Saturday, July 23, 2011

The final week!

Almost a week has gone by since my last update on our travels.

Monday was pretty much a work day for me.  I had 6 insurance surveys in Carpinteria.  I got back to the site about 3:00.   I wrote up a couple of my reports, then spent the rest of the day relaxing.  Tuesday we were hosts to Rosie’s sisters, Helga and Gigi and their husbands Fred and Harlan, and Helga’s grandson, Shane.  We prepared a campfire dinner of chicken, potatoes, and veggies with some cream of mushroom soup and a little wine all mixed together and wrapped in six layers of heavy duty foil.  After 45 minutes over an open campfire, everything was fully cooked and ready to eat.  Add some French bread and butter and top it off with an apple tort baked by Rosie and we had a meal.   We sat and visited for a couple of hours enjoying the surroundings and each other’s company.  Of course we had to take a group photo.


From left to right; Fred, me, Rosie, Gigi, Helga, Shane and Harlan.

Wednesday was a day without any commitments or plans.  I wrote the rest of my reports and we chilled out at the site.  Thursday I had 2 surveys in Santa Barbara scheduled, but one of them cancelled while I was driving up the coast to Santa Barbara.  It has been at least 18 years since I have driven the Pacific Coast Highway.  It was strange to see the ocean again after living inland all these years.  I had also forgotten how crowded Santa Barbara is; small homes on narrow streets are the rule until you get into the mansions in the foothills.  Thursday evening Heidi had us over for dinner;  she picked up chicken and fixings from El Pollo Loco, one of our favorites.  We put our pooches in the back yard and Heidi kept her three little canines in the house during our visit.   It was good to spend some more time with our grandsons Robert and Tyler.   We are looking forward to being able to spend Thanksgiving and Christmas with them this year, since we have decided to spend the winter in our camper exploring warmer winter climates.  We stopped at Albertson’s in Simi Valley for a final stock up on groceries for our trip home.

Friday morning we hooked up and pulled out of the Ventura Ranch KOA, our home for the last 10 nights.  This is the longest we have stayed at one location since we started camping.  It was a good experience.  We had a great site.  There were many places to walk Sammy and Annie.  The local wildlife consisted of little bunny rabbits and peacocks.  The peacocks are birds with extraordinary color patterns.  This one came right into our camp one morning.


Friday was the beginning of our desert journey home.  We stayed Friday night in Barstow.  The campground did not have a single blade of grass anywhere.  Puppies like to pee on grass; so we took a ride to a local park where they could take care of all their business on lush green grass (a rare site in Barstow, CA).  We continue to meet Europeans in our travels.  A large Class C rental RV set up next to us.  A family from Switzerland; husband, wife and two sons.  Their English was pretty good, but their German was better.   Rosie really enjoyed a long conversation with them Saturday morning as we were getting ready to go.

I was dreading driving through Las Vegas; but it was not so bad.  The major road construction they have been working on for the last few years is completed.  I was able to stay in one lane all the way from the south to the north end of town.  The temperature kept climbing all day, by the time we reached our destination in Mesquite, NV, it was well over 100 degrees.  The only RV resorts in Mesquite are connected with Casinos and Hotels.  This means they are cheap, $20 with full hookups, because they expect you will drop some money at the tables.  The RV area is a large paved parking lot.  We lucked out with a corner site that is very wide and very level.  I plugged into the 50 amp circuit and we fired up the main air conditioner; and the circuit breaker in the camper tripped.  Not a good sign.  So I reset the circuit breaker and set the fan to low on the AC.  That seemed to make it better.  After about 30 minutes I set the fan to high and it has been running good every since.  Then I turned on the front (bedroom) AC.  After five minutes, that circuit breaker tripped.  I have been trying to run the front AC on low for a couple of hours and it always trips after 10 or 15 minutes.  Finally, I said to heck with it, I will run it on high for as long as it will go.  It has been going for about 40 minutes now without failure.  Maybe it is because it is cooling down outside and it doesn’t have to work so hard.  We were thinking about hitting the slot machines for a bit, but decided it was not a good idea to leave the pooches alone in the camper if the AC were to trip the breakers it could get too hot for them.

Sunday we headed out about 7:00 am for Nephi, UT.  We came upon a serious accident on I-15.  A SUV was upside down in the center median and many motorists had stopped to give assistance.  We saw one person sitting up against the vehicle holding a towel to his head; unable to tell if there was anyone else still in the vehicle.  First responders had not yet arrived, but many folks were talking into cell phones.  These things are always a reminder to us of how fortunate we are and how your life can literally be turned “upside down” in a second.  We arrived in Nephi about 2:00 pm (back in Mountain time now) and are set up in the High Country RV Camp.  We have a shady site on level gravel and are able to stay hooked up to save time in the morning.  Both AC units going full blast with a good 50 amp connection and no circuit breakers tripping in the camper.  Temperature is a cool (compared to Mesquite) 90 degrees.  Also have 26 channels of “over the air” digital television from our roof antenna.  How good is that?

So, part of our “lessons learned” on this trip now includes avoiding desert travel in the summer.   We will head home in the morning and be there for almost three weeks before we head for the family reunion in Colome, SD followed by a trip to our old neighborhood in Shawnee, CO.

I will write next time from Chadron State Park in Nebraska.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

People and Peacocks

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                                       Concrete Deer                                                             Real Peacock
We arrived at the Ventura Ranch KOA Tuesday afternoon.  The site that we were assigned to was way too small for our camper, so we ended up moving to a much better site with the gracious cooperation of the KOA staff.
This  is a nice, private site.  No other camper on our street side with plenty of room to set up chairs for our many expected guests.

The drive to Santa Paula was uneventful.  We had very little traffic until we got onto Interstate 5 at Gorman and headed down the long grade to Los Angeles.  Fortunately, we were able to avoid the real LA traffic since we were able to turn off on highway 126 towards Santa Paula; a modest size California community about 10 miles from the Pacific Ocean.  The proximity to the ocean makes for cool temperatures at the campground.  It is in the mid-seventies here while it is in the eighties about 15 miles away in the Simi Valley area.   Wednesday was a day to explore the area.  We drove north of Ojai to check out a forest service campground I found on the internet.  It is in a very nice, heavily wooded setting with a stream running through it; but, the Karma (as Rosie called it) was terrible.  The camper trailers there were very old and run down.  The people were kind of scary.  It looked like a setting for a Hollywood Horror Movie.  We drove down to the beach and were struck by the smell of sardines and rotten kelp.  There were a lot of camping units along the beach front.  I don’t know how they stand the odor.   I checked the “Gas Buddy” app on my Android phone and went to a Fleet Fueling station that was supposed to have diesel for $4.05.  When we got there, the sign out front and on the pump said $4.09.   I put the nozzle in the tank and started cleaning the windshield.  That finished, I went to check on the fueling when I noticed the price was now $4.17.  I stopped the fill up at $94; not a very happy camper.  Apparently the $4.09 was the price if you were a “Fleet” member.  Arghhh!

We headed back to the campground to wait for Michelle to arrive.  She is spending two nights with us instead of making her usual 60 mile (one way) commute to her home in Pine Mountain Club from her job in Santa Clarita.  Dinner was grilled salmon for her (she has gone meatless (vegan)) and brats for me and Rosie.  She was the first one to test out the pull out bed in the couch in the camper.  She and Annie found it pretty comfy.
Thursday was the day for Heidi and our grandsons, Robert and Tyler to come out for lunch.  Rosie prepared chicken the way the boys really enjoy and I put a few pieces on the grill in addition.  Every one enjoyed lunch and then the boys (including a friend of Roberts) went down to try out the rock climbing wall.  After that we followed them to a skate park in Santa Paula, where Robert and his friend did their skateboarding thing for awhile.
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On Friday, we went to Trader Joe’s in Simi Valley before I dropped Rosie and the pooches off for lunch at Heidi’s house.  Heidi was hosting a lunch for Rosie, her sister  Gigi, and a cousin, Joy, and Joy’s infant daughter.
                                     Rosie                Joy                   Gigi                  Heidi              Tyler with Scoobie
While they were doing the “girl” thing, I had lunch at El Torito, my favorite Mexican restaurant and had the truck treated to a thorough wash and wax job at the local car wash.  We stopped again for groceries on the way home.  We are freaking out at the food prices in the grocery stores here compared to the Wal-Mart in Idaho Falls. 

Saturday morning I drove into Moorpark to watch Tyler in a Basketball Game.  His other grandparents, Bob and Connie, were there with Heidi.  Tyler made four baskets and his team won 26 to 25.  I took many pictures at the game, but I guess I am not a sports photographer; none of them are worth sharing. 
Saturday afternoon our son Karl and his girl friend Shana came over to spend the afternoon and night with us.  Karl always goes out of his way to prepare great meals when we visit them, so we grilled steaks and salmon, threw in some large shrimp and Rosie’s famous scalloped potatoes.  After Karl and Shana left on Sunday, we found a Wal-Mart Supercenter in Oxnard and stocked up on groceries and other needed items.  It was good to find some reasonable prices again, compared to the local Supermarkets like Vons and Albertsons.  Rosie did the laundry in the campground facility and we started to relax after a rather hectic week so far.

Tomorrow I have six inspections to do in Carpenteria.  Tuesday, two of Rosie’s sisters, Gigi and Helga, are coming out with their husbands to have dinner with us.  We are planning a feast of chicken, potatoes and vegetables in mushroom sauce cooking in heavy foil over a campfire.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Lone Pine; The Rest of The Story

In my last post I mentioned there was a story about Lone Pine, CA; a sleepy little town at the base of Mt. Whitney, the highest peak in the lower 48 states.  In November 1966, I was sent up to Lone Pine as part of a crew from General Electric Medical X-Ray Division to install X-Ray equipment in the Inyo-Kern Hospital.  On Saturday, December 3rd, I had a blind date with a certain Rosemarie Seese down in Los Angeles.  This date was arranged by one of her co-workers who was dating one of my two roommates.  Rosemarie worked for Union 76 Oil Company and was new in LA.  Union 76 was having it’s annual Christmas Party at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in downtown Beverly Hills.  I was to be her escort to the Christmas Party.  After work on Friday night I walked out to the parking lot of the hospital to discover my car had a flat tire and a flat spare tire.  My paycheck had been mailed to my apartment in Glendale, CA.  I had less than 10 bucks in cash and that was a long time before I had my first credit card.  I managed to snag a ride to Glendale with one of the X-Ray techs (I actually was out on the highway with my thumb out when he picked me up) who was headed for LA for the weekend.  I got to my apartment and cashed my paycheck the next day.  I then rented a car for my blind date.  I picked up Rosemarie at her parents apartment in Los Angeles.  We went to a very luxurious and splendid Christmas Party; live orchestra, free drinks, prime rib or lobster (or both if you desired), etc.   You get the picture.  As often happens at these events the table centerpiece is given to the lucky person at the table with an envelope under their chair.  My date won the centerpiece, a pair of elves in Christmas dress sitting on pine cones.  Now, 45 years later, those two elves sitting on pine cones are set in glass globes and come out of storage every season as Christmas decorations in our house.  After our date, my roommate gave me a ride back to Lone Pine on Sunday and I was able to get my tires repaired.  On Tuesday evening I called Ms. Seese and asked for a second date; she agreed.  We were married in May of 1967 and are traveling together on our adventures today.

So back to current times.  We left Fallon, NV this morning at 7:00 am and headed south on US 95.  We cut over into California just above Mono Lake and picked up US 395 headed south.  We stopped for groceries in Bishop (Rosie was shocked at the prices) and filled up in Big Pine, CA.  Arrived at our campground about 2:30.  It is 95 degrees out and Rosie is not fond of heat.  To top it off, I didn’t like the site they assigned us (not level) and went to the office to get it changed.  It took about 45 minutes in the heat to get set up.  The puppies were hot.  Rosie was hot.  I was hot.  Things got better when I plugged into the 50 amp electricity and turned on both air conditioners in the camper.    I helped carry our laundry to the laundry room and Rosie got to work with the washers.  As I returned to the camper, I noted another Alpenlite Fifth Wheel had pulled in two sites down from me.  I greeted the owner and we exchanged pleasantries.  A little later I took the pooches for a walk and as we were coming back, two more Alpenlite Fifth Wheels pull in.  I asked one of the drivers if this was an Alpenlite Convention.  He said “Heck yes” and I told him I had an Alpenlite.  He said “Welcome to the convention”.  As it turned out there were 4 Alpenlites all in a row; and they all knew each other and were headed to Mammoth Lakes for the Jazz Festival.  We had a drink and snacks with all of them up in the campground clubhouse.  They are quite a group and take frequent trips together.  They all live in the Los Angeles area.


                      The Alpenlite Club – All In A Row

Tomorrow we reach our destination of Ventura Oaks KOA near Santa Paula, CA.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Tires, Travel & Tailgating

This seems to be the season for tire failures; but I think I may have caused this one.  We had decided to bypass Wild Horse Reservoir as a campsite due to potential temperatures (it is hot) and lack of power to run AC; and move on to Elko to get a site in an established RV Park.  When we arrived at Wild Horse, I was inspired to check out the BLM site across from the reservoir for future potential.  It turned out to be a narrow dirt road and spaces to small for our camper.  While exiting the area I noted in my rear view mirror that the camper tires on the right side were on the edge of the road and in the bushes.  After we got back on the highway, I pulled into a country road department materials yard across from the reservoir to set up for lunch.  As Rosie was directing my back up activity she noticed that one of the camper tires (right side) was flat.  So in this very pretty area, we were stuck with a dilemma.

IMG_4108      IMG_4114

        The View!                                                                                                            The Dilemma!

So I call the 800 number for the Good Sam Club Emergency Roadside Assistance plan to whom I have been paying an annual fee of over $125 for about 5 years.  I get Jonathon on the phone and he is very sympathetic to our plight.  He calls their only contract tire dealer in Elko and they tell him that we are out of their service area (70 miles from Elko).  This starts him on a telephone hunt for an “out of system” tire dealer who will come out to where we are.  I now have an appreciation for Les Schwab tire dealers.  They run these commercials about how they go “above and beyond” the call of duty, etc., etc.,  Well, they were the only ones in Elko that said they would come out an change our tire; but it could be up to four hours since all of their service trucks were out on calls.  Long story short; Levi from Les Schwab shows up in about 3 hours to rescue us.  He removes the flat and mounts the 10 year old spare (brand new, but old) and finds a good size hole in the center of the tread of our camper tire.  He  departs and we head down the road to Elko for the Les Schwab dealership.  When we get there, they repair the tire and put it back on the camper and replace the spare in it’s proper place.   By this time it is close to 7:30 Mountain Time (the time our stomachs are on) even though we have now entered Pacific Time.  We are grumpy and hungry; and the dogs cannot figure out what the heck is going on.  They think we should be in a campground and fed and walked by now.  As some of you know, we typically eat our evening meal at 5:00 pm; so we are really late.  I set the GPS for the RV Park.  On the way, there was an Albertsons with a large enough parking lot to safely pull into.  One broasted chicken, potato salad and baked beans were quickly purchased; we made it to the RV Park in 20 minutes (on a street under construction with poor signage-will it ever get better?) and unhooked, leveled and connected in another 15 minutes.  So about 8:30 (our tummy time) we finally get to eat.  Boy, was it good!!!

Because of the late meal, stress of the events of the day, etc., we did not sleep so well last night.   We arose around 5:00 am (pacific time), took the dogs, had breakfast, went to Albertsons to buy groceries and get fueled up ($3.85 a gallon – not bad).  At 8:30 we headed west on I-80 for Fallon, NV.  We arrived at the Country Fairgrounds Campground ($14 for electric and water and a level site) and settled in..

So now we have the tires and the travel; where does the tailgating come in.  Well in this whole camper park, I see only one picnic table and that is in use by a large family (maybe they brought it with them).  So I am trying to figure out where to set up the grill for our Sunday standard of steak and salmon when Rosie says “Use the tailgate of the truck”.  I am glad I married such a bright woman.   So I leave you with pictures of tailgating and relaxing in Fallon, NV.  Headed out tomorrow for Lone Pine, CA.  Great story to tell about Lone Pine, but that will be in another blog.

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Wednesday, July 6, 2011

California or bust!

Here we are; off on a thousand mile trek to the Golden State.  Home of our children and grandchildren.

After a great dinner party hosted by our friends, Joe and Anne Hayes on July 4th, we pulled out of Idaho Falls about 9:30 on Tuesday, July 5th.  Our first stop on the journey is Three Island Crossing State Park in Glenn’s Ferry, ID.  This is a spot where the early pioneers chose to cross the Snake River with their stock and covered wagons.   We haven’t gone to the Interpretive Center yet, but my understanding is there are 3 islands in the river at this point that made crossing easier.  A walk along a trail this morning also shows the water is calm and appears to be shallow.  Considering the Snake River continues to run very high and fast, it was surprising to see the calmness of the water.


This is a beautiful State Park Campground.  Mature trees and lots of green grass in between well spaced sites with level asphalt pads along with 30 amp electric and water hookups.


Of course the electricity makes it possible to enjoy one of the pleasures of modern life; satellite television.  The Verizon cell connection is good so we have phones and internet.  All for $11.00 a night (senior rate and Idaho residency discount). 

After about an hour or so of air conditioned comfort in the camper, I made the error of overtaxing the 30 amp circuit.  I had turned on the electric hot water heater, the crock pot was going with dinner, the air conditioning was going and then; I put some bread in the toaster.  The second I pushed down the toaster handle, everything shut down.  I went out to the electric post and reset the circuit breaker; no power.  So we ate dinner wondering what we should do next.  I kept trying to reset the breaker; no change.  I took Rosie’s hair dryer out to the post and plugged it in; no power.  So I drive up to the campground host site at the upper level campground.  No campground host is home.  Went back to the site to ponder some more.  Went back to the campground host site at six pm; no host is in.  I met another couple wanting to see the host about the exact same issue; AC for a while, then nothing.  On my way back down to our site, I noticed large electrical boxes in the campground.  I went to one of them and they were actually open (not locked).  There was a circuit breaker for each of the numbered electrical poles.  The numbers on this box did not include our site.  I went to our site and spotted a box nearby.  I opened the box and “yahoo”, there is a circuit breaker for Pole 75 that is tripped.  I reset it and we had power once again.  I went back up to  the upper campground to let the other people know what I had discovered.  As I was pulling in, the campground host and his wife returned to their site.  I found the people that I had met earlier and told them what I had found out.  He went to talk to the Host while I chatted a bit with his wife.  Turns out they are from Bend, Oregon; one of our favorite places on the planet.  Small world!

The rest of the evening was uneventful.  We got a good nights sleep and went for a walk this morning on a trail along the river.

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After our walk I drove into town to refuel and get a local paper.  The rest of today has been pretty typical, me taking care of business and Rosie cleaning the inside of the camper and cleaning the windows.  I have been more diligent and aware of electrical limitations, so no drama so far today.  One more day here and we head south for Wild Horse Reservoir in northern Nevada for two nights of boondocking (no power).