Saturday, April 27, 2013

A New Place In New Mexico!

It has been six days since my last writing.  Time just seems to get away from me.

Wednesday morning we packed up after two weeks at the OK RV Park in Holbrook, AZ.  If you are ever in the area and looking for a place to land, this is a good place.  It is a desert environment so expect flat, sand and gravel; but the sites are very large pull throughs with full hookups and the staff is very nice.  Good Sam and Senior Citizen discounts are given.  The owner even offered to drive Rosie to the hospital in Winslow if I had been admitted and if Rosie was to shook up to drive.  Two ladies, Rene` and Pat, who were one of our neighbors made the same offer.  RV folks are the nicest folks and will go out of their way to give a hand if needed. 

We left about 11:30 am and drove 105 miles to Gallup, NM and stopped over in Red Rock Park, which is owned and managed by the town of Gallup.  There are 50 amp sites with water hookups.  A free dump station for campers is provided.  The recent winds in the area had blown little sand “drifts” on some of the sites, but we found one that worked for us.  We did not unhitch the fiver from the truck.  There was a little front to rear downhill slope, but not intolerable.  The setting was pretty; big red cliffs with wind worn patterns.  Here are some pictures:




Thursday we pulled 151 miles to Bernalillo, NM, a suburb of Albuquerque.  The town of Bernalillo manages the Coronado Campground in a site near the Rio Grande River.  The Rio Grande ain’t so “grand” in this part of the county, so not too scenic.  On the plus side are long pull through, level sites with 50 amps and water.  No sewer, but there is a dump station on site.  There is a monthly rate available of $390 ($13 per night) which is a good deal to us.  Each site has it’s own patio and a covered cabana with a picnic table.  Here are some pictures:





I saw a coyote this morning while I was out walking the dogs.  He was just loping along the road leading into the campground.  It seems strange to be in a large metropolitan area again.  There are shopping centers everywhere you turn.  A Wal-Mart supercenter literally around the corner about a mile away.  Diesel prices are as low as $3.51. 

I am having some problems with my Verizon 890L MiFi.  It worked fine the first month and a half, then it started “dropping off” and I would have to reconnect.  That would last from 20 minutes to a couple of hours then it would disconnect again.  Finally got to the point where it would not connect to the internet at all.  I took it and my laptop to a Verizon store.  They checked out the MiFi and it worked fine for them.  They said there must be a bug in my Windows 8 that was the problem.  So off I go to Staples for tech support.  They checked it out and said there was nothing wrong with the laptop, it must be the MiFi.  In the meantime, I am fiddling with the MiFi and it shows an “update” is available.  So I do the update and all of a sudden I get an internet connection that holds, at least for 20 minutes.  So I get back home and we are back to the “on/off” connection, but at least it holds for some period of time before it “drops off”.  Grrr!

Well I have lots of work assignments in the area so it will be a profitable stay here in Albuquerque.  Rosie and I also have appointments with our needed medical specialties on Monday.  We are hoping for an update on our conditions and to learn if there are any needed changes to our meds.

Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

A 1 Year Anniversary and Another Trip To The ER

April 19 was the anniversary of our first year of full time camping.  The time goes so fast and the experiences are many. Starting from Idaho Falls we traveled through the following states, in order; Montana, Wyoming, South Dakota, Nebraska, Colorado, Wyoming, Idaho, Oregon, California and Arizona.  We pulled the camper 5654 miles and drove an additional 9691 miles on side trips.   We have camped in 9 State Parks/State Recreation Areas, 6 County Parks, 1 City Park and 15 private campgrounds.  We have spent 19 nights boondocking, all the other stops have had electric hookups at a minimum.  Our longest stay in a single place was 72 days in Yuma, AZ.

Full time RV Lifestyle expenses included:

Camping Fees – $6,787

RV Upgrades and Service – $4,582

Truck Service – $664

Truck Fuel When Pulling – $1,972

Truck Insurance – $970

RV Insurance – $436

Satellite TV and Radio – $1,248

Total Expenses = $16,659

That is an overall monthly average of $1,388 a month for full time RV living expenses.  Our monthly expenses on our stick house including mortgage, taxes, utilities and insurance was about $1,600 a month.  So between the choice of $1,600 a month costs for sitting in a recliner watching TV and $1,388 a month for traveling all around the western US, seeing many beautiful areas and meeting many wonderful people, we think we made the right choice.  I don’t include food, clothing and entertainment in these numbers because those costs would be close to the same in either lifestyle.

Overall it has been a good year.  We have visited many family and friends we haven’t seen for year.  We enjoyed the Oregon Coast (until the rain drove us southward), spent the holidays in So. Cal. with our kids and grandkids and made a lot of new friends from the US and Canada during our time in Yuma.

The downside of the last year all centers around medical issues.  Rosie spent time in the ER and the hospital in Idaho Falls in September after falling of the steps of a friends RV and breaking 6 ribs and cracking 2 vertebrae.  I spent time in the ER and the hospital in Yuma after suffering Atrial Fibrillation.  I spent most of yesterday in the ER in Winslow, AZ when my A-Fib flared up.  A small Pulmonary Edema and a Magnesium shortage were also found.  My heart meds have been adjusted and new prescriptions have been added for the Pulmonary issue.  Rosie says “getting old is not for sissies”.  There is something to that  

I do have to give out a big hip, hip, hurrah to Medicare.  Our health insurance costs including the Medicare deduction from Social Security and our supplemental plans with AARP (United Health Care) is $660 a month.  We have not been billed for a single dime for any of our medical emergency expenses or any of our follow up care.  They did send me a copy of my hospital bill.  It was over $17,000.  It is quite probable that our total medical expense in the last 12 months have exceeded $50,000.  If we did not have Medicare,and the supplemental coverage, we would be financially destitute just from medical expenses over the last 12 months.

We are currently in Holbrook, AZ headed for Albuquerque, NM next week where we will spend a month.  I have a lot of work assignments there and we have appointments with a Cardiologist and an Endocrinologist on the 29th.  After that month is over, we are headed for a month in Denver.

Thanks for stopping by.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

The Painted Desert and More!

Back in 1973 I was on a flight from LA to Chicago with a coworker.  The plane was an L-1011 on an airline whose name I cannot remember.  In the rear of the plane was a stand up bar with a “Stewardess” serving drinks.  This was also in the days when you could smoke on airplanes.  Shortly after we leveled off, the bar opened and my coworker and I went back for a drink and a smoke.  Looking out the window we saw a colorful desert area.  The Stewardess informed us that was the Painted Desert.  For some reason this memory all came back to me on Thursday as we toured the Painted Desert and the Petrified Forest National Park.  The north park entrance is on I-40 about 15 miles east of our current location in Holbrook, AZ.  After checking out the gift shop and the Park Visitor Center, we enter the park.  To the north is the Painted Desert.  I guess it goes on for miles from this point, but here is what it looked like from several of the viewing points along the road.  (You can always see photos in full size by double clicking on the picture)



Continuing along the road in the park we found a lot of petrified trees.  There are literal forests of petrified trees.  None of them are standing of course, but there were a few “stumps” sticking out of the ground.  Here area some samples:

IMG_6657  IMG_6666  IMG_6680  IMG_6682IMG_6689   IMG_6672

                                                                                         School Children on a class field trip.


This is what we we see every time we leave the pooches in the truck.

After a couple of hours in the park we exited at the south entrance and drove back to Holbrook.  I had noticed an old motel on the main drag the day before and wanted to get some pictures.  After driving up and parking I could see the motel was no longer in operation, but had been left as a kind of period piece with vintage American cars parked in front of the teepees.

IMG_6698  IMG_6699IMG_6701  IMG_6702IMG_6703  IMG_6705

The two tone turquoise 1956 Buick brought back memories.  I bought a car like that for $75 back in 1968.  Occasionally, it would flood out on Figueroa Blvd. in downtown LA when we were on our way to work  and we would end up pushing it off to the side of the street until it was no longer “flooded” and it would start again.

My final shot for the day is this sunset on Thursday evening:


Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

A Winter Storm In The Desert

The last couple of days have been interesting from a weather perspective.  A major cold front passed through Arizona on Monday bringing high winds with gusts over 60 mph.  The camper was rocking and rolling.  Sammie was going a little crazy, pacing and whining.  He does not like the sound and motion caused by winds.  Annie, on the other hand, curled up in a ball on the couch and snoozed most of the day.

Rosie finally got a call back from her Endocrinologist on Tuesday after a week of calling her office every day.  That means we were able to get Rosie’s medication refills faxed to the Wal-Mart Pharmacy in Winslow.  So we ventured into Winslow to pick up meds for her and for me.  Picked up some grocery items and took a brief tour of the town.  The town is really small, so any tour would be brief. 

It rained on and off Tuesday, which means the sky was very overcast and there was not a whole lot of solar energy striking our solar panels.  The temperature never got above 53, so we needed some heat during the day.  Which means we had a couple of hours of generator use yesterday recharging batteries and running the furnace. 

For some reason, our rooftop TV antenna will not crank up.  We did get some over the air reception with the antenna laying flat on the roof, but it was sporadic.  We started discussing whether we should keep using Satellite TV.  It is expensive, about $85 a month.  We watch mostly cable news channels, which we could probably do without (news these days can be stressful to those of us with weak hearts Smile ).   I am also thinking that I need to do more reading and living in the moment, than I currently do. What we do like is the DVR features for recording and playback of shows, along with the ability to stop and review live programming.  So I looked up TiVo on the internet and gave them a call to see how it would work with our lifestyle of moving around so much.  Have any of you had any RV related experience with TiVo?

I am reading a book “The Walk West, A Walk Across America 2” by Peter and Barbara Jenkins.  The book covers their walk from New Orleans to the Pacific Coast in the 1970’s.  Reading their story made me realize how full time RV travel is living in the lap of luxury compared to backpack living on a walk over a thousand miles taking many months.  The book is also making me look at our surroundings in a different light.  We are in a desert area.  Deserts have not been my favorite environment ever; but I started staring at our surroundings and am developing an appreciation for the look and feel of the area.  The rain clouds were clearing last night as the sun was setting.  This made for an attractive sunset.  Here are some pictures showing our desert setting and the sunset:






We are moving on today to Holbrook, AZ.  It is only about 45 miles away, but there appears to be a nice RV Park there with a reasonable weekly rate with full hookups.  The reason for stopping in Holbrook is I have work to do in Show Low and Lakeside, Arizona next week.  The Show Low area is in the mountains of Arizona, an area we have not yet seen; so it should be an enjoyable side trip.

Thanks for stopping by.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Winslow, Arizona

Remember the line from the Eagle’s song, Take It Easy; “standing on a corner in Winslow, Arizona”.  That tune starts going around and around in my head every time I think of Winslow.  Now here we are at Homovoni State Park just north of Winslow.  At night we can see the lights of Winslow and see the headlights of traffic on Interstate 40.  But it is very quiet here.  Big sites are well spaced and the camping pads are paved and level.  $20 for full hookups with 50 amps and $15 for a non-electric site with water.  A nice big steel picnic table/bench and a steel fire pit/grill.   There are not many campers here so it is really quiet.  We are enjoying the peacefulness.  There are some ancient (1,000 year old) Hopi Indian ruins in the Park and we drove over to see one today.

IMG_6593  IMG_6586

               Information Kiosk                                                                 Foundations of an ancient town.

IMG_6589  IMG_6584

              A little bit of a wall is still standing.                   The Rangers put pieces of ancient pottery on display. 

We set up last night on a site that just wasn’t quite right for me, so we moved this morning to a better site.  Only took about 30 minutes and now we have the picnic table on the correct side of the camper, no leveling pads needed and we have a north/south orientation so we can get some afternoon and evening shade on the “sitting” side of the camper. 

So far the 2 new batteries are holding out very well.  Last night we had enough light for reading from our new LED lights and having all the electronics plugged in except for the TV/Satellite Receiver.  The battery level was 79% this morning at 6 am.   I turned the furnace on for about 20 minutes and the fan on the furnace drew it down to about 60%.  Started the generator for about 10 minutes to make coffee and the battery level was back up to 70%.  We watched an hour of TV before we changed sites.  By 1:00 the batteries were 100% charged by the solar panels and we are good to go for the day.  We will be here until Wednesday so I am anxious to see how the batteries hold up over 4 days.

The weather is expected to cool down with a chance of wind and rain tomorrow.  Should make for an interesting sunset tonight or tomorrow night.   If so, I will post photos.

Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Moving On–Maybe?

Greetings from Camp Verde, AZ.  Let’s catch up from my last blog.

Rosie has been thinking long and hard about her decision to take the Radiated Iodine Therapy for her Hypothyroidism.  During our drive from Yuma to Camp Verde, she decided she was more comfortable going with the medication treatment regimen.  She called the Endocrinologist’ office and told them of her decision on Friday.  She asked the nurse if it would be necessary for her to return to Yuma to be able to start with the medication treatment.  It is now Tuesday and we have not had a definitive response.  So we are kind of up in the air now whether we return to Yuma or continue on our planned route to Denver.

Sunday we joined our Canadian neighbors for an Easter dinner.  There was ham, broasted chicken, potatoes, and corn on the menu, followed by pumpkin pie with ice cream or whipped cream.  Our hostess, Rosemary, put together adorable little place settings with an Easter egg, chocolate egg and a mini snickers morsel.  A fair amount of wine was flowing and we all enjoyed it immensely.  Here are some pictures from the event:



It was 266 miles from Yuma to Camp Verde.  We left Yuma about 9 am and arrived here about 3 pm.  We stopped for lunch in Gila Bend.  My one concern about the route was the traffic around Phoenix.  Fortunately there is a northern bypass, Highway 101, which helped us avoid the downtown Phoenix interchange of I-10 and I –17.  So it was not so bad.  No close calls or panic stops.  Whew!

We are at the Krazy K RV Park.  This is a small park with pretty large and very level gravel sites.  There was a little excitement on arrival because the owner remembered, but had not written down, our moving up our arrival by one day.  They had someone arrive about an hour ahead of us and gave them our site.  Fortunately, they had explained the possibility of a reservation mix up, so it was not a problem to move the people in our site to an overflow site.  We have a nice pull through site with full hookups just in the right places.  Plenty of room to park the truck after unhitching.  Set up the satellite dish with no drama and we are living large.  Best of all it is about 18 to 20 degrees cooler here than in Yuma.  The park has very attractive rates:  $25 per night with a $5 discount for various club members and senior citizens.  There are a lot of permanent residents because of the very attractive $375 monthly rate for full hookups, including electricity.  Bottom line is the campground is full and appears to be full (36 sites) most of the time because of the rates.  The down side is the Park is right next to I-17.  The traffic noise is minimal inside the RV, but outside it would take some getting used to.  The husband and wife owners are very friendly and accommodating. Here is a front and rear picture of our site:



Here are the camping expense numbers for March.

Camping – $495.00  The monthly rate at our RV Park in Yuma 
Diesel Fuel when pulling – $0.00
Truck Service/Repairs – $0.00
RV  Repairs/Service – $$434.82 (De-Oxidize and wax RV and truck, including tips; and two new Interstate Deep Cycle Batteries)
Generator Gas/Propane - $25.24(all propane)

Metered Electricity – $87.78

Satellite TV/Radio – $107.25
Campground Pet Fees – $0.00
Laundry Card – $10.00
Total = $1160.09

Thanks for stopping by!