Saturday, July 31, 2010

Getting By With A Little Help

Ringo Starr was my favorite Beatle when I was in High School.  He sang a song called “A Little Help From My Friends” and it was a good song.  I’ve discovered that bloggers are very willing to lend a little help to their friends, too.

Several bloggers have written posts that are very helpful with technical issues, how to write posts, those do’s and don’ts, and tutorials on using online tools.  I have gained the most help on technical issues from Rick with his many blog posts during June and July written to give assistance to everyone. 

I knew that I would never be able to remember everything he wrote in all of those posts, so I had to resort to printing out each one.  I need a hard copy to refer to when I am going to tackle one of these blog helps.  So, I created my Rick Notebook of Blog Helps. 

                                                           I had a spare binder so I used that and made a Table of Contents first. DSCF5810


I made chapter dividers so that I can find a specific tutorial blog as fast as possible.  I get so busy sometimes that I need to get my blogs written and posted quickly.  I think a notebook like this will help.

                                                           This is the title of one of the posts I printed out in full.DSCF5812

We always keep a printer on board in our motorhome because we print out several different things throughout the month.  It sure helps when I want to print something like an entire blog post. 

                                                           Our printer will print in full color, which always looks best.DSCF5813

I’ll never have the expertise to do everything possible with Blogger, Live Writer or Picasa but I think with the “help from my friends”  I can get some of these basics done.   Rick, Randy, and Al are all very talented Bloggers and have graciously helped us other Bloggers so much over the past few weeks.  Thanks to each of you, your help is appreciated.

I hope I can learn a lot more when summer is over and I can concentrate on blogging more fully.  It is a lot of fun but it does take time and patience.

Until next time… long for now!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Soda Springs, Idaho

We just spent the past 2 days in Soda Springs, Idaho visiting my aunt and uncle.   My aunt has lived there since the mid 1980’s after moving from California upon retiring.  She moved there with my Uncle Pat, who died a few years later.  Then she married Uncle Lyle who had lived in Soda for many years.


Soda Springs is in Caribou County, which is in the south east part of the state.  The elevation is approximately 5,300 feet.  State Hwy. 30 runs right through the middle of this small town of 3,500 people.  It is a very busy highway for such a small town.  Uncle Lyle says the city estimates that 1,500 to 2,000 18-wheelers roll through there everyday. 

This is Hwy. 30 which runs through the middle of the town.  No McDonald’s in this small town, but you can find an Arctic Circle, Taco Time, and A & W.  That, plus a few full-service restaurants which serve meals all day, seems to be enough to keep the population here happy.


There is an “old downtown” type street with the library, youth center, and the Enders Building right off of the main highway.  We ate breakfast at the Enders Café, in the Enders Building, and the food was great.  A beauty salon and movie theater were on this downtown street as well.

There are train tracks running parallel to Hwy. 30 and you can hear trains several times a day.  My aunt’s house is only a couple of blocks from the tracks, but you really don’t even hear them except off in the distance. 


Soda Springs was a favorite stopping off place for settlers and pioneers on the Oregon Trail.  They would stop to enjoy the 100’s of natural springs in the area.  The springs bubble up with natural carbonated water…hence the name “Soda” Springs.  The town was incorporated in 1896.  There was early gold mining at nearby Caribou Mountain back in the old days.  Sheep, cattle and farming industries helped establish the town.  Today farming and cattle ranching are still going strong, however, the predominate industry in Soda Springs is phosphate mining.  A couple of miles from Aunt Anne’s house is the Monsanto phosphate plant.  If you drive down to the plant area, you can see them dump the “slag” 2 or 3 times an hour.  Slag is a by-product of smelting metal.  I took a photo of the slag dumping (not a very clear pic).

This is still such a small town, that it still has none of the big-box stores.  You will find motels that are straight out of the 1940’s or 1950’s….no fancy Holiday Inns here.  True Value and Ace Hardware are here….but no Home Depot. 



                                                           There are a couple of grain silos in town.  Here is one of them.DSCF5802
The really big claim to fame for tiny Soda Springs is the town geyser.  You can find it at Geyser Park behind the Enders Building downtown.


We first visited my aunt and uncle in 1987.  Aunt Anne brought me and our kids over to see the geyser.  It wasn’t time for it to erupt so she said, “I’ll just go to the Police Station across the street and tell them to turn it on.”  Huh?  Turn on a geyser?  So she did and we saw it erupt high into the air.  Now the town has it controlled on a timer and it goes off every hour on the hour.  (no kidding)

It is the only captive geyser in the world.  It was discovered in 1937 when somebody was drilling for a hot water source.  The pressure is caused by carbon dioxide gas mixing with water in an underground chamber.  The water stays at a warm 72 degrees. 

This is how the geyser looks all the time when it isn’t erupting.  Bruce and I climbed up to check it out and take this photo.  It just bubbles away.


We walked up to the observation platform to see it blow at 11:00 am.  There were a few tourists on the platform waiting when we arrived. 



The weather while we were visiting was a pleasant temperature between 80F and 84F.  We were here in August of 2007, and it was well into the very high 90’s.  The winter here in Soda gets bitter cold and they do have a great deal of snow to deal with.  Uncle Lyle uses a snow blower and they put a metal roof on their home to keep the snow from accumulating. 

They are not far from the Idaho-Wyoming border and the road that leads to Jackson, Wyoming.  We took a drive on Wednesday to the town of Afton, Wyoming and it was beautiful. 



I’m glad we took the time to make that long drive to visit this favorite aunt of mine.  Friday morning when we had loaded up the car to make our return trip to Tumwater, I hugged and kissed Uncle Lyle good-bye.  Aunt Anne was still sleeping as it was 6:15.  As I hugged Uncle Lyle I told him we had really enjoyed our visit.  He said that he was sure glad we came over.  I assured him we’d be coming back again and he says quietly, “Better not wait too long.”

Until next time… long for now!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Tumwater, WA to Soda Springs, Idaho

We get a fair AT&T connection here in Soda Springs.  The problem is that I’m getting no chance to really spend time at the computer since my aunt and uncle want to sit and talk to us a lot.  Well….we did come to visit them after all.   So, I’m doing my best to get a couple of posts in while we are here and a little bit of time to read some other blogs.

We left Tumwater Tuesday morning at 5:20 on our way to southeast Idaho.  We took I-5 to I-84 in Oregon and then headed East.  The ride through the Columbia River Gorge was beautiful.  We didn’t really stop to take any photos since we had a lot of ground to cover to get all the way to Soda in one day.  Toward the end of the scenic Columbia River Gorge area I did snap this one pic which I thought was interesting.


We began to see those wind machines stationed like sentries along the tops of the mountains.  These are a permanent part of our American landscape now, so we may as well get used to them.

                                                           Annie was happy riding along in her cozy bed while we drove through Oregon.DSCF5755

We stopped at one of the many roadside rest areas to use the facilities and eat our picnic lunch.  When you have to stop and use one of these is when you really miss traveling with your RV.   We had no choice on this trip, so you just do what you have to do!

As we drove on into Idaho, the weather began to look a bit threatening.  We could see rain clouds off in the distance and wondered if they’d get to us.  Soon enough we had some rain spatters on our windshield.


                                                           We did see a bit of a rainbow a few minutes later.DSCF5764
Sometimes we’d have a bit of clearing before the rain spatters would start again.  It wasn’t a big storm and it didn’t slow us down.  We kept moving East.  We picked up I-86 after the Idaho Falls area and turned toward Pocatello.  In “Pokie” we connected with I-15 South for a few miles.


At Exit 47 on I-15 we turned East onto Idaho State Route 30 toward Soda Springs.  It was only about 33 more miles now.  We passed a lot of ranch land and farm land throughout the area.  They grow wheat, barley and alfalfa here.  A few potato fields, but most of those are over toward Idaho Falls.

We got to my Aunt Anne and Uncle Lyle’s house around 8:00 pm (1 hour time difference) and after driving 818 miles.  Only crazy people drive that many miles in one day.  We hadn’t been here in 3 years so it was nice to see them again.



                                                                      This is Aunt Anne who is recovering from knee surgery and will be 89 in November.DSCF5783
                                                                        This is Uncle Lyle and he married my aunt in 1996.DSCF5782
                                                           Aunt Anne has always been a great cook and had fixed us a big meal.DSCF5784
By the time we finished eating, talked for a while, and then went down into our basement bedroom suite it was past 10:00 and we were beat.  Bruce checked the computer and we saw some comments left on the blog, but I was too tired to do anything about it. 


Today we spent all day talking and catching up on activities and vacations and family stuff.  I tried to get some time to make a post on the blog….but just couldn’t get away.  We’re only staying until Friday morning, so it was more important to be with the family than sit at the computer.  So, I’ll catch up on stuff in a day or two.

I’ve taken a few pics of the town of Soda Springs and will make that a post tomorrow if possible.  It is a small town of less than 4,000 people.  Nice place to visit…but…you know the rest of that quote.

Hope everyone is having a great week.

Until next time… long for now!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Busy? Yeah, And Then I Have A Question

I noticed another new “Follower” has signed on this afternoon.  Welcome aboard to JODI and a great big THANK YOU for tuning in to read about our RV lifestyle.  I appreciate your interest and hope you enjoy!

Yesterday while we were with the girls, Bruce played the online game “Know Your States” with the girls.  I found this site on Margie and Roger's blog.  She gave a link to it in her post from July 12th.  The girls enjoyed playing it and finding the states location on the unmarked United States map.  It is a good geography game.

                                                           Mackenzie points to the location to place the state with a “click and drag” feature.DSCF5707


                                                           This is the game on our computer screen.  Place states in the correct location.DSCF5711

Today was a busy day for us….so what else is new?  We had to get Mackenzie off to her gymnastics center by 9:00 so she could go on the field trip to another teams gym for a joint workout session.  Got that job done and then it was time to drop Annie off for her hair-do appointment over at Petco. 

I made a quick stop at Weight Watchers while Bruce and Zoey went and did a little shopping for our trip to Idaho.  Then it was a trip to Mickey D’s for breakfast and then back home.  Oops…then they called and said Annie was ready, so we had to get back in the car and fetch her.  She looked great!  And smelled soooooo clean.  We wanted to have her clean and shiny when she goes on her little vacation to Aunt Anne’s house. 

I played a reading game with Zoey after lunch.  She is going into Kindergarten in September and I prepared several word flash cards for reading readiness.  These are some basic words that kids need to know “by sight” and knowing these before going into Kindergarten will help.  She knew all of them at a glance, except for 10.  So we will work on those.  I made up about 40 cards to work on with her. 

                                                           Simple words like:  the, good, and, him, here are ones kids need to know by sight.DSCF5741

At 1:00 I took Zoey to the Tumwater Library for craft time.  She enjoyed working on 2 projects while we were there.  It was organized by a wonderful employee at our library and she had all the supplies laid out on long tables.  Zoey made a fish with “stained glass” sections and a yarn octopus.  She had fun.

                                                           The “stained glass” was colorful tissue paper segments she glued on after cutting holeDSCF5748

                                                           Her face is scratched up because she took a header on the driveway.DSCF5747
By the time we got back from the library, Mommy was home….and Grandma and Papa were off duty for 2 weeks!!  Going home to pack for our trip to Soda Springs.  Leaving tomorrow at 5:00 am. 

My Question:  Does anybody else have a situation where the number of Followers showing on the dashboard does NOT match the actual number of images showing on the web page?  My number shown on the blog page and dashboard says 3 more than I actually count by the images.  It doesn’t really matter, but I was wondering why the discrepancy?  Anyone else have this situation?  I get nowhere on the Google Help site so no point going back there.  

Hopefully, we’ll have AT&T service in Soda Springs so I can post a blog.  If not, we’ll be back on Friday of this week.  Hope everyone has a great week.

Until next time….so long for now!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Sunday With The Girls

This morning it was up at 5:30 am once again.  Hey, tomorrow will be the last day for 2 weeks!!  That will be a nice break.

Today, though, Stephanie and Darin both had to work because they are beginning their vacation days on Tuesday, so that meant we were on the job.  Church starts at 10:45 so we didn’t have to rush around like maniacs getting the girls up, fed, and dressed.  We got back to the kid’s house around noon.  Zoey had asked when we were in church if we could go to McDonald’s for lunch?  Who could refuse that sweet face asking a question? 

I had already fixed a bologna and cheese sandwich for Bruce and me before leaving the motorhome this morning.  I just took it along with us.  I don’t mind taking my own food into McDonald’s sometimes and adding one of their ice creams and a soft drink to it.

                                    Our McDonald’s has a play place the kids like. DSCF5321 

We got the girls their lunches and we sat by the window to eat.  Bologna sandwich…included!  The place was jammed today.  I guess nobody was eating lunch at home.  Our weather has been fantastic the last few days and a lot of people are out and about on the weekends.   After eating, the girls went in to play with Ronald McDonald’s hamster set-up.  

                                                            Mackenzie still plays, but gets bored easily at the age of 8 3/4.DSCF5323

                                                            Zoey is still happy to play in this human “habitrail” system.DSCF5324
Although she isn’t too keen on it, Mackenzie plays in there with her little sister to keep her happy.   We let the girls play for a while and then we ordered some ice cream before getting ready to go back home.  McDonald’s ice cream is really good and it isn’t a diet-buster for me.

                                                            Hey, Grandma!  We’re up here.  Take our picture for the blog.DSCF5326

In case you are clever enough to notice, Zoey still has both of her front teeth in these pics.  I actually took these pics a week ago before we went camping and she lost her front tooth.  I never used them at that time, and since we did the same things here today… I used them this time.

We went back to the house to wait for Stephanie to get home from work.  While Bruce watched sports on Darin’s big screen TV, I cut out more paper dolls with the girls.  We color the clothes in and then cut them out.  I think I’ve only got about 714 more outfits to go.   Tuesday….hurry up and get here!  Smile


Until next time….so long for now!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

We Tried…but…Finally Had To Make The Call

We are patient people, really we are.  We’ve been business owners (about 20 years ago) so we know how things can go.  But there comes a time when your patience has worn so thin, you just have to make the call. 

The problem I’m referring to is the one regarding our back-up camera.  On June 24th when we had the monitor replaced, and they did NOT have the 2 pigtail units for the side cameras, they told us they’d call us ASAP when they located them.  We waited and waited and waited.  Bruce called and had to leave a message and never got a call back.

                                                           Hot air balloon filling up at our CG in Utah back in May.DSCF4812

He gave it one more try early last week and called the Service Department at I-5 Uhlmann RV to see what was going on.  Sort of got the run around again, and that was from the Service Manager.  So we were getting nowhere fast.

                                                           All the “Hot Air” is in the balloon now, sort of like at Uhlmann’s RV.DSCF4813

It was time to go over their heads and call the General Manager of this RV dealership.  Don’t like to have to do that, but sometimes people give you no choice.  Bruce had to leave a message and we were wondering if we’d get a call back.

                                                           The balloon people are ready for take off.DSCF4816
Two hours later the General Manager of the dealership returned the phone call.  He asked what the problem was.  Bruce began giving him the details.  As I was listening to only one-side of the conversation, I half expected for Bruce to be interrupted a few times so the GM could make an excuse.  Nothing…..Bruce was allowed to just keep talking and talking give his story. 

                                                           The balloon is free from the tethers and floating away over the campground.DSCF4818
Fortunately, we keep good records.  Bruce had the dates of each and every phone call we had made to the Service Department for all of the 20 weeks this has taken.  He was able to relay this info to the GM.  In all due respect, we were away from here for 100 days, but still they did nothing to get the parts that they promised us while we were gone.  We had made a few calls while we were away to check on things.   After Bruce was finished speaking, then the General Manager began talking.  He was livid to say the least that we had been treated so poorly.  He told Bruce that he had definitely made the correct phone call to ask to speak to him.   He promised to look into the issue and call back the next day.

                                                            Close up of the people in the basket making their videos during flight.DSCF4819

Sure enough Mr. General Manager called back the very next morning.  He said that even though their computers showed the parts had come in, they could not be found anywhere.  He apologized, once again, and said that the 2 pigtail parts had been reordered from Winnebago and would be there ASAP.  Someone from the Service Department will call us when they come in to arrange an appointment for installation.  He apologized about 37 more times before hanging up.

Funny thing…the very next day Casey from the Service Department called to let us know that they would keep us in the “loop” and let us know when the parts come in.  Gee, that’s all we ever wanted in the first place.  Return our phone calls and let us know what to expect !!! 

                                                                The balloon is now heading over Canyonlands National Park.DSCF4821 
I really hate when service people treat you like C _ _ P.  Things can go wrong, people make mistakes, orders go missing…..just treat us with respect as your “valued customer” PLEASE.

Like the balloon in my photos today, those people at I-5 Uhlmann RV have just been full of hot air.  This is an extended warranty job and since they have begun the repairs we want them to finish the repairs.  We’ll see if they can improve their reputation in our eyes.  I’ll let you know.

Until next time… long for now!

Friday, July 23, 2010

We Met Some Bloggers Today !!!

Today was another one of those great days where we were able to meet some fellow Bloggers.  We have met just a few you Bloggers and RVer’s out there and we have enjoyed every meeting.  It has been great putting “the face with the Blog”….a real face, that is, not just your photo.  Today we had the distinct pleasure of meeting Sue and Doug who write Big Dawg and Freeway. 

                                                            Here are our newest friends, Sue and Doug, from Canada.DSCF5744

Sue contacted me a little over a week ago to see if we could meet them for coffee or lunch as they were driving south from British Columbia to the Oregon coast.  Unfortunately, it was the weekend we were out at Randle with the Grands so we had to decline.  We did arrange a meeting, however, as they were heading back to their home after their coastal vacation. 

Today, we met at the Cabela’s store in Lacey, which is just 9 miles north of our RV park.  It is a good location for a meeting since it is located right off the I-5 freeway at exit 111.  Besides that, Cabela’s has a nice café upstairs.  We did the first “greet, hug, hand shake” thing and were soon on our way into the store. 

Bruce and I had never eaten at the café and I was surprised to see things like ostrich and wild boar on the deli menu.  I wasn’t brave enough today to order a whole sandwich of that but we did get the Bison Burger.  The lady at the hot counter told me to go back to the deli and ask the lady for a sample.  I got a small sample of the ostrich meat, and it was good.  Next time….an ostrich sandwich for me!  (not the whole ostrich…just a whole sandwich)

After getting our sandwiches and Sue’s salad, we got ourselves a nice table and let the conversation begin.  I am experiencing a bout of laryngitis at the moment and my voice sounds like that of a husky man….but it didn’t keep me from talking!  We got to work getting to know each other and shared our experiences of this blogging thing and the general RV lifestyle.

As any of you readers of Sue and Doug’s blog, Big Dawg and Freeway, know they are currently without an RV since they are gearing up for a fulltime RV lifestyle in 2014.  They are focusing right now on the goal ahead of them and have already made plans on how they will begin the downsize process to get that dream off the ground when the time is right. 

These are awesome people and it seemed in the span of about 10 minutes as if we’d been friends for many years.  It just seems to go that way with the fellow RVer’s with Blogs that we have met.  It’s like we already know each other…..because basically, we do.   We already know about their lives in their s-n-b homes or on the road with RV travels. 

Unfortunately, time was short because Sue and Doug needed to get back on the road North to their home in Coquitlam, which is near Vancouver, B.C.  I think we could have gone on talking to them for many more hours.  Conversation was easy and free flowing.  We had such a fun time with them.

I’m sure this won’t be our last meeting with this interesting couple and we will see them again in the future.  In between meetings, we’ll continue to follow along with their story as they get closer and closer to realizing their dream of an RV lifestyle.  I hope you will join them, too. 

Until next time… long for now!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

It Was A Chuck E. Day

Today ended a 10-day stretch of babysitting.  That included our camping weekend, which was our choice.  We get a 2-day rest and then we are on the job for Sunday and Monday.  After Monday we get our “vacation leave” for about 2 weeks.  We will definitely need to recharge our batteries.

Today we took the girls over to Olympia for lunch and games at…………………


Chuck E. Cheese.  The girls love to go there, of course, and we oblige them from time to time.  Besides that, Uncle Dennis works there and gets us some discounts.  Our son, Dennis, is manager at Chuck E. Cheese and even though it was his day off he met us over there to play the games with the girls.  They LOVED IT that he came to be with them.  When we first got there Mackenzie and Zoey went to the prize counter to see how many tickets they would need to trade in for merchandise.


To get the best stuff they will need about 6,000 tickets.  OK…not going to happen in one day.  So a lesson in patience is underway.  We ordered a large cheese pizza for the girls and Uncle Dennis while Bruce and I got the salad bar.  I waited for our food and the girls went off to play some of the games, which are only 1 token each.  We had coupons and got about 280 tokens, plus the food, for $39.00.

                                                           Mackenzie tried her luck with this Checkpoint Rally game.DSCF5730                                                                    

                                                                     Zoey tries hard at the Skee Ball game.DSCF5726

Zoey asked Uncle Dennis to get into the giant rocking horse motion ride….and he did!  I was surprised he did that but he often indulges his nieces with stuff like that.

Our food soon arrived and the gang had to stop all the kid stuff to come and eat.  The pizza is good and the salad bar is even better.  Fresh ingredients and a nice selection of cold items to choose from.  Zoey tends to be a picky eater and I told her if she didn’t eat one piece of pizza she wouldn’t get dessert.  She quickly sat down and ate.  At this point I didn’t even know if they had dessert at Chuck E’s.  Later I asked Dennis if they had dessert there and he said there was a cinnamon stick thing we could order for only $3.00 and it would serve all of us with a small helping.  Great, that was all we needed anyway.  It came in the shape of a small pizza and was cut into 16 small wedges.   It was time for more game playing now while I wandered around taking photos of the whole thing.

                                                           The girls team up for some games.DSCF5724DSCF5725

                                                                       Papa helps Mackenzie win some tickets.DSCF5733
                                                           Papa loved playing the Basketball game for the girls.DSCF5738

Uncle Dennis is good at the games and he played several of them with the girls and scored lots of tickets for them.  The employees here at Chuck E.’s are able to play an occasional game with the guests and hand over the tickets to them.  Customer relations.  Since this was Uncle’s day off he could play lots of games with the girls.  

                                                           This is Mackenzie’s pile of tickets which we will save for a return trip.DSCF5736

By the time we were ready to leave today, the girls had amassed over 950 tickets between them.  Add that to the 500 tickets they have at home and we’ll let them redeem the tickets after our next visit.  We’ll probably take them once in August while we are still babysitting.  It was a good day and by the time we were ready to leave, Mommy was home.  We dropped them off and came on back to the motorhome. 

We have a busy couple of days ahead getting caught up on grocery shopping, laundry and house cleaning.  While we are on a little “leave time” we are planning a short trip to Soda Springs, Idaho to visit my aunt and uncle.  We will be leaving Tumwater on Tuesday.  We’re leaving the RV at the park and just driving the car over.  We can stay at Aunt Anne’s house so there is no point in hauling our entire household with us this time.   It isn’t much time, but it gets us out of here for a few days (and we get a lot of peace and quiet).

Until next time… long for now!