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Showing posts from March, 2008

Early Arrival

Tuesday, March 25, 2008 -- Vancouver, WA

The little guy just couldn't wait. According to his Mom, he's been kicking and impatiently rolling around in his frustratingly dark but warm space for some time... a space that was all he ever knew but must soon leave. Where was he going? What was this new world he must go to?.. this world he could hear but not see, this world he could sometimes feel, this world that was so close but with no obvious way to get there. He already felt he belonged but he wasn't really sure exactly what he was getting into. All that drive to arrive finally came to fruition on Monday, the 24th, when Evan Andrew decided he'd exercise his power over the professional medical establishment and dictate the terms and timing of his arrival in that new world. He was ready and made his entrance two days prior to the carefully planned C-section, blowing everyone's schedules apart at the same time. How cool is that?

That's right, our second grandson arriv…

Saturday Night Slumber Party

Saturday, March 22, 2008 -- Vancouver, WA.

It's 8pm Saturday Night. Thirty years ago I would have been getting primed for the TV show Saturday Night Live, which in the Midwest came on at 10:30pm. Not tonight. No sir, there are more important things to do. Besides, SNL is just terrible these days anyway.

Tonight, Dar and I have little Ryan over for the night. His Mom and Dad are out with friends and we're taking every opportunity we can to make up for lost time with Ryan -- taking every opportunity to bond a little more with this great kid. And he's caught a little cold so we're also trying to keep him away from his Mom as much as we can... to keep her healthy for the big day on Wednesday next. It's after 8pm as I write this and it's dark, there's New Age music wafting through the camper, Ryan's sleeping, Dar's almost sleeping, and it won't be too much longer for me. By 10:30pm, I'll be as "out" as I hope Hillary is. Isn't life gr…

An Energy Defense of our Fulltiming Lifestyle

Thursday, March 20, 2008 -- Vancouver, WA

I've had a little time the past few days to work on an article about our energy consumption as fulltimers. With oil and fuel prices at record highs recently, it seems an appropriate topic to bore you with today. As I brush this up a little more, I'm going to use it in other ways. But here's a preliminary look at it.
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An Energy Defense of the Fulltiming Lifestyle

You may know that one of my areas of interest over the past few years is a subject called "peak oil". This is the idea that our ability to pull crude oil out of the earth will hit a peak in the near future, and will go into a long slow decline after that point. I've read a significant tonnage of books and articles on the topic, from various points-of-view, and have formed opinions on the matter over time. However, my purpose here isn't to write about peak oil, per se, but to address a closely related subject -- energy consumption and co…

A Short Move

Saturday, March 15, 2008 -- Vancouver, WA

One year ago today, the Ides of March 2007, we signed the offer that lead to the sale of our home in Geneva, IL. A year has passed -- and once again it doesn't seem like it. Considering what's happened to the market for real estate in the past year, we're happy as clams that we got out when we did.

The smoked pork shoulder that Gage spent a night and most of a day cooking turned out incredible. I really should have had one of these smokers back when we had a fixed house. As all guys know, outdoor cooking (BBQ'ing, grilling, smoking, etc) is definitely a "guy thing". And all guys know that the deep responsibility for a good result involves close monitoring of the process... with the adult-beverage of your choice helping to keep you focused on the job. The process of smoking meat often takes 12 hours or more. Wow.

We're changing parking spots at the Van Mall RV Park today. This is a very well managed and clean park but…

Ozbotkins

Friday, March 14, 2008 -- Vancouver, WA

It's hard to believe, but our first week here is almost history. We've been busy doing "nothing we should" but "everything we want"... if you catch my drift. In other words there are a lot of little maintenance/cleaning/upkeep chores that "should" be getting done around the camper, but aren't. Instead, we're spending our time with the kids and our Grandson, which is what we "want" to do. They're probably getting a little tired of the new in-town relatives, but I think we'll settle down into a more normal routine soon, and give them a break.

After my defense of the weather here in the Northwest it's been rainy the last few days. But as I've said, it's not a steady all day type rain. It's more a rain interspersed with intermittent clearing. At times, the sun even pokes through the clouds. With any luck we should now be done with freezing temps for the rest of the season.…

A Northwest Story

Wednesday, March 12, 2008 -- Vancouver, WA

About 21 years ago, a young business manager along with his wife and growing family moved from the Midwest to the Portland, OR area. It wasn't an easy move as they'd spent almost all their years in the Midwest with friends and family nearby and roots growing deeper in the soil as time went on. But they were brave, unafraid of new adventure, and willing to try making a home in a new, far-off, part of the country.

I was that young manager.

It doesn't seem like 21 years have passed since that January weekend when we flew to Portland with the kids and ultimately made the decision to accept the job transfer. We bought a home, got involved in the community, the kids went to school, and we made our life here in the Portland suburb of Vancouver, WA, for the next 8 years. We grew to love this part of the country -- the mountains, rivers, the recreational opportunities, the spectacular Oregon coast, the clean evergreen scented air.

But the dema…

We're in Vancouver!

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Saturday, March 8, 2008 -- Vancouver, WA

We're here! The day was ideal for driving and the short trip -- only 160 miles -- could have been done with one hand tied behind my back. The weather was mixed clouds and sun and traffic moved right along.

After almost 10,000 miles, the bus is starting to "break-in" somewhat and the mileage is improving. As we drove north across the flat Willamette Valley yesterday, with no wind, we were getting almost 9 mpg. That may not sound like anything to brag about but it's darn good for a 32,000 lb. vehicle pulling another 4,000 lb. car. Some big SUV's being driven to the grocery store by soccer-moms don't do better. With fuel prices as high as they are we're happy to see the improvement in this department. I've also noticed more truckers slowing down to closer to the speed limit, probably to stretch as many miles out of every gallon of fuel that they can.

I just love this part of the country even though it gets a bad-rap …

The Target

Friday, March 7, 2008 -- Sutherlin, OR

It's been a quiet couple days here at Timber Valley Escapee's Park. We didn't do much so this'll be a short entry.

Dar swore she saw a Target store in Roseburg as we drove through with the bus on Thursday. But by the time we got there Friday, the very next day, the store had vanished. It was gone. Even the local's memory of the store was gone. At least two people we asked said there is no Target store in Roseburg and there never has been. But Dar saw it... strange.

Rain fell most of the day Friday, a typical Northwest light rain and drizzle. It was a good day to hunker down and do indoor projects.

I've been working with a company in the Eugene area to have a couple solar panels installed on the camper. Ideally, if they could have done the work on Monday or Tuesday of next week, Dar was going to drive the toad up to Vancouver Saturday (so she could attend a baby shower) and I would have driven up with the bus when the work was …

Northern California Mountains

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Wednesday, March 5, 2008 -- Yreka, CA

Despite a strong headwind we decided to get as far north in California today as we could today. The weather is predicted to turn wetter and colder during the weekend and longer-range predictions aren't reliable at all. So getting over the Siskiyou Pass before Friday became the objective. Today, Wednesday, we made it as far as Yreka, CA., just 25 miles south of the Oregon border and about 30 miles south of the pass. Once again we used WalMart as the perfect "park and sleep" place.

The mountains of Northern California as simply spectacular. Not all are quite as picturesque as Mt. Shasta in the photo below, but the dramatic steepness of the terrain and the deep valleys, combined with dozens of snow-capped peaks make for some of the best driving scenery I've seen in years. Of course, the clear blue skies certainly didn't hurt.


I'll just let this picture say the rest.

T

Napa Valley

Tuesday, March 4, 2008 -- Dunnigan, CA

Today, our objective was to see Napa Valley. Our camp in Dunnigan is about 60 miles from the town of Napa. We had two choices in how to get there. The first was the easier and most logical as it's almost all 4-lane freeway, but a few more miles than the alternative. Choice two was a tad shorter but on the map the road looked like a serpent coiled up and ready to strike.

We chose the latter, of course.

The mountains of the coastal range form a series of valleys here, one of them being Napa Valley. The valley runs in a generally northwest to southeast direction. The Napa River drains the valley toward the southeast where it empties into San Pablo Bay, then San Francisco Bay, and finally the Pacific Ocean.

To get to the valley from Dunnigan, we first had to cross mountains that separate the Central Valley of California, where Dunnigan is, and Napa Valley. The road that goes through those mountains is the snakey road I referred to above.

It may be wav…

Sunset, Sunrise

Monday, March 03, 2008 -- Dunnigan, CA

Saturday I wrote about the RV park we were going to stay in that night, and that we weren't real happy with it. We later found one that was more suited to us so Sunday we moved about 5 miles to the new place. I think this was the shortest move we've ever done. The ease of moving from place to place is one of the real advantages of this lifestyle... if you don't like the neighborhood, just move.

Sunday we met up with a buddy of mine, and his wife, from my previous working life. Like me, he had decided that he was going to take his life in a different direction while he still could and he's now physically and mentally stronger -- mostly by eliminating the stress in his life. He's expanded on his life-long interest in expressing himself creatively by making works of art from metal and glass. He's broken through entry-barriers and is now a sought-after artist at some large art shows and some notable galleries are calling him. I…

Into Northern California

Saturday, March 1, 2008 -- Dunnigan, CA

Today's drive, a little less than 200 miles, was shorter than yesterday's 300 miler. We're in no rush so why not slow down a little and enjoy where we happen to be. One of the big reasons we're doing this at all is to see and experience the USA. And now we've got another reason to slow down... fuel prices.

There's not an overabundance of RV parks in the Sacramento/Davis part of California. I'm not sure why. Perhaps it has to do with land-use regulations, costs, demand?.. whatever the reason it's not easy to find the type of place we like. Since we've been dry-camping the last couple weeks we were looking for full hookups for a few days -- you really need them to do laundry. The last time we had full hookups was Feb. 9th. We've gotten pretty good at living "off the grid". After looking at what the Yolo County Fairgrounds had to offer (they have a year-round RV Park), we decided to go a little furthe…