August 29, 2020

Plenty Of Play While Still Working

During the Covid-19 shutdowns of March, April and May 2020, we were stationary at our rental pad in Sacramento, CA.  During that time we were primarily fabricating sneeze guards for the local hospitals.  This kept us very busy working 6-7 days a week and I had a hard time keeping up on my blog posts.  We officially left Sacramento on June 8th and have been traveling ever since.  Stay safe!   

Rainier was down and out for about five weeks during September and October 2019.
He went in for Open Cab Surgery!

It was such a shock to see him like this at first.  But then, the marvel of the whole thing was so intriguing.  I mean, how often does someone get an inside look at their engine in such a manner?!  The cab was suspended above the engine using four arms.  Once the work is complete the cab goes back on in the exact same alignment as when it came off.   

our service writer and the mechanic
Ron gets a close look too

WOW, our first word when we saw Rainier like this

the damaged wiring harness

After a closer inspection it was determined that the main wiring harness was fried.  Apparently it isn't engineered very well because the cause was exhaust steam coming extremely close to the wires.  AND it was likely the cause of all of our aggravation back in Pennsylvania.

these wires sure caused us grief!

Since Rainier was in the shop anyway, we decided to go ahead and replace the turbo (it had 201K miles on it) and get some work done on the AC system at the same time.     

This hiccup put us behind on some jobs we had in Southern California.  Then came the rainy weather.  We were delayed until the end of November 2019.  We sure are thankful to have awesome customers who understand and are very patient!

November 30th we were on our way down south once more.  We made it as far as Merced before darkness came.  We aren't Elks members (eventually we will) but the Lodge in Merced has an RV park that welcomes all traveling visitors.  We paid our $25 donation and found a nice level pull through spot to rest for the night.

Our next stop was once again Valencia Travel Park for work in nearby Fillmore, CA.  Our friends, Bill and Jodee, were also at VTP to visit with their family.  Dinner at the local pizza parlor was definitely a must-do!  Eating delicious pizza while watching the Seattle Seahawks football game with friends was priceless :-)  Darn it-no picture...  Next time!

This preschool/after school care center is used for the children of migrant farm workers who attend classes at the elementary school next door.  It opens for the spring and summer picking seasons and then closes during the winter months.  There are two play structures.  This one had a couple of cracks near the exit that we repaired.  Our repair blends in so well it's hard to see :-)

Moving further south we arrived at Paradise By The Sea RV Resort in Carlsbad, CA.  Our back in site was just big enough for us to get into.  However Rainier had to park sideways.  The sites are narrow and cement.  It was fine for our two night stay.

The best part about this RV park is it's closeness to the beach!  There is a secured gate leading to an access walk.  One direction takes you along the Loma Alta Creek Nature Trail.  The other direction takes you to Buccaneer Beach.  Guess which way Rufus and I went... 

to the beach, of course :-)

Buccaneer Beach has a playground, a large field, a picnic area, a basketball court and just across the street is access to the beach.  The Loma Alta Creek ends at the beach.  Since we didn't want to go wading we stuck to this side of the creek.  December isn't usually warm but the day we wandered down to the beach it was sunny and definitely short sleeved weather.

Our job site was in San Clemente.  We had visited this park a few years ago for a repair on a different slide.  We're happy to report that our previous repair is still holding up!

This time visiting the park was a bit different.  Due to the shorter winter days we ended up finishing after the sun had set.  We bring headlamps and small flood lamps for such times.  We had originally thought only one slide was needing repair.  However, after our arrival a city worker told us about a second broken slide.  Although we hadn't planned on two repairs, we were there and we couldn't leave one in disrepair.  So, we stayed until the job was finished.  Another happy PolyMenders customer!

slide #1 before
slide #1, after

slide #2, before
slide #2, after

After our work in San Clemente was complete, we once again hitched Raven and Rainier.  Our drive today was to new territory for us-San Diego.  The last time we were down here together was when Alex was a toddler.  Our main focus during our six nights at Santee Lakes Recreation Area was to do sales calls in the area.  We know San Diego is a good location to work during the winter months.  What better way to get new customers than to meet them face to face.  Our sales visits paid off.  We'll be coming back to work in San Diego soon :-)

Our site, #132, was perfect!  Plenty of open space full of sunshine, a covered picnic table and a small creek behind us.  The loop we were in is near the middle of the campground.   The recreation area offers fishing, playgrounds, a separate day use area, small water craft rentals, a convenience store, camping cabins (some are even on the lake!), RV storage, laundry facilities, a clubhouse for rent and miles of walking paths.

Our last repair jobs of this trip took us back on a northern route.  Yucaipa Regional Park offered us a central location for the last two repair jobs.  We really enjoyed this park and we'll definitely be back.  The campground offers very spacious sites!     

When we arrived on a Wednesday afternoon, we had the place nearly to ourselves.  We ventured around the park and discovered why it's a popular destination for the locals.

paddle boat rentals

swimming lagoon complete with water slides
Of course, the paddle boats and slides are closed at this time of year.  In addition to these two popular areas, the park offers hiking trails in the nearby hills, fishing, basketball hoops, a playground and separate tent & RV camping areas.  We enjoyed a brilliant sunset that night!

Our main reason for being in the area was work.  A local elementary school has a triple slide with a giant hole in the exit needing repair.  We love it when we can save schools from buying new equipment and the kiddos get their slide back.








back in operation!

dangerous slide condition



Nearby was our last repair for this trip.  The preschool had a slide with a crack that needed repair.  As usual, it came out great!



YIPPEE-we're done with working so now let's have some fun!

Tony and Ron worked together for a few years before Tony and his family moved to the central coastal area of California.  We've remained friends through the years.  We've spent several vacations together as well.  It's always a blast when we get to see them!  We were hoping to camp together on our way north as they recently bought a new-to-them motor home.  However, Mary's family would soon be visiting for the holidays and they didn't want to go anywhere.  Instead they invited us to come and spend a couple of nights on their property.  Our first moochdocking experience :-)  

all set up in front of their barn

the main house is just up the drive

guys vs. girls

After a fun game of corn-hole, Tony BBQ'd some tri-tip steaks for a delicious dinner.  Stories of bygone days were numerous as were the smiles, laughter and hugs :-)) 

our end site, all by ourselves in a huge park
We had one more stop before our return to our Sacramento pad.  Black Oak Casino Resort has an RV park across the street from their casino.  We've stayed at the casino once when we had work in the area during our pre-RV days.  My cousin, David, was visiting his parents who live nearby.  We were looking forward to seeing everyone.  Unfortunately, I got the sniffles and a mild sore throat the day before we were scheduled to see them.  Uncle John and Aunt Sandi are in their 80's and their health is quite fragile.  No way I was about to give them the sickies :-(  David and his girlfriend, Dee, weren't about to leave without seeing us though.  We met at the casino restaurant and enjoyed a burger and drinks.  Darn-didn't get a photo this time...  

Ron and I arrived back at our pad a few days before Christmas.  This latest trip lasted about a month.  Our next trip is already scheduled.  We're looking forward to a new adventure: an Escapees Hangout in Tucson!        


March 9, 2020

Catch Up Time

Yes, I know, I've been slacking in the blogging area :-(  I just haven't been very inspired to write lately.  Plus, life seems to be keeping me otherwise engaged.

After we left Jessica, Mike and Emmett, we headed back to North Carolina.  We had some work to take care of but planned a six night stay so we could also relax a bit.  We returned once again to Jones Station RV Park.  We were there last year and really enjoyed the peace and quiet.

When our time was up we headed about an hours drive further west as it was closer to Ron's folks.  Another quick three night stay at Tanglewood Park Campground.  Our day of departure sure had a stressful twist to it.  A tree limb decided to break away from the tree and fall onto the rear of our trailer!  How dare it :-/  It clipped the corner of the roof, damaged the ladder, took off our flag pole and buckled the rear bumper.  As of today we are still waiting on repairs-the RV repair shops aren't eager for work, I guess.

the limb measured 11" diameter!

it would've missed us if we were only a foot more forward in the site
a second limb decided to fall before we were packed up, sigh
For awhile we were the talk of the campground.  People were coming over making sure we were all right.  Before we had enough time to hitch up, another section of tree decided it was coming down too.  Thankfully it fell onto the grassy area behind the rig!  The strangest part was the fact that there was absolutely no wind whatsoever and no indication that the limb was in distress.  The park ranger mentioned that they assess all of the trees in the winter and cut away potential broken limbs.  Unfortunately for us they missed this one.  But, we are safe and that's very good!

By early August we find ourselves once again in Oklahoma to visit with Alex, Kana and Benji.  It was good to visit with them all.  Of course, Benji was the main attraction :-)  While there Ron also helped Alex with the clothes dryer.  It had gone on the fritz about a week earlier.  With Benji in cloth diapers, it was quite a pain for them to be without it.  The guys went on the roof and cleaned out the vent pipe, but that wasn't the issue.  Ron ordered a part from Amazon, but that wasn't the issue.  A third diagnosis was the correct solution.  The door catch was too loose and when the tumbler made the door jiggle in the slightest little bit, it would shut off.  So a simple ten minute fix did the trick.

Ron and I look forward to seeing this little cutie pie again :-)

After a couple of long driving days we landed at Meteor Crater RV Park.  It's just off I-40 a little east of Flagstaff.  It's one of the spots I've wanted to visit for quite some time.  I wrote about it back in January 2015, before we even had a rig to call home.  Lucky for us we got there early enough in the day to visit the crater.  Pets are not allowed, although they do have crates you can put them in while you visit the meteor site.  We opted to leave Rufus at home instead.

From the website: "Meteor Crater is nearly one mile across, 2.4 miles in circumference and more than 550 feet deep. It is an International tourist venue with Outdoor Observation Trails, Air Conditioned Indoor Viewing, Wide Screen Movie Theater, Interactive Discovery Center, Unique Gift & Mineral Shop, and Collision! 4D Experience Room."  Unfortunately we didn't have enough time to visit the museum in depth or see the movie.  Be sure to give yourself enough time for these free perks.

it's quite impressive and worth the stop

far off in the distance is a house sized rock displaced by the impact

we were treated to a gorgeous sunset that evening!

Meanwhile, back in Oklahoma, Alex promoted to the rank of Major.  Ron and I are very proud of the man he has become.  His commitment to family and country exceeds our wildest dreams for him!!

Benji, Alex and Kana

This road trip ended in August on my 56th birthday.  We left in May, three months on the road seemed to go by too fast.  It's back to the parking pad in Sacramento for a few months.  

December 23, 2019

Tears Of Frustration Followed By Tears Of Joy

When I left you last, I was telling you the story of our time in Massachusetts.  Hard to believe that was in July and it's almost the end of the year!  So much has happened to us.  Some I'd rather forget...

Tears Of Frustration

We had some difficult truck issues.  Difficult to get a proper diagnosis.  Difficult on the wallet.  Difficult on the travel schedule.  Rainier decided he was done running.  We sat on the side of the freeway waiting for two tow trucks.  One for Rainier.  And one for Raven. 

Rainier is loading while Raven's truck waits behind her

Raven getting hitched up

Ron rode in the lead truck with Raven.  Rufus and I were in the following truck with Rainier.  The hazard lights were flashing the entire way down the freeway.  I can not tell you how unnerving that drive was!

The diagnosis was that we needed two new batteries.  NOPE...  The next driving day we made it less than 70 miles before we got the same engine codes.  To our benefit there was a truck pull-off along the freeway.  This time we decided to call a mobile mechanic.


We had plenty of time while waiting for them to arrive.  Compared to sitting on the side of the freeway, we had it much better this time around.  Our house was in tow again so we had the comforts of a toilet and a fridge.  We set up our canopy, I made us some lunch and we ate in the shade while playing a game of Spicy Farkel.

The diagnosis this time was that we needed new fuel filters.  NOPE...  The owner of the mobile mechanic business followed us on the freeway for a short distance before the codes came up again.  We learned that the codes pop up under load while going uphill.  At least we knew what wasn't the issue!  And we knew we could drive without towing.  We parked Raven at a nearby campground, Camp-A-While.  The owners were quite understanding of our situation putting us in a site that would be vacant for three days, just in case.  We only needed it for two days. 

we scored a nice pull through site among the tall trees :-)

By this time we were near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.  Rainier had an appointment the following day at Hoffman Ford so off we went.  Rainier was in the shop for the entire day.  Mechanics took a while to figure it out but came to the conclusion that we needed a new inner cooler tube.  Thankfully Ron was able to get a close up look at the part and speak with the mechanic.  We kept our fingers crossed that the third time would be the charm.  This time the diagnosis was SPOT ON!  Rainier proved himself dependable the remainder of our trip :-))

Tears Of Joy

Time to go see Emmett!  YIPPEE!!

We booked seven nights at Cherry Hill RV Park so we could spend as much time as possible with Emmett (and his folks) :-))

and he also likes Opa's truck
Emmett likes Oma's cooking


but he LOVES slides :-)

and playing with Opa

One evening we piled into Jessica's car and went grocery shopping at Aldi's.  
I was quite happy sharing the back seat with Emmett!

My brother and sister in law live in Maryland.  When Jessica first moved out there, right after high school, she stayed at their house until she was able to afford her own place.  Last month we weren't in town long enough so I was very glad to be able to get the whole gang together for a BBQ!

my big brother, Rob, and me
After our family time in Maryland, it was time to head back to North Carolina.  We had more work lined up and we also wanted to see Ron's folks again.

September 26, 2019

From Flowers To Mosaics to Potholes In Shelburne Falls

With Maine in the rear view mirror, it was time to start heading west.  The line of cars and RVs traveling toward Bar Harbor as we left made us glad we were on the opposite side of traffic.  We definitely enjoyed our time in the area though!  Next time we'll plan on a longer stay (without moving the rig) and we'll time our stay better to avoid the holiday crowds.

We were on our way to see Emmett again but we wanted to add a few more states to our US map.  We've already added Pennsylvania, Vermont and Maine.   We decided to spend the night in New Hampshire and earn another new sticker. 

Rufus isn't a fan of fireworks.  In fact, loud noises of any kind startle him and he runs for cover :-(  We wanted a quiet place for the night.  Luckily we found an RV park that had a spot open for the one night.  Ugh, one nighters are getting harder...

Our next stop was at Country Aire Campground in Charlemont, Massachusetts.  Another sticker :-)  By this time in our travels Rufus had also developed a fear of drive days.  As soon as we started the motor he would begin shivering and whining.  He was a wreck!  We found a nearby vet and made an appointment for the next morning.  In the meantime, we went into the small town and found a very interesting sight.

The nearby town of Shelburne Falls is home to Bridge of Flowers.  We truly enjoyed our walk across this unique former trolley bridge.  Bridge of Flowers spans the Deerfield River and also connects the two nearby towns.

as shown on their website

there are several benches for admiring the fragrant views

The bridge is open from April 1st to October 30th.  Their website has a long list of blooms listed by month that you can expect to see.  I honestly had a hard time deciding which photos to include.  We didn't see the 'no dogs' sign until after we were done crossing back over the bridge.  He's a good boy and there weren't too many visitors.  We don't let him lift his leg when it's inappropriate either...

Just down the river is another site worth visiting.  The "Glacial Potholes" began to form after the last glacier age when the Deerfield River first started to flow over these rocks, about 14,000 years ago. 

While walking through town I noticed a few mosaics.  They brighten up the walls around the small town.  There are 10 mosaics around town (I discovered this just today) that were created in 2009.  The mosaic artist enlisted the help of the local towns third graders to help decide the historic content of the art.  Here are three that I noticed on our short walk around town.

At the far edge of town is the Visitor's Center.  By the time we made it past it had closed for the day.  The reason we walked past is because there is a hidden geocache nearby.  The downstairs of the building was once the town's jail.  The cache is named Jail House Rock.  We found the log and signed it to earn our smiley and another Geocache Souvenir on our Geocache profile :-)  Honestly, we aren't too good about hunting them out.  We've found a cache in only nine different states.  But we did find some while we were in Japan!

the jail entrance is on the lower right side of the visitor's center
how bleak would this cell be?
two windows, maybe there are two cells?
Saturday morning finds us getting up a little earlier than we usually do.  The local vet was nice enough to squeeze Rufus in at 9:00AM.  Knowing where to go helped as we drove past it on our way back from visiting town yesterday. 

Trailside Veterinary Services took the time to see and diagnose Rufus when other vets in the area said they couldn't, on Saturday of a holiday weekend no less.  I brought Rufus there while Ron stayed behind and got Raven ready to travel.  I was immediately welcomed by the staff.  The friendly woman holding a cat turned out to be the doctor's assistant and not a customer as I had thought.

Once in the exam room Rufus became a bit nervous, as expected.  But he loved all the pets and attention from the doctor and his assistant.  Dr. Galusha took the time to listen to my concerns.  He asked plenty of questions about how Rufus has been eating, eliminating and behaving.  He came to the conclusion that Rufus is likely stressed by the constant moving around.  I suppose our dog is a home body too!  Best course of action is a prescription to help him calm down on drive days.  Half to one whole tablet every six hours as needed should do the trick.  We tried the half tablet first.  It helped, but we had to up the dosage to a full tablet the following day.  Plus we learned to give it to him about 30 minutes prior to departure.

All things considered we had a good visit to the area of Shelburne Falls.  Next time we come past this area I wouldn't mind spending an extra day or two.  Maybe get on a raft and cruise the Deerfield River.