Or fifth day at the Monaco Service Center was no different than the previous four. It dawned cold and clear, we scurried around inside the coach, hastily gobbling down a bowl of shredded wheat while getting ready for Don to arrive at 7:30. Punctual as always and with the ever present smile spread broadly across his face, his knock on the door signified it is time to leave our house for another day.
In the lounge we noticed the number of people, which had been slowly eroding as the days have passed, reflected the smaller number of coaches in the lot was consequently at its weekly low. Linda took up her position at the craft table, eventually being joined by several more ladies and soon after angel beaded Christmas ornaments began to take shape. Even though the faces were not always the same, the conversations were, taking the shape of where are you from, where are you going and so on. I chuckled as I walk by, and watching them fashioning angels with their hands while the conversation never ebbed, brought to mind the Christmas Carol, "Angels We Have Heard on High", for that is what they must be.
Out in the shop the work continues on the coaches. Today our front roadside slide is getting a adjustment.
One of the really nice things about being here are the people we meet. I really enjoy talking to a wonderful gentleman who has been on the road eighteen years and learning he started his great adventure at the same age that I did. Someday, after we hit 20 years we can look back to these writings and get a good laugh over how little we really knew about this life. Just think of all the grand and glorious adventures we have yet to experience. Getting over the mountains and out through eastern Oregon and Northern Nevada in the midst of winter will probably be one of them.
One of Linda's favorite sayings is, things happen for a reason. The tale I heard as I typed away on the computer exemplified the truest meaning of those words. A widower went to a week long RV singles retreat where his first impression was that he must be the only one present who didn't have a cane, walker or assisted breathing apparatus. Figuring to make the best of a situation that was not what he expected, he decided to enjoy himself and stay through the weekend, after all what else did he have to do. Sometime later he went up to the lodge, but just as he reached for the door handle it suddenly opened and he found himself stumbling forward, almost knocking over a young boy and girl who where with an older woman, he took to be their grandmother.
About 2:30 in the afternoon, back at the camping area, he was looking for something to do and asked if anyone needed any help. No one did, but it was suggested maybe the lady setting up the tent a few spaces away could. Since her site was on the far side of his RV, he hadn't noticed her before. Walking over, he could see two children playing near a tent that lay haphazardly on the ground. Turned out it was the same folks he had almost flattened when he had stumbled through the door. The answer when he asked her if he could help as a cheery, yes, accompanied with a big bright smile. As they raised the tent, they talked, enjoying the easy way each had with who they where and what life had given them.
As it neared dinner time she asked him if he would like to stay and eat something with her and her grandchildren, that she hadn't planned on fixing much tonight, but he was welcome to join them if he wanted. His first thought was that she was just being nice, but then he realized that through their conversations he had come to know her and that she really did want him to stay. The meal could hardly have been called a meal, just cheese and crackers, but to him it was a sign, for you see, his this was his favorite meal.
One other incident took place, a walk in the meadow. As they strolled along, she held her grandson's hand. Suddenly the man felt the granddaughter place her hand in his then tug, ever so gently. Looking down he could see the granddaughter was try to pull his hand and her grandmother's together. A few more tugs and their hands were together, then with a smile a mile wide, the little girl looked up at him and said, "See, now your a grandpa." All this took place on a Wednesday. On another Wednesday, one week later to be exact, they were married and have lived and traveled in their different RV's for the past 17 years. As Art Linkletter was famous for saying, "Kids say the darnedest things."
Lest you think life is nothing more than a bed of roses, Linda had been having some discomfort in her mouth. A trip to a local dentist confirmed the worst, one of her crowns had decided to give up its throne and abdicate. It had apparently been loose for a time, so some decay had also been present, so she now has a temporary while a new crown is being made. That, however, was not the worst of it, because the dental insurance she had bought wouldn't cover it. (I don't need dental insurance, never having had a singe cavity my entire life) I think that is called an 'ouch' in more ways than one. But wait there is even more. The new crown won't be ready until next Friday, so if the they get the coach done early in the week, we will need to find a campground to stay at for the rest of the week. Of course the weather is supposed to absolutely perfect for traveling through Friday, when the next storm is forecast to arrive, which means we may not get out of here until the middle of the following week. Not what we oplanned. but then again, we don't have to be anywhere either.
The remainder of the day passed quickly and the coach was safely returned to its accustomed spot, but not before the black and gray water tanks were dumped, thanks to our on staff sanitary engineer. In the evening Linda had what turned out to be an excellent idea, wash the clothes now and avoid the weekend rush. Now you would think that staying at place where 95%+ of the people here are full timers, laundry would be an any day thing, but we hadn't seen anyone using the laundry room all week long. While we weren't the only ones who had a different idea of a Friday night date, we there able to commandeer two empty washers. This is just another benefit that goes with the Monaco Service Center, free washers and dryers. Doesn't take much to keep us happy does it, we, maybe free dental care would sure help.
The laundry done, we spent the evening watching Christmas movies on TV, which is one of the more enjoyable things to do at this time of the year. We always know everything will turn out wonderful, yet, still we are drawn to watch. It was during one of these movies that I finally got the daily journal ready to post, so the editor took over. I think this is what they call casting a critical eye.
We ended the day as we always do, with dessert, tonights being another slice of sugar and fat free, chocolate chip zucchini cake with warm, sugar free, chocolate milk. All in all, it was a very good day.
It was one week ago today that we arrived in Harrisburg for what we hoped would be a three or four day stay prior to heading off to warm weather. One thing is obvious, warm weather ain't gonna happen, no way, no how, at least for a while. One other thing, it is colder than the opposite side of hades out there this morning. No heat pump today, it's the furnace all the way. Also, if you're looking for a website update over the weekend, I think you're going to be disappointed, it just isn't in me right now, but come Monday, it should be okay.
There were several things we had planned on doing to the outside of the coach, but they had to wait until the afternoon and warm weather. What did happen was the portrait studio got setup and a posed picture were taken. The reason for this was an email we had received about a month ago from a former boss of mine who commented about my appearance on the Bob and Linda photo we post in the upper right hand corner of each page. Seems he thought it made me appear far older than my years while Linda looked great. This got me to actually take a look at the picture and you know what? Just as he always was when I worked for him, he was partially right (which was why we made such a great team, because whatever he got wrong, I got right). Anyway, I digress, but what I did find was I was distorting the image, an easy fix. Unfortunately, both Linda and I look far better now than in this months old picture, so a new photo was in order.
You don't want to know the whole story about my seeming total lack of portraiture photographic skills, so let's just say Olin Mills has nothing to fear. As you can see, it is easy to make Linda look good, all she has to do is pose. For me it is an entirely different story. Fortunately I feel much younger than I look. There will be a new one taken someday when it is warm enough to sit outside for more than 30 seconds with out freezing our butts off, but for now, here it is.
The day wasn't all fun and lousy photographs though. That darned electrical connection to the Explorer which caused us grief last weekend needed to be fixed so we can pull out when the time comes. Besides, I also had to check on the outside door light and change out the bulb, plus I was also entertaining ideas of consolidating and sorting all the boxes we had brought back with us. Talk about being out of my league, was I ever. First there was the job of moving the lawn chairs and tool boxes so I could get the ladder out of the bay and check on the door light. Which was all I did. Check on the light. Since after removing it from the socket, looking at the filament and seeing nothing wrong, then putting the bulb and lens back together, it worked perfectly. Who knows, maybe a little mouse changed it, but I strongly suspect that if that was what happened, the mouses name was Don. (Thanks Don!)
Since everything had to come out of the bay anyway, in order to dig out the tools I needed to fix the wiring, it served the purpose of being good exercise which that warmed me up. Seriously, I always try to remember Linda's motto about everything happening for a reason. Now it was time to repair the faulty wiring. Having done the original job rather hurriedly, I had no one to blame but myself. I couldn't remember where we were when I had originally wired it, but I knew the weather had to have been about 50 degrees warmer. The job itself wasn't hard, cut out the old connectors and crimp on new ones. It was just that it was a job that had to be done with feeling.
About 10 minutes after I had started, and as I was twisting one of the pair of wires together prior to crimping the connector, I got a feeling, or, more properly, I got a lack of feeling. Feeling in my fingers that is. My hands were so cold I could not feel the wire I was holding. This was ameliorated through a quick trip inside the coach to hold my hands in front of our small electric heater. Back outside I was getting things done in rapid fire order when the substitute photographer, the one who is normally my model, decided to take another picture. Lets simply say that while she was trying to get just the right shot, I was nearly freezing to death trying to accommodate her. She never did like any of the pictures she took, but, at least I didn't get frostbite, though 7 seconds longer and I likely would have.
After our slight disagreement concerning Linda's photographic skills, it probably wasn't the ideal time to go grocery shopping, but then again, hindsight is usually 20/20. I drove, she rode, never saying a word until we had driven the 5 miles to Junction City. Then just as I was pulling into the parking lot at the Safeway, she blurted out, "I forgot the Safeway card and my wallet and it's all your fault." Now there are certain times in each of our lives when it is better to just say nothing, fortunately I realized this was one of those times.
Needless to say, we didn't get all the items we had planned on getting, which meant that most of the soups she had planned on cooking weren't going to get made. These grocery cards are a real kick. They put things on sale where you pay through the nose if you don't have the card. That was the trap we found ourselves in, meaning, we weren't going to buy any of the sale items without that blasted card.
She did find enough things to buy so that we weren't going to starve, but without those missing ingredients, it sure won't taste as good. Sometimes when we are given lemons, we try to make it work for the best and fix lemonade only to discover there is no sweetener available. I think this was one of those times.
Every minute can't be bad, but sometimes it seems as if there are hours between those minutes, yet eventually the sun does come out. We got our life back from a Christmas movie of all things. It was on the Hallmark Channel, simply titled, 'The Christmas Card'. What made it special for us was where it was filmed, Nevada City, California, which was also where the setting for the movie itself was. Having lived near there and been in Nevada City many times we were throughly enjoying the movie when a familiar face appeared on the screen. It was the face of a local actor we had seen many times in our "B" Street Theater season ticket holder days, Kurt Johnson. It was only a small part, but it was a very special moment for us. For a review of a play Kurt was in several years ago, go here. In the movie, as always, the good guy gets the girl and we loved the final scene where they stand under the Hwy 49 bridge at the South Yuba River. A place that holds fond memories for Linda and I.
The rest of the evening was spent relaxing, which seems to be our modus operandi any more, with me sitting at the table, dawdling on the computer, but actually spending more time watching Holiday fluff. It only happens once a year after all. At the same time Linda managed to get herself real cozy on the couch. I teased Linda about the only thing sticking out being her nose, as which point she stuck her tongue out at me, but I was to slow with the camera, darn.
We ended today, just as we did yesterday, with a slice of sugar and fat free, chocolate chip zucchini cake with warm, sugar free, chocolate milk. Some days, the roads are bumpier than others, but the result is always a wonderful way station on the glorious road to adventure.
It was one cold morning when we awoke today. In fact it was making yesterday's frigid temperatures look downright balmy in comparison. This was not what we were expecting to experience at this time of the year, but it is what we have been given. I take heart in the words Willa Cather made famous:
And living was precisely what we were doing, though maybe while wearing a tad more in the way of clothing than was normal.
That photo also caused me to do a double take. I took it in the morning, but when I was cropping and resizing it for the web page, I made a very interesting discovery. If you look closely, the time shows as 8:15 PM. The clock was off by 12 hours and we had never realized it until now. The wonder of life. Of course it also maybe a wonder I can be so dumb, lol.
Because of the cold, or due to general lethargy, we did absolutely nothing all day but watch Christmas movies. Oh, there was a little playing around on the computers, some time spent updating the Statistics Page page through the end of November. I had also planned to begin working on the budget page, but somehow my get up and go had got up and went. The outside temperature never did warm up, but the sun came out and the coach beside us pulled out. This let he bright rays of sunshine stream in the windows of the coach warming it up to the point where we had to turn off the electric heater and open a vent, who would have ever thought.
This is an anniversary for us in another way, since it was one year ago that we gave our 30 day notices to our respective employers. It also brought to mind a set of lyrics which I had placed under the glass on top of my desk. It may be that they are still there today, inspiring someone else to just do what they please. Here is an abbreviated version of that song by the Eagles.
With those words in mind, we finished out the day while we watched our first sunset in a week through the window of the coach. A day which we spent doin' just what we pleased.
What an amazing difference one day can make. One morning it is colder than you know where, and the following morning we are treated to a really awe inspiring start to the day. Maybe it is just not what it appears to be. Maybe it is not what nature provides. Maybe it is what our mind decides. Yesterday I arose thinking unkind thoughts. Nothing was right, starting with the temperature, I simply had a bad attitude, a state of mind which festered and grew to the point it managed to prevail throughout the day.
This morning my attitude was entirely different. It's Monday morning, work will start anew on the coach, soon we would see Don's smiling face, soon the familiarity of the lounge and its occupants would surround us as the comfort of the cocoon surrounds the moth. Yesterday I did not venture from the coach the entire day, this morning I am eager to take a morning walk. Yesterday I saw the thermometer with its reading in the twenty's. Today I do not even glance at the temperature, so eager am I to go outside. It is almost as if I were being beckoned by some unknown force. There are those who feel the alignment of the stars controls their life and gives rise to their destiny. That wasn't what I was seeing this morning, though there were a number of stars still twinkling in the very early morning sky. What I saw was the alignment of our home, the blue light of our MotoSat satellite receiver and the moon. It was at that moment that I realized our motto was exactly why we were here today. Through all those months of doubt, the thing we that kept us going was the thought that we would over come any obstacles, because we can, and here it was reminding me once again, that we can.
It was almost exactly a year ago that we were figuratively reaching for the moon. We had given notice at our respective places of employment, we were awaiting the arrival of our coach, we were trying to tie all the myriad details together of leaving our house behind and starting to live our life on the road. Now, 12 months later I am treated to a glimpse of what has transpired, a dream painted in vivid hues by nature's early morning display. It reminds me to always shoot for the moon. Sure we often fall short, but the results, those grand and glorious results, even though not what we have expected, make life so fabulous, so fascinating, so fulfilling. I started this section with the comment: What an amazing difference one day can make. I am thankful for being reminded that not all days are the same, that how we look at life and deal with our problems can be changed for the better. That sometimes all it takes is lifting your eyes and seeing what is out there.
By the time the sun was up we had eaten breakfast, no shredded wheat this morning, no sir, it was a warm bowl of oatmeal, wheat bran and steel cut oats with a small handful of dried cherries and milk. We went back to what we like, to our roots so to speak. As always, Don arrived at 7:30 and we headed off with the others who were also departing their coaches. Per the usual routine, the people carrying their little white bags coalesce in the vicinity of the dumpster, then head off toward the lounge. This morning Linda is greeted with a table displaying a completed jigsaw puzzle. Seems that there were elves in the lounge yesterday, working on something other than presents for all the good little boys and girls. Maybe it is that a jigsaw puzzle is the RV life in a microcosm. The fun is in putting it together, then the result is admired for a brief time and a new puzzle is started. It reminds me of the the comments heard so often about the RV life. It's the journey, not the destination that is important.
Linda was working on a new puzzle with several other ladies and I was engrossed in trying to get caught up with the daily journal when Don walked up with a question. The replacement tile had arrived, but they were obviously from a different lot and hence were a shade lighter than the ones which were currently in the coach. As I have listened to the discussions between coach owners and service writers I find observed a few folks you could classify as real equine rectums, but in general people are pretty easy going. As we looked at the tile it would have been real easy to act like the former, as it was a shade lighter than the current tiles. Life however is what you make it and the more we looked, the less distinctive the difference between the two lots became.
Before long Linda was down on her hands and knees rearranging tile and giving little nods of approval. The pattern itself was designed with the thought of not showing dirt in mind, which made matching much easier.
By turning the replacement tile to blend better with the existing floor, it was looking a little better. Finally the last tile was placed and she pronounced the result acceptable. Not what she would want if she could have everything her heart desired, but acceptable non the less.
Shortly after we returned to the coach, the least likely thing happened. Well, I probably exaggerate a bit, but on the scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being the most likely to happen, this ranked right down near the bottom. I'll post a photo to give you a hint.
How about another photo of the workers from both the service shop and the wood shop.
What had happened was the sound of a very loud boom that reverberated throughout the building, then all the fire alarms started going off, which was followed by a mandatory evacuation of the entire shop and plant complex. They asked us to proceed to the nearest exit in an orderly and unhurried manner, which we did, but not before i packed up my computer. After all, everything I know is on that hard drive and our backups, some of which were in the coach. If it truly was a fire I wanted one copy at hand in case we lost the coach, besides there was absolutely no evidence of fire. (Asking later we were told it wasn't one of their periodic fire drills, so it must have been a false alarm.) It was fun watching the evacuation take place, then standing around talking while a fire chief's vehicle and later one lone pumper truck drove up. Like I said earlier, its the journey, not the destination.
Looking at that last photo I also noted that the famous, young, attractive model that so often appears in my photographs somehow managed to place herself in the photo. She's the splash of red in a little from the left side of the picture. The fire alarm and evacuation was fun, but the day can not be all work and forced evacuations, there must also be some play mixed in. Linda was doing her best to play enough for the both of us when it dawned on me there was an inverter seminar that had just started up in the conference room. I had manged to miss all the seminars last week, but this week was going to be a different story.
I have to hand my hat to Monaco, they sure did this one right, maybe someone from Monaco had sat in a Country Coach seminar. It was conducted by one of the service technicians, Gerald, and besides knowing his stuff, he had a manner about him that made you totally at ease. Months ago we had watched the DVD that came with our coach and had read the booklet on the inverter. Either the people who put these things together don't have a clue who their audience is, or they are just plain poor at technical filming and writing. Either way, they made no sense to us at the time. Today, after living with the inverter and its controls for 11 months it all came together. User friendly information delivered in an interesting and engaging manner. Just what I did for years and years in one of my former jobs. Believe me, I related to Gerald, big time.
I will be doing several checks and tweaks to the system, for until Gerald brought it up, I had completely forgotten about the auto gen start feature on the coach. Which was designed to automatically recharge the house batteries when they reach a preset discharge level. The reason was, we had tried to get it to work many, many months ago and had given up, then simply forgot about it. One other area that caught my attention was what the settings for all the functions should be. He told the story of a couple who bought a new coach and went through six sets of house batteries in the first year, there being four batteries in each set. The problem was finally solved when it was discovered they had the charger set to the lowest setting, meaning unless they either sat for weeks at a time, or literally drove all day, their batteries never got much of a charge. I will certainly be checking our setting. Isn't it funny how little things can make all the difference. As we walked back down the stairs I was thinking about how with a motorhome it's not just "not knowing", but is often, rather a case of "not even knowing what you don't know", which is why there can be some fairly aggrieved owners at times.
I didn't realize how late in the day it was, when Don stopped by to tell us the coach was back in site 16 and that we would have to tread carefully tonight. He had replaced four of the broken tile before he ran out of time. Since they use an epoxy cement, it sets much faster than mortar, but we should still keep off those four tiles tonight. He still had two more to do, as he had found a sixth broken tile while working on the others. In addition, the water heater should no longer be leaking as he had replaced both the drain plug and the pressure pop off valve. Things are almost done.
Dinner was leftovers once again, the ground turkey, tomato,and mushroom soup with a grilled low fat cheese sandwich. Neither one of us had much appetite, and being frugal by nature, there is now one serving in the refrigerator. I loved Linda's quip about how one of these nights we are going to have an entire meal of single serving leftover, leftovers. What's not to love about that woman. Dinner over, I cleared the table while Linda got caught up on some of the websites she follows. Whenever I tease her about spending too much time reading websites, she makes some comment about trying to learn what stupid things other have done so she can keep me from making so many stupid mistakes myself. I repeat my statement of a few lines ago, what's not to love about a woman like that.
As I was finishing this post I, noticed something about the above image. There is a strange white light bove Linda's head. My first thought was that it was simply the reflection of the flash in the mirror. Then I looked again and realized my day had ended just as it had started. That light this morning may have looked like the moon but it was far more. The light tonight reminded me of a holo suspended over the head of an angel. Maybe that was what I was really seeing. May you also have someone or something in your life that you love.
This was the second morning in a row that I bounded out of bed at an otherworldly early hour, remembering this morning to switch on the furnace within the first few seconds. I further surprised Linda by starting breakfast which could be a bad thing if she starts expecting it every morning. The unfortunate part is she has a connection that sometimes frightens me when I do things like this. Our last dog was legendary for doing things once then expecting the same thing every time. Linda termed it' "Once with him is a habit." I just hope she doesn't look upon my culinary endeavors in the same light.
There is an atmosphere of casual comfort which permeates the lounge, a sense of comradeship and belonging which we find relaxing. A place where you can be yourself, yet still share a common bond with everyone else. I wonder if what I feel is what the bee in the hive or the ant in the nest feels. Looking around the room, little vignettes play all around. The casual pose of the reader absorbed in the words written on the page. The animated conversation of two travelers finding a common bond. The hushed tones of a telephone conversation as a decision is made that will affect ones life. The hesitant hand movements of those working on a jigsaw puzzle. The tinkle of tags as a dog scratches an itch or the self absorbed solitude of the man bent over a keyboard, earning his way through life. All these are spread before me and I relish the opportunity to witness the living diorama played out before me.
Returning to my little corner of the lounge, I discovered a population explosion had taken place. The puzzle place was also now, the people place.
While Linda puzzled over the puzzle, I puzzled over the webpages, both of us accomplishing a great deal. Of course, I was still trying to get caught up after my relapse into the bout of writers block I suffered through over the weekend. I'm not cured, but remembering my past over indulgence of slothful habits in early June and then again in August, I would not allow myself to fall any further behind. As Linda says, you can call it anything you want, but if you call it a "daily journal", doesn't that mean it is supposed to be written "daily". Just last night I was comparing her to an angel and here today she has her pitchfork out. Okay, I'll admit I may need an occasional gentle nudge, but a full arm swing stab with a pitchfork, isn't that a little excessive. In a contemplative moment, based on my past history, I decided it was probably just what I needed.
Lunch was our usual service center meal, turkey wraps, Granny Smith apples and peanut butter. It can't be that long can it? How long since what? Since we started eating this ridiculously healthy, yet simple way of eating, each losing some 40 lbs and feeling far younger than our years. One small shameless plug for what is called the South Beach way of eating, whole grains, healthy fats, sugar free, lots of fruits and vegetables and moderation in quantities of food. If you would have asked us 18 months ago if we ate right, we would have said, "of course we do, we eat a very healthy diet." Or at least we thought we did, but then again we were in the company of millions of other Americans who think the same thing. Unfortunately we were a little ignorant of what a healthy diet was. Once we discovered a healthy and balanced diet is usually defined as a diet in which nutrient intake is maintained, and cholesterol, salt, sugar and fat are reduced, we realized that was not how we ate, only how we thought we ate.
Doing a little research we learned that dieting is the practice of eating in a regulated fashion to achieve a particular, short-term objective, which was not something we were interested in doing. We had long term objectives, lose weight, keep it off and get our cholesterol and blood pressure where it should be and live a long healthy life. The more we researched, the more familiar we became with the basic concept of "diet," which addresses the longer-term and more generic habit of nutritional consumption. Wikipedia gives the example of a vegan who eats a diet completely without animal products, including milk; but while this is a diet, it is not "dieting." That was when we discovered the "South Beach Diet" and what happened has been a most pleasant surprise.
After lunch, Linda's curiosity got the best of her and out to the coach she went to check on the progress. The tiles were all set, including the two additional tiles that Don had discovered to be broken when he carefully checked all the tiles. Now he was getting ready to place the grout, but the best news was what he had learned when cleaning the tiles in order to prep them for the grout. The existing tiles had a coating on them which made them look darker than they really were. In fact it appeared the new tiles may be a nearly exact match to the old tiles. Was she ever glad she hadn't been one of those picky people who had to have everything perfect yesterday when the problem of the non matching tiles first came up.
We were deep into a jigsaw puzzle when Don stopped by to let us know the coach was back in site 16. He had completed all the grouting, but wanted to caution us not to walk on it tonight. When we returned to the coach, it was amazing how different it looked with the new tiles in place. Linda however, had a problem. The tiles were a little sticky, but instead of just accepting it, she had to put a towel down. Several times I noticed she was standing on the the new grout, but when I pointed it out, she would vehemently deny ever stepping on the new grout. We did take one break, it was peanut time, so for a change we walked down to the lone picnic table in the park to eat our peanuts. Sitting there in the setting sun, knowing that in the next week we would have our coach fixed and be off to warmer weather, pretty much offset the smell wafting from the dump station just behind us.
Returning to the coach, I posted the daily journal while Linda got caught up on email, then it was time for dinner. We had leftover soup, but it was while doing dishes that things got a little terse. Once again I noticed Linda standing on the grout, which resulted in a brief discussion, then concluded with my doing all the dishes, including washing, drying and putting them away. I'll let you read between the lines. In the resulting warmth of the coach, it was an evening of Christmas movies, followed by dessert. All things considered, it was another wonderful day.
It's Wednesday morning, which means the week is almost half over. But the morning also brings something else and it was most certainly not a pretty site. Linda picked up the towel she had used to cover the tile and discovered that, for maybe the sixth or seventh time in our 39 years of married life, I was right about her stepping on the grout.
Don had put a piece of tape on each of the tiles he had replaced, so it would be easy to avoid stepping on them. There was one small problem. When Linda had placed that nice, clean towel over those mean, nasty, sticky pieces of tile she forgot one thing. Towels don't stay flat when placed on the floor. Instead, towels want to bunch up under foot. The other part of the equation was the grout, or more precisely, the fresh grout. Grout that has set doesn't care whether a towel is on it or not. Fresh soft grout does, much to Linda's chagrin.
The best part about discovering all these little marks was what I didn't do. I didn't say a thing, in fact, I kept my mouth closed tighter Ebeneezer Scrooge kept his wallet closed before the three ghosts visited him on Christmas Eve. It wasn't like it was really bad and would only take a little work to make it right, but as Linda says, things happen for a reason. What the reason for this was, only time, or a more astute person than myself will determine. Linda's note: Our service tech, Don, did fix my boo boo, thanks, Don!)
While Linda dwelt on the error of her ways, I headed off on the morning garbage run. It was almost eery outside as the fog was still heavy in the air and bodies seemingly appeared from nowhere. As you can see, people with their little white bags were still heading towards the great blue box, fog or no fog. It reminded me of the postman's motto, but with a twist, Neither mist nor gloom of fog will keep me from my appointed morning rounds."
It was while I was engaged in the walk to the dumpster that Linda was engaged in her own adventure. Seems that as she was walking away from the coach at the same time Don was starting to drive off, she saw a chilling sight. Our MotoSat dish was still up. There ensued a scene which would have apparently rivaled anything seen of the TV show, The Amazing Race, as a woman possessed, pursued a huge RV. My only regret was I was oblivious to all the excitement and drama going on since I was paying homage to the great blue box. I was sitting in the lounge setting up my computer when she appeared at my shoulder, breathless and red faced. She never even seemed to notice my look of astonishment as she launched into her story regarding the 'Great Chase'. The best part was the rest of the story. Not only had she caught the coach and put down the dish, but it just as Don was leaving the lot to test drive the coach in order to make sure the exhaust brake was working.
Seeing an opportunity to get a photo of the coach driving through the shop door, she asked me for the camera and left to take some photo's. Then it got even better, though it took a number of hours to discover it. When I was writing this article, the photo's she had taken had seemed to have disappeared, after looking and looking for them I discovered that a small error had occurred, the camera had been set on the movie setting by accident. As you can tell from this video clip she thought she was taking several stills.Click for video clip.
Back inside, it was puzzle time, which Linda was enjoying so much. It was while working on the puzzles that she had met and become good friends with Fay, who was here with her husband Tom, getting their coach worked on. Somehow or other during the course of the week they had managed to ensnare me in their puzzle web, but as you can see by the dazed look on my face and the smile on Fay's, I was probably as much a source of amusement as I was help.
After lunch, Linda took a turn toward the innate domesticity that occasional overtakes the female of the species. It was laundry time. Gotta take advantage of the free laundry facilities, you know. Of all the things to wash, it had come time for my wool watch caps to take their turn. There are some things that are memorable and the first time those many years ago that Linda washed my first cap was indelibly etched into her mind. She is very prone to attacks of 'itching disease' when ever she wears wool, so she had no knowledge of what happens to wool when exposed to high heat. Yes, there was a new cap bought after that first time, to replace what had become an elf sized hat, but it was a lesson well learned. Now she is very careful about drying my hats as you can see.
The day ended with a huge pot of ground turkey, tomato and mushroom soup cooling out side the coach. Of course that was after we had our share for dinner. Later she also baked a zucchini chocolate chip cake, when she's on a roll, she's on a roll. Two great days in a row, how can it get better.
What a difference a few days make. All the items on our list had been taken care of, so today the coach goes over to another Monaco facility to get its 12 month lube, oil and filters work done. It most definitely looks like we will be leaving the service center tomorrow, which won't be any to soon, as the weather is supposed to turn bad and stay that way for the next week or so. Since we have to go over the mountains and out through eastern Oregon, bad weather (snow) would not make for the best driving conditions. The nice thing was, we didn't have to drive the coach over to the other location, they would take it for us. Of course all that was also figured in the cost, but it would be one less thing we would have to worry about. Besides, worrying about where every last penny was going wasn't the life we wanted to live.
Just as always, at 7:30, we were out of the coach and on our way to the lounge, which meant more puzzle time. While I busied myself with updating the daily journal, Linda found a few moments of real joy. Last week I had spent part of one morning parrot sitting, well this morning Linda got to do some doggy sitting. Fay and Tom have this drop dead gorgeous chocolate Cocker Spaniel named Jasper, who needed watching while they went out to their coach with the service writer. They didn't even need to decide whether to take Jasper with them or not, because Linda volunteered to watch him before they could even think about it. In fact Jasper is so sweet, several of the service writers would probably have offered to watch him if Linda hadn't have been so fast. Those long, lean, lanky hill girls can sure act quickly when they have too.
As you can see, it is hard to tell which one is the happier. It was unbelievable just how fast the day flew by. Linda was really enjoying working on the puzzles with Fay and as for me, well, I was buried in the computer, but not accomplishing anything. Anything in the way of daily journal writing that is. What I was doing was working on the layout of our new budget page and some alterations to the statistics page. Seems like every once in a while I get a little burned out on the daily journal and take a self imposed break. Which, of course is followed by a mad rush to get caught up. Linda has observed numerous times that I work far better under a little, okay, a lot of pressure, than when I am just floating along. You know, one of those people who, without deadlines, would never get anything done. The only problem is that all the deadlines for the website are self imposed, not the ideal situation, and one I am going to have to work at rectifying.
It was one of those days where the puzzle bug was biting a lot harder than the computer bug, so I found myself working on the new puzzle the ladies had started. It was still early in the morning when I gave up any semblance of working on the web page and tackled the puzzle full bore. Whether it was me or the ladies just wanting to get away, they announced they were going in town for a while. Since Linda really enjoyed being around Fay, and they (Fay and Tom) hadn't brought a toad along to the service center, I think it wasn't me who drove them away. While they were gone, I put my puzzle solving skills into high gear and attacked with a vengeance, managing to have all but six pieces put together by the time they returned. I wanted so bad to have it done, but it just didn't happen.
At the end of the day both Don's came around to let us know all the work was done and to say how much they had enjoyed working with us. I had to admit I had not put all the puzzle pieces in myself, as Don, our service writer had stopped by several times and had put in a few pieces. It was little things like that which made this such a great place. The people here really care about you. After thanking them, we gave Don, our service writer a bottle of our favorite wine, as a small thank you. We had left a small package of nuts or cookies on the drivers seat each day for Don, the technician, and hoped in this small way they understood just how much we appreciated both of them.
This picture really gave us a chuckle when we first looked at it. We had joked several times during the course of the past two weeks whether or not Don, our technician, had been pulling his hair out trying to solve our problems. Looking at the photo, it appears that was exactly what happened. Not really, talk about being a lousy photographer, they don't get much worse than me. I even remember asking them to move over a little. Maybe there is a message here I'm not understanding. Na, just lousy photography, ha,ha.
Back at the coach, we took a moment to reflect on just how lucky we have been during our adventure. What we saw on the back of the coach next to ours further reinforced that feeling. Linda had overheard a few details of their trials and tribulations, the five windshields that had broken since May, the smashed in rear cap where their tow bar had broken, allowing their toad to hit the back of the coach. The dented bay doors on the drivers side where they had cut a corner too short and torn up the side. Were they unlucky or did they simply not have a clue as to what they were doing. Looking at the huge oversized toad, packed to the hilt, they were pulling and the dinky little towbar they were using I had my suspicions, but I'll keep them to myself.
Dinner was bean soup, which really hit the spot on this cold foggy evening, which was then followed by another night of Christmas movies on TV and ended when Linda heated some nonfat milk and sugar free Torani chocolate syrup in the microwave and served it with a slice of zucchini chocolate chip cake. Was that ever good, and good for us, or what, which made three great days in a row. Just last night I was wondering if it could get any better, today we found out it could. With that we headed off to what we hoped would be a good night's sleep, as tomorrow had the makings of something different.
Our lives change again today, as tonight should find us on the other side of the mountains, on our way to warmer weather. We have been getting ready to move, making sure everything was safely put away and that the water tank was half full. Our plan for the day was a busy morning followed by an afternoon drive over the mountains to Bend or maybe on to Burns, depending on how the roads are. Our first order of business today was to sleep in, simply put, because we can.
Things are never as easy as you want them to be and this morning proved to be no exception. Our plan was to go over to the service center and take care of all the paperwork, say our goodbyes, go into town, stopping at the Post Office, then heading to the dentist's office so Linda could get here crown replaced. I had previously said I would take the coach over to Junction City while Linda was at the dentist's and get it filled with diesel, but then changed my mind and decided we would stop on the way through Eugene for diesel.
Linda's appointment was at 10 AM, so we planned to go over to the service center about 9. It was interesting going over the list of all the things they had fixed on the coach, all of which were done to our satisfaction. We were really amazed at how well the repair of the floor tile had been done. The only thing not finished was the installation of the new door, but that is something I can do so we are having the replacement shipped to Linda's niece in Arizona, where we can pick it up when we stop by to see her new house. The paper work done, we stopped by the puzzle table to take one last look at the fruits of our labors.
Then there was the puzzle I had finished putting together yesterday.
Of course all this took longer than we anticipated , but isn't that the way it often is. Linda had brought along an Escapees magazine to give to Fay, however she was over in the laundry room so we headed off in that direction. As we were about half way across the parking lot, Linda remarked that maybe the parts department had Pac Brake lubricant, so we turned around and headed back. Turned out they did and it was just what we needed. Unfortunately it was out in the other building and it would be a little while until they could get it. We said we would be back in a few minutes and left once again for the laundry room.
As always is the case, saying goodbye takes longer than you would think, and this morning was no exception. It was surprising just how close Linda had grown to Fay in the week or so they had been together. The other day someone had even asked them if they were sisters. That simple little question had pleased Linda to no end. What do you think, do they look like sisters?
Leaving the laundry room, we walked back over to the parts department and bought the Pac Brake lubricant. It's one of those things where you only get a little bit, but it goes a long way. One of those "A Little Dab'll Do Ya!", deals though it was a tad more expensive than Brylcreem. Back to the coach, things had begun to get hectic, as we were behind schedule and in danger of making Linda late for her dentist appointment. There are things to do in life and things not to do. Then there are things that absolutely, positively can never be allowed to happen. This was one of those things and for some reason the finger seemed to be pointing in my direction. Immediately sensing that an explosion was eminent if I didn't do something quickly, I headed for the Explorer. Within seconds we on the way, driving as quickly as was prudent and all the while receiving my instructions for Linda. Talk about being whipsawed. Here I was, in danger of eminent dismemberment at the least if she was late, my mind rapidly calculating the shortest and fastest route to the dentist's office and she was telling me go to the Post Office and mail her mail and pick up the mail our daughter had sent us. Inquiring as to where the Post Office might be, while trying to turn on the right street to the dentists office, she said to follow the signs.
I went into the dentist's office to make sure everything was okay, it was, then left for the Post Office. Just follow the sign she had said. The only problem was, I didn't see any sign. Heck I wasn't seeing even a single sign and since I was almost out of Harrisburg, I decided to just drive over to Junction and mail the packages there. It is only four miles and the Post Office was well signed so I had no problems finding it and mailing the Christmas packages. When I arrived back in Harrisburg I saw the sign for the Post Office. It was on the same street as the dentist's office, but a block or two on the other side of the main street. I arrived back at the dentist's office to find Linda already finished. I gave her the receipt for the packages and we drove back to the service center.
We hitched up the Explorer, all the lights working perfectly, and headed out for points south. We still needed to get diesel, but I figured there were plenty of stations between Harrisburg and Route 58 which were going to take over the mountains. How many times has that old adage about when you "assume" something it makes you know what out of "u" and "me". Well, it was just as true today, as it was yesterday, as it will be tomorrow. What followed was something reminiscent of the Keystone Cops.
First I managed to drive past all the stations on I-5, looking for just the right one. After exiting on Rte 58, we had been driving for a short distance when Linda said she saw one up ahead and to exit now. We did, but the station was too tight to get into. Back on Rte 58 we drove a little ways further when a station appeared on the opposite side of the road. An exit, two left turns and it was just ahead. There was a problem, it was to small for us. Again on Rte 58, but now heading back towards Eugene, we saw the RV friendly station sign. We exited once more, then two more lefts and we were on the frontage road. The station, or I should say stations, loomed ahead. I looked and decided the one without the RV friendly sign actually looked more RV friendly, and we pulled in. As they were filling the tank (remember we were in Oregon where they pump for you), I looked at the RV friendly station out the front window. Was I ever glad I hadn't passed this station up for that one, because it was closed. Like I said, we were doing the Keystone Cops proud.
With the tank full of diesel, we were off to the mountains. The miles rolled past and off to the left out of the mist a covered bridge appeared. It was a little way up the road beyond this idyllic scene, that seemingly out of nowhere, Linda blurted, "Did you get the mail at the Post Office"
Not picking up the mail at the Post Office was a bad thing. It was bad because now it would have to be returned to our daughter, then resent, making it very late in arriving. It was very bad because as soon as I told her I hadn't gotten the mail, all you know what was going to break loose. My mind went into hyper drive and over the next several seconds I probably lost several pounds due to excessive sweating. The blade of the guillotine was descending towards me and it was only fractions of a second from striking. Swift and merciful or long, drawn out and painful, it was no choice. "No, I didn't'" I calmly admitted, hoping Linda's reaction wouldn't send us careening off the road and into the ditch.
Her reaction was almost downright mellow. That's mellow and in a toasted marshmallow, but compared to what it could have been and what I was expecting, she almost didn't get upset. Ticked off, you bet, but mad, I wouldn't say so. For once in my life, even though I did bad, I did good. Part of her reaction may also have been the scenery, which was turning absolutely stunning with snow everywhere but on the road and in the air. It was also at this time that we used, for the first time, one of accessories that come on the coach, the heated outside mirrors.
The snow kept getting deeper and deeper along the side of the road.
The miles really rolled along and almost before we knew it, we were through Bend and on the road to Burns. Well, I may left out a little regarding getting lost in Bend because we hadn't loaded the detail maps into the GPS, but after all isn't that, what being on an adventure all about. (Driving hint, if you approach Bend from the South on 97 and want to take 20 East, it may be better to follow the signs than to think you can find a better, or faster way. At least that's what we found out, smile.) The road from Bend to Burns was in good shape and Linda decided it was time for her to get in some driving time. Of course the usual happened, shortly after she took the wheel, the road narrowed, then it became curvy and hilly, such is always her luck. She still did a great job and I got a nice rest.
As we were nearing Burns, the setting sun was unusually beautiful.
As we entered Burns, we made a decision, we would not stop there for the night, but would instead, press on to Winnemucca and try to beat the bad weather. It meant I would be spending about four hours driving after dark on state highways, but it would also mean it would take only two days of driving to reach Pahrump instead of three. It wasn't a bad drive at all. The country was so open we could drive 65 mph for most of the way. Plus there was almost no traffic and what little there was, was easily passed, usually trucks on long hills, meaning I drove the entire distance without a break. Burns Junction came and went as we turned south towards Nevada. It was a little after 9 o'clock when we entered Winnemucca to be greeted by a road lined with lighted Christmas trees.
For some reason a photo taken through a very dirty windshield at high speed in the dark, doesn't do justice to just how welcome the sight of those trees really were, but we were two happy RVer's. After refueling at the Flying J, we drove the several blocks to the Model T Casino RV Park, the same place we had stayed at, two different times in August. We didn't boondock this time, wanting the warmth of an electric blanket and heater. We'll be having enough cold nights once we get to Quartzsite. Before long we were parked in space number 8 and a pot of soup was warming on the stove. It had been a long day where we ended up driving 535 miles. We had faced a few obstacles, most of which were my own making, but we were half way to our destination, the Pair-A-Dice Escapees Park in Pahrump. It was a night when we were asleep even before our heads hit the pillow.
We awoke to a cold northern Nevada morning. We were just passing through, but the people who were staying for longer were definitely prepared. A glance out the window of the coach showed a very large propane tank two sites over. Made me glad we were going to be leaving within the hour and heading further south.
But after looking at the thermometer inside the coach, I decided we would leave as soon as possible.
It is simply amazing just how much the temperature inside the coach can vary. We have stayed overnight when the outside temperature was lower than this, but the inside temperature remained much higher. Last night we even had all the slides in, except for the bedroom and it still got this cold. Some things I just don't understand. Of course, if I would have just looked out the front window at all the snow on the mountains, maybe I would have understood the fact it was cold out there, smile.
Eager to get on the road, we had a bowl of shredded wheat and warm milk, checked the Explorer and pulled out. We didn't get away quite as early as we wanted, but we were close. The Pair-A-Dice Park office closes at 4 o'clock, so if we didn't want to boondock for the night, we needed to get there before 4PM. It was going to be close, but it appeared that we should definitely arrive before closing. The forecast for today was a chance of rain or snow in the Winnemucca area, but to the west and south the forecast was calling for nice weather.
Our planned route would take us west on I-80 to Miriam, then south on US-95 for close to 350 miles, before taking Nevada 160 into Pahrump. There was one glitch that came up just as we were leaving Winnemucca, I managed to drive right by the entrance to the interstate. Fortunately, though miles of desert stretched in front of us, there was that one last gambling establishment just down the road with a big enough lot that we could turn around. Once we finally got on the right road, the miles really rolled by, the sun sneaked out from behind the clouds, the temperature shot up, towns passed by, we exited and turned south on US-95 and soon enough the ammunition storage bunkers of Hawthorne came into view. This was the very view we had last seen in early January when we took the same route to the same RV park.
Once we left Hawthorne, the next major town was Tonopah. Linda took a turn driving, then we entered the land of a whole lot of nothing. In a way it reminds me of Hwy 50, though there is more something on US-95, or put another way, more nothing on US-50.
Mile after mile is the same, the road disappearing off into the distance.
We made really good time, pulling into the Escapees Pair-A-Dice RV Park in Pahrump at 3:30. it was about twenty minutes later that we were set up in site 16-B, just a few sites to the south from where we stayed in January. We had come full circle in our travels. It felt good to be back to, what in a way, was the familiarity of a former home. We had one last thing we wanted to do before setting up housekeeping and that was to wash the Explorer. Talk about road grime, it was completely covered. The sun was starting to go down and so was the temperature so we attacked the job with bucket, brush, mitt and hose. It was only after we had the top and hood done that I remembered we had not taken a photo of it in all it's grimy glory. This one doesn't do it justice, but it gives the idea.
All this washing was done in the parks wash area, since you are not allowed to wash your vehicles at your site. They have a very nice set up with a wash area and oil change pit side by side. Even though we were not able to avail ourselves to all the Escapees had to offer this year, we hope to use more of their parks and attend some rallies this year.
Since this was officially another travel day for us, dinner was once again soup, which was followed later with dessert as we watched yet another Christmas movie. That's what we do at this time of the year, we can always watch reruns of any regular show, but you only get to watch Christmas movies once a year. For us it is a special time of the year in more ways than one. It will be our first Christmas ever, away from our kids, but then we already celebrated our family holiday's at Thanksgiving. It is a year for new traditions. A time in our lives when the clock has passed midnight and signaled the beginning of a new day. May this day, just as the road, go on forever.
If you're curious, we drove 471 miles today, which when added to the 535 miles of yesterday, meant that we had traveled 1006 miles in the last two days. Guess that's what you call a mad dash to warmer weather.
What a difference a few days can make. Friday morning we awoke to the cold fog of central Oregon and Sunday morning we awake to the sunshine in southern Nevada. It's what we like about our life. Not that the temperatures here are what you would term warm at this time of the day, it's actually down right cold, but there was something that happened last night as we preparing to go to bed that put it all in perspective. Removing my shirt, I felt the snap of static electricity, something that was unknown in the damp cold of the eastern Oregon country we had just left. Things are different here.
Breakfast was oatmeal with dried cherries and chopped walnuts. Linda also fixed some Starbucks Decaf Christmas Blend coffee, which even I, a non coffee consumer, have to admit was one delicious drink. The coffee was a gift from Linda's friend, Fay, and will certainly be enjoyed by the both of us during the Holidays. All, however was not pleasure this morning, just take a look at this photo.
What you are looking at is the little glass shelf between the top of the vegetable keeper and bottom rack of the refrigerator. The problem is, it is hard to see the glass shelf for all the bean soup covering it. It seems that the Appalachian hill girl mind sometimes works in mysterious ways when it comes to food storage. Here we are with about 500 hundred little plastic containers of every size and shape known to womanhood taking up much of our cupboard space and she had to use a juice pitcher with one of those button in the center lids. Not only that but she even laid it on it's side. ( I admit to a slight exaggeration on the number of plastic containers we have, but due to time limitations I was unable to spend the day hunting them down and obtaining an accurate count in order to determine exactly how many there actually are.)
Apparently the change in pressure caused by our trip over the mountains had led to a case of exploding beans. Visualizing what happened, I'm sure it wasn't a pretty sight, what with the pressure building up higher and higher in the pitcher as it rocked to the motion of the coach going down the road, until finally belching out the bean soup, which them fell down through the wire shelf and landed 3/8ths of an inch or so below on the glass shelf. That was the mess we faced. Some things are better put off till later and this was definitely one of those instances. For some reason, I also strongly suspect this will be the last time the pitcher gets placed on it's side when we we are traveling.
After two days of travel we were ready for a lazy day of doing mostly nothing. Of course there is always something we can do, which today consisted mostly of watching Christmas movie after Christmas movie on TV. I think the fun of watching is trying to remember if you've seen it before or not and also trying to figure out just how the writers are going to make everything turn out okay in the end. Linda will testify that I'm pretty good at figuring them out, though every once in a while they cheat and throw in something totally out of the blue. Of course those movies tend to be lacking in acting and directing as well as writing. After all, they can't all be good.
We did do a few things during the course of the day, for example Linda listed a some items on Ebay and I worked toward making a dent in the missing daily journals, but all in all, it was a day for relaxing. We did live up to one vow we had made, to go on at least one long walk everyday, by actually taking two walks. The walks revealed a real mix of RV's, from park models to van conversions and everything imaginable in between at the park. A photo album of some of the different types of rigs people use was the type of thing I had in mind when I was originally playing around with the photo gallery page. Maybe it's something I can work on when we get to Quartzsite. We did enjoy looking at the rigs all decked out with their Christmas decorations.
As you can see, the mountains were showing off their snow dusted slopes in the reddening light of the setting sun.
We had really been off in our mealtimes today. Breakfast at 10AM, lunch at 2:30 and dinner long after sundown. We had also decided to have something special for dinner, grilled tuna. We had bought some fillets that last day we were in Winchester Bay for special times in the future. We decided this was one of those times, so yours truly was out in the dark and cold of an early December evening grilling a big chuck of tuna. It may have been a little tough in the cooking department, but it was 'just right' in the eating department. Served with a tossed salad and butternut squash, it was more feast than meal.
We took one last quick walk after dinner to see some of the Christmas lights in the neighborhood, then returned to watch our last Christmas movie of the day while curled up on the couch. What more could we ask for of life.