Wednesday, December 10, 2014
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
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
....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.
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
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.
Thursday, July 31, 2014
This time around, people seemed glad to see me. Last time we went, they whited me and my kids out of the family tree. We had a fun time, eating food, talking, watching old people be weird. We also celebrated the 100th birthday of one of the original family members. The last one, if I'm correct.
The reunion was held in Swanton which is close to Santa Cruz. Jenny turned on Siri (I hate Siri) and asked it to direct us to Davenport which is not where the family reunion was. Swanton is north of Davenport. So every time we drove past Davenport, Siri told us what to do. Which was turn around and go back to Davenport.
Using skills developed after years of investigative reporting and child abuse investigations, I finally figured out that Jenny had not changed Siri's destination and we were doomed to circle around this tiny town. I turned Siri off, and Jenny drove right to the reunion. She has been to Swanton many times, and knows exactly where the place is.
Of those 180 or so people, most of them were Jenny's cousins. Some were also double cousins. Those happen when siblings from one family marry siblings from another. Don't even try to understand this. This is a family with 12 kids, each of whom had a passel of kids of their own, Jenny is the oldest of her generation, but there are members of the previous generation who are younger than she is. This is why I just call them all Uncle Benny.
Random photo of the day:
While the wifi is non-existent, the pool more than made up for it. The fact that the pool is right next to the laundry room is genius. Put in the wash, swim, switch to the dryer, swim some more. Ache like crazy the next day because you spent an hour and a half in the pool.
The wifi is also right by the pool, but doesn't work worth crap.
Random photo of the day:
This was on the wall at a little Mexican restaurant in Los Pinos, population 500, home to four fabulous restaurants. We only ate at two of them, because one was outrageously expensive and the other was only open three days a week and had a wait list that when on for all three days. I think people just lined up in their pajamas and slept until their name was called.
Yes, that is a picture of a real firing squad. Sort of unnerving to have that sitting above your plate of chili rellenos. Which were fabulous.
And now, having used a word starting with un-, I feel compelled to tell you that we owe William Shakespeare for those two little words that undo everything.
The Ginger Cafe in Gilroy serves these little beauties. Too adorable to eat, too tasty not to. We managed to have these little porcupine balls TWICE while trapped in Motel 6.
No real porcupines were harmed.
When you are living in Motel 6 with two cats and a dog, you need the medicine. But if you put the medicine in the bag with the cat toys, you just might get this. My apologies and eternal gratefulness to Emily Dickinson.
Well, here's proof.
Saturday, May 17, 2014
Here's my favorite sight in Carmel:
Driving by quickly, I thought it was an elephant crossing. Looking closer, I discovered that it's actually a boar crossing. The boar's name is, I suspect, Rudolph.
After our tour, we headed to Salinas which is where Jenny was born. This is her grandparents' old house in Salinas:
This is the house John Steinbeck grew up in in Salinas:
The people of Salinas didn't like him because he wrote about the marginalized. Then he became famous and they all wanted him to come to their parties. I like him because when he was twelve, he was a crucifer at the local Episcopal church. While carrying the cross, which is what a crucifer does, he managed to drop the cross on the bishop's head and knock the guy unconscious. Steinbeck left the church as a result, never to return.
Yes, I did eat this. It was okay.
Finally, we got there just as they were closing. Jenny asked for a half flat and the woman gave her a full one for the price of a half.
Huge, juicy, delicious. And way too many for us to eat. So Jenny drove around giving half the flat away, one box at a time. We must have looked questionable because some people wouldn't take them.
We finally finished the half flat today. Time to get more.
At the Rogue Gallery in Newport, I asked what exactly a Dead Guy Growler was. This is it.
One of these is the men's room. The other is the women's. You have to guess.
This is the holy water thing. I love the colors and folk art.
On the way home, we drove through a local park and saw this sign:
There was a huge barbecue spit nearby. Coincidence? I don't think so.
We also met this guy:
His name is Dan and he and his wife are the caretakers of the park. Apparently, the boars come down from wherever they come from up in the hills and root around in the ground when it's wet. Since there is a drought here, we didn't see any. But we did see this sign while in San Juan Bautista.
As you can see, boars are among the things not allowed. Nor are dogs. Or people.
Back in camp, I took this picture. These woodpeckers are all over the place.
Our first day out, we went to Monterey for lunch. Naturally, with all the great seafood around, we went to an English pub, sort of like the Highland Still House back home. We chose this place because of the view.
Jenny got totally absorbed in this thing:
This is a thing used to lower sailboats from the dock into the water. The sailboat is suspended in a sling of sorts, this boom thing, then swings and lowers it into the bay. We watched them lower a boat, then the guy who owned the boat made a bad jump from the boat to the dock and embarrassed himself. We did not laugh. I am becoming better behaved.
Then we went to Trader Joe's and Whole Foods.
We've been here almost two weeks, and will be here a couple more most likely because, as usual, we are learning IMPORTANT lessons.
New Lesson: Only get gas at truck stops when hauling a fifth wheel.
We made the mistake of trying to go to a regular gas station in Sacramento. Sacramento has long been considered my nemesis so this story is not that amazing. They planted landscaping trees in this gas station. We hit one. Although we didn't know it at that time.
When we got to camp (here in the lovely San Benito Valley) we discovered this.
Friday, May 9, 2014
We've been here for four days, visiting Monterey, Gilroy (garlic capitol of the world), Castroville (artichoke capitol of the world...either there is a theme here or California (8th largest economy in the world) is out to take over the entire world one vegetable and one economy at a time).
So, first some good news. Jenny and I have lost a combined total of 29 pounds. That's fifteen for her, fourteen for me, but who's keeping score. We're already discussing the need for new clothes. In case you want to know how, we're doing the Whole30, sort of, and living in a fifth wheel involves lots of physical work.
We spent a couple days in a Thousand Trails outside of Oregon House (which is in California), north of Sacramento. Driving from Ashland to Oregon House, we noticed that Lake Shasta is REALLY low. The lowest we've ever seen it, and we've done this drive many times. We're used to seeing the sides of the lake bare, but this time we saw the lake bottom in spots.
And just in case we didn't get that California is experiencing a severe drought, there are electronic highway signs every few miles reminding of us this fact and telling us to conserve water. Now, can you find a rest area in California? Of course not. (Maybe they got rid of them so they could save water?) But if you need drought reminders, they are everywhere.
Lots of empty, and by empty I mean NO water, creek and river beds. The eucalyptus trees are dying, apparently due to lack of water although it could be some plague, and NO rest areas. (We did find one just across the border, and another south of Sacramento, but that's a long way between toilets.) And just try to get a glass of water in San Juan Bautista. We did. You can't.
Anyway, I digress. I'll post this, download some photos from the camera, and get on with the story.
And, yes, we've had adventures. See you round the bend.
Saturday, May 3, 2014
Repairs on the RV and a new pair of glasses for Jenny set us back about $800 we hadn't budgeted for. After all, when your new RV spends six months at the dealer, you sort of expect that it won't fall apart right out of the gate. But it did. Things the dealer said weren't a problem were, the gas leak the dealer said didn't exist did, the stabilizers they said they fixed, they didn't. "Nuff said about the dealer. We will not return there. (Curtis RV in PDX. AVOID.)
Guaranty managed to fix it all, for much less, and so far it's all working. Tomorrow we may actually make it to California.
IN OTHER NEWS
We sold our house, effective May 1. We hired a company to do the estate sale and clean up. Somebody started breaking in in mid-April stealing things. The people we hired are as baffled as we are because they are very careful about locking up.
The first night, a large screen TV and some jewelry disappeared. The next night, they took the upright freezer. Then the dryer, followed by the washer. Every night, another missing item. We are now up to several thousand dollars worth of stolen stuff.
We have a pretty good idea who is doing this, and the locks have been changed, but the culprit (suspected) never had a key anyway. I'm not going to say more because there is a police investigation underway. Eventually, I may tell the whole story.
ONE LOST CAT
Our second night in Junction City, our cat Buddy ran away. We kept trying to find him but finally gave up when we left for Florence. So far, Abby and Zee are around, although Zee likes to go on walkabout so we're never sure when he'll be back. Needless to say, we are saddened by the loss of Buddy.
I promise more photos and stuff once we get out of Oregon and start finding better Internet. Junction City and Florence had none.
Thursday, April 17, 2014
Sunday, March 30, 2014
So, I'm trying a new offline blogging tool since I prematurely ended my tumultuous relationship with Beavercreek Cooperatve Telephone and now we're stuck here a few more days. I am reduced to hanging out in Starbucks.
Therefore, this is a test. However, starting in few days, there should be blog.
Wednesday, March 19, 2014
Anyway, back to the mud. We were trying to get the RV into the driveway, which has inappropriately placed trees, and got stuck in the damn mud. Since we live in a riparian environment (read "marsh") we have lots of mud around here. The trailer got stuck on Saturday. Around 3 pm.
We called our insurance company, who sent us the fool who dropped the RV on the tailgate a few months ago, and they declined to help us. Then we called a tow truck and the guy came, looked, and said we'd need a small, 4x4 with a winch as those same trees (and the fact that the RV was parked across the access road in a most inaccessible way) were preventing anything larger from getting by. Oh, and I'm pretty sure he said we'd need a red one. And we were blocking the emergency access for the rest of the houses.
We called other tow companies, rejoined AAA (which has a program for RVs) and still no luck. We even called the fire department. Some neighbors came and got it out of the mud, but there was so much mud it went right back into some new mud. Around dark, we gave up.
Jenny went out at 8 am the next morning to start over. The neighbors came over again. Some other neighbors came by, mad at us, and they also called the fire department with no luck. And the guy works for the fire department.
By now, the truck (with trailer attached) had been pulled out of the mud about six times, each time finding some new mud to play in. Our neighbors were covered in mud. The truck and RV were covered in mud. I even stepped in some mud.
FINALLY, we had four wheels on terra firma and spent the next hour or so with four folks trying to guide us into position so we could back out up the access road to the main road. Did I mention the creek?
To get to the main road, you have to cross a culvert over a creek. This is not a great culvert. To have a great culvert would have cost the four homes on the road $40k and we all voted no. So one side of the culvert is reinforced concrete ("the good side") and the other is an undercut dirt bank ("the bad side").
By now our neighbor is driving, I'm riding shotgun, everybody else is directing us, and Jenny is out in the middle of the road ready to stop traffic. A 38' trailer does not back easily, and for some reason it kept pulling to "the bad side" where the serious mud, undercut bank, and swimming hole are. I know the RV was filthy, but it really doesn't need to bathe in Beavercreek.
After much insanity, including my searching for my mask and snorkel, we got it out of the access road and onto the main road. We went looking for some place to park it for a few hours. We ended up at that megachurch on the corner where our neighbor promptly cut the turn too close and took out someone's tail light. We left a note, some guy came to talk to us, and we got permission to leave the RV for a bit while we went to get some lunch.
After lunch, the Baptists just up the street from us told us we could park there until the weekend. Nice Baptists.
So the RV is now probably being converted and undergoing some kind of baptism by aspersion which will at least clean off some of the mud.
But our friends Paula and Rosemary helped us take some stuff to the RV and we're that much closer to leaving.
More to come....
Tuesday, March 4, 2014
I'm using this great tool called roadtrippers.com to plan. If you are doing any road trips, you need this tool. It's also available for your android or iphone, and works on my Nook HD as well. It lets you select destinations, tells you how many miles between destinations, how long it should take you to drive it, and how much your gas will cost.
The first leg looks like this:
However, a friend who knows such things says that the northern stretch of 101 in California is covered in land and mud slides. So I may have to reroute us down I-5. We have reservations in Palm Desert for TWO WEEKS starting April 15. I know. It's getting hot down there by then, but I don't care. I need hot. My body is rapidly becoming frozen tundra, a difficult thing considering how much of it is fat.
OH! WAIT! BIG NEWS!
Jenny retired. Last Friday. It has now been three days and we have yet to kill each other. In fact, we've been having fun. I never really believed she'd do it, being all Type A and all. (Her, not me. I'm Type B- or C most of the time) But she did. And now we're both getting excited for the trip to begin and also panicking about how much we still have to do.
BACK TO REGULARLY SCHEDULED PROGRAMMING
Our trip will wend its way east from Palm Desert, following the border and the Gulf of Mexico, until we get to Jacksonville, FL where our nephew is currently moving to. From there, we head north with stops in Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, D.C., Pennsylvania, New York, and Maine (and probably some other places) to visit friends and family and see things we've never seen before.
We then plan to come back via the northern route, again seeing people on the way back.
BUT, there is a monkey wrench. Twenty years ago, we scandalized Jenny's 30th high school reunion by being there. This year is the 50th reunion, in Idaho, in September. As far as we know, there was no 40th reunion (or we weren't invited). So we intend to do a reprise of the scandal by showing up. Which means we may have to reroute a bunch of things, or drive fast.
IN OTHER NEWS
The RV place PROMISES that they will have everything they need for final repairs by this Friday. So that part of planning will be done and we can possibly move back into the RV next week.
More on the planning later. And I'll take pictures of the moving mess. And maybe the mud.
Thursday, January 23, 2014
This is mostly a story of crap. But some of you will be thinking "denial" and "what are they thinking."
Our youngest grand turned one on January 2nd and her mother needed child care on January 3rd. The nanny had gone home for Christmas, and her husband is in the midst of a 12 week period where he can lift NOTHING, due to shoulder surgery. We joyfully said we'd be glad to watch the kids, ages one and three, and the husband, age 33.
So on the 2nd, we picked up the RV and the truck (both were in the shop) and headed to Seattle. Around Ridgefield, we stopped at a rest stop and decided to look at the work inside the trailer. So, about 30 minutes north of PDX, we discovered that the RV place had neglected to give us a key to the new door.
We had to go north several miles in order to head south, but we finally got back to Portland and got the key. We turned around again. Now we were running late.
One of our firm rules is that we never set up camp in the dark. Naturally, it was dark when we got to the place we had reservations. And it was raining. Because we like places that are sort of rustic, we had reservations at a fairly rustic place. Which means dark and not covered with concrete.
Night, plus rustic, plus rain = mud. Which we got stuck in. And couldn't get out. I tried to direct Jenny, and all I got was wet and covered with mud. Fortunately, a guy with four-wheel drive and a chain was able to haul us out. (Note to self: buy chain and something to put under the tires when we get stuck.)
Not wanting to risk this again, we left and went searching for an RV park in Monroe, WA at 10 pm. Yeah, like that's going to work. Instead, we headed back toward Seattle and found a Walmart. We had sworn never to spend the night at Walmart, but there we were. We are now People of Walmart. We are not proud of this.
And, during the three months that the RV was at the dealer, they never bothered to empty the black water tanks. Which meant the RV smelled like, well, crap. Fortunately, we were able to deal with that rather quickly.
Naturally, we had no propane (we'd forgotten) which meant we not only had no electricity (Walmart may have everything inside the store, but the parking lot does not have electricity except for the high-powered lights that shine in at you), we had no heat. Oh, and we had no water except what we had in a five gallon jug. It was the dead of winter, below freezing, and I was sure I would soon be the dead of winter myself. I froze all night long, and in the morning noticed there was water all over my side of the bed. The RV place had left the vent open. Duh. We're beginning to question the wisdom of taking the RV to this place.
Jenny didn't sleep much either because she kept hearing people, she swears, checking out our rig in the dark.
At 7:45 am, we had to be at the kids' house so our daughter could go to work. The kids were asleep. Jenny still had to go find a place to park the RV so she left. Then the daughter left to go be a banker. Immediately, the one-year-old got up. And proceeded to dump every toy in the house on the floor. Then the three-year-old got up and proceeded to identify everything in the house as a "choking hazard."
On top of the fact that kids wake up AWAKE, Cait and Felipe have the kind of couches that swallow you alive. So every time the one-year-old identified a REAL choking hazard by attempting to choke on it, or the three-year-old reported that the one-year-old was misbehaving out of sight, I had to fight gravity and the couch and get up. Jenny did not come back for four hours. She is the smart one in our family.
By that time, the one-year-old had tripped over air and hit her chin on a plastic basket, one of the ones she had dumped out early on. She had also pulled a lamp off the table before I could disentangle myself from the grandma-eating couch and stop her. The word "no" is not particularly effective at age one.
This woke up the father, who was in significant pain. He came out of the bedroom, and suddenly the baby remembered that he was there. I lifted her up into his good arm and he took her in with him for a while. Although she's only 20 lbs, my back is on an eight pound limit. I must have lifted her on or off the bed, the back of the couch, the footstool, the shelves, and anything else she could find a couple of dozen times.
For the rest of the day, she would periodically remember that he was only a door away and stand at his bedroom door and scream. This usually happened whenever I told her no, although she doesn't know what the word means.
Jenny finally arrived, along with the dog. The dog is not allowed in the house, so she was tied up at the front door and kept barking. Then the 3-year-old wanted to let the dog in. We'd say no, she'd say "why?" By 4 pm, I was trying to ban the word why from all conversation for the rest of the day. Everybody else got mad at me. I'm sorry, but with no sleep, frozen innards, and general crabbiness, developmental normality in 3-year-old is the least of my concerns. I just wanted a few minutes of time out. For me. Every time I tried to put myself in time out, the kids found me. I adore these kids, but....
Finally, around 9 pm, we headed out to find propane and get back to Calamity Jane. We filled one tank, installed it, and discovered that the propane didn't work. It was too cold to go back outside and figure the problem out in the dark (wind chill down around 20) so we froze again. That's two nights in a row.
The next day, after a great breakfast at a little diner we found, we went back to the kids' house to watch our daughter chase kids. We also played a rousing game of "Whatever Next," a great game for kids and adults. Emso, at 3, found it hysterical. Pilar, age 1, found Emso hysterical. We all found Caitlin, age 30, hysterical. I highly recommend this game (available at amazon.com) for little ones and big ones alike.
Then, back to the RV for yet another night of freezing. That's three nights in a row. Did I mention I have fibromyalgia? Which is very sensitive to weather extremes, especially cold and damp? By the time we got home, I was completely done in. Spent the entire next week in bed, unable to move. All that cold, damp, and heavy lifting caught up with me. Now, almost three weeks later, I'm finally almost warm again and may put on clothes tomorrow.
Oh, and when we went to unhook the sewer hose, we had frozen effluent in the pipe, which flowed all over. Jenny had to clean that up by scooping it into a black plastic bag that she tossed in the bed of the truck for later disposal. Which happened somewhere around Centralia when the bag of shit blew out of the truck.
Then, because she was weaving just the tiniest bit, and because the stairs into our rig were down instead of in the up position, we got pulled over by the cops. Fortunately, the cops could tell we were a) frazzled and b) already aware of the step and busy putting it up, so there was no ticket. Not even a warning.
Yes, we are still going RVing for the next six months. And we are constantly making new rules.
Never get to campground after dark. If we are going to get to campground after dark, we find another campground. One with daylight.
Never drive the day before we HAVE to be somewhere. Fortunately, we seldom have to be anywhere, but still.
Our rule about only driving every three days at most, has been expanded. From now on, we will drive and spend at least three full days chilling before driving again.
Avoid cold at all costs. Try to avoid rain. Sun. We want sun.
Top off the propane and gas for the truck every time we travel. BEFORE we travel. We have discovered that diesel isn't as common as you might think along I-5.
Fill the water tanks when we get there. Just in case.
Empty the water tanks and black water tanks before leaving the campground.
Sorry, no photos. My phone was dead. What else is new?
Things we have to do:
- Plan a retirement party for Jenny. I think 54 years in the work place deserves some sort of recognition. And, yes, she started at 13. As did I. But I kept taking time off to spawn and care for kids, and have been living in a state of semi-retirement since 2002 when my brain quit on me during surgery.
- Finish packing the trailer, especially the basement which has been just a dumping spot since we got the thing.
- Take the fifth wheel into the dealer AGAIN, this time for things that broke while it was in their care.
- Go visit the grand kids in Seattle for a few days before we head out. We'll be gone until around September this time out, and they change so much at this age.
- Figure out how to Skype our daughter in Korea so we can talk to her kids.
- Get rid of stuff. We want to have a sale, and we're also looking for folks who want to foster some of our stuff until we decide (if we ever do) to settle down again. If there is something you want, let us know.
- Put the rest of our stuff in storage.
- Make sure we have email addresses, phone numbers, etc. of all our friends. If you think we don't know how to reach you, let us know.
- Check the truck and the RV for problems and get them fixed. Considering how much we've spent on the beasts in the last two months, it better be done by now.
- Go to my disability hearing. I've been waiting for two years (pretty typical, I understand), but finally I have a hearing on February 4th. Prayers and good thoughts welcome. The money isn't the big deal here. I get about the same from Social Security as I will from disability, but the difference is in health care. Without disability, my health care (thank God/dess for Obamacare. I wouldn't be insurable without it.) and copays will take all of my Social Security. (If you have a messed up brain, along with fibromyalgia and insulin-dependent diabetes, the meds are enough to bankrupt you. In fact, I will have to apply for aid from the state because my meds will cost me close to $500-$1000 a month, and the Kaiser health plan on the exchange is about $600 a month. The combined total is more than I can get from Social Security.) If I get disability, I will also get Medicare.
- Make sure our wills are up-to-date and that we have copies of them and all the other paperwork we may need on the road. Even though we are now legally married in Washington, and that marriage is recognized in Oregon, we'll be travelling through lots of red states. So the paper trail is still important.
- Make sure the animals are up-to-date on their shots and get health records for them.
- Renew our passports. Since we may dip into Canada and Mexico, our expired passports probably won't cut it.
- Stock up at Trader Joes. Did you know not every state has them? At least there are Fred Meyers and Krogers nationwide.
- Acclimate the cats to life in the RV or find them new homes. I don't want to give up Abby or Z, Jenny wants to keep Buddy. So I guess we have to take them all.
- Organize the RV. Lately, we've just been dropping things inside it for later organization. We really need to get back to living in it so we can also get organized.
- Make sure we have reservations for the places we know will need them. (We do have reservations for two weeks in Palm Springs, starting April 15th. Take note, cousin.)
- Return things to people who have either loaned them or given them to me. Much as I love some of this stuff, we can't take it all with us.
- Dye the white alpaca my daughter gave me to make her an afghan. She wants a purple tweed. Right now I have a big utility sink so I have to get all the dying out of the way before we go.
- Get rid of the house. The bank keeps scheduling sheriff's sales and cancelling them. The bank has yet to finish the foreclosure (we quit paying on the mortgage a couple years ago on the advice of our attorney once we figured out Chase had no intention of every modifying our construction loan). Now we just want to get it over with so our credit scores can start creeping back up to the once stellar status they had before this whole mess started.
- List some of the antiques on E-Bay.
- Put the rest of the stuff on Craigslist.
- Have an estate sale.
- Move stuff back into the trailer. For the past several months, we've been living in two places. Not easy.
- Make more lists when I remember them.