And so my journeys continue!!!!

When last I wrote I was down in Mesa, Az. for the winter….  Now it is full-blown summer 2009 and I am on a journey the likes of which I could only dream about before.

Last March I was okay’ed to return to work up in McCloud, Ca. by the owner’s wife, so when May 1st rolled around I was already heading that way, having departed Mesa the evening before accompanied by my dear son and his family who had come down a week before with the notion of seeing me plus making themselves a nice little vacation by travelling to California my way!  My way being back up through Nevada and in through Calf. via Susanville since the van cannot haul the trailer over Donner Pass.

We took off in the middle of rush hour traffic for Flagstaff, Az. the last day of April.  Spent the night in the parking lot of Wal-Mart with scads of other rvs’ doing the same as us.  The following morning we headed towards the Grand Canyon!  Yes, I got to see it for the 1st time in my life!  I was over the moon and have plans to go back when I have time off again this fall, because for all that I saw of it I still have seen only a small portion of that beautiful creation.

We next headed towards the Hoover Dam (which I had sworn to never cross again, but had to eat my words and actions!)  A few miles after turning off at Kingman my son suddenly signalled to pull over, their 2 month old truck was sounding “funny”.  Luckily, there was a small gas station out there in the middle of nowhere, so we pulled in and ran the diagnostics on it.  Being a diesel it can run tests on itself, but everything seemed normal.  Well, figuring that for some unknown reason it might be overheating (the van wasn’t), we let it set for about 30 minutes and slowly headed back on the road.  Trevor felt that he would be better taking her slow till he could figure out what might be going on, so I followed with my hazard lights blinking for both rigs.  Trev didn’t want me to have to stare at their hazards as we trailed down the road, so he left them off.

About 15 miles south of the Hoover Dam, about 8 p.m. at night I suddenly was enveloped in this beautiful blueish cloud of the stinkiest smell you have come across unless it was the smell of a skunk.  Trevor realised it was the truck and once again pulled off the road.  So did I.   At that point he had to turn on his hazards to warn everyone that we were in trouble.  I sat behind them realizing their lights were not running in sync with mine. Mine would blink off and theirs would blink on.  Darned things continuously blinked and reflected into my eyes either straight from their rig or straight off of their rig because mine shown off the paint job!

Upshot of that night, and for which there is a whole separate story about (I’ll consider writing it all out another time)……….  A semi capable tow truck was sent out to collect their truck and fifth wheel trailer, plus several family members, as myself, my daughter-in-law and middle grandson drove across the dam into Boulder City to be met with winds gusting in the range of 45 and 50 miles per hour.  I pulled into a strip mall parking lot and there we sat from 10:30 p.m. till the tow truck appeared at about 2 a.m.  I just couldn’t drive in that wind so my son and I swapped places for the ride into the Las Vegas KOA where we had reservations for the night or what was left of it. Oh, we got settled about 4 a.m., so that will give you a clue of how little of the night was left!

One thing lead to another, the truck was picked up the next morning by the Ford dealership and there we all sat.  Kind of a good place to be stuck, there were stores within walking distance and taxis available if needed.  I only spent an extra 2 nights there as I needed to head for Cal. once it was determined the family was not going anywhere any time soon.  Seems as how there had been a recall on some parts that the kids were not notified about and that was what had malfunctioned.

They spent most of a week in Vegas and I spent most of that time in Cal. as I only needed 2 more days of travel to reach my destination.

Imagine my surprise (and that of Tricia, the manager) when a day or two later the HR dept. head called wanting to know what the heck I was doing back without her prior permission.  Well, one thing lead to another as Tricia and I tried to get her to understand that permission had been granted even though it had come from higher up (the owner’s wife) when she had not answered the emails Tricia had sent back in March.

So, after waiting a week for season to really spring into action, I went to work part time for one week and then full time for two weeks thereafter.  Then, the axe fell and I found myself without any more employment as the owners had other plans for the park.  They didn’t include me nor did they include Tricia who had managed the park for nearly 3 years.

Well, to backtrack a bit.   My son and family did arrive in McCloud during that first week I had been back.  We enjoyed each other’s company and grandma got to be grandma with her 3 boys a whole bunch!  I even took them fishing one afternoon and made them the proudest of grandsons, cause they caught trout!  And, I mean trout!  Between them, in less than 2 hours they caught 11 “keepers”!  We had fish for dinner that night!  And, the next afternoon they went back alone (it was only across the road from the park in a creek out front of the Forest Service Dept.) and they caught 7 more! LOL  Talk about some happy fishermen!

Anyway, they finally had to take off after being there for a week, and I needed to start working full time by then.  Little did we know how things were going to change on June 1st.  That was my last day of work though I sure had no clue until that day was over.

So, I did the only thing I could, I raced for Montana, after warning the kids I was on my way.   Only took 3 days, even in gusting winds, hail and torrential rains.  Man, I was glad to finally be able to stop and rest after that trip!

Then began the frustrating try for another job to get me through the summer till time to head back down to Mesa.  I actually was 1st place for a position in New Mexico, until a couple who had worked in that little park saw the ad and asked for their old jobs back.  They won out and I went back to looking.  Granted, there are lots of jobs out there, but either they were so far away from this end of the country or they needed people to stay longer than I could or they didn’t pay worth a hill of beans, and so passed the month of June with me sitting in the kids’ driveway.

Okay, I could handle being sort of idle for 3 months (the kids taught me how to 4 wheel, so idle wasn’t really what I would have been all of the time) if needed, but the kids didn’t need me parked there disrupting their lives for that long, so the more I tried to find a job, the less fortunate I became, and the more unhappy I became, as they noticed.

It was time for something to change, but what?

The kids came up with the answer, bless their hearts!  Not one that I really wanted to accept, but one that was the only way to solve my problems.  They gave me a really awesome early birthday present that I still cannot believe I have accepted, but also know that it was the only way to turn my life back around.  Yep, they gave me some expense money and sent me on my way (no, I didn’t have to leave, but that’s what I have done).  They needed their own lives back, and I need to not be feeling like a total mooch while I wait for the middle of Sept. to arrive with me then in Mesa once more.

The money was to allow me to wander wherever I might care to, even if it was little jaunts around the area, but I took it one step further as had they and am now on a very extended vacation, the first I have taken in 30 years.

So, where has this vacation taken me so far?  The first night I made it as far as Billings, Mt. where I stayed the night in the world’s 1st KOA campground!  Yep, that’s where those parks all began, who would have thought?!!

The second day found me on the road towards North Dakota.  Bowman, to be exact.  My plan was to spend a night there and then head down into South Dakota.  Well, I saw Bowman for just a few minutes and then I took off once more.  The weather reports had not been delightful with threats of hail the size of golf balls, so I decided I had to stay ahead of the storms.  I covered over 400 miles in just one day thanks to additional threats of tornadoes!!!!!!!!!!  I had forgotten that I was headed for Tornado Alley!  Well, I landed in Belle Fourche, South Dakota without any mishaps and there I stayed for a week.  Found an inexpensive little park by the river and used it as home grounds while I scoped out the area.   Actually, I took a day trip to the Devil’s Tower in Wyoming (a place I hadn’t seen in 20 years) and then I explored the little city of Spearfish, SD, where I finally started collecting the makings for a scrapbook of my travels since turning to full time rv’ing as a way of life.

In the process, I also found another little RV park much more to my likng and so I moved here on Wednesday of this week.  It’s still part of Belle Fourche, but it’s 3 miles out of town on the Red Water River.  Great park, lovely owners and I would recommend this park to anyone!  It’s called Wyatts’ Hideaway Campground & RV Park, on route 34.  At this point I am set to leave on the 22nd, but am thinking of extending yet another week, leaving on the 29th.  Sturgis Biker’s Rally begins the 1st of Aug. , so I want to clear out before the crowds begin to hit.  I have nothing against bikers, but I just feel that I will need to be gone by that time.  Heck, I still have places to explore beyond the state of South Dakota!  With the time I have to fill, moving on once in a while is the only thing to do, though I prefer not hitting the summer heat of Az. any sooner than I have to.  If all goes as planned, I will drop down into western Nebraska next (my birth state) and then angle into the flattest parts of Colorado, down around Colorado Springs, I hope.  And, after checking out such places as Mesa Verdi and maybe even Telluride, I will head into upper New Mexico if it isn’t too steep for the van, trailer and I to drive into.  Going to take I-25, so hopefully it will all be passable for my needs.  There I hope to see Taos, Santa Fe, etc. and then later in August head down towards Las Cruces to begin my swing back into AZ. via Tombstone and Tucson!!

Actually, I explored a couple of places just a couple of days ago.  I drove back to Deadwood/Lead area by traveling through the Spearfish Canyon Scenic Byway.  Gorgeous trip right into the Black Hills!  Haven’t been in this area in 20 years (and that was only a pass through on the way to my father’s funeral in Nebraska, that’s when I also last spotted Devil’s Tower as my brother and I drove along the interstate).

Well, Deadwood and Sturgis have both changed in ways that broke my heart.  20 years ago there were no real casinos in Deadwood, it really lived up to its name then, now it is overwhelmed with casinos for those who enjoy that kind of life.  Personally, I do like to hit a casino now and again, but not when I am unemployed!!!  So, I rattled around the hills for an afternoon and then came back to my little home on wheels.

Today I took another road trip, one that I haven’t taken in 50 years!  Yes, I wrote that right!  50 years!  I was all of 5 or 6 years old when I last was at Mt. Rushmore………  Heck, Mt. Rushmore wasn’t much older than I was when I was there for my 1st visit!!  It was finished in 1941 and I was born in 1952, so I was there some time in the latter part of the 50s’ when the mount was only about 15 or so years old. Now while the approach is the same, the area is so much more grown into what that spectacular mount deserves.  The grounds are developed so one and all can see this wonder and revel in the beauty of this dream come true and still not intrusive.   My breath was totally taken away when I drove around that last curve before my arrival at their gates.  No, I can’t begin to describe this wonder, it has to be experienced by each and everyone of you to be understood.  So, if you haven’t been to Mt. Rushmore make plans, do it this year or do it as soon as you can, just DO IT!  It is a lifetime experience no one should miss.  Oh, and remember Crazy Horse is in the same area, just a slightly different road to get there.  Because I was so overwhelmed with my trip today I didn’t go see Crazy Horse yet, but I will be heading out again on Monday or Tuesday, just for that purpose and for another look at Mt. Rushmore.

I have been so blessed to be making this journey back in time (my lifetime, that is).  A child will go where it is told, an adult will go where it chooses, most of the time at any rate, so the experiences are totally different.  What I have seen both at Devil’s Tower and Mt. Rushmore have reminded me of those family trips taken as a child, but these adult trips are worth a whole lot more!

I nattered on long enough, once again.  Next time I’ll try to make it shorter, like after each little expedition, okay?  Much easier to write and read if it is done as a travel blog and not as a book with each entry.

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Living a life of “1sts”….

Yep, that just about says it all!

I haven’t updated my blog in ages, have I?

Well, that’s about to change!  Don’t say I haven’t warned you all!

The reason I’ve decided to stop and share a bit more of what I have been up to of late…..  Speaking to a dear friend for the 1st time in almost a year.  She called today and it came back to me that I really have been so busy making a new life for myself that I haven’t kept up with my past in some time.  So, thanks, Marilyn, for digging me out again!

Things have gone from stupendous to super superb as the past months have flown by. And, the months have flown!  I’ve been in Mesa over 4 months now, though it only seems like I arrived a few days ago.

The rv resort, Orangewood Shadows is gorgeous!  The orange, lemon and grapefruit trees are loaded with fruit, much of it just about ready for picking and enjoying. (Actually, these trees are such a delight to the eye that they remind me of beautifully decorated Christmas trees).  Some of the different types of oranges are already ripened (Navals being one of my most favorite of choices) and the lemons and both red and yellow grapefruit.  I’ve had plenty of all to eat as I wait for the Valencias on my tree to finish ripening next month. Not only have I enjoyed the fruits themselves, but I’ve been learning about those glorious fruits most of us have only found in supermarkets.   Honestly, I always bought oranges when they were on sale, so never bothered to learn which breeds were likeliest to not have seeds or to have the least seeds of the breeds available. Nor which were tastiest as an eating fruit versus those that make a delightful glass of fresh squeezed juice.  I’m learning though and totally thrilled by what I have learned!

I do have to tell you of my special Christmas gift……..  Yeah, it has to do with oranges so read on if you care to.

When I arrived here all of the trees had what looked to me to be ripe or almost ripe fruit on them, I was rather bummed when I learned how wrong I had been in this assumption as nothing had reached the stage where I could stop and pick my first “fresh from the tree” orange.  Well, patience is a virtue (so they tell me) and one that is usually rewarded with time.  So, I watched these trees and dreamed of when I would be able to experience what seems to me to be the ultimate delight of living in such an area as Arizona at this time of the year.  Okay, on with my story…..  About a week before Christmas I was again hopping out of my car by “my” orange tree when I realized that one of the oranges was looking different from all the rest I could see.  I don’t know how to describe it, but it was more orange looking than the rest, like it had put on a special glow to get my attention.  I went up and looked at it, compared it to the fruits around it and even gave it a gentle squeeze.  It had no green tint in its skin as the others did, it was brighter in color than all the rest…….Most of all, it “gave” a bit when I squeezed it.  Knowing the fruit was not to ripen any time soon I gave up my inspection and came into my little house on wheels for the night.  Each day leading up to Christmas Eve I did stop and visit that orange as it continued to draw my eye to it time and time again.  Each day I was sure that my desire to pick an orange outweighed what that orange was telling me, so I stepped away and just prayed I was not being totally silly with my belief that that orange was going to be a special gift to me soon.  I finally had to give that orange what to me was one last test on Christmas Eve day, shortly before sundown.  I went up to it (wouldn’t you know it was right at my eye level) and after telling that little orange what I had in mind, I reached out and gave a very gentle tug on it.  I had promised myself that if it didn’t come away easily I would leave it alone, but if it did come away it would be my Christmas orange the next day.  Well, I ate my orange for breakfast the next morning after having it almost fall off the tree into my hand.  I was so stunned that it had come away and so easily, that I just stood there in wonder for several minutes.  I was given the most precious (to myself anyway) of gifts for the most special day of the year, I was totally amazed and still am for that matter!  My 1st picked by myself orange!  What a treasure and what a blessing!  Since then not another orange has fully ripened on that tree, though in a month they should all be ready for picking, and I’ll be here waiting not only to enjoy them myself, but to share with many of the wondrous people I have come to know in this park.

Okay, as it says in the heading, I’m living a life of 1sts; the orange is just one of many I have experienced.  I made my 1st trip pulling my little house totally unescorted by family members this past fall when I moved from N. Calif. down here to Az.  I’ve spent my 1st winter ever in an area where I didn’t need a winter coat for even a few days of the season (when I was young I spent one winter in S. Calif. but still needed a warm coat as I lived near the ocean and the breezes got pretty cool), here I’ve only put on a light fleece jacket a couple of mornings.  I experienced my 1st Thanksgiving and my 1st Christmas totally away from my own flesh and blood, even if we didn’t have many chances to share holidays when we lived nearer each other.  I thoroughly loved having about a hundred and fifty friends to share those meals with as we have the holidays here in the park for all who care to join in on not only the eating, but also the cooking of our meals.

I’ve learned to be more comfortable speaking into a microphone (I host a coffee (another 1st) every Thursday morning to any of the residents who care to come for donuts, coffee and an update of events happening in the park each week).  When I first arrived I was tickled to see about 38 people come out to meet me, imagine my surprise when after the holidays were over I suddenly found myself facing over 200 people at one time! That was quite a 1st!!! LOL  I had been warned, and yes, the numbers attending had grown considerably as the park began filling, but the numbers doubled overnight with the 1st of the new year!  I had been told the mike was necessary when the hall began to fill.  Silly me, I really didn’t think the hall would ever fill enough that just raising my voice wouldn’t carry to everyone there!!!  Well, I have been using the mike, like it or not,  I am a person who talks with her hands and that darned thing kept running away from my face for a while when I lifted the hand holding it for whatever I was trying express.  I’ve learned to just walk around the room instead! LOL  No one knows where I’ll pop up next as I yak on that thing, but I would never be able to have them all hear me without my mechanical aide.

More 1sts…….  I’ve been to live dinner theatre shows, to theatre in the round (also live), I’ve driven the Apache Trail…….  Not planning on ever doing that again! LOL  Been there, done that!

For those of you who do not know of this particular road, I recommend not driving it if you are at all afraid of heights or mountainous gravel roads that seem to go on forever even when the signs assure you that its only 22 miles of gravel!  I will never drive that one again!  Oops, I believe I have said that more than once! LOL  Sorry about that, but that 1st was definitely a one time only for me!  I drove through the Superstition Mountains!  Not through them actually, but up them and down them and all around some of them!!!  What a trip!  Thinking it would only take 3 hours or so, imagine my shock to find myself and a new friend driving for more than 5 and a half hours, in a “loop” of a road, to still be more than an hour from Mesa by the time we had made that much of the trip!  Don’t get me wrong, I’m delighted I made the trip as I got to visit the Goldfield Ghost Town and even stopped at Tortilla Flats for a bit of a break and I even got to see the Roosevelt Dam after a couple of hours driving……..But, I discovered there was nothing on the rest of that trip that would ever make me feel I had “missed out”  if I had never seen it that time!! LOL  Yoikes!!  What a “hairy” road that one was for a mini-van!   Dorothy from  the “Wizard of Oz” had it right though when she said her very famous line.  “There’s no place like home, there’s no place like home…….”  Even if home moves with me whenever I travel to another location to work!!!  I was most happy when I pulled into my driveway that night! LOL

I’ve experienced what is reputedly the largest flea market in this country that remains open nearly year round and for the most part is considered to be an outdoor market.  Housed in at least 4 huge Quonsets the sides of the buildings are open to the elements (though the folks who rent the spaces usually hang tarps to act like a back wall in their space and keep out the sun, or rain when we happen to get some).  In these buildings people come every weekend and set up shop selling whatever you could possibly want to buy.  I got my 1st Arizona Dirt shirt there (dyed with the orange dirt of this state), totally “cool” to know that the rich reddish orange dirt is so full of iron that it can stain a shirt the way it does.  I’ll keep that shirt for years just to remind myself of the vibrant colors to be seen wherever you look around here.

I’ve also gotten used to dealing with total strangers for setting up entertainers to come to this park on a weekly basis to give their own “live” shows to our residents.  We have seen all kinds of acts so far, with many more to come before the end of season, and even more to come as my office sets up dates for next year.  I can’t wait to see how those shows appeal as most of them are my own choices!  I quake in my sandals whenever I wonder if I have chosen right or whether my “take” on the people here is wrong.  Guess I’ll have my answers beginning this coming fall!!!

While I haven’t yet made my 1st trip to the Grand Canyon I will be going in the next couple of months…  Oh how I am looking forward to that day and that stupendous creation of nature!!!!!!!  Maybe I’ll even remember to take some pictures when I’m there, I usually forget the camera so far! LOL

I could go on and on, each day presents me with yet another 1st, but its’ getting late and I’ve either kept your attention too long or lost you completely………..Still I  had to share more of the wonders my new life has brought me!

I almost forgot the most important 1st…………  My little house on wheels celebrated its 1st birthday in the family this month!  This time last year my DS and DDIL found this little snug beauty for me in Butte, Mt. !!  Okay, I won’t have lived in her for a a full year till the middle of March but that’s just around the corner time-wise! LOL

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I Promised I would Get Back Again..

So, I guess I better do something about it! LOL

My trip, as many may have figured out had a couple of minor glitches in it as I traveled from N. Calif. to Arizona, but all things considered, it went quite smoothly for this still newbie rv’er. I have a feeling I’ll be a newbie for a long time since I don’t actually pull up stakes and move that often! LOL

I was very pleased though the morning I left Calif.  Instead of having a case of the shakes like I had experienced when parting with my family back in April, I actually felt quite comfy with the notion of just driving.  Of course, within about 20 minutes of taking off I came across a spot of road construction to add a bit of spice to the start of the day.  I was lucky though, first place in line was mine, so I didn’t have to sit and smell someone elses’s exhaust while I looked over my map again.  Once I got back on the road I cruised along for quite some time enjoying the view and thinking of those I was leaving behind.  Who would have thought I would be so lucky to have spent my first summer “rootless” with such a wonderful group of people!

I hit my second spot of road construction before Susanville, Ca.  Luckily the line was fairly short as we were on a mountainside at the time and I really wasn’t looking forward to sitting there indefinitely with a 19′ travel trailer hooked on to my van! LOL  We did set for a while, but once moving again I had pretty smooth sailing out of the state and on into Nevada where I stopped my first night at a great little park called Frontier in Hawthorne.  Nothing fancy, but run by a true gentleman of a manager.  More about him and my trials and tribulations of the night are talked about in the Tips post (about valve stems).  Bless his heart for being so helpful!

Once I got back on the road the next day it was pretty smooth sailing much of the day.  I do wonder how I stayed on the road as well as I did though as I spent an awful lot of time craning my neck from one side of the road to the other.  Do you have any idea how many years it has been since I last looked at a cactus (let alone hundreds of them stretching as far away as I could see) in it’s native habitat?  And Joshua Trees!  The landscape was a delight for my eye, though radically different from the views in Montana or N. Calif.!

My second night was spent in Indian Springs, Nv. (won’t be staying there again though I felt quite safe in my little house on wheels).  Little details that make a park a memory worth keeping were missing.  That it wasn’t in the heart of Las Vegas was it’s appeal to me, as I really did not want to take on the traffic anymore than I had to in that town!

I do have to say, for as large a city as Las Vegas is, the traffic at about 10 in the morning isn’t too bad at all! LOL  I drove right thru on Hwy. 95 with only a couple of slow downs.  Considering all I had been told about the horrors of their roadways, I didn’t see anything worse than I had experienced in the past around Spokane or Seattle, Wa. when I had to traipse off to those cities ( and I wasn’t towing anything then!).

I had planned on traveling down Hwy. 95 into Blythe, Ca. for my third night of my journey, but DS convinced me on the phone the night before to take Hwy. 93 instead…….  Now, this comes after he tells me it is never really a good idea to change your plans once you have your route laid out………..  LOL  Never fear, I did make it thru the area without too much difficulty (I did turn off at the wrong exit for the hwy.) but that oops was easily remedied.  The part that really blew my mind and freaked me out was the crossing of the Hoover Dam!!!!! Yoikes!  First off, instead of being able to follow the truck route around town, I stayed on what was supposedly the direct hwy. route and couldn’t find a single sign to point me the way I needed to go.  The folks I yelled out the window to at one point had no more idea than I did as to whether I was on the right track or not either.  Well, when all else fails, going forward is usually a pretty good solution, isn’t it?!!!!  Since I was more or less in a residential area, I chose to believe it was at any rate, so forward I went!  Saw a beautiful big lake out of the corner of my eye, turns out it was Lake Mead.  Had I read my maps recently?  Not on your life! LOL  I just decided to go with what DS had suggested to me the night before and prayed I was going to get somewhere close to Wickenburg, Az. before nightfall.

Well, imagine my shock and surprise when the road suddenly starts getting twisty and heading in a downward direction and I’m seeing more and more signs saying trucks were not to cross the dam……….   I did vaguely remember DS mentioning something about Hoover Dam, but with the phone connection being rather scratchy I had thought he had said I would see the Hoover Dam, not drive over it!!!!!  Oh man, I really was not sure I was ready for this little trek after all, but with traffic in front of me and behind me, to say nothing of traffic climbing out of the same canyon I was driving down into, there was no place to even stop and shake a while!  I finally got to where the dam officially started to be greeted by a policeman from the Homeland Security, really nice man who could only chuckle when he learned I was quaking in my sandals and swearing I was going to kill my son for changing my travel plans for me!  After his peeking into my house and wishing me a good trip, I had no choice to push on.  Well, I drove over the dam, it really isn’t that long a trip, but could I tell you what it looked like?  Not on your life! LOL  I had a real good view of the road I was on and the section of it ahead of me.  Remember, what goes down usually has to go up????!!!!!  It did and I did too and it really wasn’t as bad as I had feared.  The speed limit is so low that nobody could be upset by my having to take my time hauling out of there, they couldn’t go more than 25 miles an hour either! LOL  Do I want to cross the Hoover Dam again???  Not if I can find a way around it, but I will if I have no choice.  It probably was a view worth seeing and maybe if I went over it again I would have chance to look around.  I’ll just have to see what happens come spring.

Now, things have been going pretty well so far, don’t you think, all things considered???!!!!!  Couldn’t last forever, I have to tell you!  I drove on for some time, had to finally stop for gas again and before I left whatever town I was in at the time (it escapes me now though it had some of the prettiest adobe buildings for me to squeal over as I drove in) I had to have a new set of shocks put on the back end of the van.  Now that isn’t a big deal is it?  Well, try watching a guy crawl under the jacked up rear end of your vehicle with a trailer still attached to it and see if you don’t feel a bit differently about it! LOL  Bless his heart, he said he could do it and he did though I wasn’t the only one keeping an eye on him.  His co-workers all found they had nothing better to do than stand there with me and watch to be sure the jack didn’t come down on him!

Back on the road once more and headed for my night’s stopping place of Wickenburg, Az.  Yes, I had finally spent a bit of time with my maps and knew I didn’t want to proceed any further or I would find myself in Phoenix’s traffic at rush hour…….  Not a good idea at the best of times.  So, instead of continuing I spent a bit of time getting lost in that sweet little town until some guys at a car lot got me pointed in the right direction for finding Jack Burden road, which according to my campground directory would lead me to the Desert Cypress RV Resort.  All that I talked about in my post called “Almost There” so I won’t bore you with it all again, just know that this is one place I would happily return to any time.  If you ever drop in there tell Jim and his wife Jeri (I didn’t get to meet her, unfortunately) that female “nut” from Montana says Hi!

So, to the end of my journey we have come…  At least this chapter of it.

I arrived with no more mishaps, to be welcomed by my new boss Derald and my co-workers Jenny and Lea on Friday afternoon, just a week and a half ago.  I think I am going to be quite happy here, too, though I sure wish the temps would come down to a more normal range! LOL  Dang, it is hot here!  Been getting into the low hundreds’ every day and doesn’t cool below the high 70s’ at night yet.  According to the weather people this is not a normal thing. it is usually only in the 90s’ at this time of the year.  It figures, when I arrive, the temps decide to be mean! LOL

The new job???!!!!!!  It’s going to be a challenge, but a lot of fun also, I have a feeling!  After all, I’m not only getting to help set up fun things to do this year and somewhat for next year, but I also get to take part in any of the activities I want to.  Dinner theatres, dancing, Bingo, lunches out in town and much, much more!

I’ll keep you posted on some of the activities as my winter out of the cold temps of Montana progresses.

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Tips I’ve Picked Up Along the Way………..

Now, these may seem to come just from me, but they don’t.  Many I can tell you whom they are from, others I may not remember whom to credit, but I am sure going to try.

1.  An easy way to remember how to back up your travel trailer when you are as inexperienced as I am still.

Put one hand on the lower edge of your steering wheel and push that hand gently in the direction you want the rear of the trailer to turn.  Tricia told me that one some time back and yesterday I got a chance to try it.  It does work!  Of course, you do still have to wiggle and waggle once you have gone as far as you can with each movement, but having to use two hands is so much more confusing than just the one hand routine.  Whoever taught her that one was a real lifesaver!

2.  Have your shocks checked regularly.  I know, it isn’t something a woman normally thinks about, but it is very important!  I got lucky and had a very caring gentleman in Kingman, AZ.  point out to me that my shock on the left side of the van was worn out almost completely, on my trip down here.  Sure it did cost me to have them replaced, but I now have brand new life time warranted heavy duty shocks on the van so she can handle hauling the trailer without danger of breaking down the rear end of the van.  DS had just put new shocks on the van before giving her to me, but they weren’t heavy duty enough, I guess.  Either that or someone owes him for faulty shocks which he will check into since I told him what happened.

Oh, and believe me when I say that just relying on the tire shop to check your shocks or brakes when you go in for a tire repair or replacement will not always insure that they will point out worn shocks or other parts of your vehicle that have to do with the tires and driving system around them.  Asking to have these checked is always your best policy.

3.  Before moving to a new location, pull your mini-blinds into the open position.  Jimmy, the maintenance man at McCloud RV Park told me that one.  The little latch systems wear out and you can end up with twisted, mangled messes that need replacing if you don’t raise them.  Besides, if you think about a bouncing, flying around blind……..Yep, you might even end up with a broken window if the circumstances were right.

DS or DDIL may have also mentioned this to me when they were helping me get ready to become an rver, but you know, they sure were having to teach me a lot all at once, so that one may have flown on thru! LOL  My brain felt like it had fried after trying to learn so much so fast.

4.  Check your valve stems on your tires….  Seems like a silly thing to do, doesn’t it?  Well, it isn’t.  I ended up with a flat on the trailer, thankfully I had stopped for a night in Hawthorne, NV. at the Frontier RV Park when I discovered the tire was very low.  The manager of the park was a very sweet and helpful gentleman who aired up my tire that evening so we could get an idea of what was wrong, and then came back in the morning to not only air it up again, but also to lead me by back streets out to the tire repair shop where I used the other hint he had given me and had the valve stem replaced with a steel one.  Also followed his advice and had them check the other tires.  Turned out every one of them, including the spare tire had bad stems.  They now all sport shiny metal valve stems which will never wear thru.  DS saw an article in his Trailer Life magazine today about some faulty valve stems that were being recalled………Might mine have come from that bunch?  You bet there is a good probability they were!  Very rarely do you find 5 valve stems gone or going bad at the same time.  The good Lord was most definitely watching over me when that tire went flat.  First off – I was in a safe location.  Secondly – I was put in the park where I was most likely to get a caring person’s help (I had a choice of 3 parks in the area, and kept going back to the Frontier as my park of choice for the night) and thirdly – the gentleman had enough knowledge to be able to tell me there was such a thing as steel valve stems.  I’d seen them before, but didn’t know you could buy them specifically, guess I assumed you got them on some vehicles because they looked pretty, not because they had a better “life” of usage.  From what I understand the tires will go long before those stems because the only rubber part with them is the gasket on the inside which is least likely to have moisture or road chemicals attack it due to the location of them.

I know there are more, so will add to this post as I think of them, and please, if you have any to share…………  Do so, and I will happily make them available to all who read my blog.

Oh, something to add to your Christmas list, or to go out and purchase for yourself if you don’t want to wait that long……  Some type of air compressor for your tires.  Now, I’m not talking just any air compressor.  The gent that helped me in Hawthorne had one that was called “TruckAir” and it had a PSI of 275.  That part is the most important.  if you don’t get one with a high enough PSI you will likely have it burn its motor out before it has aired up a single tire.  He said it happened to him years before and the compressor he used on my tire was the one he replaced it with, so it’s been around for some time.  Nicest part, it is compact and light enough for a woman to handle alone if she needs to! And, it has a cigarette type lighter connector on it, so it can plug into one of the 12 volt plugs in your vehicle or the one (if you are as lucky as I am) just inside your trailer by the light switch on the wall.  Mine is actually on the same switch plate as the one I can connect to cable t.v.  Brand is up to you, but since I know this one works, it’s what I’ll be looking for when I get settled in Mesa.

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Almost There!!!!!!!!

I arrived in Wickenburg, AZ. yesterday afternoon and found a most delightful rv park called Desert Cypress off the highway tucked in behind a McDonald’s’ and Subway on a little street called Jack Burden Rd.  If I hadn’t stopped and asked a couple places for directions (its in the city limits so they can’t post a sign along the road to give you a heads up) I would have probably given up looking for it and gone on down the road and then cussed for being so tired and not having a place to stay without going the extra 2 hours or so into Mesa.  Having gotten to the right place I also chose to stay here 2 nights as I am not expected in Mesa until tomorrow and I needed the rest.  This beautiful little park is a real haven (I normally can’t nap during the day for any reason, but just woke from a 2 hour nap in the middle of the afternoon! LOL). If ever you find yourself near it, go ahead and check them out.  One thing to remember though, it is a 55+ park, so if you are younger than that you may not be so lucky as I was.  It never hurts to ask though if you are just looking for an overnight parking space, does it?  Jim and Jeri may be able to help you out, though this also is a normal “snowbird” park, so should fill up again here in the next few weeks.  Luckily I am ahead of the crowd, so I got a nice little pull-thru once again.  Pull-thru sites are few and far between in most parks I’ve noticed in some of the rv park directories when it comes to areas like Arizona.  Not having to unhitch or back in for short layovers is a real blessing in my eyes and once more I did get lucky in that respect.  My space is right next to the office and just a short walk down the street from the washroom.  Handy for me as I didn’t want to mess with more than the electric hook-ups.  Tomorrow in Mesa will be soon enough for attaching to all the comforts of home again.

Being I’m still tired from such a quick trip, I won’t go into the details of all I saw along the way, or tips I have learned from others for making my travels more enjoyable yet.  I need to be able to think before I try writing all of that! LOL  So, check back in a few days, okay?  I will write, I promise.

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Shasta Dinner Train

Front of train as seen while riding 4 or 5 cars back.

Front of train as seen while riding 4 or 5 cars back.

OMG!!!!!  It was marvelous!  Delightful, magical, whatever you care to fit in there to describe a totally wonderful experience! LOL

We were all treated like royalty as we ate our way across the base of Mt. Shasta from McCloud to Mt. Shasta City and back.

I hopefully will have a few good pix to share in the next day or two, for now I am just whiling away a bit of time writing on the last day of my working here at McCloud Dance Country RV Park, pix posting needs to be done from my computer so I can mess around trying to get the pix where I would like to see them land on a post! LOL  (its’ now the 18th and as you call tell from the pix posted with this message I am learning a bit more about adding media, but I still can’t take credit for the pix taken.  Tricia did them!  I love the one of the train engine that was at the head of our trip.)

Anyway, back to the Dinner Train.

Tricia pulled a “sneaky”, bless her heart, and dropped into their office a couple of days before we were to take our trip and let them know that the 12th was my birthday and that this dinner trip was part of my ongoing birthday celebrating, so when we were taken to our table I was surprised and tickled to find that they had sprinkled confetti on the table and draped a ribbon across my wineglass as a token of my “day”, as they had also done for others celebrating birthdays or anniversaries.  Not that that was the end of their involvement with our celebrating, as they also came around at the end of our trip to present us with the most adorable chocolate locomotive, which is now living in my refrigerator as a souvenir of the trip.

Well, I’m going to try my darnedest to describe our dinner, but I know I will fall short in my description, so use your imaginations and add the mouth-watering part yourselves.

To begin, we each had a glass of a delicious White Zinfandel wine, wish I knew which brand it was as I would like to get that one myself once in a while….  Then, our hostesses brought around a lovely bread basket with 3 choices for our dining pleasure.  Tricia and I fell in love with what Tricia rightly called a “dessert” type bread.  It had been baked in a Bundt pan, so you can imagine how pretty the slices were.  The bread was so dark, heavy, moist and spicy that we all probably would have been happy if that was all they had served us as we rolled along the tracks! LOL  Tricia was the first to add some applesauce from a dainty dish sitting on the table to a bit of her bread, I followed suit shortly and was so glad I did!  The applesauce complemented that bread beautifully!  Anyway, we nibbled on bread and sipped wine till they came around with our appetizers.  Hopefully, one of the pix we each took turned out as they were so prettily arranged that I would love you to see the goodies.  There was  a prawn on a half clam shell with a  cajun sauce for dipping.  Very tasty, would have loved more! LOL  Then there was an almond stuffed date wrapped in a bacon strip with some marvelous glaze that perfectly blended the flavors together.  Last but certainly not least was a focchacia disk with a mild cheese (forgot what they told us it was) topped by a tomato slice and pesto all drizzled with olive oil.  Very pretty on the plate, most delightful when it landed in the tummy! LOL

After that the hostess came around again to let us know we were more than welcome to get up and wander around the train, they have one car that is open air and also a gift shop car just along the way to the front of us.  Quite a few guests decided to brave traversing the cars on the swaying track to check things out, Tricia and I included.  The open car was fun as you could stand there looking out over glimpses of the valley below, when the trees were a bit thinner, and up a bit towards Mt. Shasta, though we couldn’t actually see much of her for all the timber we were rolling thru.  The gift shop car had a variety of goodies to drool over or purchase.  Tricia and I both ended up with the cutest little trains lapel pins!  A lovely little token of our ride.  Thank you, Tricia, I’ll wear it often and smile every time I look at it.

Well, we knew our “train” swaying legs were not going to hold us up forever, and the remainder of dinner was still ahead of us, so we worked our way back thru the cars to our seats to find that in the tradition of fine dining spots our table had been tidied and our napkins were fancy folded once more.

Hang on, got a bit of work to do…. I’ll be back soon with the rest of the trip’s story.

* Had to make a quick insert here, I forgot they also served us a Cesar salad  somewhere along the way.  Can’t remember whether that was before or after our sojourn thru the train to the gift shop, but it was nice and crisp, with just the right hint of dressing and freshly shredded cheese on top.

Okay, back to the dinner……  The main course arrived within 15 minutes of our return to the table.  Tricia had “Moroccan Spring Lamb” over couscous, with some kind of sauce that I can’t remember either, that looked divine and must have been as tasty as it looked, because she cleaned up every bite!  Both of us had the same veggies, green beans with almond slices marinated in something that hinted at amaretto, but not just that.  Really the perfect touch for them.  In the meantime, I had the most enormous “Cranberry Stuffed Chicken Breast” you have ever seen placed in front of me!  And, it was not just cranberries stuffed into a chicken breast, I will have you know!  This was a combination of wild mushrooms, cranberries and cream cheese rolled into the chicken breast which was then rolled in crushed hazelnuts before being baked.  Then, it was topped with a scrumptious mushroom sauce loaded with even more mushrooms!!!!!!!!!  Oh, they also supplied me with 3 baby new potatoes, but I had to pass on eating them after working my way thru 3/4s’ of my chicken breast and my green beans!  I was beginning to feel very overstuffed myself! LOL

But, if you thought our meal was ended, you have to rethink that! LOL  They did give us a bit of time to enjoy the view thru the dining car windows as our dinner settled, which was really a relief, because when dessert time arrived, I was able to find one tiny corner to take in one more goodie! LOL  Sadly, neither Tricia nor myself would be able to say what the dessert was actually called, as they had two choices and several hostesses busily describing the same goodies to people at neighboring tables.  There was some kind of caramel confection that I think was like a baked cheesecake, but I’m not positive that was what I heard as I knew I really did not have that much room left! LOL  Tricia had the right idea and one that I followed in choosing the other dessert.  It looked like a little blanc mange, but was flavored with a hint of lemon and drizzled with a fruit sauce that probably was raspberry, but I’m not certain as they had also sprinkled a variety of fresh berries over the plate.  Very pretty, nice and sweet-tart, and not too heavy for the palate or the tummy.  Neither of us remembered to take pix of the food beyond the appetizer, so you’ll just have to imagine the dishes for yourselves! LOL  We were too busy eating to remember we even had cameras with us by that time! LOL

More in a bit……………..

Well, evening has arrived and almost gone for this day, had to get hitched up to my little house and do some odds and ends of chores preparatory to departing this lovely park in the morning, so I’m just now getting back to the computer.

As you can tell we all dined very well last night and we had a delightful ride which actually covered a good number of miles, I guess you would have to call it a short cut to Mt. Shasta City, before the train headed back here to McCloud.  (By highway it takes us 12 miles to get to Mt. Shasta City, by train I’m not sure). The ride was really neat as we wandered thru forests that you could almost imagine being the first real travelers in; not a soul in sight, nor a house or barn to be seen for some time.  We didn’t actually see any civilization other than one tent and a couple of county roads we crossed till we approached Mt. Shasta City, and that approach was from one you don’t see when you drive a car or truck to town.  This approach was above and behind the town instead.  It was dark by the time we arrived there and true to the train company’s website they had turned on the carriage lights which lined each of the railcars, so we had a totally new perspective of the forest on our return.  A full moon added even more beauty to the trip as it peeked at us thru the trees.

I can tell I’m getting ready to eat again, just reading back thru part of this rather long post has made my tummy rumble, so I think I’ll call it a night and write again after I have been on the road.

TTYL!!!!!!!

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Departure Time Is Almost Here!

I’ve chosen to work through Sunday the 14th just to keep from going nuts waiting for Monday morning’s take off time, but I have to tell you I am still driving myself a bit crazy! LOL  The last 2 days were my days off, so I puttered around rearranging stuff in my cupboards and getting rid of even more stuff I have no clue why I had brought along in the first place, did up my laundry (though I’ll probably throw a small load in Sunday night again), got the van’s oil changed and tires aired up for hauling the trailer.  Just nit-picky little things that needed doing but didn’t exactly use up time or energy, and this morning, since its quite quiet here at work I printed out a few more detailed maps of my route and locations of RV Parks along the way to Mesa.  At lunch today I will return my last library books and say goodbye to the librarian whom I’ve come to know during the course of the summer, already dropped in at the bank to say goodbye to those gals, and stopped at the Candy Shoppe for a last treat of homemade truffles and fudge (not that I really needed either! LOL)

In general, I have done nothing to speed time along or make it slow down depending on what angle I am looking at time from at any given moment! LOL  One side of me says it is taking forever for Monday to arrive so I can begin the next chapter of my “working retirement”, the other side is saying quite the opposite……..Time is racing along and soon I will be driving away from all the wonderful new friends I have made, even if it is only for 7 months.  I think I may have mentioned before that I may be back next May, and again I may not if another more enticing offer comes my way heading me more towards the east.

Before I do leave here though, Tricia and I are going to create another memory for me.  This town used to be very active; logging mills, etc. but over time most all that has shut down leaving behind a very interesting history for those who care to read up on it and another wonderful piece of history that’s still alive…. It’s now called the Shasta Sunset Dinner Train and is available to any who care to make a 3 hour trip back into time on Mt. Shasta.  The train cars are restored vintage cars, the dinners are prepared by gourmet chefs; and Tricia and I are going to be on that train Saturday night (the 13th).  We’ve been planning on doing this for some time, but with the summer season being rather hectic it kind of just hung around in the back of our brains as an idea that we would try and make happen.

If you would like to take an imaginary trip along with us, or make plans to come to the area someday to enjoy this wonderous piece of history for yourself, click on their website http://www.shastasunset.com/  and sit back for a wonderful ride, to say nothing of a delicious meal.  I’m having “Cranberry Stuffed Chicken” and Tricia is going to have their “Moroccan Spring Lamb”.  We also get to enjoy both the daylight hours when I can get some nice pictures and the night hours where all will be bathed in carriage lights mounted on the cars. 

I don’t think I could ask for a more special treat for ending my first adventure as a full-time rv’er, do you?

Well, things are picking up a tiny bit here in the office, so I think I better sign off for now.  Will try and get pix posted soon after my ride on the Dinner Train.

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