Sunday, April 29, 2012

'12/#20 Settling In & Settling Down

Cody WY is going to be home for a little while so it is time to settle in & after 26 days on the road we are looking forward to things settling down a bit. After getting the rig all hooked up we gave ourselves a self guided tour of the area. You know all the hot spots like the grocery stores, post office, drug stores, & Walmart. First things first in our new home. I also needed a home improvement / hardware store for a minor closet repair. It seems all the rough roads took a toll on the closet rod & all my clothes were on the floor. Well, we found everything & then some(more on this later). The only problem was the local mom&pop hardware stores in the area were both closed by 5pm. No Home Depot & no Lowes anywhere around. Fortunately Walmart had what I needed & all was right in the closet again.

Friday was a day to catch up with team photographer, Mary. Now if you have been following us at all the past few years you know that shutter-bug does not come close to describing Mary's talents. Not only does she take some awesome pictures from a moving vehicle she is quite prolific with the camera. I once talked about her taking 400 pictures a day in Maine, well she has out done herself. Between Douglas & Cody WY, a distance of about 250 miles & a span of 6 hours, she took close to(get ready) a thousand pictures. Yes, I said a thousand. That is a one with three zeroes. How you might ask does one take a thousand pictures? First you need 3 cameras, all with empty memory cards & fully charged batteries. Then you need a subject such as the Rocky Mts and/or the Wind River Canyon. And finally you need to be inspired. Duh, the Rockies!!!

 All I can say is click, click, click...."Oh crap, the battery is dead" & "Darn the memory card is full". We had stopped for lunch & Mary downloaded at least 1 memory card before we continued on our way. By the time we pulled into Cody she was complaining that her wrist & index finger was achy. Needless to say Friday was an all day affair going through all those pictures. Oh by the way, Mary decided she needed to organize & post pictures she had stored on her computer since OCTOBER! Our brains were fried by dinner time so we called it a day with the pictures. Soon they will be on FB & Mary is talking about putting together an on line album, so stay tuned.

I'll blog more later, but for now I can say we have met some very nice people already & are looking forward to exploring our new home here in Cody Wyoming because.....

Home is where we park it,
Frank & Shutterbug Mary

Friday, April 27, 2012

'12/#19 We Made It & What A Trip

Leaving Colorado put us on the last 2 legs of our journey. We crossed the border into Wyoming & the excitement between us was starting to peak. We had one more overnight stay before arriving in Cody, our final destination. It has been nothing if not an interesting & challenging trip. With attack trees, blown tires, & self inflicted concussions, added to the people we have met & the country side we have seen there will be plenty to talk about around the campfire.

Our first stop in WY was in a little dot on the map called Douglas. There was a nice KOA there that suited our needs. Douglas also seems to be the home of the infamous & mythical Jackalope. Gluing antlers on the head of a stuffed rabbit is a desperate grab at notoriety. I was punished for making fun of the Jackalope the following day.

The next morning  the GPS pointed me to a direct route to the interstate. The road was smooth & we arrived at I-25 quickly. The only problem was the overpass with the 12'10" sign attached. Our trailer stands approximately 13'3" which meant getting on the interstate going the wrong way for about 5 miles. Then getting off at the next exit which did not have an off ramp-to-on-ramp transition. That meant driving off the highway to find a place to turn around, get back on I-25, & double back 5 more miles before we could continue on our way. My apologies the the spirit of the Jackalope, I have learned my lesson.

We stopped about 50 miles down the road to make our final fuel stop before the last 200 miles to Cody. With a full tank we were ready for the final leg of our journey. We were off the interstate & back to 2 lane roads. The roads took us through farm land, grazing pastures, & mountains. Did I say mountains? I mean lots of mountains. We were going over, around & through the Rockies. There were passes over 7000', canyons that would give a claustrophobic fits, & tunnels that made me glad we weren't more than 13'3". It was an amazing & beautiful journey.

That is enough for today. We have some chores to do after 26 days on the road & I will blog some more tomorrow. So goodnight from our home here in Cody WY(finally!) because....

Home is where we park it,
Frank & Mary

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

'12/#18 America The Beautiful

We continued our journey to Wyoming. With Amarillo in our rear view mirror we crossed the last of Texas on this trip. This part of TX was mostly open range with the occasional oil well. Cows here & there, fields of "I don't know", & towns whose dot on the map may be bigger than the actual town did not make for interesting travel. Next was the passage through New Mexico. Now to be fair we barely cut across the NE corner of the state for 100 miles. Not enough to give a fair assessment of NM so we will reserve that for another time. Just let me say that what we saw was a lot like the boring parts of TX.

After NM we were welcomed to Colorado by an information center that was in the downtown area of Trinidad. Can't tell you much about the welcome center because we were not welcome with our trailer & there was nowhere to park. Needless to say we got back on the highway & continued on. The road started to get hillier & the truck was working a little harder. Then we started seeing the mountains in the distance & realized we were finally nearing the Rocky Mountains. As we got closer & closer we started taking more & more pictures.

We have seen a good part of this country in printed media, on TV, or in movies but the images do no justice to the real thing. Seeing Niagara Falls on TV is not the same as standing at the edge in the spray. The Grand Canyon is beautiful in all the post cards & picture books but to stand at the rim & watch the sun change the colors is almost spiritual. We have done both & feel that we will have similar experiences here in the Rockies.

Tonight we will be staying at an RV park in Colorado Springs at the foot of Pike's Peak. How cool is that? We won't have time to stay here but it will be on our bucket list on a future trip. For now we are focused on WY & looking forward to visiting that state & especially Yellowstone National Park. So this is goodnight from our home in Colorado because ........

Home is where we park it,
Frank & Mary

Monday, April 23, 2012

'12/#17 OUCH!!!

First remember that 7am was just a goal. It was not written in stone, just like the rest of our plans. On the other hand we did hit the road by 7:30 so that was pretty good as far as I'm concerned. Our next stop would be 391 miles down the road in Amarillo with fuel stops along the way. We travel  America  to see the country so we don't always take the interstate. The 2 & 4 lane state roads get us where we are going, let us make good time, & allow us to see the back roads of America. We drive through small towns, farm lands, & undeveloped countryside that you can't see from the super-slab that is the interstate system. I was amazed at how many towns we went through that had smaller populations than my high school. Talk about small town America.

 We stopped after a couple of hours & fueled up. Now this is the first time we fueled up since Livingston so I wasn't surprised to take over 50 gallons. In Amarillo we fueled up before checking in at the campground & managed to take another 25 gallons of diesel. Yes it sounds like a lot but we did drive quite a ways & we also bring our house with us. We then went a couple of miles & checked in to our campground.

This is when things got interesting. We were setting up when I decided that things were going too smoothly. So to make it interesting I smacked my head on one of the slides on the trailer. There was no loss of consciousness yet I had a flashback to NC. That time I tested the strengyh of the trailer hitch with my head & had to take a trip to the local emergency room. Like in NC I put my hand to my head & came away with a handful of blood. Mary was ready to take me to the ER but I wanted to wait. The last time the ER gave me a tetanus shot, something for the headache, & a bill. I figured if the bleeding stopped & there were no concussion symptoms I would be OK. After all my tetanus shot was still good & the bleeding had almost stopped. Mary on the other hand really loves me & wanted to take care of me the best way she could. That meant the ER. When I nixed that she got a bit miffed at me & decided that since I probably had a concussion & was going to die that I could not drive anymore. That means I will be riding shotgun tomorrow.

Since I don't plan on dying any time soon I will be going to bed now, here in our home in Amarillo TX because....

Home is where we park it,
Frank & Mary

Sunday, April 22, 2012

'12/#16 Heading Out of Texas

We finally got to see our old pop-up friends out here in Maypearl TX. Talk about small town America. About 6 blocks of  Main St & a comfortable community surrounding it. There was a street fair going on as we pulled in & both of the town's police officers were standing on the corner watching over it all.

I don't know what we expected after 7 years but we were still stunned at how much the kids had grown. Everyone was so excited & we picked up right where we left off. Catching up on 7 years, enjoying a great meal, & spending time with old friends is a great way to spend a day. We called it a night early for us but it was time for us to go.

We were staying at an Army Corps of Engineering campground & they lock the gates at 10pm so we had a curfew. Between that & the country back roads we had to take I wanted to leave us plenty of time to get home. Once we were safely home we relaxed until it was time to go to bed.

Today we had nothing to do but get ready for tomorrows departure. After some breakfast we planned our route out of Texas & on to Wyoming. Our route is planned around fuel stops, rest stops, & overnight stays. We also have to watch out for routes that may take us toward overpasses that we can't fit under. Our overall height is over 13' so it is an important consideration. Maps, routing software, & campground research brings on a headache so we decided to have dinner before we did anything else.

Now it was time to walk off some of that great home cooked meal we are able to have traveling in an RV with our ouwn kitchen. We were able to take pictures of the wild flowers on our walk & check out the rest of the campground. It was a nice place to just relax.

After our walk we unhooked our water line & hooked up the truck so we don't have to do it in the morning. We are going to try to hit the road around 7am so we don't have to rush down the road. It is now bed time so goodnight from our home just outside of Maypearl  TX because.......

Home is where we park it,
Frank & Mary

Saturday, April 21, 2012

'12/#15 BBBBBBlue BBBBBonnets

We have moved north by about 200 miles & are looking forward to seeing our old pop-up camping friends. We have found a nice campsite on Lake Bardwell near Waxahachee TX & will be here for 3 days. Mary is all excited because there is a field of Texas Blue Bonnets right behind our trailer. She hasn't taken any pictures yet for several reasons. The first is once we got set up & settled in it was starting to get dark & we were tired. The second reason is we woke up to a new weather system. A front has moved in & with it some colder air & wind. As yet Mary has not unwrapped herself from the blanket nor has she decided to turn off the heat. Either way she has definitely not ventured outside. As much as she says she doen't like FL she has become a "Florida Girl". Tempuratures below 70 degrees is cold to her. Oh well, we will have some breakfast & I will drag her out onto the frozen (65 deg?) tundra & get some pictures for FB & the blog.

Speaking of the blog, I am trying to post some pictures on the blog. My new computer has much more capability than my old net-book & I am still trying to learn how to use it. Also blogspot has changed completely & I am trying to figure that out. Does anyone else think it is ridiculous how everything connected with computers always seems to change as soon as you get comfortable with it? They always say it's improved or better or faster or easier to use but it just seems to make it so you have to learn how to do the same things differently. I'm not saying that change is bad, but different is not necessarily better!

I'm getting hungry & have some things to do today. We had a lightning strike a few days ago & I need to replace a couple of fuses. Our surge protector worked & prevented any serious damage so I am happy that it seems to be just fuses. So I am off to make breakfast, drag Mary outside, & see what the day has to offer before we meet up with our friends. So until the next blog, hopefully with Blue Bonnet pictures, so long from our home at Lake Bardwell because....

Home is where we park it,
Frank & Mary

Thursday, April 19, 2012

'12/#15 Rested And Ready To Move On

The past 3 days have been quite relaxing. Our batteries needed recharging. While we were here in Livingston TX at the Escapees Rainbows End we took the opportunity to check out what may be the largest RV community/organization in the world . The property is over 25 acres & has 3 RV parks. The national headquarters building is here & also houses the Escapee mail forwarding operation. There are deeded lots & the Escapees Care Center.

Rvers will find some 200 sites that range from full hook-ups to tent camping. With everyone belonging to the Escapees we all are part of a close knit group that can sometimes feel like family. We took a tour of the property & were amazed at how it had grown. From a small group of friends that thought that 13 sites would be more than they would ever need to a national organization that has recently issued member #110625. The deeded lots show the diversity & imagination of RVers who want a home base. The lots have anything from a shed with  RV hook-ups to expansive homes with covered RV storage.

The tour took us through the national headquarters. Offices for membership, event organization, & coordination of properties around the country. The mail forwarding operation is housed here & is as organized as any post office. In fact as retired postal workers we were surprised to see so much equipment that was familiar to us. For our friends from the USPS, they even have a BCS with all the most recent updates. It's not as big as what we used at St Pete but it was reminiscent of the original models we saw in the late 90's.

The next day we visited the Escapees Care Center.The Care center is a nursing facility for RVers. The difference is there are no beds. Instead the resident's own RV is parked on the property & they are tended to by volunteers & staff. Meals, transportation to medical appointments, & over all care are provided. Volunteers who stay for specific periods of time get a free camp site & all meals while they volunteer. The big thing is that the "residents" actually are staying in their own homes. It shows how RVers take care of each other throughout their RV life.

We are getting ready to leave the "Motherland" tomorrow & look forward to seeing friends from way back in our pop-up camping days. It is time to get dinner ready & prep the rig for travel. So tonight will be our last night in our home in Livingston TX  because....

Home is where we park it,
Frank & Mary

Monday, April 16, 2012

'12/#14 Welcome To The Mother Land

Happy Tax Day to everyone who has waited until the last minute. I know the IRS has given everyone until the 17th but I guess I'll send wishes early anyway. We did our taxes earlier, got our measly refund, & have already spent it.I shouldn't complain. Mary says as long as we don't have to pay she is happy.

In the last blog I talked about our flat tire excitement & mentioned that we have been chaging our tires a little at a time. The reason we are doing this is after having past tire trouble we did a bit of research & found out that the trailer manufacturer put the wrong size tires on the rig. Being undersized & over taxed we have concluded has been the problem all along. Since the trailer is out of warranty there is little we can do about it.

With that in mind Saturday as we were approaching the Texas border the last of the old tires blew. We got off the road & called road service since changing a tire on an 18000lb trailer is not your ordinary flat tire experience. Unfortunately Good Sams road service dropped the ball completely leaving us with no option but to change the tire our selves. It wasn't as bad as we thought & were on our way in under 45min. Then Good Sams called & said they found us some help. A day late & a dollar short. This isn't the first time Good Sams has not lived up to their promises so we will be looking at other road service options.

We drove to the TX Welcome Center & decided to stay there for the night not wanting to travel far without a spare. We were also 100 miles from our intended destination. As I say our plans are written in jello. The next morning we tried to find a tire so we could continue on our way but this is Texas. Here in Texas most places & all the tire stores close on Sunday. Now don't get me wrong. I think most places should be closed on Sunday so people can have some quality family time. We just weren't prepared for it coming from "money hungry,get every last dime, every chance you can" Florida. I know that FL isn't the only place like that but that is where we come from & where we know the best.

Since it was just short of 100 miles to Livingston TX we opted to travel sans spare & take it easy. 2 1/2 hours later we arrived at the Mother Land for RVers, the Escapees Headquarters in Livingston TX. I've talked about Escapees(SKPs) before. The community spirit for RVers, rally gatherings, mail forwarding, & much more. I can't imagine being a fulltime RVer & not being an SKP member. After checking in, swapping stories, & getting the obligatory hugs we settled in to relax for a couple of days before moving on. That would give us time to find a spare, pick up a few essentials, & just recharge ourselves. Severe weather kept us on our toes most of the night but we were off the road & with people who could & would help if needed.

The past few days have been trying so I think that I am going to take a nap now here in our home in Livingston TX because......

Home is where we park it,
Frank & Mary

Friday, April 13, 2012

'12/#13 Plans? HA HA!!

It is now Friday & we have spent our first night under our new roof. The tech at Tri Am RV did a great job & we are ready to hit the road. We enjoyed being in our own bed after 3 nights in a hotel so we slept in a little & got a bit of a late start. The wheels were rolling at 11am. Our next stop would be Gulfport MS. We made good time through north FL & across the panhandle. The smoke from the wild fires was thick at times & irritating to the throat, even in the truck with the windows closed & the AC on. Our lunch break was just outside of Pensacola FL. We waited until we were out of all the smoke so we could enjoy our food.

A little more FL & soon we crossed into Alabama. We made a short stop just to stretch our legs. Frequent short stops are recommended to maintain circulation & avoid stiffness or cramps. We try to stop every couple of hours for those reasons & it helps fight boredom that can hinder concentration on the road. Alabama was gone shortly & into Mississippi we go. Just outside of Pascagula we made another stop. As I did my usual walk-around I noticed a tire going down on the trailer. We have been replacing the tires a couple of them at a time & of course this was one I hadn't gotten to yet. I tried filling it up but it wouldn't hold air so Mary got on the phone to our road service.

The tire was changed after a brief wait & we decided to just have our dinner there in the rest area & call it a night. Another perk of having it all with you. We will get to bed early & hopefully get up early. I want to get the tire replaced before we head on down the road. So tomorrow will be a new tire, top off with fuel, & head on down the road again.

Now you know why I say our plans are written in jello. I will say good night to everyone now from our home at a rest area in Mississippi because....

Home is where we park it,
Frank & Mary

Thursday, April 5, 2012

'12/#11 Like A Herd Of Turtles!

It is Thursday & the adjustor is finally here. It looks like things are finally moving forward at the blistering pace of a herd of turtles. (Thank you Pat for that sarcastic analogy.) My roof patch had to be pulled off so they could see the damage but we are expecting some severe weather this afternoon & continuing right on through tomorrow. Someone is going to have to cover the hole to keep the rain out. I guess it will be me if no one else gets to it.

 Once he gets things OK'd the shop can start working. For now we are still sitting out here in the yard behind the shop. Oh well, at least we are in our own home. We will have to be out of the rig for at least 2 days & probably more since the weekend will be right in the middle of the job. Friends & family have told us to come stay with them & we will do that for at least the weekend. The rest of the time we will stay in a motel so we can be near by while the work is being done. I trust these guys but I would feel better if I was here.

Leaving the rig for a few days requires packing & if you have followed the blog you know that is not our strong suit. We don't pack, we just take our whole house with us! That means we don't have much in the way of luggage. Also now if we forget something we can't just walk behind the truck to the trailer to get what we need. More planning & more lists. AAARGH!!!!

I'm starting to stress so I need to stop blogging so goodbye from our damaged home here in Ocala Fl because.......

Home is where we park it,
Frank & Mary

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

'12/#10 Inching Along

We are still in Ocala but we have moved. We left Wandering Oaks Campground & have arrived at TriAm RV 5 minutes down the road. TriAm has been taking care of us for years & they treat us like family. Before anything was said about our appointment or what needed to be done with the rig they wanted to know where Foxy was. It was hard to tell them & we could tell that it was hard to hear that Foxy had died. That's the kind of people they are.

Next on to the rig. They were all ready for our scheduled safety check & were helpful in assessing the damage I caused in my rig vs tree incident. A call to the insurance company & good news...we are covered & because of our lack of past claims we won't have any deductible to pay. The only thing we are waiting on is the arrival of the adjustor to view the damage & OK the start of the repairs. It looks like we will be here for a week or so & with little to do we will catch up on some much needed rest.

I know there is a lot to do in this part of FL but we've lived here for over 25 years. There was tent camping, pop-up camping, & lots & lots of day trips so we have seen most of what we wanted to see in the area. Besides rest sounds real good right now if you remember the last few blogs about us getting ready for the road. We are staying in the rig for now right here at TriAm. Once they start work we may have to vacate the trailer. If that is the case we have a couple of options. First we could stay in a hotel on the insurance company's dime or second we are only 2 1/2 hours away from where we started   & could stay with friends &/or family back in Largo. We haven't decided which we will do or possibly a little of both. We shall see.

I'm going to sign off since it's kinda boring right now & I have been blogging quietly while Mary takes nap here in our home still in Ocala because.....

Home is where we park it,
Frank & Mary

Sunday, April 1, 2012

'12/#9 And The Wheels On The Truck Go Round & Round.....

Bright & early this morning(9am?) we got up. Charlie, our youngest, stopped by to say goodbye on his way to work. We offered him a ride on our way to get some breakfast. We figured while we were out we would drop in on Jessie, our oldest daughter, to share breakfast with her & say goodbye. All this was before we disconnected from the campground & hooked up the truck. And we planned on being on the road by noon, HA!

Once back at the campground we started the process of closing up the trailer & hooking up the truck. Friends started showing up to say more goodbyes, help, & just watch. Now I have to pull out so I can load the motorcycle & some odds-n-ends through the trailers tailgate. In all the excitement I pulled an RV boner & pulled out without my spotter ready & managed to clip a tree branch. There was a small tear in the roof so on top of everything else I've got to fix that before I go. Of course everyone wants to help or offer advice but we are stopping at our favorite RV service center in Ocala anyway, so I guess we will leave a little more money there getting it fixed.

Now that the roof is patched & all our friends have helped us get everything loaded it is finally time to leave but not after more hugs, hand shakes, & tears with promises for next winter. Into the truck, horn honks, waves & we are on our way & it is only 12:30!!! I'm amazed at how we manage to get things done even when it seems like nothing is going right. I guess we really do have an idea of what we are doing!?!?!

As I said we were only going to Ocala FL which is an easy 3 hour drive from Largo. We arrived at the campground around 3pm & got settled in. Fatigue from the hecticness & excitement of hitting the road after 5 months of sitting still took over & it was time for a nap. We will blog, check e-mails, watch a little TV & call it an early night. 6:30am comes around early for us night owls & we have an 8am appointment at the RV shop. Just a safety check & now the roof & what ever else we find that needs to be done.

So good night from our home here in Ocala Fl because.....                                            

Home is where we park it,
Frank & Mary