Eastern Utah
EMAIL ME AT: mgypsy97 at aol dot com

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

I want to get this over with

My appointment with the oral surgeon is tomorrow morning, and I will be glad when it's over with even though I know I am in for some pain. I have enough of that now - way up into my head just above my eyebrows. Can't take this much longer!

I drove over to Best Buy this morning and returned the laptop charger - and got about $86 credited to my account. I also finally saw the charge from the motel for $2.78 postage to mail me the original charger. I'm happy that has all been taken care of.

On the way to and from Best Buy the road was blocked with fire equipment and traffic re-routed. I did super with finding my way around unfamiliar roads and back to US 9N again. It can be confusing because there is a 9N, a 9G, 9S, and a plain 9, and probably several others I haven't driven on. I just love this area as I've said several times before. It is rural even though there are a lot of houses and people, from older properties to new developments. Unfortunately, the developments are former farm lands, which I hate to see being used up for giant houses in large housing communities. So far the rural feel remains though, with tall green woods in just about every direction.

I won't be writing much in the coming days because I won't be doing anything except recuperating.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

An evening at the Fair

I am too tired to write much tonight as we spent the late afternoon and evening at a local fair put on by the Sons of Italy. It was a family affair that had something for all ages. I really enjoyed the entertainment by a local singing group who seem to have been together for quite some time. They were really good and put on a terrific show featuring the songs of the late 50's. For a bunch of old guys they could still sing and bring back the memories.

I am really worn out from being outside and standing most of the time except for when we ate and the short time I sat and listened to the music. I haven't been to anything like this for a long time and was sort of wondering how I would take several hours of it, but it turned out to be a fine evening. I think the fair runs again tomorrow, with fireworks in the evening. I probably will beg out though.

Wouldn't you know it, I spent $80 on the laptop charger Friday morning. Of course, my original charger arrived in the mail on Friday afternoon, so I repackaged the new one as best I could and will return it tomorrow. Best Buy will likely charge me a restocking fee, but maybe I'll get lucky. The motel didn't charge me for the mailing.

The boys are still constantly wanting to be in the truck, especially since they discovered the fun of honking the horn - loud and long. I'll have to be careful when I drive it again as I know some of the buttons on the dashboard have been pushed. My granddaughters really wear me out, but the boys do it more quickly. They are physical and intense, and do everything with gusto!

Maybe I'll get around to writing about the last part of my trip tomorrow. I still feel like sleeping most of the day, which is not at all natural. I just hope some good days are ahead.

I've decided I want to go into the city and will ride the train in one of these days. I have never been to the art museum and also want to visit the NYC Public Library. Maybe I can have lunch with my niece - no shortage of good eateries in New York. I hope both she and my granddaughter (Ara) will be here for Joshua's birthday party next weekend. It will be so good to see them again as being around them has always seemed to energize me.

Friday, May 27, 2011

A productive day

I think I got a lot accomplished today, considering having just completed a 3500 mile trip. First thing of course, was to buy a charger for my Mac. While at Best Buy I also bought a new Garmin Nuvi 1400 GPS. My old one was taking so long to make up its mind, and then after I had made a turn or missed one, would start recalculating. This caused me some problems so I decided I needed a new GPS with fairly new maps.

I came home and while the computer was charging I did some research on local oral surgeons, finding a practice within about 3 miles from here. The dentist was able to see me today, write me a prescription for antibiotics so I can have extraction surgery next Wednesday. It isn't as bad as I thought (or it might end up being worse), as I was under the impression the problem was an anchor tooth in a permanent bridge. That bridge is about 52 years old and it looks like it is still going strong. The tooth to be extracted is the one behind the bridge, so I won't have but one pulled on Wednesday.

Thanks very much to Sandie I found out my retiree blue cross plan has some dental coverage and I found this practice from a list of local preferred providers. I just hope they are good, but when you need someone and are in a strange place it isn't easy to make a choice.

I just remembered what humidity is. The temps are reaching close to 90 with some humidity, but not nearly as much as in the middle of summer. I personally like a bit of humidity as I think I wrinkle a bit slower. If I live to be 100 I hope I am still vain enough to worry about the wrinkles and aging process, although I really don't try to fight Father Time as much as I used to. It is pointless anyway.

When I thought about tenting in the Upper Midwest in the middle of May, I realized it might get chilly at night, but don't worry much about the cold. I have tented in freezing temps as well as snow and did fine. I never planned to tent every night at any rate, but what I didn't expect was the constant driving wind. As it turned out I really didn't feel like camping anyway, so the wind provided me a good excuse. But if any readers would like to use my experiences as a good example of what NOT to do, then by all means go ahead. I've made enough dumb mistakes in my life to provide a wealth of examples of what not to do, but then I've never claimed to be a role model one way or another.

Besides having soft green grass to roll around in as well as deer and fox trails to sniff, Lady is being spoiled rotten by my two little grandsons. They have fed her dozens of treats and constantly want to pet her. They also have me taking them out to my truck more often than I would like to go, and I have to lower the tailgate and lift them up, pull back the tonneau so they can inspect the contents of the truck bed, and sit in the driver's seat and pretend they are driving.

With all the driving done today I am starting to remember my way around. I've always loved the Hudson Valley and the rural look and feel of it. There is plenty of traffic though to keep me in reality. I find the people super friendly.

Tomorrow I'll try to post some pictures from my trip. And thanks to a chsrged battery I can start reading blogs again, although I don't know if I will ever catch up on those I missed.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

I made it!

I arrived in NY early this afternoon. First thing I did after walking Lady through all the nice grass, was to take a nap on the couch. It's good to be out of the truck!

I will get a laptop charger as soon as I can, and then I have to do some research to find medical providers. My son is connecting me with a cardiologist but I am going to need some pretty hefty dental work; I'm thinking some of the way I've been feeling is probably due to the infection that has settled in one of the teeth I need removed. My niece, who is a dental hygienist, took xrays for me while I was in Milwaukee, so I know what I am facing.

Who knows, I may get to feeling so good again I may want to keep on traveling. Of course that takes money!

Later -

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Clearfield, PA

Tonight I am in a very nice place to make up for the dinginess of last night's lodging. The weather has been beautiful, making me wonder if I should stop at a campground, but to tell the truth I don't feel well and want to get to NY tomorrow so I can begin looking for emergency dental work, find a walmart optical center to fill my rx for glasses, and a few other things. I hope my laptop charger is waiting for me because if it isn't then I will bite the bullet and get a new one. I hate to have to do that though.

Pennsylvania is drop-dead gorgeous in these parts, and I have a super view from the big double-door windows. I'm also very close to a spacious grassy area so Lady can enjoy her walks.

I'll write more when I get this thing charged back up. I want to save enough power to check email before I go to bed tonight and again when I wake up.

See ya from New York! (I am so happy to be back east for a while.)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Toledo, Ohio

I just arrived in the outskirts of Toledo and am sitting in the worst motel I have stayed in this trip. The room isn't so bad but the bathroom is awful. I wouldn't even step into that tub, so I hope I can find a good place tomorrow night so I can shower. Most places I've stopped at have been very good.

I had a wonderful time with family in Milwaukee and Chicago, and took some pictures I will post. Since I'm watching my battery usage very carefully, I'll do a complete update with photos when I get to NY, which I hope will be on Friday afternoon. I am really tired of traveling.

Saturday, May 21, 2011


I arrived early yesterday, about 10:30 a.m. That was after going through some pretty intense construction work, but the traffic kept moving.

It is so good to be stopped for a while, even though we will be traveling somewhere close to 100 miles each way to Chicago today. Lady is loving it.

I''ll do a short update for the next couple of days, but not a long entry. On Sunday we will go looking for a charge for my computer, as it's now down to 25%! I hope everyone has a nice weekend.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Baraboo, WI

I haven't yet done the math but I think I've traveled somewhere near 380 miles today. I'm glad to be out of the truck. I can tell the results of my recent fall, the lack of exercise and stretching, as well as the osteoporosis and arthritis. It is absolutely hell growing old!

Tomorrow I will have a short day of driving and can take my time leaving for Milwaukee. I always did like leaving early though as the traffic is light to nonexistent. That is, unless you are near a large city.

It was nice to see all the green when I entered Minnesota this morning, but the green became greener as I got into Wisconsin. There was no place to take pictures of the Big Muddy (Missouri River) as I crossed the border into Wisconsin, so I just aimed the camera out of the car window and you can't really see very much.

I got a phone call while driving today from an 800 area code, but something made me answer it. It was the White House Inn calling to ask if it was ok that they charge my credit card for the postage to mail me the Apple charger. It should be waiting for me when I arrive in NY. I doubt if I will spend $80 for a backup cord - if this doesn't teach me a lesson then I shouldn't have internet access forevermore! I can check my email on my brother's computer when I'm in Milwaukee. If there was an Apple store in the neighborhood I might take the laptop in and ask them if I could charge it there in the store, but Apple stores aren't seen that often, and they are usually in large malls which I try to stay away from. Being without a computer for a couple of days won't kill me!

About the comment on Lady drinking out of the toilet, I might say that in all the motels I've stopped at so far this trip I haven't yet seen one toilet that had a lid to close. I don't know why they don't have them, unless it's just one more item to clean. I have known people who must go to work and be away all day, who leave the lid up so their pets will always have water available. It's true that you don't know what a motel cleans it with, but she is not a pedigreed dog - she is a tough mutt!

My great niece (aged 14) is going to stay with Lady while we go to visit Dianne in Chicago (actually Bensenville). We are only going down for the day and Lady should love not having to jump up into the truck, to say nothing of being happy with a new friend.
I will cut this short and maybe I will have enough power left for another day.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Sioux Falls, SD

I quit today at 1:15, and now that's more like it. In a way I hate staying at motels, mainly because of the cost, but the wind and predicted rain kept me coming back to take the easy way out. And easy it is. Just register, pull the truck in and take a few things inside (well, sometimes more than a few things), but all in all it seems quicker than setting up a tent. It is also quicker than pulling into an RV space, trying to find the level spot and still reach the hook-ups, hooking up to at least electricity, lowering the stabilizer jacks, putting out the slides, make a quick run through to see if anything slipped or slid during transit, and then heading to the fridge for a cold one.

This is much easier, and I'm finding that after driving 5-8 hours I don't feel like doing much more. Today I drove about 220 miles after leaving the White House Inn at 7:45. I stopped at DeSmet and visited the Laura Ingalls Wilder gift shop for a nice chat with one of the docents. I bought some things for the grandkiddies as well.

They were leading a school bus tour in just a few minutes and I would have had to wait until that tour was over. It involves walking around several blocks of the town, and thank goodness I am not one to have to see every museum and take every tour. I enjoyed the chat more, and did walk around some of the landmarks nearby. The Ingalls family lived in the Surveyor's house at one time. The little tiny school house is probably a replica of where she might have attended when she was younger. Believe it or not, I attended a school in Kentucky for a short time that had those kinds of desks - double desks for 2 kids.

I took some other pictures with my film camera and if they turn out to be ok I will post them later.

I then went to Madison where MyDakotaAddress is located. Here are some shots of Teri who runs the operation, as well as the building itself.

Madison is a really cute little town. I love the fact that each store is unique and not like a shopping malls which have the same stores across the country. I also love the diagonal pull-in parking, which reminds me of Black Mountain, NC.

I ran into more water across the road today. There were warning signs but no pilot cars to lead you through, and not much traffic. There were stretches with water, and then some without. Lots of small ponds or lakes in that area and the road runs straight through the middle. There must have been a lot of bugs hovering in the area because my truck is covered with them. As soon as I got Lady settled inside the room I went out and cleaned the windows and headlights.

Speaking of Lady, I notice that when I bring her into a motel room and then go back out to get some of our belongings, including her food and water bowls, I find her in the bathroom. Today I heard her slurping out of the toilet - caught in the act. I've never known her to do that before, but I always close the lid so I guess she doesn't have much chance at home. She hasn't been eating as much while on the road, but she can't seem to get enough water.

Another thing about the town of Madison - I think I would love living here. It is small but just big enough that you can get what you need locally, but close enough to Sioux City that you can find whatever you need there. There are lovely tree-lined streets, with small cottage type houses that I would like to find in Sacramento or New York, to rent of course. I don't ever want to deal with home ownership again. But Madison SD isn't near any of my kids, so I don't think I could live here. I'm to the point of thinking about spending a winter in the cold, however. A dry cold isn't so bad if you dress warmly for it, and if you don't have to drive in snow.

I did several "last checks" of the motel room this morning before turning in the key, and I'm sure I have everything. I can't seem to find my electric cord that charges my computer and I will get frantic if another trip to the truck doesn't turn it up. I'm on 79% battery power right now, so I'll end right here.

I almost forgot - yesterday afternoon I searched through all the stuff in the truck bed and found the parts that came off the clip. Believe it or not, it only took me about 10 minutes to figure out how to fix it, but fix it I did! The bumpy roads must have worked it loose until it fell apart. I'm sure the more mechanical of you would have immediately known how to put it back together again, but I was to the point of quitting a couple of times when it became clear to me. I hope I don't have to do it again though.

UPDATE: A call to the White House Inn confirmed I left the charging device there, and they will mail it to me in NY. I called a local store that carried Apple products and found a new one would cost $79.99. Needless to say, I won't be doing much computing between now and when I get to NY!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Aberdeen, SD

I drove an extra 80 miles from my planned stopping point because I couldn't find a place to stay. Driving the byways is worth the lack of exits off the interstate with all their same-o same-o fast food joints, gas stations, lodging, etc. But when the time draws near that you want to stop for the night, it can be a bit tedious.

I had planned to stop at Hilltop Motel and RV Campground, and depending on the wind/rain stay in the motel or set up the tent. I thought of the Bates Motel when I walked in to this place. The lady who ran it said it would be $8 for a tent site, whereas I would have to stay in a smoking room with the dog, at $41.50 per night plus $8.50 for the dog. This place was not all that inviting, so I drove further into town and stopped at another uninviting looking motel. Talk about the Bates Motel, I spoke to Jason at the desk. This ritzy place did not accept pets nor did he know of anyplace that did.

I drove on hoping to find something at one of the little towns along the way. What I ran into with very little warning was a big sign announcing that the water was across the roadway, and to drive carefully at no more than 10 mph! By then I was in the line-up and didn't worry as much when I saw a line of oncoming traffic that included several small cars. I will bet they didn't have a clue what they were in for, nor did I, but I made it along with the big rigs and everyone else in my lane. They only allowed one way at a time as the middle of the road seemed to be the high ground. That is the strangest sight and an even stranger feeling, driving through that kind of water with a lake all around you.

So I finally made it to Aberdeen and stopped at a motel - again I was refused because of the dog. I came upon a big four story imitation of the White House, aptly called the White House Inn, and thought what the heck - I'll probably get refused but by by this time I have to try. I may have made Lady sleep in the truck at this point.

I did get a room, 2nd from the end in the back (near the door), and on the first floor. It will cost me about $60 and includes the $10 fee for Lady, but we have a beautiful and spacious room which even has a recliner! I'm enjoying the recliner now as I type this blog entry. I'm tired of paying motel fees though, and wish I would get to a wind and rain-free place for a change. To make matters worse, the wind was so strong it picked up the edge of my tonneau cover and the clip on the inside broke. That made my mileage for the last tank drop by 3 mpg. I will have to search through everything in the truck bed on the left side to see if I can find the part that is missing. Hopefully I can repair it, although that is really doubtful.

One of the comments to last night's blog asked me if I had ever considered a teardrop camper. The answer is a resounding "YES", as that is the first camper/RV I fell in love with, long before I knew anything about 5th wheels or dually wheels, or the whole RVing scene and full timing. I have always wished I had one, but I think I'm getting to the age where I need a "standie" - something I can stand up in. That is why I went to a monster tent as it was one of the few that had headroom in the entire tent. Most come to a peak or dome and that is what they consider the headroom, but it slopes downward from there. My back appreciates being able to stand up straight.

I still think about a teardrop though, and since one only plans to sleep in it I think I could deal with the lack of headroom. The cooking, eating, and lounging is done outside, and most teardroppers set up at least one screen house or canopy. It is a setup that is better for a weekend or several days, rather than quick overnight stops. The first I ever read about one was a trip journal with wonderful pictures of a couple in their 60's who borrowed their daughter & s-i-l's teardrop and traveled to Alaska and back one summer. I'm sure they didn't hang around very long in any one place.

Another question I got was about the name of the national monument - it is Custer Battlefield National Monument, and is explained here: http://geoimages.berkeley.edu/GeoImages/Starrs/CUSTER.html (sorry you will have to copy and paste - the link function just didn't work for me.)

As far as my views on Montana after such a limited time and experience there, I just think there is something about it that resonates with me. It is so big I am sure there are many different terrains, but what I felt while driving there was very powerful. Also, I am fascinated with geology, rock formations, etc., and would like to go back and see some of it up close. I was planning to take a course in geology while I lived in Asheville, but of course that was overcome by events. Now I've never lived anywhere long enough to get the resident's rate.

I will close today with a topic that is dear to my heart - The United States of America and her people. Upon entering North Dakota I saw a sign pointing to the left and the town of New Leipzig, and straight ahead to the town of McIntosh. Ah, I thought, only in America. Can you imagine the original settlers of these two towns? I guess the Leipzigers would be ok as long as they stayed out of the way of the McIntoshers. And can you even imagine the consternation among the families of a boy from one town dating and wanting to marry a girl from the other? I really believe our people are so strong and resilient because they got the best from all the countries of people who immigrate here - that just about covers the whole planet! And then all these "best" intermingled and had children who intermingled with another group, until very few of us can claim only one national ancestry.

Another question concerned Lady and how she is doing on the trip. She is a born gypsy dog and loves to go new places, just as long as she can sleep on the way. She doesn't eat much while traveling and I have to keep reminding myself that she is the best judge of what and how much she needs to eat, and just provide the food in case she wants it and plenty of water.

I'm not sure where I'll be tomorrow, but it will probably be somewhere near Madison or Sioux Falls.

I wish someone could explain to me how to get the size of my header picture to fit the screen. When I had the original photo up of my 5th wheel, it was smaller than the screen. Now the last two pictures, taken with the same camera, are oversized. Oh well, a computer or software expert I'm not. (I have a Mac which might make it a bit different to correct the problem. Speaking of the Mac, do any other users have difficulty seeing other blogs' pictures. Some of them appear but most do not, and I know from the text that a picture should be there.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Miles City, MT

After driving 5 hrs today and 265 miles, I decided to stop early. Lucky Lil's Casino is next door, and it's tempting, but I'm strong!

I LOVE Montana! I'm considering this just an exploratory trip, and hope to make my way back through the state when I return to CA. I am also considering spending a couple of months in Idaho and Montana next summer. I want to see Montana from border to border, north to south and east to west. I'm in the southeastern section now and it is absolutely gorgeous. The colors are subdued, unlike some of the red rocks of the southwest, but I feel like I'm in an important place.

Just across the road at the motel I stayed in last night were trains going by fairly often, and I thought they would keep me up all night. I didn't hear a one! But thinking about trains made me think of that time in our country's history, when someone decided that the "final solution" for the Indians would be to get wealthy sportsmen to shoot buffalo from the trains. The theory was that if the buffalo were eradicated the Indians would die of starvation, and they nearly did. And to think that the government named a national monument after a man who would have killed all the Indians himself if he hadn't taken the hit first. I don't understand why he is glorified by having his name on a national monument. I know you can't stop progress, but I find it difficult to exalt the settlers, land grabbers, politicians, and all the rest that committed genocide against the first inhabitants. I normally dislike expressing my views on subject such as this one, because I know I'm in the minority on the issue. But remember it is just my opinion and I don't claim superiority for my opinions.

I drove over US 12 today and what a great road. Just two lanes, but nearly devoid of traffic. The only hassle is when you come to a town, the speed limit goes from 70 to 45, then quickly to 35 and finally to 25 mph. It's not easy to drive 25 after you've been going 65, without feeling like you aren't moving at all.

Shortly after I got on the highway I came to a field with a lot of cattle grazing near the fence - black angus I think. One little calf seemed to be on the wrong side of the fence and all the other youngsters were up against the fence on the "safe" side, to give him comfort I hope. I wonder if his mother would be able to get him back. I though about it for several miles but realized I couldn't have done anything, as I certainly couldn't have lifted him across the fence by myself, and there was no one in sight. The hazards of growing up!

One thing I found conspicuously missing in Montana, for all the wind there are no windmills to be seen. Maybe they have them in a different location - nearer the interstate perhaps.

I mentioned that I plan to come back to Montana, and as you know the weather is not exactly conducive to tent camping, at least this time of year. Maybe I need to rethink what kind of vehicle I will buy, possibly 6 cyl. SUV rather than a smaller (and more fuel efficient) 4 cyl. car). I don't ever want to think of getting even a fair-sized RV again. I'm thinking maybe more in terms of a very small trailer such as a Scamp or Casita, or a Scotty. I really don't want to do anything more than sleep in it, and don't even know if I'd want a kitchen. I could use my 2 burner coleman stove to do any cooking I want to do, outdoors in good weather, plus maybe a very small charcoal grill, and I have a fine Coleman steel belted ice chest that would be better to me than fooling with an RV type fridge.

You see, I want to completely avoid having anything to do with tanks - filling them, and emptying them. That goes for fresh water as well - I can buy large jugs of spring water that is probably more reliably clean and safe than what you might get at campgrounds. Electricity I might go for - lights and plug ins for my small electric heater as well as the little personal fan, however, I can easily set up to not use electric.

I still want to find a permanent place to live, and just travel when I can. Maybe I can do that and maybe I can't, but it's going to be fun thinking about. In the meantime, I just LOVE Montana, and the folks are as friendly here as they are in Georgia and the southeast!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Big Timber, Montana

I was on the road this morning at 8:00 am, headed for Jackson, WY and the VC for the Grand Teton National Park. I felt like I had already done half a day's work by the time I made umpteen trips to the truck with all the stuff. After driving about 70 miles I was turned back - road closed!

After looking at the maps I decided to detour myself around and maybe try to enter at West Yellowstone, possibly getting a view of Old Faithful if nothing else. It wasn't to be. I enjoyed the day doing what I like best - meandering along the scenic byways. In some places there was no traffic at all, and lots of traffic as I went through the little towns. The constant winding and twisting of mountainous roads finally gets to you, and tonight I'm plumb wore out!

When I arrived at the road I would take to the W. Yellowstone entrance, the GPS kept directing me otherwise, no matter what end point I entered. I though maybe the system knew that the roads were closed, but it's not that smart if it let me get as far as I did earlier only to find the gates down.

I eventually took a road that led me through Bozeman, MT and onto I-90. Bozeman is a nice looking little town, but this afternoon the traffic was heavy and I had to stop every block for a red light. It became annoying by the time I finally got to the interstate. I realized that I was routed over the business district of I-90, and there were several points where I could have cut over to the interstate. But how was I to know - better safe than sorry.

I noticed folks walking on the sidewalks of Bozeman and they had difficulty making headway against the wind. I wonder if the wind blows so hard year round, or is it a seasonal thing. I believe Wyoming has it 365 days a year, so probably Montana and Idaho do as well.

I would no doubt have had a little better weather had I waited a couple more weeks, but I have a 5-year old grandson's birthday party to attend on June 4, and I'm not going to miss it. I'm thinking I may take a similar route back to California and try to do Yellowstone & the Tetons in reverse. I have always loved traveling in the off season, and hate to be caught up with the tourists. I know from living in an area of Ireland that relied on tourism, the locals are so busy taking care of the "guests" that they have no time for anything else. I have always liked the slower pace of the off-season, be it anywhere in the US, in Germany, Ireland, etc.

So knowing I wouldn't be able to set up a tent in the wind, I opted for a motel again - this time a Super 8. It's a little upscale from Motel 6 in that it has an ironing board and hair dryer! I carry my own hair dryer and I surely don't need an ironing board. I doubt that I've used an iron more than once in all the business trips I used to take, and what's so difficult about pressing something on the bed. One nice addition is a small coffee maker, although Motel 6 has coffee available in the office. This motel also serves breakfast, for whatever that consists of. I'll try it out - so far all I've spent is the cost of fuel, lodging and a 6-pack of beer. I can see out my window and across the parking lot to a casino that really looks inviting. Good thing I'm not a gambler! If I had someone to walk over with I would probably lose a roll of quarters, but I'm not walking into a cowboy casino all by myself. On second thought, maybe that would be the best way to walk into it.

I am so sorry I didn't stop to take pictures on the way to the Tetons as there were some beautiful views. The scenery nearly took my breath away but I knew it would only get better as I got into the park, so I didn't try to take photos. I love Idaho and so far, Montana. But I don't think I could live in the relentless wind.

Tomorrow morning I will take the highway (I think it's US 191) up to US 12, and drive across that way until it meets the interstate. I may stay on US 12 through North and South Dakota, and see something other than ramp exit signs.

Well the day sure didn't go as I had planned, but maybe it was fine after all. I got a really nice up-close look at a part of Idaho that many people might miss. And for another update on my fuel mileage, it's still holding at 16! I did drive the few miles on I-90 at 70 mph because I was getting tired and wanted to get to where I could stop before long, but I doubt if that will make much of an impact on the average. I almost always hold it at 65 no matter how much higher the limit is.

I'm heading towards Milwaukee and will stop and visit my brother and sister-in-law, and hopefully we can drive down to Chicago to see a cousin who has blood cancer. I had planned to go through the UP of Michigan, but maybe I'll have a better chance of decent weather if I wait till my return trip. Things have a way of working out and I really believe that.

If I have wifi tomorrow evening I'll be back, or maybe I'll have to dig into the bags and boxes in the truck bed to find my Mifi.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Idaho Falls, ID

I thought I left Wells this morning at 9:00 but it was only 8:00 am. I thought I stopped in Idaho Falls at 2:30 but it was really 3:30 pm. Ahh, the time zones! I know where they change on I-40 and I-80, but not further north. I covered a little under 300 miles today, and didn't end up where I intended. I think the reason my timing was off this morning was that the man next door turned his tv on at about 5:20 am. At least that's when it woke me up.

The extreme northern part of Nevada is really stunning. Not a lot of color, but some great rock formations. I prefer the high desert and so I enjoyed the drive. At Twin Falls, Idaho the road crossed over the Snake River, which I think is the most beautiful river west of the Mississippi! It snaked along a deep gorge carved out of the rocks, and I would love to have taken a picture. Because there was road construction and a lot of confusion on both sides of the bridge, I didn't see the scenic view pull-out until it was too late to get to it.

I drove on to Craters of the Moon National Monument, stopped at the Visitors Center and then drove through the campground looking for a good spot. Most of the sites aren't level enough for a tent, or else all the level sites are at the bottom of the hill where the families with lots of kids, bikes, and toys were staying. The road through the campground loops is extremely narrow and winding, with very tight curves that aren't designed for a dually. I finally found a large level site, across from a water spigot and the restrooms (that could be a plus or a minus), and decided to set up my tent.

Yeah right. I set the ground cover down first, trying to anchor it with small rocks and then increasingly bigger rocks, which the wind blew off like a puff of smoke. I realized I might have a big problem setting up the tent in the wind, when I couldn't even get the groundsheet to stay down. I thought about the thundershowers expected for tonight and the tent flapping in the wind all night, and said "* it!"

So here I am at a Motel 6 again, although I can't say I'm very happy with this one. For one thing it has interior corridors which are not practical when taking a large dog in and out. They are terrible for carrying in luggage, food, cooler, dog bed, and whatever you need for the evening. I had to make several trips and my truck isn't parked as close as I wish it was. It cost $10+ more than the one last night and is much less convenient in every way. I even had to pay $3 for internet, but I wasn't sure where my Mifi is located in all the baggage in the truck.

Tomorrow I will head over to Wyoming and the Grand Tetons/Yellowstone. I believe some roads are still closed, so I don't know what I'll be able to see. I had tentatively planned to camp at Jenny Lake but won't do it if it is raining or very windy.

There was a quick thunderstorm last night that was so loud it shook the building I think. The noise of the thunderclaps stopped as quickly as they started, with no sound of rolling off into the distance, just a sonic boom and then nothing at all.

This is a picture I took yesterday morning climbing up I-80 towards Reno.

The following two pictures were taken in Craters of the Moon. I thought the snow made inteesting patterns on the mountains.

I wish I could have gotten some photos of the cloud formations. There is something about the clouds in Idaho - you can see something in each and every one, and it's difficult to watch the road when all those animals, fish, spirits, and people are floating around up in the sky. When a good shot would appear there was never a place to pull over, so there are a lot of untaken photos.

One more comment about staying in a motel: I think TV is absolutely dismal. I watched a bit last night, and just turned it off this evening after a very short time. It's ironic that I really want to watch it but there isn't anything on that I find even mildly entertaining or informative. I guess I've been away too long and everything has changed in the meantime.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Wells, Nevada

I left Jeannie's this morning at 7:45, and stopped at the Motel 6 in Wells, NV at 3:45, so it's been a long day for me. I drove about 465 miles, which is just a little more than I like to do. Anyone who has driven I-80 through Nevada understands that there aren't many places to stop - the forecast for tonight is possible thunder-showers, and towards the end of the drive I noticed the cloud cover getting darker and lower. It's fairly nice here though, but a little cool. I'm going to be glad for a hot shower tonight, and I didn't want to spend a rainy evening or overnight with a big dog in a tent.

I stopped at a rest area after driving about 200 miles. There were very few people there, and most left while I was there. I used the facilities and then let Lady sniff around and do her thing. There was just one work truck with two men in orange work vests up near the restrooms; I finally put Lady back in the truck and then took a plastic bag back to pick up after her. After I dropped the bag into the waste can one of the men called to me that there was water for washing hands there. I walked over to the back of the truck and he stood there with a gallon jug of Calistoga Springs drinking water - I held out my hands and he generously poured water over them.

I was overwhelmed at such an act of kindness from a stranger, and it put a smile on my entire day.

I stopped for diesel at 287 miles, and when I resumed driving I tried to figure the mileage in my head. I verified it with my computer's calculator this evening, and was very happy. When pulling a 5th wheel I usually got 9-10 mpg; driving the truck to Arizona, and then back with the truck camper, was 12 mpg. Now that I have a cheap tonneau on the pickup bed, I actually got 16 mpg! I had heard that the cover adds a few extra miles per gallon, and had hoped it would be 14 or 15, but I'm just thrilled with what I got. I'll check it again after a few more fill-ups and see if the overall average holds.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

All systems go!

I allowed myself - plenty of time to get to my 8:50 appointment this morning, and wouldn't you know I hit all the lights green with very little traffic. Fortunately they were able to get me in to see Dr. G. within just a few minutes. He is well satisfied with my progress, and at my request wrote me a prescription for glasses. They are for the no-line bifocals which I hate to go back to wearing again. I will though, because I can't read the speedometer very well, nor see any of the important gauges on the dashboard. That is partly because of the distance - not close enough to see without glasses but too close to fit my distance vision - but also because of the awful gauges on the 2002 Ford F-350. It looks like they made the numbers and tick marks is a light gray paint color, rather than bright white that could be easier seen. I guess they never figured an old lady would be driving such a vehicle and need to read the dials.

I stopped to fuel up on the way home, and made a stop at the grocery where I bought a lot of sinful snacks! To go on my Wheat Thins I actually purchased a can of deviled ham! I haven't had that for a long time, and I refuse to read the ingredients or nutritional statement. My arteries probably won't like me for a while. To balance out the bad-for-me stuff I am taking bananas, grapes and cherries as well.

So I'm taking off tomorrow morning early, hopefully before the little girls wake up. I couldn't bear to say goodbye to them and then drive off, so I'll say my "see ya later" tonight.

Coming back from the eye surgeon's office I started to feel like the luckiest woman alive, and am so grateful for my life - past, present and future. I've made tons of mistakes, both huge and small, loved and lost, and then loved again. I am blessed with beautiful children and grandchildren, and have had relatively good health all my life. I think this is where the last part is starting to wander off though, and there are a couple of health issues that I will have to deal with. Soon enough though. I'm planning to live til I die!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011


I am sorry for my little outburst in my 2nd post yesterday. I should not have gotten all worked up over anyone's comments. I am very unfocused right now, as I get antsy and a bit nervous before a trip - any trip. I've been like that for most of my life and I seem to be worse this time.

So again, sorry if I offended anyone.

Clarification (2nd post Tuesday, 5/10)

I don't believe I ever said I NEED a partner in order to go RVing, but I did say I was tired of doing it alone and I WANTED a partner if I continued. I also never said anything like I thought other women felt the same way as I do, and if I didn't make it clear, then I am truly sorry. Sometimes it isn't easy getting a point across that you want to make, but can't say clearly.

I am not a hothouse flower and never have been. I have been a strong and independent female from the time I was a child. For the last 15 or so years since I retired I have traveled in and out of the country alone, hiked about 900 miles of the Appalachian Trail alone, moved myself to Ireland where I lived for 3 years, alone, bought and sold several pieces of property on my own, and tried solo full time RVing.

Damn it all, at the age I find myself is it ok for me to wish I had a partner? I'm not asking that anyone live their lives or plan their futures as I do, so please give me a break.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Deja vu

My heart beats like that of a much younger woman, who feels like she can go on forever and nothing is impossible. She holds the dream of traveling like a gypsy in her wagon, stopping for a night or a week or several months, evenings around a campfire, and an endless supply of roads and lanes to travel this beautiful land. But every now and then she gets hit with a dose of reality!

Today I had lunch with Susan after which we drove to an RV sales lot to look at some she might be interested in. I fell in love all over again - even sitting in a Class A felt good to me, and I could imagine myself living in one. They had some very affordable used RV's, including an extremely affordable 1991 diesel pusher which I forget the name of. The caveat is that I could live and travel in one if I had a partner, so that means I won't be doing it. But for about an hour my mind raced with possibilities and fantasies.

I took a few more items to storage this morning but forgot to leave my toolbox. I doubt I'll be needing it, although I may take a hammer and a couple of screwdrivers out of it and put them in the glove compartment. During the times I am thinking realistically, I see more and more items that will just be baggage and won't ever get used. It's akin to selling a stix and brix and then coming face to face with space limitations of a new and different lifestyle, and having to make choices. At least this is a temporary thing.

Monday, May 9, 2011


A fine Mother's Day I had. It's a good thing I'm not much of a celebrator of holidays, because yesterday's bright spot was the box of chocolate covered strawberries from Donald, and the grandchildren pictures that I received. I spent most of the day lying on a heating pad and trying to get my neck comfortable. This time I mainly hurt my head, although my back is sore. I'm getting better and still plan to leave on Friday.

No, I didn't go to the doctor and I don't plan to. I'd be mortified to death to have to say I fell on my back and hit my head. I think it was a matter of depth perception - I just got closer to the edge of the tailgate than I thought, and lost my balance.

And no, I'm not going to look for a small anything such as a Class C or Class B RV. It really hurts to say I'm quitting, but that's what I'm going to do. I loved the life for the little time I was able to spend at it, but it certainly isn't worth getting seriously injured over, and it's not worth it to me to have to do it alone. As I said in a previous post, I will continue my travels and will write about them, and I'll always be a gypsy, but I'm not an RVer.

The decision to buy a small car in New York has made me re-think what I will take with me, which is what I will have to find room in a car to bring back. Already my Coleman 2-burner stove has gotten the axe. I had only planned to make my morning coffee on it, and there are McDonald's and Burger Kings everywhere that I can buy a cup of coffee, although I usually prefer the truck stops on the road for their big mugs of coffee and sometimes even decent donuts.

The best news is that I probably won't have to kennel Lady in New York. My son and d-i-l said they need to get their carpets professionally cleaned anyway, so bring on the dog hair! (That wasn't exactly the way they put it). So I will maybe get a chance to take Lady and spend a few days in New England, although I doubt I will make it to Maine this time. I've been in all the New England states several times, so this will just be re-visiting. By then I hope to have driven through Montana and North Dakota, so that I will have been in every state except Alaska. I can only get there in my dreams.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

A little good luck, a little bad luck

The good is that my old camera appeared. It uses film and has a viewfinder, and I was really looking forward to taking some landscape shots with it. By now the film has been in the camera for a few months, so I don't know how good the quality of the photos will be but I'll have fun trying.

The bad luck is that I fell. Off the tailgate of my truck. On my back (of course). Hitting my head on the concrete. I'm a little sore, but I'm not going to take anything for pain other than maybe use a heat pad when I'm at motels. I will need to go find the box in storage that has the heat pad in it, which shouldn't be too difficult because it's with sheets and towels, and I marked everything well.

The problem was that I usually step on the bumper and then swing over the tailgate. That gives me something solid to hold on to, and even if I should slip I wouldn't get hurt the way I did. With the topper on the pickup bed, I open the tailgate to release the clips holding the top down. I didn't think about putting the tailgate back up - just hoisted myself up on the tailgate and into the bed. I was handing something to Jeannie and somehow got too close to the edge and lost my balance.

I will drive the truck to NY as planned and there I am definitely going to sell it. I'm just about finished with this whole thing. It is a big step up to the running board every time I get into the truck, and while I can still do it with ease, one of these days my knees are going to start bothering me and it won't be such an easy thing to do.

I hope I can find a nice little Honda Fit or similar car - room enough for a couple of pieces of luggage, my box of maps, Lady, and her food and treats. We all get to the point at one time or another where we know we can't (or shouldn't) do what we used to. I'm there right now, and I'm plenty sick of trying - like butting my head against a stone wall, except it's a hard desert floor or a concrete parking lot.

I wish all the mothers and grandmothers out there a very happy mother's day.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Found 2 out of 3!

I guess that's not bad. I had bought Lady a huge Costco-size box of dog biscuits a couple of weeks ago at the same time I got the Frontline. I took out some of the biscuits for her treats jar and inserted the Frontline package into the box. I happened to check the box and found the meds, and she is presently on her way to being flea and tick proof for the next month. Now I have to write in my calendar so I can remember when to give it to her next month.

As for the chargers and the camera, I went back to storage this morning and opened a number of boxes to no avail. I was wondering what to do next when I remembered as a little girl losing a dime in the grass. I couldn't find it until my dad told me to ask St. Anthony for help, and within seconds I reclaimed my dime. I dropped all religion quite a few years ago and replaced it with spirituality (and I've never been happier), but I thought what the heck. I reverted to my childhood and asked St. Anthony to help me find the chargers. I didn't think to include the camera at that time, but within just a few minutes I saw one of those reusable cloth bags on the floor near the dining table, and decided to take a look. Damned if two cell phone chargers weren't the first items I saw! Both phones are charged now, and I need to figure out a system to make sure I don't misplace them again. Thanks to everyone who commented and told me about their methods - I will see if I can adapt one of the suggestions.

That leaves the camera. I just don't have the nerve to ask Anthony twice in one day, especially when I felt sort of foolish asking him the first time. So tomorrow I will resume the search for the camera - with a little "help" maybe?

Ara called to tell me she picked up the package with the new camera at the post office today. Of course being in the last week or so of this school term she is very busy with projects that need to get finished, but she will check it out and make sure everything arrived intact. She is excited about getting the camera. What a darling she is, and I would do anything for her!

If everything goes according to plan I should be somewhere in Nevada this time next Friday. I'm trying to keep my excitement in check because of the potential for disappointment. I am looking forward to what should be unlike any other trip I've taken across country.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Then and Now (2nd post May 5)

I keep forgetting to post these, so there is nothing like the present.




I think I'd lose my head . . .

. . . if it wasn't attached! I misplaced cell phone chargers to both phones, and also my old Minolta camera. I've searched high and low in every box and bag I've brought with me to Jeannie's, plus every time I go to the storage unit I check the boxes there. Fortunately I taped the contents on all the boxes, although at the last I may have neglected to write down an item I tossed in. I am nearly 100% sure I didn't put them in storage, so they have to be here somewhere. Now I've misplaced Lady's flea and tick meds, which I will definitely need to apply very soon in preparation for our trip.

I even tried a form of self-hypnosis I have used to help me remember where I might have put all these lost items, but I merely succeeded in putting myself to sleep. It's a very good way of bringing on sleep, by the way.

I just checked the weather for the next 10 days out, for Elko NV and Idaho Falls ID. Not that the forecast is all that reliable for 10 days out, but it gives me an idea of what to expect. I figure on camping at Elko, which will be clear and overnight temps down to about 42, but when I noted that showers are expected at Idaho Falls the day/night I should be in that area, I think I will plan on a motel stop. What I'm really hoping to find out is the expected weather for northwestern Wyoming, but I'll have to wait until sometime next week to check that.

There are many places I'd like to see on my trip, but I won't set my heart on any of them, knowing how quickly things can change. Bad weather could affect my plans, and the price of fuel has already impacted the trip I wanted to make - that and not having a camper. I don't regret getting rid of the camper though. The time comes when a person realizes that what had worked before isn't going to work now. Various factors, mainly health and eyesight, have drastically changed my wants and required me to consider my needs.

Pidge, of the Frugal Travelers, is going through much the same dilemma right now, only maybe more so, and my heart goes out to her and Don. One thing that is certain in life is that nothing is certain. I wish them the best, and the courage to make whatever decision they need to live with.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The tent

My tent arrived yesterday, and I set it up right away and again this evening (Tuesday). I can do it so much easier the 2nd time, and it really wasn't difficult the first. I am a bit unhappy that it didn't have a completely full rainfly - the fly is inadequate on the back side of the tent, but I will live with it. I don't have time or energy to be taking things back and having to shop all over again.

What I have is the Big Agnes Jupiter 4. It is considered a backpacking tent for 4 people, but as everyone knows it might be roomy enough for 4 kids, but I wouldn't want to be crammed in with 3 other adult backpackers.

This is the tent from the back side, and the window can be opened to expose a screen window. This picture was taken yesterday and the tent wasn't yet staked down:

This is with the fly attached, and you can see that it doesn't even cover the mesh area above the window.

Here is a view from the side, and you can see that there is good standing room not only in the middle of the tent, but also at the sidewalls.

And the front view. Notice how large the door opening is, both side to side and top to bottom. With the 6' height inside the tent it will be easy for me to enter and exit.

I may leave the fly off altogether on starry nights, and gaze at the skies.

I did the short version of the March of Dimes walk last Saturday morning. I really had hoped to get some good pictures - Sacramento is beautiful this time of year, and our route was a good one for photography. But after taking the first shot of the Capitol dome the batteries died.

I keep forgetting to get a photo of my truck cover. It is a flexible leatherette type material in three parts, and is extremely easy to open and close. Even so, I hope to place items strategically in the rear of the bed so that all I have to do is to open the tailgate to get what I need. Call me lazy if you like.

Now I need to cut a "footprint" from a large tarp I have, to set under the tent and protect it from debris on the ground. I also need to get a mattress pad that I don't need an air pump for - just the thinner backpacking style. I looked at cots but have come to the end of my spending spree.

My granddaughter is taking a course in photography at a college in Delaware this summer and needed a digital SLR camera. I have been researching on the internet, asking others who know more than I do about it, and talking to sales people. I ended up buying her the Sony A-390L (I think I have that right). It is a beautiful piece of equipment and makes me wish I had one myself, although I know I am much too impatient to learn all there is to know, plus to make all the adjustments in lens, f stops, and such, even to take a picture. (I have no clue what an f stop is or what it does, by the way). I am looking forward to seeing her portfolio at the end of the course. She is very artistic and I just know she will take excellent pictures.

I read the course description and noticed that it includes learning to use Photoshop. When Jeannie was bemoaning the fact that I was spending so much money, I told her I knew what Ara could do for me -- take a portrait and then fix it up with Photoshop to remove all the wrinkles, most of the gray hair, and add a few pounds while removing quite a few years! Sounds like an even exchange to me.