Saturday, December 22, 2012

Same Old Same Old

In an effort to forestall the anticipated "you haven't posted anything in a while" comments, let me just say that it's because there has been nothing of note to write about. We left Jacob Lake on 10/15 and drove to Mesa where we spent a month. We visited with Mom and the rest of the family and otherwise did nothing we haven't done before. We have been there so much that finding new things to do and write about is difficult.

A month later on 11/15 we began our annual migration to Denton, TX for the holidays. It took about a week to get here but we are in the same RV park we always stay in while in the area. Dayna and Chris have rented out their house and moved into a very nice luxury apartment about 20 miles away, but this park is still convenient for access to things we need to do while here. Like many larger cities, the Dallas area has a limited number of reasonably priced RV parks, and this place is a bargain.

Since our arrival we have kept reasonably busy with Dr. appointments, vehicle inspections, visits with the kids and preparing for Christmas. The only project I have taken on was the replacement of our shower hardware with a nice residential type setup to replace the cheap RV type original equipment. I've also been fighting with the repair of our water heater which was damaged when the truck wash guys sprayed the high pressure washer into the electronics compartment. After replacing just about every component without success, we finally decided to replace the entire unit. It turns out that our unit is 16 years old and that parts will probably not be available in a couple more years.

We will be spending Christmas at Jennings of course, as well as New Years Eve. Dianna's cousin Carrie is coming to visit us on the 27th. She and Dianna will make a girls only overnight trip to San Antonio to see the River Walk Christmas decorations, and to visit the Alamo. Carrie will be here until the 1st of Jan, and we will leave for Arizona on the 2nd.

Happy Holidays to all.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

From the Desert to the Pines

We left Tulelake on the first of October and moved south to Fernley, NV for 3 nights. It is a small town east of Reno. It was still fairly warm there so we stayed in a nice RV park that offered 50% discounts to members of one of the RV clubs we belong to. While there we drove to Virginia City to play tourist.

Virginia City was the site of the Comstock silver discovery, and one of the richest deposits of silver ever found. It is typical of those mining towns that grew from nothing to 30,000 people almost overnight. When the silver played out around 1900, the town fell into disrepair as almost no one lived or visited there any more. That all changed when the TV show Bonanza became popular. It triggered a tourist explosion that was parlayed into a long term tourist destination that lasts to this day. The town has all the usual shops and historic buildings. We took a short narrated train ride that provided a lot of the history of the town, the mines and the people. All in all, Virginia City was one of the better Old West type tourist destinations we have visited.

From Fernley we headed south through Nevada, stopping overnight just off the highway south of Tonopah one night, and continuing on to Las Vegas. We spent just one night at Sam's Town RV park. We drove the strip looking to see if there were any new hotels we had not seen, but eventually just went to the Venetian where we walked along the canal and watched the gondoliers. I guess times have been tough in Las Vegas because there is not a lot of new construction.

From Las Vegas we headed north and east through St. George and Hurricane Utah, then east toward Jacob Lake, AZ. We found a very nice spot in the forest about 3 miles east of Jacob Lake, and a mile off the highway on a forest road. We are in a large clearing with pine trees all around and a beautiful view out our back window. We are relying on our solar panels and generator for power, and have plenty of water for several days. Although our satellite provides both TV and internet access, we also have a good Verizon 3G signal that is faster than our satellite for internet.

In addition to the nice location and cooler weather, the primary draw of this location is the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. We drove the 40 miles down to the Canyon on Monday the 8th, and drove to Cape Royal and Point Imperial vista points. I greatly prefer the views and ambience of the North Rim to the South Rim. The canyon seems more spectaular and there are so many fewer people.

We returned to the Canyon last evening to have dinner at the Grand Canyon Lodge. We were seated at the window and had incredible views of the canyon in the hour before the sun set as we ate. After our meal we walked out to Bright Angel Point where we watched the sunset. It was a special evening. We considered it our 44th Anniversary dinner, and we also wanted to remember Dianna's Mom on what would have been her 90th birthday.

The drive back to our spot in the forest was slow after dark. We must have seen over 100 deer along the highway, most of whom had no idea when it was safe to cross the road.

On the 15th of October, everything except for the visitor center closes for the season. The visitor center remains open until snow closes the road south of Jacob Lake, something that could happen at any time. The weather here has been very nice up till today. The highs have been in the upper 60's to lower 70's, and the overnight lows have been around freezing. Today rain moved in so we will not be doing much until it leaves the area tomorrow night. We are at 7,500 feet and don't expect anything more than a chance of snow flurries, but at the higher elevations they might get a dusting or some accumulation. We certainly found cooler weather! Chances are we will move further south on Saturday.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

A Week in Tulelake

The time has come to start our southward migration. Although we could have stayed longer in Sutherlin, we decided to slowly start moving. Our first stop was in Redding where we had a minor adjustment made to the custom motorcycle seat we had made there a month ago. On the way down past Shasta Lake we came upon a forest fire that had just started. Already huge trees were ablaze right along the highway. They had already closed the northbound lanes of the interstate, but we managed to get through on the southbound lanes with no problem. It was as close to a forest fire as we ever want to be.

Our appointment was for Monday morning but we arrived Friday afternoon and spent a couple nights in a nice RV park just north of town. The weather was so different just 200 miles from where we left. The highs in Sutherlin were in the 70's and it was still over 90 in Redding. We quickly decided we did not want to move further south yet, so after the seat was adjusted on Monday morning, we headed for Tulelake, CA.

Tulelake is a tiny farming community in the Klamath Valley, just 4 miles south of the Oregon border. It gets its name from Tule Lake, an ancient shallow lake that was mostly drained in the early 1900's by the Bureau of Reclamation and turned into rich farmland. This huge, shallow, marshy lake was a major stop on the Pacific Flyway for migrating birds, and they reduced it to approximately one sixth of its original size. Steps were subsequently taken to accommodate the birds, and there are now several wildlife sanctuaries in the valley. They have even worked out a beneficial system where various fields are flooded periodically to rejuvenate them, and the farmers in turn grow grains in such a way as to provide food for the birds.

There really are a lot of birds on the lake. They estimate that about 250,000 ducks are in residence at the moment, but on an annual basis over 2,000,000 migrating geese, ducks and others call this area home for part of each year. It is interesting to see how it has all worked out to the benefit of the farmers and the birds. We visited the Visitor Center at the Wildlife Refuge, and hiked the nature trail through the marshes as well as the trail up Sheepy Ridge to the observation hut that was built by the CCC in the 30's.

The other major thing of interest in the area is Lava Beds National Monument. We first visited here about 35 years ago. It is a major volcanic area with much to see and do. We visited splatter cones, vents, lava flows, and the most interesting features, lava tubes. There are dozens of lava tubes open to explore. Some of them are over 3,000 feet long. You have to take your own lights and be willing to walk, duck walk, or crawl on hands and knees to get through some of them, but they are interesting and fun to explore. While they have not changed in 35 years, our stamina certainly has. Duck walking is not nearly as easy as it was back then. Still, we had fun exploring.

We also visited a separate area of the monument that used to be an island in the center of Tule Lake. It has one of the largest concentration of petroglyphs in the country. It was apparently used by some very ancient people as many of the glyphs are thousands of years old. There are approximately 5,000 drawings along a quarter mile band where they visited the cliff face in their canoes.

The other thing of interest in Lava Beds is the history of the Modoc Wars. The Modoc were one of the last Native American groups to be rounded up and forcibly moved off their ancestral homelands. However, they did not go without a fight. The last battles were fought in an area of the lava beds named Captain Jack's Stronghold. The volcanic formations provided an almost impenetrable fortress for the Modoc to hold off the soldiers. They were captured only after they left the stronghold, and they were relocated to Oklahoma.

We have been very busy this past week, but it is time to move on. We have been staying at the Butte Valley Fairgrounds RV park in Tulelake, which has been a very laid back and pretty place to stay. Tomorrow we plan to move south toward Nevada, but not very quickly. It's still way to hot further south.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Some Long Range Plans

People often ask us, of all the places we have been, what area have we enjoyed the most. This area has to be close to the top of the list. Sutherlin, OR is a small town of about 7,000 and Roseburg, which is only 10 miles away, has a little over 20,000. Roseburg has everything we need including Costco, Wal-Mart, Home Depot, Lowe's, Joanne's and every other chain you can name. Even more importantly, it has a major VA medical center.

The weather in the area is as ideal as any place we have been and there is so much beauty around us to see. There are many lakes and rivers nearby, the beautiful Oregon coast is only 60 miles away, there are countless miles of scenic and well maintained roads for motorcycle riding, and the weather is temperate year round. Even the annual rainfall is less here than in other, wetter parts of Oregon to the north.

We have often mentioned that we belong to the Escapees RV Club. They are headquarted in Livingston, Texas and cater to full time RV'ers. The club was started by a couple who were full timers themselves. They saw a need for an organization to provide services to people like themselves. One of the club's services we use is their mail forwarding service, but we also take advantage of some of the other benefits as well. They own and operate eight RV parks across the southern half of the US. These RV parks are always nice and very reasonably priced for members. We have stayed in many of them.

During the early years of the club they also started several RV Park Co-ops. These were RV parks where the lots were "sold" to individuals. They were chartered much like condominiums in that the park is owned by the lot owners. Each park has a board of directors and makes their own rules to operate the park. The original idea behind the co-ops was to provide an opportunity for a "home base" for RV'ers who would stay on their lot for a few months at a time, and put their lot in a rental pool for use by other Escapee members when they were off travelling somewhere else.

It is these rental pool lots that we have stayed in when we have visited in places like The Ranch near Carlsbad, NM, the Jojoba Hills park near Temecula, CA, Park Sierra near Fresno, CA and here at Timber Valley in Sutherlin. The lot owners are off travelling somewhere and we stay on their lots at a very reasonable price.

There are 11 co-op parks in the Escapees system. They are located from Florida to Washington state. Each park has a buy in fee and an annual maintenance fee. The buy in fees range from $2,700 to over $30,000 depending on the cost to purchase the land and develop the park. Most of the parks are $10,000 or less. The annual maintenance fees also range from a few hundred to as much as $3500 in one park, with most being in the $1200 or less range. (Actually, Jojoba Hills near Temecula, where we stayed early this year, is the most expensive one. Its buy in and maintenance is easily twice as expensive as any of the others and skews the averages.)

When owners put their lots in the rental pool, they receive a portion of the rental income as an offset against their annual maintenance. Each park has its own formula, but owners who don't spend much time in their site often have a large portion of their annual maintenance cost paid for.

The most unique aspect of the Escapees co-op system is that you must sell your lot for what you paid for it, plus any assessments for infrastructure. Some parks have also added a small inflation adjustment over the years. Regardless, this approach keeps the cost very low. It also explains why there is a waiting list for almost every co-op. Some parks have waiting lists of over 10 years. The waiting list here at Sutherlin is 2 to 4 years.

Owning a lot in a park like this makes good economic sense. You are essentially guaranteed your purchase price back when you decide to give up your lot, and the living expenses while using the lot are very low. People who live here year round, and there are quite a few who do, pay only their annual maintenance fee, electricity and propane. That rarely exceeds $250 per month. There are not many places you can live that inexpensively. Since this park does not add an inflation figure you do lose some value if inflation is high, but even with that the net cost is remarkably low.

If you haven't figured out by now, we have put our name on the waiting list here in Sutherlin. While we would not want to spend the entire year here, it is a wonderful place to spend some of it. As time goes on we find we like to stay put for longer periods of time. Spending our winters in Arizona near family is something we both enjoy, and spending holidays with our kids is also important to us. And, as I said, there are still many places around the country that we want to visit. How long we actually will stay in Sutherlin in the future is unknown, especially since it will still be a while before we get our lot. Much can change in the meantime.

We've talked at length about where, when and if we might want to eventually settle down. At this point we have no plans to do so. When it happens, we think it will be near one of our kids, but we don't want to live where either of them lives right now. We enjoy being able to spend a month or so with them at times, but North Texas is too hot in the summer, too cold in the winter, and has tornadoes in the spring. Chattanooga is also too hot, cold and humid much of the year. When health issues force us to make a change, we will deal with it. But in the meantime, we plan to continue our vagabonding ways.

Here is a link to the park's web site: Timber Valley

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Columbia Gorge

Monday we made a trip north to Vancouver, WA. It is located just across the Columbia River from Portland and is about 175 miles from Sutherlin where we are staying. Dianna's Jr. Hi. girlfriend, Sue Spink, lives there. We stopped by to visit her on our way back from Alaska in 2007. Sue invited us to come up and spend the night so she could show us around.

From Sutherlin we traveled north on I-5 through the Calapooia Mountains that run East and West between the Cascades and the Coastal Range from The Umpqua River to the beginning of the Willamette Valley at Eugene, OR. The part of Oregon from Grants Pass north to Eugene is all mountainous and very beautiful, but the Willamette Valley is just a wide flat agricultural plain, much like the Central Valley of California. Nearing the Columbia River just south of Portland the terrain changes somewhat. It's mostly hilly and forested again. The lava flows from ancient volcanoes and the action of the Columbia River have sculpted the area into an interesting and scenic place to see.

Monday afternoon we spent a lot of time visiting before Sue took us to Fort Vancouver on the banks of the Columbia. There is a lot of history there involving the land claims between the US and Canada when the area was first settled. Unfortunately we arrived too late for the visitor center, but it was fun just looking around. We too the opportunity to introduce Sue to geocaching. We struck out on several caches that had apparently been muggled, but we finally found one attached to the bleachers at a little league field. It was the tiniest cache we have ever seen. It was about 1/4 inch in diameter and 1/2 inch long. It was not a micro -- it was a nano!

We then all had dinner on the patio of a Mexican restaurant on the banks of the river. However, we had our desert first. Like in most of Oregon, blackberries were growing wild everywhere. We took a walk down the beach and found an area with tons of ripe, sweet berries. I do like blackberries! Monday evening I watched football while Dianna and Sue did a 3 dimensional jigsaw puzzle.

Tuesday we got an early start for our tour of the Columbia Gorge. We traveled up the gorge on our 2007 trip but were unable to stop and see the sights because our rig was too big to fit in any of the parking areas. Our first stop was at Vista House where we had a magnificent view.

We then visited 3 different falls. The first two, Latourell and Wahkeena Falls were really nice, but the best was Multnomah. It is the highest falls in Oregon, and the 5th or 6th tallest in the country at 620 feet.

[caption id="attachment_838" align="aligncenter" width="225"] Latourell Falls[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_839" align="aligncenter" width="225"] Sue standing in front of Wahkenna Falls[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_840" align="aligncenter" width="225"] The visitor center and restaurant at Multnomah Falls. We ate in the view room and had an excellent view of the falls.[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_841" align="aligncenter" width="225"] Dianna and Sue walking toward Multnomah Falls[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_842" align="aligncenter" width="225"] The lower falls and the walking bridge above.[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_843" align="aligncenter" width="225"] Upper Multnomah Falls[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_844" align="aligncenter" width="225"] Proof we were there[/caption]

After leaving Multnomah Falls we continued about 12 miles upriver where we crossed over to Washington and returned to Vancouver. We said goodbye to Sue and thanked her for a nice visit before returning to our temporary home in Sutherlin. It was a fun trip.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Crater Lake

Yesterday we took a ride to Crater Lake National Park. It is another of the places we have not visited in over 30 years. We got a late start so we didn't have as much time to explore as we would have liked, but the scenery was great and we had a good time. We left Sutherlin and headed east on Highway 138 from Roseburg. The highway follows the North Fork of the Umpqua River (the river we kayaked on last week) 75 miles from Roseburg to near its headwaters at Maidu Lake where the road turns south for 25 miles past Diamond Lake to the north entrance of the park.

The trip along the North Umpqua was almost as enjoyable as Crater Lake. There are many campgrounds and hiking trails along the river, and it is as scenic as any river we have ever seen. It made us want to go camping and hiking.

I neglected to fill the bike with gas before we left, and planned on purchasing fuel at Crater Lake. Unfortunately, I did not do my research. When we arrived at the North Entrance we learned that the only fuel in the park was at the South Entrance, about 30 miles away. I didn't want to chance it as I estimated I only had enough fuel for another 25 miles. Our choices were to drive 20 miles east to highway 97 and back, or 8 miles back down the highway to the resort at Diamond Lake where we got to pay the most ever for fuel: $4.99 a gallon. Fortunately we only needed 3.5 gallons to fill up. Can you imagine having to fill up a motorhome?

We continued on to the rim of Crater Lake which lies at about 7,000 feet. Most know that it is an extinct, or more correctly, dormant volcano that collapsed and filled with water from rain and snow. It is the deepest lake in the US, and is absolutely beautiful. We rode the rim road counter clockwise and stopped for lunch at the Rim Cafe before completing the loop. We stopped at several of the pullouts and enjoyed the spectacular scenery. Although the temperature was 70 degrees, there was still snow from last season in some of the protected areas. We got home about 6 PM.

For those who might be curious, the new seat is working very well for me. Yesterday's trip was about 250 miles and we only made a few stops. Dianna is still not completely happy. She had a back ache after yesterday's ride. We're not sure why.

[caption id="attachment_812" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Crater Lake with Wizard Island on the right of the photo. It was hazy due to smoke from fires in the area.[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_813" align="aligncenter" width="300"] The small island formation is called the Ghost Ship.[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_814" align="aligncenter" width="300"] It may be early September, but the snow from last season is still here.[/caption]

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Our Motor Boat

In response to our post about Lakes and Rivers, Daryl said he saw a motor in our future. He was right.

I checked Craig's list for several days, looking for a used trolling motor. Most were too small, too old, or not set up for stern mounting. One showed up on the list last weekend in Medford, about 100 miles south of us. It was just what we were looking for so I made the trip down and back on the scooter. I'm sure it looked funny with the motor lashed on to the back. It stuck straight out, not down, but still it had to get a laugh or two from other motorists.

It turned out that the motor was about 3 years old but had never even been in the water. The guy I bought it from had taken it in payment for money he was owed. I only paid about 1/3 of what a new one would have cost.

Rather than purchase the motor mounting kit for our boat from Sea Eagle, I made my own after studying their design. It cost about $20 instead of well over $100, and it looks basically identical. I also had to purchase a battery. While I would love to have picked up an AGM battery, which does not off gas and can be stored just about anywhere, I could not justify the cost. I ended up with a regular Group 24 deep cycle trolling battery from Costco.

We tried out the setup on Wednesday. The boat fits in the trunk of the car and we can set it up or take it down in about 15 minutes. Out on the lake the motor pushes us along at 4-5 miles per hour at half throttle. It appears that the battery would last about 3 hours or so at that speed. That's plenty. I tried it wide open for a bit. We probably moved along at 8-10 miles per hour, but the battery would not last more than an hour at that speed.. We motored from one end of the little lake near us to the other and back, exploring each cove and beaching the boat for a while in one nicely shaded spot.

The nice thing about our setup is that we can still paddle when we want to. We did some paddling, especially when we got into some shallow areas, but when we got tired or when we turned into a headwind, it was really nice to just twist the throttle and let the scenery slide by. I think we're going to enjoy it.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

A Quick Tour of the Oregon Coast

Yesterday we took a motorcycle ride to the Oregon Coast. We went with one other rider who lives here in the park and loves to ride. He has made the trip many times. We followed the Umpqua River all the way to the coast, about 60 miles away. We took a side trip to Loon Lake where we had lunch on the patio overlooking the lake, then stopped again to watch elk wandering about in a meadow.

We arrived in Reedsport and turned south on highway 101 to Winchester Bay where we again took a side trip out to Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area. This area has one of the largest coastal sand dune areas in the country, and the place was crawling with ATV's. It was interesting to see and it looks like it gets lots of use in the summer time.

We continued south to Coos Bay where we stopped for blackberry pie and coffee, then on to Coquille where we turned east and rode back through the coastal mountains to Roseburg and back home again. The total trip was almost exactly 200 miles. This was our first trip with the new seat, and it worked great for me. Dianna is thinking she might like to have a minor adjustment to the side of the seat, but we're going to wait until we are past the break in period before we do anything.

We'll probably make another trip or two to the coast while we are here. We would like to explore a little more on our own, and take a few photos. There was a lighthouse we would like to visit and many other things that we would like to check out.

Lakes and Rivers

One of the things we have missed about our life on wheels is boating. We gave our boat to Darin, who is using it a great deal. After doing some research we found that several other full time RV'ers have found a way. Some of you may remember our Zodiac inflatable from many years ago. It was much larger than what we have room for now, but it did introduce us to the possibilities of high quality inflatables. After a lot of research we settled on a PaddleSki 435 from Sea Eagle. It is a very versatile boat. It can be paddled like a kayak, rowed like a boat, sailed, or powered by either an electric or gas motor. It comes with just the paddles, and that's all we have for now.

We got it about a month ago and have been waiting for a good place to try it out. This area around Sutherlin is perfect. There is a small reservoir just a couple miles from us and we took the boat there for our first outing. It inflates with a foot pump and we were soon off. We quickly discovered that even with two of us paddling, the going is relatively slow and the work hard. We paddled about a quarter of a mile up the lake and back. When it was still it was not bad, but when going into the wind it was tough. A couple speedboats went by and set up some pretty good wakes. That gave us an opportunity to experience the boat in rough seas, and we found it very stable. All in all, it was a good first outing and the time on the lake was very nice. It did convince us that we need to get a motor, probably just an electric trolling motor, if we plan to do any serious lake boating.

A few days later we decided to try our hand at floating the Umpqua River. It flows through Roseburg and is only a few miles from us. We had to stage vehicles so we left the motorcycle at the take out point about 2 miles down river from where we launched the boat. The river is quite low at this time, so there are a lot of rocks. The current moves right along so the paddling was quite easy. The first rapids we hit were the worst, and we both got wet. We got hung up on rocks a couple more times, but nothing real serious. It was a lot of fun. There were long stretches where we floated along with the current, watching Canadian geese come in for landings and enjoying the beautiful scenery along the way. We're looking forward to a much longer trip in a few days.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

On to Southern Oregon

A lot has happened since our last post. We were in Red Bluff for about 2 1/2 weeks while we waited for our truck to be fixed. We took advantage of the delay with a little more sight seeing and taking advantage of a silver lining to the black cloud of breakdowns.

We drove down to Corning, CA to visit the "Olive Capital" of the world. Sure. I wonder how many places call themselves that? I know Lindsay, CA in the San Joaquin valley also calls itself that, but I guess the distinction is that Lindsay produces mostly black olives. Corning has only green olives. We went to two different tasting rooms and tried various offerings. It was interesting what they thought of to do to olives, but we bought nothing since neither of us are big olive affectionados.

As for the silver lining, our motorcycle seat has always been uncomfortable when riding for long distances. There are a couple custom seat manufacturers in the country, one of which is located just north of Redding. I had called them a couple months ago about having a custom seat made, but the were booked up for the summer. Since we were in the area and had time on our hands, I called on Monday the 13th to see if they ever had cancellations. It turned out that their Thursday appointment had just cancelled, so we were in luck.

We rode up first thing Thursday morning and they measured us and took photos of us sitting on the bike. We returned about 11:30 for a test sit, then again at 4 PM when it was done. In addition to the seat, with velour inserts, we ordered a driver backrest and had a custom backrest pad made for Dianna that attaches to the storage trunk on the back. We have not taken any long trips with the new seat yet, but so far it is much more comfortable that the stock seat. They tell us that it takes about 1,000 miles of riding for it to get completely broken in. So far, so good.



The truck was finally fixed and we picked it up on Friday, the 17th. Let's just say that it was not an inexpensive repair. Saturday morning we headed north again, toward our goal of the Olympic Peninsula. We got as far as Sutherlin, OR where our club has a very nice RV park. At first we planned to stay for the weekend and leave on Monday but decided to stay an extra day.

When we were in Lassen a couple weeks earlier, I had a weird experience. I saw flashes of light at the periphery of my vision in my right eye. It was something I had never seen before. Since then I have had a lot of floaters in the eye. My vision was fine, but I decided I should have it checked. It turns out that there is a major VA hospital in Roseburg, 10 miles south of Sutherlin. I went there on Monday and the ophthalmologist checked me out.

It turns out that what happened is very normal. It happens to most everyone, but not everyone even notices it. Occasionally some of the fluid in the eyeball will harden and pull away from the retina. When it does it can cause floaters for a few weeks until things get reabsorbed. In my case, when the fluid pulled away, it tore a tiny capillary which caused a little blood to leak into the fluid. This made my floaters more than normal. It is not a problem and I should be back to normal in a couple more weeks. I'm glad I had it checked.

After the VA hospital visit, we did some thinking and some more research. We are approximately 9 weeks behind our original schedule for the summer, and after checking the seasonal temperature averages for the Olympic Peninsula for September, we decided we did not want to go any further north than where we are now. The weather here in Sutherlin is beautiful this time of year. Except for the day we arrived, the highs have been in the low to mid 80's and the nights in the 50's. There is much to see and do around here, and the park we are staying in is one of the nicest we have ever been in.

We've already been busy exploring the area, but that will wait for the next post.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

From the Frying Pan to the Freezer and Back

Since we are stuck here while our truck is repaired, we decided to take advantage of our location and do some more sight seeing. It has been over 100 every day here in Red Bluff, so we decided to go somewhere cooler. California Highway 36 runs from Red Bluff to Eureka through the coastal mountain range. It is advertised as the "curviest road in California" and is a magnet for motorcyclists. We decided that a motorcycle trip was just what we needed.

[caption id="attachment_748" align="aligncenter" width="300"] I know my thumb is in the photo, but this was taken from the motorcycle with my phone camera.[/caption]


We checked the weather forecast before we left, so we packed cold weather gear. The ride to Eureka was beautiful and fun. We rode through the oak covered foothills and were soon in the pines, climbing over mountain passes and following rivers through canyons. It was still hot until we got to about 20 miles from the coast. We then put in our jacket liners, and were soon cold even with that. The coast was covered in high fog and it was only 63 when we arrived in Eureka.

[caption id="attachment_749" align="aligncenter" width="300"] The Pacific Coast south of Eureka, CA[/caption]


We had good luck with Travelocity's Secret Hotels last year when we visited Nashville, so we tried again this time. We chose a two star hotel in Eureka and ended up at the Travelodge. It is not a two star hotel. It was extremely dated, run down and very disappointing. Unfortunately, once you commit to the Secret Hotel you cannot get your money back or cancel, so we were stuck. We went to dinner at Marie Calendar's and split what we thought was a nice dinner. The next morning we both had lower intestinal distress, so we must have gotten some kind of food poisoning since we shared the meal.

We got a late start due to not feeling well, but were on the road by about 10:30. It was cold! The temperature was 52 when we left and it did not get above 60 until we left the coast late in the afternoon. We wore our full cold weather gear and were comfortable. It just makes it harder to get on and off the bike when all bundled up. We rode north on Hwy 101 through Redwoods National Park, stopping at the visitor center and to take a hike through some of the redwoods. It was beautiful but cold and damp. Then again, maybe it's beautiful because it is cold and damp.

[caption id="attachment_750" align="aligncenter" width="225"] Big Tree in Redwoods National Park, 304 feet tall and 1500 years old.[/caption]


[caption id="attachment_751" align="aligncenter" width="300"] You feel small walking through the Redwood Forest[/caption]


[caption id="attachment_752" align="aligncenter" width="225"] The hanging moss was very pretty.[/caption]


We took a side road toward the coast to an overlook where the Klamath River flows into the sea.


[caption id="attachment_759" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Klamath River Estuary and Pacific Coast to the South[/caption]

We stopped for fuel again in Crescent City, CA and headed inland on US 199 toward Grants Pass, OR. It was another beautiful ride through the coastal mountains but we stripped off our cold weather gear within about 30 miles. It continued to get hotter as we neared Grants Pass and turned south on I-5 to Medford, OR where we spent the night. It was in the mid 90's when we arrived at 5 PM.

Yesterday we got an early start. We left the hotel, a very nice place called the Brookside Inn, at about 9 AM and headed south on I-5. The temperatures kept climbing and had reached the upper 90's by the time we passed Mt. Shasta and Shasta Lake. We stopped for fuel again in Redding where the temperature had climbed to 102, and it was only noon. We had a wet T-shirt contest as we both soaked our shirts. The 30 mile ride to Red Bluff was comfortable, but if we had gone any further we would have needed to soak our shirts again. Amazing how quickly you can dry a shirt in 100 degree weather at 70 MPH.

We really enjoy touring by motorcycle but we sure would enjoy it more if we weren't roasting or freezing!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Lassen Volcanic National Park

[caption id="attachment_739" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Lassen Volcanic National Park Entrance[/caption]

Time to update the blog. We left Park Sierra near Coarsegold, CA on the 30th of July and headed north. We got as far as north of Sacramento when we began to experience problems with the truck. It would not shift properly. We stopped in a rest area and made arrangements for a mobile truck service the following day. Fortunately, we found a good spot where we could put out our slides, so we just spent the night in the rest area.

The next day the truck service guy came out and spent about 2 hours trying to figure out what was causing the problem. Suddenly the fault went away and we could not make it reappear. We took the truck for a test drive and everything seemed OK, but neither of us was sure it was fixed. We hooked up to the trailer and headed north. About 20 miles up the road it began acting up again. We stopped in Red Bluff and found a nice RV park.

The following day we took the truck to the Volvo dealer in Redding, about 30 miles north. We left the truck there and decided on a whim to return to Red Bluff via Lassen Volcanic National Park, a detour of about 120 miles. It was well worth the extra miles. Lassen is one of the volcanic peaks in the Cascade Range. Others of note are Mt. Ranier, Mt. Shasta, and Mt. St. Helens. Lassen last erupted in 1915. We climbed out of the 100+ temperatures in Redding into the cool pines at over 8,000 feet. Lassen itself is rather stark as it lost a big piece when it blew in 1912. It was not as spectacular as Mt. St. Helens when it blew, but close.

The next day we got the word that the truck needed a new transmission computer which would take a week to get. Since we were stuck, we decided to do some exploring. After all, where ever we park is home. That afternoon we drove back up to Lassen and took a hike we would have liked to have done the previous day, had it not been so late.

Lassen is still quite active. There are mud pots and geysers in several locations. We took the 3 mile round trip hike to Bumpass Hell. It reminded both of us of Yellowstone.

[caption id="attachment_741" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Bumpass Hell from above[/caption]


[caption id="attachment_742" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Wooden walkways in Bumpass Hell[/caption]


Steam Vents and Mud Pots in Bumpass Hell

There were some pretty lakes and lots of other scenery as well.


[caption id="attachment_745" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Lake Helen[/caption]

After our hike and some more touring we continued on to Redding again where we unloaded the motorcycle from the truck and I drove it back to Red Bluff, following Dianna in the car. We have some more travel plans for this week, using the motorcycle. Stay tuned.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Yosemite - Vernal Falls

We continued our exploration of Yosemite yesterday. We rode north from Oakhurst on California 49 to Mariposa. Highway 49 did not get its number accidentally. It runs the length of the gold country that was first explored by the 49'ers. From Mariposa we turned east and followed the Merced River to Yosemite Valley. The valley floor was very crowded as expected.

We decided to take the hike to Vernal Falls. Fortunately the scooter allowed us to park near a shuttle bus stop where the bus picked us up and took us to the start of the trail. The trail to the top of the falls was only 1.5 miles so we expected it to be a relatively short and enjoyable hike. Wrong!

After the first couple hundred yards the trail turned steeply upward. I know I'm not as young as I used to be, and I'm certainly not in prime hiking shape, but this was tough. There was no letup in grade. The trail continued upward at a steep angle all the way to the bridge and rest stop .8 miles from the start of the trail. It was a warm day and we were sweating.

After catching our breath for a while, we continued on. About .2 miles further up, and I emphasize the UP, we came to the bottom of the steps. The next half mile to the top of the falls consists of nonstop stairs cut into the granite. The steps were of all different heights, and many of them were really high. I made many stops along the way, and frankly Dianna did better than I did.

The view from the side of the falls and from the top were magnificent. We also had a special treat as we rested by the large pool above the falls. A brown bear ambled across the ledge above the other side of the pool. I got a couple pictures but missed the best shots. Shortly after the bear disappeared from sight, a gray fox ran along the bottom of the cliff that the bear had been on top of. It was too quick to get a photo of.

The hike back down was almost as strenuous. While not as bad lung wise, we used a completely different set of muscles to come down. By the time we reached the bottom our legs were literally shaking whenever we stopped to rest. The air conditioned bus ride back to the parking area was very welcome.

I can already hear everyone making comments about how "that would have been a walk in the park for Dale". Probably so. In fact, there were only a few people who were moving more slowly than we were, and there were many people who were moving much faster. The most demoralizing were the kids that were actually running up and down the trail. The fact that my age and my condition have caught up with me was very obvious. It was the most strenuous hike I have ever been on. It was really more like an exercise workout than a hike. I'm going to look for some easier hikes for a while until I build up some strength and stamina.


[caption id="attachment_725" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Dianna on the bridge across the Merced River with Vernal Falls in the background[/caption]


[caption id="attachment_726" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Some of the steps[/caption]


[caption id="attachment_727" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Taking a break below the falls[/caption]


[caption id="attachment_728" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Ever upward[/caption]


[caption id="attachment_729" align="aligncenter" width="300"] At the top looking back to where we came from[/caption]


[caption id="attachment_730" align="aligncenter" width="300"] The bear was on the top of that cliff across the pool, and the fox ran across the base of the cliff.[/caption]


[caption id="attachment_731" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Not a good picture of the whole bear, but he was not posing. We actually got a good look at him when the camera was not ready.[/caption]

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Yosemite - Mariposa Grove and Glacier Point

We left Lancaster and are now staying at another of the Escapee's parks near Coarsegold, CA. It is in the Sierra foothills, about 30 miles from Fresno and 25 miles from the south entrance of Yosemite. Unfortunately it is at an elevation of only 1700 feet so it is not the cool mountain experience we had hoped for. The average high temperature for this time of year is in the upper 90's. The good part is that it is a beautiful park that is built into the rolling hills and covered with oak trees. Each lot is individually owned but the owner's can put their lots into the rental pool when they are not using them. This time of year there are plenty of empty spaces. Our plans for the next month are to explore Yosemite and the surrounding country, visit relatives and old friends who live nearby, and have the fresh water tank I purchased last year installed on the truck.

We have been trying to remember when we last visited Yosemite. I remember being there with Bill Chapman in 1966, and with Dale in 1967. Dianna remembers being there with her family when she was young, but neither of us remember being there together. It is possible that we never took a family vacation there, although I vaguely remember driving over Tioga Pass in something other than my old Volkswagon. We remember family visits to Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, and we have photos from those trips, but we are unable to find any photos that would confirm a trip to Yosemite. The other possibility is that we both have poor memories. Regardless, after 45 years, it is certainly time for another visit.

We began our exploration of Yosemite on Wed. the 27th with a visit to the Mariposa Grove of sequoias. The roads in this area are made for motorcycles and we plan to do most of our exploring that way. Based on our experiences in other areas we think it is the very best way to see places like national parks. There is something special about being outside where you can feel the air and smell all the wonderful aromas of the forest while gliding effortlessly along on scenic roadways. Another benefit is being able to find parking places in very crowded parking lots, such as the Mariposa Grove.

We took a short 2 1/2 mile hike through the giant sequoias. Some of the pictures are below. Of course, you can get better photos of the trees elsewhere, but not with Dianna in them to prove we were really there. Wandering through these old giants makes you feel very small.

[caption id="attachment_710" align="aligncenter" width="225"] Bachelor and Three Graces Trees - Dianna is not in this one[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_713" align="aligncenter" width="225"] Dianna in the California Tunnel Tree[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_714" align="aligncenter" width="225"] It really is her[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_712" align="aligncenter" width="225"] Dianna standing in front of the Grizzly Giant[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_715" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Dianna standing below the roots of a fallen sequoia.[/caption]

We then made a short trip in to Wawona where the Park Service has relocated many of the historic buildings from the Yosemite area into a historic park. There is also a covered bridge there that has stood for over 150 years.

Yesterday, the last day of June, we returned to Yosemite again. Since it was the Saturday before the 4th of July we expected it to be very crowded. It was, but not as bad as we feared, probably because we avoided the valley floor. Our trip this time was to visit Glacier Point, a vista above the valley floor. It provides magnificent views of the Yosemite back country, some of the falls, and incredible views of the valley floor below. We took a picnic lunch and ate it while sitting on a rock looking at incredible scenery.

Half Dome is to the left of Dianna. We could see dozens of people on top. They looked like ants.

[caption id="attachment_702" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Half Dome is to the left of Dianna[/caption]


[caption id="attachment_703" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Half Dome is the the left and Nevada Falls is to the right of Dianna[/caption]


After eating we took a hike along the ridge. Most of the view never changes, but there were some differences from when we were here before. The maps and markers along the rim showed Mirror Lake in the valley below, but we could not see it. I remembered a photo I took of Bill Chapman at Mirror Lake in 1966. We finally asked a ranger who told us that they stopped dredging it in the 1990's and it has filled in with silt. Mirror Lake is now Mirror Meadow. I think they need to change some signs.

[caption id="attachment_704" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Nevada Falls is the upper falls and Vernal Falls is the lower[/caption]


[caption id="attachment_705" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Yosemite Valley below and Upper and Lower Yosemite Falls in the center of the photo[/caption]

Yosemite is truly one of the most magnificent places on earth. We are looking forward to exploring the rest of it.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Exciting News!

Some of you may not know that Dayna and Chris were divorced in January. They started dating again within a month of the divorce being finalized and are now going to get married again! God has worked a miracle in her heart and she has fallen in love with Chris all over again. Needless to say we are thrilled as we have always loved Chris!

A friend of Chris's has given them a cruise as a gift so they are going to get married at some exotic Caribbean beach location sometime in September! Barefoot in the sand with wind blowing through their hair. You can't get much more romantic than that!

I am sad that we won't be there but this time it's reallty just for them. We wish them a bright future of much love and happiness.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Lancaster and LA

We relocated to the Antelope Valley Fairgrounds in Lancaster, CA on Thursday the 14th of June. Lancaster is hot and very windy this time of year. The only benefit is that it is only 45 miles from the San Fernando valley, and it is inexpensive. Just try finding an inexpensive RV site anywhere in the Los Angeles area.

Until yesterday we had not been doing too much. We made a trip in to Santa Clarita to meet Marie on Friday. She had a few hours to kill there while waiting for a family get together, so we kept her company at Costco and Starbucks. Sunday we went to church in San Fernando, then over to Don and Betty's for lunch and a fun afternoon of visiting. Don grilled some great marinated chicken breasts.

Tuesday I installed a new rear tire on the scooter. I installed a car tire instead of a motorcycle tire. There is a big debate in the scooter world about doing that. Many purists warn of handling problems but those who have done so say there are no issues. Since a scooter tire only lasts about 7500 miles and costs around $200 installed, I decided I would try the car tire. There are only a few that are the right size and I had one shipped to Don's where I picked it up Sunday. I removed the wheel from the bike and took it to a local tire shop for installation. Motorcycle dealers refuse to install them, citing insurance reasons. I'm convinced the real reason is they love to sell $135 tires and charge $65 to install them every 7,500 miles. I paid $59 for the tire, $20 for shipping and $20 to have it installed. For $99 I have a tire that will last at least 40,000 to 50,000 miles.

As for all the warnings about doom and gloom, let's just say I can hardly tell any difference. It's about as different as a worn out tire and a new tire. My impressions mirror that of all the other scooter owners who have gone this route, and there are hundreds, if not thousands, of us who have done so.

Yesterday we made a trip to LA. A couple years ago I was watching some food show where they were reviewing special restaurants around the country. One restaurant was Philippes in Los Angeles. Their thing is French Dip. We rode the Metrolink from Lancaster to Union Station in downtown Los Angeles. Philippes is just a couple blocks from there. We enjoyed the sandwiches. They were very good and it was a fun experience. I'm not sure I would drive 100 miles to get one again, but if we are in the area it would be a good place to have lunch.

Olvera street is a couple blocks away. It is the oldest street in Los Angeles and has the oldest house that has been restored and is available for touring. Mostly is it a street with tiny shoppes selling Mexican trinkets to tourists, and several Mexican restaurants. It is the cultural center of historic Mexican involvement in Los Angeles. It's always a fun place to visit.

Nearby was the first fire station in Los Angeles with its display of antique fire fighting equipment. We found some of the equipment fascinating.

We then walked a few blocks to Chinatown. Nothing compares to Chinatown in San Francisco, but this is a very active and busy place. We wandered through some of the shops and marveled at many of the foods. They were selling shark fin for $999 per pound! Who buys that stuff?

After a quick stop to gaze at the murals in the Post Office Annex, we returned to Union Station where we boarded the train back toward Lancaster. We got off in Santa Clarita where we had arranged to meet Julie for dinner at a restaurant the family used to enjoy. We had a nice dinner and she took us back to the train station where we caught the next train to Lancaster, arriving at 9:40. We were finally home before 10.

We plan to be here until Monday and have things planned to keep us busy. Check back next week and we'll tell you all about it.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012


It's pronounced ah-wanga, and it's 17 miles east of Temecula, CA. That's where we have been for the past week and a half. The Escapees organization we belong to has an RV park here, and it is likely the nicest in the whole system. At least, it's the nicest we have been in so far.

The trip here was interesting. We knew it was going to be a very hot day, and I don't like towing in hot weather, so we planned to leave early. We left Mesa at 7:20 and the temperature was already over 90 degrees. By the time we reached Quartzsite for a late breakfast/early lunch at 10:30 it was already 108. When we reached Blythe at about 11 it was 112, and the temperature continued to climb as we continued west on I-10 reaching 115 by about 1 PM. We dropped down into the Palm Springs area and left the interstate and made our way up CA 111 toward CA 74. As we drove through the desert communities at the base of the mountains our thermometers both read 118, and the remote sensor mounted under the trailer read 122!

The temperature finally began dropping as we climbed up the mountain, and had fallen to a balmy 92 by the time we reached Aguanga. It actually felt comfortable! While I was nervous about traveling in such heat, we had no problems of any kind. I started the generator at around 9AM and turned on both air conditioners on in trailer, so it was only in the mid 80's inside when we arrived. I checked all my hubs with my infrared heat gun at every stop, and everything stayed in a reasonable range. The air conditioners in both the car and truck were enough to freeze us out, even in the hottest outside temperatures, but every time we got out it was like walking into a blast furnace.

All in all it was a fine trip, but not something I want to do every day. Aren't modern vehicles and RV's amazing? Can you imagine what our forefathers who traveled west in covered wagons would think about such things?

We have been busy since we have been here. Before we even got parked we were invited to join the motorcycle club here for a ride on Saturday. We rode the back roads over the mountain to Hemet where we had lunch at a Mexican restaurant. On the way back we stopped at an overlook above Diamond Lake. The trip with a group was fun. There were 7 bikes, most of them Gold Wings.

For the next couple days we explored locally, then drove over to Rancho Santa Margarita to have lunch with Marie and Adam on Tuesday. It was nice seeing them again. We had been checking Craig's List for a Droid Bionic replacement for Dianna, and found someone in Westminster who had one. We made arrangements to meet them to check it out that afternoon. The price was right and it looked new, but it did not have the SD card in it. There was also something about the way they wanted to meet that left us uncomfortable, so we passed on it.

The next day we visited two of the wineries here in Temecula. They grow some good reds here. That night we found another phone advertised for the same price in Anaheim Hills, so on Thursday we rode up there on the bike. It was in perfect condition and complete, so we bought it. Now we both have Bionics again. Dianna is very happy to have it. On the way back we stopped at the outlet mall in Lake Elsinore to do a little shopping.

On Friday we again rode to Hemet, this time by a different route, and then up the mountain to Idylwild where we had a picnic lunch. We used to backpack on Mt. San Jacinto, and one of the main trail heads we used was in Idylwild. It was fun seeing the place and enjoying the cool weather at over 5,000 feet.

On Saturday we again drove to Marie and Adam's to meet with them and Julie. None of them had ever been geocaching so we took them for their first experience. There was a trail with several caches that we could walk to from their house. Everyone had a good time looking for caches, and we found all but one. Adam barbequed chicken for lunch.

Monday we rode to the little mountain tourist town of Julian, famous for its apple pies, to have lunch. Of course, we had pie for desert. The route we followed took us all the way around Palomar Mountain. We are only a few miles from the observatory there and can see the white dome from many places along the road near here. On the way back we stopped at the Pala Casino for a break. Free soft drinks in the casino were welcome.

Today we rode down to San Diego. First we went to Coronado Island and visited the Hotel del Coronado. We had stayed there many years ago for a conference. It is one of the oldest hotels in California, made all of wood, and is quite a landmark. After having lunch in a nearby restaurant we rode to the Cabrillo National Monument on Point Loma. It is on the point overlooking the entrance to San Diego harbor and is the place where the Spanish first set foot on the coast of California in about 1540. By the time we headed home it was almost rush hour but we had no difficulty. The Burgman runs with freeway traffic at 70 to 75 with no problems.

Both of us are feeling a little saddle sore. We have put over 750 miles on the scooter in the week and a half we have been here, plus about 450 miles on the car. Tomorrow we plan to rest and prepare for moving to Lancaster on Thursday. That puts us closer to family and friends we want to see. We're not sure how long we will stay there before moving farther north; probably a week and a half or so.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Another nice ride and losing things

Since the weather was so nice we decided to take another scooter ride today. It has probably been 40 years since I was over the route between Globe and Superior via Hayden/Winkleman, so we did that today. We left Mesa and rode up US 60 through Superior and on to Globe where we had lunch at Taco Bell. As we were eating lunch Dianna realized that one of her emerald ear rings was gone. She immediately teared up as they mean a lot to her. As she went to the restroom before leaving, I walked out to the scooter and looked around. There on the right side footrest was the missing ear ring. When she came out I asked "How much do you love me?" before handing her the ear ring. I got a big kiss!

Then it was over the mountain and down along the Gila River to Winkleman. The scenery was great and the weather was perfect. The road was much better than I though it was going to be. We had no problems maintaining 50-55 all the way. We stopped at a BLM recreation area about 5 miles north of Winkleman and watched the kids riding their tubes down the river. We then saddled back up and rode through Winkleman, Hayden and Kearny on the way back toward Superior. A few miles past Kearny we came to the Ray open pit copper mine. We turned off the highway and rode out to the visitor viewing area.

Wow. What a hole in the ground! Surprisingly, they were working today, a Sunday before Memorial Day. We watched the huge trucks with their loads of ore creeping up the roads ringing the pit walls. It was interesting to watch. Then the fun began.

As we prepared to get our gear back on, Dianna noticed she did not have her cell phone, a Droid Bionic. We searched the area and it was not there. I tried calling it an no answer. We were pretty sure we had it when we were in Globe for lunch, but couldn't remember seeing it since then. Globe was at least 60 miles behind us.

About that time I remembered that I had installed Google Latitude on her phone. It is an app that sends its location to Google periodically . If the GPS is not on, it will update the location based on cell towers. That's not real accurate but it might give us an idea. I checked and it showed that her phone had checked in less than an hour ago at a cell tower in Winkleman. This meant that we almost certainly lost it when we stopped at the river.

We headed back, about 30 miles, and searched the recreation area high and low. We asked if anyone had seen it, but no one had. I then checked my phone again and discovered that we had no service in the river canyon. That means the phone could not have checked in from there. We headed back into Winkleman, driving slowly and searching the shoulder of the road, and did not get service until we were almost in town. That means we lost the phone along the highway someplace, an unlikely event, or someone who had been at the recreation area found it and took it with them into town. I suspect that is what happened.

I called a couple more times but there was no answer. The phone did not update its location again which indicates that either it was damaged as it fell, or whoever found it turned it off. Giving someone the benefit of the doubt, answering a Droid does take some training. You have to know to swipe your finger in the right place in the right direction. It's not like pressing a button on an old style phone.

We searched along the highway shoulder for a while as we headed back toward Superior, but finally gave up and came on home. Our 150 mile trip had turned into a 210 mile trip. When we got home I transferred her number to an old Samsung phone we keep for such emergencies. It's not a smart phone, but at least she will have phone service.

Of course, closing the barn door after the horse is out is our standard way of operating. This evening I reinstalled the "Where's My Droid" app on my phone. Unfortunately, I had never installed it on hers. If I had I could have located the phone to within about 10 feet, but without it I was just relying on Latitude to tell me where the phone had been.

I'm going to wait a couple days to see if anyone attempts to contact us. If they figure out how to get into the phone they should be able to find someone to call in the contact list, or perhaps, just perhaps, someone will turn it into the Winkleman police. I will call them on Tuesday to let them know.

So our report for the day is, nice ride, two things lost, one recovered.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

A Day Trip to Payson and the Mogollon Rim

I know. Two blog posts in one day after two months without one. Hmmmm.

Today we took a day off from Mom care and took a 200 mile ride on the scooter. We left Mesa at about 10am when the temperature was just about 90, and headed up Arizona 87. Payson is at about 5,000 feet and only 70 miles away. We pulled into town about 11:15. The temperature was only 78. Dianna actually had to put the liner in her riding jacket to keep warm.

After getting gas (which was illogically 25 cents a gallon cheaper than in the Phoenix area) we went to the Rim Country Museum. We paid our $4 each senior admission fee and expected to wander the museum, but instead a docent was assigned to us to give us a guided tour. It was great. We had one docent for the first floor, a different one for the second floor, and a third for the Zane Grey cabin tour. All of them were very knowledgeable and great guides. We were there for a little over 2 hours, and we were the only people on our tour. There were some other tours going on with other docents, but it appeared everyone had their own personal guide.

Of course, Zane Grey wrote many of his stories about the Mogollon Rim country, and he had a cabin there for a while. The actual cabin was about 20 miles east of Payson, but they built an exact replica of it next to the museum when the original burned in a huge forest fire in 1990. It was an interesting and educational visit. We were both very pleased that we stopped. I think it is worth a trip from Phoenix just to experience the museum and cabin.

After lunch we decided it was still to hot to head back to the low country, so we drove east on 260 17 miles, then north on a side road 4 miles to the area where Zane Grey's cabin was located. There was nothing to see, but it gave us a sense of where he wrote many of the books about the area.

We then continued east on 260 and climbed to the top of the rim. It was 75 degrees and the elevation was 7,500 feet. I almost put in my jacket liner! We rode down the rim road a ways to a vista point. It sure was beautiful up in the pines, even though the smoke from a forest fire southwest of Payson obscured some of the view.

We then headed back toward town, stopping in Payson for a hot fudge sunday at McDonalds, and removing the jacket liner. By the time we got home it was nearly 7pm, but it was still 94 degrees. We had a good time, learned something, and spent a mostly cool day in the mountains of Arizona.

Not Exactly What We Planned

It's a good thing our plans are always cast in Jello. Things have not gone as expected this spring.

After spending our two weeks along the Salt River in Mesa, on March 27th we moved to an RV park just north of Wickenburg, AZ for an opportunity to explore an area of the state we had not spent much time in before. We visited Prescott and toured the museums in Wickenburg before Deidra returned to Texas on March 31st. We stayed at the campground for another couple weeks, making an occasional trip back into Mesa or Tempe to visit Mom and pick up mail or packages that had been sent to Daryl's. We were on schedule to leave for Southern California when plans were changed.

On Saturday morning, the 14th of April, we got a call from Mom. She said she couldn't move her right hand. We contacted Donna who went over to get her and take her to the hospital. Although it was initially misdiagnosed as a palsy and she was sent home, Daryl stayed with her on Sunday and took her to see her own Dr. on Monday. He sent her for an MRI and it was confirmed that she had had a stroke. She was admitted to the stroke ward at Banner Baywood hospital that day.

Dianna drove down to be with her that Monday, and I packed up the trailer and moved our home back to Mesa on Tuesday. Since then our lives have been pretty much taken up with caring for Mom. She was in the stroke ward for about a week, and then was moved to rehab for over two weeks. We were there at least once and usually twice a day. Between caring for her and helping with logistics and other things, we have had little time to ourselves.

Mom was released from rehab on May 8 and moved back to her apartment. For the first few days we never left her alone. Dianna spent the first two nights, then Daryl spent Thursday night, and I spent Friday night. She had almost nonstop visits from a home care nurse, a physical therapist and an occupational therapist, as well as visits from friends and family. By Saturday she was doing quite well and we left her alone for the first time that night. We have continued to spend time with her every day as she continues her recovery, and we are leaving her alone more and more.

Her strength on the right side has improved. She is probably at 70-80 percent of where she was. The fine motor skills are also much improved, but still have a ways to go. She does not have the strength in her legs that she used to have so mobility is something of an issue, but she is getting better. There are still questions about how much help she is going to need in the future, and where that help will come from.

A major complication with her recovery occurred from an unexpected place. She began experiencing severe back and shoulder pain while doing the therapy. At first it was thought it was just muscles that hadn't been used in a long time, but the pain kept getting worse instead of better. X-rays showed nothing but finally an MRI revealed that she has numerous tendon tears in her rotator cuff and other tendons. No wonder it was so painful. It still is. The pain is severe enough that much of the strengthening exercises and other therapies have been scaled back or put on hold. We are trying to get a handle on the pain, other than taking huge amounts of Vicoden every day, but have been frustrated by the availability of doctors who accept her insurance. It is still an ongoing issue, but the pain is getting somewhat less and she is not taking as many pain pills as she was.

As I mentioned, until today (which will be the subject of my next blog post) we have been with Mom every day since the stroke. Of course, Daryl and Donna have also been very involved, but we are staying only three miles from her apartment and we don't work, so it is much easier for us to deal with most of the day to day stuff. Heaven knows that Daryl and Donna have done far more than their share over the years. We are glad our lifestyle lets us support Mom in this way when she needed it, and lets us take some of the burden from Daryl and Donna for a while.

We currently plan to stay here in Mesa until the end of the month. At that time we expect to resume our plans for visiting Southern and Central California, then on to Oregon and the Pacific Northwest for the summer. Of course, anything can happen at any time to change those plans.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Winter Update

Yes, we have been remiss in not keeping our blog up to date. While most everyone who reads this already knows what we have been doing, I will document it anyway to serve as a history.

We arrived in Mesa on Jan 9 for a two week stay at our boondocking spot along the Lower Salt River. It was nice to see family again.

We had to move after our 14 day limit was up so we went to Quartzsite for the Big Tent event and to once again experience the uniqueness of the place. We were only there a week when we got the call that Dianna's Uncle Linc was near death. She drove the car to Denair ahead of me, and I followed the next day with the truck and trailer. He passed away before I arrived.

We stayed in Denair, camped in Mike and Randi's yard for a little over a week, then headed back to the desert. This time we went to the Imperial Dam area north of Yuma where we stayed for two weeks. While there we took care of our annual dentist visits in Algadones, MX.

On Feb 26th we left the truck and trailer in storage at an RV park in Quartzsite, and left for Dallas in the car so I could have my annual checkup with my back surgeon. We took three days to make the 1200 mile drive and get there the day before my appointment. All is well with my back. The day after my appointment we headed back to Arizona, this time taking the northern route instead of the southern route. Deidra decided to join us for a month, much as she used to do when she was younger. We stopped for the night after 600 miles of driving, in Edgewood where we spent the night with good friends.

The following day we drove the second 600 miles to Quartzsite where our trailer was stored. We moved it out to the desert and spent the next day recovering from our trip. The following day we moved back to Mesa where we plan to stay for the limit of 14 days again. We didn't tell anyone that Deidra was with us, so it was fun surprising Mom, Daryl and Donna when we met up with them.

We are currently just doing our normal relaxing routine that consists of hiking, shopping, geo-caching and relaxing. It's already starting to get a bit warm here, so our days are numbered. We'll probably head for cooler places soon.

That's about it. Certainly nothing exciting. Just life as usual for a couple retired full time RV'ers.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Family Visits

Understanding it has been a while since we posted, the blog police have finally prodded me into writing something. I doubt it will be exciting or news to most readers.

After our tour of the Nachez Trace, we traveled to the Chattanooga area to visit Darin and his family. We camped about 15 miles from their house in Cleveland in a rural RV park at the junction of the Ocoee and Hiwassee Rivers. It was a a pretty place to spend a month. Unfortunately, the weather was cold and rainy most of the time, so we only got in a couple motorcycle rides. Mostly we just tried to stay dry and warm.

One day Darin accompanied us to Oak Ridge where we toured the museum. Oak Ridge was a secret city built during WW II by the Manhattan Project. The enriched uranium used in the first atomic bombs, the ones in New Mexico and Hiroshima, was refined there. It was interesting how a secret city of 50,000 people could spring from nothing but farmland. The plutonium used in the third bomb, the one used on Nagasaki, was processed in a similar secret city built in Hanford, Washington.

Other than that it was a rather uneventful visit. We did celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas with his family, and it was great fun playing with our great-grandson Skylar. He is very bright, and quite a handful. It had been a long time since we had been able to spend any time with Darin and his family, so the month long visit was very nice. We hope to do it again soon, but either in spring or fall when the weather is nicer.

We then traveled back to Denton in early December to spend Christmas with Dayna's family. We also both arranged for our annual doctor visits and checkups. This year Dayna wanted to do something special for Christmas, so we all went on a horse drawn carriage ride to look at Christmas Lights in Highland Park, a ritzy area just north of downtown Dallas. The nicest decorations were probably on Jerry Jones house. He owns the Cowboys, in case someone isn't familiar with who he is.

On the night of the 23rd of December, an apartment complex in Denton burned, leaving several families homeless just before Christmas. Dayna felt compelled to do something about it so went down there to see if she could help. She found that one of her co-workers lost their apartment, and also met with a family that had eight children. They lost everything. Dayna talked to the mother and got a list of what each of the children wanted for Christmas, and then she went shopping. She bought each of the kids a major gift. Dom was with her when they took the presents to the kids, and was deeply touched.

We both got more than we needed. I got some new tools, a spotting scope and a new weather station. Dianna got a new GPS and a Kindle. She also received a new phone a few weeks early. We now both have Droid Bionics.

We stayed in Denton through New Years, celebrating Dom's 15th birthday on December 31st. We left Denton yesterday on our annual migration to Arizona. We're moving slowly, about 200 miles or so a day, and staying at the free city campgrounds in the little towns here in West Texas. Tomorrow we should be in Carlsbad, NM and plan to visit Mike and Linda Morrow, friends from Edgewood, who now live in Artesia.

I hope this satisfies the blog police for the time being. When I have something more interesting to write about, I will.