Dec 20, 2009

Messing around in the Southwest

I know, I know ... I haven't been very good at posting lately. I may have hit my head sledddding, or something. But seriously we have been having fun!

When we left Alamogordo we followed this RV all the way down to Columbus, New Mexico. On our way there we stopped at the White Sands Missile Range Museum.


We spent a few hours viewing this great exhibit before moving on down the road.

We stayed 3 nights at the Pancho Villa State Park in Columbus and walked across the border into Mexico twice to have lunch and do a little shopping at the Pink Store.




We then moved on to the funky, artsy town of Bisbee ,AZ.

We took the back roads there and on the way had to avoid an airplane. I know, it sounds crazy but we came up over a hill and there was an oversized truck headed towards us.

He had one third of an airliner on his trailer. We quickly pulled over and soon the rest of the plane followed on two more trucks. You never know what you will find out in the desert.

The rest of the trip was uneventful and we were soon hooked up at the Queen Mine RV Park in Bisbee. This was our third visit here and we never grow tired of it. If I come up missing some day you might want to check for me in Bisbee.


We spent 3 nights at the Park which is situated up on a hill right next to the huge Queen Mine Lavender Pit. We enjoyed walking around and exploring this interesting town. Of course no visit would be complete without lunch at the Cafe Cornucopia and a stop at Seth's Bisbee Roasters.

We then moved on up the road to the Saguaro SKP Co-Op park in Benson. We are members of Escapees but have never stayed at this park. This is a very nice co-op park where you can buy your site.
The waiting list to purchase a site ( the 'Hot List') , has about 450 names on it and it can take 4-5 years to get to the top of the list. Some members have also built very nice casitas on their sites. Judy and Linda enjoyed the flexercise and beading classes. There are a lot of scheduled activities and we really enjoyed our stay there.

We are now in the Phoenix area getting ready to fly out early tomorrow morning to spend Christmas with family in Portland.
We will spend a week there before flying back to Arizona and meeting up with Bob and Linda again.

Dec 7, 2009

SLIP SLEDDING AWAY

On Sunday we went to the White Sands National Monument with Bob and Linda . It is unusual to have snow on top of the dunes. During the summer you can rent saucers which you wax and you can slide down the dunes which look like sand but are actually gypsum. Bob thought we should take advantage of the snow. So yes on Sunday we pretended to be kids sledding. Ironic that we come all the way from Michigan to sled in New Mexico.

By the way... this morning we were reminded of our true age. But it was fun and a once in a life time experience. As usual Judy was graceful while I.... well you can see for yourself.

video

Dec 5, 2009

COLD AND SNOWY

Okay, I know we haven't written much. Having a hard time getting in the mood with the cold weather. We are in Alamogordo NM with Bob and Linda. If you would like to know where we've been and what we have been up the last couple of days, follow this link.

Looks like a warmer day today. We are headed to the museum at White Sands, and a Pistachio packing plant.

Dec 1, 2009

SNOW SNOW SNOW

I was told there would be no snow!!!



We are in Carlsbad, New Mexico. This morning we were welcomed with these views. We left Michigan to avoid cold snowy weather. Oh well, we are looking forward to meeting up with our friends Bob and Linda later today. They are driving down from Roswell where they have snow as well. We are going to the caverns tomorrow then heading southwest. Hopefully out of the snow.

Nov 26, 2009

VERY IMPORTANT PERSON

Today is Thanksgiving. Most bloggers traditionally have long list of things they are thankful for. I suppose I'm no different. I could talk about faith and the kind of home I grew up in. I could tell you about Mom and Dad and my siblings. I could talk about our kids and grand kids. I could talk about our best friends. I could tell you about how blessed we are. We're both in pretty good health for a couple of baby boomers. We're out doing what we want thanks to other people and all their hard work.

But I've decided today to talk about one person. I've known this person since I was 19 years old. This person has put up with a lot over the years and yet has remained faithfully by my side. We've been through some very tough times and some truly wondrous times. Getting married as young as we did, the odds were against us. We've seen many couples we knew divorce and go their separate ways.

Yes today I want you to know how thankful I am for the most important person in my life. Judy.... my wife, my lover, my companion, my confidant, my life.

Nov 25, 2009

WE VISIT THE FIELD LAB




It's Wednesday and we are just outside the west entrance to Big Bend National Park in west Texas. We are in a little town called Study Butte. We are here for two reasons. One is to of course visit the park. We were there this afternoon and will be again tomorrow. The second was to visit "The Field Lab" otherwise known as the home of John Wells. John is a former commercial photographer from NYC who decided he was tired of the big city, with it's big taxes. He bought 40 acres of West Texas desert and is carving out a homestead for himself. I have been reading his blog for the past year and have corresponded with him a couple of times.

Today we headed off the pavement on a one lane dirt lane for 2.5 miles to visit John. We could see his place off in the distance and I'm sure he saw us coming. He is building everything himself. He has a one room house, and is currently building a green house based on 4 containers.


Rather than try to explain it all, I will just link to his blog. In fact if you go to Wednesday's edition you will see a picture of us. Yes, Janet is really Judy. John's only constant companion is a 20 year old open range cow that keeps him company. Her name is Benita.

When we pulled up and shut off the engine, the only sound was classical music playing. Seemed very strange. But John quickly made us feel at home. He showed us around and we couldn't help but be impressed with all he has accomplished in such a short time. You might call him a modern day renaissance man. He can weld, is a carpenter, electrician and he can even bake.


John often whips up batches of bread which he bakes in his solar oven. We were privileged to watch and he sent us home with a loaf he had made earlier.

John's nearest neighbors are both over a mile away but I sense that he knows them better then we know some of our condo neighbors. Out in the middle of the desert, a former commercial photographer, with the bare basics of life, and a cow. Strange, yet it all seems so right!!

Nov 21, 2009

GOOD BYE TO MCKINNEY, HELLO FORT WORTH

After almost 2 weeks parked in MCD's parking lot, the shades are complete and we are very happy with the results. The final work was completed shortly after 6pm Friday night and by 9:15 Saturday morning we were pulling out of their lot for the last time. This is what it looked like before we started.

All the window shades along the side of the motor home were installed on Tuesday.

A crew arrived around 8am and began taking out the old and putting up the new. The MCD team is efficient and before long all the side shades were up.

All Finished!!

There are two parts to the shade system. The black shade provides privacy during the day. We can see outside but unless we have lights on inside, it is almost impossible for people to see inside our coach. The lighter shade provides complete privacy at night.

The front window proved to be a real challenge for the MCD team. It wasn't easy retrofitting our older, curved, 2 piece windshield but after some trial and error the team came through.

Saturday morning we drove a short distance over to Arlington where we found a nice Passport America park to stay in for two nights. We plan to go to the Fort Worth Stockyards and a couple of art museums. We also need to do a little bit of grocery shopping before we head down towards SW Texas.

Nov 18, 2009

MURPHY'S LAWS

There are rules to remember when remodeling. We last renovated and updated a home in 2003. Guess what? The same rules apply to remodeling an RV.

1. Everything takes longer than promised.
2. Everything costs more than estimated.
3. If everything seems to be going well, you have obviously overlooked something.
4. If you are ahead or on schedule refer to rule 1 and 2 and 3.

We are in the final phase of our renovation and are ready to be done. I will go on record as saying we would use all 4 of the companies again, but the process is painful. I won't bore you with all the details and hopefully we will be done Thursday noon. We will post pictures when we are "done".

We still haven't been to the JFK museum or the Fort Worth Stockyards, both of which are on our list. So if we finish here tomorrow we will move to a campground near Fort Worth for a couple of days before moving on.

Nov 15, 2009

Tradional Church???

This morning we had the privilege of attending Stonebriar Community Church in Frisco, Texas. We both grew up in conservative evangelical homes, so their pastor's name was no stranger to us. Chuck Swindoll is a well known preacher and author and has a respected radio ministry. Certainly not the type you would think of when describing a modern day media evangelist.

I am not sure how to describe this church. I'm thinking many would call it traditional, but what is traditional? It seems that most evangelical churches these days, in their quest to be non-traditional, have to have a praise band, sing only praise choruses, use video projectors, and have no hymnals. But it seems to me they have just created a new tradition.

This church makes no apology for what it is. It's a very large church with a broad cross section of members. Traditional in the sense that it is conservative in it's worship and beliefs, but contemporary in it's outreach. It's ethnically diverse and we saw everything from suits to blue jeans. So I don't think it would be fair to put it in a box labeled traditional.

We thoroughly enjoyed the service this morning. It was a good start to the week.

Nov 14, 2009

HAPPY BIRTHDAY ELLA!!

Today is our Granddaughter Ella's 4th birthday.




















Happy Birthday sweet Ella. We love you.
Grandma and Grandpa

Nov 9, 2009

MESSING AROUND IN TEXAS

It was about 4pm Sunday when we pulled into Camp MCD in McKinney, Texas. All the full hookup spots were taken but they found an area for us to park and plug into electric. We will probably have full hookups tomorrow. This place is busy!

This morning we checked in with the office but they told us there was a good chance they might not start on our RV today. They have a lot of employees out sick and they are very backed up. We understand. We're glad to be here and are getting settled in and starting to finally slow down.

We had a lot of dirty laundry piling up so this morning we drove over to a local laundromat and managed to fill up 4 washers. Judy knew that if we tried to wash all of our dirty clothes using our little Splendide machine that we have in the RV it might take us days before we were finished.

After the laundry was done, we drove over to the Market Street Grocery to buy a few needed supplies. This store has a wonderful deli, cheese, wine and produce area that should satisfy any foodie out there.

We decided to go out for dinner tonight. We had a place picked out and entered into the gps. As we headed out the door we checked email on the blackberry. We had a email from new email friends Mike and Geri. They had been to MCD a few weeks ago and went to a Mexican restaurant named Cristina's. Change in plans, we decided to try Cristina's. Great recommendation Mike and Geri!!!! The meal and the margarita's were wonderful and it was some of the best Mexican food we have had.

We're looking forward to spending a few days here in this area, seeing some of the sights, and just relaxing.

Nov 6, 2009

AIR FORCE ONE AT BOEKE ROAD BAPTIST CHURCH



Thursday we drove from Bremen to Evansville, Indiana. We were headed to the headquarters of SMI. where we had an appointment to install a device that applies the brakes of our TOAD when the RV brakes are applied. We met these people at the fall FMCA rally in Bowling Green, Ohio. After reviewing several other systems we purchased their AIR FORCE ONE product. They claim you can install it yourself and include a training DVD. After reviewing the DVD, I knew I could handle the Explorer part, but the RV part was intimidating. With all the other problems we have dealt with the last couple of months we decided to let the pros handle it.

When they gave us directions to their location, they said to pull into the church parking lot next to their business. They told us we could park there overnight. But they didn't tell us that this was where they would be doing the installation. This morning Kyle ( the owners son) came out with several tool boxes and went to work right there in the parking lot. Three hours later everything was installed, checked out, and we were on our way. I am very pleased and we would recommend their system. They also have dealers throughout the country that can do the installation. If we hadn't been headed in this general direction that's probably what we would have done.

After a quick stop at the Bank of America in Mt. Vernon, IL we headed south and crossed the mighty Mississippi. It appeared to be at flood stage. We were fortunate to see a down bound tow going under the bridge right below us. Judy insisted that I keep my eyes on the road. She knows how much I love the river and all the work boats. It brought back memories of our 2 trips down the river and the one up. Unlike the canals in France that we enjoyed this last spring, this river is no place to relax. It can quite literally kill you if you don't respect it and the commercial traffic on it.

We pulled into our RV site for the night in Sikeston, Mo. and 20 minutes after we got hooked up we were driving to Lambert's. Our kids know this place well. We brought enough left over food back for tomorrow nights dinner.

We need to be at MCD in McKinney, Texas on Sunday evening and Monday morning they will start on our window shades. Since we moved up our scheduled appointment they told us they may not be able to completely finish us next week. That's OK. We're happy they can start sooner. They have FULL hookups so it will be like staying in a campground.

Nov 4, 2009

Next Stop Evansville

We have spent the last three days in and around and beyond Bremen, Indiana just hanging out while the last few details of the RV remodel were completed and the two new basement doors were painted. Since we couldn't be on the RV while they were working on it, we were challenged to find things to do each day to occupy our time.

Monday we found a few stores in nearby Elkhart and Michawaka to visit. We hung out in Barnes and Noble for awhile and used a gift card we had at Olive Garden for a soup and salad lunch.

Yesterday morning we drove back up to Michigan to visit with John's mom in Jackson and then over to Ann Arbor to meet up with Melissa and grand daughters Emma and Ella. Ella is going to be 4yrs old next week and she got to go to ToysRUs to pick out her birthday present. It was a long day of driving but we had a great time visiting family.

The motor home was parked inside the working garage last night to protect the new paint. They told us they would leave a door unlocked so we could get in after our return from Michigan. It didn't take long after getting inside to realize that it was going to be difficult sleeping with all the solvent and paint fumes. So we packed up a few necessary items, got back in the car, and found a very basic, but cheap, motel in nearby Nappanee that would take dogs and spent the night there.

This morning we were told that all the work would definitely be finished today not Friday like we had originally thought. This was great news. This is a nice enough area, but we were beginning to wonder how we were going to occupy ourselves for another day.

Tomorrow morning we will drive down to Evansville where the new braking system will be installed on Friday. This system activates the toad's brakes whenever the motor home's brakes are used (in RV terms, the vehicle you tow is referred to as the toad). The explorer is heavier than our other toad (jeep) and we don't want to overtax the RV's brakes on mountain passes out west.

We are scheduled to be in McKinney, Texas on the 16th for new window shades but we are hoping to move that up a week. We should know tomorrow.

The work is finally done, we are very happy with it, and we are very excited to be moving on down the road tomorrow. We'll post some pictures in a couple of days.

Oct 29, 2009

Still in the Big Mitten

Tonight finds us here at Camp Spartan Chassis in Charlotte, MI. Repairs and maintenance are complete but we are going to hang out here, hooked up to 50 amps, until Sunday morning.

We had all fluids and filters replaced, the tires rotated, a wheel alignment and most important, they found the steering problem. In their words: the slip shaft which connects the steering wheel to the steering box has a u-joint on each end. One or both of the u-joints had bound up. So we now have a new shaft. Judy thought I was just getting weak so now I am vindicated. Dealing with the problem here was simple. On down the road we would have had to wait while parts were ordered. Here they have the parts on the shelf.


Tomorrow we need to work on finding a place for everything, mount the 2 TV's,
and just relax. Sunday we go down to Bremen, IN to get finished up at Precision Painting and we need to be in Dallas 0n Nov 16th to have new window shades installed. Then we will finally be finished with the remodeling for awhile and the wandering can begin.

Oct 21, 2009

467 miles closer to the Big Trip

This morning I got up and hit the road at 6am. Judy had a doctor's appointment today so I drove to Celina, Ohio by myself to pick up the motor home.

This has been a lesson in patience. Work that should have taken 2 weeks stretched into 5+ weeks. We are now the proud owners of a new hd sat system, ota antenna, home theater system, and pantry pull out drawers, among a few other things. Oh, and I forgot to mention the 2 new baggage doors. No we didn't need them, at least not until they were damaged by one of the installation companies. Of course you don't just go online and order new baggage doors for a 11 year old coach. Now you know why the work on the motor home took 5 weeks. By the way, the new baggage doors come unpainted. So.... when we go to get our (hopefully correct size this time) couch installed, and other little details finished up at Precision Painting, they are also going to paint the baggage doors and send the bill to the lucky company who did the damage.

The 467 mile round trip went well and I was back by 5 o'clock this evening. The motor home is now back into it's storage garage and we can now start cleaning and loading it with our stuff. We already have some stuff staged at the storage unit. If everything goes well we will move into the coach on Thursday the 29th. We need to be at Precision Painting by Sunday evening, so they can start bright and early Monday morning, Nov. 2nd. They have also arranged to have a service rep there from Flexsteel to take care of a couple of things on the new chairs, and the new couch if needed.

We have tentative plans for later in November, but we are not making any definite plans until we leave Precision Painting. More posts and pics to come when we get going.

Sep 14, 2009

Back in the Big Mitten

We left Bremen Thursday at 12:45 p.m. and dashed to the ACA rally in Columbus, Ohio. I think we were the last ones to park. Stan and Kathleen had saved us a spot for the evening meal. There were 145 American Coach motor homes at the rally. While I thought this was good, it was in fact one of the lowest attended in recent history.

On Friday, Judy and Kathleen went on an all day outing to the Longaberger Basket Company in Dresden Ohio. Yes they came back with baskets. John and Stan took the more frugal approach and went to Skyline Chili for lunch.

We also had appointments with Cruising America RV Services, and From Trees to These. The next round of renovations include a new satellite dish, some additional wiring inside, and some pull out pantries. We also need to return to Precision Painting to get our sofa, and complete some unfinished details.

This morning we left Columbus and headed to Celina, Ohio. We left the motorhome there at Cruising America and packed up the Explorer and headed home. We will be glad when we are finished with the renovation and can actually use our motorhome.

Stan and Kathleen also left this morning and headed north towards Ann Arbor on Route 23, with a quick stop at Cabella's. They then headed west on I-94 towards Kalamazoo. After leaving Celina we went towards Fort Wayne and then headed north on I-69 to pick I-94 as well. Surprise.... as we were merging on to I-94 who was next to us? Stan and Kathleen. I don't know what the odds are, of meeting like that, but I think we should have stopped at the new Indian Casino a couple miles down the road.

Tomorrow I head to Chicago for 2 days at a Graphics convention, tomorrow night Julie and Jeremy arrive. We haven't seen them since the wedding almost a year ago.

Today is Kathleen's birthday so we are going out to dinner with Stan and Kathleen and then back to the condo for dessert. Judy made a birthday carrot cake for Kathleen. No South Beach, No Weight Watchers, just real cream cheese!!!

Sep 9, 2009

Back Home in Indiana

We are back on our motor home. We are tired and unsettled , but wanted to publish a few pictures of the renovation thus far. With the exception of a few loose ends we are very happy. The sofa will not be here before we need to leave, so we will return in a few weeks to have it installed. I am sitting at the new desk writing this entry.

Tomorrow morning we are heading to Columbus, Ohio to an American Coach rally. Next week we will drop off the coach in Celina, Ohio to have a new tv dish installed, plus a few other wiring projects. We have a lot of little projects to finish up before we head west for the winter. Here are a few pictures of the project so far.



To sum up the changes so far:

All old carpet and tile removed, and replaced with a new tile.
Removed tv upfront and replaced with a cabinet with drawers.
New treads and tile in entry way.
Removed both sofas, replaced with one new one and new desk unit.
New Lcd tv will go next to desk on small cabinet.
New captains chairs up front, Judy's even has a foot rest.

Aug 18, 2009

FIRST YOU MAKE A MESS

Yesterday we went to Precision Painting to check on the progress of our RV remodel and make a few design decisions. Back in our boating days when we would have work done it was very stressful. We were in Michigan and the boat was in Florida. We always seemed to spend lots of money and were never very happy with the work. We always felt that they took advantage of the distance to do less than they should. In fact once we even had our boat stolen by someone who was suppose to be working on it. But that's another story.

I am happy to report that so far Precision Painting is doing what they committed to. As you see in the pictures you have to make a mess tearing things out before you can make it look better. Apparently American Coach did a very good job of putting down our original tile. They are going to have to grind the floor smooth before putting down new underlayment and new tile.

The first two pictures are looking forward.





This is the view looking back.




They have committed to having the work done by the 4th of Sept. The biggest concern is that Flexsteel is on time with the new chairs and sofa. We are suppose to attend a national American Coach rally in Columbus with our friends Stan and Kathleen on the 10th. After the rally we take the coach to Celina, Ohio to have a new Direct TV satellite dish and o.t.a. antenna installed and some network cabling done.

While in Bremen we also met with the cabinet maker. With a last name of Yoder we expected to see horse drawn wagons outside his shop. To our surprise there were pickup trucks and Ray Yoder didn't have a beard and wasn't wearing a black hat. We did enjoy our visit, and came away feeling good about his part in this project.

We were surprised that of the 7 or 8 coaches being worked on at Precision Painting we were by far the oldest. We saw coaches only a few years old being torn apart and remodeled. Maybe people have decided it's cheaper to remodel than trade in.

We are getting excited to have the coach ready to hit the road again.

Aug 14, 2009

we have a new dog

Or so it seems. Yesterday was Molly's second training session with Ken from Bark Busters.

For awhile now, we have been annoyed and embarrassed by her almost constant barking, jumping on people, and basically not always minding us. Then, after a couple of scary cat and mouse chases through our neighborhood, we knew we needed help.
We wanted an obedient dog with good manners.

So we contacted Ken, who owns a local Bark Busters franchise. What we liked about their method of training is that it is done in our home and uses our body language and voice control to establish leadership. No hitting, yelling, or even treats. We're not trying to change her personality, we just need to be the top dog.
It is still taking some getting use to, but we're now growling a deep 'BAAH' to get her attention and giving her lots of praise.

When Ken was here last week he realized that Molly is actually very timid and wants to please, so he suggested we not overwhelm her with too much training at once and to take our time. So we'll work with her for about 15 min total a day for awhile and Ken will come back in 6 weeks for another in home session. Since we plan on spending a lot of time traveling in our motor home, Ken is going to give us some ideas and suggestions for that situation too.

So, in one week, we feel like we have a different dog. Molly still has lots to learn but she is much calmer and more relaxed, and she actually listens to us now. No more frantic barking when the doorbell rings or she sees a squirrel in the yard. No more jumping up on family and friends. We are amazed.

Aug 3, 2009

Back to the big Mitten

So this morning we cleaned up and packed up the coach for the grueling 5 mile drive to Precision Painting in Bremen. Precision was formed by some ex Newmar Coach people and does some of the nicest paint work you'll see anywhere. A year ago they started a new division that does remodeling of coach interiors. Although, according to a nationally known RV blogger, my very use of the word 'coach' implies that I am a stuck up snob. Fortunately, I hid my FMCA plaque. Oh well.....

Back to our story. We spent the morning picking out new tile, and deciding on a color for the new sofa and chairs. The cabinet maker couldn't be there today but we'll hear tomorrow regarding details on building the new desk and TV cabinets. We have yet to upgrade to a flat panel TV, choosing to wait for this project to get completed first.

At one point this morning we were thinking of just getting our old sofa reupholstered instead of buying a new one. Unfortunately it is cheaper to buy a new one rather than reupholster an existing one. Something seems wrong with this picture, but it is what it is.

The people at Precision were patient and let us take all the time we needed to feel comfortable with our decisions. They have 6 bays dedicated to interior work, and 5 were full. It seems that we are not the only ones remodeling instead of buying new. We are not in a big hurry for the work to be completed, and are scheduled to pick up the coach on the 7th of September.

This afternoon we headed back home but first stopped at Essenhaus in nearby Middlebury for a late lunch. Our meal was first rate and made up for our disappointing meal at Amish Acres. We arrived back at the condo by 5pm and then had a nice dinner with Jonathan and Laura.

This weekend once again reminded us how much we miss being in our little home on 6 wheels.

Aug 2, 2009

A weekend in Amish country

Saturday morning after breakfast, we hitched up the jeep and headed south to Indiana. We have not been on the road with the RV in almost 10 months. We were headed to Bremen Indiana to an appointment Monday morning at Precision Paint. We are having the flooring replaced and possibly a desk built.

We came early so that we could relax and go to the 47th annual Arts and Crafts Festival at Amish Acres. Saturday afternoon was rainy but we did decide to go to Amish Acres for dinner. They feature a family style country dinner. Sorry, but we cannot recommend this place. Bland food, poor service, and overpriced.

Today we went to the art fair. We last attended this fair over 10 years ago. At that time it was considered a high end event. It is billed as having over 350 juried artists from around the country. We paid our 7.00 each for the privilege of walking up and down endless aisles of what I call TNT (trinkets and trash). I think the term "juried" means if your check clears you can have a spot. The art fair has turned into countless booths selling dry soup, dip mixes, and really bad yard art. After Judy turned down my generous offer to buy her new ear rings made from bottle caps, I knew it was time to leave.

We are staying at the Pla-Mor campground, which in Indiana means "Pay 32 dollars to park in the grass 10 feet from your neighbor next to the corn field, behind the train tracks." If any of you want to visit us this afternoon, it will only cost you 2 dollars a person to get in.

Still all in all we are glad to be back on the RV, having a good time, just relaxing.

Jun 9, 2009

HAPPY BIRTHDAY NEMO



Nemo is 7 years old today and is almost finished with 1st grade. We love you very much and are looking forward to seeing you next week!

Love, Grandma and Grandpa

May 17, 2009

HAPPY BIRTHDAY EMMA

Emma is 6 years old today.



We hope you had lots of fun at your birthday party.

We love you very much!!
Grandma and Grandpa