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Monday, August 31, 2015

The last 100

Last year we made the 554 mile drive from South Lake Tahoe to Cape Blanco in two days spending one night in the Walmart in Yreka, CA.  By the time I hit the last 100 miles into Cape Blanco I was ready for a nap, and I wish I would taken one then......this year we saved the last 100 miles for our third day of travel, and I'm so glad we did.  The last 100 miles is essentially a two lane road (one lane each direction) that becomes narrower and narrower as you progress.....it starts out seductively enough with a wide shoulder and wide lanes, but just about the time you begin to get comfortable the squeeze begins.....at one point as it meanders along the Coquille River the lanes get down to just about 9 feet wide with NO shoulder.  The west bound lane (our lane) is next to the river with a 25-50 foot drop in most cases.....you really have to hug the center line....especially pulling a trailer that is 9' wide......last year there was a lot of construction, and we had no idea what we were in for......


......this year we knew what to expect as we departed 'On The River' Golf and RV Resort.....the carved bear at the entrance to the park was the last friendly thing we saw for 100 miles.  We waited until check out time (1100 hours) hoping the rain would stop, and it finally did about 10 minutes before departure.....well we were ready to go, and just fired up the engine and pulled out of the park turning left on Old Highway 99, which would take us to SR 42 and westward to Bandon, OR......just past Coquille, OR we switched to SR 42S which is where the road really begins to narrow....fortunately this section is only about 16 miles long, but it feels like three times that length.....our average speed was about 30-35 mph......

Finally we hit the outskirts of Bandon, and eventually US HWY 101 where we turned south for the final 22 mile jaunt to Cape Blanco......and it felt like a 'jaunt' compared to SR 42S.  I have driven that stretch of road 3 times now, and I'm pretty sure that will be my last adventure on that road.

We arrived at Cape Blanco State Park around 1330 hours........since our host site was still occupied until August 31st we backed into our temporary one night spot just about 200 feet from our permanent site.....like TVC, there are very few sites in this park with a view of the southern sky, but we found this one......


.....and Monday we will move into our permanent site, #3, where we will also be able to get satellite TV........

Within an hour, or so of arriving TLE and I were off for our first walk on 'south' beach (the beach south of the lighthouse).....it was as if we had never left 10 months ago.....


......the residue from Saturday's storm was still evident with heavy cloud cover and pretty brisk winds at sea level.......we walked south along the beach for about 20 minutes then back up the very steep hill to our coach.......around 1630 hours Gary and Angie (hosts from last year) stopped by to say 'HI!'.....they, as last year, will be residing in the site to our driver's side left.  

It's good to be back at one of our 'homes' on the road....a familiar place full of friends and new experiences.  On Monday our friends from our first Amazon adventure back in the fall/winter of 2012, Michael and Liz, will be arriving here to join the lighthouse host fun!

Just walked down to our site and it is ready for us to move in.......looks just the same as when we left it last year, except all the stuff we collected from our forays on the beach are now gone.....:-(

 Our host sign is already up!

 Waiting for the Newell

All our cool stuff from last year is gone!

Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, August 30, 2015

100%

I almost chuckle when I see the weather forecast reporting there is 100% chance of rain at a specific time, or over a period of time.......it's almost like the proverbial "broken clock" with weather forecasting.......the odds are they will be right twice a day.  The forecast for our stay in McCloud was that there would be 100% chance of rain several hours during the night, but what we got was a light 10 minute sprinkle once, and nothing else.  We were up a little after 7 am and had planned to wait until later in the morning, after the forecast rain passed, to leave as our plan called for barely a 120 mile day up to Grants Pass, OR, but then about 0830 the power went out, and never came back, so finally around 0930 we unhooked our electrical (what's the point, right?), turned over the big DD 6V92 and headed back to HWY 89 and northward.  Within 3 minutes of entering the highway it began to rain.....of course!

In McCloud we were less than 8 miles from I-5, so just about the time we hit the Interstate the rain ceased, and then the sun made an appearance.  As we merged into the light traffic I set the cruise control at 60 mph and then realized we were headed directly at Mt. Shasta for a few miles.


Our destination for the day was the Walmart at Grants Pass, OR, and we arrived there just before 1200 hours to find signs prohibiting overnight parking of RV's.  Well, we needed to do final shopping before we head to the coast, so we did.  We had noticed as we were turnign left onto the street where Walmart is located that the local ARCO was selling propane for, get this.....$1.65/gallon!  Wow!  We have never paid under $2.00 in the past 7+years we have owned the Newell, and our tank was about 3/4's empty after almost four months at TVC.  Being the opportunists we are we decided we would walk over to the station to scope out the ingress and egress options and decided we could get in and out with no problem.  

Something to remember here is when you are 62' long you always check out the ingress and egress options of fuel stations, RV parks, grocery stores, etc. before you enter them.....if you don't you may find yourself in an embarrassing situation.  I was amazed this summer at how often people would drive blindly to their sites at TVC without checking them out first (even though we often suggested just that) to be sure they could get around trees that line the roads, and then get into their site.  If they had they would have saved themselves some grief.  It only takes a few minutes and eliminates any surprises.  Ever since we found ourselves in just such a situation back on 2010 in a gas station in Flagstaff, AZ we always find a place to park comfortably, then walk over to the fuel station to check it out....we figure out which pump we can easily get to, and then how we will exit.  Since that time we have never been stuck again.

Since we couldn't stay at the Walmart we checked on Passport America RV parks up the road, and found one right near the exit we would be taking from I-5 to cross over to the coast called "On The River" Golf RV and Resort (located on the shores of the Umpqua River) were the Passport America price was $16.50 for the night.  We called ahead to be sure they had a site for us, and they did......their pull through sites are 70 feel long, and they had just one left......SCORE!  We arrived at the RV park at just 1500 hours, and were in our site by 1515 hours relaxing, and watching NFL pre-season football.....suweeeet!

I lost track of the number of 3-5 mile climbs we made on Saturday, but the DD 6V92 ran like a champion up the multiple grades getting over 200 degrees a couple of times, and 'jaked' down the declines......some as long as 8 miles at 6%.......purring like a kitten.  I checked the lugs on the trailer wheels one more time at a rest stop just over the Oregon border and all was good.  I forgot to mention that when we arrived in McCloud Friday afternoon, having descended some 3,000' in elevation from South Lake Tahoe, the tires had lost some air pressure, which is to be expected.  I checked them and then added air to get them up to the required 50 psi. 

We spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing, and me watching football into the evening......in all we traveled 180 miles Saturday, leaving just a scant 100 miles to go to Cape Blanco and one month at sea level.

To be fair to all the weather guessers out there rain was forecast during the night here in Dillard, OR and it did rain, and, in fact, is still raining as I write this morning......maybe we'll just stay put here in Dillard until the rain stops.....we don't have to drive in the rain if we don't want to, right?


Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, August 29, 2015

T minus zero!

For the first time in 111 days I am writing a post that does not begin with TVC.....  

And we're off!!!  I was up by 0515 hours, and TLE followed shortly thereafter......I had switched on the block heater about 2 hours before in preparation for our 0630 lift off.  In reality we were rolling the wheels by 0615 and turning on to HWY 50 towards Stateline by 0630.  As we traversed HWY 50 across the southern end of Lake Tahoe through uncrowded streets I once again turned to TLE, as I always do, and said "It's good to be moving again!" to which she replied "Yeah...".  We crested Spooner Summit around 0700 in 2nd gear at which time I returned the throttle to 'zero' and began 'jaking' at 32 mph down the hill to Carson City.

We arrived at Eagle Gas around 0730 to fill our diesel tank.....we took on almost 113 gallons at $2.39/gallon for a total of $270.90....you may recall we took on diesel at Eagle Gas back on December 19th as we headed south after 2 months at Amazon.com.....back then the price was higher at $2.79, but was the least we had paid at the time for 3 years.  Last September when we fueled up after TVC we paid $3.66/gallon and were happy to pay that....we saved just over $143 due to the continued low price of diesel.


Eagle Gas aka: Gas and Save


We were back on the road about 0755 headed northward on HWY 395 towards Susanville, CA, our second stop of the day.....we had planned to stop at the Starbucks there for breakfast.  We arrived in Susanville just after 1015 hours, and spent about 40 minutes eating a breakfast sandwhich (sausage and eggs for moi) and drinking a grande coffee of the day (room for cream, please).  On the north end of Susanville we switched to SR 39, which eventually took us to SR 44, and then to HWY 89 where we caught this view of Mt. Shasta.....



Our destination for the day was McCloud, CA......at the 268 mile of our day....a longish day for us, but the perfect stopping place.  As we pulled into McCloud RV Resort at 1330 hours we spied this small craft beer place called Siskiyou Brew Works right at the entrance....how handy!  Yelp gives them 4.5 stars on 16 reviews.

As usual we did not make reservations, and were able to snag one of two remaining sites that would fit our 62' length (these sites are about 80 foot back ins).  After I hooked up our electricity we both sat down to rest......for the first time in 3.5 months we are alone again with no obligations for a few days.  The temps upon arrival were in the high 80's, but they cooled down quickly.


Around 1800 hours we decided to walk over to the 'brew works' to try a 'flight' of their offerings.  They had 5 brews on taps, but the only one I was really drawn to the was English style Porter......the other four were lack luster, in my opinion.


They also serve pizza, which I understand is quite good, but we still had pizza left over from Blue Dog Pizza, and decided to just eat in.....I got a kick out of the following sign, and thought I would share it with you.



The 'flight'

We were in bed by 2200 expecting rain during the night, but all we got was wind, and a few sprinkles.

Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, August 28, 2015

TVC - Day 110 - T minus 1 and still holding

Thursday should have been 'T minus 1', but I didn't feel like going back and renaming the prior 4 posts, so I just decided to hold the count.  I was up around 0700 hours knowing full well I had a full day of packing up our site......by 0800 I was outside beginning the process.  I just took my time and worked steadily all day long with a few breaks here and there, of course.  By 1500 hours we were 90% done, so I took another break, and a long shower, then we headed off to do some errands.....first up was take the car through the Raley's carwash......it hasn't seen the inside of a car wash since early May when we were in Riverside, CA.  Then it was off to the bank to draw out some cash to pay for diesel Friday as it usually saves us 5 to 6 cents a gallon.  Then it was over to Blue Dog Pizza where we used two coupons we had saved for two free LARGE pizzas......we ate one there, and brought the other home for dinner Friday night.  They had Icky IPA on tap there so we added a couple of those to go along with the one pizza we ate.


Blue Dog Pizza.....not a great 'usie', but it will do

We stopped off on the way home to visit my good friend Harry, then at the office to say our 'until next times' to Duane, our manager, and were home by 1800.  Within a few minutes I was dumping the tanks one more time, putting away sewer hoses and water hoses, and then backing up the coach to drop the trailer on the hitch one more time.  After hooking up I pulled the coach and trailer forward so TLE could put the car in the trailer via site 359 behind us.  By this time it was getting quite dark so I turned on the running lights to be sure they all worked, and they did......you never know after almost 4 months of sitting in one place.

We were done loading the car, and the firewood we are taking with us by 2100 hours and I was beat......that was one long day, and I was reminded why I hate packing up.  I was in bed by 2130, and TLE followed shortly thereafter......Friday is zero day, and lift off!  YAY!!!

Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, August 27, 2015

TVC - Day 109 - T minus 1 and holding

Wednesday, our last day on the job at TVC, started out pretty much the same as the past few days......very quiet.....very few people in the office/store....very few people in the campground......and it remained so the entire day.  As I rode around the park in my golf cart I began to feel the bittersweet feeling I always feel when it's time to roll our wheels, but not with the same intensity.......we have been here 109 days now and that is a long time for us to be in one spot.  Knowing it will be just a scant 8+ months until we all reconvene here at TVC for another summer adventure makes it a little easier to say our 'until next times', and before we do TLE and I will have become grand parents for the 5th time.

I made my rounds pretty quickly and then set in to 'deep cleaning' some more sites in 'F' section, and then late morning I decided to drive along the Melba Drive fence line one more time to see how my fence repairs were doing......all of them except one were still intact.....someone had cut the fence again out in the group area, so I got my gear together for one last repair and hope this time the fence cutter will be discouraged by my reinforcement of that area.......hmmmm......probably not.....we'll see next summer.

I was off work by 1430 hours and TLE followed an hour later.......as she walked up to the coach I asked her how it felt to be retired once again......we both smiled, and hugged and went inside.  I put away a few more things and then took a nap.  Our staff friends, Mike and Carol asked to join us for one more fish taco dinner at Classic Cue, and we agreed to meet them there at 1800 hours.......we like to walk, they don't.    We spent about 2 hours talking and eating and getting to know each other better.  Mike and Carol have done a lot of traveling outside the USA and we talked a lot about their trip to Nepal about 17 years ago.....very interesting stuff!

As we were walking back into the park we remembered there was a movie in the tent, and since we had not been to one movie in the tent this year we decided to stop in......they were playing 'The Thomas Crown Affair' (Steve McQueen and Faye Dunaway) from 1968....wow, that brought back memories.  That was one of the first movies TLE and I went to see together during the summer of 1968.

The movie was over by 2200 hours, and we were home a few minutes later........a nice finish to our sojourn here at TVC!

Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

TVC - Day 108 - T minus 2

Okay now, the emptiness of TVC is starting to get a little creepy......it's like driving through a 'still life' painting these past few days......everything seems frozen.....like someone pushed the 'pause' button on the remote control.....not that there's anything wrong with that.  It's just that after 8 weeks of 80%+ occupancy which brings about that hustle and bustle feeling of the campground it's a little difficult re-acclimating to the peace and quiet we have been experiencing these past few days.

Once again site checks took no time at all, and I spent the better part of the morning doing some more deep cleaning of the tent site areas near our coach, as well as picking up around the dumpsters where the bears had been active the previous night......and speaking of bears we had our own bear incident last night........

 Bear activity

.......the bear, or bears, came through our site for the first time last night and pulled everything out of our outdoor trashcan.


Around 1030 hours I got the call from Ken's Tire Center that my trailer tires had been mounted and were ready for pickup so around 1130 I borrowed Duane's truck again and went over to pick them up.

I spent part of the afternoon repairing a 20 foot section of fence behind site 470 along Melba Drive which had apparently been hit by a motor vehicle the night before......whoever caused the damage left the scene without reporting the accident....parts of the vehicle were on the ground along with 20' of fencing.  It took me about 90 minutes to fix it, but it is back in place.....a little the worse for wear.

I clocked out with TLE at 1500 hours and we headed for the barn one more time......Wednesday will be our final day of work this season at TVC.

After changing clothes I headed outside to remount the new tires on the trailer, which involved greasing the wheel bearings, and torquing down each lug nut using my torque wrench set at 90 foot pounds.  I'll stop a couple of times on Friday as we work our way northward on HWY 395 to check them all again, but for now our baby has new shoes and we are ready to roll.....we now have relatively new rubber  all the way around.....our steer tires on the coach are 18 months old, the drive tires are 8 months old, and now the trailer tires are brand new!


Since we won't be here for the annual end of season banquet held after Labor Day, one of the staff ladies, Sandy, had a get together for us to say our 'until next times'......


.....we really do work with a great bunch of people, and they are the primary reason we will return for one more year next summer!

Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

TVC - Day 107 - T minus 3


Monday, Monday.......when I arrived in the office TLE presented me with my three lists......'Who's In The Park', 'Arrivals', and 'Departures'......very grim numbers indeed.....129 sites occupied, 19 arrivals, and 59 departures.  This is exactly what happened at this time last year......the 3rd week of August is pretty slow here at TVC......it reminds me of May.  By Wednesday, our last day, we'll be closer to 100 sites occupied.

I was finished with my first round of site checks by 0930 and spent some more time 'deep cleaning' some tent sites in section 'A'.....as I was finishing up I saw the UPS truck arrive.....I was pretty sure he had something for me, and he did......four Michelin light truck tires ordered just one week ago from Amazon Prime.......$117 plus tax per tire....free shipping!  I was able to talk the driver into following me over to our site where he unloaded the tires!  

Four LT 235/75/R 15 Michelin Tires for the trailer

About 1238 hours I clocked out for a long lunch which did include lunch, then I set about removing all four wheels from the trailer in preparation for taking them and the new tires over to Ken's Tire Service (same place I had the new tires put on the VW last summer).  After jacking up the trailer with my 20 ton bottle jack, and removing the wheels from each side of the trailer I used the large wooden blocks I use to 'block' the coach when I am under it to rest the trailer on while it is without wheels.



Once I had all four wheels off I chose the best of the four 'old' tires to become the new spare.....the original spare is in pretty bad shape......then borrowed the manager's Ford PU to haul everything over to Ken's.  I'll run back over to Ken's Tuesday and pick up the new shoes for the trailer, repack the wheel bearings, check the brakes, and put everything back together.  If all goes as planned I shouldn't have to worry about these tires for 6 years.

I ended up only working 5 hours Monday, and TLE was home before 1430 hours....a very, very slow day, which is perfect considering how much remains to be done before we haul anchor Friday morning.

Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, August 24, 2015

TVC - Day 106 - T minus 4

As Sunday began I realized we had just 4 days left in our working sojourn here at TVC, and as I write we only have Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday remaining.....on Sunday we had 100 departures and just 12 arrivals.......our "Who's In The Park" report showed just 179 sites occupied......so, all that being said, it should have been a very easy day, and it was.  All of my departures with one exception were gone before noon time, and once again it is eerily quiet in section 'E' by the end of business.  TLE continues to improve day by day, and is has been easy for her to leave the office early the past two days as it has been so quiet, and Sunday was no exception as she clocked out at 1400 hours.

We continue to experience very cold nights and mornings, and the temperature swing continues to hover around 35-40 degrees between the highs and lows.  

Once my rounds were done I spent a good deal of my time doing some 'deep cleaning' in the tent sites located in sections 'A' and 'E', and then clocked out around 1440 hours for the day.  By the time I got home TLE had left to go shopping at TJ Maxx for new bed sheets, and, thankfully had turned on the A/C to cool down the coach.....by the time she returned an hour later we turned off the A/C and opened the windows.  I set up the outdoor TV to watch another NFL pre-season game between the Titans and Rams.......

Left to right: Tracy, Sam and Maria

.......just about the time I finished turning on the TV I heard a familiar voice that I had not heard for close to 18 months.....as I turned around I saw Sam Morrow lumbering across our site with his wife Tracy.....just like Brian and Maria they are in the area preparing for 'Burning Man', and they are already in full 'Burning Man' regalia, including colored hair.  We first met Sam and Tracy in, you guessed it, Cedar Key, FL back in December of 2012, and have met up with them a couple of times over the past few years.  As we stood talking and catching up I could not help but realize that once again how cool our amazing community on the road is....we talked as if we had just seen them yesterday.

Around 1800 hours I turned on the BBQ to grill some pollo asado for TLE so she could create some of her amazing Pollo Asado Fajitas for dinner.  We sat outside enjoying the balmy evening air, but by 1900 hours the chill of the coming evening was upon us so we reconvened inside for the rest of the evening.

We watched current (recorded) episodes of 'Last Ship' and 'Falling Skies' before heading off to dreamland once again.......

Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, August 23, 2015

TVC - Day 105 - 48 Summers

As I was waking up this morning it occurred to me that this is the 48th summer I have been with this amazing woman, The Lovely Elaine, whom I first met in January of 1968 when I was home after my first semester of college for the winter break.  I was going to school in Texas and she had come out to Pasadena, CA from Miami, FL to go to college.  She had met and befriended several of my high school buddies.  I was captivated by her at the time, but was interested in someone back at school in Texas.

Taken in the summer of 1968

That summer when I returned my parents were invited to a pool party at the home of my father's boss, Joe Vallerand.  My dad suggested I ask that girl, Elaine, to come along as my date.....at that point I had been out to the movies with my friends, and she had been part of the group, but not asked her out on a date........I did and she accepted.....the picture above memorializes our first date that summer of 1968.

The summer of 1971

We became friends that summer, and each semester break and summer that I would return home from school we would get together.....she would come to Manhattan Beach on Sundays  during the summer with our family.  When I came home for my last winter break my senior year in January of 1971 Elaine asked me to be her date at a party she and her friends were hosting off campus.  I accepted, and the rest is history......by the Spring break of 1971 we were engaged, and were married just a few months later on August 29, 1971, my father's birthday.  Our first of five children, Christopher, was born one year and two days later.

Summer of 1991 - Kauai

Summer of 2001 - Quebec

Summer of 2015 - 48 summers together

On August 29th of this year we will celebrate our 44th anniversary of our wedding day.......

August 29, 1971

......everybody says "I would do it all over again".....but, seriously, I cannot imagine my life without Elaine at my side, and that is where she has been through rich, through poor, through thick, through thin, the ups and downs......it has been an amazing adventure with this woman....I still tell people today "I cannot believe she chose me".......she still captivates me 48 summers later.

Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, August 22, 2015

TVC - Day 104 - R&R part 2

Friday saw much improvement in TLE's condition, however, we both felt she should just stay inside being quiet and resting.  On the other hand it fell to me to continue putting away stuff in the trailer, which I did.  All that is left now is to secure the Park Tool bike stand in its traveling position, and then put away our two Cannondale bikes and we're ready to load the Beetle......of course there is still the awning mat, the Malibu lights, the hundreds of LED lights,the sun screen, the lounge chairs, a few other chairs, the wood we will take with us, the sewer hose, the water hose and finally the 50 amp power cord.....:-/

Around 1100 hours I, by myself, drove down to Carson City to make our last run to Costco and TJ's to stock up on wine, scotch, coffee, cheese, rotisserie chickens, pollo asado, etc. before we depart for the southern rural coast of Oregon.  There are a lot of fires burning in this area and the smoke from them has turned the normally cobalt blue skies into a kind of unattractive gray pall.  

After a quick stop at Raley's fuel station to fill up the Beetle for the final time at SLT using one of our 50 cent off coupons (Premium with the discount costs $2.86/gallon here) I was on my way 'down the hill'.  My first stop was at Supercuts to get a trim, as we won't be near one for over a month, the on to TJ's and then to Costco where the thing that happens to me every 6-8 months happened again......my bank decided I was not the one in Carson City using my bank card and put a hold on my card as I was paying for my purchases.  I've gotten used to this and have the Fraud phone number for my bank programmed into my speed dial......it took a few minutes, but the hold was removed after I identified myself five ways to Sunday, and confirmed that I was were I have been for the last 3.5 months, and shopping at the same places where I have shopped for the last 3.5 months.  I was on my way back up the hill by 1340 hours, and after a quick stop at Dart Liquor at State Line I was home by 1410.

Just a few minutes after I arrived home my sister Jill called for our weekly phone call.....great timing Jill!  We talked for about half an hour (she lives in Michigan, so it 3 hours ahead of PDST, so it was getting time for dinner there), and then bid each other adieu.  On the other hand it was only 1445 here so it was time for me to sit outside reading a good book, and take, ultimately, a much deserved nap.

Around 4 I walked with TLE over to the laundry to do our weekly wash, and by 6 we were sitting outside eating some delicious chicken soup TLE had brewed up, and speaking of brew, I pulled out a 22 ounce bottle bottle of brew Brian (The Roaming Pint) had given me for tuning up his bike.  He found this one deep down in the bayou country of Louisiana, and I need to find out where to by more of this brew.  The coffee flavor made this one of the best of its kind I have ever had the privilege of sipping......kudos to you Brian.....you really know my tastes well!

 


Ironically, Bayou Teche is where virtually all of the 20 Dave Robicheaux books (James Lee Burke) I just finished reading take place.

Friday really felt like 5th Saturday this week.....another day well lived....

Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, August 21, 2015

TVC - Day 103 - R&R

The high temp for the day Thursday dropped from 88 the prior day to 85.....to me it never felt that warm.....and TLE spent the entire day relaxing and recovering from whatever it is that has been dogging her for the past five days.  I, on the other hand, began the arduous task of beginning to put more of our stuff away in anticipation of our departure in the early morning hours of August 28th.....

I began with the 'stuff' under the patio awning that I knew we will not be using anymore this time around (the Coleman stove, toaster, and the table upon which they reside).  I was able to get all three of those items in the 'through' basement through storage compartment....I'm really trying to reduce the number of things I put back in the trailer, especially those things that only get used here at TVC.  Next I moved into the trailer and began by putting away the Black and Decker 'Workmate' bench, some of the tools I kept on it, put the pancake compressor back in the passenger side engine bay storage, and then stowed the tandem back into its travel place under the workbench.  

After all that work it was time for a nap, and then I spent the better part of the afternoon reading outside, and taking cat naps....TLE spent the entire day inside napping and reading, and by evening she was seeing some improvement in her condition.  Around 1630 hours I set up the outdoor TV to watch some more pre-season NFL football (Buffalo vs. Cleveland).  Finally, around 8 it began to get cool enough that I decided to head back indoors for the evening where I finished my James Lee Burke book (Rain Gods).

Thursday was a good day.....neither of us left the confines of site 426, and TLE never left the confines of the coach.  

We are beginning to finalize our travel plan up to Cape Blanco State Park, OR.......last year we made the 554 mile drive in just one night, and two days out of necessity, but this year we will take two nights and three days to cover the same distance......more our travel style.

Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, August 20, 2015

TVC - Day 102 - Community

Our second to last Wednesday at TVC started out normally enough, but by 1100 hours TLE was not feeling well and decided to call it a day.....she has been battling a chest cold (I think), or allergies (she thinks) for several days and Wednesday it (whatever it is) got the best of her.  Usually TLE is the only one at the registration desk on Wednesdays with Duane (our manager) filling in when she goes to lunch, or it gets too busy, which, on  a Wednesday, is rare.  I asked Deb if she could come into work for a few hours in the afternoon, and she was there by 1300 hours to help.

TLE spent the rest of the day being quiet, napping, and reading.  She thought she had a fever and asked me to put my hand on her forehead to see what I thought.....well, I guess my 'fever detector' is not as finely tuned as hers is as I thought her forehead felt cool to the touch. Nevertheless, by the time I got off work at 1530 she was feeling a little bit better, or at least not worse.

The rest of my work day was pretty routine....I spent time surveying the sites in section "F", helped a couple of customers get into their sites, took some folks in the cart to look at a few potential sites for their very large RV's (one was over 70' including Class A and trailer), fixed a few leaky hose bibs, washed my golf cart and then "packed it in" for the day.

Some nomad friends (Brian and Maria..... of "The Roaming Pint" fame) we first met up with in Cedar Key, FL back in March of 2012 were in town and asked TLE and I to join them at their campsite (just behind ours) Wednesday evening for 'game night'.  Some other friends from our Cedar Key days (Debby and Bill....."Bill and Debby's Wild Ride") joined us....we played "Cards Against Humanity" for a couple of hours, laughing a lot....I was thinking afterwards that except for our decision to begin this nomadic odyssey roaming endlessly around our great country we would never have met Brian, Maria, Bill, or Debby....it's been a year since we last got together, and yet it seems like just yesterday.  I have worked on Brian and Maria's bicycles at least once a year since we first met them.....I've brought Maria's bike back from the dead more than once over that time.  In fact, most of the people we spend the bulk of our time with these days, and count as good friends, we would never have met except for this lifestyle choice.  On occasion I run into people who travel as we do and hear them complain how they feel so alone.....they have no friends on the road.....I am a little mystified by that.  Without the nomadic community we belong to traveling as we do would have lost it allure some time ago.  In the end this journey we have embarked upon is more about the people we have met, and befriended along the way.....all the places we have been are certainly very cool, but the people we have shared those places, and experiences with are foremost in our minds.

Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

TVC - Day 101 - The shortest day

I clocked in at 0758 hours and out at 1438 hours (30 minute lunch) for a total of 6 hours 15 minutes......that is my shortest work day in weeks.  TLE worked 30 minutes longer for a total of 6 hours and 45 minutes.  I was done with my first round of site checks before 1000 hours, and all of my departures were departed before 1100 hours.....I spent the rest of the morning working on my section "E" site survey that I referred to in yesterday's blog.  I finished measuring all 118 sites just before lunch......I'll start to work on section "F" Wednesday where there are 116 sites.  Sections "E" and "A" each have a lot of tent sites, which we will not be measuring, so they should go pretty quickly (44 of the 107 sites in "E" are tent sites, and 25 of the 62 sites in "A" are tent sites).

As we rapidly come to the end of our stay here at TVC I have a few observations to make:

1) We are understaffed this year by at least 10 people, but we have accomplished more this summer with fewer people than we did last summer.  We rarely ever had 3 people at the registration desk at one time, and many times we had only one, but we got by pretty nicely by sending people directly to their sites when we had too many RV's arriving at one time.  TLE and I had planned to work more hours this summer anyway to take care of some elective projects. What we found out this summer is that there are more efficient ways to work at our various jobs.

2) Our customers have noticed the hard work we put in every day, and have let us know.....the way to succeed in the hospitality business is to create a positive impression.....your customers need to believe you care about them, about the facility and about their experience.....I believe we have succeeded in changing the perception of our customers.

3) A direct result of changing the perception of our customers is that we are almost sold out from the 4th of July weekend to Labor Day in 2016 and the 2015 season still has two weeks to run.  Now our job is to get people to start coming to TVC from Memorial Day to the 4th of July.

4) The addition this past winter of 4 more park model cabins has worked wonderfully as all 7 of our park models are rented pretty much 90% of the time now, and their availability year round is drawing more customers into the park.....

5) We got news yesterday that the old blue double wide manufactured home near the entrance of the campground that served as the living quarters for prior managers for a few decades will be torn down within the next 60 days, and most likely replaced with 6 more park model cabins.  It has fallen into disrepair over the years and has not been used for close to 3 years now.  The red building across the street from the old living quarters which was used as an administration office for years will most likely be converted to living quarters for our current manager.  There are a lot of changes coming for next year and we are looking forward to returning next summer to see what has been done over the winter.

 The old manager's living quarters

The old administration buildingh

We decided to head over to 'Classic Cue' for fish tacos and a pitcher of 'Downtown Brown' about 1730 hours.....by the time we arrived the outside temps were down to 83 so we sat out side under an umbrella and enjoyed our beer and food for about an hour.  When we returned to our site we saw that our manager, Duane, was next door at John and Deb' for dinner so we both got ourselves an adult beverage and joined them for a couple of hours talking about the summer, the future, and some of the things I have shared above.  We have a great core group here right now.....we are all very close and work together very well.  There is no infighting.....everyone is willing to step up and do what has to be done with no complaint....now it is just a matter of adding some new blood next summer that will fit in nicely with the core group.  If you are interested in working here at TVC next season leave a message at the bottom of this post and I'll get in contact with you.

Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

TVC - Day ONE HUNDRED

It seemed only appropriate that the title for today's blog should just be the number of days we have been in South Lake Tahoe.......I'm trying very hard to remember that last time I spent 100 days in one place......oh, wait, here it comes......last summer in South Lake Tahoe!  In our almost 43 months of nomadic life this is only the second time we have landed in one place for this duration of time.  As much as we have worked this summer, it is the complete opposite of last summer when we arrived at TVC on May 17th, but didn't begin to work until July 3rd......we had about 6 weeks to just enjoy ourselves and relax.  As things stand right now we plan to be back here at TVC next May once again, but we will do things differently....we'll put in our 4 eight hour days and be off for three days each week.  The problem with trying to work just 6.5 hours per day over 5 days when you are understaffed as we are is you rarely ever do that.....you end up working 7, or 8 hours each day....or more.....and that my friends begins to feel too much like work!

Monday was a wonderfully relaxed day......we are down to 170 sites occupied after waving goodbye to 61 more RV'ers/tenters and only welcoming 28.....the campground has the pre 4th of July feel to it.....very, very quiet....almost eerily quiet, but I like it!  All of those on my departure list were departed by 1 pm (a couple of LCO's......Late CheckOuts).

I was able to spend some time on a project I started back in June, which essentially is going through each and every site and measuring the width and length of each site, and confirming what amenities are at each site, so we can update our DigiRez system with accurate information about each site. This will, in turn, help us place future customers in sites that more accurately fit their wants and needs.

I was able to check another item off my summer project list by ordering 4 Michelin Light Truck tires for the trailer.  For the first 2+ years of our travels when we still had the 2002 T-Bird we had to replace 5 tires on the trailer.....the tread kept separating.  As it stands now the last tire we replaced was in Cardston, Alberta back in July of 2013.  We replaced 1 tire in July of 2012, another tire in September of the same year, then two more in January of 2013, with the final tire mentioned above.  Right now we have three different brands on the trailer.....not a good idea, but so far it has worked.  Since then we have not had to replace a tire, and I think the main reason for that is a few months later we sold the T-Bird and got the 2001 VW Beetle.  The VW weighs 1,000 pounds less than the T-Bird and I think that is the primary reason we have not had anymore tire failures.  I have been following a blog called 'Man in the Maze' (formerly was called Airstream Life) for almost a decade now.  Back in 2009, or 2010 Rich was having the same issue with the standard ST tires used on most trailers (ST stands for 'Special Trailer') and was going through tires after just a few thousand miles.  He did some research and had 4 Michelin Light Truck tires installed.......about 50,000 miles later they are going strong.  Back then he paid over $700 for 4 tires, but I was able to get the same tires through Amazon Prime for just over $500 including tax......FREE SHIPPING!  The tires have a weight rating per tire of 2065 lbs. each giving me a total laden GVW of almost 8,300 lbs.....right now with the VW I'm around 7,500 lbs. (trailer, cargo and car), so I have more than enough room to spare.  The tires should be here at TVC by next Monday.

The high temperature for the day was 88 degrees and for the first time in over a month we ran the A/C for a few hours, but by 1800 hours we turned off the A/C and opened the windows.

We watched 'So You Think You Can Dance' and were in bed by 2200 hours.....

Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, August 17, 2015

TVC - Day 99 - By the numbers

Our Sunday boiled down to simple statistics.........

TVC arrivals: 29
TVC departures: 125
Hours worked: 6.75
Weather: partly cloudy
High: 88 degrees
Low: 42 degrees
Rude people: 1
Happy people: 506
PGA winner: Jason Day, Australia
Naps: 2
Number of days left in TVC: 12
Number of neighbors who wanted me to turn down my radio: 0
Number of sick people living with me: 1 (TLE is rapidly getting better)
Number of happy people living in our Newell: 2
Number of major tasks remaining on my summer long 'to do' list: 2
Number of major tasks completed on my summer long 'to do' list: 4 

Thank you for stopping by!

Sunday, August 16, 2015

TVC - Day 98 - Putting it away again

We're in an interesting part of the summer right now.  During the middle of the summer the temperature differentials were about 20-25 degrees from the high to the low.  Now, in mid August, it has been as much as 40 degrees.....very warm in the day (85 Saturday) and down into the low 40's last night....this has been the norm the past week.  Of course we are at 6,300' elevation and perhaps the seasons begin to turn more quickly than at sea level.

It was an essentially relaxed day for a Saturday....we had a little under 300 sites filled and the arrivals and departures off set each other nicely. Right now, for the first time since late June the site to our left (425) is empty, the site behind us (359) is empty, and the sites across from us (424 and 428) are empty......we, figuratively, feel like we can stretch our arms once again.

Everything in the park was pretty routine.....no issues.....our last big church group of the season wrapped up their tent meeting Saturday and most of those folks (Tongan SDA's) will be departing the campground on Sunday.

I'm beginning to slowly begin to put some stuff away in anticipation of our departure on August 28th.  There is a lot to do and I don't want to wait until a few days before we leave to do it all.

TLE and I clocked out at 1530 hours, and by 1550 hours I was ensconced in front of the outdoor TV watching the last few holes of round 3 of the PGA Golf Championship......there are at least a dozen players who have a chance to win, so Sunday should be a 'barn burner'!  After that was over I watched a couple hours of NFL pre-season before heading inside to continue reading another James Lee Burke book (Lay Down my Sword and Shield).

Only 9 work days left until lift off....thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, August 15, 2015

TVC - Day 97 - Salvaged

Friday was a partial repeat of Thursday.....I had two bikes to work on just as I did Thursday, only these two were repeat customers from last summer.  About 9 am Brian brought over his Kona hybrid bike for me to tune up....there was a year's worth of corrosion to deal with, plus the usual brake adjustments, etc....pretty routine for Brian's bike.....Brian and Maria live full time in class 'C' motorhome, and their bikes spend their time outside in the elements on a bike rack pretty much 24/7.  Maria's bike on the other hand came to me in pieces.....the rear wheel was off, and the handlebars, along with the brake levers and shifters, were detached from the stem....it was a mess.  I didn't take the time to ask Brian what happened to Maria's bike, but promised to get it back together and operational.  

Brian's bike took just a couple of hours to bring back up to snuff (I replaced the rusted chain with a better one, the rusted brake 'noodles' with aluminum ones I had salvaged, replaced the front brake cable which was coming unraveled, poured lube in the cable housings and put the bike back together), but Maria's was a whole other matter.  Early in the summer I had gotten permission from our manager, Duane, to disassemble a few of the derelict bikes in the maintenance yard to salvage some useful parts for use in the future on other people's bikes.  I still had all the parts I had salvaged sitting on my work bench, and was wondering where I would store them when we leave TVC in two weeks.....well, the aluminum 'zoom' (adjustable) stem and aluminum handlebars found a new home on Maria's bike.....her bike's original stem and handlebars were essentially rusted metal that used to be painted black.  I quickly removed the old stem and handlebars and installed the aluminum replacements....a big improvement already.....I also pulled the 'headset' bearings and lubed them.  Then I went to work on the rear wheel, which needed to have the threaded free wheel removed so I could get at the axle bearings to lube them, and clean up the hub......once that was done and the free wheel had been also cleaned I reassembled the wheel and re-installed it on the bike....okay the bike is now looking like a bike again.  I lubed her chain, which was not rusted....it was a pretty high end chain.  After fiddling with the rear derailleur for about an hour I was able to get it to shift pretty well...I think that will need to be replaced in the near future, but I don't have a spare one that will work on her bike.



Once the bikes were done I got out the outdoor TV, turned on the PGA golf tournament and relaxed in the shade.......my sister Jill called for our weekly phone call....sometimes we just talk about ordinary stuff, but this day we got a little below the surface....it was good, and it is why I try to talk with her once a week. We spent most of our lives not talking, and with her living three time zones away it's the only way we can build a good relationship....it's working.


After our call I took a long, hot shower to remove all the grime from two days of bike repairs, and went back to my lounge chair for the balance of the afternoon.  While all of the aforementioned bike repairs, phone calls, and PGA watching was going on TLE did a load of wash, and went grocery shopping.  I haven't mentioned it, but for the first time in over 4 years she has either a full blown head/chest cold, or her allergies are on overdrive....she has been fighting that for the last four days, and thankfully we had two days off for her to rest, which she did.....she has taken more naps in the past two days than I have seen her take in the last year.

For dinner TLE presented me with two filets to grill while she made her signature asparagus and baked potatoes........a great way to end another day at TVC!

Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, August 14, 2015

TVC - Day 96 - Backsliding

I had a few goals for Thursday.....sleep in to 8 am, get our car back from our mechanic (John at Higher Ground Autoworx) where it was having a new Bosch K-03 (made in Germany, not China) turbo installed replacing the failing K-02 OEM turbo, new front lower control arms, and a new hood pad (the insulation between the inside of the hood and the engine.....mice had gotten into it last summer and damaged the original so badly it was hanging down), go to Napa to pick up a new 8D chassis battery to replace the one that began sulfating in Bishop, CA on our way up to TVC back in May, tune up a couple of bikes for our manager, Duane, and watch some of the first round of the PGA golf tournament with maybe nap, or two thrown in for good measure.

Before I go on, let me say this......I'm back in that workday mode temporarily where I cram a lot of stuff into my days off, because when I'm working I just basically work, eat dinner, watch a little TV and go to bed....there is no time, or energy for anything else.  I'm not sure I'm happy with that part of it.  I started out this summer intending to work five 6.5 hour days to get in my 32 hours per week (the amount of hours needed to get our site for free), and for a few weeks that worked just fine......unfortunately the lack of adequate staffing this summer has resulted in most of my days stretching to a minimum of 7.5 and up to 10 in a couple of cases, plus working extra days (we had one 12 day stretch where we worked every day, and a couple of 6 day work weeks).  Next year I'm just going to work my four 8 hour days, and take the three days off each week....I feel as if I have been backsliding this summer into my old habits.  The blessing is this is not a career, and in two weeks we will be returning to our nomadic lifestyle.

Back to Thursday's report.....I got up about 0755 hours, was successful in getting everything done I needed to get done....the car is back, the 8D battery is installed, the two bikes have been returned to their owner ready to ride, I watched a big portion of the televised portion of the PGA, there were naps, and this morning I am feeling refreshed.

The weather has warmed up again....we're back into the mid to high 80's for a few days before it dips back into the 70's again.....it's nice to get up and not need to turn on the heater.  A friend, Brian, just dropped off his bike for me to tune up before he and Maria head off for 'Burning Man' in two weeks.....it's a bike I've worked on a few times previously.

Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

TVC - Day 95 - 12 Wednesdays

As I write this morning I suddenly realized that we only have two Wednesdays remaining in our time here at Tahoe Valley Campground, and South Lake Tahoe before we roll our wheels once again.....we have been here for 12 Wednesdays, six of which have been pay days.  Our coffers are full, and we are looking forward to changing our view once again.

Workwise at TVC it was a pretty normal day......not much to report....we took delivery of 4 new golf cart tires of which two went on the front of the office golf cart to replace to balding, leaking tires......had to ask tenters twice not to run their 100' extension cord into the women's bathroom......received further claims of a continuously barking dog in site 385, which was investigated once again.  I spent 15 minutes parked across the street from the site observing the two dogs in question and never heard a peep....I then drove by the site every 30 minutes the rest of my shift....no barking.  I then, after I was off work went by the site every hour until 2200 hours and not a peep.  Maybe the complaining customer is hearing barking dogs in his head along with the other voices......very odd.

TLE and I clocked out just after 1600 hours once again......we both logged over 46 hours each for the week.  We sat outside the rest of the afternoon, and well into the evening.  I roasted some corn on the cob on our Sea-B-Que BBQ for TLE while she whipped up a chicken/vegetable risotto.  I started a fire, and we ate our dinner sitting by the fire chatting for a couple of hours...something we have not had a lot of time to do lately....a perfect way to end a long work week.

Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

TVC - Day 94 - "Even Steven"

As hard as Monday was, Tuesday was the exact opposite.......we had a grand total of 13 arrivals, and by the time 1600 hours rolled around all but two of them had arrived.  There were 43 departures so the park got even emptier.  When TVC is this empty there are very few sites that are difficult to get into, and I had to assist just one gentleman into 202.....otherwise everyone else was 'sympatico'.

TLE was, once again, the only one in the office, so I stayed close, and basically became her 'cabana boy' for most of the day......not that that's a bad thing.....I ran site tags out to sites which had no site tags, I went with a woman who thought she had found a 'homeless encampment' in the woods down near the airport boundary fence (it had been a couple of months ago....Merlin and I spent 30 minutes cleaning up the residue), I took people to look at our cabins, to look at sites, back to their RV's, etc.  I chased down barking dog reports (the alleged barking dogs were not barking), site encroachment reports, leaky hose bib reports, picked up unused firewood (added to our growing pile), a large 10 lb. bag of unused charcoal briquettes (which I gave to our neighbors.....we have a gas BBQ), and helped Rick replace a few battery cables on my golf cart.  In general it was just a very laid back, pleasant day....no muss....no fuss....

After this Wednesday we have 10 work days left....perhaps a couple more if the office needs help....but, we are on the short side of our stay here at TVC....May 9th seems so very long ago, and now we are getting e-mails from Ranger Greg at the Cape Blanco Lighthouse about our next job beginning September 1st.

At just after 1600 hours TLE and I clocked out and headed for the barn......Tuesday was a perfect counterpoint to Monday, so I guess you can call me "Even Steven".....

Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

TVC - Day 93 - Easy is as easy does.....

I started Monday with the belief that it should be a relatively easy day in the over all scheme of things.  We were down to about 50% occupancy and scheduled to lose another 80+ sites with only 43 arrivals.  I could see a quitting time of 1430 hours, or earlier.......sometimes it's better to "wait until the eggs hatch before you begin counting your chickens", right?

Empty, empty, empty....

As I walked over to section 'A' to pick up my golf cart from the night ranger  I couldn't help but notice how empty the tent site areas were.....I felt a feeling of serenity sweep over me.

I was half way through my first round of site checks for the day when I got the first of 6 calls for propane.....then there were the two leaking like a sieve hose bibs that needed immediate attention...then the guy with the 39' class 'A' motorhome pulling a car that decided the place to park for registration was right in the middle of the traffic lane.....then the guy who pulled in, registered, and then could not start his motorhome again.....bad starter.....then the guy who was 2.5 hours late vacating his site who had to finally be threatened with a police escort if he did not leave......then came the 4 arrivals that could not seem to get their 5th wheels into their sites....I had to help each one.  Let me stop right here....it's one thing to help someone back into a site who acknowledges right up front he, or she does not know how to back up a trailer of any kind.....they are easy to help because they listen to everything you tell them and do it.....easy peezy!  Then there are those who think they are experts, but ask for your help anyway, and then ignore pretty much everything you tell them.....there were at least 4 more of the latter category.

I didn't complete my first round of site checks until almost lunch time......the after lunch period was pretty much the same....I felt like a ping pong ball with a dent in it.  Of course, since Monda means TLE is the only person behind the registration/reservation desk on Monday's, and our manager, who is usually here on Monday's, was not here I had to fill in for TLE at her position when she took her 30 minute lunch.....I haven't checked anyone in on the computer since last summer, and although I do know my way around the DigiRez system, and felt like the proverbial duck out of water.....thank goodness it was only a 30 minute lunch!

The afternoon pretty much followed the form of the morning session, and by the time I came up for air it was 1600 hours....we both clocked out, and headed for home where I took a 45 minute nap before we went next door to Ray and Carol's for a fire and cocktails before dinner.....the nap helped my disposition significantly, and by the time we had spent an hour, or so laughing with our friends I was good to go once again.

Thanks for stopping by!