Sunday, September 30, 2012

Trying to avoid cliches

It would be easy just to type in the subject line "SHOW ME", but, of course, most of you would know I was making a corny, cliched reference to Missouri aka: The Show Me State, however, I just couldn't bring myself to slip into cliche mode one more time.

It rained on and off most of Friday night, and into the early morning hours of Saturday.  We had wanted to depart Lincoln, AR and our friends John and Cathy around 10am, but around 9am it was still raining, and the forecast indicated it might continue on, and off for several more hours, so we just bit the bullet and began preparations for lift off.  When I had finished rolling up the electrical cords I had used to plug in to John's home we went in and said our goodbyes, and then got in the coach to begin the very slow, and careful egress from their property.  My biggest concern was transitioning through the driveway to the gravel road without putting the trailer in the ditch, and, of course, we were successful.

Within a  few minutes we were on US 62 east bound toward Fayettville and I-580 north into Missouri.  By the time we reached Fayettville around 30 minutes later it had stopped raining the roads were very dry.  The Interstate does not go all the way to the Missouri border, and changes to US 71 for the last 40 miles up to I-44, but it still felt like Interstate most of the time, except when we hit an occasional signal.

Around Noon time we merged on to I-44 and continued eastward.  Our destination this day was Springfield, OH where we planned to dry camp at either the local Walmart, or at the Cracker Barrel, however, when we stopped at a rest stop to take a break TLE noticed that the carpet on my side of the bed was wet......hmmmm?  It turned out the water was coming out of the cabinet below the TV, but we could not figure out where it was coming from.  There were no plumbing leaks.  We figure that while we were parked at John's that somehow rain water infiltrated into that area of the coach.  We were kind of at a weird angle in back and I think somehow the water was sitting on top somewhere and found a way in.  This happened several years ago when we were at a soccer tournament where it rained a quite hard during the night and we found the carpet around the drivers seat was soaking wet.  Then, too, we were sitting at a funny angle due to the slope of the parking lot.  It has never recurred, and we have been in some very torrential downpours in the 8 months we have been on the road.  We put a few of our beach towels down and sopped up the water, and made the decision that we needed to be in an RV park this night where we could plug in and keep our fan blowing air on the carpet to help it dry out faster.  We found a small park just past Springfield in Strafford, MO (Strafford RV Park) which had a perfect overnight site for us for $20 and got parked around 2pm.  I first got out the shop vac and pulled what water remained out of the carpet, then set up the fan.  By the time we went to bed it was almost completely dry.  This morning I turned on the gas furnace in the bedroom that has a vent that blows right on the damp area, and that finished the job over a couple of hours.

After we got settled and had the fan going we walked down to the local Harter House Super Market, a local regional chain, and did some shopping.  By the time we got back it was time for some college football, and the Ryder Cup.

It was a pretty routine day, and a small surprise in the form of the wet carpet, but that is life whether you live in a sticks and bricks home, or in a motor coach....stuff happens, and you deal with it.  We'll keep an eye on that area to see if we get water in again.  Once we get to Campbellsville I'll spend some time inspecting the roof and that side of the coach looking for a way that water could have infiltrated.

Another point of interest is that tomorrow, September 30th marks the end of 8 months on the road for us.  

That was our Saturday....on to St. Louis tomorrow!  Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

I know Jack.....

Jack McAuliffe - I probably should have used the flash!

TLE and I had a chance to spend time with Jack McAuliffe Friday afternoon.  He founded New Albion Brewing Company in Sonoma, CA in October, 1976.  From Wikipedia

"Jack built a three-level brewhouse, so it was all gravity fed: hot liquor on top, down to the mash tun…It was all homemade, a copper tube cooler that Jack made all by himself. Primary fermentation was in four open drums; we kept them in an air conditioned room, then after five to seven days, we racked the beer into 55 gallon drums on their sides with little fermentation locks.
“From there, once the beer settled, another week or two, we would pump it through – believe it or not, a beer meter. We had to have a beer meter and this one came out of a Hamms brewery or somewhere like that. The beer would go into a ‘bottling tank’ – another 55 gallon drum with a three spout siphon filler.
“We had a hand crowner and then the bottles went on to a labeler. Jack had rebuilt a 1910 semi-automatic labeler. You’d press a foot pedal and these arms would come flying out with the label on them. You sort of got out of the way stuck the labeled bottle somewhere or other..." 

Unfortunately, Jack could never get weekly production above 7.5 barrels due to lack of finances, and a larger facility.  Every bottle of pale ale, porter and stout sold out quickly, but he never was able to turn a profit, and brewed his last barrel of beer in November of 1982.  He left the craft beer scene for good, but his influence continues to this day.  Ken Grossman, the founder of Sierra Nevada Brewing Company has produced as part of their 30 year celebration a "Jack and Ken's Ale" based on a barleywine ale produced by New Albion in collaboration with Jack as a tribute to Jack McAuliffe's influence.  Additionally, within the next few weeks Boston Brewing Company ( Samuel Adams) will also be brewing to Jack's recipe his original New Albion Pale Ale using the original yeast that has been preserved since 1977 at U.C. Davis in California.

Jack was involved in a terrible auto accident a few years ago that almost took his life, and left his left arm useless.  He walks slowly, and moves slowly, but that smile, and sense of humor are still there.  The picture above was taken Friday night at a local brew pub called Tanglewood Branch Brew Company.  He is holding a plaque which has the original artwork for New Albion.

Currently he is building a small home on the property of a good friend of mine from college.  The work is going slowly, but Jack is doing it by himself, just like he did back in 1976.  He took time give us a tour and went into detail about the "green" systems he is installing to make cooling, and heating his new home efficient and inexpensive.

Later that afternoon we headed in Fayettville for happy hour again at West Mountain Brewing Company, and then eventually hooked up with Jack and John's wife, Cathy, at Tanglewood.

Tomorrow, Saturday, we again roll our wheels north and east toward St. Louis, and then by Wednesday we will turn the key off for two months in Campbelleville.

Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, September 28, 2012

Local Knowledge.....

Our host, John, had e-mailed us several days ago about where he was going to take us site seeing, so I was excited as Thursday dawned a little rainy again.  We would start the day with breakfast tacos, and then head into Bentonville to tour Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art.  The museum was founded by Alice Walton, of Walmart Fame.  Of course, Bentonville is the home of Walmart, and where Sam Walton opened the first Walton 5 &10 cent store back in 1950.  The Walton Family Foundation provides significant funding to the museum.  Admission is free, and you are treated to art created by over 400 American artists.  

I was most impressed with the 18th and 19th century art, which consisted mostly of paintings, including two well known paintings of George Washington.....the one below was done when he was younger.

And the one below was done when he was older, and is perhaps the image of George Washington with which we are most familiar.  The artist was Gilbert Stuart.

This just one of dozens of paintings that captivated me.  The amount of detail in these paintings is just amazing!

Below is the iconic painting by Norman Rockwell of "Rosie the Riveter" which has an amazing amount of symbolism.....painted during WWII.

John took our picture at the end of our 1.5 hour tour, which, frankly, could have taken all day.  You need to visit this museum more than once to take it all in.

After the museum we were off to downtown Bentonville, and the home of Walmart.

Here is the iconic storefront that began the legend of Sam Walton.  From 1950 when this store was opened through the end of 2010 the store went from zero to $405,000,000 in annual earnings.  Whether, or not you like, or hate Walmart, the story is amazing.

Sam Walton's 1979 Ford F150 4X4 that he drove to work every day for a couple of decades.

After touring the Walton 5 & 10 store we went next door for lunch at The Station Cafe where we had what is reputed to be the best steak burger in Northwest Arkansas for lunch.

After lunch went a few blocks over to the Museum of Native American History which we thoroughly enjoyed, and, in fact, so much I forgot to take any pictures.  After spending an hour there we meandered back to Fayettville to stop for happy hour at West Mountain Brewing Company where we tried a few pints of their Mexican Mole Stout, which was great.  They have happy hour every day from 4-6pm when draft beer is $2/pint!

It was a very full day of site seeing, and, frankly, I loved every part of it, including the great vegetable quiche prepared by Cathy for dinner.

Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Can you spell SERENDIPITY?

Around 10:45am on Wednesday we began backing out from our spa like spot at Jeff and Pam's to head northeast into Arkansas on US 62.  Before we left I had wiped off the front windshield, and I had no sooner walked back inside the coach than it started raining.  Why does always rain right after I spend a few hours washing the coach?  Why?  Of course it stopped, so I went back out and wiped the water off the windshield again.  We had no sooner gotten on the freeway than it started raining again, and, of course it rained all the way to Lincoln, AR, and rained for several hours after we stopped, but, of course, as usualy, I get WAAAY ahead of myself.

The drive over US 62 into Arkansas was uneventful, with the exception of the rain all the way, which spoiled by wash job I had spent parts of two days washing and polishing up.  The first part of our 69 mile drive was smooth, divided highway, but about 35 miles out from Lincoln the highway became two way, and the terrain became very hilly, and windy.  There were a few tense moments as we met semi's coming the opposite direction on, of course, tight curves, but we prevailed and arrived at John and Cathy's home around 12:30pm in a light drizzle.  I have known John since my college days.....he was in the class of '70, and I was in the class of '71, and this is where the amazing serendipity this day comes in.

Right next to the horse shoe pit!!

As you know, if you read my blog on a regular basis, TLE and I both are into craft beer wherever we can find it.  In fact, our host, John, had plans to take us into Fayettville, AR to visit a couple of micro breweries while we are visiting.  What I did not know is that John is married to the sister of John McAuliffe, the father of craft brewing.  The Washington Post calls him "one of the most significant figures in United States brewing history".  Well, TLE and I met Jack McAuliffe on Wednesday....he lives on the property owned by John and Cathy.  On Friday we will spend time with Jack talking a little about his part in the Craft Beer industry, and about some of his current projects.  I still cannot believe our serendipity!

After getting our coach parked on John and Cathy's property I took care of some business, while John went into town for a few rained steadily the rest of the afternoon with the sun finally coming out just before sundown.  We had a delightful Chili dinner along with a bottle of Zinfandel Wine on the patio and stat talking until almost 10pm.

A nice day full of surprises, and serendipity to be sure. Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012


Typically I spend 30-40 minutes a day on my insurance work, but occasionally a day comes when all the "stars" seem to line up and I get busy for several hours.  Tuesday was one of those days, but it was easy duty sitting at my computer enjoying the view while working away making a little money.

But, again, I get ahead of myself......around 8:15am Jeff and Pam took us to breakfast at Paul's Diner, a local institution.  I remembered passing Paul's on the way in to their home.  At noon on Monday the parking lot was packed, and apparently it is packed like that for every meal, because when we arrived at 8:30 the parking lot was full.  Jeff and Pam heartily recommended Paul's Trash Can, which essentially has everything in it, and comes with sausage gravy, and a gigantic biscuit with a bowl of gravy.....certainly more than one person can eat in one sitting.  

After returning from breakfast around 10:30 I got ready for a conference call at 11 (9am Pacific Time) with a long time customer to take care of a new policy for his wife.   That call took about an hour, and then I had to issue  a number of insurance certificates for a couple of my customers.  By the time I was done it was mid afternoon, and time to finish washing the other half of the coach.

I was hoping the sun would be behind clouds, or on the other side of the coach, but no luck was hot, and no shade....around 94.....humid, and, fortunately, windy.  It took me about an hour and a half to finish washing the coach and trailer.  Now it looks all shiny and clean again.  I don't think I've done this thorough a wash since Vancouver.

Jeff got home from work around 5:30pm to join us "retired" folk in the barn for more great Newell stories, and around 7pm we decided to head over to Buffalo Wild Wings in Muskogee for dinner.  We ordered 74 wings "naked" and then about 10 different sauces to dip them in.  We've never been to "Wings" before, but I thoroughly enjoyed the wings and the very tasty dipping sauces....spicy garlic being my favorite.  If you are into sports the 2 dozen TV's in dining area will keep you up to date on every sporting event being played.

When we returned home the air was still, and very muggy.  We talked for a while in the kitchen then decided to let Jeff, the only gainfully employed person in the room, get to bed around 10:30pm.  Ultimately around 1:30pm I turned on the front A/C to cool down the coach, and dry out the air.....haven't had to do that since Florida.  Fortunately it appears that the temperatures will be moderating into the 70's by the weekend, and we may even get some rain.

That was our to Arkansas tomorrow.......thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Separation anxiety

We love changing our view.  It is that love of the view change that attracted us to this fulltime lifestyle.  We have created a home......and it is our home.....that has wheels and can be moved at our whim.  We don't have to put out a "For Sale" sign on our home in order to change our view.......we just turn the ignition key and move our home to another real estate agents, no escrows, no mortgage to negotiate.  The only negotiation we engage in is between TLE and I.....Where do "we" want to be tomorrow?  What do we want to see tomorrow?  Who do we want to meet?  

Our new view

Through our Newell user group website (Newell Gurus) we have met a number of Newell owners who have at some point invited us to visit them on our travels.  One such couple are Jeff and Pam who own a beautiful 1996 Newell 45' coach, and live near Muskogee, OK on 5 acres.  Since Jeff's parents also fulltime, like us, they have constructed a long concrete pad with full hookups including 50 amp electrical service and is about 20' from their back yard swimming pool and patio.  If only most RV park owners would construct a single site within their park like this I don't mean 20' from the pool....I mean a level concrete pad with the hookups exactly where anyone, regardless of RV length, could easily access all three hookups (electric, water and sewer).  Too often the sewer connection ends up being 25-30' away from the RV sewer connection, which has been the case for us 90% of the time.  OK, I apologize for the rant!  

Hookups in just the right position!

Of course, as usual, I get way ahead of myself.  We got up around 7am on Monday and began preparations to depart from Riverview RV Park in Sand Springs and meander down the road 67 miles to Muskogee, OK to visit Jeff and Pam.  I did my usual walk around of the coach and trailer and took time to inspect that left rear trailer tire that has been looking sketchy for the last 500 miles.  I decided to jack it up and take it off to get a better look.....well, once I could look at the tread head on it was obvious to me the tread was separating.....not as bad as the one I replaced in Forks, WA, but it well  was on it's way.  Once I saw the true condition of the tire I went in and told TLE I was taking it over to the local Firestone store, about 2 miles away, and getting it replaced before we moved another point in rolling the dice one more time.  The guys at Firestone jumped on the job immediately and I was back in my car on my way home within 15 minutes of my arrival and it only cost me $125 for a lot of peace of mind.  I quickly re-installed the wheel on the trailer, and used my torque wrench to apply 90 foot pounds of torque to the lugs.

We easily backed out of our spot and made a beeline for the propane station where Ray, the owner, put in 41 gallons of propane at $2.52/ of the cheapest prices we have paid on our journey.  Now we're set until after our Amazon gig for propane.

After settling up with Ray we headed back down to US412 and began our southeast trek to retrospect, I am really glad we didn't drive this section at the end of a travel day.  The drive through and around Tulsa was modestly harrowing as we changed freeways no less than 7 times wending our way around this large town, and passed through several construction zones.  Finally we found ourselves on the Muskogee Expressway, aka: toll road.  We ended up paying $3.25 in tolls for about 35 miles of marginally maintained toll road.  Before we knew it we were exiting the toll road at Peak.  As we neared our hosts home we saw balloons on a sign post with a special sign just for us informing us that the Newell Rally required a right turn at that street, and then a second set of balloons and sign welcomed "Clarke and Elaine"......we immediately felt welcome.  

After meeting our hosts for the first time in person we got our coach parked and hooked up for our two day stay.  After doing some insurance work I decided to wash half the coach....the part in the shade, and then do the rest Tuesday.  We have suddenly entered into a more HUMID zone again....I've been spoiled with the dry air the past few weeks.....while it is not very hot, it is noticeably more humid.

The clean side of the coach.....

Great country view!

We spent a pleasant evening talking before, during and after a wonderful meal prepared by Pam and eventually retired to our sleeping quarters (our "home") around 10:30.  We love our view change, and getting to know Jeff and Pam.  

That was our Monday!  Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Errand day

I awoke to rain drops on the roof around 4am Sunday, I never get tired of that sound.  Elaine said it had been sprinkling on and off most of the night, but I didn't hear it until 4am.  Nothing like sound sleep, huh?  It continued to sprinkle off and on until about 10am when the clouds parted, and the sun came out. 

We really had no big plans for Sunday.....TLE would do some reading and I would watch the NFL, but first we both needed haircuts, and I had located a Supercuts just a mile away back where we got off US412, right next to the Walmart, so we headed over around 10am to get our cuts, and then over to the Walmart to do some shopping.  We were back "home" around Noon, and just in time for the start of football.

I puttered around while watching the first round of games, which included me going up on the roof to clean the solar panels, and also utilizing my new can of chrome polish to shine up the chrome exhaust of the DD and the generator.  I had to go up on the roof a couple of days ago because the satellite dish would not stow properly and noticed how dirty the panels were getting, so I took a micro fiber towel and some Windex up and cleaned them off.  We haven't relied on them since Rock Springs, and we will be plugged in from now until October 2nd when we make our last two day dash to Campbellsville from St. Louis.  Today we are headed south around 65 miles to visit our Newell friends Ron and Pam in Muskogee, OK.  They have offered full hookups with 50 amp service.  We are really looking forward to meeting them in person for the first time.  We became acquainted on the Newell user group site, and I have been friends with Pam on Facebook for over a year.  They have a much newer Newell...a 1996 Newell 45' coach, which they use a lot.  They are also big Oklahoma Sooner fans so they may still be in mourning after their upset loss to Kansas State on Saturday evening.....I know I would be.  In fact, I haven't gotten over USC's loss to Stanford, an unranked team, 2 Saturdays ago.

On the NFL front, the games continued to be marred by the officiating skill of the replacement officials.  I know they are doing the best they can, and if they were top level officials they would already be in the NFL, but they are not.  It just seems like virtually every play requires some sort of review upstairs, and the number of on field decisions that are reversed is startling, and certainly does not give the players, or coaches any confidence they are getting even decent officiating.  The Sunday night game between the Ravens and Patriots was marred by controversy, and ended in controversy when the winning field goal by the Ravens appeared to, from some angles,  go over the top of the right cross bar upright.

Controversial ending

We'll be leaving Sand Springs Monday around 10am to drive down to Muskogee where we will spend a couple of days, then on to Lincoln, AR to visit college friends for 3 days.  

That was our Sunday.....thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

No Reservations

Our travel style for some time now has been NO RESERVATIONS,  and it has worked well for us.  We don't like being committed to be anywhere at any specific time, and if we make reservations in advance it means we may miss another opportunity, because we're supposed to be somewhere at a given time.  Originally we were going to dry camp in the Super Walmart in Sand Springs on our way to Muskogee, OK to visit friends, but it appeared it would be hot....well, hot for us...high 80's, so we located an RV park that looked like it could handle our size and put the address in our GPS and rolled the wheels.  

We left Newton, KS around 9:15am and continued south on I-135 toward Wichita.  Eventually, just southwest of Wichita we picked up I-35, which in Kansas is a toll road.  For the stretch of I-35 that took us within 16 miles of the Oklahoma border it cost $3.75.....not too bad.  The drive south into Oklahoma was sort of up and down, continuing the trend from the day before, but the highway was smooth, and we continued to have a tail wind....this time from the north.

As we crossed into Oklahoma around 10:50am we knew we would be merging on to US 412, which is also a toll road, and that the tail wind would probably become a cross wind, which it did.  On US 412 we went to two toll booths and paid out $6.50 total in tolls for about 40+ miles of toll road, which was not in very good condition.

Unlike other days the only time the coach stopped moving forward was to stop and pay a toll.  We did not utilize any rest stops.   Amazingly, I drove the entire 194 miles to Sand Springs non-stop, which is not something I like to do.

We exited US 412 around 12:55 and headed south on HWY 64 a mile, or so, and then west a 1/2 mile on HWY 51 to Riverview RV Park.  This park is located on a hill above HW 51, and has a nice view of the Arkansas River, looking back north to downtown Sand Springs.

We arrived, of course, unannounced at the that I mean NO RESERVATIONS.  The owner was not in his office, so I walked around the park and found an open 65 foot pull through spot, which was the ONLY spot open.....of course, this is Saturday, and that is to be expected.  So we pulled into the pull through spot (#22) and just plugged in the electrical, waiting for the owner to return and let us know if we could stay in that spot.  Well, the owner returned around 3pm, and came over and rang our door bell.....yes, the Newell does have an actual door bell!  Ray, the owner, is a very polite guy, and apologized profusely for not being in when we arrived.  He advised us that he did have someone coming in around midnight Saturday night who had reserved #22, but, the good news is he did have a spot for us....not a regular site with a concrete pad, but a spot where we could plug in to 50 amp, hook up our water, and close enough to a sewer connection to dump when we needed to, if we needed to.  Because it was not a regular spot he discounted the daily price to $20....a $5 savings per day. the move was easily accomplished in about 10 minutes, and we were set up again quckly, and will be here for two days.

The space Ray found for us....not perfect, but perfect for no reservations!

After getting ourselves organized we hopped in the T'Bird and drove 8 miles into Tulsa to have dinner at James E. McNellie's Public House on 1st...just a few short blocks off US 412.  McNellie's has 58 great beers on tap.  You can see about half of them in the picture below.  TLE had a pint of "Left Hand Milk Stout", and I had a pint of Fuller London Porter along with Fish and Chips, which were to die for.  Very cool place in an area of town that has a lot of old red brick buildings that are being re-purposed into pubs, coffee houses, delis, book stores etc.  Very cool area of town.

We ate our meal at the bar as there was a 25 minute wait for a table.  While we were eating a lady named Caroline sat down to order food, also, and we struck up a conversation.  She is Energy Engineer working on some natural gas projects in the the Tulsa area.  Very interesting lady, and she was in turn fascinated by our life style, and had dozens of questions.

After our meal we headed out to walk around the area for a few blocks to get a feel for the area.  There are a number of cool places we would like to check out if we were going to be here a week.  

We arrived back at our "home" just at sunset.  Another great day of travel and a great evening exploring downtown Tulsa.

Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Inching Eastward....

My father, Art, who passed on in 1978 at the age of 54, loved SNAP-E TOM Tomato and Chile Cocktail, and whenever I can find it I buy it, because, father like son, I love it too.  It has become harder and harder to find it in Southern California.  When we were living at Rancho Jurupa Regional Park for a year we found it at the local Stater Brothers Supermarket in Rubidoux, CA.  On our 7.5 month journey we have found it once, or twice, but not for several months now.  BUT, yesterday before we departed Russell, KS we decided to take a walk, which we need to do, over to the local IGA Market (Independent Grocers Association), not necessarily to buy anything, but it was a nice turnaround point for our 3.2 mile walk.  TLE always goes to the juice isle first to see if they have SNAP-E TOM, and what do you know, they did.....I was not expecting that in Russell, KS.  Well, of course we picked up 6 cans for the road.  If you've never had it you should try it!

We returned from our 3.2 mile walk around 9:50am, and after TLE took her shower we got on the road around 10:15 and continued our eastward trek to Salina, KS where we left I-70 and picked up I-135 south toward Wichita, KS.  We continued to lose elevation, and at the end of the day got down to 1,600'.  The temperatures are a little warmer in south Kansas....high 80's, than they were back in Russell, but the air is dry, and you can feel Fall in the air.  

We began to notice a change in the terrain as we moved south from flat farm land to rolling hills with much more forestation.  We had a slight cross wind for the first 70 miles into Salina, but when we turned south it became a tail wind again!  Love that tail wind!  On this day we had only traveled 127 miles when we exited at Newton, KS around 1:30pm.  We did stop once about 30 miles into the day to wash the windshield (which I had forgotten)......we were driving into the sun the first part of the day, and the bugs who had committed suicide on our windshield the day before were making it difficult to see.  One thing we have noticed about Kansas rest stops is they all, so far, have had free dump stations.  So many states have closed   dump stations at most, if not all of their rest stops in the Interstates.

Our travel day was brief because I had some work that needed to get done.  We dropped anchor at Payne Oil RV Park.....another kind of funky place, but for $20, and full hookups with 50amp it was great....both A/C's were humming for a few hours until it cooled down, plus TLE did a couple of loads of wash, so the 50amps came in very handy.  For dinner TLE made me the best Tacos ever!  I am always amazed what she can do in a small kitchen.  I enjoyed my Taco dinner whilst watching American Pickers.....a show I have come to really enjoy....I find myself looking for "Rusty Gold" wherever I am.

We'll be moving south Saturday to Sand Springs, OK where we will sit for a couple of days just outside of Tulsa before heading down to Muskogee, OK to visit fellow Newell owners Ron and Pam, who have offered full hookups.

I guess today is the first day of Fall, and there is a cold east wind blowing as I write....thanks for stopping by!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Definitely Kansas

When we stopped for the day Wednesday we were only around 34 miles from the Kansas border.....not that you could tell......the terrain looks the same 34 miles into Kansas as it did 34 miles west of the border.  

We decided to "pay the rent" Thursday as we were going to get 5 cents off per gallon at the Conoco.  I figured we would need around 120 gallons, and what do you know?  We put in 119.2 gallons....the rent came to $496 and change.  One important thing that we discovered was that we averaged 8.02 mpg on the 119 gallons we consumed over the last 1,000 miles.  That's about 1.5 mpg improvement.  Prior to that we had been averaging 6.5.  A 1.5 mpg increase adds 270 miles to our 180 gallon tank....that's a big difference!

We are definitely in Kansas!

We got on the Interstate around 8:30am with 217 miles of travel in front of us.  Throw in mostly flat Interestate, a tailwind of about 13 mph, and 1500' loss in elevation and you have an ideal travel day.  I just set the cruise control on 60 mph, held on to the steering wheel and sang along to a great 60's playlist on XM Radio.....I even heard TLE singing along on occasion. The rest stops were spaced nicely at about 70 miles apart, so we stopped twice to take short walks, and stretch our legs.  

We crossed into Kansas around 9:10am......actually, and we discovered this later, it was 10:10am....we also entered into Central Time.  The interesting thing about western Kansas is that right along with corn fields as far as the eye can see, you also see oil rigs interspersed throughout the fields.  I had no idea this was an oil rich area.

We arrived in Russell, KS around 2pm Central time, and were quickly escorted to our 90 foot pull through spot, which included full hookups, cable TV, free WiFi, and 50 amps.  We ran the front A/C for a while until the sun moved further to the west.  I did some insurance work, while TLE read her book, and caught up on a couple of episodic TV shows on her Ipad.

These are everywhere.....

Around 6:30pm we walked over to Fossil Station Pizzeria and Pub for their salad/pizza bar and a couple of pints of draft Amberbock.  The meal was good, but the sunset was spectacular!

Tomorrow we head south and east into the heart of Kansas.  Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

We're not in Kansas.....YET!

Our last Colorado sunset for a while....

Wednesday morning was much warmer than Tuesday.  When I went out around 6am I could fee a balmy breeze coming off the Front Range.  Since this was the middle of a work week....for others, certainly not for us, we did not want to get on I-70 through Metro Denver during rush hour, so we took a 3 mile round trip walk out toward the dam and back before hoisting anchor once again.  Next year I think we'll spend more time at this park.....there is so much to do right in the park, let alone every where else in the Denver area.

Even though we did not hit the Denver metro area until after 10am it was still more traffic than I like, however, within a hour we were well into the east Colorado plains, and very light traffic.  It would have been a perfect day, except for the strong cross wind coming from the north.  Normally the prevailing wind is west to east, but we got north to south this day.  Thankfully we were only moving 157 miles east to Stratton, CO.  We stopped twice at rest areas, and at the second one I took a nap.....after all we had all afternoon to travel the last 70 miles, and after fighting the cross wind for a couple of hours I was ready for a nap.  I'm glad I did, because when I awoke from my hour nap the wind had dropped off a lot....still there, but not as obnoxious as earlier.  

We arrived in Stratton, CO around 2:30pm, and quickly paid for a spot at Marshall Ash Village and Conoco Station.  We got full hookups for $17 courtesy our Passport America discount, which included cable TV, WiFi and 50amps of juice.  This is not a place you would spend a week at, but perfect for an overnight.  A bonus is you get 5 cents per gallon off if you fuel  up at the Conoco, which is part of the facility.....I think it may be time to pay the rent!

After hooking up the power, water and sewer, and doing some insurance work it was after 5pm.  It was nice to be back on the road, and this is the first of 5 consecutive travel days for us.  We will end up in Muskogee, OK where we will land for a couple of days visiting some more Newell owners, and then up to Lincoln, AK (only 66 miles away from Muskogee) to visit another old college friend for 3 days, and then 2 days of travel up to St. Louis to visit family for 2 days, then 2 more days of travel to Campbellsville, KY.  We'll arrive there on my birthday, October 3rd, and have 5 days to settle in before we begin our Amazon orientation starting October, I'm getting tired just looking at what I typed.  Seriously, though I love driving the Newell, and it never seems much like work, except when we get a cross wind like yesterday.  Off to Russell, KS tomorrow, Thursday!

Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012


Sunrise Wednesday

You know, JELLO as in "plans written in"?  We had planned to drive back into Denver Tuesday to tour the Molly Brown House, but decided around 8am it didn't make sense to drive 40 miles round trip to see one thing.  You will remember that the Denver Mint was booked up Monday and Tuesday.   

So, we decided to stay in camp....TLE wanted to do some deep cleaning with the vacuum, and I got out my mountain bike and spent about an hour and half riding about 10 miles of the single track that is available within the park.  I thought initially that it would be mostly flat riding, but it was anything but.  A lot of up and down, and a couple of rocky technical sections that tested my skill set.  There are probably 20+ miles of single track in this park, and it is hard pack most of the time so you can cover a lot of ground fast.

After I returned I got out the new grease gun I purchased at Autozone on Monday while we were in Denver and lubed the bearings on the trailer wheels.....the dust caps on each wheel have a grease fitting just under the rubber cap that makes it easy to apply the grease.  Next I installed the new couplers on the new sewer hose I had bought a few weeks ago, so now I can run the sewer line up to 25' if need be.  There have been a few occasions when I could have used the extra 10'.  With our 62' length we are sometimes forced to park the coach too far forward in many pull through sites to reach the sewer connection with our original 15'.  I took care of a few other chores, and then, for the first time on our trip put of the sun screen that attaches to the patio awning.  In our spot we are getting an afternoon sun on the passenger side of our coach, which faces west.  We were expecting some Newell friends, David and Denise, from Denver to come over for cocktails around 4pm, and without the sunshade there would be no shade.  The temp was only in the high 70's, but the Denver sun at this altitude can be very intense.

By the time I got the sunshade up it was time to take a shower and welcome our guests.  We met David and Denise at our first Newell Mini Rally in Austin, TX back in April of 2009.  We hit it off immediately, and then got together again at another Mini Rally in Creede, CO.  When we were in Santa Fe, NM in October of 2010 the drove down from Denver and spent a couple of days.  It has been almost 2 years since we got together, but it seemed just like a few weeks.  We sat and talked non-stop for over 3 hours.  They are still getting over their trip to Europe...still waking up in the morning around 4am, and by 7:30pm they were getting drowsy so we bid them adieu until our next meeting, which we hope will be in Cedar Key this coming January!

Wednesday is get away day.....we will head around 155 miles east to Stratton, CO, and then into Kansas on Thursday.  Just a few weeks until we start punching a clock, literally, at in Campbellsville, KY.  We have loved our three days here at Bear Creek Lake Park, and will definitely come here again when we are in the area.  This is a very comfortable park, and we highly recommend it.  The only limitation is there is no water, or sewer at the sites, but there are several fresh water stations, and a dump station, which we, like most who come in, utilized on our way in on Sunday.

Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, September 17, 2012

The Best Laid Plans....

We had a good start to our day with a 3.5 mile walk around Bear Creek Lake Park.  The temperature was in the low 50's as we started our walk, and ended with sprinkles just as we entered the coach.

After talking with our friends who had just returned from Europe yesterday, we decided we would drive into Denver and visit the Federal Mint, as well as Molly Brown's home that is now a museum.  I am sure many of you have heard of the Unsinkable Molly Brown.  She survived the sinking of the Titanic, and was a well known Denver socialite, and activist.  Before we headed for both of these attractions we headed for Three Lions Pub on Colfax.  This pub had amazing food...we had their Fish 'N Chips special for $7.50, and a pint of Fuller Porter.  Both were amazing, and the portions for the Fish 'N Chips were more than either of us could eat in one sitting.   While we were eating a match from the British Premier Soccer League was playing on the TV's.

Three Lions Pub on Colfax

After a thoroughly enjoyable lunch we headed directly for the Denver Federal Mint, but found out we needed reservations, so then we walked over to the Molly Brown Mansion only to find it was not open on Monday's.  

State Capitol Building being renovated

Wow, we never strike out like this....well, you know..."the best laid plans" and all that.  We decided to fuel up the T'Bird, and then head home.  As we were exiting SR470 I saw a sign indicating Red Rocks Amphitheater was not far away, so on the spur of the moment we headed to check it out.  We had heard from our friends that this famous venue has seen virtually every famous Rock Band in the last 50 years.  In the hallway of the museum they show every performance going back to 1908, and the number of famous acts that performed here is too big to recite.  Of course, probably the biggest was the Beatles who performed here on September 26, 1964.....many other notables were Allman Brothers, Santana, Beach Boys, Buddy Guy, Springsteen, Peter, Paul and Mary, Joan Baez....and on, and on it goes.

View from top row of stage

View from top row of Red Rocks Ampitheater....Denver in the background

Me half way up from stage

The Beatles performed here September 26, 1964

Look at this lineup from 1981!

 Carlos Santana's donated guitar in Red Rocks Museum

We were totally blown away by this entertainment venue.  We both were amazed we had never heard of Red Rocks, but so glad we decided to check it out......after our failed site seeing plans in Denver this cool bit of serendipity put the smile back on our collective faces.  Now we want to come back some day to actually see a concert in this amazing place.  To get to Red Rocks you must drive through the small funky town of Morrison, which we plan to revisit tomorrow afternoon.

After getting back to the coach we went on line to get reservations for the Denver Mint, but they are all booked up tomorrow, too.  Well, at least we will get to see the Molly Brown Mansion.  I spent the rest of the afternoon doing some insurance work and then took a nap.  I'm now sipping a couple of fingers of Scotch, and working on the blog with Monday Night Football in the background.....doesn't get much better, huh?

Thanks for stopping by!

Mile High

Bear Creek Lake Park

Last night, Saturday, just as we were getting ready to go to bed the wind came up.  I had thought about putting the awning down earlier, but forgot, and now at 11:30pm I had no choice.  Well, better than getting up at 2am to do it like has happened before.  Since TLE had already entered slumberland, I went out to tackle it myself, and had it down in just a few minutes.  Normally I would need TLE's help, but the direction the wind was coming from (behind the coach) made it more manageable for me.

Sunday morning dawned very overcast, and I think there was a hint of smoke in the air from a fire somewhere.  I got TLE up around 7am as we wanted to be on the road by 9am.  As we pulled out of Terry Bison Ranch I glanced down at the dash clock and saw that it was exactly 9am.....are we getting good, or what?

We quickly transitioned to I-25 south toward Denver, a scant 108 miles away, and our specific destination of Bear Creek Lake Park located near Lakewood, CO, just a short distance from downtown Denver.  Our first stop of the day, though, was the CampingWorld in Longmont, CO, about half way to Denver.  I needed a new fresh water hose, and some additional connectors for our sewer hose.  They were having a sale, and additionally we are members of the President's Club, so we got everything for around $30....normally this stuff would have cost close to $60.

The drive initially was mostly flat, and downhill as we decended from 6,000' at Terry Bison Ranch to around 5,000', but once we turned on to I-76 we were headed west and began to climb up to 6,200' again before descending to Bear Creek Lake Park just off SR470.  The park has an RV section with enormous pull throughs, and back in spots.  The back in spots look to be over 80' long, and the pull through spots are over 80'.  Since we are seniors we got the $19/day price for 50amp electric.  There is no water, or sewer, so we utilized the dump station on on way in to take our holding tanks to zero.  We had filled up with 150 gallons of fresh water at Terry Bison Ranch before we left, so we are set for 3 days here.

Last evening we visited with more college friends from back in the late 60's, early 70's, Tom and Jeanette.  They got married, like us, right out of college and have remained so for 41+ years!  We spent around 6 hours at their lovely home talking, and enjoying a great meal.

Just as we were getting ready to go to bed, again, the wind suddenly came up....this time TLE was still up, so she helped me get the awning down.  This night I am so glad we did.  Our neighbor chose not to put his awning in, and during the night it was ripped away from his trailer, and this morning it is in the trash bin.  It pays to be conservative!  That's a $1500 bill for sure.

Today we will try to hookup with friends we met through Newell ownership, David and Denise, who just returned from Europe yesterday.  Looking forward to touring around downtown Denver, and maybe tomorrow we'll head over to Golden, CO to visit Adolf Coors.

Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

A Capitol Day!

 Wyoming State Capitol Building

When we were in Cheyenne last May we stayed one night at Terry Bison Ranch, and then moved up to the Sierra Trading Post lot to overnight.  We didn't get the car out, but rode our bikes around the southeast end of town.  This time we decided we were going to drive into Cheyenne to see the State Capitol building and a couple of museums.

We left the park around 10:15 and drove straight to the Capitol building where we found a parking spot right across the street.  I did not realize that Wyoming was the first government in the world to grant women equal rights, and Esther Hobart Morris was the driving force behind that legislation.  Who would have known?  I certainly would never have known had we not made this visit.

Since the Capitol building was not open we walked about half a block over to the Wyoming State Museum.  There are two floors to the museum, and admission is free.  The exhibits that particularly intrigued me were the guns.  I love everything about the old wild west.  Below are some of the hand guns that helped tame the West.

And of course, the Winchester '73, one of the most popular repeating rifles of all time.  What I learned today was that Winchester basically took the Henry Repeater and improved upon its design.  This is probably one of the best gun collections of Western guns I have seen.

They also devoted a large section to dinosaur remains, of which Wyoming has one of the largest deposits found in the world.

Look at the size of that femur!

We spent about an hour and a half at the Wyoming State Museum, and then headed over to Sierra Trading Post to see if we could find any killer deals, but there was nothing that jumped out at us, so we next headed to the local Goodwill store where I finally found a 5 iron to carry while we are taking walks....when we were staying at Rock Creek RV Park we had a few dog incidents which made me wish I had a weapon to defend ourselves.   My preferred iron is the 3, but TLE thought the shaft was too long for her, so she picked out the Wilson 5 iron.  The cost?  .95 cents!

We then headed back to the old town area to visit the Union Pacific train museum housed in the beautifully renovated Cheyenne Train Station, but before we got in the door we noticed the Shadows Pub and Grill in the same was 1pm, and we were hungry so we decided to have lunch first, then take the museum tour.  We both ordered a pint of the Shadows Honey Rye Ale and a 14" Shadow Supreme Pizza.  We enjoyed our lunch al fresco, in fact in the picture below you can just see TLE sitting at our table.  I walked out in front to get a picture of the Pub sign.  She is off to the far right just behind the white SUV.

Shadows Pub & Grill

TLE in front of the train station

The Union Pacific Train Museum cost $5 per person if you qualify as a senior, but even at that price I thought it was a little over priced.  The museum was essentially thousands of pictures of various Union Pacific steam engines and other period pictures of the town, and railroad yard. It was interesting, but not at $10 for the two of us.  As it turned out the serendipitous discovery of the Pub was a better find than the museum!

After a short walk around the old town area we headed back to the car, and back to Terry Bison Ranch for the afternoon.  TLE needed to do a wash, and I needed a!

Tomorrow Denver!  Thanks for stopping by!