Showing posts from October, 2010

Pondering the Blog

Yesterday, Friday, we stayed at the camper all day. Dar spent a lot of time getting caught up on photos from this past fall that hadn't been processed and uploaded to online albums yet. I worked on a few small projects and spent some time soaking up some sun while reading with my Kindle (still happy as a clam with it!). It's days like this, with no pressure to be anywhere or to do anything in particular, that I also ponder about things. Among the subjects of this reflection yesterday was this blog... the Journal. Lately, I've been a little dissatisfied with how it's evolved... or, I guess you might say, how I've "evolved" it... since it's all me. If it's turned into this or that, I'm the only one to blame since I'm the only author. My dissatisfaction comes from what I think is the mundane nature of most entries -- something that wasn't planned, but something that just happened. It's easier to write a daily diary of events than it

Northwest Nevada

This morning, Friday, we find ourselves in Fernley, NV. We're at the Desert Rose RV Park which we'll use as our base for the next week. The drive from Standish CA. yesterday was quick and pleasant... just a little over 100 miles. The route on US-395 took us into Reno and then east on I-80 along the Truckee River. The town of Fernley is about 30 miles east of Reno and certainly more rural in feel... you know how much I like crowding and congestion. We decided to plant ourselves here for a week. Among the possible things-to-do are Lake Tahoe, Carson City (Nevada's State Capital), Virginia City (see what Ben, Hoss, Adam, and Little Joe are up to), and Pyramid Lake. We could also use some soaking up sun time. Digging through the drawer looking for my shorts... T

California for a Night

Wednesday, yesterday, we made it another 210 miles on our trek southward. However, due to the cold, getting underway took a little extra effort and provided an opportunity to learn a thing or two. The temperature sank to 20f degrees that morning and had only risen to 24f by the time we were ready to get rolling. We're old hands when it comes to living in a camper on frozen nights... as low as 5f degrees, if I remember right, back in West Texas a couple years ago. But this was one of the few times we've buttoned up the bus-house for travel while it was that cold. When the slides were retracted, it became apparent the slide-toppers (small awnings that cover the very top of the slide) were coated with some ice and very stiff... and didn't want to retract properly. Getting up on the roof, which had it's own thin layer of frost and ice, to work on the problem from "up there", didn't seem wise. But after some effort by Dar at the slide retraction switches, and m

A Different Side of Crater Lake

One of our original reasons for transiting Oregon via this route was to visit Crater Lake National Park. Of course that was before the recent series of big Pacific storms took aim at the Pacific Northwest covering anything above 5,000 feet with the first serious snowfall of the season. Checking the NPS webcams in the park [here] and [here] (daylight hours only... pleeeze!), it didn't look like we'd be seeing much even if we could get through snow-covered roads with our little front-wheel-drive toad and make it to the rim at 7,100 feet. And after the first snowfall of the season, the Rim Drive around the lake is closed for the Winter. So it appeared we missed a great opportunity to visit the park by just a week or so. Or did we? Read on. The forecast for Tuesday, the only day we had to explore during this stop, was for snow showers interspersed with some sun breaks. The term "sun breaks" hooked us... not to mention a bad case of bus-house fever from hunkering down

Go or No Go?... Let's Go!

This morning we're in Collier Memorial State Park, about 30 miles north of Klamath Falls and 90 miles south of our last camp, the snow-camp, at LaPine State Park. We woke to 30f degrees this morning... not as cold as the forecast... and a light dusting of new snow that fell overnight. At this early hour it looks like we'll have some sun today too. After I posted yesterdays entry to the Journal we cleaned the snow off the car and drove around to check out road conditions. About that time the snow started falling again... a snow shower... and the condtion of the roads in the park gave us reason to think we'd probably be spending another night at LaPine. The roads were snow/slush covered... maybe an inch or two deep. I've always said I didn't want to drive the camper in the snow... that we'd just wait for it to melt... which we could do, but the forecast for the next few days was not much of an improvement and I was itching to move further south. Once we got to

Snow at 4200 Feet

There may have been one other camper in the campground last night. Everyone else fled due to weather and maybe the realities of having to get back to a fixed life... work, commitments, appointments, etc.. Intrepid explorers, on the other hand, stay through thick and thin, good times and bad, hot and cold, rain and snow. SNOW? Did I say snow? This was our camp this morning... And since that picture was taken, it started lightly snowing again. The temp is holding steady at 33f degrees, which is better than the predicted lower 20's for the next couple mornings. Our plan, ragged as it is, is to wait... wait for a break... wait for it to warm a bit... and get ourselves moved a hundred miles further south, to Collier State Park. Hopefully that will be today. The way the forecast looks at this point, Wednesday will then be the best day to make it into Northeast California (where we all know, from the song, it never rains). As we look ahead from there things should moderate as we wo

The Waiting Game

The story of the day is still the weather, at least as far as we're concerned. There's a long line of storms and moisture out in the Pacific, driven by a strong jet-stream, aimed right at the Northwest. The accompanying satellite image shows what we're dealing with. It looks like we'll get a break in the action on Monday... at least that's the hope. If not Monday then Tuesday. We don't need much of a hole as we're just going south about 100 miles to our next camp. We want to visit Crater Lake National Park... that too was a hope... but if this weather pattern persists we may just keep driving south until we find sun and a little warmth. We're also being pinched by the impending seasonal closure of some Oregon State Park Campgrounds. Oregon east of the Cascades experiences a real winter and it makes no sense to keep campgrounds open for the trickle of people like us. But we're making the best of it. Yesterday afternoon the clouds thinned and the

Ups and Downs into the High Desert

Having said our "good-byes" the night before, we had the bus-house ready to roll by 9:30am yesterday. Encouraged by patches of blue sky and a few sun-peeks, we headed east on I-84 through the scenic Columbia Gorge. I've been through the Gorge many times over the years and I'm always, every time, in awe of the stunning beauty. It doesn't matter what season or what weather, there's always something you haven't seen before in quite the same way. In my book it's one of the most amazing and inspiring drives one can find in these United States. At The Dalles we turned south on US-197 and started up the hill. Having begun the day along the Columbia River at just a few feet above sea level, we have to climb over 4,000 feet before ending the day at our planned camp in the LaPine State Park in Central Oregon. Due to severe relief caused by eons of erosion as water finds the quickest way to the big river, we still had plenty of downhill grades to accompany the

Next Year Kids

It's getting late and I have a knot in my stomach. Earlier tonight we said our good-byes to Andrea, Gage, Ryan, Evan, and the rest of our Northwest Family. Those month-old roots are hard to pull out... it takes time to adapt to being on the road again. The plan is to depart Vancouver Friday morning in the predicted 50% chance of rain and head up the Columbia River Gorge to the eastern side of the Cascade Mountains. Because the mountains always wring-out a goodly amount of water from the typical west-to-east moving weather systems that come rolling in off the Pacific Coast, it's often dryer on the eastern flanks of the mountains than on the western side. We'll try to use that phenomenon to our benefit as we float south over the next few weeks. The objective Friday is to make it as far as LaPine State Park just south of Bend, OR. We'll use that spot to re-group emotionally and see what the weather gods have in store for us. Next week we'll spend some time at anoth

A Kindle

A few weeks ago I bought a Kindle e-reader. Not being an “early adopter” of new technologies and a bit put-off by the price the early Kindles commanded, I’m way behind the tech curve on this one. Millions of people already own a Kindle or one of many similar devices that have emerged in this new e-book market over the past couple years. But two things have happened to make my own Kindle a reality: first, Amazon has seen fit to lower the price of it’s most basic model to just $139, just within the reach of our budget. Second, I’ve been able to convince the Safety Director that moving some of my library from paper and ink books to digital format will take many pounds of weight out of the bus-house that could then be used for more girl-clothes, shoes, or maybe just keeping the bus-house light and nimble. I wasn’t sure I really wanted to give up on books just yet. There’s something friendly and practical about a book. It’s a tangible thing that one can own in the traditional sense… sh

A Note about Comments on this Blog

If you never comment on this blog, you can probably skip this post and use your valuable time in more rewarding ways. A week ago or so I changed the settings on The RV Sabbatical Journal to allow readers to comment freely on my posts without having to deal with "word verification" or "comment moderation". For the uninitiated, these are two ways to reduce the amount of "spam" comments that could show up on a blog posting... comments that have an ulterior motive, usually to get a reader to click on a link that leads to who-knows-where, ultimately trying to sell something or some service. They are counterfeit and they're not wanted by most bloggers. I took this action because Blogger, the blog hosting service I use for my blogs, has a pretty good spam filter that catches almost all the spam comments that come through. I thought. During the past week, I've had two instances of spam comments that have crept into the blog. Fortunately, neither was of

Chased by Weather Again?

Last year, on our way south from the Northwest, a series of weather disturbances kept us moving along, pushing us, until we got to southeastern New Mexico. The issue was being in the high-country during the late fall, where temps and precipitation fall in unpredictable ways sometimes. As I look at the prognostications from the weather-folk for the next week I wonder if we're starting the same pattern again. Our rather nice and dry autumn of the last few weeks looks like it's coming to a screeching halt about this coming Friday afternoon, with rain likely for the following 4 or 5 days. We're scheduled to leave Saturday of course. Consultations with the safety director and our family may move this up a day. We'll see how the vote turns out. When we do leave we'll be heading up the Columbia River Gorge to get to the eastern side of the Cascades, and then south through Central Oregon. Along the way we'd like to maybe visit Crater Lake National Park -- haven'

House Guests

Last night we had a couple overnight guests at the bus-house... a rather rare occurrence, thus something worth documenting here in the journal. We watched a movie (Shrek), made a big tub of popcorn (don't worry Mom, it was low-fat and very healthful), and stayed up way too late. But we had an absolute blast and these two guys can come back any time they'd like. T

Simple Project Takes All Day

Yesterday I started on my to-do list of maintenance and cleaning projects... and never got beyond the first one. My thinking was to pick an easy one and knock it out quick as a way to build a little momentum. But sometimes, as we all know, things don't always go as planned. The first item on the list was the kitchen faucet. It's one of those cheap RV models that came with the bus-house when it was punched out at the plant in Indiana in the spring of 2007. We've grown to like the function of this unit -- the spout part pulls out and can be used as a hand-held sprayer. But it was becoming progressively harder to swing from side to side between the two sink bowls, and had actually stopped swinging altogether in the past few weeks. My thought was to get under the sink and loosen the big nut that secures the faucet to the counter-top... that perhaps it was binding from being too tight. So after cleaning out a work space in the cabinet below the sink, I went in with wrench an

Praise to Moms and Dads Out There

Even though I’m a Dad, and even though I went through the whole child-raising process, a long time ago, (twice in fact… but with a huge amount of help from Dar), at this point in the weekend I just feel a need to heap praise on all those young Moms and Dads out there – those unsung heroes – who not only find a way to survive the process themselves but are able to get their kids through it as well. As I sit hear today, Sunday afternoon, with our two little charges tucked away for naps, my weary body and mind are acutely aware of how huge this job really is and the near-total repression of one’s adult needs that must occur in favor of the needs of the little ones’. In times like this it’s also crystal clear to me why we’ve evolved in such a way that having babies and raising kids is the realm of the young. I, for one, would be in favor of more days honoring you Moms and Dads that are still on active duty with small kids. One day per year just doesn’t seem like enough. Maybe one per mont

Rain Happens

It’s about 3pm on Saturday afternoon. The house is quiet – except for the mechanical hum of pumps emanating from the refrigerator and the fish tank… white-noise really. The two boys are in their rooms… sleeping I presume, since they can’t be this quiet for this long if their eyes are open and their little minds are busy plotting the next misadventure. Dar ran to the store for a few things. Outside, it’s raining and foggy and dreary. And inside, inside my head and heart, it’s raining and foggy and dreary too. We’re only about a week from having to say “good-bye” to our Northwest Family again and getting our journey of discovery re-started. It’s always traumatic… always difficult… and I always seem to acquire this bout of melancholy after we’re camped near family for an extended period of time. On the one hand, I really love being mobile and free… experiencing new places and situations… bringing history alive by being at the site of events that shaped our past. But on the other hand,

Weekend Trial

Trial by fire… this certainly isn’t going to be just a drill… no, it’s the real thing! This is shaping up to be an all grandkids all the time weekend… up close and very personal. You see, our daughter and son-in-law, Andrea and Gage, are getting away for the weekend… sans kids. We gifted them with this weekend babysitting gig for their anniversary in August -- a good sounding gift, I thought, one they probably wouldn’t take us up on (wink). But I was wrong. Don’t get me wrong, we love being with the kids, but we like it more when Mom and Dad are around to handle the more, how do you say…, messy chores, and we can just hang out and spoil the heck out of ‘em until we have to go home. But, alas, they called our bluff and we’re mentally preparing ourselves for the task at hand… watching over one 5-ish and one 2-ish year old boys… keeping them healthy, fed, clean, and safe for two whole days. In theory, this will be big job, one that requires a lot of energy and complete concentration.

Debit Card Fraud

We had one of our debit cards compromised this past week. Because debit card transactions directly hit your bank account (versus credit card transactions where you have a chance to review your charges before actually paying for them) we’ve always been judicious in the use of them. Our basic policy is that we only use the debit card when we’re actually taking possession of the goods or services we’re buying on the spot… for example, grocery stores and other established retail businesses where we’re exchanging goods directly for cash. We never use the debit card when buying online, any advanced purchase (like airline tickets, concert tickets, etc), or anytime we’re not sure of the complete integrity of a seller. A credit card gives you an added layer of review, approval, and protection. About a month ago I was reviewing our bank checking account activity online and found a “pending charge” to something listed cryptically as M*Telkom. I immediately called the bank’s customer service li

Sunday Musings

While we've been busy with grandkids and visiting family, September slipped away and October is already three days old. A steady stream of snowbirds and fulltimers are flowing through the RV park here... and, like migrating birds, they’re generally headed south, fleeing the inevitable onset of Winter. It’s that time of year again. For most of the North, October is the month of greatest change, decrease, in average temps. Since we started fulltiming three and a half years ago it’s been a continual surprise to us just how short and intense the summer really is… especially in the west. For example, the average high temperature in Zion National Park is over 70f degrees for only 5 months; in Albuquerque, NM., only 6 months. And when the high is less than 70f, the low is often in the 40f’s or less. During the course of the year, we certainly use a heater of some kind a lot more than we ever use an air conditioner. We're already past the halfway point in our stay here in Vancouver,