12-26-2016 Laughing at the Jello

Current Location: Flag City RV Park, Lodi California

I had no more finished publishing the last post than things started changing.  First of all was a sweet solution to the Mattie problem.  Our blog friend Laura read the post and immediately wrote saying she might have an idea.  I met Laura last summer for lunch in Ashland when she and Alice were traveling.  We had followed each other for some time and it was great to get together and meet in person.  Laura is a dog person, and a motorhome travel person, and since she lives near the Pomona fairgrounds, she sweetly offered to come during the days we had to be away and take Mattie for a potty break and a walk.  Amazing! 

Next I called Orange Grove RV to confirm a two day reservation.  That place is getting so very popular with people traveling to and fro in Southern California that we learned the hard way that reservations are in order.  Well, popular is an understatement.  The price went from $34 a few years ago to $37 last year (with a cash discount) to $47 per night this year with no cash discounts offered, just $4. off with AAA or AARP or Good Sam.  Geez.  We looked at each other and said, “Why not just stay right here for two nights?” 

Mattie loves heat, crawls as close as possible to the fire at home

We have open skies to fiddle with the satellite, paved space to keep out of the mud, a nice big doggie park, and sunshine.  With our Passport America this park is only $27 per night.  I really do need my oranges, so we will still go to Orange Grove, but for one night only.  Oranges for $17 bucks extra and 25 miles out of our way.  They really ARE that good. 

Mattie isn’t too impressed with the electric substitute for the fireplace

Next up was going to the park office to pay for two nights instead of one.  I asked about the TV thing, and sure enough, this past year they upgraded to digital.  At the moment, Mo is outside hooking up a very long cable that we can bring inside so that we can hook up the digital converter box and hopefully will discover that it actually works and we can get digital cable from the park.  Our other techie problem is our TV antenna.  It isn’t digital either, so when the girl at the counter said, “Just put up your antenna and you can get 45 channels from Sacramento”, we just smiled.  Mo purchased a digital antenna long ago to replace the original one, but it didn’t have room to retract on the top of the rig, so she removed it, so no, we don’t have a digital antenna either.  Technology shifts so fast you can’t be slow!

We do have a digital to analog converter, but so far the problem has been figuring out how to make it actually work.  It is now noon, and we have given up.  When we hook up the box, it can only be seen on input 3 and cable can only be seen on input 7, and when we program the box on 3 we get a bunch of strange channels that the maintenance guy can’t figure out at all, not the regular digital channels that come across the Direct TV cable.  It is all too weird.  Solution?  Figure out how to get a digital TV  in the space that we have and for the time being, forget about TV!  A big glass of wine should get us to the next project….getting our King Flex satellite to work with our new Direct TV receiver.  A BIG glass of wine.

A bit later, after the wine and lunch, we tackled the King Flex satellite system.  The system worked fine for a few years, since we got it in 2014, so it obviously isn’t that old.  Last year, when we had to upgrade our old Direct TV receiver, it quit working.  After a long day on the phone, I learned that it needed updating, and King sent us a big update file that had to fit on a 4 gig or less USB stick.  You can’t buy those any more, but I did manage to find one buried in an old drawer.  We upgraded the system, but it still took a long time on the phone to get it to work.  That was back in May.

When we traveled last summer to the family reunion, for some reason it would no longer work.  Direct TV isn’t very helpful because they don’t understand how these RV satellites work, and they keep wanting us to do things related to the big satellite at home where the system works just fine.  Sigh.  So this afternoon we hooked the system up again, with completely clear skies, and in a fairly short time the converter showed full reception on the satellite system.  The Direct TV receiver, in spite of tracking the numbers of the transponders, still said there was “no signal”.  I forgot this was a holiday, but was reminded quickly when I put the call into King.  They are closed for the holiday.  Of course. 

So we put the satellite away, put the non working cable digital converter box away, turned off the TV and spent the afternoon laughing and playing cards.  In spite of the tech issues, it has been a lovely day of down time.  There haven’t been many down time days in our life lately and that is the one thing we can count on when we get away in the MoHo.  We will usually manage to have some quiet days without a lot going on.  Much like being on a cruise, we have learned after more than ten years of RVing that you don’t have to keep running around doing everything all the time.  Whatever wonders may be out there will still be there next time.  We could have dressed to go wine tasting (we love Old Vine Zin’s which Lodi does better than anywhere).  We could have visited the Jelly Bean factory.  Instead, we hung around home, and thoroughly enjoyed it..

It is still fairly chilly, even with the sun shining, so I wrapped up in a warm coat to take Mattie to the dog park.  The “park” is simply a fenced storm water control basin, but is full of grass and good smells with lots of room to run.  Surprisingly, both times we visited the park, there were no other dogs around so Mattie had the place entirely to herself.  Today there were only a couple of Snowy Egrets pecking around, but last night there were more than a dozen, including three Great Egrets as well.  Their view from this spot certainly isn’t what our Klamath Basin egrets enjoy!

Our plan now is to leave as early as reasonable tomorrow morning with hopes that we will get to Orange Grove RV in time to set up the satellite again, and make the call to King on the east coast before they close.  Mo is a lot more patient than I am with all this stuff, and after things don’t work I just throw up my hands.  She wants to keep trying.  Our testy comments to each other are good natured most of the time at least. I just want to buy all new stuff and have someone make it all work. Mo, in her best thrifty fixit self, wants to make what we have work.  Most of the time it eventually does work out.  I guess we will find out tomorrow!

Now, for those of you who said you were glad I was posting again….really?? 

Hopefully as the week progresses there will be more interesting stuff to talk about.

June 10 Transitions

First, a warning.  This is another long, rather rambling catch-up conversation that I thought about posting only to my private Transitions blog.  It is very much a personal journal.  Like many RV bloggers, when we are basically stationary, I tend to avoid blogging.  The everyday stuff is just too mundane, and not related to the RV life and the MoHo Travels.  But there are others like me out there, and while readers come and go, I do have some that check in now and then and might wonder what we have been up to. I also know that when I haven’t heard from someone in a long time, and they do a catch-up post, I enjoy reading it, even if it isn’t travel related. The blogging world is changing, with many bloggers slipping into the ethers of cyberspace, never heard from again.  Some of us, though, have old connections that go way back more than a dozen years, and I do like hearing from these people, even if they have hung up their keys, or if they are in the non-snowbird portion of their lives.  So here you go.

I have been thinking about journaling for some time now, but the blog posts keep eluding me.  Part of the problem is that I often don’t have the computer with me and typing on the phone, no matter how nice it is to have that option, doesn’t lend itself to on-the-fly writing.  I type as fast as I think, so the typing doesn’t really interfere with my thought flow when I am using a full keyboard.  The last post I wrote, while we were traveling to the coast, was a mess.  I tried to use the voice feature on the phone.  That was an exercise in futility, and even my readers noticed that the “flow” wasn’t there as it usually is.

It doesn’t help that the days and weeks all seem to be running together, without a lot of markers along the way.  Too much of the same thing, whether it is work or play, makes Jane a dull whatever, as one of my friends said recently.  But, when nothing comes that seems to be of any import, I slip back into my old technique of starting right now, here in the moment.

At 5 in the late afternoon, the sun is still brilliant.  I am sitting at the table in the cottage, facing the big old double hung windows that face the east side of the property.  The huge old oaks are shifting about in the breeze.  Even when it is hot here in Grants Pass, the afternoon breezes are a welcome relief.  Today hasn’t been too terribly hot, though, with temps in the mid 70’s and moving clouds to block the sunlight now and then.  Wonderful.

This is the big old oak on the west side that will NOT have to be taken down for the new house.

For quite some time now we have been spending our weeks doing much the same thing.  Usually on Monday mornings we head for Rocky Point, with the mowers and trimmers and yard tools that are carried in the truck all the time.  We have the trailer in tow, mostly because we take it back to the apartments because the riding mower for Rocky Point and the walking mower for the apartments are at the repair shop.  So we haul the one walking mower back and forth, with the main riding mower residing in Grants Pass thank goodness, and return home each week, hoping for a call from the repair man.

Monday mornings are often a bit rough for me.  I get moody and irritable, with the constant job of packing and repacking in front of me.  I am trying to keep three sets of most things at each house, but that doesn’t work too well for fresh food.  Instead I have to pack up whatever we have that is fresh, plan whatever we need for Rocky Point where there are no stores nearby, and think about what I have to take to The Cottage that isn’t already there.  I have three notebooks that I try to keep current, and it works some of the time, but I still find myself knowing that I have two bottles of Hershey’s syrup and nope, there isn’t one here.  Here being whichever house I am in currently as I try to dish up ice cream.

Here is the “mound” we planted at the cottage two years ago and what it looks like now.  Stuff grows well in Grants Pass

The last couple of weeks, however, have been a bit easier.  I discovered the small, lightweight, plastic bin method of packing.  I can see everything, can keep the bins in the closet and add to them as needed, and I can lift them.  Dry food bin, Sue’s clothes bin, Mo’s clothes bin, the dog stuff bin, the computer, phone, iPad, Kindle, chargers, cords and all that stuff bin.  Yeah, that takes an entire bin.  Then fresh food into the ice chest, don’t forget the dog’s crate or the dog’s bed (we have forgotten both at one time or another), hook up the trailer to the truck and we are off.

The usual pattern is 2 or 3 days at Rocky Point, then a couple of days at Grants Pass.  Sometimes we manage more than a few days at a time at each home, and that is always nice.  Most of the time it depends on the mowing schedule.  Mowing and watering seem to be the drivers for wherever we need to go.

At Rocky Point we mow and pack stuff.  Most everything in the house is ready for the final move out, but the garage, shop, and shed are all in need of work.  We have hauled a trailer load to Grants Pass of miscellaneous tidbits every week since I don’t know when.  I think I might go to the calendar and try to count trailer loads.

At the Cottage, Mo has been working all day today on her wood/workshop, building more shelves for her nails and screws, her personal hardware store that keeps everything running smoothly.

We have stored “stuff” upstairs in the RV shed, to be unpacked eventually when the house is built.  We laughed a lot this morning about how much of that stuff is mine, but then I reminded her of how much of that other “stuff” is hers.  We definitely have different priorities.  I have a lot more keepsakes than she does, but then I had four kids and she had none.  I don’t have a lot of “stuff” per se, but I do have treasures, gifts, cards, photos, all the things of a lifetime.  All that “stuff” that so many full timers are so glad to let go of.  Not me.  I need a home base.

My life has been rather wild and chaotic, with losses over and over of my “stuff” back in the old days.  The few things I have managed to hold on to matter to me.  I do love, even once in awhile, taking out a box of cards, or a stash of journals or whatever, and remembering that yes, my life DOES have some continuity, it isn’t all just forgotten.

The other thing that makes writing hard is how my feelings flip flop.  When I am here, at the cottage in Grants Pass, I love it.  I love the open skies, the huge old oaks, the light.  I love being close to a sweet little town, with a traffic problem now and then, but nothing I can’t deal with by getting out early.  Last week I unpacked all my garden and cook books, and put them in the shelves in the RV shed that Mo set up for gardening.  I can’t quite explain how simply comforting it is to walk out there and see my books, lined up and ready to look at.  Treasure.  Sure, I can look anything up on the internet, to cook, or to grow, but still, the books feel like home to me.

I don’t have a lot of work to do here.  The Cottage is 720 square feet, not a lot to clean.  We really have decided that it is time to stop spending money on things to make it more comfortable, cleaner.  We will live with the patched floors, the old carpet in the kitchen, no need to put any more money and work into a place that will be seeing a bulldozer before next year.  Hopefully, at least.

My main job when we are here is moving hoses, watering, weeding, raking, trimming.  And cooking, although I don’t do that as extensively here as elsewhere because I don’t have an oven other than a small convection one, and the entire setup isn’t really conducive to trying to cook anything too fancy.

I actually have time to work on small quilt projects.  This time I brought my “All Gussied Up” rooster pattern and fabric to begin.  It is a complex applique project, with lots of tracing, cutting, choosing the right colors of fabric, and putting it all together.  It was pleasant to sit at the kitchen table and trace little numbered pieces.  I can see why some people enjoy the new coloring craze, mind numbing, and quieting.

I do love being here, a lot, and always seem to settle in to enjoy the feelings, the relaxation, and the dreams of what it will be like when the house is built.

Last week the builder came out with his partner and we decided on the location for the house.  The white marks on the grass mark porch pillars, and the edges of the walls.

See the shade of the oak tree?  That is where the west wall will be

I spend time outside just standing on the “porch”, looking at the view, enjoying how the west side oak will shade the west facing windows of the living room. We were so happy to find that the placement of the house will let us keep that west side oak.  It is big and old and leans nicely away from the house toward the west, so she stays.  Sometimes I walk around to where the bedroom windows will be, or my bay windowed soaking tub, to the beautiful breakfast room surrounded by windows. Light.  The one thing Rocky Point doesn’t have, even with our wonderful skylights.  We have light here and I love it.  Open sky, sunsets, morning light in the windows.

This will be the view from the back living porch. It is the sunniest spot for a future garden.

We moved the windmill from Rocky Point to the Cottage last month.

I spend a ridiculous amount of time on Pinterest, looking at granite, and paint colors, hardwood floors, and last week it was a great deal of time getting decisions made on window styles that will feel like Craftsman and yet not break our budget.  The plans had included some windows that I didn’t like at all, and Mo and I realized that we needed to get the window information to Dave before he gives her the final number.  I now know clearly the difference between a double-hung and a single-hung window, a casement window and cottage style.  Dave is the kind of builder that gives the number up front, an important part for us.  No surprises for the house unless we do changes or upgrades after the fact.  That final number is an important one.

Something that surprised us both was Dave’s choice of cement siding.  Cement?!?  It looks like cedar siding, but paints better and lasts longer.  He is a good builder, so we are trusting him on this.  He also recommended composite decking and metal railings, but we decided we still want real wood.  I want the house to feel like a “real” house and not a composite of crazy materials.  Yes, we will have vinyl windows, not wood, but that is a compromise that has to be made.  Wood windows would be way outside our budget.  But we will have the solid wood Craftsman door, no fiberglass for us!

Lots of time looking at windows on Pinterest.  I have no idea where this photo came from.  This isn’t a photo of how the house will look, just the windows.

Art Deco stained glass panels may be something for later, who knows, but probably not in the picture right away.  There are dreams, and then there is reality, and our Dream House will be somewhere between the two. The things that really matter to us we will have, and some things we will let go.  Hardwood floors for sure, no laminate, but we don’t have to have really fancy tilework in the bathrooms, just around the soaking tub.  It is all about balancing that ever present number, the budget.

The number that isn’t written in stone however, is the lot prep.  Dave says that there is no telling what we will be looking at with the power company and upgrading the current electric service.  We will need a new septic and drain field, which we knew, but the water system will be the killer.  We have a large 1750 gallon cistern that was installed last fall to store water from the 2.5 GPM well, so I have no trouble irrigating.  But the water is full of iron and worst of all, salts.  We can filter the iron, but not the salt, so it seems that we may be installing a “whole house” Reverse Osmosis unit, with another cistern to capture THAT water. We will know more about that plan when we get the water test numbers back this coming week.  The “Great 30” test covers everything and cost a whopping $230 bucks. With those numbers in hand, John Jacob, the water man, will have a better handle on just what extent of filtration we will need for the new house.

We knew about the low producing well when we bought the place, but the RO unit is a surprise, and will be a big chunk of change.  Still, it will be worth it to have ppm less then 1 of anything in our water, to protect the fixtures and the house, and not have to drill another well.  Water issues in the Rogue Valley are notorious, and getting to be more of a problem all the time with continued growth.  It may be Oregon, but it is Southern Oregon, and it is dry.

The other unknown is the demolition of the cottage.  There have to be tests for asbestos and lead, since the house was built in 1926, and we won’t know how much it will cost to take it down until those tests are completed.  Dave is working on all that right now, with plans to get back to us.  It seems as though getting septic approval can take at least two months, and electric even longer, so it is a good thing that we have no plans to actually start building until next season.  In the mean time, we can do a lot of the site prep work except for the demo.  We won’t start that until the Rocky Point sale is a sure thing.

The lawns at Rocky Point are looking great.  The house is very nearly completely hidden now by big trees.

Rocky Point went up for sale in early May.  Most houses in Rocky Point sell in 1 and sometimes 2 years.  Worst case scenario, we keep on as we have been and don’t start building until 2018.  Initially the goal was to be settled into snow free Grants Pass by 2020, so there is really no reason to get stressed, other than the fact that I am getting really tired of living in three houses!! And not having much play time!!

We will be leaving the little greenhouse behind.  Mo built it well.

The other thing we seem to be spending a lot of time on here is rig maintenance.  I think we are wearing out the pavement between our house and Bridge Street Auto.  We love the place, the people are great, do a good job, and are pretty good at communicating with us and diagnosing our needs. I highly recommend them if you are ever in need of RV or car work in Grants Pass. Of course, they also seem to be good at finding things we need to have done.

Mo got new brakes on the Tracker, I got new brakes and a fan clutch on the Dakota, and the MoHo had to go in a few times to try to fix a problem with the levelers.  That was the biggest problem, with all new solenoids, a rebuilt hydraulic pump, and finally after three trips down, new coach batteries and cables.  All is working well now. 

Of course, with all the heavy hauling we have been doing with the pickup, it seems that the transmission is on its way out.  Sigh.  140,000 miles of being a perfect truck does come with a price.  And Mo also has the timing belt to replace in the Lexus.  Sigh again.  I guess cars get old.  We have “used” our motorhome, and she has a good 90,000 miles under her belt without any real problems.  I guess it is just that time.  Needless to say, it feels like money is just rolling out the door much too quickly.

The flowers we leave behind at Rocky Point when all is said and done

And then there is Rocky Point.  After some initial activity, things seem to have slowed down on the showings and there isn’t much happening.  In the Rogue Valley, houses are going as fast as they are put on the market, as is the case in some parts of Klamath Falls.  But not at Rocky Point.  It is a special place, a lovely house, but unique, and in a unique area.  It will take some time.  But it is stressful, very stressful waiting.

We won’t start building the new house till Rocky Point is sold, and there isn’t a mortgage, but there are the utilities, the upkeep, the work keeping it looking nice to contend with.  We are getting a little bit tired, to say the least.  Hopefully something will happen before the summer is over.  I know so many people who have been through this waiting game, and then something does eventually happen.  Sooner or later the house will sell, as another blogger reminded us when writing up the ten things she wish she had known when going full time.

Yet when we head back home to the apartments, it is wonderful to walk in the door and again have all that other “stuff” that is there waiting.  Our comfy furniture, my luscious StressLess recliner, the 55 inch TV with all sorts of streaming stuff available, and not least of course, full unrestricted internet access!  Ahh….and my bed, my luscious bed and my quilts and art.  I am not sure if this really matters to Mo.  She is much better at just being wherever she is at the moment and being fine with it.  I’m the one whose mind rolls around in all these crazy places.

Love the yellow china rose and the old fashioned poppies at the apartments on Old Fort Road

Just to make matters even more confusing, in spite of the grumpy mornings on the way to Rocky Point, once I am there I appreciate how beautiful it is.  I love all the trees that Mo planted, love seeing them mature, love the gardens when they bloom, the forest, the gorgeous green grass, the fabulous water.  I love hearing the geese down on the lake, and when we lived there full time, I loved knowing we could pop the kayaks in the truck and be at the water in five minutes.  I miss that a lot, kayak time.

June and October are the most gorgeous months at Rocky Point.  When I was walking behind the mower the other day, I wondered why in the world we thought we ever had to leave.  Mo reminded me, “We want to no longer have to deal with the heavy snows”.  “It is really nice to have a town close by”. “ It is nice not to have all this work”.  It is time.  I don’t think once Mo has decided something that she ever has second thoughts.  She thinks it all the way through, makes the decision, and then follows through.  One step after the other, no regrets.  I try to be like that, but it seems that I have too many “feelings” all the time.  Memories of happy times, beautiful starry nights in the hot tub, long days on the water, snuggly fires at Christmas, my huge cookie baking counter!  Family space for holiday dinners and celebrations. 

In spite of all the back and forth, we have managed to have a few days of playtime.  We had a great Mother’s Day brunch with Family out at the newly refurbished Rocky Point Resort, just a stone’s throw from our home there.

We enjoyed the annual Taste of Klamath evening at the Ross Ragland in mid May, a long time tradition for us, and made even more fun now that my daughter Melody is employed there. 

We took an entire day while at Grants Pass and went kayaking on Lake Selmac, about 25 miles west of town and one of the few lakes to kayak at that elevation. 

With many miles of dirt road exploring, we finally found Spalding Mill Pond, with logging history dating back to the 30’s.  The original owners who moved here in the early 20th century are still in business in Grants Pass

We topped off the day with a wild exploration ride high into the mountains between Grants Pass and the coast, amazed at the incredible wild and rugged landscape of the Coast Range.

For the last few years, Mo and I have had wonderful play time, lots of great travels, both in the MoHo and otherwise, and have enjoyed that freedom.  Those days will come again.  We still have 8 states to add to the well used state map on the back of the MoHo.  We have a long trip planned for some future date taking in the far northeastern part of the country, and on to the Maritime Provinces.  I have a dream to spend another winter kayaking the spring runs in Florida.  We have a little plan to drive all the Scenic Highways and Byways in our own state, some of which we have traveled, but not all. 

It is all about the transition from living in snow country in Rocky Point, to living in a place where the maintenance is less and the freedom to travel is greater.  The day will come, it is just a process.  Living in the moment, appreciating the process and the transition, is the bigger challenge.  I’m working on it.

MoHo upgrade and Saving the blog

Home in Rocky Point, Oregon.  Clear and sunny and 37 Degrees F

New Dinette_054 It is a bit amazing to me that after almost six years traveling in the MoHo, we would finally realize that the beautiful leather sofabed was just not to our liking.  When we first bought the rig, it looked oh so luxurious.  We learned how to make down the comfy queen size bed on the first day, and never have used it in the entire six years we have traveled in the rig. 

The sofa was pretty comfortable, or so it seemed, but with use we discovered that the pedestal table was a pain to set up every time we opened the slide, and that our little wooden tables, nice as they are, were susceptible to doggy coffee spills, and didn’t work all that well for computing.  We also discovered that the seat was much too wide for either of us on the ends, and the only really comfortable place to sit was in the middle…for one. 

Looks comfy, but a bit awkward for two to eat, play cards, have company, and the view is the wrong direction Three people lining up on a sofa doesn’t make for good conversation, either, so we would bring in the folding chairs for company.  It all worked just fine until we saw more and more rigs with those big curved dinettes, including Mo’s brother’s Winnebago, and we finally decided to bite the bullet and try to get one.  Calling around, we first discovered that our slide was just two inches too narrow for the standard curved booth, and we also worried about the desire to maybe make out a bed for one reason or another.  The $5,000 price tag helped to nix the idea as well.

Mo started cruising the internet, and found a really nice little FlexSteel dinette booth, with sides that made into a single bed if needed.  A call to Countryside Interiors in Junction City confirmed the unit would fit, and they would install it.  There were some measurements taken, the valance covers were too long, but that was an easy fix according to Steve, the owner of Countryside.  After seven weeks, our unit arrived and we headed over the mountain to spend the night in Eugene before the big installation day.

yes, there was cat hair behind the sofa With a four hour installation time estimated, I have to say they did a great job in just under five hours.  Josh was incredibly professional, doing good solid clean work, and paid attention to all the little details that would make the unit perfect.  Countryside Interiors was a great place to have the work done, and we appreciated the good service.

I do have to include a bit of a rub, however.  When we ordered the dinette, we were told they would sell our sofa on consignment so we could recoup some of the expense of the new one.  Our sofa was in excellent condition, and the bed as I said, had never been used.  But when the whole job was said and done, and I requested information on the consignment, we were told the sofa was no good, that they couldn’t sell it, that it was basically worthless, and she asked me kindly, “Would you like a donation slip for Habitat for Humanity?”

Josh Fishy, fishy, fishy!!  Their used furniture room was full of units not as nice as ours, and while we were waiting for the installation to be completed, a dealer came in to look at their used inventory.  I did ask if I could trade in the sofa on one of their nice Euro Chairs (a recliner on my wish list) and she said again, “No, we don’t do trades”.  I did plan to buy that chair from them eventually, but the more I think about it, I do think they have enough of our money.  The price was reasonable but definitely a high price for a piece of furniture, but maybe their profit margin for something like FlexSteel isn’t very good and they need to make more money selling the used pieces.  Either way, I will not go back to buy my recliner from them. 

As long as you know about the consignment part, it is a great place to have work done.  They were on time, professional, and very careful and thorough.  Don’t hesitate to use them for upgrades, just don’t expect any trade in for your current stuff, unless it has never been used at all.  That was her excuse, at least.  We had sat on the sofa and there was a rub (not scratch, just a dirt spot) on the arm next to the slide wall.  Enough of that.

New Dinette_058The dinette is absolutely perfect for us.  We were able to use our existing table, although it is about 2 inches more narrow than I would like, but the wood is so nice we hated to give it up.  The best part is that the chairs are incredibly comfortable, and wide enough for four people to sit for a meal, and with the wall end arms, perfect for lounging for joint television viewing.  Even more perfect, when we are sitting at the table, we now have a view directly outside, rather than staring at the kitchen wall in front of us from the sofa.  I can type on the computer and we can play dominos again and play a hand of cards without craning our necks sideways and trying to keep our hands hidden.  The bed flips out with just a touch and is also really comfortable.  There are even two nice drawers in the base of the seats.  Somehow, it seems that we have much more room inside the rig, even when the slide is closed.  (Notice that all these photos of the new dinette are with the closed slide)

On to the next subject: Saving the Blog. 

dinner for four at the cottage in the MoHo I do reasonably regular backups of the blog, so that if something happened to the google/blogger servers, I would have a hard copy of the code that I could then use to import into another platform if is wanted.  The photos are also linked, even though blog photos are actually stored on the google server as well.  Hopefully Google won’t die.  But things change, life changes.  Sometimes technology changes.  At the moment I am trying to convert VHS video to DVD and then trying to figure out how to edit the footage.  (Still no progress on that one, but I am working on it)

New Dinette_050Who is to say that sometime in the future there would be another tech change that would make our blogs completely obsolete? Or inaccessible?  We all work so hard on them, and for me it is my journal, the record of my life that is becoming more and more important as the memory card of my brain fills up and overloads.  Voila!  Blog2Print.  Others have talked about doing this, and it has been on the list for a bit of time now, but I couldn’t decide exactly how to go about it.  Of course it isn’t cheap, so I originally thought that maybe I would just do a book on the Alaska Trip, or the Covered Bridges of Oregon, but then I would miss all the rest.

New Dinette_053  Instead, I decided to do a year at a time, starting with the most recent completed year, 2012.  The book arrived yesterday, and I have to say that I really love it.  I chose to let Blog2print arrange photos at the medium size rather than trying to keep everything exactly as I had it on the blog.  After browsing the entire 277 pages of text and photos, I am completely happy with the book.  My middle daughter, Deanna, is the one who kept saying, “Mom, you need to get all this in a book”!”  OK, Deanna, the book is done! My next book will be 2013 when it is completed, and then I’ll have to save up to do a year at a time back to the beginning.  Sure is a lot easier to read than my own handwritten journals. 

One last note here.  My new friend John Parsons asked me to put a FaceBook post that I wrote awhile back on the blog.  He said he wanted to be able to find it again, and that is really hard to do with FaceBook!  Everything there just rolls by so quickly, and I can NEVER find old stuff in there.  So, John, here you go.


Me - i rode that bike everywhere I remember chocolate colored water thick with sticks and rocks hurtling down the wash behind our house during the monsoon floods.      Leaping with a thrill from huge boulder to huge boulder they used as fill to try to stem the flow, which for me was a magic wilderness of danger and roaring water.      I remember the soft bellies of horny toads when you caught them, the sharp prick of stickers in your feet from goatheads…who ever wore shoes?          the smell of dust when the first drops of rain hit after all those dry months.      How incredibly green the San Gabriel Mountains looked in April with the tall candles of yucca backlit against a setting sun. The muted happy sound of kids voices on the playground as I lay on my back watching sky so blue it looked very nearly black.      The milky way and pungent pines of Mt. Baldy on a summer night of camping.      I remember the sweet sad feeling of yearning when the winds blew and the smog vanished leaving behind air that was so sharp and clear that you could actually see the sparkles floating around it in…dreaming of a magic place to live where the air was like that all the time. climbing to the top of the hill in Sierra Madre Canyon, among the prickly pear and agave and morning glory and old live oaks to the digger pine that was high enough to let me see Catalina.      I remember how golden a warm apricot tastes when picked from your hiding place in the tree, and how bitter a surprise an unripe olive can be. …Childhood in LA in the 50’s…. …..Warm as an apricot and bitter as an uncured olive.


September 4 If a Tree Falls In the Woods…

Delta Campground on the Mackenzie River Overcast and 58 degrees F

Mackenzie Pass (5)Mackenzie Pass (4)and if no one is there, does it make a sound?  According to our camp host at Delta Campground, it not only makes a sound but it shakes the ground like a large earthquake.  Lucky for us, this happened in site 28, and we are camped in site 21.  Of course, lucky for us as well, it happened last May, although even more lucky for the campers in site 27 when this giant ancient cedar went down.

I guess that is one of the wonders of an old growth forest, technically more the 200 years old, but this one has trees up to 1000 years old tucked away.  It is amazing to see what an old growth Douglas-fir forest actually looks like, since almost all of our forests in the west have been cut or burned over in the last couple of hundred years. 

So, how did we end up on the Mackenzie River on the west side of the Cascades when our travels were taking us east to the John Day country?  Two words:  Junction City.  Fellow RV’rs who come west are probably familiar with this RV sale and repair location in Oregon.  For us, Guaranty RV in Junction City is where Mo found the first baby MoHo back in 2005.  A sweet little used 2001 21 foot Dynamax Starflyte, the baby MoHo served us well, and hooked us on the Dynamax brand.great old bridge across Delta Creek

We have had our “new” MoHo for nearly six years now, and she has served us exceptionally well.  However, there are just a couple of little things that after six years we have decided to change.  For one, the mattress was one of those cheap things with old springs that would sag to the plywood foundation with a little weight.  We added a memory foam topper, but it still sagged and was the source of many a 2am Advil run for me.

Delta Campground space 21

New mattress on the agenda!  I had researched online a bit, and came up with a specially made mattress for about 800 bucks, including shipping.  Seemed a bit spendy, but cost was irrelevant when it came to my back.

Delta Creek

Second thing that we finally decided to change was our lovely leather FlexSteel sofa that makes out into a queen sized air bed.  Beautiful sofa.  We never once made out the bed.  When we first got the MoHo it looked so nice and classy.  And it is comfortable enough, but really just for one person who wants to stretch out and watch tv.  The seat is curved in a way that makes the middle the only easy place to sit, and of course when company comes we bring in the folding chairs.  Our driving and passenger seat don’t swivel.Day 3 John Day_005DSC_0005

We have some nice little folding tables that we bring out for meals, but the configuration isn’t really optimum.  Solution?  Let’s get one of those big u-shaped dinette units that we see in some of the newer rigs!  So again, a little research led me to Countryside RV Interiors in Junction City.  They didn’t have those big FlexSteel units, but would gladly build us a very nice U shaped dinette for about 5,000.  Yeah, that is dollars!

Day 3 John Day_009DSC_0009Hmmm, maybe not.  We looked around a bit more, and Mo found this great looking dinette from Flexsteel that still makes down into a bed in case we might need one for whatever reason.  The leather matches our existing driving and passenger seats, and there are drawers for a bit of storage as well.  We took the MoHo over to Junction City for consultation, measurements, and we ordered the nifty FlexSteel unit, scheduled to arrive in October sometime.  Just a little over half what the custom made unit would have cost us.

Steve and Terri at Countryside Interiors are great, they have a good inventory, and can order anything and install it for you.  They pointed us to American Mattress in Eugene to find a mattress.  They actually make mattresses there, and have an entire showroom for testing.  The salesman tried to point me to different kinds of foam, but I know they will break down and I wanted a real coil mattress.  Finally I found a firm one and knew that it what I needed, no sagging coils, no bending on the sides, but cushy enough on the top for old bones.  That’s it, I said. the sword ferns are hugw

Ok then, give us a couple of weeks and we can cut it down to fit.  Our mattress is one of those 3/4 full things that has an angle cut off on the end.  Perfect for the tight space, but a bit weird to replace. Long story short, that is why we traveled to John Day via Eugene and Junction City.  I now have a new mattress and it feels great!!!  Finally. And the cost was just over $400, less than half the price of the mattress replacement I found online.  Good job American Mattress!

following the trail guideOf course, if we were going to be in Eugene, we would have to get back over the Cascades to go east.  I thought we had traveled up the Mackenzie Highway in the past, so planned that route and found the Delta Campground on the internet at the Willamette National Forest website.  It looked like it would be a good stop and it was.

We landed at 3:30 in the afternoon, under cloudy skies.  There wasn’t one single camper in the entire campground of 37 sites and the camp host was nowhere to be found.  We wandered through trying to decide, you know how it is with too many choices.  Site 21 appeared, with a nice big tree between us and the road, a pull through site, and closer to the picnic table than most.  We just pulled in and didn’t bother looking at the rest.  Turned out great, because it was one of the best sites.650 year old Douglas-firs throughout the grove

After settling in, we walked back two sites to the head of the short interpretive trail through the forest.  With three wooden bridges crossing Delta Creek, and a meandering path among the old giants, it was a beautiful, gentle walk.  I don’t think I have ever seen Douglas-firs this huge and the one old hemlock that was 1,000 years old is definitely the biggest I have ever seen.  These trees aren’t as big around as some of the redwoods, but they are more than 200 feet tall.  Just amazing. This collage is four photos of the same tree, bottom to the top

Day 1 Home to the MacKenzie River

A tree that doesn’t look quite as impressive, but just as old are the western yews, source of the cancer drug Taxol, and almost completely endangered by the illegal harvesting of their bark.  People would strip the bark all the way around, killing the trees, instead of taking only small amounts and saving the tree.  These trees only grow in old growth forests, and thankfully a synthetic has been developed so the remaining trees are safe.  At least as long as the old growth is safe.campsite 21 in Delta Campground

We heated up navy bean soup from home and had a nice campfire before settling into the dark forest for the evening.  The camp host showed up as we were sitting by the fire to regale us with stories of the campground, the area, and the big tree that fell in space 28 last spring.  He was a nice guy, very talkative, and never said a word about Abby being off leash while we sat around the fire. 

Yay, a better swimming hole for AbbyWe ended the outdoor part of the evening with a nice swim for Abby just down a short walk from our picnic table.  The night was absolutely silent and completely dark except for a few winking stars that showed up sometime during the night as the clouds lifted.tree hugger

Day 1 July 6 Crossing Oregon

Alaska Day 1 and Day 2No matter what the destination, you have to cross familiar territory in the beginning.  It was that way for us this morning as we completed the final check of all the lists, hooked up the Tracker, and drove down Easy Street toward Alaska.  The morning was incredibly brilliant, clear blue skies reflected on the still surface of the wildlife refuge bordering Rocky Point Road. The temperature read a balmy 62*, the warmest morning yet since some time last year.

Making notes, writing down the mileage, plugging in the details to my favorite little iPhone app that we use to keep track of our trip expenses, I barely had time to get settled before the freezer door flew open food started sliding out onto the floor.  UhOh.  Our clip on the freezer latch broke off some time last year, but the suction usually keeps it tightly closed. With the cost of food in Alaska, I had that baby crammed full, too full.  After some rearranging the latch held tight again.  Guess we will have to replace that one.  A couple of years ago we had to replace the one on the refrigerator door as well.  Cheap little plastic thingys, that sure don’t seem to hold up well considering the cost and quality of the big Dometic fridge.

Oregon day 1

We stopped as usual at one of our favorite little diners for the traditional departure breakfast at the Diamond Lake junction.  I have written about this one before, the huge Bigfoot breakfast that we share, and then have enough leftovers to share again.  The road was easy, the pavement smooth, the route so familiar, but I enjoyed every minute of the driving time.  Mo, on the other hand, wasn’t sure that she liked being the passenger with Jeremy thinking that he needed to get on her lap, claws and all, and she was wearing shorts.  Silly driving things that make the trip fun and familiar.  We are used to our routines, as are our animals.  I guess that is why we love to travel so much.  We travel well together, and enjoy the changing pace and getting outside the lovely simple box of our everyday life.

Oregon day 1-1Once beyond Madras, the high plateau of central Oregon becomes dry and barren.  This is the southern edge of the Columbia Basalt Plateau, and the soils are thin, some as little as 4 inches over the hard rock, and the precipitation is low.  I don’t know why, but this part of Oregon seems more desolate and barren to me than even the dry deserts of Arizona, or the open sage land of eastern Oregon. 

Oregon day 1-9In the midst of this barren landscape is the small pioneer town of Shaniko.  We decided with the temperatures climbing into the 90’s, it might be time for a Shaniko ice cream cone.  Mo waited in the cool rig while I walked around the tiny town taking some photos before I bought of couple of chocolate cones from some very sweet ladies in the well known tourist stop. Perfect lunch.

It wasn’t long before we dropped down the long canyon to Biggs and the Columbia River.  The thermometer read 101 when we hit I-84. Another glitch: what in the heck was that awful smell??  With the heat, it seemed to get worse and worse, and we couldn’t identify it.  I panicked thinking that maybe the new batteries were heating up, but Mo was pretty sure we had something dead in the guts of the rig somewhere and the heat was making it worse.  Ah yes, rigs and mice.  That seems to be a fairly common topic among RV’rs.  Opening the Fantastic fan and putting it on high seemed to help a bit, and while the smell still isn’t gone, it seems to be getting better.  Yeah, that mouse will eventually dry out completely.  Ugh.  The mouse traps are still set and nothing is in them. 

Oregon day 1-21The temperatures were way too high to think about boondocking as planned, we definitely needed the air conditioner.  Instead we traveled east toward LePage Park, the COE campground where we often overnight on our way through this area.  Without reservations we still got a great spot with a view of the John Day River for only ten bucks with our Golden Age Pass, including electric and water.  Perfect and it was only 4:30 or so.

Within ten minutes we were settled in and Abby was in the water for a swim.  We decided there was plenty of time for an evening kayak and within a few more minutes we were at the launch site with the kayaks in the water.  The winds were up a bit, but we decided that with the winds going upstream we could manage the current coming down.  The mighty Columbia River was under the interstate bridge to our left and the John Day River to our right.  We paddled upriver with the wind for a time until the waves and wind got too big to manage before we turned around and with the wind and the current, we had some nice quiet time in the doldrums, not moving at all while we relaxed on the river.

Oregon day 1-31Suddenly we saw a fire flare up on the opposite bank, and I pulled the phone out of the dry bag to call 911.  Cell reception on the river was great, and 911 answered immediately.  They were unconcerned, saying that the fire had been burning for a couple of days and they were letting it go.  OK.  Fire in the west, on the grasslands along the river is probably a good thing, a natural cleansing of the land.  Camped safely on the other side of the river with winds blowing away from us, no one seemed to troubled.

Oregon day 1-37We paddled back downriver toward the bridges and went far enough to technically say that we paddled in the Columbia before we headed back inland.  The Columbia is a big, strong, powerful river, and neither one of us wanted to tackle it on a hot afternoon with the famous high winds blowing hard. 

Back in camp we got out the new Weber Q100, to try it out with a couple of pork chops and a beer.  By the time we settled in to sleep, the evening breezes were strong and cool enough to make sleeping just right. 

The end of the beginning, our first day out.  Perfect.Oregon day 1-45

A link to the rest of the photos at Picasa is here.

Tomorrow: A short drive to Toppenish