to the coast for the Grays Harbor Lighthouse and Maritime Museum.  Located in Westport, WA a typical hour and a half drive took us a little over 2 hours because of road work.  Still a beautiful drive with the ocean inlet covering nearly 75% of our drive.

We arrived a good hour before the lighthouse opened so we took advantage of the time by driving down to the wharf.  There were multiple shops and eateries so we did our typical touristy shopping and asked the locals for the best place to grab lunch.  We chose to eat at Bennett’s Seafood.  It was decent but pricey, and for comparison the clam chowder and fish and chips were significantly better at Griff’s down in Winchester Bay in Oregon.

The lighthouse is Washington’s tallest lighthouse on its west coast. Thank goodness, they put photos and historical memorabilia on each landing so you can get a rest on the way up the 135 steps to the top. It is still fascinating to me that you can be standing in the same place as a lightkeeper from 1898.  I can’t even imagine having to go up and down those stairs 3 times a day to make sure the light was rotating and the kerosene lamps were burning.  No wonder in the photos they are all skinny!  Maybe I should take up that job as a docent and shed some pounds.

If you are planning on visiting the lighthouse I would suggest you call ahead or go online to make sure they are open and what the visiting hours are.  We got lucky on both our visits so far to get there on a day they were open.  We noticed though that many of them have odd hours and days that they are closed.  It would not be cool to drive all that way and your planned destination be closed.

After our much easier descent down the stairs we drove back over to the marina to visit the Westport Maritime Museum.  It’s housed in a historic Coast Guard station and exhibits on beachcombing, erosion, shipwrecks and CG rescue operations are many.  They actually have a whale exhibit there along with other mammals all reconstructed bones on display.

Late afternoon we headed back to Chehalis via a different route hoping to avoid road work.  A good choice it was and we made better time heading back.  We had a couple of decent steaks thawing at the rig and we fired up the charcoal and had dinner while the Doe and her fawn ate apples from the tree.  Dinnertime for all ?

Tomorrow morning we head to Port Angeles and Little Miss Mia!  (Brooke and Kent too).

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So Long California!

July 20 – 23, 2017

So long California!  We crossed into Oregon about 9 AM and I swear the temperature dropped 15 degrees!  The drive was quite pleasant although I get a little nervous climbing those steep ranges and then the famous 6% downgrade.  Well, I best get used to it.  Today was a short drive, only 3 hours and that worked well for us.  We pulled into Sutherlin, Oregon about Noon and we were welcomed at the SKP (Escapee) Timber Valley Park where we will stay for 3 days to travel by car on day trips.

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21st:

We headed toward the Oregon coast and our first lighthouse of this trip.  First, we stopped in Elkton, Oregon at the Elkton Community Education Center.  Here they have the Youth Employment Program where high school students work.  They offer diverse education on grow native plants, fruits and vegetables of the Umpqua River Valley during their job training.  They also have art shows, concerts and special events there.  The highlights of that venue were the Butterfly Pavillion where they house over 200 butterflies in various stages and the Fort Umpqua Outpost.

Next on the day trip was the Umpqua River Lighthouse and Museum in Winchester Bay, Oregon.  This lighthouse stands only 65 feet tall and replaces the original lighthouse which fell into the river in 1861.  It is surrounded by Coast Guard housing and the museum’s second floor is a historical layout of the original CG lightkeeper’s house.  Each room of the museum hosts a typical room layout of the 40’s 50’s, 60’s and 70’s with all the uniforms of that time on display as well. A very well-done museum. An extra plus….I did not know they has Lighthouse Passport Books like the National Parks do.  So, I purchased one of those and now I have another book to add stamps to.

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22nd:

We headed to Crater Lake National Park.  It was a beautiful 2.5 hour drive alongside the Scenic North Umpqua River. Early into this drive we wished we had a whole week here just to explore the river. We decided then we were going to make stops on the way back regardless of how long it took us to get back to the rig.  We took the West Rim Drive and stopped at a few pull outs for photo opportunities.  You cannot prepare yourself for the beauty of the water!  I have never seen anything so blue.  I was surprised that the rim of the lake did not have barriers when you are up there walking.  I lost my breath a lot not only for myself but for the kids I saw wandering around and their parents seeming clueless of the danger of one misstep. I’m giving fair warning that my grandkids would have leashes attached before going anywhere remotely close to the rim!  We made our way over to the Visitor Center and I bought my Crater Lake seal and got the official stamp.  The place was packed and parking was horrible so we headed back down the rim toward the Umpqua Scenic Highway.  Our first stop there was Clearwater Falls.  It was a 30 ft. waterfall with a short hike from the parking area.  We were able to stand below and just above the waterfall and would loved to have stay there awhile.  The mosquitos there were giant and I didn’t want to take a chance so we were back on the road and on to the next waterfall.

There are over 22 waterfalls along the route so we had to be wise in our choices of where to stop as we only had this one day.  So our next choice was Watson Falls.  It was a moderate hike about ½ mile but the kicker was it was uphill and rocky.  But SOOOO…. worth the hike!  This is the highest waterfall in southwest Oregon plunging 272 feet. A must see if you are in the area!  No mosquitos here so we enjoyed it for a while, plus you needed a rest to get back down the trail.

I would have loved to stop at more but we needed to get back before dark and get the rig ready for our drive further north.

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The “Real” Adventure Begins

July 18, 2017

The real adventure started today as we were truly on the road.  Just the two of us, our gnome and Jim’s pet metal dog “Zoe”.  Yep, that is our only pet.  Very economical and no sitter required.

We left Bass Lake under smoky skies as the Detwiler fire loomed nearby.  We had to take an alternate route as the fire had headed toward our planned route.  We ended up taking route 41 to 145 to the 99 and headed toward Sacramento.  This actually ended up being less winding and significantly less climbing, so a better choice in the long run.

We arrived about 2 PM in Robbins, CA ready to climb out and relax a bit.  Our first night’s stay would be at one of our Harvest Host’s locations, The Giuisti Farm.  What better deal than to travel and stop into a winery or farm and stay for free! With a Harvest Host membership, you get your money back in one stay!  Rarely can you find an RV park for less than $40 or $50 a night.  Harvest Host membership is only $40 annually so we figure that’s a bargain.  We have used it once before so we are money ahead in my book. We have a link to Harvest Hosts on our main page.  Feel free to click on it and check out the benefits.  (Plus we get a free month if you sign up using our link ? )

Rich and Sandy met us at the gate of their property and escorted us to a pristine RV pad with patio and the typical hook ups. As we were only staying the one night and back on the road we only plugged in for electricity.  It was warm when we arrived but as the sun set for the evening the cool breeze was the first we had felt for quite some time.  Rich a third-generation farmer took us on a tour of the property which is now leased out as he and his wife are retired.  The silos and buildings surrounding the home, once held rice they grew for Anheiser-Busch.  One barn houses he and his wife’s hobbies.  Sandy is quite the painter (acrylics) while Rich is quite the carpenter (magical doll houses).  Jim’s favorite part of the tour was the special part of the barn where they keep an old Model T Ford, a 1924 Chevrolet Convertible, and a fully restored 39 Dodge.  Around the corner from those was a 57 International Pick up, you know the look of the vehicle as “Mater” from the movie “Cars”. We were free to walk around the property so we managed to get out and get several photos to add to our collection.  A Night away from the city was beautiful, with stars and very little noise.  That is, except for the 5:30 AM early morning wakeup call by chickens and the Bi Wing airplane fertilizing the fields.  It was beautiful to hop out of bed and watch the plane and pilot just as the sun rose over the horizon. We would have loved to stay another night but wanted to be on the road to grab more adventures.   (Tomorrow’s adventure below slideshow)

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July 19, 2017

We headed north again.  Driving through farm country on the 113 we saw Sunflower, Tomato and Pecan Tree Farms.  Now I know where our snack of sunflower seeds come from! The day was hot already by 8:30 AM and we had about 3.5 hours of driving.  Heading north on the 5 at this point we began our climb through the mountains of Northern CA.  Our destination was the Blue Heron RV Park in Hornbrook, CA, about 6 miles from the Oregon border on the CA side.  Our last stay in California.  Upon exiting the freeway, we had about 6.5 miles of horrible road and was surprised that something could be worse than the 5 Fwy.  However, we found a hidden gem in the Blue Heron RV Park.  Kathy and Jim (now deceased) built a home on the Klamath River and in 2005 they made their dream of transforming a portion of their property into an RV Park.  They hired a great engineer and the park is perfect for rigs up to 45 feet.  All sites face the river with great patio areas and picnic tables.  The Osprey and the Blue Heron are evident everywhere, along with deer and other wildlife.  We even had 2 horses come down to the park and enjoy the green grass before roaming back across the road to pasture land.  Kathy has put the property up for sale since Jim passed away and it’s difficult to manage the park alone.  For her sake, we hope she sells but I sure hope the integrity of the park stays.

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Off to Bass Lake

July 3, 2017

We left Lancaster by caravan with Tim & Sherry, Steve & Kaley and Dale. It’s nice travelling with a group so that if issues arise you have help.  It was smooth sailing all the way to Coarsegold, CA for us, while the rest of the caravan headed to Bass Lake, CA for 2 weeks of boondocking at the lake.  We stayed in Coarsegold at SKP (Escapee) Park Sierra Campground the first 3 days because Bass Lake did not have a site big enough for our rig till the 6th of July.  SKP Park Sierra was a beautiful park with rolling hills and a creek running through it. There is an area where the original stagecoach passed through.  Temps were in the 100’s so it was HOT!  We did hike in the later part of the day when it was cooler.

Our friends John and Susie came up to spend a few days with us prior to our California exit.  The four of us visited Chukchansi Casino for dinner at Goldfields Café. The prices were reasonable and food was very good.

We drove to the lake on the 4th to watch the fireworks from lakeside.  It was a nice evening all in all.  However, I believe all of Fresno and surrounding cities thought to do the same thing.  After the finale, it took us 2 hours to back to Coarsegold and the rig which is typically a 20 minute drive.

Note to self:  NO Bass Lake on 4th of July again!

On the 6th we made our move over to the lake campground (Lupine-Cedar Bluff) with the rest of our caravan.  We were expecting a few more folks to arrive in random order throughout our stay as well.  Our friends John and Susie left for home today and it was sad to see them go.  They gifted us a Gnome to take on our travels and we have yet to come up with a name for the guy. It will happen….  Maybe Gno Gname Gnome?  Hmmm….. Gnute? Gnewton?

Days at the lake are routine in our group except for a bear or two.  Get up, eat, go to the water, come back to camp, eat, sleep, talk about the bear and repeat daily.  We all eat dinner together and an occasional breakfast.  Lunches are always on your own.  It’s a great system.  My friend Sherry is the dinner coordinator extraordinaire.  She creates the menu, assigns meal items to those that are going to be present that day and typically one family will oversee the meat each evening while others bring their other assigned items to the serving table.  Every night a different group cleans up and washes the dishes.  Clearly eating is an important part of our day.  We typically eat burgers at the Forks and at Miller’s one or two of the nights we are there.  Everyone looks forward to that ?

On the 14th we took a drive to Yosemite. We only went as far as the Visitor Center because Sherry and I wanted to get our National Parks Passport books and have them stamped.  We visited Bridal Veil Falls and ate lunch at The Ahwahnee Hotel, now called The Yosemite Majestic Hotel.  We had packed our lunch ahead of time and took it to the back lawn and sat for a while enjoying the beautiful lawn area.

On the 17th we said goodbye to our friends Tim and Sherry.  It was indeed sad. 🙁  How do you say goodbye after nearly 20 years of doing everything together? We are already planning our next meetup in December (Florida), and then we will meet up again in Hawaii in the summer of 2019.

NOTE: If you want a good read with with everyday fun humor read “Dear Bob & Sue” a book about a couple who visited all the National Parks.  It is great for information plus these 2 are quite the crack up in how they deliver their adventures via text on a page

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3, 2, 1…..GO!

Three states in 3 days! One by air and two by motor home.  After spending a fun and more-than-special month in Florida playing with our first and welcoming our third grandchild, we flew home to California on a Wednesday, packed the rig with necessities on Thursday and drove to Arizona on Friday.  *Escapade was calling our name and we were looking forward to a weeklong seminar on RV’ing.  It was going to be our second Escapade and having experienced it once before, we knew it would be a packed and tiring week of gathering knowledge, meeting new (and RV experienced) friends, and of course, shopping!

Tucson was HOT!  We arrived at the Pima County Fairgrounds on Saturday and the temps were in the high 90’s and topped out at 103.  We had power outages in our area of the fairgrounds but we weren’t worried too much because at the Escapade in 2014 we had purchased a Voltage Protector from RV Safety (links below)  This was one of the things we learned in regard to your RV and electricity in the seminars: “It’s not the surge up in power that kills your rig, it’s the low voltage in power that does most of the damage.”   To qualify that, a rig on our row did not have a surge protector and they ended up having several computer issues with the rig after losing power multiple times.  A voltage protector would have remedied that for them.  So…. $ spent for us, was a rig lifesaver!

Highlights of our week:

  • Escapee’s volunteers are the BEST!
  • Evening Entertainment & Prize Drawings
  • Meeting new couples that we hope to continue friendships with!
  • The sunsets! Oh my!

Seminars we attended:

  • Home is where you park it!
  • Insurance – Warranties
  • Internet on the Road
  • TV on the Road
  • Solar Energy
  • RV Roof Repair

Other items/dealers we would love to share with you:

  • Shade Pro out of Spring Valley, CA (they go everywhere!) shadepro.net After Escapade and the items we have purchased I told them I feel like I own stock in the company.  They redid our slide awnings and repaired our patio awning all while we were at Escapade!  We also purchased our step covers, a patio drop down screen, a dash cover and outside window coverings for ALL our windows.
  • RV Safety – RVSafety.net Here is a link to the Voltage Protector we have. http://www.rvsafety.net/proddetail.php?prod=EMS-PT30X  We also purchased our tire sensors there. Great customer service, above and beyond. Our Sensor are the Tire Tracker brand: http://www.rvsafety.net/products.php?cat=9
  • TechnoRV.com The name says it all. Eric & Tami know all there is to know about technology and your RV.  We purchased our Rand McNally RV GPS and our Rand McNally Dash Cam from them.
  • Phil and Ann’s RV Mobile Repair and Parts – We purchased our Sine Wave Inverter for my ASV (Bi-Pap) Machine from them. annphillrv@yahoo.com
  • RV Notepad – RVNotepad.com – This is a great travel journal database. Store your memories there with a journal a place to store photos and keep track of expenses.  A one-stop-shop for documenting.
  • Boondockers Welcome – boondockerswelcome.com – Free overnight parking from one RV’er to another. Tell them we referred you!
  • Harvest Hosts – Free overnight parking at wineries, farms and other businesses across the U.S. and Canada. Our first Harvest Host overnight stay is documented here on our blog!  Choose the link to the right for Harvest Hosts and explore!
  • RV Armor –  www.rv-armor.com They come to you wherever you are! We are having our roof redone later this Spring.  Check out their videos!