grandson mason

grandson mason

grandson jaxson

grandson jaxson

Saturday, March 31, 2012

19-31MAR12 - Sultan, WA (unpacking)

On Monday morning, 19MAR, with the assistance of Cameron we continued unloading the rental Penske truck. Our initial “sorting” of the household goods was all boxes in the garage for eventual unpacking & further sorting; & furniture in the house, hopefully in the room that Corrie would eventually decided it belonged. We then returned the truck Tuesday morning.

The rest of the month was spent off & on unpacking the boxes, along with installing shelving in the pantry/laundry room; then trying to decide where everything was to go! We thought we had significantly “downsized” our possessions five years ago in Houma, LA; but trying to jam what we had leftover into a house that is 1000 square feet smaller than the Houma house has been very challenging! Also, the amount of wrapping paper that came out of each box seemed to defy the laws of physics & exceeded the volume of the box itself? The end result was almost daily runs to the recycling center in the Toad to insure we weren’t overwhelmed by the debris.

During our almost two weeks of unpacking we were treated to snow on Thursday, 22MAR; supposedly the third day of spring. So much for spring in the Pacific northwest. Thankfully we also enjoyed a brief visit from Dan’s cousin Steve, wife Bonnie, & son Kenneth on Sunday, 25MAR. They had been visiting family & friends in the area, & were returning to their homestead in Kittitas, WA, where we have visited many times in the RV.

Tuesday, 27MAR, the septic system received its quarterly service; see the below BLOG about why our system needs a $200 service, even though no one has used it for five months. Later that day we had a DISH Satellite system installed. In five years of RV’ing we have not felt the need for satellite TV & the cost involved. Most parks have cable, & many times we could pick up “free” HD TV from the a nearby city(ies). Unfortunately, where our house is located we cannot pick up any broadcast TV stations; which means installing cable & then paying monthly fees even for months we are not here.

So we decided to have satellite installed in the RV, & then transfer the satellite box to the house when in town. We had been asking other RV’ers about satellite TV over the years. In general, the consensus was that DIRECT was better than DISH. So when Dan went to the local satellite store, he was focused on DIRECT. But DISH had one feature that DIRECT didn’t. DISH now has a one satellite box that allows two TVs to operate independently of each other!

In other systems you need one box for each TV to watch different channels. Of course each box results in additional leasing fees every month. DISH now has one box that provides full HD TV to the TV you designate as TV #1; then that digital HD signal is converted to an analog SD signal that is sent to TV #2. You also receive two special remotes to ensure that both TVs operate completely independent of each other without having two satellite boxes! Isn’t technology great? Unfortunately we didn’t have enough money to pay for all of the portable satellite dish.

The following picture has nothing to do with our RV adventures, just something Dan has added to his to do list!

Monday, March 19, 2012

11-18MAR12 - Various (tx, az, ca, or, & wa)

Sunday, 11MAR, we commenced the long drive to Sultan, WA. To make the logistics work – it was decided that Dan would drive the Penske rental truck pulling a small trailer (the trailer had outdoor lawn furniture & some heavy planters; & we soon learned we would be constantly re-tying the load to keep it on the trailer!!!), & Corrie would follow with the RV pulling the Toad. After some debate it was agreed that we would take the long way through New Mexico, Arizona & up I-5 north thru California; rather than the shorter route thru Utah & Oregon. The trip didn’t start smoothly – first we lost an hour due to daylight savings time, then the Penske rental truck couldn’t get traction in the wet grass of the RV park. Thank goodness for four wheel drive low on the Toad & a 10 ton tow strap! Despite the delays in getting started we made it to Saddleback Mountain RV park outside Balmorhea, TX.

Monday, 12MAR, we made our longest drive of the trip to Willcox, AZ. About one hour after leaving Balmorhea we experienced once again the wonderful traffic (NOT) on I-10 thru El Paso, TX. Entering New Mexico we encountered our first weigh station. The regulations for which trucks must enter the weigh stations vary state to state. Dan tried researching the internet to find out what the rules were, but was not successful. So we decided that if the weigh station was open we would enter it & get weighed (even the RV). As we drove along the I-10 westward we noted that some truckers seemed to have problem with Corrie passing them in the RV? Some would speed up to see if she would back down, & some would try & box here in so she couldn’t get into the left lane.

We finally stopped in Willcox, AZ, & stayed at the same park we stayed at back in APR10. Unfortunately the Mexican restaurant at the RV park we really enjoyed last time was gone; & the downtown which was pretty vacant before was now almost dead. As has happened to most small towns in the USA, all the business has moved out to the interstate highway & consists of the same “national chains” you find everywhere in the USA. One of the casualties to the national fast food outlets by the interstate was Carters drive-in who had been serving burgers & shakes since 1958; on our last visit we got photos of three large fiberglass figures (mom, dad & son) holding large burgers & root beers. Since AZ does not observe daylight savings time, we gained two hours.

Tuesday we continued westward thru AZ on I-10. The Penske rental truck has a smaller diesel tank than the RV & gets poorer mileage; end result was having to stop twice or three times as often for the truck compared to the RV. Passing thru the bumper to bumper traffic of Phoenix we almost lose the lawn chairs off trailer. We finally made it to Quartzsite, AZ, & checked into same RV park that we stayed at in NOV10. This was a good thing because they weren’t going to let us park the rental truck in the park until they found our name was already in their computer. We did not visit the nearly naked book seller this time!

Wednesday, 14MAR, we had a hard drive to Bakersfield, CA. Entering the state of California we had to pull over three times – first for the Border Patrol, then CA Agriculture, & lastly at a weigh station. Traffic thru San Bernardino to bypass Los Angeles was a bitch, & once again the load on the trailer came loose forcing an emergency stop to re-tie the entire load. Unfortunately we had pulled into a small side street & Dan soon discovered that the Penske truck cannot turn as tight as our RV. He is not sure how he made the U-turn, but some suburbanite now has big tire tracks thru their front yard! Corrie has never driven the RV thru mountain passes before & the last portion of highway into Bakersfield goes thru the Tehachapi pass. It was “white knuckles” for her, but she made it.

Thursday we got an early start & finally connecting to I-5 north to drive straight thru to the Seattle area. We still continued to fight to keep stuff in trailer & eventually made it to Dunnigan, CA. We decided drive past Happy Times RV where we stayed in 23APR11 & stay at Campers Inn RV (used to be Campers Inn RV & Golf Resort). The description of this so-called resort in the RV camping books did not reflect reality, but it was quieter than Happy Times RV.

Friday, 16MAR, continuing north on I-5 Corrie had to endure hours of mountain driving thru the mountains of northern CA & southern OR; along with Siskiyou Summit, Grants Pass, Sexton Mountain Pass, Stage Road Pass, & Canyon Creek Pass, all in the rain. We finally got the load on the trailer tied down once & for all, but one clay flower pot bit the dust. Our intention was to spend the night in Medford, OR, but snow was forecasted so we pushed onward into the Umpqua valley. We had difficulty finding a RV park & ended up in Sutherlin, OR (where we spent two days back in APR09), at the Hi-Way Haven RV park in an old drive-in theater. It turned out to be one of the better parks we have stayed at & they show movies on the drive-in screen every other Saturday night.

Saturday we decided not push thru to Sultan, WA, in one day; but to take it easy & only drive about 200 miles. We overnighted in a nice park in Kelso, WA. Before we got there we had to endure the wall-to-wall traffic on I-5 thru Portland, OR. Once again we were reminded that the advertised diesel fuel prices in OR are a sham! The prices you see from the highway for diesel are if you have a PUC (whatever that is); the real price is twenty to thirty cents higher. Also OR has laws against using your cell phone while driving, BUT they have electronic highway signs saying call 511 for latest road conditions; & there was one sign requiring you to dial ten digits to get highway info!

Sunday morning, 18MAR, we got on the road early & made it to our house in Sultan at lunch. To Corrie’s dismay we endured driving in snow, sleet & rain. After backing the RV & the rental truck down our four hundred foot driveway, Dan headed to cousin Paul’s to borrow a hand truck; & we started unloading the truck with the assistance of our neighbor’s son, Cameron.

Statistically the trip covered 2509 miles in 49.4 hours of driving, & averaged 7.4mpg in the rental truck. The hero (or heroine) of the trip was Corrie! She has driven the RV a little in the past, almost always with Dan in the passenger seat to answer questions and/or give suggestions. She has never driven up mountain passes, & more hair raising – down mountain passes. Throw into the mix driving thru El Paso, Tucson, Phoenix, San Bernardino, Sacramento, Portland, Tacoma, & Bellevue; & as she says – Dan owes her big time!!!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

04-10MAR12 - Livingston & Kerrville, TX (moving day)

We departed Rebecca, Raymond, & Jaxson’s Sunday morning, 04MAR, for the long drive back to the new house in Sultan, WA. As we were leaving the Houma area on US 90 west we noticed a burning car in the eastbound lanes. It appeared that everyone was safe even though the car was totally engulfed. Since we had the air vents open, the rig soon smelled of burning rubber & electric wiring. Shortly thereafter the smoke alarm in the rear bedroom started sounding; but it wasn’t the loud steady tone alerting you to a fire, & it wasn’t the intermittent beep you get when the battery is weak. It was like a combination of the two?

So outside of Morgan City Dan pulled over to check the tires & suspension, no problems found. We then took the smoke detector from the front of the RV & placed it in the bedroom, it did not activate. We were almost to Lafayette when Corrie noticed the rearview camera “fogging” up. Since it was a perfectly clear day, this should not happen. Dan pulled over, climbed the rear ladder to inspect the camera; no problems found. Dan decided to check the tires & suspension one more time & then discovered that the “chrome tip” of the exhaust has fallen off; & that the left rear corner of the rig was slowly “melting” & smoldering!!! THANKFULLY the fiberglass body, or rubber gasket material, in the area had not caught on fire; because once an RV catches fire, they are usually “gone” in less than 15 minutes! Luckily the chrome piece had not fallen out of the rig, & Dan was able to affect temporary repairs. The rest of the day’s drive was made with the left side mirror angled down so Dan could keep an eye on the exhaust pipe.

After our near disaster, we made it safely to Rainbows End RV Park in Livingston, TX. Followers of our BLOG will recognize that we tend to visit this RV park every spring. This is because the RV park is owned by the Escapees RV Club (which we belong to), & the local county will accept membership as residency in the state of Texas. So every spring we pass through to renew our vehicle registrations; & driving licenses if necessary. Monday, 05MAR, we had the Toad re-registered & inspected. That afternoon Dan made a more permanent repair on the RV muffler (ie muffler tape). The next day, 06MAR, it was the RV’s turn for re-registration & inspection.

07MAR it we continued our westward drive to Kerrville, TX, to visit with Dan’s sister Sharon & husband Tim; also a once a spring happening. But the primary reason for this year’s visit was to get our household goods out of storage & transported to the new house in Sultan, WA. We had gotten bids from three moving companies for them to the moving, & were shocked at the estimates. We naively figured that since everything was still in the original boxes from our “military” move in 2007, that the prices would be reasonable. Not so! So we have elected to rent a truck & to it ourselves.

Thursday, 08MAR, we awoke to a flat on the Toad; thankfully it was not in the sidewall & could be repaired. Most of Thursday & Friday was spent going through our boxes in storage to see if we could throw some stuff away or donate it; along with visiting Tim & Sharon & their new dog Abby (who looks like she has a lot of Jack Russell in her!). We did manage to decrease the number of boxes by 15. We also looked at purchasing a small trailer to give us some flexibility if the rental truck couldn’t hold everything. After Dan researched rental truck fees on line, we decided on a Penske rental truck. They were $150 cheaper than U-haul; their largest truck carries 2000 pounds more than U-haul; & their largest truck is diesel, not gas like U-haul.

Prior to arriving in Kerrville, Dan had asked brother-in-law, Tim, if he knew any reliable “day laborers”. Turns out that one of Tim’s co-workers was willing; & another co-worker had a large extended family in the area & provided two more bodies. The end result was we had three willing & reliable men to assist us with packing the rental truck; which was a good thing because Dan was still suffering with bruised ribs from go-karting back in February. So at 0900 Saturday, 10MAR, we all met at the two storage lockers containing our household goods & commenced loading the truck. The best thing was the brother-in-law, Tim, took charge of loading the truck. Having done this several times in moves from Washington to Montana, & Montana to Texas, Tim did a much better job than Dan would have ever done.

Our intentions after a hard day’s work on Saturday was to have a home cook meal prepared by sister Sharon. Unfortunately she was coming down with something (ie the flu?) & dinner was not an option. We then decided to try for Sunday morning breakfast before we hit the road to Sultan, WA. Unfortunately Sharon was not going to rally by the morning & Corrie was starting to feel ill. So the decision was made to skip one last get together & just get on the road without passing germs back & forth. Hopefully next year we will be able to visit longer, & Tim & Dan can maybe visit Austin for the South by Southwest music festival like last year.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

22FEB-03MAR12 - Houma, LA (time to say goodbye)

Wednesday, 22FEB, we finally got full Parish approval for the shed that Raymond, Dan & Joe had built back in DEC11. Although the “fix” that the Inspector had required was total BS!, Dan had installed the additionally framing & the Inspector was finally satisfied.

The next two weeks were spent not doing much other than enjoying our new grandson, Jaxson J Pitre; & family dinners & BBQs often with our son Joe stopping by. Right before we left Houma we also accompanied Joe as he started the search for a house to call his own. He quickly came to the realization that the houses in his price range fell into two categories: 1) nice house, wrong location, 2) nice location, major problems with house.

Anyway, after over four months almost continuously parked in Rebecca & Raymond’s driveway it is time to leave. We need to get our household goods out of storage in Livingston, TX, & transport them to the new house in Sultan, WA! So tomorrow, 04MAR, we head to Texas to address the issue.