Wednesday, December 10, 2014

What Did We Do to Deserve All This?

We left Sutter Creek on Saturday for a leisurely drive up to Eugene to get our stuff which is still in the old unit in a salvage yard. We had planned to be there on Tuesday.

When we got to Coloma, CA, we took a wrong turn. Now that normally shouldn't be a problem...we've taken lots of them. But this one went up a big hill. This will be important later.

Trying to turn around, we got stuck. Fortunately, some nice guys, a father and son, managed to get us unstuck, but for some unknown reason, our power steering took that moment to fail. As in all the power steering fluid leaked out in a gush. Is that still a leak? The guys put some power steering fluid in and we headed back to make camp.

Remember that hill? Well, apparently power steering has something to do with power brakes. By the bottom of the hill we had neither. Jenny used brute strength to stop us and then managed to make the turn to get us to the campground. She truly is an amazing woman.

So there we are, at the entrance to the campground, no brakes, no steering, unable to move. The guy who was checking us in identified a place we could safely pull into and Jenny (who is gaining butch cred as we speak) managed to manhandle the dang thing into a space out of the way, but with no hookups. Since it's cold up here, we wanted both water and electricity.

Now this was Saturday. Today is Wednesday. Try to keep up.

We called AAA and our membership more than paid for itself on this one. The guy arrived, realized we were stuck in a bad place, and went back to get a truck with a fifth wheel hitch. Did I mention we have the AAA RV policy? A lifesaver and worth every penny.

First, Andy (AAA guy) hooked up our RV and put it in a very nice space that even has some WIFI. Then he also hooked everything up (water, electricity, etc.)
Then he went and got our truck and brought it to our site so we could get some things out of it that we had forgotten to grab. Finally he hauled it off to a repair shop in Placerville, about 20 miles away. We love Andy and want to keep him.

Since it was Saturday night by now, we had to hunker down because, obviously, nothing was going to happen to our truck until Monday at the earliest. And this is where our Thousand Trails membership becomes invaluable. RV sites cost anywhere from $20 to $50 a night. In fact, the site we're in is $40 a night for those who aren't members. But, because we pay our $500 a year dues, we stay here for between $0 and $3 a night. We're still just paying $0 a night and we've been staying all over the place for that price.

On Monday, we learned that our truck needed new rack and pinion steering. $866 worth.  Today, the day we hoped to pick up the truck, we found out we also need new brakes. The place the truck is now wants $1500 for that. Fortunately, there is a Les Schwab in Placerville, not far from the repair shop. We have an account with Les Schwab. So here we are, waiting for a cab (yes, a cab) to take us to Placerville. Then we will fork over the $866, get the truck, and take it to Les Schwab for brakes.

Remember, this is Wednesday. If you follow the weather (or have the weather) you know that a potential hurricane is coming in this afternoon. Gusts up to 60 mph, between 3 to 9 inches of rain. Everywhere we want to be. Our plan now is to hunker down (doing a lot of that lately) and ride it out here in Coloma.

However, we are out of clean clothes (remember, we have limited cold weather gear with us) so we are off to do laundry. We are also out of food. In fact, I've had to get really creative with the cooking the last few days. But my creativity goes out the window when all I have is a can of refried beans, some marshmallows, a couple of Kind bars, and some brandy. Oh, and some cereal, but no milk. A grocery trip is in order.

Now, did I mention fibromyalgia. No, we don't need to get that. I already have it, and cold, damp weather makes my back knot up like a washboard, And my ribs. And my hips. I can walk around a bit, almost bend over, and, naturally, I can groan. If I had my sewing machine, I'd make one of those flax pillows you can heat in the microwave. But since it is in Eugene, I plan to look for a heating pad. I also will buy some rubbing alcohol so I can make an ice pack or two.

We'll ride it out, and then, maybe by Monday, be in Eugene. In the meantime, I'm grateful for our fireplace, comfortable bed, full propane tanks, and a free place to stay. If only we also had TV. Ah well, at least we have some WIFI.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

35 Things We Learned Between September and November: A Mad Dash Across No-Man's Land

As you may know, on September 11, 2014, our Dutchman Denali 330RLS self-destructed on the big hill into Prineville. There were flames, there was smoke, there were lots and lots of police, state police, and firemen. And the whole town turned out. Another town that needs a bowling alley.

We had it towed to an RV joint, and began the long wait. It took two weeks just for the insurance guy to get there and decide it was totaled. It took several more weeks for them to find a replacement. Meanwhile, we lived on our usual income, the $700 the insurance company gave us, and our available savings. Most of our money is in an IRA-type thing and takes 30-60 days to arrive so that was a non-starter. Which is probably good.

The insurance company found a comparable rig, only one year newer, in Council Bluffs, IA. It would take six weeks to be delivered, or they would give us $3000 if we wanted to go get it ourselves. We took the money, after even more delays, and finally lit out for Iowa.

We did leave the cats (who hate the car) with our friends Paula and Rosemary in The Dalles. We suspect there is some alienation of affection going on, but we won't sue.

Things we learned:

1. In Pendleton, OR, they play high school football on the rodeo grounds. I guess they don't get enough shit-kicking in during rodeo season.

2. Nampa, ID has a high school team called the Bulldogs. Jenny went to high school there, so we went to the reunion. We didn't shock as many people as we did 20 years ago at her 30th reunion.

3. Pocatello, ID is where her aunt and uncle live.

4. Jackson Hole is not a city. The city is Jackson, WY, the hole is the basin it sits in.

5. You can ski right into the town of Jackson when there is snow. The runs begin and end in the town.

6. The city arches are made of elk and moose antlers.

7. A diesel truck is not a good choice for spotting animals in Grand Teton National Park. Probably not anywhere else either.

8. If you cross the Continental Divide by driving through Grand Teton National Park, the landscape changes dramatically when you get to the other side.

9. Wyoming is mostly empty. But there is Casper, which is where we stayed. There were no friendly ghosts. Not that we looked.

10. Just outside Rapid City, SD there is an old town with lots of casinos. We had a pretty good steak dinner at a place that lots of famous people have visited.

11. We spent several days in Rapid City and visited several National Parks. Devil's Monument is back in Wyoming, but not too far. According to legend, the monument was formed by a giant bear trying to get some Native Americans who were on top of the giant rock.

12. To get to Devil's Monument, we passed through the geographical center of the continental United States. How cool is that?

13.  Custer State Park is amazing. We saw lots of buffaloes just outside our car. Of course, we didn't want them inside our car.

14. The monument to Crazy Horse is huge, about 10 times the size of Mount Rushmore. It is also unfinished.

15. Mount Rushmore was a disappointment. Much smaller than I anticipated, and hard to see because of all the gift shops, restaurants, etc. We got there late so the light was lousy for photos, and we didn't have time or energy to run the gauntlet to get closer.

16. There are statues of all the Presidents on the street corners of downtown Rapid City. Obama will be added when he leaves office. These things are supposedly life size. If true, they were all very short men.

17. Wall Drug is big, sort of weird, and is pretty much the whole town of Wall, SD.

18. The Badlands are BAD. I sure wouldn't want to live there. but they were beautiful in a weird. moon landscape sort of way. Interesting geology.

19. Prairie dogs have PLAGUE. They also share their holes (not sure it's willingly) with black widow spiders and rattlesnakes. Avoid them.

20. The Corn Palace in Mitchell, SD has murals made out of corn. They change the murals every year, probably because the corn rots.

21. Mitchell, SD also has lots of pheasant hunters and signs like this at the motels.

22. There's a real cool museum in Sioux Falls. It was closed the day we were there, although the Internet said it was open. Another time.

23. To get to Omaha, NE you have to cross the Missouri River and drive through Iowa.

24. Omaha was the first place we encountered that had a Trader Joe's. What's wrong with these people in the mid-West, anyway.

25.  If you decide to buy an RV with slides, put them in and out several times before you leave the lot. On our second attempt the kitchen slide got stuck in the out position. It took a week to fix it. They had to order parts from Omaha. Omaha and Council Bluffs might as well be the same city. I offered to drive to Omaha (about five miles) to pick up parts, but that's not the way it works.

26. If you just don't leave the RV sales lot, and you camp out in your new RV, you might get away with it for a day or two. When you get caught, suddenly they are more than willing to pay for a motel for you. And they will make your rig their top priority. The general manager will become your contact person. I highly recommend this tactic.

27. Kansas City is actually mostly in Missouri. My best friend from high school lives there. We had coffee with them because we were trying to outrun the big storm headed our way and didn't have time to stay.

28. If the salesman tells you both propane tanks are filled, don't believe it. You will find this out in Guymon, OK which is pretty much nowhere in the panhandle and it's below freezing with a wind chill factor of 2 degrees. All of your warm clothes are back in Oregon. But you have to get the truck unhitched because if you have no propane you will freeze to death. It takes two frozen people to do this.

29. Tucumcari, NM is a sleepy town with light snow. Maybe not all the time, but while we were there.

30.  Albuquerque, NM has a great mobile RV guy. Ask us how we know. Okay, turns out the factory and the sales lot both missed the loose connection between the kitchen faucet and the line. Our drawers under the sink were filling up with water. Which we didn't notice until the water started leaking onto the floor.

31.  Arizona is not necessarily warm.

32.  Jenny's mom died while we were traveling. This was not unexpected, but it was still hard. We decided to haul ass for Palm Desert where there is a 1000 Trails campground. She flew to Portland, I stayed with the dog. And no propane, no gas in the truck and no money.We survived. But it does get cold here at night.

33. The entire Palm Springs area makes no sense. It's about twenty miles long, four miles wide, Roads don't necessarily run in directions that make sense. And I suspect telling the AAA people that you are out of gas near the corner of Famous Person and Famous Person, they'll think you're nuts. Fortunately, I finally found a station that had diesel. All the Famous Person's are Republicans. So it goes.

34. La Perlita has the best Mexican food in all of this area. The chili rellenos are to die for. We went there twice.

35. If you are going to swim here in November, get to the pool before 2 pm. At 3:30 the sun goes down and so does the heat.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

There are buffalos in the room....

....but they're not free. Weirdest thing I've heard today.

We spent some time with Jenny's aunt and uncle in Pocatello and are now in Jackson Hole, WY on our way to the Grand Teton National Park. First, though, we went to Starbucks which is right next to the obligatory Sally Beauty.

Twas a gorgeous drive, a beautiful day, clouded only by the fact that I took a muscle relaxer last night, proving once again that the brain is a muscle. Those things turn me into Jabba the Hutt only dumber. Time for a nap.

Pulled off at Blackfoot to see this:

Yes, there was a Sally Beauty, too.

No snowplows between 9 pm and 5 am

What? These people have personal snowplows? Isn't plowing something done by city or county folks? Why would they need a sign telling them when not to plow? I'm baffled. Maybe out here in the land of the Marlboro man they all have snowplows.

We spent the day at Grand Teton national park. Amazingly beautiful. I took photos but will have to add them later when I have access to a real computer instead of a tablet. We saw NO wildlife although we tried. Well, there were mallards and geese and one lone coot.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Pendelton Roundup

No, we're not at the rodeo. It's cold and wet here so that would be wrong. No, right now the rodeo grounds is being used for football which just proves that people like to enjoy America's so-called favorite pastime in horse shit.

After a free breakfast at the Oxford Suites and a brisk swim, we are headed for Idaho on our way to Iowa. I feel like Columbus without the rape, contagion, and abuse of indigenous peoples. While I've flown over the flyover states many times, I've only driven there once and that was in Canada.

Infants and toddlers were involved so it was not fun. Although my ex-husband will tell you it was his best vacation ever. He fished. I washed babies in buckets and tried to keep kids from drowning and being eaten by indigenous wildlife. Tents were also involved.

Note to fathers: if it's your child it's called parenting, not babysitting. Learn this or you may find your wife divorcing you and leaving to hang out with lesbians.

So we left Pendleton after Jenny lost her keys. I found them. In the car, which she also left unlocked. I did beg, for the million twelfth time, that she become methodical and thus keep track of the keys. I've been begging for the past 23 years. Yes, I am insane. Thank you for noticing.

Several Hours Later

We are now in Mountain Home, Idaho which is east of Boise and has no mountains. It does have an Air Force base and a Sally Beauty store. I believe the latter is obligatory in any Idaho town. However, I'm pretty sure the sun should not be shining in our eyes at 5 pm if we are truly headed east. Are we directionally challenged? Time to rethink this.

Middle of the Night

It's now after 9 pm. I am in pain, have pumped myself full of MMJ and Vicodin, and just want to go to bed. But someone (you know who you are) told Jenny to take this "better" road, the scenic route. Scenic doesn't work in the dark. We have missed many sights and I'm approaching meltdown. We're still an hour out of Pocatello, which that idiot SIRI mispronounces differently each time. I hate SIRI.