Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Back at home after 2 months on the road.

Location, At Home, CA

The problem with having multiple computers is not remembering what you did on one vs the other. I have been using the Acer Netbook while on the road to write the blog each day.  Now that I am home I use the Dell desktop to update the blog. I don’t remember what I wrote about last so I had better check the blog on-line I guess.

Oh! I see that I last posted on Friday. So to bring you up to date from then.

We spent the weekend with great friends at the beach in Morro Bay, CA. We played lots of Mexican Train, and a new game Tony had made. Tony loaned Budd the game board as a pattern so Budd can make more. Budd will be under the gun to get them done before Tony and Joanne go through Tehachapi on their way to Death Valley in late October.

We played a long game of Mexican Train Sunday night with Tony and Joanne. Of the 13 hands in a double twelve game, Tony won 9! I know he cheats! Maybe he is just lucky.

Budd and Brenda, Kori, and Jessica left for home after cooking us a nice breakfast of waffles and sausage on Sunday.

We decided the weekend was so much fun that we made reservations for next year in April and added Paul and Kathy to the group.

We drove home Monday morning and have been on the go ever since. I don’t think the wash machine has quit running since we got home. Of course, unpacking all the stuff that gets put in nooks and crannies takes time. The refer was unpacked right away so we had food for Monday night, but it still needs to be cleaned tomorrow. All will be done in a day or so.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Blog is up to date.

Location, Morro Bay, CA

Ooops! I’m a little behind in posting.

We drove from Fillmore, UT on Sunday to the Oasis Casino RV Park in Mesquite, NV. The Oasis is a defunct casino but the RV Park is open and run by a Casino down the street. The temperature was rather warm so we ran the AC as soon as we got the power hooked up and then left it on for the rest of our stay.

We visited friends who now live in Mesquite. Clyda worked with Cindy and actually we have known she and husband Roy for years. Nice visit.

Monday morning we ate breakfast at the Casa Blanca coffee shop before we checked out. A big breakfast of 2 pancakes, 2 eggs, 2 sausages, 2 pieces of bacon, and hash browns for $3.99. A great deal!

We drove the 77 miles to Las Vegas where we stayed at the Main Street Station RV Park downtown. It was very warm, in the 90’s but the AC keeps it comfortable.

I took Clyda by the Pawn Star’s shop of TV fame on North Las Vegas Blvd. The line of people was around the building and into the parking lot. Can’t imagine standing in that heat for a few minutes inside the building.

We drove down Las Vegas Blvd to MGM City Center. I wanted to show Clyda the new casinos. I had never driven into the Cosmopolitan parking garage before so it was an adventure as my truck is big and the garage is underground with sharp turns. It was a real challenge but we made it without knocking over any of the rubber posts they use to make the turns.

The Cosmopolitan is known for its more than 2 story chandelier. It is a real work of art. The casino is also pricey.

We walked via the Skywalk to Crystal Shopping center and then out the back of it to Aria another large hotel and casino. We checked out the artwork and shows featured currently. A short monorail ride back to Crystal and another Skywalk trek across Las Vegas Blvd found us in the Planet Hollywood Miracle Mile shopping center in search of food and drink. We found an ice cream stand selling LOBSTER ice cream. Not exactly my cup of tea but they also had Huckleberry ice cream which suited just fine.

We returned to the parking garage and retrieved the truck which now required a few back and forth turns to get up the exit ramp and out of the garage.

We had dinner at the Main Street Station buffet which is still quite good.

Later, we walked to Fremont Street to watch the overhead light show. The featured artist was the Doors from way back when. It was quit good.

Clyda wanted Madi Gras beads so we stopped by the casino that was giving them out. Along with the beads you get a ticket for a drawing worth $10,000. They call out a number every half hour so while we waited Clyda played the slots. When the number was called it was one more than my ticket number. So close, but no cigar.

We drove to Tehachapi on Tuesday and stayed with our friends Budd and Brenda until Thursday morning. Budd helped me with several projects like day/night shade repair, fixing trim on the living room slide, and washing the awning which really needed it.

Thursday Budd drove his rig and Clyda and I took ours to Morro Bay to canp for the weekend. Brenda, Kori and Jessica will come Friday after Kori gets off work. We met Tony and Joanne at the campground. Tony and Joanne camp with Budd and Brenda and our neighbors Paul and Kathy in Death Valley each year while I am there. Good people! I think Tony cheats at Mexican Train as he beat all of us by winning 6 games in a row.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Travels through Provo Canyon, Utah.

Location, Fillmore, UT

Re-reading yesterday’s post, it occurred to me that I talked a lot about the Mountain Men. I admit I have been intrigued by their efforts and feats as recorded in history.

I have read both “Undaunted Courage” by Stephen Ambrose and the abridged version of the “Lewis and Clark Journals” by Bernard DeVoto. Both of these books tell of the hardships and sacrifices of the “Core of Discovery”.

One of the men with Lewis and Clark was John Coulter who on the return trip to St Louis in 1805 asked to be relieved of his duties so he could guide a group of fur trappers back up the Missouri from which he had just returned. Thus began the era of the Mountain Man which continued until about 1835 or so. I recently finished a book called “A Majority of Scoundrels” by Don Berry which pulled together the history of the fur trade in America. It revolved around the Mountain Men who did the trapping and the men who supplied them from St Louis so the men could stay in the mountains and trap.

The exploits of these and all the Mountain Men are hard to comprehend unless you travel to some of the same places they did. Of course, today we can travel in a few hours what took them weeks to accomplish.

I have been lucky to travel and visit many of the places mentioned in the above books and have come to a great appreciation for what these men accomplished.

On our trip back from Wisconsin we drove along the Platte River which Interstate 80 parallels. This route became the road to the west for the fur traders from St Louis and later, the emigrants heading to Oregon and California.

This concludes today’s history lesson.

Last evening we had rain and pea sized hail. It also rained overnight and this morning so I waited until there was a break in the rain to hookup the RV. A quick stop for fuel and we were on our way west in the rain which quit about the time we entered Utah.

Our trek was again on I-80 until we got to the turn for Heber City Utah and the route down Provo Canyon. I have been to Heber City before via Provo Canyon but not pulling an RV. It was ok but there are lots of sharp turns down in the canyon. We exited the canyon in downtown Provo and eventually got to I-15 south. Tonight is the big foot ball game between BYU and Utah in Provo so all the radio stations were predicting dire traffic problems. Of course I-15 is all under construction as usual but we had no problems.

Tonight we are in Fillmore, UT at the KOA. Not our first choice but the other campground was closed. I am not a KOA fan because of their high prices. This RV Park was no different. Full hookups but no cable TV. We do however have lots of over air channels, many in High Definition so that helps.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Exploring Ft Bridger

Location, Ft Bridger, WY

Our drive today had us bucking headwinds most of the way. I could feel the wind but don’t think it slowed us down too much. Western Wyoming has a lot of open spaces with antelope and even a small herd of wild horses.

There are also lots of gas wells especially around Wamsutter. I wish I had seen how the town looked a few years ago as BP has put upwards of $2 billion into the enterprise including the town site. It is a sprawling oil town now.

After we arrived at Ft Bridger RV Camp, we toured nearby Ft Bridger which actually is at the entrance to the RV Park. Ft Bridger was built by mountain man Jim Bridger as a trading post and way station for emigrant trains. Most of the area is comprised of the old fort which was major stopping point for wagon trains during the time of all movement west to Oregon and California. It was also used as a Pony Express stop. Later the Carter family operated a store along with out buildings. All of these buildings have been restored and remain in good condition.

The original Ft Bridger burned down. The reconstructed fort is located on the property but several hundred feet from the original. Archeological digging recently confirmed where the old fort stood.

Even as a reconstruction, the fort looks much like the original. It had two buildings set at right angles to each other and all surrounded by wood picket walls. Later, a separate wood fort was made for horses so they could be locked up at night.

Many of the foundations of the barracks buildings are still visible although all have long disappeared.

The Generals house is intact and well preserved and open to tours. This building was moved at least three times and even disassembled and stored at one time. It was built with all the amenities to house visiting dignitaries.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Great back country trip.

Location, Rawlins, WY

Tuesday morning we got up earlier than usual so we could have the RV ready to hit the road after a brief shopping trip to the Cabela’s store. This was their first store and the corporate headquarters.

Clyda found a few things but for the most part everything is quite pricey.

We drove to Laramie, WY and parked the rig at the daughter of friends of ours. We took a short drive with them in the afternoon and yesterday we took an all day drive over the Snowy Range south of Laramie. In all we saw some great scenery, lots of wildflowers, alpine lakes, and even some cowboys off on a fishing trip, and covered over 200 miles.

The weather had turned cold and windy with occasional rain. We left this morning and drove a secondary road, Hwy 30, to Rawlins. Only about 100 miles but it allowed us time to grocery shop and do laundry.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Tire problems taken care of, for now.

Location, Sidney, NE

Sidney, Nebraska, home of Cabela’s, the out door store. In fact, we are camped in their RV Park. Full hookups, cable TV, and free WiFi. Very nice!

Tires were the problem of the day. I got an early call from the shop that answered our Good Sam call on Saturday telling me that they couldn’t find tires for me. Now what to do? Back to the internet of course. I called Big “O” Tire to see what they had in stock. They had 4 tires in stock but an off brand. That’s the problem with having tire problems on the road.

Eventually I drove the rig to Big “O” which was way on the north end of Kearney while the interstate was way on the south side. They had 4 Commodore tires in the size I previously had on the rig. I kept the old spare, which I had put on before we left home, as the spare. It still has lots of tread.

Tires will always be a problem I guess. I would like to go up to Load Range G but that requires new rims as my rims are only good for 80 PSI. Must look into that though.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Never forget!

Location, Kearney, NE

Never forget!

What do you do while stuck in a Kearney, NE cornfield on a Sunday?

After Mass this morning, Clyda made us pancakes and eggs. After we cleaned up the dishes we drove south to Miden and Pioneer Village. This was the work of one man who made his money from plastic wrap.

Pioneer Village comprises 28 buildings on 20 acres and 50,000 items from “every field of human endeavor” from 1830 until 1970. There are buildings full of buggies, cars, tractors, farm machinery, airplanes, and every kind of collectable you can imagine. Several hours of walking, climbing stairs, and reading displays were enough for us so we came back to Kearney and recuperated with a stop at Culvers for frozen custard. That always revives me!

and more tractors! Even the second floor had tractors.

Making rag rugs on a hand loom. My mother and dad did this for years.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Tire problems.

Location, Kearney, NE

Today’s leisurely trip turned into something more than we expected.

This morning we traveled west on I-80 until about 40 miles from our destination when I noticed something fly across the road behind us first on the left side then on the right. About that time a vehicle pulled along side and motioned towards the trailer wheels. I immediately pulled to the side of the road and found that we had shredded the passenger side front tire on the trailer.

There was some damage to the trailer but really a minimal amount considering. I put the 4 way blinkers on and put out 2 safety cones to warn traffic which was considerable. Mostly trucks, which for the most part moved over to the left lane before passing us. However, as heavy as traffic was, some could not move over so they really rocked the rig. We put out chairs in the shade near the back of the rig well off the road. I just don’t think it is wise to sit in the vehicle while parked like this.

I called Good Sam Emergency Road Service which said a truck would be out to us in about an hour. We were about 14 miles east of Kearney so I gave them the info off the GPS which told me how far back the last overpass was and how far to the next overpass. This helped the emergency service operator pin point our location.

An hour later we were back on the road, following the tow truck to a campground in Kearney. I decided to replace all the tires as these have about 25,000 miles on them and are 3 years old. The problem is this is Saturday and nothing is open until Monday. So, Monday they will try to find us some tires. We will be here at least until Tuesday.

This is a new campground and the only one in town. I am sure it was a cornfield last year. There are 3 rows of all pull through full hookup sites each 120 feet long. The surface is rough rocks and gravel which needs to be packed more to make it stable. We have several TV stations on the antenna and free WiFi so life is good.

Caqmpground next to a cornfield.

There are plenty of things to do here so we won’t be bored. Tomorrow we will go to Minden south of here to Pioneer Village which I understand takes at least two days to see everything. A report tomorrow.

A Nebraska sunset.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Today's trip not according to plan.

Location, Greenwood, NE

Today’s trip did not go according to the original plan.

We left Welcome, MN about 8:30 as we had about 280 miles to travel today so an earlier start was in order. We drove west on I-90 to Worthington, MN and then south on Hwy 60 towards Sioux City Iowa. As soon as we made the turn we encountered highway construction which diverted us way out in the country but still parallel to Hwy 60. Eventually we got back to the original highway but was it ever rough. It bounced us for several miles until I found a speed which smoothed out the ride.

We also had to backtrack one time because they were removing a transition road to a south bound interstate on ramp. That one caused a little head scratching on my part (plus a few blues words) and a loop through a truck sales lot to get back on track.

We were also diverted by high water along the Missouri River. In places the highway was lined with large black sandbags filled with rocks to keep the water from flooding the road.

For the most part, the Missouri River is back in its banks but there are still fields underwater and farms surrounded by water. Sandbags are everywhere. Some in the most unlikely places. We saw one gas station all banked with sandbags far from the river. Fields which had been flooded and now drained are brown with mud so it is very evident where the water was.

Signs along the road said the transition ramp from I-29 to I-680 around Omaha was closed due to flooding. A lady at a rest stop told me of an alternate route west of Omaha that would put us back on I-680 where we wanted to be. It was good advice.

Tonight we are camped south of Omaha, NE and tomorrow will move west past Kearney, NE.

We sampled a local BBQ place about 3 miles from the campground for dinner tonight. I can recommend the Texas brisket for sure. Clyda had St Louis ribs. All very good and too much food.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

On the road west!

Location, Welcome, MN

Welcome is not a greeting in this instance, it actually is a town but a small one. It is located somewhere between Albert Lea and Worthington, MN on I-90.

What happened since Sunday? Monday was quiet. We did go see my mother as usual, as we did every day.

Tuesday we did last minute stuff to get ready to leave on wednesday. Things like groceries, fuel for the truck, and a last ice cream from Hawkeye Dairy. We were invited to Sharon and Kenny’s for a last night of Sequence which the guys won all but 1 game.

We left Dorchester yesterday morning and took a somewhat unusual route to La Crosse, WI. We drove west on Cty A through Dorchester then south on E to Curtiss where we went west on Hwy 29 to Withee, WI. From there we went south to Neillsville and Black River Falls. Eventually we picked up I-90 and crossed the Mississippi River. We stopped for the night at Great River Bluffs State Park. It was very early afternoon but I picked stops that are about 200 miles apart. If we arrive early, so be it. That gives us time to explore the local area. Also, we don’t a sore butt from hours in the seat. Stopping at rest stops help also.

A field of goldenrod.

Looking south from the bluffs with the Mississippi river in the forground and Lake Onalaska in the background.

Looking North.

An apple tree in the campground. Apples are small.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Labor Day weekend.

Location, Dorchester, WI

As a Labor Day to remember, so far this is one to forget as the weather has not cooperated. It has rained off and on, and now turned chilly as a cold front has moved south with the rain.

I doesn’t really bother us as we had no plans for the weekend that weather can interrupt.

Friday afternoon we (Judy & Art, Clyda & I, and Ray) met in Ma’s room before we all went to dinner. We ate at Allison’s which is a large facility in Abbotsford and can seat lots of people. We all had the seafood buffet which has more than just seafood. Brother Dennie and wife Jeanette joined us after getting off work. We were seated in a large room which was quiet and allowed us to talk for a long time after eating. It will be the only time we all get together while we are here.

On Saturday, Clyda made chicken soup which we took to assisted living and ate in the recreation room with Ma. We also invited Ma’s sister Beatrice who lives nearby in very nice senior housing. It was a nice lunch and a nice visit with Beatrice.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

A busy day.

Location, Dorchester, WI

We had a very busy day yesterday.

It sprinkled most of the night on Tuesday although there wasn’t much measurable rain. It was still raining as I took the truck in to the Ford dealer in Abbotsford for an oil change.

Later I picked Clyda up and we drove to my sister’s farm east of Wausau. We arrived just in time for a nice dinner. I always enjoy visiting Judy and Art as he has so many projects going on. This year there is an old dump truck sitting by the shop with a Caterpillar engine installed and much more work needed. We also looked at the new shop addition with the full car lift hoist. Very nice!

On our way home we stopped to see my mother for a few minutes.

While we were in Wausau, my cousin called and invited us to supper. We enjoyed a nice visit with her. She recently lost her husband.

Today is very humid with temps near 90 degrees.

We did laundry this morning and visited my mother this afternoon.