Showing posts from May, 2013

May 15 thru May 31 - The Beginning of an End

Time for a long entry to the blog in an attempt to bring the record up to date. If you're like many readers and find daily minutia and personal triflings boring, you may want to skip this entry. Now that we're more or less settled for the summer I don't plan on posting here often... certainly not daily. Something like every week or two will probably suffice to keep the record current and my writing muscle from turning completely to flab. When we last heard from our intrepid explorers they had just arrived in Cedar Falls Iowa. Our purpose for stopping there was two-fold: first, we have four good RVing friends from our Rockport Texas days... Andy & Betty, and David & Carol Ann... who live right here in Cedar Falls. We hadn't seen these folks since a year ago this past Winter (we skipped Rockport this year) and since we were driving by it just made sense to stop and see what kind of trouble we, collectively, could get into. Our other reason for stopping there w

May 14 - Delivered from Pender

Considering my mental burden, I was able to get a reasonable night's sleep, but was up for the day by 5am... reading over all the documentation I had on these problematic Atwood levelers. Before 7am, I called Newmar to get the location of the Atwood control module... the controller... for the leveling system. There are electronic gizmos scattered all over the place in this motorhome and, since I wasn't sure of it's location, a little help in narrowing down my search could be helpful before I start crawling around in the "basement" playing hide and seek with a little black box. Newmar says it could be here... or it could be there... and with those two possibilities, it didn't take long for me to find it and make a positive ID. Now it was time for a call to Atwood... and I was dreading the likelihood that I'd get less-than-stellar assistance... a customer service rep named Rajij in Bombay reading from a script... someone who didn't have the knowledge t

May 13 - Stranded in Pender

Monday morning. About 8:30am, Edward the Blue Ox tech knocks on the door and says he's taking the tow bar for service. To prepare for him, I'd been working on unlocking the two pins (locking type) that secure it to the receiver (one for the drop adapter and one for the tow bar) but, despite my best efforts, could not get a key into one of them -- it was jammed or corroded or something. He took the whole deal... tow bar and drop adapter together... and went off to do his thing. In the meantime, we explored little Pender and looked for a store to get a few basic food items for the larder. Most towns of just a thousand people don't have a food store at all, or, if they're lucky, perhaps a C-store/gas station. What we found was Cubbys, a brand spanking new "Community Store". More a small grocery store than C-store on steroids, sure you could get fuel out front, but you could also get fresh meat, a wide range of groceries, and even hot prepared food at the deli.

May 12 - Pampered in Pender

Comfortably parked in the Blue Ox RV Park in Pender, and conveniently attached to full hookups, we had no place to go and no schedule to keep today... a great day for lazing around. It was Mother's Day and Dar had the day off from most normal chores... well, except for a load of laundry, something she doesn't trust me with under any circumstances. Besides whipping up a simple meal for dinner, I did dishes too. Hope the Mother of our children enjoyed her day... near as much as I enjoy having her around every day. And Happy Mothers Day to our Moms up there in Beaver Dam... and to our daughter out in Washington. We happened to hit Pender on a weekend so we have to wait until Monday morning for the Blue Ox tech to check out the tow bar. Once again, we were the only ones in the place last night. We're obviously not following the RV crowds around these days. Yesterdays brisk wind abated overnight and we got down to 27f early this morning. And how's this for contrasts...

May 11 - Blown to Pender

Dar and I were the only ones in the Kearney Cabelas truck and rv lot last night (Friday)... no trucks or refrigerated trailers that can drone on all night long. What we did have was the sound of the railroad as we were camped right across the road from a UP mainline through here... and it's one of the busiest sections of track I've seen. Often there'd be two trains going by at the same time, and at least once, I saw three. Yes, there are three sets of rails and if one had time between trains to feel those ribbons of steel, I'll bet they'd be hot. But the cool night meant mostly closed windows in the bus-house and we slept fine. Don't think either of us were awakened by steel wheels on steel rails all night. As the rising sun sliced in through the windows of a rocking bus-house Saturday morning it became obvious that the issue today was going to be wind. Area wide predictions were for 20 plus mph winds and gusts to over 30. Since this was a day of mostly two la

May 10 - Sidney to Kearney Nebraska

From Cabelas store to Cabelas store...  one time zone to the next... into that gray area between "The West" and "The Midwest"... we continued our eastward trek today. If we didn't officially cross into the Midwest today, we certainly will tomorrow. I've written about this before but there is a north-south demarcation between West and Midwest out here that runs from the Canadian border and into Texas. In the West you're a rancher; in the Midwest you're a farmer.  In the West you attend rodeos; in the Midwest it's tractor-pulls and county fairs. In the West you wear a cowboy hat; in the Midwest it's a seed-corn sponsored baseball cap. These days everybody drives pickup trucks, even soccer Moms who used to drive mini-vans. But in the West, you'd probably have a horse or two besides. The demarcation line wavers some and is wider in some spots than others. But it clearly runs right through the part of the country we're crossing today and

May 9 - Good Bye Wyoming... we'll be back.

This will be a quick note to the record that we left Cheyenne this morning and ran a whole hundred miles (and 1600 feet elevation... down) to Sidney Nebraska. We're camped (well, moochdocked really...) at Cabelas in Sidney... their corporate headquarters. They have a full hookup RV campground ($$) here too, but we, being old timers on a fixed income, decided to rough it tonight and go without any connection to the civilized world at all.  So here we sit and here we'll sleep... as the world spins on it's axis until old Sol rises on the eastern horizon tomorrow morning. Just because we're "moochdocking" doesn't mean we didn't drop any money at all in Cabelas coffers. We had lunch at their lunch counter and then wandered around the store until two items jumped into our arms... a new pair of shoes for Dar and a heck of a deal on a new GPS for Thom. Staying here for free can get expensive. Tomorrow, we move eastward again... ever closer to the Midwest.

May 8 - Wyoming State Capitol

This morning we made the jaunt a few miles north to downtown Cheyenne and the State Capitol of Wyoming. Cheyenne is not a big town, although relative to most other clusterings of people in Wyoming, it can feel that way. With a population of only 60,000 hearty folks, getting around town is easy and quick. Our camp on the south end of town is less than 3 miles from the heart of town and the Capitol Building. We probably could have walked if we were ambitious. Parking was easy-to-find right on one of the streets that run alongside the Capitol grounds. Upon entering through the main front doors at the top of the portico steps we were confronted by the lack of a security checkpoint, no x-ray machines, nor any walk-through metal detectors. No sir, the State Police have a desk in the rotunda on the first floor and that’s about it. Clearly the good citizens of Wyoming don’t feel the need to over-do the security thing... and retain the sense of liberty one gets by just going in whenever one

May 7 - Why the Rush?

A few days ago I promised to say more about why we've hurried our pace and are making this mad dash back to the Midwest. At our current rate, after factoring in this short breather in Cheyenne and a couple stops we're planning in Nebraska and Iowa, it looks like we'll be back at our Wisconsin home base around the 16th or 17th... about two weeks after leaving the Northwest. The initial plan to take a month for this travel leg clearly went up in smoke. So what happened? To put it simply and directly... we're anxious to get on with "Sabbatical II - The Great Downsizing". We've talked and deliberated, pondered and imagined, thought about this and thought about that... analysis paralysis, some would say. Enough already! It's time for action. We have already taken a few steps toward that next chapter. Our space at our daughter and SIL's place (dubbed "the flat") is now set up and ready for our occasional occupancy. In Wisconsin one of Dar&#

May 6 - Little America to Cheyenne Wyoming

Up until a few years ago I had an iron stomach.  I could eat anything, drink anything, whenever I wanted and in any quantity I wanted... and I'd sleep like a baby. No stomach distress or effects from acid and gas or any of all that fun stuff others grumbled about.  It was something I took for granted and didn't really appreciate... until it was gone.  The iron in my stomach must have rusted with age. Starting a few years ago I noticed my abilities in this area started to fade.  More problems with falling asleep because of the gas or acid or reflux or whatever rolling around in there and making me uncomfortable.  Tums (or equivalent) help, but when I eat late, eat larger quantities, or eat the "wrong" foods,  getting things to quiet down so I can get some sleep can be a problem. While I did briefly mention having dinner in the restaurant at Little America last night, I didn't mention that my selection was something most Midwest boys have a weakness for... hot t

May 5 - Declo Idaho to Little America Wyoming

We're parked in front of the restaurant at Little America Wyoming, having just dined and settled-in for a night of parking lot bliss on the budget plan. Older folks like us need to be watching our pennys... putting up with a little discomfort (no electricity... no water... no dump...) so we can eat a good meal in a solid restaurant once in a while in lieu of rent. Actually, we're quite comfortable and quite happy tonight. We left Declo about 9:30am. Our route took us to Pocotello where we caught I-15 South to US-30 East. Spectacular scenery along the way took our minds off the sometimes menacing and swirling mountain winds. US-30 follows the route of the Oregon Trail -- where, 160 years ago, emigrants plod along, at 12 miles per day, through South Pass on their way to Fort Mills near what is now Pocotello. Even though we were moving in the opposite direction I could almost see the hope and weariness in the faces of those early pioneers as they trod westward. Little America

May 4 - Still in Declo

That's right... still in Declo Idaho tonight. We woke this morning to threatening skies and high wind warnings along the route of our next leg. So, we did what any rational, schedule-shunner would do... nothing. We paid for another night and stayed right here. But we did NOT just sit around and get caught up on writing or photos or anything else. No indeed.  We packed a few snacks and a couple jugs of water in the car and headed off to explore The City of Rocks National Reserve about an hour south of our camp. As it's getting late, and I still have a few things on my list of "to-do's" before traveling tomorrow, I'll write more about our day in the next few.

May 3 - LaGrande to Declo Idaho

This was one of those days when the driving was easy... but the stopping was hard. Like yesterday, when we got close to our planned destination, Glenns Ferry Idaho, it was still early and we had plenty of poop left in the energy tank. So we pressed on. We got to talking... "you know, we're just looking for a place to overnight. Why don't we just stay at a Walmart?" and  "that makes sense, why don't you find a few alternatives along the way." But the towns out this way are small and the Walmarts follow suite. The two we researched that permitted overnight parking turned out to be relatively small stores with small crowded busy parking lots. We also needed a level place to park as our jacks (levelers) are acting up again and I'm loosing trust in our ability to retract them in the morning. (We've been lucky with the balky things up to now and I'm just trying to keep from having a major problem before we get back to the Midwest -- I have this

May 2 - Good-bye Northwest... Heading East

We never tire of the drive through the Gorge After 6 weeks in the great Pacific Northwest we bid adieu to family and pointed the bus-house nose eastward as we now set our sites on Wisconsin and the Midwest.  We're not going to set any records or race to get there, but we are going to move with a little more alacrity than normal. In fact, I'd go so far as to say this time we're thinking more about the destination than the journey. We're going to be on Interstate highways more than normal;  will drive between 200 and 300 miles each travel day;  and there'll be fewer play and explore days than we usually do. Instead of the previously planned 30 days we may make the trip in something like 20 or 25. Hard to explain, but we've got a few things going on that make us feel like we need to be back sooner than June 1, our up-to-now planned arrival time. During the next couple weeks I'll get into a few of those reasons. When we set off this morning (about 10:30am