Friday, May 31, 2013

Freightliner and Fog

Today we were up with the dawn.  Ok, maybe not that early, but we were on the road at 7:30, which is unheard of for us.  This is the view across the RV park at oh:dark:thirty.

 
Tooley fog (also spelled tule) on the way to Freightliner.  That's the bus up the road, I was driving the pickup and taking pictures through the windshield.

 
 
 
We saw this guy on the way south, as well.  It's a sport of which I was not aware.  It's motorized paragliding.  There are two types, one uses a backpack mounted propeller and the other uses a cart with wheels.   One fires up the propeller and lifts off.  I saw the canopy fill pretty much straight up.  I'm not sure exactly how that happens, but it looked pretty cool.  He was still flying when we returned from Freightliner.

 
As it turned out, the control panel and the transmission are working as designed.  Jim received education from the tech and all is well.  There's a light that Jim didn't think was illuminating; turns out that it is, but it's faint and one must lean forward to see it, without one's sun glasses.
So, we have the weekend off, no moving the bus anywhere.  Monday we start body work on the nose.  Our big slide is still leaking from some unknown place, Erik is going to take it apart from the inside to see if he can tell where the water is coming in.  Water in the RV is bad, things rot. 

Thursday, May 30, 2013

An Update from Harrisburg and RV Maintenance

Greetings Earthlings!  Have you missed me?  We are currently at the the River Bend RV park in glorious Harrisburg, Oregon.  It's not a terrible park.  We wish the paved sites were a little wider because we end up walking on the grass, and then tracking it in.  However, it's 5 minutes away from our primary source of RV maintenance.  Thus far we have had the poppet valves for the forward slide replaced, Erik thumped the emergency propane shut-off which restored it to functionality, the slide boxes have been tar taped, and he has adjusted the forward slide upward so it does not hit the doors of the under coach storage bays.  I really like these guys.  They have been too busy to have a web page done since they opened.  Word of mouth has been sufficient to drive that much business to them. 

 
Their physical plant is not as prepossessing as that of Country Coach or Monaco, but it's what's on the inside that counts!

 
This is something I never thought I would see.  They are backing the RV out of the bay with the slides out.  The tape takes 16 hours to dry, so the slides could not be brought in until the next day.  We spent the night in their yard with power and water.

 
This is a plum tree on the perimeter of the yard.  Note the presence of a train track.  That's an Amtrak and freight line.  It's heavily used, all day and all night.

 
In addition to maintenance and repairs they also do interior work.  I think this qualifies as a gut remodel.  This is what they do during the winter - remodels.

 
The cabinetry is being made on site at Elite.  They will sub the doors, but they do the rest. 

 
The downside to maintenance and fixing, is that you're homeless.  It's exhausting.  Jim and I are both worn slick from getting up early and then filling the days.  One of the places we've been is NW RV Supply.  They get stuff from everywhere and they know where they put it.  The store is just amazing in how many bits and bobs they carry.

 
We were there for screw covers, which can be seen at the bottom of the photo in the center.  That's the color we needed.

 
Today it was off to Davis Cabinets.  They are legendary in the field of RV cabinetry.  They do really nice work.  These are two dumpsters behind the building full of saw dust.


 
Here is Shaun Davis performing a remove and replace of our satellite receiver and DVR.  I am so glad we did not attempt to do that ourselves.  Too many wires, not enough spatial relations on our part.  After he hooked everything up, it took an hour with Dish customer service to get it configured.  The people I spoke to today (level 1 and level 2 tech support) were fairly knowledgeable so it was not a terrible experience.
We were also measured for MCD shades.  Our pleated shades are old and tatty looking and we've looked at them long enough.  They'll be ready for install the last week in June.  That will be pretty cool.

 
Tomorrow we go to Freightliner.   There are issues with the shift console for the Allison transmission.  Jim does not think it is working properly.  We have to be there early, really early.  Woe, woe is me.  After a weekend to recover, we'll be back at Elite for body work and paint on the bottom of the nose of the RV.  Apparently the previous owner grazed something with the coach.  We did not see it until after the check had cleared for the purchase. 
We've gotten a fair amount of stuff accomplished while out of the RV.  Jim notified the governmental agencies of May's death.  While we were expecting much bureaucratic nonsense, it was painless.  Unless there is a surviving spouse, or minor children, death certificates are not required.  They will take the information over the phone, and you're done.  We still haven't dealt with the banks, I don't anticipate them being quite as accommodating.  Tomorrow we have to locate and go to a Fedex to send the the old receiver/DVR back to Dish. 
Other than that, maties, I have nothing to report.  The weather has been cold and wet, so there have been no hikes or walks in the great outdoors.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Rural Oregon

Another rhodie in the park.  Pretty, eh?

 
We took a drive out into the country side.  I think rural Oregon is so pretty.

 
The Umpqua river.

 
This is a wheat field.  We know that because the farmer so nicely put up a sign identifying it.  We usually have to refer to crops as green stuff.

 
Tomorrow we are up and out, heading to Harrisburg.  Then we will have a few fabulous fun filled days of RV maintenance.  Yea!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Susanville to 7 Feathers RV Park Canyonville OR

The drive from Susanville to Canyonville is another route with up/down.  We were expecting it on 44 and 89, but for some reason we forgot I5 would be up/down as well.  The drive on 44 and 89 is tiring, the roads are narrow and one must be on guard for surprise downgrades with hairpin curves.  It's a pretty drive, however.  Here is a lake reflecting the trees and mountains.

 
This is Mt. Lassen.

 
This is at the bottom of the ramp to a very pretty rest area in California.  We highly recommend this rest stop.  It's the most northern stop on I5 in California.

 
Klamath River, as viewed from the rest area.

 
You will see this sign more than once on I5 heading north.

 
This is what happens when you age.  You can't remember anything. As we were making the bed this morning, Jim said to me, "remind me to bring in the sensor for the weather station."  I said sure, I'll do that.  Did I do that?  No.  I went out to dump the grey tank, which is usually Jim's job, and did not pick up the sensor.  Jim spaced it because he has a process of go dump the grey, pick up the sensor.  As it fell off the top of the front tire, we ran over it with the RV.  It's broken, but it still works.  Changing the battery may be an issue.

 
We're back at 7 Feathers in Canyonville, OR.  This is a wonderful park.  We're on site 41, which is good.  Last year we could not use the Mifi, but over on this side of the park it works.  Park internet is not working well this weekend, something is broken.
These are rhododendrons.  Their season is just about over.  See the bee in the center?

 
The blossoms are just beautiful.

 
So we're here for two nights.  Since it's the PNW, rain is coming.  Otherwise it would not be so green.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Susanville Ranch Park

We went for almost a two hour walk in the Susanville Ranch Park.  It's a jewel of a park in the city; there are 1,100 acres and 22 miles of trails which are open to hiking and biking.  Many of the trails get fairly steep at the top of the hill, but it's very nice.
This is the start of the trail, on the bridge over the little stream.

 
There are still a fair number of flowers out.

 
This was spotted on a steep part of the trail.  I wonder if someone had to get off and walk here.

 
Most of the trail looks like this.  It's not really narrow, not really rocky.  It would be pleasant riding.  I would not mind coming back here for a few days of riding.  I think there would be some walking on my part, but hey, that's why we have feet!

 
There is also the Bizz Johnson Rails to Trail path.  It's pretty flat, but if you just want some no stress time on a bike, it's worth doing as well.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Earthquake!

We had a 5.7 magnitude earthquake here tonight.  I have to tell you, as an earthquake veteran, being in an RV with airbags is definitely the place to be.

 
It took me a second, well actually Jim had to tell me, to realize what it was.

Short Travel Day and my DVR is Possessed

Today was a grueling 68 mile drive from Bordertown to Susanville.  If we'd been thinking better when we replanned these four days, we might have skipped Bordertown.  However, we're pretty tired, and it was good that yesterday wasn't longer than it was, especially with all of the up/down.  This is what it looked like on the road today.  It rained a little, but nothing spectacular.

 
 
 
Shortly after we arrived, the skies darkened, the wind came up and the temperature dropped precipitously.  At that point we were done with the utilities, so we ran inside expecting a downpour.  Nope, the weather kept going with very little rain, and then it was back to sun and broken clouds.
This bird is not a happy camper.   He was puffed up and looking unhappy.  Later, when Jim headed out to do laundry he attacked, twice.

 
Our satellite receiver/DVR is behaving badly.  We are supposed to be able to be able to tape two channels and watch one of the two that's being taped, or watch one and tape one.  This week, we've only been able to tape one and watch that same channel.  I called DISH and the kid on the phone didn't know anything.  First he told me I had to have two televisions (no), then he wanted to edit the Record Mode (only available in dual mode, I'm in single mode), then he decided that it must be a broken hard drive (doubtful).  So, they've shipped a new receiver/DVR.  Remove and replace is non-trivial.  It's a rat's nest of A/B switches up there because we kept the ability to use the carry out antenna as well as the one on the roof, the cabling to install a second TV in the bedroom, as well as view over the air and cable, and see different programming in the back of the bus and the front.  It's going to require professional installation, and so far the only people we know who can do the work are in southern California.  I am not happy about this.  Oh, and Dish wants the broken receiver in the mail in 10 days.  So far we can fix the problem by holding the reset button down for 10 seconds, but something bad is happening in there.  Grumpy I am about this.
Tomorrow we speak the the lawyer about what must be done next to close out May's estate.  After that we're hoping for a hike in the great outdoors.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Bishop to Bordertown Casino RV Park

Today's drive was Bishop to Bordertown, NV.  First, a route report.  When you leave Bishop, you will immediately climb 3,000 feet up to 7,000 feet.  Then the route will be up, down, up down.  Long steep grades.  Long twisty grades.  At one point I was making Jim crazy suggesting more application of braking.  But really, there were parts where it felt like we were hurtling to our deaths.  I think it's worse for the passenger.  It settles down by the time you reach Reno.  It's not a section of road where you will be making good time.
There is accessible diesel in Bridgeport at the Shell station, the pump island is off to the left.  There's not a truck plaza until you reach Bordertown, NV and it's sort of pitiful.


We stopped for lunch at the Gardnerville Walmart; it is very RV unfriendly.  Too many islands with plants.  I don't think we would go back in that parking lot.
We're at the Bordertown Casino RV park.  The interior roads are very narrow.  To get to our site we had to drive the perimeter of the park, and pass by a permanent resident whose car trailer sticks out into the road.  Between that and the decorative boulders, it's a tight squeeze.  The turn into the road to our site was very tight.  It's doubtful that we will return here.  It's doable, but nerve wracking.  Park internet is decent so that's a positive.  The sites are paved and fairly level.  A 45 foot Class A would have a hard time negotiating the turns with a toad. If you're in a shorter RV, this would be a good park in which to stay.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

A Change to the Travel Plans

The build up to Mule Days in Bishop continues unabated.  Kmart has taken tents, folding tables and chairs, portable showers, grills and charcoal out to the parking lot.  We talked to the employee who is stationed out there, and she says they're selling much merchandise from that location.  And it's only Tuesday.

 
The Vons/Kmart parking lot is interesting.  They do not mind boondockers.  In fact, a large swath of the parking lot is lined out and marked as RV parking only.  This is an enormous Super C, towing a very big trailer.  We could hear his generator as we went by.

 
 


This, however, is my favorite.

 
Look at the roof, is that cool, or what?  You can't see it due to the glare, but on the nose of the bus they've painted "Peace On You".

 
The mules are rolling in to the fair grounds.  We saw one trotting around the oval track pulling a sulky.  I didn't know mules could do that.

 
Participants are rolling in to the park as well.  I love these old guys leaning on the pick up talking.

 
Travel plans have changed once again.  Up until this morning, we were heading out to Hat Creek in the Mt. Lassen area.  While looking at Trailer Life, I noticed that the park down the road from where we were going to stay has a "cellular booster."  A careful examination of the Verizon coverage map reveals that there is zippity doo-dah all coverage in Hat Creek.  White is the color of no coverage. The population is 302 people, so I guess they've decided it's not worth putting up a tower.
 
 
So, we're diverting to Susanville and Canyonville instead of Hat Creek.  Neither Jim nor I have ever dealt with the legal aftermath of someone's death.  We're talking to May's trust lawyer on Friday to be schooled on what we have to do and when it must be done.  I am really not looking forward to dealing with the Social Security Administration.  As I previously posted, we requested an address change last April.  They promised to do so, and mail us a 2012 SSA1099 within ten business days.  To date, we have not received that document, which does make it difficult to file May's taxes for last year.  We also do not have death certificates yet because Washington is rolling out an electronic system.  Kitsap County has implemented it, unfortunately May's doctor has not registered for the system.  Until he does that, we can't get certificates.  The funeral home is working with him on this.
It's good to have Jim back in the RV.  I have limited internal resources, so having him around as a source of entertainment and company is a wondrous thing.  My hat is off to the ladies that RV by themselves, particularly the ones who boondock more often than not.  They truly have gumption.

Speaking of the return of Jim, here is how he arrived yesterday.


This is a Bombardier Q400.  It's a nice plane.  This is the Mammoth airport.  Night landings are not recommended, and flights may be cancelled due to cross winds.  See the wheel chairs?  They were bringing in disabled veterans to go skiing.  Yep, they're still skiing at Mammoth Lakes.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Highlands RV Park - Bishop CA

While in Bishop we stayed at the Highlands RV Park on site 76.  We don't hate this park, but neither do we love it.  In no particular order, here is what I am thinking about it.
If you're in a 5th wheel, the placement of the power pedestal may compel you to unhook from the truck so that you can get the slides out without hitting the thing.  We watched one guy, who really did not want to unhitch, try 4 spots and then finally give up.  There was not a site that would allow him to stay hitched and get his slides out.   The other interference issue can be trees.  Some trees will force you either to the front or the back of the site.
The sites are narrow.  We can't park with all four tires on the pavement.   Our passenger side tires are 2 inches from the patio slab, and our big slide is almost into our neighbor's airspace. To dump, or get into the driver's side bays, I have to stand on their patio.
This is a 5th wheel on the left, and us on the right.  Notice how close their awning is to us.

 
Sites are fairly non-level.  Our passenger door is up in the air enough that we had to go buy a step stool for easy ingress and egress.  Many of the Class A's with jacks for leveling have ended up with their right front tires off the pavement.  We were able to level with air bags.
This park is right off of 395 and there is some traffic noise.  We've had worse, but when the young men and their motorcycles go ripping up the highway, you can really hear them.
The laundry room is fairly large, and it's only a dollar to wash and a dollar to dry.  It's well kept.
Verizon works well, we have 4G.  Satellite is good if you have requested a satellite friendly site.
With the exception of the narrow asphalt strip, sites are decomposed volcanic debris and sand, and it sticks to your shoes.

Bishop itself is a very cute little town.  They sound the firehouse siren everyday at noon.  There are 3 or 4 hiking/climbing outfitter stores.  There is a Von's which is actually a Safeway.  It's not a terrible store.  It's next to the nicest K-Mart I've ever been in.  There is a Rite-Aid, but no Walmart or Walgreens.  There is an excellent visitor's center and they will give you maps and a list of things to see and do.
From Bishop north to Reno, it's very hilly which will negatively impact gas mileage.  We don't remember seeing any truck plazas, like Flying J or Pilot.  The Von's in Bishop does have diesel with a high canopy.  We are planning to buy diesel there before leaving.  
With the exception of the Buttermilk Country, all of your hiking opportunities are going to be at about 9,000 feet and up.  Mono Lake and the Bristle Cone Pines are about an hour away.  We didn't make it there this year, but I think we'll be back.  Mid-May is the earliest you want to arrive in Bishop due to snow on the hiking trails and on some of the passes.  If you want to stay over Memorial Day weekend, BOOK IN ADVANCE.  30,000 people descend upon this place for Mule Days.   We tried 2 months in advance but were denied. After reading about it, I'm kind of sorry we'll miss seeing mules doing barrel racing.

2014 Update to post:
We're on site 74. It's really terrible, so much so that we won't accept this site if we come back.  The frame is so twisted from the leveling that the bays doors are difficult to open an close. These sites are really uneven.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

May Passes On

May, Jim's Mom, died this morning in her sleep at 4:20.  It was a good death, there was an end to the pain and she was ready.
One of the interesting things about her is that we don't know how old she was.  She immigrated from Winnipeg as a child and was later naturalized.  Somehow, she ended up with two birth certificates, one for 1914 and one for 1917.  Jim was talking to the daughters of Winn, one of May's sisters, yesterday, and they said Winn always referred to May as "the baby."  May always referred to Winn as "the baby."  So, we just don't know.
This is Jim with May when he was little.

 
After the family moved to Washington, May worked as a teacher at a school for delinquent boys in what would later become Luther Burbank Park on Mercer Island.  After leaving teaching, she sold real estate for John L. Scott.  This was taken in 1979.

 
Jim's Dad died in 2002.  We honestly didn't think May would last a year after his death.  But she did, the woman was a trouper.  She lived alone until just after Thanksgiving, 2011.  By that point all the cartilage in her right knee was gone, and driving was no longer an option.  Faced with choosing between live in help and assisted living, she chose the latter.  Here she is in Wyatt House at 98 (or 95).

 
May's memory got a little soft at the end, but she was the reigning Scrabble champ of Wyatt House.  Every day she did the crossword puzzle in the paper.  May had a good run, and she'll be missed.

Friday, May 17, 2013

The Buttermilks

Yesterday I felt really awful, and basically did nothing the entire day.  Today was better, so I drove out to Buttermilk Country.  It's an area of large boulders that used to be the home of many dairy farms.  The farms are gone due to the loss of water used to grow feed for the livestock.  Los Angeles now owns thousands of acres out there.  Speaking of LA, I read in the Mono Lake magazine (another lake destroyed by LA) that the city is now suing the Mammoth Lakes area stating that they have a "historical right" to all of Mammoth's surface water.  There's a lot of money in Mammoth, so hopefully they'll be able to fight this lawsuit off.  LA is just rapacious.
I got to the start of the four mile dirt road into the Buttermilks and chickened out.  Having no idea what would be up there, and if I would be able to turn around or whatever, I parked and went for a very long walk.  Today I printed out my new Good Sam Roadside assistance card, so tomorrow I will drive the road knowing that there is someone I can call should rescue become necessary. Apparently there are some striking boulder formations and people free climbing on them.  It will be something to while away some time.  This is one view out into the distance.

 
I would really like to know the story behind this.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
May (Jim's Mom) has declined somewhat since yesterday, but she is not happy that it's taking this long.  She wants her doctor to do something, but she's in the care of hospice now; and they have a fairly rigorous protocol of what they can and can not do.  Several people have been by to see her today and yesterday, so that has been good.