Sunday, December 30, 2012

Reflections On 2012

On April 19th of this year we transitioned to a full time RV lifestyle.  We spent the first 30 days in a local RV Park while we sold all of our stuff and closed on the house.  Then we embarked on a journey through Wyoming, South Dakota, Nebraska, Colorado, Idaho, Oregon and California.  We have pulled the camper 4,843  miles since we started full timing.  We have camped in the woods, by lakes, on the beach and in town.  The shortest stay was one night, the longest is 51 days here at the Ventura Oaks KOA in Santa Paula, CA.   The shortest mileage day was 12 miles, the longest was 342 miles.  Overnight fees ranged from free to $37.00 with an average of about $20 per night.

When we considered full timing, I was under the impression that it would be like one long camping trip; going to great destinations and feeling like we would be on one continuous vacation.  After eight plus months, I am realizing that our lifestyle is similar to having a home.  The difference is our camper is our home, we just move it around.  Staying in one place for an extended period ( a month or more) is like living at a home; we set up shopping routines, get the local paper on Sunday, take care of maintenance on the truck and the camper, plan our next move, etc.   Then, when the weather is agreeable and the funds are available, we hit the road to new destinations and experiences.  That is like going on vacation.

One high point of our year was visiting with my siblings, cousins, etc. in South Dakota, Nebraska and Colorado.  The other high point was spending the Holidays with our kids and grandkids in California.  We also really enjoyed the trip through Oregon, particularly the coast (except for the rain part).  The low point was Rosie’s accident in September when she fell and broke six ribs and cracked two vertebrae in her back.  Fortunately she has fully recovered; but it was very scary at the time.

On new years day, we are headed for a week at Lake Skinner County Park near Temecula, CA, then a week in Anza Borrego State Park before settling in on January 17th at the Caravan Oasis RV Resort in Yuma, AZ.  The resort has 550 sites, multiple swimming pools, club house, scheduled social activities and so forth.  We will probably be there for four months.  That seems to me to be a lot like stick house living in a community.  In the spring we will head north and be “on vacation”; traveling greater distances, moving more frequently, camping in the woods, etc.  Then we will return to the Ventura KOA in November and start the winter routine all over again.  Or maybe not!  We do have the option of doing something entirely different.  We will have to see how it shakes out from here.  I know there are a lot of places to go in the winter months other than Yuma, but we are on a budget that constrains our travel and activities.

Blogging has also turned out different than I expected.  When we were “vacation camping”, I blogged several times a week.  We were moving around, seeing different sights and having different experiences.  As soon as we settled in here at the Ventura KOA, I found there was a lot less to blog about.  I really admire RV Sue and Her Canine Crew, Gypsy Journal RV Travel, Our Awesome Travels, and Wheeling It.  These folks blog every day and they make it interesting.  I haven’t blogged since early December because I can’t seem to find anything interesting to say about what we are doing.  I am giving a lot of thought to that process.  Maybe I need to find interesting things to do; or just blog about our day, no matter how mundane it may seem to me.  If anybody has any advice on this topic, I would love to hear from you.

Here are the RV Budget numbers for December:

Camping – $720 ($24 per night) Monthly rate at this KOA

Diesel Fuel when pulling – $0.00

Truck Service/Repairs – $75 (Oil change)

RV  Repairs/Service – $0

Generator Gas/Propane - $25 (all propane)

Satellite TV/Radio – $103

Total = $923.00

Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, December 7, 2012

The Murals of Santa Paula

Santa Paula is a small community about 10 miles inland from the Pacific Coast.  Their next door neighbor, Ventura, is more well known.  Santa Paula was founded as a town  with a population under 200 in 1872, named after the Catholic Saint Paula.  The current population is around 30,000.  It is known as the Citrus Capital of the World.

The Ventura Oaks KOA, where we have set up temporary residence, is about 4 miles north of town.  In our wanderings through town running errands, we noticed a number of very attractive murals adorning some of the retail buildings downtown.  Rosie thought it would be a great subject for a blog.  So today, we drove around town capturing highlights.  Here are some pictures:









This is the old train station.  It is now the Chamber of Commerce.

Here are the RV Budget numbers for November:

Camping – $585 ($19.50 per night)

Diesel Fuel when pulling – $298.00

RV  Repairs/Service – $27 (toilet repair kit)

Generator Gas/Propane - $65 (all propane)

Satellite TV/Radio – $103

Total = $1,078.00

Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

A Little Bit of Denmark!


About 70 miles northwest of Los Angeles is the small community of Solvang, CA.  It is a touristy place built with a Danish Village Theme.  There are lots of little shops, restaurants and hotel accommodations.  I had a work assignment at a retirement community in tow, so Rosie and the pooches went along for the ride.  The last time we were in Solvang must have been the ‘80s when we lived in Ventura County.  The journey takes you on Highway 101 north along the Pacific Coast through Santa Barbara.  On the northern edge of Santa Barbara, you cut inland for about 20 miles to the town.

We took the pooches to a local park and had lunch at a the Red Viking Restaurant.  Rosie tried to find a nice sweatshirt or jacket with Solvang on it, but did not find anything that “spoke to her”.  Here are some more photos from our day:


Quaint Building


With the pooches in the park.


Clock Tower


A small eatery.


Here we are at our table.


I had the sausage and meatball with red cabbage and mashed potatoes with gravy.  Yummy.


Could we find a sweet treat here?


Yes we could.

After lunch we drove over to Lompoc for another work assignment at a Wal-Mart expansion from a regular store to a Supercenter.  We enjoyed a nice drive home down the Pacific Coast.  I was dreading the traffic in downtown Santa Barbara, but it was not too bad at all.

It started raining lightly last evening and continued overnight and a little this morning.  Makes it a little muddy on our usual dog walking trail so we stick to walking along the pavement.

Thanks for stopping by.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

It is mid-morning after Turkey Day and my tummy swelling is starting to diminish a little.    Old habits, including bad habits, are difficult to break.  Every Thanksgiving I have double portions of everything, including the real weight inducing culprit, apple pie ala mode.  Our daughter, Heidi, made an apple pie from scratch and it was so gooooood, I could not stay away from it.  I even brought an extra slice home for indulgence today.  Here is a picture of us with our daughters and one of our grandsons from yesterday:


Tyler (with Scooby), me, Michelle, Rosie and Heidi.

We are visiting each of our 3 kids homes in 3 consecutive days.  Yesterday was Heidi’s in Simi Valley; today will be at Karl’s in Lancaster; tomorrow will be at Michelle’s in Pine Mountain Club.  I may have to do the fasting thing on Sunday to recover.

Back at the KOA, an amazing thing happened while we were away on Wednesday, the campground filled up in one afternoon.  Apparently, California RVer’s like to pack up the motorhome and head for a campground for Thanksgiving.  Big rigs everywhere, big families and some cross site pedestrian traffic indicating extended families and friends out enjoying the sunny California weather on the weekend.  Wednesday morning there were about 6 of us extended stay folks in this loop and the other two loops were empty.  Now they are all full.  Came back last night after dark and there were campfires everywhere.  Everyone appears to be having a wonderful Holiday at KOA.

I am thankful for many things; Rosie is recovering from her injuries (and is not paralyzed) from her fall back in October; all of our kids are in good health; our two grandsons appear to be growing up normally and excelling in academics and sports; we are in a warm weather area and I don’t have to shovel snow, or wear winter outerwear; and we are not experiencing any serious repair challenges to our home on wheels.  I did have to replace our toilet seal yesterday morning, not a pleasant task, but not a high cost item.

I hope all of you are having as good a Holiday as we are.  Thanks for stopping by.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Sunny Southern California

If you take away 17 million people, the freeway congestion and the high prices, Southern California is a pretty neat place.  The weather is good anyway.  We will see how we feel after settling in here for a few months.

Sunday morning we left Bakersfield about 9 am and headed south on Highway 99.  Just after joining up with Interstate 5 we started the slow climb up the Grapevine Hill.  I was a bit apprehensive about this part of the trip.  I have clear memories of overheating the ole Chevy climbing Monarch Pass in Colorado.  However, I have learned a few things since then; for instance, turn off the AC, turn on the heater to defrost and turn the fan up to high and open the windows to let the heat out.  The heater draws heat off the engine and keeps things cool.  The temp gauge did not budge above 210 degrees during the whole climb.  The temperature on the transmission also stayed at “normal” levels.  What a relief!!

We arrived at the Ventura Oaks KOA (formerly Far West Resorts) about 2 pm.  Checking in confirmed our reservation with a monthly rate of $720 ($24 per day).  This is the highest monthly rate we have ever paid; but we checked around when we were here last year and $720 is the lowest rate within 40 miles (or maybe more); and the accommodations are more attractive than the others.  There are mature trees and we are not all crammed together side by side.  The sites here are set on the outside and inside of a circular drive.  Since we are about 10 miles from the nearest highway (126) and about 5 miles from Santa Paula, the park is not really busy this time of year.  We are in the “long term” Cedar Loop, with about 8 other long term campers.  Some, like us, are here for a month or so.  We learned that some of our neighbors have lived on their site for several years and have no intention of moving.  In this neck of the woods, $720 is cheap monthly rent with full utilities; and if you own your camper/motor home outright, it is a pretty low cost way of living.

This is a destination KOA, meaning they have lots of activities and features including zip lines, rock climbing, playgrounds, and other fun stuff for families and kids.  There are furnished teepees for rent and a large group camping tent area for organizations like the Boy Scouts.  50 amp electric, water and cable TV hookups are provided and they come around on Mondays and Fridays and pump out your waste tanks.  Verizon service is good for phone and internet access; and there is a clear southern sky for DirecTV access.  Here are some pictures I took today:

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Wednesday we ventured out to Santa Clarita (about 30 miles) to find a Trader Joe’s and a WalMart Supercenter.  We had lunch at a Boston Market restaurant for the first time since we left California in 1992. Wow, 20 years sure goes by fast.  We are making arrangements to visit with family and friends during our time here.

Thanks for stopping by and I will try to post once a week or so.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Some Catchin’ Up To Do!

Wow, I haven’t written since November 5th.  A lot has happened since then, so let’s begin.

I had 2 work assignments on Thursday (the 8th) which gave us a chance to take a very scenic road (CA Hwy 175) through the central hills and valleys south of Lakeport, CA.  A nice winding roadway with autumn colors leaping out at us.  We were looking for a place to have lunch when we stumbled on this place in Loch Lomond, CA. 


Great French Onion Soup and a Chicken Club Sandwich for me and the same soup and a Rueben for Rosie. We drove through scenery like this for about 45 minutes.

On Friday, the 9th, we took the winding highway 20 east about 45 miles and connected with Interstate 5 at Williams, CA.  We drove south through downtown Sacramento and just past Stockton to Lathrop, CA, where we set up at Dos Reis County Park.  A great little park with full hookups for $25 a night.  Located a little over a mile west of I-5, it was dark and quiet.  Makes for a good nights sleep.

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Today, Saturday the 10th, we drove a little over 200 miles to Bakersfield, CA.  I had reservations at the Bakersfield River Run RV Park, but frankly, I wasn’t expecting much.  Bakersfield does not have a reputation for much of anything positive beyond country music and oil fields.  What a pleasant surprise to pull into what appears to be a new (or at least newer) RV Park next to some well established hotel chains.  The park is very clean with good paved roads, packed gravel sites with full 50 amp hookups and a nice grassy area for each camper.It was $37.30 with a Good Sam discount, plus $4 added for two pooches.

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Two views of our site.

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               Some nice new motor homes                                         Sunset over the park.

I also found diesel at a Tesoro station less than a mile away for $3.97 a gallon.  Wow, I was expecting to pay $4.50 a gallon in California.  What a pleasant surprise.

Rosie outdid her usually superb culinary skills tonight with some new seasonings for a turkey meatloaf (we limit our beef intake because of my gout).  It was delicious; and then some.

Tomorrow we have only a little over 100 miles to our destination for the rest of 2012, near Santa Paula, CA.  However, we do have to climb the California “grapevine”, Interstate 5 from Bakersfield to Frazier Park.  I hope we can do it without overheating the ole’ Chevy.

Thanks for stopping by.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Pine Acres Blue Lakes RV Resort

A serene, peaceful lakeside resort about 20 miles east of Ukiah, California on Highway 20.  The water is calm.  You can see the entire perimeter of the lake from our site.  This is slow season so we have the place almost entirely to ourselves; except for the multitudes of ducks:


The rate is a little pricey ($33 plus $4 for the pooches) considering the uneven sites with old 30 amp electric and a water hookup.  On the plus side, the staff is extra friendly and helpful.  The lady in the office worked with me for about 30 minutes guiding us into our site.  Here are some pictures of the lake and the site:

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We do have satellite access and 3 to 4 bars on Verizon; so we are connected to the world in this peaceful setting.

On our way here we took a little side trip off of highway 101 to the Avenue of the Giants road.  The redwoods here are incredibly thick and some of the trees are huge.  We often thought we would like to camp in the redwoods, but once you see an actual campground, you realize that it is very dark here at noon, so we took that off of our desired camping experience list.   We stopped for lunch at a Visitor Center parking lot.  Here are some pictures:

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Today, we found a nice Chinese Restaurant in Lakeport for lunch and then went shopping at a very well stocked Safeway.  We are here until Friday when we start the 3 day run to Santa Paula in So. Cal.

Thanks for stopping by.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Full Timer Financial Updates

Time for the monthly full expense report.  With all the activities resulting from Rosie’s accident at the end of September, I neglected to post the September numbers.  Here are the expenses for Sept and for Oct:


Camping – $400 ($13.33 per night)

Diesel Fuel when pulling – $0.00

Truck Repairs/Service – $312.38 (Replace leaking Brake System Component)

RV Service & Repairs – $119.64 (Repair Awning)

Generator Gas/Propane - $47.55

Satellite TV/Radio – $103

Total = $982.57

Camping – $562 ($18.13per night)

Diesel Fuel when pulling – $394.00

RV  Repairs/Service – $284.11 (2 tires)

Generator Gas/Propane - $97.42

Satellite TV/Radio – $103

Total = $1,440.53

Thanks for stopping

Thursday, November 1, 2012

California or Bust

Tuesday we crossed the Oregon-California border about noon.  It was raining at Cape Blanco State Park when we left and the rain followed us all the way to Brookings, Oregon.  Then it became intermittent and finally let up completely about the time we reached Crescent City, CA.  After that we saw more blue sky than we have seen for weeks. 

We are settled in at the Mad River Rapids RV Park in Arcata, CA.   The rate is about $36 a night with the Good Sam discount and after taxes are added.  The park is pretty nice.  The site we have is long and level, with full hookups and a good satellite view.  Verizon service is 4 to 5 bars on the 3G network.  It has been awhile since we have had such good phone and internet access.

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We pulled in here a day early because the Weather Channel app on my phone said it was going to rain solid all up and down the CA-OR coast on Wednesday.  Getting here on Tuesday allowed for a leisurely set up in dry weather.  Wednesday morning it did start raining and it rained most of the day, finally letting off about 5 PM.  We did get out to a local Safeway Supermarket for grub and booze.  Great to be back in CA again where Smirnoff 1.5 liters are $16 vs. $25 in Idaho, Oregon and Washington.  Wine prices are likewise reasonable.  I had a work assignment in Arcata today.  An inspection on a shut down particle board manufacturing plant of about 250,000 sq. ft.  Oh the fun things I get to do Smile

We ventured out to some local parks to walk the pooches, but the two parks we found were very small and uninteresting.  Back to the RV Park to pull out the BBQ grill and put on some country style ribs. 


Ribs on the grill and a cold adult beverage.  Life is good.

We will hang out here for a couple more days drying out and cleaning up the rig after weeks in the woods.  We will head for Pine Acres RV Resort near Clearlake, CA on Sunday.  I have 3 work assignments in that area.  After that we will be accelerating our schedule getting to our destination in Santa Paula, CA.  We were originally planning to arrive there on the 15th, but not will be arriving on the 11th.

Thanks for stopping by.  Also a big welcome to two new followers of our blog.  We hope you find our travels interesting.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

More from Cape Blanco

Ventured out on Saturday to Bandon, OR for laundry, grub and gas.  Pretty uneventful and the weather was nice.

It rained all night Saturday and was still coming down Sunday morning.  We decided to take a break from cabin fever and drove into Port Orford.   The bloggers at Wheeling It and some other commenters on our blog insisted that a visit to the Crazy Norwegian for Fish and Chips was a must do.  They were right.  I had the mini-fish and chips and Rose had the Clam Chowder.

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We had already started eating by the time I decided to take pictures, so pictures don’t reflect the full portions.  Here is a picture of us before the food arrived:


I wanted to see the lighthouse and take some pictures of the bluff at the westernmost point in the lower 48, but the fog was so heavy, you could not see the lighthouse from the parking lot.  So we gave up.

I am battling a small leak from the ceiling Fantastik Fan in the kitchen.  It is a drop every 15 seconds or so, but I cannot find the source.  I picked up some spray on waterproofing stuff “as seen on TV”, from the Ace Hardware in Port Orford, but it does not go on too well in the rain.  Am trying some other stop gap measures, but basically putting a bowl under the drip to catch the drops.  Will let you know how it turns out.

We decided to leave a day early for Arcata, CA tomorrow, instead of Wednesday.  This rain is getting to us; and the pooches.  No fun walking in the rain; and the mud accumulation in the camper is terrible.

Thanks for stopping by.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Cape Blanco State Park

We are at the westernmost point in the geographic lower 48 states of the USA.  Here is a picture of the lighthouse that sits on the bluff at this point.


We arrived at Cape Blanco yesterday after pulling out of three days of rain at Beverly Beach State Park farther north on Highway 101.  It was 156 miles travel distance, but the weather improvement was wonderful.  We arrived here in sunshine and today has been sunny all day.  Of course, this is the Oregon coast in October and the Weather Channel says we will have showers on and off for the next 6 nights we plan to be here.  On the way down here, we stopped at Carl G. Washburne State Park beach and picnic area to have lunch.  After lunch we took the pooches down to the beach for a little off leash time.  While we were down there I spotted this dead tree sticking out of the sand:


I don’t know about you, but I think this is one of the better photos I have taken in several years.

Cape Blanco State Park is pretty big with a campground with large sites with good privacy between the sites.  The facilities include 50 amp electric and water hookups.  A really good deal for the off season rate of $16 a night.  The Verizon service is fair, fluctuating from fair to non-existent.  I did manage to find a small space between two trees to aim the satellite dish.  So here we are in a forest, on the beach, with internet and satellite television.  Life is pretty darn good.  Here are some pictures of the site:

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A short walk takes you to the bluff overlooking the ocean.  The campground is over 400 feet above sea level so it is set aside as a Tsunami escape zone.  That makes Rosie feel secure; she has concerns about the big Tsunami predicted for the west coast of the US someday.  Here are some pictures from the bluff area:

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After lunch we climbed into the truck and headed down a narrow paved road for the beach.  We were shocked to find 2 parking lots and only one empty parking space.  There were 4-wheel drive vehicles driving down on the beach.  How weird; or fun, depending on what floats your boat.  Here are some pictures from the beach:

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Rosie continues to improve a little bit every day.  We grilled up some pork chops for dinner with some roasted potatoes and fresh veggies still from the Farmers Market in Idaho Falls.  Add adult beverages and we are having a good evening.

Thanks for stopping by.