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Tuesday, June 6, 2017

On To Plan C

We planned on booking into an RV park near the California grands' house.  Thank goodness for Plan C!   We're always Semper Gumby (Always Flexible) as the RV lifestyle demands.

The area we're in is limited in RV parks, so we didn't have a lot to choose from.  Our first choice, a fairground was completely filled up, so we looked further.  The next RV park wanted $40 a night for just water and electric.  They did have a dump station, but charged $25 to use it, including the RVs staying at the park.  No thanks, we'll hold it in.

The last choice had a $300 weekly rate, or a $600 monthly rate plus electric plus a $600 security deposit.  Trying to wrap our head around that left us crossing that park off the list.  Now in a quandary,  we'd have to look for parks more than an hour a way, plus the requirement to cross a toll bridge.  Not good enough.

Plan C opened up when the neighborhood president said it was okay to stay right in the driveway.  No objection from us, we've plugged into the house electric to keep the batteries charged and the fridge running while using the house showers/bathroom so we don't need to dump tanks.  Plus with the very mild weather and quiet neighborhood, it's fine to sleep in the Journey, nothing better than your own bed.

Things always work out for the best.  Plus we're saving a fortune on campground fees.  No complaints from us.  :c)

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Monday, June 5, 2017

Plan B

Another beautiful California morning to travel, our last day on the road to reach our destination.  Only about 250 miles to go, an easy day for us.  Or so we thought.

Traveling North on Route 99, we discovered another candidate for our "Worst Road" competition.  The highway was lined with beautiful flowering bushes on the median.

As nice as the flowers were, we wished California would have spent more on the road surface and less on bushes.

We rattled along the highway, listening to the sounds of dishes rattling in our cupboards and fillings in our teeth loosening as we encountered another interesting California phenomenon: drivers merging onto the highway without even looking to see traffic coming.  Good thing we have air horns on the Journey.

We slowed down or moved over to make room for the merging cars as often as we could, but three times there was no way for us to do either and relied on the horns to waken the merging drivers to our presence.  I guess a large, 40 foot motorhome towing a car is hard to see.  Or maybe I'm just not familiar with California driving styles.  I survived drivers in New York City and Washington, DC, so I think I'll get the hang of it here.

We originally planned on getting a site at the nearby fairgrounds but it turned out they are filled up for the near future, they operate on a first come, first served basis.  When we talked to their office several days ago, they said they didn't anticipate any problem getting a site.  Fortunately our son drove over there late Sunday morning and found them all filled up, giving us a warning.

We looked up a few other campgrounds and found one that fit our needs but wouldn't have an opening until Monday afternoon.  So, on to Plan B.

We are able to fit in our son's driveway and spent the night there.  Later today, we'll be heading to the nearby campground for our stay here visiting the granddaughters.  Let the spoiling begin!  :c)

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Searching For Elvis

Vegas, Baby!  We crossed into Nevada and headed for La s Vegas, a short drive of 99 miles from our starting point in Bullhead City.  We decided to a bit of a rest day and have a bit of fun.

We pulled into the Circus Circus RV Park, a place where we stayed back in 2002.  It is basically a parking lot and it hasn't changed at all in all the passing years.

We took a swim in the RV park's pool and parked our tired bods in the hot tub, can't pass up a hot tub, even in the desert.

We enjoyed looking at all the sights and casinos that line the Las Vegas Strip.

At night it simply glows with all the lights and neon, a feast for your eyes.

The amount of electricity powering all the lights is staggering.  That's why you see out in the desert large solar panel farms,

and solar mirror farms, where thousands of mirrors beam sunlight to a tower where heat boils water that powers a generator producing megawatts of electricity.

We got some coupons for a great discount on a buffet in the Treasure Island casino and discount tickets to the Blue Man Group comedy show in the Luxor casino.  We've seen that show twice before and enjoyed this show just as much.  It's a must see if you ever get the chance.

Inside the Luxor casino, it is themed like an Egyptian pyramid.  Lots of interesting decorations all though the casino.

Today we left around 10 am with all our money in our pockets, we didn't gamble even a penny in the casinos, we left that for all the thousands of other people to do.  As hard as we looked, we didn't se Elvis anywhere.  Maybe he's on vacation?

 We headed out on I-15 and drove up a long steep section of the highway.  For the very first time that we've owned the Journey (ten years now) the temperature gauge started to climb as we went up in elevation.  I carefully drove, keeping the RPMs of the engine up and shifting so the engine stayed in the power band and wasn't lugged.

Once we crested the long hill, the engine temps went right back to normal.  I would have pulled over if the engine temp got too high but never had to with careful driving.

298 miles driven today, overnighting at a Flying J in Bakersfield, CA.  Topped of my fuel tank with B20 diesel fuel, not crazy about that but since I almost always fuel at a half tank, the remaining fuel should dilute the biodiesel fuel and not cause any power issues.

One more day on the road tomorrow and we'll be arriving at our destination, about 250 miles to go.  Looking forward to seeing the granddaughters.  :c)

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

Friday, June 2, 2017

And The Roughest Road Is...

A toss up between Oklahoma's section of I-40 and Arizona's length of I-40 near Flagstaff.  I'm leaning  more towards AZ because the road was so rough that it made the Anti Lock Brake (ABS) failure warning light illuminate on the dashboard display.  A fine thing to come on just as you are about to descend a 6% grade.  :cO

Now thankfully, with my mechanical background, I knew that the Journey's brakes would still work fine, just the anti-lock feature would not engage (the brake pedal pulsating as the brakes lock and unlocked quickly to prevent a skid on a slippery surface), with the pavement being dry there was no issue.  I just went over in my mind the possibility that one of the ABS sensors found on the back of each brake may have jarred loose.  I planned on checking it out before starting out tomorrow morning.

Luckily, I won't have to, after several engine stops and starts as we stopped for fuel and various other reasons, the light went off.  I'm happy about that and guess maybe a tiny piece of rust was knocked loose off a brake drum with all the bumps and blocked the sensor from reading correctly.  Or the gremlin that was causing the issue was bounced off on an I-40 pothole.  ;c)

With the price of diesel running pretty high in AZ, we kept our eyes "ripped" (thanks for that word, Owie!) for any cheaper offerings.  That caused us to be lost wandering around Flagstaff for the better part of an hour with no bargains found.

We did 359 miles today, even with a late start.  We overnighted at another Walmart and spent some time restocking our larder.  It may have seemed like a long ride, but the scenery was just amazing.

 Mountains looming in the distance.

Beautiful forests of pines in the Kaibab National Forest.

Absolutely amazing rock formations, with all kinds of vibrant colors.  Maybe I should have majored in geology in college instead of criminal justice?

Then there is always another view to bring a smile to your face.

I give the owner a lot of credit, when the roof leaks, just cut it off.  Hey, he does have a mounted spare tire!

Tonight, if you can believe it, we're at a campground in Laughlin, Nevada.  Decided to give the generator a rest and plug into 50 amps.  Sometimes we do break our routine of blacktop boondocking.

Maybe Vegas tomorrow?  Any recommendations on the best casino buffet?

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Wiper Workout

Driving through the Land of Enchantment, also known as New Mexico, we ran in and out of heavy rainstorms.  Interesting how you could see them coming at you.

I'm glad I replaced my wipers before we left, money well spent.

We enjoyed seeing the various amazing rock formations and mountain ranges as we drove along.  Nothing quite like it in the East.

Every now and then we came across a not so enchanting view...

Not quite to Arizona, but we need to do a shopping trip in the morning to restock the Journey's cupboards.  Our payback to Walmart for their generosity for overnight stops.

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Armadillos In Amarillo?

The answer is, uh, maybe.  We didn't see any flat ones along the road today, in fact we didn't see any live ones either, so maybe.

With that out of the way, we're overnighting at a Flying J in New Mexico.  We heard their chicken wings calling us.  Road food we've come to love over the years.  The fact that we needed to fuel the Journey also weighed in on our choice of stopovers.  We'll use the dump station in the morning.

403 miles driven today, looks like I'm backsliding in my plan to drive shorter days.  Can't help it, I like to drive.  An earlier start must be to blame.  ;c)

The last time I drove through Texas some years ago, the landscape was covered with oil well pumping stations.  Now there is hardly one to be seen in the panhandle.  Instead, there is a new crop.  Giant windmills.  Everywhere you look.  Energy from a different source.  The farmers who lease the land the windmills are on must be enjoying their "windfall".

What's that up in front of us, a Prevost popping a wheelie?

Nope, it's being towed by a huge tow truck.  Nice to know that even big dollar RVs can break down like the rest of us.  Gremlins have no qualms about attacking even the costliest rigs.

Then there is that odor you smell miles before you see it, the cattle stockyards.  Enough to clear out even the stuffiest nose.  Glad I'm not riding my motorcycle!

It's been interesting to see the variety of prices on the diesel fuel we use.  Usually the cheapest price is either in a station too small to get into or we come upon it after we've filled the tank a bit back down the road.  Gas Buddy may tell you where the best deals are, but I don't want to bend the basement doors on the Journey trying to squeeze into a station to save a few cents.  Body work can wipe out any savings, so I'll gladly spend a few bucks more to avoid bodyshops.

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Monday, May 29, 2017


Another leisurely morning before we set out, we could get used to this.  Moving on with a nice sunny day with little wind is something that makes traveling so enjoyable.

Heading west on I-40 through Arkansas we enjoyed the scenery, I was amazed that this is the distance I rode last year on my motorcycle.  It didn't seem that I went that far, but I do remember then suffering from a sore butt.  No problem covering the same distance in the Journey with its nice soft leather seats.

We decided that it would be good to stop at a campground tonight, we planned to travel a bit of a shorter day and get off the road earlier than we usually do.  But a big jam to our plans developed.

A traffic backup caused by a construction site pushing everyone to one lane stopped our progress.  So we scrapped the campground plan and went to another Walmart for the night.

One thing we noticed traveling in Arkansas was F.A.P.M., better known as Flattened Armadillos Per Mile.  With the amount of armadillos lying along the sides of the highways, it's a wonder that there are any left in the state.  Once we crossed over into Oklahoma, we saw just two.  Maybe they are a smarter breed in Oklahoma.

Yep, the things we do to lighten up our travels.

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Sunday, May 28, 2017

Slowing Down

Almost.  We did only 359 miles today, compared to yesterday's travel.  Good on my part, trying to "brake" the PDD driving style.  Kudos to Sherry for catching my pun in yesterday's post.

We most o often travel in a "get to the destination" posture, not stopping to sightsee along the way.  That is why we often overnight in Walmarts or Flying J truck stops.  For the short time we're staying, it doesn't pay us to hit a campground for $40-$50 bucks for a few hours.

We are Passport America members and sometimes will use them if, and only if they are nearby our route.  It doesn't save us any money to stay at a PPA campground if they are more than ten miles from our route.  With diesel fuel costing an average of $2.50/gallon and the Journey using a gallon about every 7 miles, going too far adds up and can cancel the savings of the campground.

Of course some of the ones we have used over the years have been interesting, to say the least.  One place was no more than a field with an old shed that had a box on the door to leave your money at.  Good thing we were self contained because there were no amenities.  However, one really surprised us, the  French Quarter RV Resort in New Orleans.  PPA was good for one night, then the following stays were at their regular rate of $72/night.  We stayed two nights and had a good time (excellent hot tub on premises).

Anyway, I digress, last night at the Walmart we stayed at was hit with some really heavy weather.  After driving in it part of the day, I was glad we were not rolling.  Except with the winds and beating rain, the Journey was really rocking, reminding me of  storms at sea I experienced while on Coast Guard cutters.

To play it safe, I put down the leveling jacks to stabilize the Journey.  I don't use the jacks when blacktop boondocking to prevent any damage to the pavement, but this time it was the right thing to do,  Found out later there was tornadic activity near the area.  Since I'm writing this post you can surmise tornadoes missed us...

Since we are not in a rush to get to California, we enjoyed a leisurely morning before rolling out at 10:30.  Kind of nice for a change.

We noticed the dash air conditioning was blowing warm so at tonight's Walmart stop (I always give back) I picked up a recharging kit.  I used this a couple of years ago for the same issue and it worked well until now.

A few minutes work and we're back to blowing cold air.  I know there must be a tiny leak in the a/c system on the Journey, but until using these recharge kits every couple of years won't work, then I'll delve into the long hoses and parts of the a/c system to fix it properly.

Hope we have a clear night tonight, I don't have any sea sick pills available.  ;c)

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Rolling Again

We hooked up the Journey and the Element this morning and headed out on our trip to California to visit our four granddaughters who live there.  I can't believe the Journey looks so dirty from sitting in the storage lot.  I put it away after our February Florida trip clean.

We did an easy 400 miles, stopping overnight at a Walmart outside of Nashville to enjoy our free stay that only cost me $198.  Yep, the cupboards in the Journey were might empty.

We hit a real heavy rainstorm, a genuine frog strangler.  I passed three poor guys riding motorcycles in that deluge.  It brought back memories from my escapades riding my motorcycle in the rain.  No matter how good my rain gear was, it always seemed to funnel water right into my crotch area.  As I was remembering that wonderful feeling, I suddenly felt water dripping on my leg.  The wind driven rain was actually being force in through  the gasket sealing the driver side window.  That was a wakeup, never had that happen before.  I'll be taking a close look at that gasket and all the caulking anyway, it's due for a close inspection.

We're going to take a slow ride to CA, we plan on stopping at some sites along the way, trying to brake the PDD habit.  :c)

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Days Ahead Look Brighter

We had my Dad stay with us for over a month while he recuperated from his heart attack.  He got better with good progress every day.  Even though he enjoyed being here, he wanted to go home to his house, so with coordinating things with my brothers and sister, we shuttled him home to NJ, meeting one of my brothers halfway there in Virginia.  He is home now with the family keeping a close eye on him with several regular visits a week.

While he was here, we did a lot of little things to get him out of the house each day and some larger things like a visit to Charleston.  Dad had never been there, so it was a treat for him to see the city in person.  Because he is not able to walk long distances, I bought a wheelchair and pushed him around.

He enjoyed the sights and sounds of Charleston, like the market with all the items for sale there.

Then we took a horse drawn trolley tour around the city.

It was a good day with great memories.

In the mean time, I have been doing a bit of volunteer work of a slightly different kind.  I've been helping hour a few hours each week at the USO at the Columbia airport.  I've been enjoying serving all the military folks and their families as they pass thought the airport on their way to and from assignments.

It's amazing how many businesses support the USO mission to serve the troops.  The donations are something to see, like Coca Cola donates all the soft drinks and the cooler to keep them in.

Starbucks donates the coffee and tea.

Stores in the airport donate snacks.

The USO has tables and chairs for the service members to sit and relax at as well as computers and TV's to use.

Located on one wall is a display showing the airline flight information.

The USO has about 150 volunteers staffing the center 7 days a week. form 8am to 9pm.  In 2016, this USO handled more that 130,000 service members and their families.  The volunteers work three hour shifts with three volunteers per shift. 

It's been very rewarding to be a part of the USO team.  I've been enjoying the time, interacting with the service members of all branches.  The thing I enjoy the most is being able to volunteer on something that doesn't require the use of a paintbrush!  :cD

Now we're getting ready to head out in the Journey the last week of May to California to visit our granddaughters that live there.  It's been a long time since we've been out that way so we're looking forward to the trip.

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.