Sunday, February 28, 2010

Stepping Back To Mt. Shasta

After a rough couple of days, I was happy to discover this afternoon that I have 2 new "Followers".  That lifted my spirits once again.  Welcome to Chris Larson and Blue Star Voyager.  THANK YOU very much for joining my expanding group of Followers.  I hope you will find the blog entertaining if not informative on the fulltime RV lifestyle. 

I'm going to step back now a couple of days.  If you read earlier posts, you know we had some breakdown issues on Thursday afternoon.  OK....I've covered that enough, but I wanted to share some photos I'd taken Thursday morning on our drive north from Corning, California to Medford (where you-know-what happened).

(click on any photo for a larger view)

Thursday morning we stopped at a rest area near the town of Anderson to eat our breakfast.  This rest area seemed to have undergone a renovation from the last time we were here.  The sign read HERBERT S. MILES REST AREA.  I don't know who Herbert is (or was), but he sure gave us a nice place to stop off and fix a meal.
After eating, we got out to give Annie some time outdoors to just sniff every blade of grass and do what dogs do.  Behind this rest area was a little waterfall.  No big deal, but nice.

Our rig sat pretty much by itself, as the parking area in Herbert's rest area was almost empty.
Continuing on our northward journey, we crossed this bridge over Shasta Lake (north of Redding).  The water level in the lake is higher than we have seen it in some years. 
Here are some views of Mt. Shasta.  We really got an eyefull today, with all the beautiful snow sparkling in the bright blue sky.  Mt. Shasta is 14,179 feet high.  There are 7 named glaciers on this beautiful, giant mounain.  Scientists feel that the last significant eruption on Shasta may have been over 200 years ago.

We stopped at another rest area near the town of Weed, California to see about getting another photo.  It was really cold here and the wind was blowing hard, as you can see from the wind sock for the airport which is behind the rest area.

After a little time enjoying another of Mother Nature's wonderous scenes, we climbed back into the motorhome and drove off toward Medford, Oregon. 

Until next long for now!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Back To Tumwater

I would like to Welcome and say THANK YOU to "Follower" #58...Alice!  Welcome aboard, Alice, I'm pleased to announce your arrival.  I appreciate your interest in my RV blog.

We arrived in Tumwater, Washington about 3:00 this afternoon.  It was 36F when we pulled away from Jack's Landing RV Park in Grant's Pass, Oregon this A.M.  Yes, we could tell we were back in the Pacific Northwest in the winter.  We enjoyed a pleasant drive today (thank goodness) and experienced a mix of fog, light rain showers, and bright sunshine. 

It looks like the trouble with the RV was an easy fix, once they finally found the source of the problem.  We'll be driving the money pit  the motorhome down to Uhlmann's RV on Thursday for some other repairs that we had already scheduled.  The RV life....never a dull moment.

Since it was Saturday, and not a weekday, we decided to drive straight through the center of Portland on I-5 rather than take the bypass.  Truthfully, the bypass can be more clogged with traffic sometimes.  We had not gone this route in the last 4 trips up and down this interstate.  We noticed a new sky tram moving through the air as we entered Portland.  When did that get there????
The main thing with traveling Interstate 5 through the heart of the city is the need to pay close attention to the highway signs so you don't find yourself going off toward Beaverton or something.  Driving thru with a rig totaling about 60' in length, you just don't want to make a dumb mistake. 
Here are more of the mish-mash of freeway interchanges to confuse even the seasoned traveler.  The river that runs through Portland is the Willamette (say:  will-am-et).
Once we got through the center of town, we soon came to the bridge to Washington.  Not the bridge to "nowhere".   This bridge crosses the great Columbia River but I was unable to get a photo this time.  Next time.
We got settled into our same RV spot from the winter and began putting things in order.  Then it was time to visit the "Grands".  Of course, they wanted to come back to the motorhome with could we refuse?  Bruce tried to sort through the mail with all the racket from the girls and me playing a game of Jackpot Yahtzee.  He finally gave up and agreed to take us to McDonald's for dinner.  Big spender!  But he did just lay out a pile of money on some car and RV repairs.  :)

I miss our family when I'm away from Tumwater, and it is always good to come back to see them again.  However, I have discovered during the past 18 months that I do like to have "roots" and return to those roots from time to time.  By roots I mean, a hometown to return to....the old familiar faces and places of "our neighborhood".  I don't want, or need, the roots of a sticks and bricks home.  Our home on wheels is the best choice for us.   This way we can enjoy the roots, and then break free of them to go out on the road exploring new places.   This fulltiming lifestyle is truly our great journey.

Until next long for now!

Friday, February 26, 2010

At The End Of The Day.....

I chose that title only because we are at the end of our day.  I know a lot of folks use that phrase "well, at the end of the day, you have to blah, blah, blah".  Usually it has to do with some moral issue or their perspective on some subject at which I always wondered, "what about at the start of you day?"  Anyway, I digress and I'm sorry.  Let me get to the point....WE ARE FIXED.

At least I'm hoping we finally are repaired in full. It was a long day that began early.  We got over to the Ford dealer in Medford, Oregon early since we decided to go ahead and have them look into what caused the battery to die so quickly.  We fixed ourselves a nice corner in the waiting area so Annie would not be in the way and I set up the computer.  Bruce walked down to Witham Truck Center to see what (if anything) was happening with the MH. 

We needed to have it towed to Pacific Power Products and have the transmission checked out.  Nothing at all was wrong with the Cummins engine or the Freightliner chassis, which was good news.  The guy with the big old tow truck came again and did the deed.  The folks at Crater Lake Ford told us what was wrong with the car....some sensor thingy, but they also found a couple of other things that were important.  Some leaking in the drivetrain and the brake pads were really worn.  Bruce hemmed and hawed for a minute about getting the work done today or waiting until we got back up to Tumwater.  I remined him that Oregon has NO sales tax.  That means that we will not pay sales tax for the parts used or the labor.  In Washington you get charged sales tax now on some labor items.  And we are going to be towing that baby all the way to Florida in 6 weeks.  OK.... we gave permission for that work to be done.  Estimate:  4 to 5 hours.

We rented a car for the day.  I told the lady at Enterprise I did NOT want a Toyota.  We next drove over to see about the MH.  They were going to run a complete diagnostic check and it would take 2 hours.  So we went to McDonald's for lunch and killed time reading 2 newspapers there.  We then drove back to the Ford dealership to wait.  At least I had the computer and could read blogs! 

Finally, the car was ready.  Part of the bill will be covered under our extended warranty and part will not be.  At least it is safe and sound and ready for more traveling.  We turned in the rental and drove back to see the MH.  It was waiting in the parking lot.....hey, that must be good news!  It turned out to be 2 blown fuses in the thingy that reports data to the transmission from the engine (or something like that).  We got everything ship shape inside the RV, hitched up the toad and were on the Interstate heading North.  We got on I-5 at exit #33 and when we got to exit #40...."DING"  CHECK ENGINE.   I called the service center as Bruce made an exit and a re-entry going South back to see the service tech.  At least it didn't die completely on the freeway this time.  The indicator lights for the tranny went out again and it was stuck in gear 6.  We chugged back to the service center.  It was a false start.  Drat!

They were stymied at first when they looked into the fuse area and the same fuses were blown.  Odds of the new fuses being bad were "slim to none" so they got 2 other techs out there and they were all over that thing.  When they did the original work (2 hours prior) they replaced the fuses and then did a check of all the wiring around the fuses.  They checked as far as they could in each direction.  They missed IT.  Upon further inspection by 3 service technicians they found a wire up near the engine exhaust that had become frayed.  As we would drive, the wire would intermittently hit the exhaust and this time it caused the engine to say STOP, DANGER.  This wire harness was not supposed to be where it was, so they replaced the wiring that was bad and anchored it in a place that will keep it away from any source of heat or friction.

Even though the tech at Witham Truck Center, a Cummins service center, could not find this problem he did a thorough check of the engine and transmission with their diagnostic instruments.  At least we know at this point, there is nothing wrong with those.

So, once we got the wiring problem finally fixed, and new fuses installed (no charge this time) we were on the freeway at 4:30 pm.  We only drove as far as Grant's Pass, Oregon and took exit #58 to Jack's Landing RV Park.  It is a great park for an overnight stop.  It has 60 foot back in spaces and 80 foot pull thru spaces, all concrete pads and a great utility hook-up system.  We stayed here one other time in 2007 and remembered it today when we needed a place to rest for the night.  The only problem with this park is there is some highway noise, but we'll sleep soundly I'm sure.

We've had quite the adventure the past day and a half.  Not fun, but we got through it.  We'll be leaving Grant's Pass in the morning and will be back "home" in Tumwater by afternoon.  At least it will be home again for the next 4 weeks. 

Until next long for now!


Waiting.....Waiting.....and More Waiting

Guess what?  Things could have been a whole lot worse.  I'm waiting in the Crater Lake Ford service center for word on the Explorer diagnosis and Bruce has walked a block down the street to see about the MH.  While I am sitting here I started making my list of the good things about yesterday:

1)  nobody got injured or killed on Interstate 5 while the MH was being made ready to tow
2)  we had a cell phone for emergency calling
3)  the tow driver knew his business
4)  we have roadside assistance coverage plus AAA for the car emergency
5)  we have extended warranty policy so (hopefully) repairs to MH will be covered by that
6)  we were only a couple of miles out of Medford when the breakdown happened
7)  we stayed at a very nice Quality Inn last night and Annie came too

Being a person of spiritual faith, I have to say Praise the Lord for my list of 7 things.  Yes, we have a problem with both MH and car, and it might be serious, but just look at the list of those 7 things.  Wow, those are the good things in this whole mess....or the blessings, if you will.

I'll post again, when possible, and let you know what is going on.  I know for sure we are going to miss our appointment this morning in Woodland, WA getting those new blinds installed in the MH.  I'm sure they'll hold them for us and we'll get that job done eventually.  We're just hoping we can get back up to Tumwater before Tuesday when we have the first of our round of doctor appointments.  Time will tell.

Until next long for now!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Uh-Oh, Lot's of Trouble

First of all, Welcome to 2 new "Followers" on my RV blog.  A great big THANK YOU goes out to Ted, Sam and Donna!  I appreciate your interest in my blog so very much.  I hope you will leave a comment or two from time to time.

Today was day 2 of our trip back up to Tumwater and it started out great and went downhill in a big way after lunch.  I'll skip the first part and post on that another day in the near future.  We had stopped at a Pilot Truck Stop in Medford, Oregon.  We found a spot to park the MH and car back by the trucks and I fixed us a sandwich to enjoy while we played some more gin rummy (I'm now ahead).

After lunch, we got back on Interstate 5 heading North and had only gone a couple of miles when the warning system for the engine went "Ding".  Well, we've heard that "Ding" before and we knew it wasn't a good sound.  The read out said "Check Engine".  Before we could do more than let that register and begin to pull over onto the shoulder, power began to fade quickly.  Bruce did manage to get the motorhome at least out of the slow lane of traffic, but just barely.  Hmmmm.  He checked things on the dash instruments and indications were that we had enough oil pressure and all of that stuff I don't totally understand.  We went out to the back of the MH and lifted the engine cover.  Bruce checked every fluid level we had and they all read, "Normal".  We went back into the MH at that point and he turned the ignition just to see what, if anything, would happen.  Nothing.  Deader than a door nail (whatever that is).

(click on photo for a larger view)

Time to call for assistance.  We have 2 roadside assistance opportunities (one with the extended warranty and one with our vehicle insurance) and he called one of them to arrange for a tow truck.  Not a happy time as the cars and trucks were whizzing past us at high speed shaking the MH like it was an earthquake.  We also went back outside and unhitched the car from the motorhome.  I back it up a good bit and turned the hazard flashers on.  They were already on for the motorhome.

Annie was getting upset by the whole thing, so I stepped outside with her as there was a large grass area to stand safely on.  I grabbed my camera.  Of course I would!!!  One thing I know for sure, whenever anything unusual is going on....grab the camera and think about a blog post.  It took about 40 minutes before the extra large tow truck arrived.  I was expecting a burly man with large muscles and a tattoo on his arm that read "Shirley", but he was an ordinary looking guy with ordinary looking muscles.

Here are several pics of the whole, lengthy procedure while Mr. Tow Truck Driver did his job, and very well, I might add. 

I thought this next photo reminded me of the movie Wizard of Oz with the feet of the dead witch under Dorothy's house.   Mr. Tow Truck was disconnecting the drive shaft for towing.

Almost ready to go.
Now, here is where things got even more troublesome.  We told the truck driver we'd follow in our car.  He began to pull away from the shoulder and into the traffic and had no problem.  We, on the other hand, got back to our car wouldn't start!   Click, click, click was all we heard when turning the key in the ignition.  The tow driver was now down the interstate.  So, we pulled out the phone AGAIN and called for more roadside assistance.  The man was out to jump the battery in about 10 minutes.  Bruce gave him the AAA card info for service.  Then he asked the guy if we needed to sign anything?  The guy says, "No, we know all about you."  We drove over to the Witham Truck Stop to check on the MH.

We saw our dear home getting worked over to find the source of the problem.

Now, the situation is this.....we had our breakdown around 2:30 pm.  By the time we got to the truck stop it was 4:30.  They were checking the Cummins engine and the Freightliner chassis with their diagnostic equipment.  We went and got some quick dinner and were back around 5:30.  They still had no answer.  We waited another hour and decided to call it a day and go to the hotel for the night.  At this time, the service tech reports that everything with the engine and chassis is checking out OK and it seems to be an Allison transmission issue, which they do not service.  OK, take care of it in the morning.....we're leaving.  Good Night!

Until next long for now!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Wednesday, On The Road

We woke up this morning to the rain that had been predicted.  Oh well.  We had hoped to get things unhooked, slid in, and ready to go before the rain, but you know what they say, "the best laid plans."  We were out the gate at Pismo Coast Village by 7:30.  As planned, we went North on Hwy. 101 to Paso Robles to take the Hwy. 46 connection.  OK...that was good.  The next plan had us connecting with Hwy. 41, and that would take us on a direct route to Kettleman City and I-5.  Those "best laid plans" had ideas of their own as Hwy. 41 was closed at that point.  Never at a loss for a "new plan" we continued on Hwy. 46 to Lost Hills and I-5.  It took us about 30 miles further South than we had planned, but it got the job done.

As we drove North, we had some nice views of the beautiful green rolling hills along our route.  The recent rains really greened those babies up!  Give it a few months and they will be as brown as the desert sand.  We also enjoyed all of the nut trees in the orchards that line the interstate.  They were flowering up nicely.
Before we got to the Harris Ranch area, we could smell the aroma from the penned cattle.  The aroma was enough to wake Annie from a sound sleep. She came forward and was giving the air a good sniff....around us!  I told her not to be confusing that smell with her Mom and Dad.
In Lodi we stopped for fuel at the Flying J.  It was time to give Annie a walk and Bruce got the job of washing some of the bugs off of the windshield.
This is our monitor for the back-up camera.  So wonderful to have....if it is working!  As you can see, the screen is blank.  We've tried our own trouble-shooting to no avail.  We've added it to the repair list for our appointment next week.
We drove all the way up to the Rolling Hills Casino in Corning for tonight.  We're dry camping in the large parking lot for free, so we went in to pay for the buffet dinner.  It is one of the best casino buffets we've found outside of Las Vegas.  It was great and, as usual, we ate too much.

I would like to thank everyone who left comments with 'safe travel wishes'.  Much appreciated.  So far, so good.  Tomorrow we'll be somewhere in Oregon, South of Portland.  Maybe way South of Portland if the weather is snowy on the mountain passes.  I'll check the weather reports before turning in for the night to see what the prediction is for tomorrow.

Until next long for now!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Last Day

Today I have a new "Follower" to Welcome to my RV blog.  THANK YOU to Cyndi for joining my group of Followers.  I appreciate your interest in our fulltime RV lifestyle.

Today is our final day staying at the Pismo Coast Village RV Resort in Pismo Beach, California.  We have had a great time living in this little town of Pismo Beach as temporary residents.  In spite of some bad weather days, we still had a good experience being here. 

The beach was great for an early morning walk.
We will be making our way back up to our homebase of Tumwater, Washington, arriving on Friday afternoon.  We have an appointment on Friday in Woodland, WA to get 2 new blinds installed on the large windows by the dining table.  That shouldn't take long and then we can finish the trip up to Tumwater.  I called our regular RV park in Tumwater to notify the manager that we will be arriving and staying thru March.  Not the whole month, but close enough.

The beautiful rocky coast in Shell Beach was a good spot for watching the waves crashing.
There were a few rain showers this afternoon here in Pismo.  We've had a lot of those lately.  I checked the weather reports for Tumwater and rain showers are predicted there for the next 8 to 10 days.  Normal for February and March.  Our granddaughter, Zoey, will be celebrating her 5th birthday on March 7th and we wouldn't miss that for the world.  In addition, we have scheduled doctor visits and dentist visits for March.  We plan our routine exams for March and September which are the months the girls celebrate birthdays.  Works great that way.

A small dinghy was bobbing in the water by the Harford Pier.
Today was our last morning stop at McDonald's before heading out.  We met a very nice local couple and had a great chat.  They appeared to be in their mid 70's, and were still enjoying some travels in their 5th wheel and truck.  We had a nice visit exchanging thoughts about past RV trips we'd all taken.  About 20 years ago they had also sailed their sailboat to Hawaii.  How great that would be!  We told them we'd be back to Pismo Beach in September and most likely would be seeing them at McDonald's again.  Nice folks.

Hopefully, we'll have an uneventful drive back up to Tumwater.  We plan to go North on Hwy 101 to Hwy 46 east.  Then we'll cut off onto Hwy. 41 to the town of Kettleman City for fuel and to connect with I-5 North to Washington.  We're hoping to Wally-dock or dry camp on the way home.  No firm plans yet, and we'll just go until we decide to stop for the night. 

We enjoyed some great cloud formations here at the beach, including this large pink one.

Until next long for now!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Just Doing A Test

I've seen many blogs where the writer has linked back to their own blog to reference a certain post.  So, I'm doing a test here to see if I have figured it out (or not).  I'm a little slow on this blogland stuff so bear with me.

We'll be going back up to Tumwater in a few days.  We'll only be there for about 4 weeks and we are then leaving for our eventual destination of Florida.  We were in Florida last May and June (2009) and did a whole bunch of great stuff.  Anywho....I want to see if I can make my own backlink to a blog I posted about the Everglades and the alligators we saw there. Click here for link to Everglades post. 

We also had gone to the Big Cypress Preserve and saw a lot more gators there.  It was great, so I'm trying to make another link for that. Click here for Big Cypress Preserve.

Thanks for being patient while I try to learn another seemingly easy task on this blog stuff.

Until next long for now!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

A Little Rain, A Little Sun

Early this morning there was sunshine.  As we walked past the beach area we could see the rising sun shining on the waves.  If you want photos of the sunrise or the sunset, you have to act quickly.  The scene can change a minute or two.  If you hesitate, the sun has risen (or fallen) enough that the shadows are different, the colors are different and you've missed your opportunity.  Today we were there at the right time for me.
The waves looked so white and foamy as the sun was just peeking up above the clouds to the east.  An early morning jogger was enjoying some time on the beach.
Later in the afternoon, we could see some fog rolling in off the ocean.  It wasn't thick, but it was a visible presence.  The rain showers began but it wasn't much.  Mr. and Mrs. Mallard were enjoying a day here in the park.  I was able to get a photo of them before they quacked at me and waddled away.
We spent most of the day indoors.  I worked on Mackenzie's photo album.  I've been able to get 18 pages in her book finished and 12 pages in Zoey's book complete.  We stopped for a while to play gin rummy.  We've played over 1,000 games so far and are almost even-Steven in games won.  We're going to play until one of us reaches 1,000 wins.
The RV's have been rolling in and out of the park today.  It is Sunday and that seems to be moving day for many folks.  We prefer to enter and exit this park mid-week.  A lot less interior traffic.  We had some noisy people behind us for the past 2 nights but they were weekend only guests and left this morning. 

I hope everyone enjoyed the weekend, no matter where you were. 

Until next long for now!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Always Looking

Since beginning my RV blog about 1 1/2 years ago when we pulled up stakes to go fulltiming, I find that I am always looking.  Looking at what?  Everything and anything that is out in the world.  We'll pass something along the way in our travels and I find myself wondering, "would that make a good blog photo?"  Sometimes they don't, but I take them anyway.  Never know when something may come in handy.

Our fulltime RV life is laid back on most days.  We aren't touring all over the countryside every single day.  We do see interesting things just hanging around the different RV parks sometimes.  I seem to be dragging my camera along with us most of the time now, too.  I might find something interesting to shoot.

Blogs are personal journals mainly.  We all take photos and write about the stuff that is interesting to us.  Hopefully, we'll also touch someone else with our musings and we may even get a comment or two on what we've written about. 

The past few days have been quiet.  We've wandered around the town a bit in the afternoons getting a little more exercise.  We'll be leaving Pismo Beach this coming Wednesday, so I'll share a few of the photos I've got on file for Pismo.

The town has a lot of expensive condos and homes, but there are still a few that reflect a more simple, less extravagant era.  (click on any photo for a larger view)

This house on the corner has always been neat as a pin.  The owners keep it within a color scheme of red, black and white for the most part.  A lot of the flowers are red and white.

Before walking back to the motorhome, we made a stop at the 7-11 Store for a cold drink.   Outside the store is the usual stock pile of firewood.  The folks that own 7-11 keep a large supply of cut up firewood in these boxes for the camping tourists that come to town.  By the time Monday morning arrives, this pile will all be gone and they'll begin stacking up more for the next weekend.

The weather predicitons aren't great for the next few days.  We'll do the best we can to entertain ourselves.  Of course, we also have all the other blogs to read each day and that is always entertaining and informative.

Until next long for now!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Dinner At The Farmer's Market

Truthfully, our main reason for going up to the Farmer's Market in San Luis Obispo last night was to eat dinner.  When we stay here at the Pismo Coast Village, we always make one trip to the Market to eat at one of the BBQ stands.   We always select the F.McLintock's BBQ restaurant as our choice.  One we parked the car in the parking garage at Morro and Palm Streets and walked out on the sidewalk, we could already smell the wonderful aroma of BBQ sauce in the air.  We were still 2 short blocks away from the food!
We first came to the San Luis Farmer's Market back in 1995 with Bruce's family, Aunt Phyllis and Uncle Fred.  They lived in Santa Maria and introduced us to the market fun on our trip to visit them.  At that time, we ate indoors at a Mexican restaurant.  Now, we do as most of the locals do and we eat outdoors on the street.

There are many choices besides our favorite.  There is another BBQ restaurant, Chinese food, a couple of burrito trucks, a place that serves meatball sandwiches, and a few more.  We just go to McLintock's.  The market does not open any booth or street restaurant until exactly 6 pm.  The people that want McLintock's begin lining up about 20 to 30 minutes prior to opening.  The line looks so long, but once they open, it moves along very quickly.
When the signal is given to open the "restaurant", all of the McLintock's workers remove their caps, place them over their heart and sing "America the Beautiful" very loudly.  This is a crowd pleaser and we all know we are about to be fed.  
They haul out these huge BBQ grill pits and you can see slabs of ribs, ka-bobs, and pork munchies cooking their way to perfection.  The cooking crew really knows their stuff!
Bruce and I ordered the 3-piece combo, which included 1 meaty beef rib, a Tri-Tip beef ka-bob, and a pork munchie.  What is a pork munchie?  Well, it's like a big rib is the best way to describe it.  We did not order any side items....we just wanted the BBQ meat.  It was so juicy and wonderful.  Once we paid for our meal, we grabbed a spot on the curb along with the other "diners" enjoying their own BBQ choices.  This time of year we saw no table available for eating your meal.  I do remember when we were here in September 2008, there were a very few tables and chairs at the intersection.  There were no seats available at that time, and we just grabbed a spot on the curb then too. 
I took a quick pic of Bruce before he dug into his meat combo meal.  There is a full service F. McLintock's restaurant right here in Pismo Beach.  It is just a couple of miles north of the downtown area, but on the east side of Highway 101 right by the Pismo City Hall.  The food is fabuous and you get plenty. eat indoors at real tables in this restaurant!
Once we'd eaten our meal, we wandered around the market place before going back to retrieve our car in the parking garage. It only cost us 75 cents to park there last night.  It was a fun evening and a great meal.  We will come back again next fall when we return for several more weeks here on the central coast.

Until next long for now!