Thursday, September 28, 2006

On the way to Wichita

We left Las Vegas as planned on Monday. I had been watching a tire on the trailer and when I stopped to check it about 30 miles up I-15 it looked worse. I think I had a ply fail in the tire so I decided to put on the spare. Only took about 20 minutes and Dianna stayed cool in the truck.

We filled up with diesel in St. George, Utah and headed east. We followed the AZ-UT border and finally stopped for the night in Fredonia, AZ. The next day we continued east through Indian country, through Page, AZ where we crossed the Colorado river, then through four corners and on to the town of Mancos, CO which is near Mesa Verde National Park. We spent the night at a nice RV resort high in the pines. Fortunately, everything is almost shut down and there are very few people travelling in the high country right now.

Yesterday we travelled through Durango, Pagosa Springs and over Wolf Creek Pass. Do I ever love this truck! We pulled up and over the pass at the speed limit (35-45) with the cruise control set and stopped at the top for lunch. We fed a hungry and very friendly bird some crackers. There was still a couple inches of snow on the ground from a storm a week or so ago. Going down the other side of the pass was just as comfortable. I just put the truck in 7th gear and used the jake brake to control the speed. My foot rarely touched the brake pedal. Some different from the white knuckle towing I used to do.

We continued to Del Norte, CO yesterday and decided to stay a couple days. We arrived about 2 PM so had plenty of time to relax. Today we washed some of the bugs from the truck and trailer and took a drive to South Fork, CO, about 17 miles away, to see the property some friends purchased there. It is a very pretty RV development on the banks of the Rio Grande river. We chatted with some of their neighbors since they are in Texas now.

As you can tell, we are taking our time. We have only been traveling 200-300 miles a day and stopping to see things whenever we want. Dianna got tired yesterday as we were driving so we just pulled off the road and took a nap. Nice way to travel.

Tomorrow we will go about 250 miles to somewhere near the Colorado-Kansas border. That will be half way to Wichita, KS where we will go on Saturday. We will be there for a week as we join a rally of owners of converted Class 8 trucks like ours. We expect that there will be over 50 rigs there so it will be a fun time of looking and learning.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Credit Cards and Las Vegas

Looks like we have some catching up to do! Since we planned to leave California on Monday, we visited Dianna's parents last week. We took the Metrolink train up on Tuesday afternoon and back on Thursday afternoon. A nice visit but sad that we will not see them again for a few months.

On Saturday morning I received a call from Wells Fargo Fraud Department in which we determined that our main credit card had been comprimised. It was not stolen because both Dianna and I still have the cards in our possession. All the fraudlent charges were at Post Offices in the area where her parents live. The only time either of us had our card out of our wallets was when I purchased the tickets from the Metrolink vending machine. There were several people standing there at the time buying tickets as well, but something must have been afoot. They must have somehow seen my number (photographed with phone camera?) and made their own card. According to Wells Fargo the fraudlent charges were made by swiping a card.

This was a real problem since we planned to leave California on Monday and I needed to purchase fuel in Barstow and to rent a car in Las Vegas. I wanted to pay for the fuel ($500) with credit and you absolutely have to have a credit card to rent a car. Wells Fargo worked with us and was able to put a temporary hold on the card which we had removed just before buying fuel and then again just before renting the car on Tuesday. Then we permanently shut it off and have had a new card overnighted to a local bank branch here in Las Vegas. We pick it up this afternoon.

Of course, that is only the beginning of the fun. I have several payments automatically attached to that card so now I will spend several days changing them all over. We don't know what we should have done differently since we are not exactly certain how the card was comprimised, but we know it will take a good deal of time to deal with all the ramifications.

The trip over was uneventful. Towing an RV with our big truck is amazing. We came up Cajon Pass at 65 MPH. Some cars can't maintain 65 on their own. I was in the next to the fast lane and easily staying with traffic. Out across the desert with the cruise control set is just like it would be in a car. None of the mountain passes slowed us down and when we descended the 15 mile 6% grade we just shifted to 9th gear, engaged the jake brake, and never touched the brake pedal all the way down. If I were towing with a pickup it would have been white knuckle time.

We will be in Las Vegas until next Monday. We enjoy seeing the sights and strolling the big hotels. We really like Bellagio where we went a couple nights ago. Their water show is so neat.

We are on our way to a rally in Wichita, KS. It is a gathering of people who have converted the big over the road trucks like ours. There are lots of classes and an opportunity to learn and see what others have done with their trucks.

This is getting long so I will stop. We will try to post more often so it does not get out of hand like this.

Donna, we plan to be here until next Monday so you have a cheap place to stay Saturday if you want to stay with us. We are at the Sams Town RV park on Boulder Highway.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Your speed is ....

Most of you have probably seen the radar trailers that police set up to inform you of your speed. They are usually used when the speed limit drops quickly around a construction site or where they have a big speeding problem. Well, the State Park here has such a trailer.

When we first arrived we were given the electric cart we use. As we checked it out with the ranger we quickly discovered that most of the lights did not work. I told the ranger I would look at it and within a day I had everything working. The marine environment here had caused a lot of corrosion in switches and contacts that just took some sanding and WD-40.

The rangers were very impressed that I was able to get it all working so quickly and a couple days ago they asked me if I would look at the radar trailer. They said it worked up until about a year ago and several people had looked at it but no one knew much about it. They dropped it off last night and I looked it over this morning. I had no idea that ocean air could cause so much damage. Almost every wire is rusted through at the terminal strips and connections. In addition, the three batteries that run the unit are completely dead. It's hard to say if they died of old age or because the solar battery charger was disconnected.

Fixing this is going to be a real challenge. Since they have no manuals or schematics for it I told them they would have to obtain them first. I found the manufacturers web site but they will only deal with police or public safety officers so the rangers will have to order those themselves. I gave them a report of my findings and provided them with a list of things I will need. If they can get it all together by the time we get back here next March I will have something to keep me busy for a few days.

Oh, one other thing.... the radar gun itself it missing. Duh! I hope they just took it out for safekeeping, but I doubt it. Without that, the whole trailer is a lost cause.

We should be so lucky

Dayna's luck (Ipod, full pass to NASCAR race including pit pass, meals in luxury private box and free parking, various products, etc.) has struck again. She just won a half-day off from work by doing a puzzle about payroll terms. She'd only been in payroll less than a month when she won and said she wouldn't have if it hadn't been for her University of Phoenix studies. She's only got nine months to go until she gets her degree and is counting the days.

Darin and Diane are house hunting. It will be a first for them and they are very excited. The property their mobile home is on is up for sale so they have to find a new place to live. It's amazing how much house you can get there for so little - 3/4 BR house on 2-3 acres of land for around $95,000. It's beautiful country, rolling hills, streams and lakes all around them.

We are down to our last week here. We've told the Rangers we'd like to come back next spring and stay until we leave for AK. The park won't be open for camping until May 15th so we will work in the kiosk and do maintenance work until then.

We will leave the 18th for Wichita, KS for a big rig conference with stops along the way in Las Vegas and South Fork, CO where some good friends live. Lots of seminars and activities are planned in KS. We then drive back to Denton for his six-month check-up of his back and Deidra's 14th birthday. We want to spend some time in TN w/Darin & Diane the latter part of October and first of November. Hopefully it won't be as cold as it is between Christmas and New Year's when we normally go! We'd like to come to Mesa the middle of November and stay through Thanksgiving, then back to Denton for Christmas. After that we might spend some time in Yuma or someplace out in the desert saving some money for our trip. Staying back here for another few months will help a lot with our budget as well.

Richard has been avidly reading a few blogs of some retirees who made the AK trip this summer and one couple spent around $11,000 for a three month trip. They ate out almost every meal so that added greatly to their costs. If we only end up doing this trip once we want to do it right so will try to do as much as possible while we're there - about three months. One volunteer couple here lived there for 14 years and want to give us some tips before we leave.

I took the train, with Julie and Marie, to Denair over Labor Day. We went white-water rafting, my third time. This was the best trip I've been on. We really had to work, paddling furiously almost the whole time (wore & broke blisters). It was a level IV so it was very exhilarating! It was great seeing all the Esaus again. Aunt Reah and Uncle Linc had been unable to make Daddy's 90th so I'm glad I went. We had a bus ride to Bakersfield where we caught the train. We could see our train pulling out as we pulled into the station!! We got caught in traffic and the bus driver didn't radio ahead about our status which was a tad frustrating! We then had a 2 1/2 hr layover - oh well.

Other than that "life's a beach"! We've really enjoyed the weather and time to totally relax.

We did have a camper report a lost toddler last evening and one domestic fight a couple of weeks ago but other than that it's been pretty ho hum. Richard has been doing some repair work and I've embroidered three T-s for Donna, Carrie and Lauren as well as a sundress for Lauren. Donna, I forget to get pictures of everything before I sent them off so if you can take some I'd greatly appreciate it.