Eastern Utah
EMAIL ME AT: mgypsy97 at aol dot com

Wednesday, September 30, 2009


The drive today started off with rain and heavy traffic, but once I got on I80 in Pennsylvania it was a piece of cake! Even so, I was tired enough to stop after driving a little over 200 miles. I really wanted to visit my granddaughter who is 20 today, but she is in Huntingdon and there is no way to get there except on state roads. I have been driving too far and too long, and I don't want to go off the interstate any more this trip. Narrow roads and worrying about clearances are something I need to avoid until I'm more rested.

I am at a very scenic RV park, which is set out on terraces up the mountainside. I will try to get pictures of the view from here. The folks here are especially nice. When I asked the woman who checked me in if there was anyplace nearby to buy beer, and she gave me directions to a beer distributor that is about 5 miles from here. (Evidently beer isn't sold in gas stations in PA.) When I laughed and said I didn't want a beer that badly, she went upstairs into her private quarters and brought me back 3 cans of Yuengling Lager! How is that for nice?

I was level front to back but high on the mountain side of the rig, so I got out the boards and backed up, then pulled forward on them, finally getting pretty well adjusted. I would liked to have dumped the waste tanks but the sewer connection is far enough away to require me to get out the longer hose and I just don't feel like doing it today. I wish I was staying two nights and then I could do it when I'm not so tired from the driving. Oh well, when I'm in New York!

I am really low on food, although there is still plenty of meat in the freezer, but not much in the way of anything else. Last night I had scrambled eggs with corn tortillas, and I may just have the same tonight. It's easy to fix and easy to clean up. I should have bought bread when I stopped for fuel - but SHOULD-A, COULD-A, WOULD-A seems to be my mantra lately.

I will probably stop one more night near the PA/NY border and will get to my destination on Thursday.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Watchig paint dry

For the last hour and a half I have been trying to get my computer to do something, and I've never seen it so slow. It worked ok when I checked my mail before leaving the campground this morning, so it must be the area I'm in. It's like watching paint dry.

Today was overcast all day and turned to a misty rain by the time I got to northern Ohio. It is also cold and windy. I drove about 5 hrs, finally stopping at a campground in Kent, Ohio, pretty close to the PA border. No problems today except finding a gas station, which I did this morning but this afternoon was another story. I'll find a place to get it tomorrow morning.

I was amazed at the Columbus skyline. When I was growing up Columbus had no skyline, although it had a hella football stadium, and the best state fair in the country. Traffic was heavy all day and especially so in and around Columbus, and the signing was terrible, I thought, especially after Kansas City. Ohio has vastly improved their cloverleafs and overpasses though. They have always been functional looking, but not very aesthetically pleasing, so it's an improvement.

I thought a lot about gypsies today. Throughout the ages they have been looked down on (except as expert horsemen) and reviled. In Ireland and Great Britain they are called Travellers, or Tinkers, and are often discriminated against. When I was growing up in Cincinnati the infamous Williamson Clan would gather each year at Memorial Day to visit their deceased loved ones who are buried there, and to make some money, sometimes resurfacing driveways with a substance that washed off during the next rain. Instead of horse-drawn caravans they now drive Cadillacs. I have always been fascinated by them.

RVers, full time and part time, are modern day gypsies, and our love for being on the move and our disdain for remaining in one spot too long puts us on the side of the gypsies, as I see it. No doubt there are folks who distrust anyone who is on the move all the time, whether in a $350k motorhome or a modest trailer. Many people are quite envious of our spirit even though they don't understand it at all.

So I say hooray for all the gypsies in the world, driving horse drawn caravans, Cadillacs, one-ton pickups with trailers attached, and whatever. We share a love of adventure and for going the way our spirit calls us to see this beautiful world. Now I wonder if I could set up a fortune telling booth in the campground.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Inching my way across the map

Knowing that I would be entering the Eastern time zone today I got up an hour earlier and left an hour earlier. When I got to Indianapolis I couldn't believe it. The only thing I recognized in old NapTown is the skyline. It's been a while since I've been there and in the meantime they must have redone every overpass and underpass, every interstate, and every sign. It was very easy to follow the signs and get through the city. Maybe it's a midwestern thing, but I felt that Kansas City, St. Louis and now Indianapolis are very well signed. We'll see about Columbus tomorrow.

After I was well away from Indianapolis I began looking for a campground. There was a KOA and I would have stopped, except the ramp was right in the middle of some heavy road work and I didn't want to deal with it. I got off several miles later, and the camper sign at the end of the ramp had arrows pointing both ways, so I turned right. Bad move. I drove through miles of fast food restaurants, Walmart, Krogers, every kind of store imaginable. Shopping meccas such as that make me really nervous, and I just can't wait to get away from it all. When I finally found a big parking lot and got myself turned around I said "No thanks" to looking for the other campground. So on I drove.

About 20 miles later a sign informed me that camping was available at the next exit, and the sign pointed me to the left. Imagine my surprise when it turned out to be a Jellystone Resort! My God in heaven, I have nothing against Jellystone, Yogi Bear, playgrounds, or any of that, but not when I'm trying my best to get across the country without any more mishaps. But I am tired and my eyes were starting to zone out every now and then, so I thought I would try it. First off, it was a nearly impossible right turn at an acute angle, at least for a pickup and 5ver, so I drove on to look for a place to turn around. The Garmin was going absolutely crazy! At last I came to a small town and gave in to Ms. Garmin's instructions to turn right and then turn right. In the end, I came to where I recognized that I should turn left to go back in the direction I came from, and her panicky cry was still pleading with me to turn right. You should have heard her when I went down the Jellystone Road.

There was no ranger on duty and it was self registration. I was supposed to select a site before daring to drive another inch on their property, but I didn't have anyone stopping me so I drove to where the pull thru sites are located, selected one, and then went back with the envelope. I tried hard to level up but finally gave up. I am a bit low on the doorside so I may just pull in that slide tonight. The wind is blowing fiercely as it has been since I've entered the Heartland. I'm only hooked up to electricity - figuring I will just use the water pump for any water I need. I still have a lot of Lassen water in my fresh tank, and besides, I want to get out of here early in the morning.

I stopped for fuel today and the signs said "trucks only" on the good side, so I figured they had to have diesel somewhere in the auto section. The canopies were all very high, and I thought I could get in and out ok. Only the pump on the far end had diesel, and it was blocked by a truck! I had to back up, which involved a lot of thinking, turning the wheel, correcting the truck, thinking-turning-correcting, over and over. I felt like everyone within a mile was watching me make a fool of myself. It would have been easier, but I had to back up in the direction where a car was parked, so I needed to get the 5th wheel angled just right. Eventually I did it and felt like going someplace else where no one could have witnessed my dilemma. By then there were very few semis in the truck section so I just pulled in, got my diesel, paid the bill and swung around and out. A year ago I would have found myself begging a trucker to get me pointed in the right direction. By now, I don't look pretty but at least I'm doing it myself!

A couple of readers have expressed an interest in my campground from last night - the really great one. Here is the info on it:
Timber Trails Camp-In
1276 Matts Ln.
Mulberry Grove IL 62232

Be aware it is about 2 miles from the interstate, and you must make a left turn when you get to Mulberry Grove. I thought that was what the sign said, but wasn't sure until I got there.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

In Illinois

I am at Timber Trails Camp-In in Mulberry Grove, IL. It is a beautiful place, secluded and no highway noise that I've noticed. I have a prime space (for me) - near the road that leads out and directly across from a cornfield. No immediate neighbors on either side, they honor Passport America, and are very friendly. I have electricity and water.

I left this morning at about 9:15 after saying fond farewells to Mary and Paul (aka Boris & Natasha). We went out for a wonderful meal last night - Kansas City BBQ - after cocktails at their motorhome, and what a treat for me to drink a scotch & water (or two). I drink beer alone but never want to get used to drinking spirits alone, so I never have it unless I'm in company.

There was no traffic this morning and the Kansas City skyline was beautiful. Actually I had little traffic until I got near St. Louis. I passed a lot of signs for RV Camping but decided I wanted to get through St. Louis today rather than worry about Monday morning traffic tomorrow. Then I had to go further than I wanted to in order to find a place, but Timber Trails is worth it. I drove well over 300 miles today, over my optimum limit, but I did fine.

I had forgotten how much I love the Midwest. It's hard to put into words exactly what the difference is, but I think the folks in this part of the country have more of a give and take attitude, even the truckers. For example I was pulling back onto I-70 after a fuel stop and realized I wouldn't be able to cut into the traffic so I prepared to stop at the end of the ramp. There was a truck in the right lane who couldn't move over because he was blocked by traffic in the left lane. To my amazement he slowed down considerably so I could enter the lane. Truckers never do that and I don't expect them to because I know you can't get back up to speed as quickly as a car, so I really appreciated his kindness. In fact, I said aloud "Bless him and I hope he wins the Power Ball lottery!" I will absolutely faint if I hear that a truck driver in Missouri won it.

I am realizing that it isn't easy driving every day. I much prefer to drive for a day or two and then stay for a while, but I want to get a little closer to NY before I take it easy. I wish I could visit my granddaughter at her college in PA, but I remember the roads to that little college town from when I drove my Jeep there. I definitely wouldn't want to take a 5th wheel, unless maybe I knew ahead of time about overhead clearances. Also, I don't remember seeing any RV Parks along the way, nor did I notice RV's parked at the local Walmart (Huntingdon, PA, in case anyone has that Walmart/RV parking book). She will be 20 years old on September 30 and I would really love to see her, but I may have to make do with a phone call.

Adios, for now.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

In Merriam, KS

I wrote an entire update to my blog this morning, but because I have been doing everything I can to enable Java so I can chat, I messed up html. I couldn't publish and I couldn't save.

I left Safari Inn at 10:00 am, and of course missed a turn a few miles down the road. I forgot you have to slow down much sooner before a turn because of all the weight you are pulling, so I just glided on through the intersection. The GPS led me on a merry ride over gravel farm roads and I finally got back on track, but my rig and truck are filthy now. It must have rained last night and I had to drive through some gravelly puddles.

I drove out of Chanute listening to Willie's "on the road again". I especially love the part "like a band of gypsies we go down the highway", and I know he is referring to Gypsy Willie, Gypsy Lady, and Gypsy Marty. I made it to the Walnut Grove RV Park in Merriam about 12:30 and was coaxed into my spot by the gentleman in the office. It's a tight fit, and will be tighter trying to turn out of here in the morning. I will go slowly and look carefully in the mirrors!

I hope to see Boris and Natasha this afternoon. I'm not going to get too settled in here as I won't stay for long. I have the dining & living room slides out, but the bedroom will probably be left in as it would really infringe on the doorway of the motorhome parked next to me.

I'm not sure where I will stop tomorrow, but I'd like to get an early enough start that I can cover some miles. I want to be at Sylvan Lakes CG in Dutchess Co. NY by next weekend, which shouldn't be much of a problem because I will stick to the interstates the rest of the way. I drove very little interstate from Chanute to Merriam, but it was a beautiful road and I maintained a fairly steady 60 mph. The part of Kansas I covered this morning was pretty with lots of rolling hills and trees.

Here are pictures of my visit with Mac and Lynette:

And here is a picture of "The Fix" from the outside:

Friday, September 25, 2009

Back in Service!

In just five days the wonderful folks at Nu Wa have the Gypsy back on the road in her caravan! The repairs look pretty good and I will take pictures and post them - when I'm on my desktop. What really surprised me was the inside panel - the original paneling was called "Navajo Sand" and the substitute for the damaged panel is called "Pavilion Sand". I would never notice the difference, myself.

I am going to appreciate the extra valve they put on the waste water pipe - it's a handle about two feet from the end of the pipe, so I will hook up the hose, pull the handle and then open the valve for whatever tank I want to empty, and reversing it when disconnecting. That, plus the new end cap on the pipe, should eliminate the annoying drip. I think I will definitely plan to come through Chanute next year and will make a reservation ahead of time to have some things checked and fixed. I just didn't have any idea of what my out-of-pocket costs would be, so I didn't dare run up the bill this time. I can say that Nu Wa is truly a wonderful company, and I'm very happy with the insurance company. The insurance policy says it is Allied Insurance, but in reality it is Nationwide.

So I need to get going and start loading my stuff back into the 5ver. I brought a lot into the motel with me anticipating at least two weeks out of commission. Before going to Nu Wa I stopped at Walmart to get some new CD's, and to get diesel.

Tomorrow I will head for Merriam KS, where I will stay at Walnut Grove RV Park and visit with Natasha and Boris. About 160 miles, it will be a leisurely day for me, but I hope to be in NY by the 2nd of October. I've called the one campground near where my son lives, and made arrangements for the month of October. Things are looking up - now if I can only stay out of trouble in fueling up, making turns, etc. It's almost frightening how something that seemed so terrible at first, turned out so well in the end.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Dinner with Mac & Lynette, 2nd post

I just returned from a delightful 3 hrs with Mac and Netters. We had dinner at a Mexican restaurant just a short ways from the motel, and I just loved meeting them. They are so easy to know and to talk to, and it was like we were old friends in just 5 minutes. I am so grateful to them for making the trip to Chanute to meet me, and I look forward to spending time with them in the future. Pictures will be posted when I get back to my desktop.

Since I will be picking up my 5th wheel tomorrow and leaving Chanute on Saturday morning, I am planning to stop in Kansas City if I can get a pull through space at Boris & Natasha's park. This is such a fun part of traveling - when you get the opportunity to meet and greet other RVers. This will be the third time I've seen Boris and Natasha (aka Paul and Mary), and I'm looking forward to it.

Good news

I called Nu Wa this morning to ask if I could drop by to see the progress being made. I arrived at what must have been their break time because no one was working. I just wandered in and around my 5th wheel. The wall panel was sitting inside but not yet installed. The pattern and color are not the same but in the light available, looked so similar as to give me hope that the difference won't be noticeable. If it is, then I'll paint!

The carpet was pulled about halfway back to the kitchen area, and I sure wish I could trash it now. In talking to Darryl later, he gave me a ballpark estimate of about $1200 to have laminate installed, so I think I will wait for a while at least until I get my finances back on track. I might even look into having the carpets cleaned, which won't get rid of all the spots but maybe it would minimize them and make it livable. I asked about the slide rollers on laminate flooring, and was told that if I make the change I should get throw rugs to place where the slide rollers come in. He said that the rollers should sit on a carpet base when the slides are in so that movement doesn't scrape the flooring. I will think about that over the next few weeks or months.

They think the leak came from a problem with the water pump. I never liked using it because of the noise it makes, but nearly every mention of it on forums, etc., indicates that water pumps are noisy.

I asked that they assess the tires to make sure I'm not driving dangerously. I also asked them to replace the toilet seal, fix the kitchen faucet (the fixture is loose), and replace the cap on the waste water pipe. They mentioned putting another valve so as to keep water from dripping out the pipe. I can't figure out exactly how that will look or work, but I've noticed since I left Lassen that when I empty the waste tanks, I think I'm letting all the water drain before disconnecting the hose. However, hours later I notice a slow drip from the pipe that is capped. I emptied the tanks before leaving McPherson, and when I parked here in Chanute it started to drip. I hope it is just that I need a new cap on that pipe - can't figure out what else it could be.

I'll be glad to get back on the road again as staying in a motel room is making me a little crazy. I did my laundry today in anticipation of leaving here on Saturday morning, and tomorrow I will make one last trip to Walmart, hopefully finding some good country music CD's for the rest of the trip. I can't hope for bluegrass in Kansas, but who knows.

I'm very anxious to meet Mac & Netters, an RVing couple from the RV Dreams forum and chat room who I will be having dinner with this evening. I'm really looking forward to it, and hope to be able to post some pictures once I get back to my desktop computer.

Well, that's the news from Chanute, Kansas. Stay tuned . . .

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

What an exciting day (not)

I took Lady to a nearby park today - it's close to the motel, has a nice lake, and it was good to get outdoors for a while. I found a discount shoe store on my way back and bought a purse - a red purse because a red purse attracts money, and I could sure use some money!

While I was browsing the shoe store I got a call from the insurance agent who told me they will waive the $500 deductible. He's been in contact with Nu Wa, and I need to make a little visit to Nu Wa to see what they are doing. I don't want to be left out of the loop on this.

I then went to Walmart where I bought a lot of snacks. I do not usually snack, so you can tell that I am really bored. I even bought a Hershey bar which is something I do about once every 5 years!

So there you have it, another exciting day for Gypsy. I am reminded of an old song from way back, "We gotta get outta this place, if it's the last thing we ever do".


Tuesday, September 22, 2009

2nd post on Sept 22

I thought I would add a couple of comments to today's earlier post. First of all, I'm getting quite a few comments to my blog from folks who just started reading it. I'm very grateful to those who have waded through my experiences this past year - from exhiliarating to devastating experiences - and who have kept on reading. So new readers as well as those who are year-long, I say thank you from the bottom of my heart. Your comments keep me going sometimes when I feel like giving up!

Another thing I thought I should clarify is the type of repairs that I am willing to accept, specifically the new wall panel that might not match. It will be on the left as you face the steps to the bed/bath area, and is the wall behind the toilet room. It is probably no more than one panel wide. I will wait to see how well they match it up, and I could kick and scream that I want it to match exactly, but I know if they don't have the exact panel anymore then they don't have it! So I plan to do what I have to do to accommodate the substitution, and I'm sure I'll be able to camouflage it so it would only be noticeable to the sharpest eyes. My eyes are aging eyes, so I don't think I'll have a problem. Maybe I should only let folks over a certain age face in that direction!

I saw some pictures on the Weather Channel of the fires burning in Sonoma County, and it isn't just a news item to me any more. I can picture the firefighters, some no more than teens, under the weight of all the heavy pack and equipment. In the case of the fires at Lassen it was mostly a matter of containment in an unpopulated area, but in the current fire they will be working to save people's lives and homes, and I pray for their safety.

Speaking of age, I forgot to mention in yesterday's blog that I again visited Walmart, and bought a quick dinner I could throw into the microwave (gosh, I hate those kind of dinners) as well as a 12 pack of Miller High Life. Would you believe the twerp at the checkout asked me for my date of birth, and he did it with a straight face. I tried to respond without bursting out laughing although I'm sure I smiled. It wasn't flattering at all, but then neither was it insulting. The twerp was just doing his job.

Waiting around

I'm not doing anything today except for waiting around to hear from Nu Wa. I got a call early this morning asking me to drop by for a few minutes, which I did. They wanted to show me how they will fix the exterior in order to avoid having to replace the entire side wall. I will go along with their plan, but so far they haven't determined the extent of floor damage. They said that the interior wall panel is not available in the exact pattern/color presently throughout the RV, so they may have to install whatever they have available. I would hope it won't clash, but if it does and since it is not a very large area, I decided I can always paint it if I don't like it. Then I can hang photos all over it, which sounds nice when I think about it. It is just about large enough to become the "grandchildren's wall". I'm not so concerned about getting the exact same panel because from what I've seen of the many 5th wheels I've looked at, in every make and model, most of the paneling is generic anyway.

This accident and the waiting around for repairs has given me time to consider if I want to be a full time RVer at all. It doesn't take much time for me to come up with a resounding "Yes"! While I don't like moving all the time, I certainly can't imagine myself living in one place all the time either. I wouldn't want to expand the space I'm currently living in, and still think I'd like to downsize a bit. But Gypsy still plans to be on the road!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Hitchhiker at the factory

I dropped the 5th wheel off at Nu Wa at 8 am this morning. I explained my situation and asked for special consideration to get the work done asap. They will let me know when they have looked at the damages and what will be involved.

I then drove to the Walmart, about 1/2 mile from the motel, and bought a case of bottled spring water. I can't deal with the chlorine taste of city water and didn't want to bother with bringing the Brita pitcher into the motel as I have enough stuff in here as it is. I thought I had found a local spring water bottling company that hasn't yet been bought out by Nestle, Coke or Pepsi, but on examining the label I see it is owned by Nestle.

The weather has been great since I left Lassen, although a bit warm here in Kansas. I'm not used to waking up to nearly 70 degree mornings. But this morning the rain began, and we are going to get thunderstorms off and on all day. Tomorrow will be sunny, and then back to rain. I guess the eastern 2/3 of the country is wet today.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Already I'm bored

and so is Lady. We are used to sitting outdoors in the morning, or in fact, most of the day. Once I get my truck unhitched I will look for a park, although I think rain is expected for the next week. I tried to go to sleep early last night but it just wasn't happening, so I turned the tv on and found the history channel. I sure don't want to get used to watching tv out of boredom!

I got a comment on yesterday's blog from Al of the Bayfield Bunch, who remarked on the big difference between being in Lassen park and a motel room. That made me think of what my mom must have felt at age 18 coming from a farm, no electricity or running water, to the city of Cincinnati. She returned to visit her folks every year, and my dad talked her into moving our family there for a short time, but she was never interested in going back to farm life. She could never understand my desire to go backpacking, and was slightly horrified when I set off to try to make it from Georgia to Maine in one go. Looking back on that trip, I don't remember really desiring anything I couldn't carry with me, but I did develop a reverence for water that I still retain to this day. And hot, running water? Words can't express how I feel about it, but "worshipful" comes close.

It is really warm outside and there is no place to walk except through the fields around the motel or on the highway. So I came back inside and back to the History channel - I have learned more than I thought I wanted to know about the Knights Templar, the Masonic Order, Angels & Demons, DaVinci Code, etc. I think I've seen some of the programs before and it is surprising that they are still running them. I absolutely won't watch cable news anymore, and the weather channel is unsettling. "Today in Phoenix . . . and now for the Northeast . . . while in the Ohio Valley . . .and Texas is . . ." Why can't they start out in one part of the country, preferably on one Coast or the other, and move in an orderly fashion with the weather forecasts.

I will have gone a little bonkers before I'm out of this place!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

I Made it to Chanute!

Well I finally arrived, checked into the motel, and brought some of my stuff in. I am absolutely whipped, as I just walked to Walmart to get a few easy-to-fix lunches and breakfast. I passed right by on my way here, in fact I've passed several Walmarts today, but I thought there would surely be a convenience store near the motel. I think WM is about a mile from here, and of course I bought more than I intended. Do you think I would unhitch that truck and drive there? Not likely.

I'm glad to be staying still for a while. The room has a fair amount of space plus small fridge & microwave, but no coffeemaker, so I brought my Mr. Coffee inside. There is a desk and chair as well as a round table, so I could bring in my desktop but I don't want to. It just takes up to much room and I have the feeling the walls of this place will close in on me before long.

The drive here went pretty well - about half was freeway and the other half was country roads with very little traffic. It is actually a truck route, so not all that "country". I even found a gas station I could fit into about 2/3 of the way here. I haven't turned the tv on yet - will I or won't I? There sure isn't much else to do in a motel room. Bummer!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Update to Friday, Sep. 17

I drove about 180 miles today to McPherson, KS, and will get to Chanute tomorrow afternoon. I reserved a room at a motel (got a weekly rate) and found they can accommodate my rig in their parking lot until Monday morning. That will make it easier to transfer some of my stuff to the motel room. I hope the place doesn't have inside corridors!

I took US 81 south from York, Nebraska, which was divided most of the way. There was hardly any traffic on it and I much prefer a road like that to an interstate. Then in Salina Kansas it becomes interstate, but it still isn't heavily traveled. I will go through Wichita tomorrow and turn east to Chanute.

I'm staying in a Horse/RV Park outside of McPherson. There aren't many spaces filled, and they are all full hookups plus much wider than many parks. I'm glad I came on, although it was tempting to stay at the KOA. I'm ready to stay put for a few days, but someone needs to remind me of that when I get tired of living out of a motel room!

I am trying to decide whether I should keep my desktop computer with me at the motel. I can't get into the chat room on the laptop because the operating system I have doesn't have Java, or at least I can't figure out what version to download and how to download it. I've written my niece in NY to bring her Mac Book out when I am there - I would like to see for myself whether or not I could deal with something so different. She swears by the Mac and says I will want to steal hers once I check it out!

What a journey this is turning out to be. I thought I'd be in South Dakota or Minnesota by now, never dreaming I'd be in Kansas! At least Toto (Lady) doesn't mind where we are.

What a time they had!

This group of Foretravel MH owners is a fun-loving group. This morning as I was walking Lady to the Piddle Park, I went past one MH and toad that were TP'd last night - and I mean completely wrapped! In addition, two pairs of ladies pink undies were clipped to the back of the MH. Walking back I saw another MH with a pair of silk boxers hanging from the antenna. I didn't actually hear a lot of whooping and hollering late into the night, but they are all of an age where you go to bed early and get up at a decent hour. I'm not used to being parked in the midst of motorhomes though, and heard noises all night that I identified this morning as either heat or air conditioning systems. Between that, the trucks on the nearby interstate, my aching ribs that I hurt over a week ago and seem to be getting worse, I could just barely remember the peace and quiet of the wilderness.

More later today, maybe.

Thursday, September 17, 2009


I have driven about 320 miles today, which is at least 70 over the upper limits of my comfort zone. I made two stops for fuel, and I am really getting much better at pulling into stations, even when they are not particularly designed for semis or RV's. Today's travel included about 315 miles in Nebraska, and I have never seen so much road work in my life. At that, Nebraska has the bumpiest roads ever!

The RV park I had thought to stop at was unacceptable, and no one was in attendance, which is very annoying. I had just driven past a KOA but didn't go back. Sixty or seventy miles later, desperate for a decent campground, I was praying for a KOA. Lo and behold one appeared! It is excellent and I have just finished my supper - a pizza which they cook and deliver.

There is a rally of Foretravel MH's here, and they look really classy. I don't think I could keep a straight face driving a rig with "Foretravel" painted across the front and back of it though. (Oh never mind:-))) There are also some Luxury by Design TT's. I hd seen a couple of them at the RV park in Orland, CA, and I swear they look to be 80 ft long, and all have at least 4 slides. I tried to find more about them on the internet back in Orland but could never do so. I'd love to see the floor plan.

I'm a little ahead of the plan so I might decide to stay here another night. I'll see how I feel about it in the morning, and also what I can find in the way of campgrounds once I get off I-80.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

On a Roll . . .

I seem to be on a roll with doing dumb things. While pulling in my slides, which are opposite each other, I crushed a small table with glass top between the slide floors, and the glass shattered into a million pieces! I usually lift one edge of the table onto one of the slide floors and it works fine, but then I guess I usually think about what I'm doing.

I am at an RV park in Pine Bluffs, Wyoming, near the Nebraska border. It's the second park I stopped at - neither had anyone in the office and you just register and pay and drop the envelope into a box. The first place I stopped was not at all inviting. This one is 1.5 miles off the highway, which makes it not matter as much how inviting it is, considering it's only one night, electricity and water, a hot shower in the morning. I picked a site and set up - I was perfectly level without doing anything! Then I discovered it was only 50 amp electric and I don't know what I did with my adaptor, so I had to move. My bad luck was when I pulled in the slides to move to a different spot. Now I'm level side to side, and a little off front to back, but I'm just going to leave it that way for one night.

In the process of moving and getting into the new site I had to back up a couple of times. I think I'm doing quite well with it - the guys would think it's just baby steps. But I say, "One small step for a man, a giant leap for a woman!" (Is that corny, or what?)

My chicken didn't thaw out today so I probably will scramble a couple of eggs and throw some vegetables into the mix. After the trouble just getting in and set up, to say nothing of the glass I had to clean up, I'm almost too tired to eat.

The trip today went well. A lot of Wyoming is colorless and bland, but it is still beautiful. Very windy. I came to a stretch where there were miles of fence rows strategically positioned to break the wind. They just went on and on, and as I was thinking why in the world don't they have some wind farms here, I came to the top of a hill and saw the ridgeline in front of me with windmills as far as I could see. They could have a lot more, I think, with all that empty land and the monotonous winds.

I spoke to the man at Nu Wa in Chanute who does the scheduling and he told me they didn't have an opening until October 12, which absolutely won't do. We agreed that I will be there by 8:00 am on Monday, and they will start work as they have time. He estimated it would take a week or two at that, but most people who have looked at the damage estimate 3 wks at least. I think I will be able to explore Chanute from one end to another before I'm out of there. I'll be sure to give y'all a full report on the place.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

In Green River, Wyoming

I arrived and set up at the KOA Campground, and checked my email. There is an email from someone at Nu Wa asking me to call him asap, and definitely before I head to Chanute. I must still be on Mountain Time and Chanute is on Midwestern, so I missed their office hours. Since they open at 8:00 a.m. tomorrow morning, I will phone them first thing. The fix is still holding up but it is starting to bow out a little, which makes it look worse from inside. I don't think I will make it to Chanute anyway, but should let them find me the closest place for repair. There are so many folks who swear by the service at the factory and I hate to have the work done anywhere else, but I might not have a choice.

Today's drive was a beautiful one, but I started to feel really tired about 1/2 hour before I stopped. I left Declo, Idaho about 10:30 a.m. but I am not sure when I stopped - every clock I have tells me a different time. I think I set the wall clock ahead by one hour last night to trick myself when I got up this morning. When I was in my parking space I was trying to level out by placing boards under the right rear tires, but was having difficulty hitting it just right. A man walked over and waved to me when I should move and when I should stop, and it worked out perfectly. He stood around for a few minutes, obviously wanting to talk, but I didn't want to make any mistakes so I just did the things I had to do to hook up to water and electricity, etc. By the time I was finished and ready to go indoors he was gone.

Southeastern Idaho and Northeastern Utah are absolutely beautiful. There are hills, or maybe they are mountains, but what are stunning are the sky and clouds. The sky was deep blue in patches but was mostly beautiful billowy clouds that touched the earth. When I got closer to Wyoming there were the gorgeous red rock formations of eastern Utah. I always wish I had taken a course or two of geology in college, and I'm thinking of looking at online classes that you can start any time - maybe for when I'm in Georgia.

Driving long distances alone gives a person plenty of time to think, and I've been thinking a lot about what my latest troubles mean and what they are trying to tell/teach me. I think I want to get my 5ver back in good condition, cleaned up and maybe laminate flooring to replace the carpet, and learn to love it again. I'm getting a little more confident about backing up (although not to the extent I want to back into a campsite), and when I stop I certainly appreciate the wide open space I have inside. Not that I require so much, but I shouldn't be ungrateful that it's there. I wish I could zero in on what to think, how to feel, and what to do!

Monday, September 14, 2009

2nd Post on Monday

Two drivers came at mid-day and towed my rig about 10 miles away to a truck repair shop where a very good temporary fix was made. I am back at the RV park tonight and will leave as soon as I can get away tomorrow, headed for Chanute Kansas. Hopefully I won't have to be there very long - the RV park near my son in NY is open until Sep 30, with limited sites until Oct 30 - no doubt with no water. I don't mind that so much as long as I have electricity.

So I will just travel down to I-80 and head east into Nebraska, and figure out in a day or so where I will turn south. Trying to arrange everything with the insurance company and the Nu Wa Company, by phone and email, is not easy. But little by little things are being accomplished, but I am mentally and emotionally exhausted.

I will post from somewhere in Wyoming tomorrow - at least I hope to get to Wyoming.

In motion but haven't moved yet!

At least things are in motion now. This morning I spoke to the insurance agent who is submitting the claim. He advised me to call Good Sam road service to have someone come and look at the damage and possibly tow the RV. He told me I should not tow it myself until I get the go-ahead. So I'm now waiting for the tow truck operator who should be here in a couple of hours. I'm also waiting to hear if one of the two camp cabins in this park will be available for a few days. My insurance covers motel and meals, and while the cabins are expensive per night, I can at least cook my own food and won't have to move my belongings very far.

There is way more damage than I first noticed, and I am very glad I listened to my gut feeling that told me not to tow it. I rationalized that I was just tired, which was probably my intuition at work.

I hate to admit it but I have not unhitched since I've been here. I should probably go do it now and get it over with. I'll update later in the day after I've gotten some idea of what this is going to entail.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Eeny, Meeny, Miney, Mo . . .

. . . Do I Stay or Do I Go!

I'm waffling this morning as I would like to get somewhere to get started on repairs before the damage gets worse. But I'm not used to driving every day and the energy it takes out of me to just drive into a fuel stop or an RV park. I also would like to stay to do some housecleaning, empty tanks, maybe even do laundry, and give the dog a good dry cleaning. Nothing will ever stay clean until she gets some of that volcanic dirt out of her fur. Yes, the "stay" side seems to be ahead right now.

The weather here is perfect: warm enough during the day for shorts & sleeveless shirt, and cold enough at night to snuggle under the down comforter. This park is so nice - it is huge but mostly unused right now, and as I mentioned the spaces are very wide. I can look over at a group of 5 or 6 motorhomes and even with slides out they aren't so close together. Maybe at the height of the season it would look different, but I kind of think this park was laid out in a thoughtful manner with consideration given to allowing folks plenty of space to get in and out of, and not to pack as many as they can in the space they have. I stopped at a KOA yesterday afternoon and was so disappointed in how they had spaces set up in every conceivable direction with little room to maneuver.

I believe that the damaged wood I didn't know was in my rig was the attraction and entrance point for the mice at Lassen. I came to the conclusion that I wronged those sweet little chipmunks, and that in fact the culprits were mice. I found a deceased mouse the day before I left, no doubt trying to escape when "it" happened. Somehow I feel less bad about slaying mice than I would if they were chipmunks. Plus I would have probably violated some federal law that protects wildlife at the national park (mice are vermin, not wildlife in my book).

Here are a couple of pictures taken when Linda and Howard came to visit me at Butte Lake.

Here is a picture I took yesterday of the Snake River:

Saturday, September 12, 2009

A change of plans

I only hooked up to electricity last night, so leaving wasn't much of a problem except that I was plain tired. I wake up in the middle of the night thinking about the damage to my rig, will I be able to afford to get it fixed, and more importantly, how can I afford something smaller in its place.

I had planned to drive to Boise and then up the scenic byways through Idaho to the Sawtooth Range, over to West Yellowstone, and into Montana and ND, before going to Madison, SD for a few days. This morning I wrote the insurance agent in Madison to let him know of the damage to the rig, and advise me of how to handle it. I know they won't pay for any water damage, but they should pay for the accidental damage to the rig itself. He probably won't read his email until Monday, and I decided that I should stay off the byways and stay on the interstates so that I could get help if something major falls off the rig. I am driving I-84 to just east of Salt Lake City, and then picking up I-80 as far east as North Platte, NE, where I will turn north to SD.

It hasn't been my best day. Twice I got off to fuel up only to find I couldn't maneuver into the space allotted. In one instance I found myself in a dead-end space where the only way to get out was to back up. I DID IT! I eventually got fuel at a Flying J, and then tried to find an RV park to stay overnight. One was a city park on the Snake River but I just couldn't get into the space, so again, I BACKED UP! Even the KOA I stopped at didn't have the room that KOA's usually have. I ended up in Declo ID at Village of Trees RV Park. What a place! The spaces are all long, pull through, and extra wide. An escort takes you to your space and helps guide you in. They actually have food and a well stocked store - for my dinner I got a pulled pork sandwich and fries, and I feel much better. In a few minutes I'm going to walk the dog down to the Snake River, which is one of the most beautiful rivers I've seem in the West.

I am seriously considering staying an extra night. I do dumb things when I drive while tired, and I obviously can't afford any more dumb things.

So I don't think I could do any major backing up into a tight space, but I won't be paralyzed at the thought of having to go in reverse. What I need to do is to get out of the truck and visually check when I can't tell from the mirror. By the time I feel confident I hope to have something I can feel good about driving, and it won't be a fifth wheel!

Friday, September 11, 2009

The Oregon Outback

The signs along US 395 in eastern Oregon refer to this scenic byway as the Oregon Outback. I've never been in Oregon before now and I'm finding this part of it very interesting as well as stunning, although folks who are familiar with and love the coastal areas would probably think they are in a different state. I'm not used to hearing traffic noises at night and didn't get a very good night's sleep. I miss the forest already, but it is certainly nice to be plugged in to electricity. It's hard for me to not turn every light in the rig on, just because I can!

I've started reading blogs again but doubt I will ever be able to go back and read them from where I left off. Reading the blogs is fun -- what I don't look forward to is finding out what has been going on in the world. You can't imagine how blissful it has been to not know and not really miss what has been happening, or rather what has been reported by the media.

It turns out that US 395 and US 20 are as good in parts as any interstate, but only one lane wide and little or no traffic. Parts of it are mountain passes: I don't mind saying I got a little tired of Drinkingwater Pass, and Stinkingwater Pass, but I plodded along and am now at an RV park in Vale Oregon, about 30 miles or so from the Idaho border.

These US routes are part of the original Oregon Trail, leading me to fantasize how the pioneer women must have felt: "What was I thinking when I agreed to this? I could be back in comfortable and civilized Philadelphia"! That led me to wonder if I would have been able to be a pioneer woman and I immediately thought, "Nah"! But then, some readers might consider that I opted for a return to a semi (but comfortable) life without electricity or communications in the backcountry of Lassen. So yes, maybe I could have been a pioneer woman. That is, if I had been enthusiastic about the idea in the first place. If a man told me, "Woman, we are going to leave comfortable Philadelphia in this rickety Conestoga Wagon; face dangers from the elements and months of travel, fording raging rivers and fighting off hostile Indians; when we get to where I want to stop and settle, you will home school our 12 children, keep a huge garden and help me with the ranch/farm/whatever; raise and milk the cows & goats; raise the chickens and cook them on an old wood stove for which you will chop the wood; sew everyone's clothes and face enormous hardships, grow old before your time because of the harsh climate and lack of feminine beauty supplies, have sex with me whenever I demand it, and face massacre at the hands of irate Indians whose land we will steal out from under them. . . " I don't think I could handle that!

So I drove into Vale and stopped for fuel at a Sinclair station. I fit perfectly well under the canopy but had to drive around to the diesel pumps, and was watching the rig in the opposite mirror of what I should have been. I think I did a bit of damage, which I'm going to drink a few beers and try to forget tonight. At least I have electricity and have set up my desktop, so maybe I can get into the chat room this evening. (Excuse my spelling after having the few beers though.) I think I will just unplug and travel with the monitor on the bed, and it will be easy for me to set it up every afternoon when I stop.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

I'm Back!.

I didn't get away from Butte Lake until about 12:30 this afternoon. I had only planned to drive 150 miles, so no problem. It turned out that the two RV parks in town weren't acceptable, so I drove on until I got to Lakeview, Oregon, where I found a Shell station that had a separate side for trucks, so I seized the opportunity. I'm driving on Rte 395 which is beautiful, but not much in the way of facilities; I asked at the gas station if there was an RV park nearby, and lo and behold it was about 1/4 mile up the road. I'm pulled in at a crazy angle and I don't even want to think about getting out tomorrow without scraping something. Also, I doubt if I'm level, but hey, for one night I will just hold my breath and walk softly.

Oh, I nearly forgot. This morning I hitched up nearly perfectly! I was totally surprised as I hadn't done it for the last 3-1/2 months, but knowing I had David on stanCdby lessened the pressure. I also figured out how to play CD's in the truck - I have a 6-CD changer - so I left Lassen listening to the Osborne Brothers and some great bluegrass!

Update September 8

September 8, 2009:
It is difficult to believe that I won't be living in this beautiful place after tomorrow night. It is so lovely and peaceful now – A Loop is closed and there are three campers in B Loop, so it is quiet. I've just had one of my favorite meals, grilled chicken marinated in Drew's Rosemary Basalmic, and boiled potatos & carrots with butter, salt & pepper. I even had seconds because it tasted so good, which I usually don't do, that is, take seconds when I'm already full. Just couldn't help it this time. I grilled extra chicken so I can make enchiladas to have for Thursday, my first night on the road.

Most nights I have a campfire, and tonight is no exception. The wood and kindling is abundant, so it would be easy to take more than I need. It will probably be here next year. One of the Park employees stopped to see me this afternoon and say “Goodbye”. There are some great folks who work here at Lassen and I will miss them, and look forward to friendly co-workers at Fort Pulaski.

For those who know how much I dislike Vista operating system, I would like to report that I am using a Linux-like OS called Ubuntu. So far it works ok, but I will say that I still prefer the Windows XP that I have on my desktop computer. I used the laptop today to access the internet and update my blog, but it wasn't completely satisfactory. I use Mozilla Firefox, and usually it allows me to open multiple windows that are listed across the top of the screen. I think I had multiple windows open today but I sure couldn't find them. I am to the point where I'm not all that interested in learning a completely new system, although I still might try the Mac.

Dogs are intuitive and Lady knows something is up. She is lying very close to where I am sitting now, practically on my feet. She doesn't seem to mind traveling, and wants to make sure she doesn't get left behind.

Wednesday, September 9:
I washed the dust off my truck today, as best I could using an oscillating sprinkler. Why do men tighten connections such as hoses so tight that I can't remove them? David hooked up the sprinkler so I could keep the dust down on the road – it sure slows the cars down when they see they have to drive through a sprinkler! But I have never been able to get it loose, so I hold the sprinkler to rinse the truck. Also, the way they have me hooked up to fresh water I can't fill the fresh tank until David hooks up the white hose. They buried the hose that runs from the faucet to the rig.

I also cleaned the windows on the outside as they were just covered in dust. Little by little I'm getting things ready although I'm not rushing to do anything today. It is kind of scary to think that I have to tow this thing tomorrow and the next day, and on and on, especially since I haven't done it in over three months.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

2nd post on Sept. 8

One of the comments I've received asked about the stray dog with the red collar. Unfortunately, she hasn't been seen for about 3 weeks, which can only be bad news for her. There are many folks who bring their dogs to the campground and let them run loose. I remind them dogs must be leashed while in the National Park, but as soon as my back is turned I know they let them run free again. There were a couple of instances where campers saw dogs chasing the stray, so maybe she decided to hang out elsewhere. Without food though, I am sure she won't make it, and I can't do anything about it. She was gaining weight while I feed her and I really feel bad that I didn't have more time to try to get her to stay close enough to catch her. I doubt she could still be alive.

Update September 3-8

Thursday, September 3:
I have written updates that are stored on flash drives and on two different computers, so when I go to bring my blog up to date I will probably miss a few days.

My son and his wife arrived last Friday night and left Sunday afternoon, and daughter, her husband and two little girls came Friday afternoon and left today. I will miss them greatly. We had a wonderful time, just sitting around the campfire, exploring the lake in Steve's new kayak (I certainly don't get into a kayak), doing a bit of hiking, and for me, getting my granddaughter fix! The baby is 9 weeks old and already my daughter was able to hike up Cinder Cone, which is a difficult climb for most people due to the volcanic soil. I am so proud of her, and on top of that she has gone hiking every day as well as kayaking.

So I was sitting outside my rig just feeling blue and I got a real and very happy surprise. Two visitors came up and I realized they were Howard and Linda Payne, owners of the RV-Dreams website. This was the website that gave me (and many, many others) the impetus, encouragement, and information to consider the Rving lifestyle. We had a very nice visit and I look forward to seeing them in the future.

I just love meeting folks I've gotten to know from their blogs, the RV-Dreams chat room, etc., and we always have a great deal in common in our love for the open road and the gypsy lifestyle.

I have less than a week to work here at the campground, and will pull out of here in exactly one week. In the interim, I will face the heaviest occupancy of the season, which will be a challenge as well as good memories to send me forward to my next adventure.

I will post pictures when I get a chance, which will most likely be after I leave Lassen and get on the road again. I am SO looking forward to plugging into electricity and being able to stay up later at night and be online. Look for me soon in the RV chat room.

Saturday, September 5:
People just keep coming! A couple of the bathrooms are already trashed, which I just don't understand. I will have a ranger here tonight, and I just hope he isn't called out to another part of the park. Anyway, I'm happy if he can drive through the campground a time or two – let folks know that someone with authority is here. Thankfully I've made it through the summer with few problems I couldn't handle on my own – mainly the group that had to be evicted a couple of months ago.

I'm taxing my brain trying to figure out the timing of everything I need to do. Someone will pick up all the Park supplies, uniforms, etc. on Thursday morning, so I have to have it all clean and packed up. David will be back to work then after his Tuesday and Wednesday off, and I will need his help to get it all together. When I'm all hitched up the rig will have to go entirely around the B Loop in order to leave the campground, and he has promised to drive it around for me.

Sunday, September 6:
For as many campers as there are, things have gone pretty smoothly. It was very cold and windy all day yesterday and last night, which probably kept many folks inside their tents. I was pretty bundled up myself and doused my campfire about 9 pm to call it a night. Today I put out the flag but as soon as the wind picks up I will have to
bring it in again.

It is possible that what I thought were chipmunks in my rig could actually be field mice, in which case I'm not a bit sorry they are taking the mouse bait like it's candy. Either there are a lot of them, and/or they are carrying the bait back to their nests (hopefully outside my rig) because I've gone through 3 boxes of bait in just a few days. I should probably get something stronger. Ah, nature!

Monday, September 7:
The mice/chipmunks have been chewing up the insulation around one of the truck batteries, so I will go into town
tomorrow and buy several more boxes of bait. I see they have been in the basement storage, which is probably how they have gotten inside the 5ver, so I will place a box of bait everywhere I can think of, including setting one on the battery!

The exodus began this morning and by 11:00 a.m. the campground was nearly empty. I started going around to each site and picking up trash, checking the fire pits, etc. There were a number with warm or smoldering logs, so it was back and forth to the water supply for buckets of water. I got through half of the A Loop, which leaves me pretty many campsites to go.

I've been feeling good because so many campers either left me notes of appreciation or told me verbally on their way out. I've come to realize I do well one-on-one, much better than in large group situations.

I cleaned and waterproofed my hiking boots, and will put them away for a while. I will try to find some (made in North America) that are canvas and mesh for the humid climate in Georgia. It's hard to believe that I will start my job at Fort Pulaski in less than three months. A couple who were camping here lived in the Savannah area some years back, and stopped to tell me of places I should try to see while I'm there.

Tuesday, September 8:
The mornings have been cold for the past week – in the mid to high 30's. Inside my rig the thermometer reads 40F, so I turned on the generator to run the electric heater for a few minutes before I set off to do laundry. It feels strange not wearing a uniform, and I selected a bright red shirt to brighten my spirits and my day!