Tuesday, September 2, 2014

TVC Office - Day # 30 - Thirty-one

When we woke up Labor Day there was a sea of tents and RV's in the campground of Tahoe Valley.  By Noon over 270 of the 430 odd sites had been vacated, and their former occupants were seen clogging up the local highways to the east and to the west of our location.  A few people had the good sense to delay their departures until late afternoon, or just plain waited until Tuesday.  There is nothing like being stuck in a 100 mile long traffic jam to undo all the positive benefit of a long weekend vacation.....and haven't we all been there and done that?

As TLE and I walked the short 3 minutes over to open the TVC office at 7:30 am for the last time this summer there were people already finished packing their vehicles and heading home......I suspect if they weren't on the road by 6 am they would have a tough slog homeward in really bad traffic, which turned out to be the case for many based on the many reports we received from new arrivals.

Last few minutes of our TVC office duty

September 1st, on a side note, marks the end of 31 months on the road, and 43 months living full time in our Newell.  

The day seemed to go fast, and just as we were counting out our cash drawers my friend Don Neff, whom we were expecting, walked in the office.  Don is a well known artist and is visiting Lake Tahoe to participate in the North Tahoe Plein Air Open festival this week, so we had made arrangements to get together for a couple of hours on our last day in SLT.  We walked over to our coach where TLE set out some cheese and crackers while Don opened a bottle of Glenlivet 12 year old single malt......we sat talking non-stop for the next 2+ hours until we absolutely had to get changed to walk over to a local italian restaurant for our staff banquet.  As always there is never enough time to talk about and say everything on your mind, but I know we and Don will cherish those 120 minutes of re-connection for a long, long time.

We arrived at the restaurant a few minutes late at 6:45 to join our TVC friends for the last time this summer......what a cool way to have spent this summer working with good friends.  There were a lot of hugs, exchanging of contact information, and maybe.....just maybe a few tears.  We reminded everyone that it was not "Goodbye", but "until next time".

We got home a little before 10, and finished securing the VW inside the trailer, as well as loading the last of the firewood for our trip north to the Oregon coast, and were in bed by 11 pm......of course I woke up several times during the night with thoughts racing through my head about Tuesday's departure.  Onward we go to the next chapter in the ongoing nomadic adventure!

Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Departure Prep - Day # 3 - Last Sunday

Early in the morning before TLE had arisen from her slumber I got an instant message on Facebook from an old college friend (John) asking if I could call him so he could ask questions about full time RVing, so I called him around 7:45 (he lives in the Chicago area) and we talked for the better part of 45 minutes.  Because TLE was still sleeping I went out to the trailer to make the call.  John and Gwen will be making the plunge sometime next year, and will probably buy a used Class "C" as their first RV.

What a grand day our last Sunday at TVC was........we began the day with a bike ride up to Meyers to have a latish breakfast at "Getaway Cafe".....we waited until 10 am to begin our ride west, because it was very chilly first thing in the morning.  Like all things with the tag line "last" all of our senses were a little more attuned to our surroundings knowing we would not pass this way again until we return next summer.

We arrived at the cafe less than 30 minutes after we began our ride, and due to our late arrival we had to wait a few minutes for a table, but were soon seated in the outdoor patio giving our server our orders.......I had the Special, "Chorrizo" omelette, and TLE the Spinach and Mushroom omelette.  Due to the SRO nature of the cafe this morning before Labor Day service was a little slow, but as my friend Karen says....."put your patience in your pocket" and just enjoy the experience......so I did.

TLE spied a little "guy" sitting in the gravel near his parent's table filling his shoe up with the pea gravel that covers the entire outdoor eating area.  We sat enjoying the warming morning air, and reminiscing about our time in South Lake Tahoe.

On our way back to TVC we stopped off for one last time at the weekend flea market on Elks Club Drive and took one last walk around the booths.  I, as always, found something I couldn't live without....a South Carolina license plate for $5.  TLE found a few book titles she couldn't live without.  The were more vendors than usual due to the holiday weekend, so it took a while to make the rounds.  Then we were off on our bikes once again making our way back to our coach and the final preparations for our departure on Tuesday.

Originally we had planned to leave all of our remaining firewood here in our site (they close down Section E on September 2nd), but we decided to try and take a lot of it with us, so TLE backed the VW up to the wood pile and we began loading some of the left over wood in the hatchback area.  When we had put as much as we felt comfortable in there, we made another pile over by the trailer that we will load in after the car is put inside.  As it was we still had a sizable pile of wood left, so we stacked that under the picnic table and then covered everything with two brown tarps we had been using as awning mats all summer.  So now we'll see if it is still here next summer when we come back!

Then it was time to remove the plywood from the solar panels, put in the awnings, disconnect the sewer, water and electric and drive over to the Raley's fuel station to buy our 30 gallons of diesel at $3.59/gallon.  It's been three and  a half months since we have rolled the wheels on the coach, and this little one mile jaunt was a good time to see if everything worked.....and everything did work fine....except for the speedometer.....ugh!  After returning from the fuel station I crawled under the coach to make what I thought would be a simple adjustment only to find that the drive pin had sheared off again.....bummer!  Unfortunately the part that broke off is stuck in the sleeve, so at some point I will need to get a socket that fits that sleeve and remove it so I can pop the broken part out.  The end result is no cruise control again.....drat!

We dropped the trailer on the hitch, and hooked up everything, so now it is just a matter of putting the car in some time Monday, and we will then be ready for liftoff on Tuesday morning.

Later in the evening we walked over to the big tent to hear "Max Yasgur's Farm" perform their cover versions of so many iconic 60's and 70's tunes.  Most of the staff members turned out during the evening, and we spent a couple of hours singing along to the music of our collective youth.  You may recall from my previous post about this band that the name of the man who owned the farm where "Woodstock" was held was Max Yasgur....hence the name of the band.

Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, August 31, 2014

TVC Office - Day # 29 - SRO!

Saturday, August 30th, was everything I thought it would be and a little bit more.  When I reported for duty around 7:50 am there was already a gathering crowd of customers waiting for the double glass doors to open at 8 am.  I immediately began to get my terminal up and running, but discovered a problem with the print queue left over from the day the technician attempted to integrate the new Ricoh copier/printer/fax/scanner into our network....it was loaded with a bunch of print jobs that were sent to the old printer, which is no longer connected to the network.  Ultimately I had to reboot the computer to clear the print queue.   By the time I got the computer back up and logged into DigiRez (our reservation/office management system) the line was 3 deep in front of me.


Initially there were three of us.....Billy, Duane and myself.....working through the customers.  Finally by 9:30 things had quieted down  and I went out to check on the late arrivals left over from the night before (Billy kept the office open until midnight to whittle down the list from 50 to 25).  The list of 25 late arrivals was the longest I have seen the entire summer, and it took me the better part of an hour to run through the list one time......an hour is usually all the golf cart can handle before it must be plugged back in, but what I didn't know was Wes (our resident electrician and all around master of many trades and talents) had replaced two of the six golf car batteries and then reconditioned the lot of them.  As I was pulling up to the office to dutifully plug the golf cart back in Wes called out my name and told me not to plug it in....wait, what?  Then he told me what he had done.....as it turned out the golf cart ran strong all day long, and was still going strong at 5 pm when I ended my shift......what a nice surprise, and on one of the busiest days of the summer when we really needed to use the cart a lot.

By 11 am there were zero tent sites available and only a handful of RV sites left, so we began selling tent sites in our "overflow" area, which cost the same as the regular tent sites, only you cannot do ANY cooking, have a fire, or even smoke a cigarette out there.  Usually people who decide to pay the $49 per night are willing to do so because there is NOTHING available anywhere else in South Lake Tahoe....all they really want is just a piece of ground to pitch there tent and sleep.  In relative terms it is less expensive than paying $200-300 a night for a marginal motel room.

As of the end of business on Saturday the campground was pretty much SRO (standing room only) and we are now extremely short timers.......2 full days left in paradise, and moving on to paradise by the ocean.

Chris and Cherie (Technomadia) have been playfully taunting us by posting pictures of the coastline view from Cape Blanco Lighthouse since they arrived a few days ago.

Sunday we will take down our awning lights, pull up the old, ratty awning mat whose service is fast coming to an end, and run the coach over to Raley's fuel station to take on at least 30 gallons of fuel at $3.59/gallon (utilizing our .50 cent off per gallon coupon, of course).  

Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Departure Prep - Day # 2

Originally TLE and I were scheduled to work Saturday, August 30th, but TLE noticed they were understaffed for Friday so volunteered to move her work day to Friday....that left me on my own, and so grateful I didn't have to work Friday.  According to the office computer there were 224 arrivals scheduled.....needless to say it was a madhouse.

I began my morning a little after 8 am.....time to check the air pressure in all 10 tires (4 on the trailer and six on the coach)....it's been almost 4 months since that was done, but surprisingly, only one tire on the trailer needed just  3 pounds of air pressure, and each of the coach tires only about 5.

Next up was to clean the portable fireplace and put it away, then check the generator.....yep, it still starts!  Had to top off the coolant, and add a quart of oil, and then spent about an hour removing six month's worth of bugs, and road gunk.  Then it was on to my "favorite" part of the day......cleaning the coach and trailer exteriors.  Fortunately the wheel covers did their job and all I had to do was wipe 4 months worth of dust off the Alcoa rims, and then the hard part began.....polishing up 100's of square feet of painted and anodized aluminum.

Around 2:30 I ran out of gas, and was, as you might imagine, quite filthy so I treated myself to a longish hot shower.  TLE was due home a little after 4 at which time our plans were to go out to eat in celebration of our aforementioned 43rd wedding anniversary.  Since the workaday hoards are invading SLT this weekend we decided to get an early start.  I asked TLE to make the decision on where she would like to go, and after careful consideration chose Steamer's Fish Taco Friday.....you could have knocked me over with a feather!

Happy Anniversary to us!

You would think after 43 years that I would understand that I married a "low" maintenance woman.....not that she doesn't like fine dining....she does indeed, but she loves simplicity most of the time.  We arrived just at 5 pm to find the place still pretty empty, so we picked an outdoor table and placed our order.....a pitcher of draft beer, and 5 fish tacos please!

Friday was a good day for getting things done, and remembering.....thanks for stopping by!

Friday, August 29, 2014

43 and Counting

I know this entry is supposed to be about what happened Thursday, but I must take an ever so brief break to acknowledge the significance of today, Friday, August 29th.  Forty-three years ago Elaine Frances Houghtaling answered the biggest question in my life by saying "I do!".  This is the fourth anniversary we have celebrated since we began living full time in our 1982 Newell Coach.  On August 30th, 1971 we arrived in South Lake Tahoe for our honeymoon......and here we are once again in South Lake Tahoe.......5 children, two careers, and 43 years later.

A selfie taken August 29, 2012 at the 
Snake River Gorge in Twin Falls, ID

In some respects "43" seems like such an abstract number.......August 29, 1971 seems like a few lifetimes ago.  We are not the same people who exchanged vows 43 years ago.....we were both just shy of our 22nd birthdays the day we were wed, and were still maturing and becoming who we would become.  We managed to continue loving each other through all the changes and maturation process......that we were good friends prior to becoming romantically involved was the glue that kept us together through "thick and thin"....sometimes pretty thin.......but, today we are as "thick as thieves".   August 29th is also my father's birthday adds another level of specialness to this day.  Happy anniversary my "Lovely Elaine", and happy birthday Dad.....I know you are looking down and smiling right now.....I can just feel it.

Now, back to our regularly scheduled programming......what happened Thursday?  This was the second big day of putting stuff away.....while TLE took down the sunscreen and did some minor re-arranging in the through storage compartment I continued to find places to "squirrel" away more stuff in the trailer.  While I continued my "squirreling" ways TLE headed off to get a haircut, and do "small" shopping.  I removed the tire covers from the coach wheels, raked the large quantity of pine needles off the patio awning, and then raked the ground around the coach so we will track in fewer pine needles over our remaining 3 days.

 Keeping the pine needles at bay

 It may not look it, but it is almost ready for the VW!

No more sun shade

By 1 pm it was getting hot in the trailer, and outside too, so I decided to sit in the shade and read a book for a while.....of course that turned into another nap, but who's counting, right? Tomorrow I'll clean up the exterior of the coach, put a few more things away in the trailer (bikes, etc.), check all tires for proper air pressure,  put away the portable fireplace, and then we will be pretty much ready to roll Tuesday morning......early....I hope.

Thanks for stopping by! 

Thursday, August 28, 2014

TVC Office - Day # 28 - And then there were 2

TVC Office

After Wednesday there are no more "open the TVC office" shifts for me, so I can sleep in 30 minutes more....all the way to 6 am!  As expected Wednesday was another slow day with just over 20 arrivals scheduled, and and equal number of departures.   We arrived for duty at 7:30 am, and had the double glass doors open by 8 am.  Ruth and Eric came on duty around 9:30, so we had 4 at the registration desk for most of the day, and not enough customers to go around.

Left to right: Moi, Eric, Ruth and TLE

There was an occasional flurry of customers....some registering, some just dropping in to check out the campground, some who could not fit their RV in the assigned site, and some who had RV's to put in storage, or take out of storage.  There are very few tenters in the campground right now....I can count them on one hand....but that will change starting Thursday and Friday.

A few days ago we took delivery of a new Ricoh copier/fax/printer/scanner.  The intent is that this one large apparatus will replace 2 laser printers and 2 fax machines that double as copiers.  Wednesday was the day the technician would attempt to integrate the new machine into our network, and remove the other devices, however, as all hardware/software upgrades tend to go, this one didn't.  They couldn't seem to get the correct printer drivers downloaded, and after 2 hours the effort was aborted, and the old printers/fax machines were hooked back up again so we could do business.  They will come back after the Labor Day weekend and take a stab at it again.  Hopefully, when we return next year it will all be resolved.

Quitting time seemed to come quickly and we were out the door promptly at 4 pm with only two more work days left on our schedule.  We will spend a lot of time Thursday, Friday and Sunday getting things put away in preparation for our early morning departure next Tuesday.

Around 5:30 we tuned into Ustream.tv to watch  a live presentation by Chris and Cherie of Technomadia fame on caravaning with friends, and how to do it.  The last time we saw them in person was last summer in Polson, MT just after they had their Detroit Diesel 8V71 rebuilt.  In just a few days now we will meet up with them again at Cape Blanco Lighthouse where we will be for the next two months.

Chris and Cherie on Ustream.tv

We watched "So You Think You Can Dance" before heading to bed.....I'm going for Valerie, the "tapper".....TLE thinks Ricky will win.....we'll find out next Wednesday evening.  How are you voting?

Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

TVC Office - Day # 27 - Status Quo

As we edge toward September one thing is already clear......it is getting darker earlier in the evening and staying darker longer in the morning, and now we are running both heaters in the morning to warm the coach up for human habitation.  Other than a week, or two in the middle of July we have run at least one heater every single morning......that is a summer first for us, and actually quite pleasant when you give it some thought.  I would rather run a heater an hour in the morning than AC all day long.....how about you?

After the deluge Monday, Tuesday was quite sunny, although still very cold......again, my use of the term "cold" is relative......it's cold relative to say Palm Springs, or Phoenix, or Dallas.  It continued to be extraordinarily quiet here at TVC, and no one is complaining....we all know what is coming in less than 48 hours.....the Labor Day Crush....and then it will be over just as suddenly as if you turned off a light switch.  The park will empty out next Monday, and by Tuesday the pool and two of the four campground sections here will be closed for the winter.

There were very few arrivals and departures Tuesday, and we had pretty much caught up on all the "busy" work around the campground and the office.....we are in sort of a holding pattern until Thursday when things will begin to heat up once again.  

It is difficult to believe that by the end of Tuesday one week from today we will be almost 300 miles north and west from our current location where our Newell has not moved an inch since May 17th.  Over the next 3+ months we will cover just under 2,000 miles and added a treasure trove of new memories.

Thanks for stopping by!