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Ohio in April

Ohio in April

I don’t have a towed car, so my visit to family in Ohio required either a campground close to Sherry’s house or being able to park right in her driveway.  Often driveways have a slant or are far from electrical outlets and water.  There are several campgrounds in the area, but none were open until May 1st.  That left just the driveway option.  I drove all the way not sure it would work out, but it DID!  The driveway slant was minor and the RV’s auto levels did their job!  There was water and electric so that I was able to use adapters and connect the RV to one outlet and hook my separate 20 amp outlet to the other.  That gave me a separate outlet to use for a heater.  I wasn’t sure if the 15 amp service would power the gas furnace AND other things like computer and lights.  It exceeded my expectations.  I was able to find an easy balance.  The heat was only needed at night so during the day I was able to use everything else I needed.  Even on a particularly cold day, I was able to use the furnace and everything else.  It was awesome.

My visit was so absolutely fantastic.  We did lots of relaxing, some shopping, went to a movie (I Can Only Imagine), and had a girls pajama party (movies, pizza, popcorn and all while wearing our pajamas).  I got to spend time with Sherry and her sister Norma (and Norma’s awesome little dog, Maggie) and met a new friend, Bonnie.

The RV celebrated some new additions; a surge protector for out at the post (on sale!), a silver ware tray that actually fits, a mug that will keep my tea hot, and a coffee table in which the top easily lifts up to become a computer desk.  It gives me more options for where to work.  There is the fold out wooden desk up at the passenger seat, the dinette, and now the table by the couch.  That’s where I am at this moment. 

On the way to Ohio, Einstein stepped on the water bucket and tipped it over.  Water everywhere!  At the Camper World store I found a bowl that is unspillable.  When I put water in it the first time, Einstein kept trying to bite it and pick it up.  I’m not sure where that came from.  So far no spills.  We’ll see how it works when we’re on the move.

Yesterday I came 17 miles south of Sherry’s place so I could empty my tanks and get propane.  I arrived around 1:00 and there was someone waiting for me to put propane into the RV.  He then guided me with manipulating the RV and get turned around to head to my campsite.  This is a KOA campground; my first time at a KOA.  It’s an active place with people coming and going.  I ended up paying for two nights.  I was supposed to head home today, but my hair appointment isn’t until Tuesday so I could stay an extra day.  I really needed this extra time. 

The dogs are used to being in the RV and the routine.  They are difficult to travel with.  Emma wants to be looking out the front window.  I’m glad that she likes that, but she gets in the way and Einstein wants to be up front, laying on the engine cover.  Sometimes he manages to get in between the passenger seat and the dash.  He whines and pants and gets in the way of my being able to see the camera monitor and controls for heat and fans.

After spending a week or so with Sherry, my tanks needed emptying.  I found a campground about twenty miles south of her place that is actually open – a KOA.  It would have been too far for her to be driving to fetch me every time, but it’s close enough to safely drive to with full tanks.

Here at the campground, Emma loves to sneak into the cab area and watch out the front window for strangers and their pets.  I put the divider up out of the way for a while and she just parked herself up there to watch for action outside.  I made the divider from the bedspread that came with the RV.  I don’t use that kind of spread, but didn’t want to waste it.  The “Moving Forward Adventure” folks did something similar.  I think they used the curtains from their apartment.  They now live full time in their RV.  They found that when they drive after dark, the light from the living area reflected in the windshield and was a bit distracting.  We found the same thing and so followed their awesome example.  Emma found a LOT of things to bark at, so I put down the divider.  She still finds a way to sneak into the cab from time to time.

The campground has cable (a wonderful treat for me…with HGTV!) so I’m sitting at the couch with my computer on the desk and HGTV right there in front of me.  Its so nice that I’ve decided to stay an extra day.

So.  My trip to Ohio has been awesome.  I’m sad to have to leave.  I did just fine without a car to drive.  It forced me to stay put and accomplish some work on a current children’s book layout project.  The project is a little more difficult than I expected, because I want the book to be fantastic.  I spent several hours on one page.  I want the book to have an overall theme with its layout, but I do want to make each of the amazing illustrations the absolute best it can be.

However, I think I’d like to have a car.  When I’m visiting someone who is willing to drive me to the places I need to go, that’s great, but usually I’m going to be at a place where there is no one to transport me anywhere.  I try to buy everything I need ahead of time, but my whole purpose in traveling is to experience wherever I am.  The campground itself is probably not my goal.  It’s my place to sleep and unwind.  Sometimes it might be possible to catch public transportation from the campground, but I have seldom encountered that.  When we’re at Disney we’ll be sure to have most of what we need food-wise, but there are camp stores at the campground.  Items are pricey, but at least they are available.  We won’t starve.

So there you have it.  Ohio in April.  I give it a thumbs up.  I want to come back SOON!

Bye Bye Airstream?

Bye Bye Airstream?

My Airstream (Rocinante) was wonderful.  There were many, many things I loved about the guy.  As I pulled Rocinante down the road, I loved to glance in the side view mirror and see him back there, faithfully following along.  When parked, I loved to walk back toward him and the sight took my breath away.  Rocinante was compact and easy to manage.  Clean up was always minutes instead of hours.  I worried that Einstein and Emma would be cramped for space since they were used to a much longer domicile.  They seemed perfectly content with our little den.  I knew they were happy when they began to play and tumble about a little bit.  They settled into a routine that encompassed waiting for me to wake up, dress, make the bed, get their food ready, Einstein’s medicine in a small square of Velveta cheese, a walk, and finally a cool drink.  What happened the rest of the day was up for grabs.  It could be a day on the road or a day of relaxing somewhere.

You can see the size difference between my previous Montana 5th Wheel and my twenty-five foot Airstream Flying Cloud.  My Dodge Ram 3500 Quad Cab Dually (AR AR!) could easily ascend and descend any mountain, endure desert heat, and sigh contentedly in the shade of a tree at rest areas.  I don’t think the truck even knew it was pulling anything. 

My Airstream was simple.  He didn’t have a lot of storage, which forced me to rethink everything I took along as well as everything I wanted to add along the way.  It was easy to detach the two thirty pound propane tanks and take them to get filled.  The scissor jacks and entry steps were not hydraulic, which added to the simplicity.  They took only elbow grease to operate.  There were plenty of awnings for shade.  It didn’t take much to make Rocinante cozy and comfortable.

I thought about getting a bigger Airstream.  I did some online comparisons and a slightly larger Airstream was comparable in price to a motor home.  I had it in mind to compare a thirty or thirty-three foot Airstream to perhaps a Class A or Class C of similar size.

Whether it was wise or not to trade the Airstream in can NOT be dwelled on.  The deal is done.  There is just no point in analyzing the choices I’ve made at this point.  Rocinante is gone.  I cried the day I cleaned him all up, ready for the trade-in.  He looked as new as the day I bought him.  We made some wonderful memories together.  Indeed.  Farewell, Rocinante.  May those who share your future adventures love you, protect you, and keep you safe.

 

Two Days More

Two Days More

I’ve been thinking about John Steinbeck’s book – Travels With Charley.  It was never my intention to duplicate his trip or his goals.  His main goal was to discover America.  He had written about life in America and felt maybe he needed to get a fresh new look at America.  He’d written Grapes of Wrath.  Perhaps he had a new book in mind or maybe he just wanted to see if things had changed.  Even though we had completely different reasons for our adventures, I think we both discovered much about ourselves.

From what I read in his book, as John prepared for his trip he was full of hope and expectations.  He was excited and did his best to be prepared.  As he launched out, he was very happy and comfortable with things.  He stumbled upon opportunities to get to know America by getting to know it’s people.  He was surprised by its new temporary-ness, as “trailer parks” were popping up all over the country.  He shared a meal with such a family and learned how much it meant to them to have such things as a dishwasher and all the comforts of home, yet be able to take it with them should the husband need to relocate for his work.  Sometimes John came upon situations that bested him and other times he bested the situation.  I was with him.  I felt like I was on that adventure with him as I read his book.  I loved his enthusiasm as he traveled.  

During his journey he didn’t have to be concerned with laptops and internet or WiFi, cell phones or gps.  Though I had struggles with the trailer a little, my most frequent difficulties were with technology.  I’m curious what John Steinbeck struggled with?  He seemed to discover, by happy accident, how to wash his clothes.  What other things came up?  If its true that he did spend most of his time holed up in the camper rather than out and about, what prompted that?  Maybe we have something in common.  I had such great intentions when I hit the road.  I was going to talk with people more, getting a little out of my introverted comfort zone.  I did, too.  In fact, I think it was one of my greatest successes.  I tried new things.  Yes.  I did.  I’d have done the zip line at Fremont Street in Las Vegas if ANY of my companions had been willing.  I had Sushi twice.  I did many new things.  I always felt I wasn’t doing enough of what I’d intended to do.  I didn’t go for enough walks or bike rides.  I didn’t lose as much weight as I planned (from all those walks).  I was going to read books and do tons of art work.  I was going to finish the first Ren Girl book.  I was going to go to National Parks.  Didn’t hit a single one.  Perhaps I set my expectations a tad too high for this first trip.  I have to admit that I was a little worried that it would be my only trip.  I wanted to squeeze everything into it, just in case.  I did spend a large amount of time here in the trailer and I loved it.  It felt good in this little space.  It felt safe and secure.  It felt cozy most of the time.  Well, some times.  Evenings were the best.  All things done.  All things met.  Time to do whatever I wanted.  Did John Steinbeck have any such times?

As he began to head home, however, he had less to tell.  I couldn’t tell if he was just “done” with the thing or if he was in a hurry or what.  Now I find myself in the last days of my adventure.  I may take other trips, but none will be like this one; this first one.  As I approach the end of the journey, I am full of reflection.  Did I accomplish my goals?  Was it worth while?  Am I changed by it?  Has it changed my tomorrows?  What did I learn?  Did John Steinbeck think such thoughts as he found his trip nearing its end?  I experienced many of the same emotions of excitement and anticipation as I prepared.  I found many similar unexpected surprises along the way.  I went into some situations expecting one thing and found another thing entirely.  I had to figure my way out of some dilemmas just as John did.  Now, I wonder, if perhaps I’m not experiencing some of the same sadness that he may have felt.  Do I really want to go home now?  Am I ready to return to all the busy-ness and “stuff” that I have learned is so un-needed, so unnecessary?  Did I come to treasure my time on my own, with Einstein and Emma to the point that its overwhelming to fall back into the old world, the old life?  How will all this reflect on my future?

I will save all that and it’s answers for another day.  Today…just drive.

Red Rock Canyon

Red Rock Canyon

Today I got to visit my very special, long time friends Sharon and John.  They are back from their trip to Kenya to visit their son.  It was so great to see them and they were very patient with Emma and Einstein, who tried once to gobble up their aunt’s little dog.  After lunch Sharon and I took the dogs to Red Rock Canyon.  What a beautiful place.  It was a gorgeous day for a hike.  The dogs loved all the smells.  We saw a family of quail and a jack rabbit.  I’m told there are scorpions and snakes, among other things, but we didn’t see or feel the sting or bite of anything.  When we returned to their beautiful home, John made us the most amazing steaks for dinner.  They tasted like Mesquite and spices.  He’s a fantastic cook.  Thank you, John!

Las Vegas, Nevada

Las Vegas, Nevada

From the rest area along route 95,  I headed straight to Vegas.  No more rest areas for me.  I reached the city during early rush hour and dark despite my efforts to get there earlier.  I hooked up electric and water and got down to business.  Time to feed the dogs and myself.  This campground is called Oasis.  There were many campgrounds to chose from.  The others were on the smaller side and reviews were mixed.  One mentioned the homeless population in the area growing twenty fold.  They also said that the windshield cover of their motor home disappeared.  The cover was custom made for that particular vehicle, so was not really going to be taken by someone else with the same motor home.  I elected to try Oasis, which has probably 800 campsites.  The photos were impressive.  There was one unfavorable review that dealt with pets.  I tried to find something else, but ended up deciding to try a really grand place like Oasis.

High winds followed me here.  My first night here was a repeat of the previous night – roaring wind and sand blasting.  In the morning it was still going on.  Not a good day for having awnings out.  I had a reservation for four days and was determined to stay put for all of them.  The second day the weather was wonderful. 

My Airstream is named Rocinante, after Don Quixote’s horse, which took him on many adventures.  Rocinante was thoroughly coated with road salt from the last month’s travels in the North.  Oasis has all sorts of RV services.  I saw several motorcoaches getting washed by a company called Red Rock.  I called them and made an appointment for them to come this morning to wash Rocinante, who, afterwards, looks better than new.

There is no more wind.  Today the weather was so wonderful that I got my bike out and went for a ride.  It was a t-shirt, shorts and flip flop day.  There is no wind, so it was also a good day for awnings.

I walked over to the main building.  It has a really nice restaurant.  The staff was helpful and attentive.  The food was very good and priced right.  As I was eating I noticed that the lobby had bookshelves loaded with “exchange” books.  I peeked out at the swimming pool and could see several people swimming.

Yes.  This is an awesome place to stay.  The dogs have behaved.  I’ve slept really well.  The WiFi is 5G!  The cable TV has a LOT of channels.  Its wonderful.  I was supposed to leave this morning, but extended to Sunday morning.  If I want to stay beyond that, I’ll have to move to a different campsite.  That would be okay – a lot of work, but okay.

Yesterday I needed some groceries.  The frig and cupboard were empty.  On the way to an Albertsons I stopped at a Japanese restaurant with a choice of Hibachi grill or tables.  I wanted a table, but you could only get some of the menu items if you sat at a Hibachi grill.  So I sat by myself at a large grill.  The food was really great and the staff were, once again, very attentive.

The friends I am here to visit arrived from their travels today.  They had a thirty hour flight, so headed straight to bed.  Tomorrow we’ll talk about the coming days.  They said I can stay with them, but I have two dogs with me, so will probably stay right here at the campground or at a campground closer to them.  We’ll see what tomorrow holds.

I do really like it here.  I know summers are brutally hot here, but I sure am enjoying early winter.  Its hard to believe that tomorrow is December.  Wow!

 

My Hands Smell Like Cinnamon and Cloves

My Hands Smell Like Cinnamon and Cloves

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving.  I have made many a pumpkin pie.  Einstein has never tasted my pie, but he reminds me of them, because he is the same color.  I tease him, saying that if he were to get right into the pan, he would be invisible.  Well, he’d have to get into the pan after the pie is baked to a golden brown.

So.  Even though I’ve done this before, I’ve never done it exactly like this … in a travel trailer.  I tried to google the microwave/convection oven that came with the trailer, but found no directions on how to actually use the thing.  There was no booklet in with the other manuals in the trailer when I bought it.  So, I’m making it up as I go.  I stepped out on faith and made the mixture.  I put the crust into the pie plates and poured the pumpkin mixture into them.  I preheated the oven.  I’m pretty sure I have that part right.  Now the first pie (hopefully) is baking.  We’ll see.

This Thanksgiving we’re in northern California.  Its easy to feel the holiday spirit here.  The grass is still green and the trees are still carrying their fall colors, the air is on the cool side, and the mountains are capped with snow.

Okay.  Now the end of the story.  When the first pie was finished, I started thinking about past pies and how one year, when I was trying so hard to make them perfect, I made them awful.  I forgot the sugar.  The pies were ruined.  Oh no!!!  I forgot the sugar AGAIN!!!  What was I going to do?  Would any of the grocery stores be open in the morning?  Would I have time to start over?  Well!  Since starting this adventure, I’ve had to solve many problems; many mysteries.  How could I solve this?

I had only baked one pie.  The other had just been put in the oven.  I put on my oven mitt and fetched it out.  I measured out the sugar and stirred it in.  Could this work?  I put the pie in the oven and, low and behold, I couldn’t get the oven to work right.  I could preheat it, but couldn’t then bake.  SO!  I have been preheating the oven, over and over.  It’s almost done.  I know because the knife inserted into the pie is almost coming out clean.

Next, can I save the pie I already baked?  I decided to try something.  Even if it doesn’t work, I can eat it myself.  I spooned out the pumpkin and mixed in the sugar.  I tasted it and found it to be absolutely delicious.  It was still warm, too.  I spooned the mixture back into the crust and when the other pie is finished baking, I’ll try baking the first one so it firms up a bit.  I would gladly eat the whole thing myself if it doesn’t work.

So there you have it.  The best intentions will work in a round about way.

Happy Thanksgiving, my friends!

Eugene, Oregon

Eugene, Oregon

Before heading south again, I spent maybe nine days in Eugene, Oregon.  I had been hoping to have internet and cell signal.  In Eugene, I stopped at a campground, thinking it was for just one night.  When my trip to Seattle fell through, I stayed an extra couple of nights. While there, I was out exploring the town and saw a Best Buy.  I stopped by after getting some supper.  I was hoping to find a lap desk for my keyboard and mouse.  I really struggled with having desktop computer with me in the trailer

I tried tucking the CPU in a corner of the bedroom (haha – there are no corners in an Airstream). I had to climb over the bed to get to the little three legged chair that  faced the wall-mounted TV.  I tried putting the CPU under the dinette and hooking it to the wall-mounted TV by the couch.  Too far away and had to turn my head, as the bench seat faces the wall across from me.

I tried putting the CPU by the refrigerator and sitting in the three legged chair facing the TV.  The dogs hated it.  They got stranded on the couch.   My last attempt was going to try a lap desk, while sitting in the three legged chair.

I didn’t find a lap desk at Best Buy, but since I was in the computer section, I saw that they had a huge selection.  A salesman asked me if he could help and I asked if they had gaming laptops.  I had a gaming desktop and found it lacked what was needed to do anything BUT play games (without adding additional items to it).  They had MSI laptops – the BEST gaming laptops.  The most powerful one they had was a good price, but wasn’t really good for much more than gaming.  It had a normal hard drive and the C drive was a 256 GB Solid State Drive.  I wanted this laptop to do more than play games.  I wanted it to edit and pretty much do everything my iMac does.  An MSI computer that could do that for sure was one that had to be ordered in to the store from another store.  It was going to take seven days.

The campground I’d been in had no WiFi and if I was going to have to hang around for another seven days, I wanted WiFi!  So I researched and found a campground on the south side of Eugene that had WiFi.  I moved there the next day.

Eugene, Oregon was beautiful with amazing mountains all the way around it.  There were lots of stores and restaurants.  I went to a mall and saw two movies.  The campground was lush with thick green grass and all sorts of special trees and bushes.  That lushness comes from almost constant rain.  While I was there, we had two days with sunshine and that was only part of the day.  The temperature was nice and everyone there was out walking and spending time enjoying the great weather.  While I was out looking for a post office, with everyone out walking, the dogs barked a lot.  The campground office called to tell me that you could hear the dogs barking all the way to the office.   THE DOGS.  Was I ever going to get used to the dogs in this trailer?  Were they ever going to settle down.  Would Emma ever learn NOT to bark at everyone who passed by and at every dog she saw, even if from across the campground?  Was Einstein ever going to get over his separation anxiety?  At that moment, it seemed like a lot of NO answers.  I was ready to just go back to Maryland.  My friend Reen called me and we talked for a long time.  She had some great advice and encouragement.

My computer came the next day.  Bam!  I was going to be fine.  Having the laptop would make everything in the trailer flow better and be less of a headache.  I would keep going and tackle one thing at a time, as I’d been doing.

Maryland to California – 2017

Maryland to California – 2017

Leaving Maryland

When I pull out onto the highway with my trailer, I feel so amazing.  Airstreams are rare and draw a bit of attention.  At one gas station I parked and was walking in to get something to drink.  A group of people standing outside wanted to ask me all sorts of questions about the trailer.  After getting my drink and going back out to the truck, an SUV stopped beside me and rolled down their window to ask me questions.  The woman said, “I want to go with you!”

Indiana to Colorado and Points In Between

Since leaving Indiana, where I attended the RVing Women 2017 convention, I have travelled through several states, including Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada, California, and Oregon.  Except for California and Oregon, I merely passed through each state.  I was trying to get to Seattle, Washington, so pressed ahead as best I could, setting miles-traveled-per-day goals for myself.  At first I tried to be very spontaneous and would drive until I was tired and then would find a spot to stay overnight.  Rest areas are possibilities, but when I found one, it was usually full of trucks.  Truck stops are another possibility, but truckers prefer RVers stay away as overnight spots.  They have fewer choices and our taking up valuable parking spaces means some of them have to keep searching for a spot.  I respect that.  I found a Cabela’s one night, but was not able to find any other RVers and was uncomfortable with being the only one so I moved on.

Wyoming

As I headed west, the weather got colder and colder.  When I got to Wyoming I hit snow and by the time I pulled into a Walmart Supercenter in Laramie, there was ice.  The first thing I did was go into the Walmart and purchase an inexpensive winter coat and some gloves.  I also bought a dog bed.  The two dogs won’t always share the couch and the floor gets very cold.  I put the dog bed under the dinette and Emma took to it immediately.  Einstein became quite jealous and laid with his back to me.

Because it was so cold in Laramie, I decided to start using campgrounds in the colder climates.  That meant having to pick out a campground before leaving in the morning.  It also meant having to go a fixed amount of miles and arriving whenever I arrived.  No more stopping when I was tired.

California

When I made it to northern California, where I was to spend time with a friend, I was ready for a rest.  A few days of good conversation and good food refreshed my soul.