Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Sooner than we thought.....

You just never know when things are going to go in a different direction! I've been writing for some time now that our target date for beginning our fulltime life was the fall of 2011.....not that far away....for Elaine retirement happens in September of 2011, and October for me....yes I did marry an older woman...haha!

For the past few months I have been examining our budget and how to pay down our remaining short term debt. It became obvious to me a few months ago that with the number of months left until we hit the road, our current income level (which for me has declined due to the economy since 2008) that we would have to eliminate a big chunk of our monthly overhead to get those debts zeroed out by October. One of our children has agreed to rent our home beginning February 1st, so that means we will move into the Newell permanently February 1st. Elaine and I will continue our respective jobs as planned until the fall, but eliminating the mortgage payment, and household utilities will free up a significant amount of money monthly so that we can finish paying off those nagging balances.

Wow, the future is NOW! We've got less than 6 weeks to clear our home out, and reorganize our STUFF that currently fills around 2,000 square feet, to fit in less than three hundred square feet. Fortunately we started the process last January when we cleaned out the garage attic, and storage areas, so I feel a lot better about the prospects of finishing in the next few weeks.

There are a lot of emotions coming at me like waves on the ocean. I thought I was past this part, but apparently the idea of moving out was still far enough away in my mind that I hadn't focused on the reality of actually moving out of our home of 26 years........for good. I have processed this intellectually, but it is obvious that the emotional part is yet to be processed.

Nevertheless, Elaine and I are both very excited about the change coming sooner than later, and spent a couple of hours this morning talking about what needs to be done. She is a great organizer, and seems to have all the steps laid out in her mind, so I will just line up, receive my daily instructions, and proceed with style.

Stay tuned for more frequent updates now that our move in date has accelerated!

Thanks for reading....

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Other adventures....

Del Mar, CA.....across PCH from Del Mar Racetrack

Like many of you who follow our blog, our identity is not defined soley by our love of RVing. We have other interests that add to our identity. One of our numerous interests is bicycling, and to further that descriptive, multi-day self guided bicycle touring. We have been planning for a number of months to do a two day tour with a college days friend starting at the AMTRAK station near Angel Stadium in Anaheim, CA (yes, near Disneyland, also) and finishing at the AMTRAK station in downtown San Diego.

Terri, our good friend from our college days, was scheduled to arrive at our home in Ontario, CA November 11th, and she did. She lives in Northern Nevada, so it was about a 9 hour drive for her.

Our plan was to drive down to the AMTRAK station located in the parking lot across from Angel Stadium (baseball Angels) in Anaheim. We left home around 8am, and arrived in Anaheim around 8:45am, starting our ride around 9:45am. As always there were a few mechanical issues with the bikes that had to be was a flat tire on Elaine's bike....inexplicable since the tires and tubes were brand new....oh well, so much for plans to depart the train station at 9am.

We proceeded over to the Santa Ana River Trail that runs parallel to the Santa Ana River all the way to Newport Beach, CA about 14 miles south. The bike path is completely separate from local roads, and highways. We hit PCH (Pacific Coast Highway) around 11am, and proceeded south through Newport Beach, Corona Del Mar, Laguna Beach, Dana Point, San Clemente, Camp Pendleton (Marine base), and Oceanside to our destination for the evening, Carlsbad, CA. The distance for that first day was 68 miles, and we made it just before sundown at 4:40pm!

Dana Point Warf, Dana Point, CA

We ate lunch in Dana Point at Proud Mary's located in the Dana Point Warf area where we joined some friends who have cycled with us in the past, Ted and Eileen.

Ted and Eileen (below) to my "right", Terri to my "left"

In front of Beach Terrace Inn, Carlsbad, CA

View from our balcony....

We had a nice evening in Carlsbad, CA staying overnight at the Best Western Beach Terrace Inn, and dinning out at a local Italian Eatery (Fresco's) located on Carlsbad Village Drive just below Carlsbad Road.

We departed the next morning around 8am heading south on PCH to our final destination for the day, San Diego....40 miles away. The day was spectacular.....sunny, cool, and no clouds. We passed through Leucadia, Del Mar, Solana Beach, La Jolla, and finally arrived at the downtown San Diego AMTRAK station around 2pm. Before arriving at the station we stopped at an In-N-Out burger place in Northern San Diego for lunch! Our return ride would be on the Surfrider and it was scheduled for departure at 3pm. We chose the Surfrider as they have bicycle racks on each car that can handle up to 3 bikes....exactly the number we had! Their cars look a lot like the Metrolink commuter trains. There was a delay of about 45 minutes as the train arrived late from Los Angeles. We arrived just after sundown in Anaheim.

In line at the San Diego AMTRAK station

Our 3 bikes at San Diego AMTRAK station

Friday, October 22, 2010

Home for now.....

Our trip home was pretty uneventful, and, as usual, a little bittersweet. Each time we leave on one of our Newell adventures we jokingly say as the trip nears it's end...."why not just keep going for a year?"....of course reality hits, and responsibilities we must maintain for another 11 months, or so, intrude, and we head home. The day when we leave home for good and begin our endless summer is less than 11 months away for Elaine now.

After loading the T-Bird, securing the bicycles, and putting away the few things we had put out while in Santa Fe I turned the key around 9:30am to fire up the big Detroit, and, while it turned over strong, would not fire. It got very cold last night...probably into the high 30's, and I should have turned on the block warmer when I got up. So, I turned it on now. Took about 40 minutes for it to get warm enough, and it then fired right up. We finally left Santa Fe Skies around 10:20am on October 15th, pointing the Newell south on I-25. The weather was cool, and clear, just as it had been for previous 6 days. Our tentative goal for the day was Holbrook, AZ. We had driven by Holbrook many times over the years, but never even got off the freeway.

As we neared Albuquerque the signs for I-40 westbound began to appear. We transitioned smoothly from I-25 to I-40 and then began a 60 mile climb to 7,300' elevation, before descending back down to Gallup, NM. We stopped to top off our fuel just over the Arizona line at an Indian owned truck stop called Speedy's that seems to have the best diesel price between Albuquerque, NM and Kingman, AZ....we paid $2.91 (cash price) on our way east, and $2.94 on our way west. From there it was a quick 72 miles to Holbrook. We arrived in Holbrook around 3:30pm, parking in a local supermarket parking lot for about 30 minutes while we decided whether to push on to Flagstaff, or call it a day......"call it a day" won out, and we quickly checked into the OK RV Park located about 2 blocks behind the supermarket. This is another nice overnight park...good strong WiFi, level pull through pads, which were about 100' long....more than enough for our 60' length! The staff was courteous, fast, and efficient.

We had one filet mignon left so I pulled out the BBQ (Sea-B-Que, a marine grade BBQ made by Dickinson Marine..... and cooked it to a beautiful medium rare condition.....combined with a nice salad, and some Pinot Noir.....mmmmm!

Our goal for Saturday was Kingman, AZ, only 238 miles west of us. Our "plan" was to get there late afternoon, and park either at the local Walmart, or Cracker Barrel until about 3am, and then push home to Ontario in the cool of the early morning. We arrived in Kingman around 3pm, and found an empty parking lot a block away from the Walmart in a Medical Plaza, which was not open on Saturday. Much more privacy than Walmart, or Cracker Barrel. Shortly after leveling, setting up the Satellite to watch a few college football games, it began to rain with lightning and thunder for about 2 hours. I'm glad we were stationary for that display! I took an hour nap, finished reading a book, while glancing up once and a while to see some of the game. Around 7pm I suggested to Elaine that I was wide awake, so why not press on now for home, and stop when I got tired. She agreed, and we broke camp. We basically descended on I-40 all the way to the Colorado River where we began a long, long, long climb that seemed to go on for an hour. Finally, around 10pm, as we approached the Kelbaker Road exit (one of the gateways to the Mojave National Preserve), I decided I was tired, and needed a nap, so we pulled off, crossed Kelbaker to the on-ramp, and parked on the shoulder of the onramp. I laid down for what I thought was a 30 minute nap, waking up over 3 hours later at 1:15am. As we merged back on to I-40 I realized our adventure would be over in around 3 hours....we arrived home to Applewood Drive around 4:20pm, parked, and hit the sack.

What an amazing 9 days! Looking forward to retirement, and being on the road for a couple of years. We never get tired of living in our Newell. It is so comfortable, and easy to live in!

Thanks for reading....tune in again for our next adventure over Thanksgiving. Don't know where we are going, but go we will!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Scenic drive to Taos

We have wanted to visit Taos for years, and now we are only 80 miles south of Taos, so we decided to drive up there on our last day in the Santa Fe area. Our intent was to spend 5, or 6 hours walking around Taos taking in all the sites and sounds. As it turned out our "plan" was pre-empted by the scenic drive to and from Taos. Normally it would take a little over an our to drive directly to Taos, but we decided to take the scenic routes to and from. The scenery, and historical sites along the way were so interesting it took us over 3 hours to get there. By the time we walked around the "plaza" area, taken the tour of the Kit Carson home, and eaten lunch it was after 3:30pm. If we wanted to get home before dark we needed to be moving along. On our return trip we decided to do the "Angel Fire" scenic drive, and it was well worth it. We arrived home around 6:45pm just as it was getting dark.

Our drive up to Taos took us north from Santa Fe on US285 to NM68, and then NM75 up to Taos. Our drive back took us east from Taos on NM64 to 434 where we drove south NM 518, and the town of Mora. Mora has special meaning to me because I have read a lot of Louis L'Amour's westerns and many of them revolve around Mora where a couple of his fictional Sackett families settled in the 1800's.

Here are some of the pictures of our day.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Santa Fe Skies

Santa Fe Skies RV Park

It won't be hard for anyone reading this blog to understand that we were dead tired Saturday night when we arrived in Gallup, NM. Elaine whipped up a quick dinner consisting of Pea Soup and some buttered bread. That was chased with a Rogue Brewery Moca Chocolate beer......mmmmmm!

We went to bed around 9pm, and did not wake up until 8am the next morning....I don't remember the last time I slept 11 hours straight. We didn't leave USA RV Park until around 10am, but we only had 190 miles to go to Santa Fe, so we took our time driving stopping several times for 30 minute breaks along the way finally arriving at our home for the next 6 days......Santa Fe Skies RV Park located at 14 Browncastle Ranch Rd. just south of Santa Fe. Following are pictures of our view.

Sunset the first night

Forest and Cindy, whom we met in Creede, CO last summer, arrived in their Newell about 30 minutes before we did. Once we were settled in and unloaded the T-Bird we decided to head into Santa Fe for a late lunch, as well as do some food shopping. We located a little Mexican restaurant called Posas located next door to the local Albertson's supermarket. This was/is real Mexican cuisine......Forest ordered a green sauce enchilada that he says was the hotest thing he had ever eaten, and he is Cajun!

Palace of the Governors

Forest, Elaine and Cindy

The next morning, Monday, we headed again into Santa Fe for a day of site seeing. We were able to find a public parking lot rather easily. We started our walking tour of Old Town Santa Fe by walking directly to the Plaza where we came upon many vendors, mostly Native American, selling their wares. Elaine bought a copper guitar pic for our son, Tim, a Santa Fe chili pepper refrigerator magnet for home, and a really cool necklace for Elaine. After that we headed down Palace toward the Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi. What a beautiful cathedral! From there we walked over to the Loretto Chapel, and then to lunch at the Iluminaria Restaurant. The Old Town area is very charming and easy to walk from one end to another. I would love to spend a few days exploring all the shops and restaurants, but that will be for another day!

The famous spiral staircase

Later that evening another couple we go to know better at the Creede rally drove down from Denver to spend a little time with us.....David and Denise. They came over around 8pm for some snacks, drinks and a great fire. We sat around laughing until after 10pm....I hope we didn't disturb anyone with our laughter....haha!

Tuesday morning we decided we would drive down to Madrid, NM located on NM 14, otherwise know at the Turquoise Highway. Madrid is a quaint little art community. The local artists display their art in every conceivable medium. I was very impressed with a lot of the art. From there we headed further south to drive up to Sandia Crest located at about 10,400' elevation where we got an amazing view of Albuquerque. We got back to camp around 4pm and made plans to join David and Denise in Santa Fe at "The Shed", an amazing Mexican restaurant located on Palace just a half block from the Plaza, and the Palace of Governors.

Madrid, NM

Sandia Crest, NM


We said our goodbyes after dinner to David and Denise who had to return to Denver the very next morning for pressing business.

Wednesday morning we decided we were not going to do anything except putter around camp, and then, maybe, take a bike ride that afternoon. Forest and Cindy took off to see a historical point of interest north of Santa Fe. Ultimately we took a bike ride on the tandem for about 20 miles. The weather on Wednesday, like every single other day was marvelous.....high 60's, low 70's. Forest and Cindy got home around 6pm, and invited us over to their coach for some Gumbo....some of the best I have ever had!

Monday, October 11, 2010

On the road!

Our intent had been to start our adventure around 7pm on Friday the 8th, but like most best laid plans we left a little after 9pm. Our "plan" was to drive to Kingman, AZ and spend the night behind the Cracker Barrel, and then hit the road early the next morning. I figured we would be in Kingman by 2:30am.......but.......we were about an hour out from Kingman in the tiny border town of Needles taking a short know, get out walk around the coach, making sure nothing is going wrong that we're not aware of yet. We get back in, I turn the key, and nothing. I check to be sure it is in neutral.....DP's have no "Park". You have to start it in neutral. Yep, it's in neutral, but it won't even turn over...I can hear the solenoid on the rear panel clicking. The batteries are all topped off, and all the lights are working so my old problem in the rear panel has not returned (loose connection). Finally, I give up and call Good Sam Club ERS. They initially want to tow me somewhere, but I ask "where" at 2am??? I ask them to locate a 24 hour service who can send someone out to troubleshoot my problem. Don from Advanced Mobile Tire, Inc. arrived at my location around 3:20am.......he quickly determined that the starter was getting a weak signal....only about 3 volts.....not nearly enough to turn the big Detroit Diesel over, so we removed the existing trigger wire and ran a new one down to the starter, and what do you started right up. He had us back on the road by 4am, and we arrived in Kingman around 5am......I ended up sleeping around 2 1/2 hours.....not what I had "planned".....haha!
We got up and got dressed around 7:30am and went into the Cracker Barrel for a great breakfast and lots of coffee. We were on the road by 8:30 headed east into the sun. Our destination for Saturday was Gallup, NM. We took a 30 minute break in Flagstaff, and then pushed on down I-40....the weather was great....crystal clear skies and a slight tail wind.
By the way, this is the first trip we have pulled our new car hauler trailer with the T-Bird in it and it has pulled great so far!

Flagstaff rest stop....

With the trailer we are 60' long now.....

Our distance on Saturday was 327 miles.....I really don't like driving too much more than 300 miles a day, so this was within my comfort zone. I was planning....there's that "p" word fuel up in Albuquerque, but I hadn't accounted for the extra weight of the trailer and car. We were about 30 miles out from Gallup and I had to give in and get fuel as it appeared we were down to less than a 1/16th of a tank...maybe 11 gallons.....not a good idea to temp the gas gods so about the time I was getting concerned we saw a sign for "Speedy's", and a price of $2.91 per gallon....almost 40 cents lower than Ontario, so we exited and I took $500 into the cashier for pump #29 expecting to leave most of that with her after tank takes 180 gallons and I expected, based on where the needle was, to put in close to 170. Well, to my pleasant surprise the pump clicked off at 143 gallons! Looks like the gauge is a little off as I must have had close to 37 gallons left....hmmmm....I could have made it to Albuquerque.

We finished fueling up and got back on I-40 for the final 19 miles into Gallup, NM and USA RV Park. This is a great park, and is a totally family run operation. They really provide great customer service, and do everything in their power to make sure your stay meets your expectations. In addition to all that the WiFi signal was amazing on the back row where we parked for the night....very fast considering how full the park was.
USA RV Park, Site 86

Watching the sun set.....

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Land of Enchantment here we come.....

Today is Wednesday, and in two days we depart on our next Newell adventure to Santa Fe, New Mexico. There is a lot of history in that area, and I've wanted to visit there for years, so, needless to say, we are very excited to, at last, be embarking on a trip to that destination. We'll leave about 8pm tomorrow evening......avoiding the heat of the day to get over Cajon Pass, and into the Mojave Desert. Our first destination will be Kingman, AZ where we plan to overnight at the Cracker Barrel Restaurant, then on to Gallup, NM on Saturday, and finally arriving in Santa Fe on Sunday around is about 812 miles one way and I-40 will take us through some spectacular country to Albuquerque where we will pick up I-25 north to Santa Fe, NM.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Walking Tour of Ventura RV Park and Southbound on Highway 101

September 5, 2010

A Walking Tour of Ventura RV Park
Ventura, CA

Drive south from Pismo Beach

to Ventura in the Thunderbird with the top down

Ventura - Day 2

Sunday morning dawned with an even thicker marine layer than the day before. Our plan, and like all plans eventually meets reality, was to ride south on PCH to Oxnard, and back...about 24 miles in all. The day before Elaine's rear tire had gone flat. This is a continuation of a problem encountered over a month ago when we rode several miles on a bike path that apparently had a lot of thorns and stickers which eventually ended up in our tires. Elaine's tires being older than mine, are a little thinner, and more suceptable to puncture....well another thorn we had missed punctured her tube again on this morning only about 2 miles south of the RV park. The picture below was taken just south of the Ventura pier immediately after I had repaired her tire again. While repairing the tube I discovered a large slice in her tire which made riding so far really a bad idea with such a badly damaged tire, so we turned around and determined to just take a short tour of downtown Ventura and share some pictures with our readers. Ventura is really a quaint oceanside community, and we always enjoy our visits here several times a year.

Just after repairing Elaine's tube....

The Ventura pier as it disappears into the overcast.....

Statue of Father Serra....he built 21 missions along the California coast

The beautiful Ventura City Hall....formerly a county courthouse

The current incarnation of the Ventura Mission....the original site and mission were/are to the left of this current building. The original mission no longer exists.

The view from south of the mission

Looking eastward on Main Street....Ventura old town

After returning from our brief jaunt around downtown Ventura we lowered the top on the Thunderbird and headed north on Highway 101 toward Pismo Beach to have lunch. Once we escaped the vortex of Ventura the sky turned blue and the temperature rose into the low 70's. It turned out to be a great day for a 200 mile drive with the top down.

We had lunch at "Steamers" in Pismo Beach

We arrived in Pismo around 3pm for a late lunch at Steamers.....this reastaurant for many, many decades was known as Trader Nick's......we used to eat there when we stayed at the Kon Tiki Inn (see picture below) on our numerous trips there in the 70's and 80's. This was a favorite destination of my father.

Our view from the restaurant

The ever lovely Elaine.....waiting for lunch

We have stayed here many times over the years...

A late 1980's wide body Newell

On our way home from Pismo Elaine spied another Newell (man she has got good eyes...she was driving at the time and saw it.....I did not see it until she pointed it out) parked along the beach just north of Carpenteria. The owners were not in at the time, so I took a couple of pictures. This coach is in beautiful condition, and shows obvious pride of ownership.

We arrived back in Ventura to the heavy, cold marine layer just in time to light a fire and settle in for a relaxing evning.

My view.............