Travel Log

January 1 to December 31, 2006

Go back to 2005

 

1/1/06
(Biloxi MS)

Last night we went to the New Years Eve celebration at the clubhouse where we had a good time and even danced a bit. There were four people providing live music -- I particularly enjoyed the guy on the sax. Saxophones just make great music (Katlin take note). The Tennessee Waltz, Georgia on My Mind, Carolina Moon, and a number of other songs of the same vintage made for some great music and fun dancing. They were also trying to do at least one song from each state (don't think they accomplished that though).

As we were walking back to the motorhome shortly after 9:pm, I told Sharyn that celebrating New Years with old people has a big advantage in that we celebrated the arrival of the new year at 9:pm precisely

As early as it was when we got back tot he motorhome, we still didn't shut the light off until past one o'clock.

Anyway, we were on the road around noon today, on our way to Biloxi -- historically, one of our favorite places. Because we were so late getting started I didn't review the route the GPS plotted out when I entered our destination. I told Sharyn we'd experiment and take a chance, relying on the GPS to do it right. It did, it worked, and we are here.

Having traveled west on I-10, we were not traveling along the coastal highway, US-90, (as we usually do) until we entered Biloxi from the north. Part of the reason we did not travel and enter Biloxi on US-90 is that we knew from the TV coverage of Katrina that the mile and a half long US-90 bridge that connects Biloxi to Ocean Springs to the east had been totally destroyed.

The destruction from Katrina is absolutely overwhelming. Houses and other buildings along US-90 are pretty much not even there any longer. When we come here (the Keesler AFB FamCamp) we turn of off US-90 right by Beauvoir, the ante-bellum mansion and estate where Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederacy, spent the last years of his life. As we drove the highway I told Sharyn that it was a good thing the turn would be indicated on the GPS screen as there are basically no remaining landmarks along the highway to enable you to know where you are. The coastal destruction in Biloxi is near total.

It was our plan to spend one night here and the move on tomorrow morning. Seeing what's here, we've decided to stay tomorrow and take a number of pictures that we will post to a separate page on this site, hoping to convey, to some extent, the loss and human suffering that this place has sustained.

We are in temporary overflow area that has been set up in the FamCamp. Most, if not all, of the regular campsites are occupied by regular active duty personnel whose housing has been destroyed, and FEMA workers. After getting set up, it was just about dark, but Sharyn suggested that I drive back and take a picture of the Pirate Ship Casino that we passed in the fog on our way to the FamCamp. In Biloxi (actually in all of Mississippi) Casinos were not allowed to be built on land -- they all had to be on floating boats. We have been to the Pirate Ship Casino a number of times, but now it lays destroyed on the beach.

As an aside, I believe that since the hurricane, the Mississippi legislature has enacted legislature allowing casinos to be built on dry land.

 

Escapee's New Years Eve Party

Sax Player

Shipwrecked Pirate Ship Casino in the fog and on the beach

 

Odometer reading = 74,530
Miles for day = 101

 

 

 

1/2/06
(Biloxi MS)

We drove US-90 from Biloxi, west to Gulfport, a distance of about seven miles, taking more than 50 pictures of the damage done by Hurricane Katrina. It's pretty much like taking pictures of the Grand Canyon, or the vistas of the Kenai Peninsula in Alaska -- no matter how many or how good the pictures are, they cannot begin to convey what it was like to be there.

When we got to Gulfport we went to Barnes and Noble which is just north of I-10, and about five miles from the Gulf. There were steel shutters covering what had been the entrance and windows. One uncovered side door allowed us to peer inside. There was nothing inside -- no shelving, no books, no cafe -- nothing! Just a large dirty space. The sign said they would re-open "in early 2006."

 

Multiple photos of Katrina damage


Odometer reading = 74,530
Miles for day = 0

 

 

 

1/3/06
(Crowley LA)

After dumping our holding tanks we left Keesler FamCamp about 9:15 am. At Gulfport we got back on I-10 heading west. As I-10 gets within 30 miles of New Orleans it dips south and goes along the southern edge of Lake Pontchartrain At that point I-12 continues due west for about 85 miles to where I-10 comes back up from the south and I-12 ends. We had planed on taking I-10 down along Lake Pontchartrain to New Orleans, but as we approached the point where I-10 veered south, there was a flashing sign warning that I-10 only had one lane open ahead. We took I-12.

In Baton Rouge we stopped at a Barnes and Noble, bought a book on Photoshop CS2 (which Sharyn gave me for Christmas), had two $3 cups of coffee, and got back on the road again.

At Crowley LA we pulled into a Walmart where I watched the news while Sharyn went inside. Later, after dinner, we both went back into Walmart where we bought a few small options.

As the evening progressed three other motorhomes pulled in and parked over in the far corner by us. One was a 45' Prevost with tandem rear axles -- close to a million dollar rig. So much for the die-hard belief of some RV forum people who say the only people who stay in Walmart are those who are too cheap to pay for a campground. Somehow I doubt that Prevost guy was worried about a $20 campground fee.


Odometer reading = 74,749
Miles for day = 219

 

 

 

1/4/06 to 1/6/06
(Livingston TX)

I'm writing this on January 6 and as far as I can remember we had an uneventful trip from Crowley to Livingston.

We're at Rainbow's End, the original Escapee Park, and the headquarters of what is now a fairly extensive system of Escapee Parks. We picked up our mail for the first time in a number of months, did some end of the year bookkeeping, etc. Sharyn did the laundry.

We had planned to leave here yesterday, but last night we decided to stay for another day and take care of some housekeeping and maintenance items (including getting this site up to date). Actually, we accomplished everything on our list, including a thorough cleaning of the bathroom, washing the kitchen floor, vacuuming, checking and adding distilled water to all the batteries, tighten hardware on the pull-out pantry, defrost the refrigerator, get a haircut (Sharyn cuts my hair), etc.

Tomorrow we'll be back on the road to Quartzsite.


Odometer reading = 74,936
Miles for day = 187

 

 

 

1/7/06
(Columbus TX)

Leaving the Escapee Park in Livingston we stopped at the local Walmart for a few grocery items and then headed south to Houston where we again picked up I-10 westbound. Eventually we pulled into a tiny Walmart in the small town of Columbus, but the parking area was so small that we didn't feel we could get sufficiently out of the way, so we left and went back several miles to the previous exit where there was a Shell truck stop. The truck stop was also not too large so we asked if it would be okay for us to remain there for the night. The lady said we would be fine.

We were also unexplainably tired and went to bed at 9 o'clock. After about five minutes I told Sharyn that I was too tired to read, put down my book and turned off my light. It was only 2 or 3 minutes later that Sharyn turned off her light as well. We were both very tired.


Odometer reading = 75,092
Miles for day = 155

 

 

 

1/8/06
(Mile Marker 358)

As frequently happens, I began to awake before daylight, but the the bed was warm and I was comfortable, so I just stayed in bed, half awake and half asleep. After awhile, now more awake than asleep, I realized that Sharyn also was not really asleep. Looking at my watch and seeing that it was 4:am, I asked her what she though about getting up at 4:am.

She immediately sat up in bed and said, "if you want coffee, it's ready." It turns out that she woke up earlier and, thinking it was time to get up, got up and plugged in the coffee pot. When she then saw it was 3:am she left the coffee pot plugged in, but got back in bed.

Anyway, we got up, had our very early coffee and conversation, and were on the road by 5:am. The Exit Guide (a very useful publication that lists all the rest areas and exits along the Interstate Highway System, plus lists all the services located at each exit) indicated a rest area about 100 miles down the road so we decided to go that far and then stop for breakfast.

We pulled into that rest area at 7 o'clock and were surprised that at that hour it was still dark. While we were still in Central Standard Time, we had moved quite a distance west from Panama City FL, so daylight was coming quite a bit later than we were accustomed to. Surprisingly, twenty minutes later it was pretty much full daylight, although the sun had not yet come up over the horizon.

I don't remember just what time it was, but passing through San Antonio that early on a Sunday morning, there was basically no traffic.

When we stopped for lunch Sharyn was very tired and slept for about an hour -- I promised I would not drive away while she was sleeping (She thinks I can't drive the motorhome unless she's sitting in the right seat to assist).

I think it was about 3 o'clock when we stopped again at another rest area. This time I slept for an hour. When I woke up we decided to stay here anyway. Our goal was to do 400 miles today but we didn't make it (Bill and Cheryl will find that funny).

The dilemma now is that while we're both tired, we don't want to go to bed so early that we'll be up at 4:am again tomorrow. Our goal for tomorrow is to get as far as El Paso. For now I'm going to take a shower and get ready for bed.


Parked for the night

Looking east along I-10


Odometer reading = 75,439
Miles for day = 347

 

 

 

1/9/06
(El Paso TX)

We had a good night's sleep, not waking up until 8:30. It was kind of cold in the motorhome, but after running the generator and heat pumps for about half an hour it was warm and comfortable, but we let the generator run for an additional half hour to give the batteries an initial quick boost towards recharging from last nights battery usage. With the 100 amp charger that's an integral part of the inverter I pretty much always run the generator in the morning when the initial rate of charge is 100 amps. As the rate of charge tapers off to around 50 amps I turn off the generator and let the solar panels and engine alternator finish the recharge. The quickest way to ruin a set of batteries (in our case that's four Trojan T-105's) is to run them down below 50% charge and/or not bring them back up to a fully charged state.

Anyway, we got underway and had an uneventful trip to El Paso with intermediate stops for fuel and lunch.

For awhile we listened on satellite radio Judge Alito's congressional confirmation hearing. However, after listening to half a dozen senators make their public consumption speeches, and learning that Alito's testimony was not going to begin until tomorrow, we turned it off.

We eventually pulled into a Walmart in El Paso and while Sharyn was buying some groceries I hooked up our catalytic heater (LP gas) so we could have some heat throughout the night without the use of the inefficient LP furnaces that, in addition to burning lots of propane, put a heavy draw on the batteries to run the circulating fans.

Shortly after Sharyn came back with the groceries we decided that we didn't like being where we were so we moved on to another Walmart midway between El Paso and the New Mexico border.

The picture below shows several giant wind turbines, part of a line of such turbines we saw today that extends along a ridge line that must continue for ten miles. In our travels we have come across several such turbine farms and we can't begin to comprehend the size of the capital investment that must go into such an installation. We also wonder how long it takes to recoup that investment, and the expected operating lifetime of one of these turbines.

Several miles before we took this picture, we passed an operating oil well that had this line of turbines visible in the distant background. At that time we talked about the contrast between the two sources of energy (I'm sorry we could not have stopped and captured that view). Our discussion was along the lines that organized environmentalists are opposed to oil drilling (seemingly anywhere), are opposed to nuclear power generation, and don't even like wind turbines because "they kill birds." We wonder where, in the real world, they would like to see us get our electrical power.


Tiny part of wind turbine farm


Odometer reading = 75,780
Miles for day = 341

 

 

 

1/10/06
(Sierra Vista AZ)

This trip from Panama City has been a rather unique trip for us in that we have always tended to travel the "two lane highways" rather than the Interstate. This time we will have basically been on I-10 for two thousand miles. Whew! We're doing this because of the time frame we've been operating in -- we want to be in Quartzsite by next week. We certainly do cover a greater distance in a shorter time by traveling the Interstate. The downside is that it makes for a much less interesting trip; you see less that the area may have to offer, and you can't pull off and visit an interesting looking shop, restaurant, etc.(Or pull over to photograph an oil well with a turbine farm in the background).

All of that preamble was setting the stage to say that we had an uneventful trip from El Paso to Apache Flats, the FamCamp here at Fort Huachuca, located just outside of Sierra Vista in the southeast corner of Arizona, about 15 miles from the Mexican border. We had no idea what it was going to be like here, but we certainly like what we found. Unfortunately, we had no reservation (we never make reservations) and the only site available is only available for three days.

Anyway, having been dry camped for a number of consecutive nights, and having been on the road all day, every day, it's good to be somewhere for several days. The fact that we are hooked up to water, sewer, electric, etc. makes it all the better.. Also, it gives me the opportunity to set up the satellite and bring this site up to date.


View from our motorhome while in Apache Flats FamCamp


Odometer reading = 76,075
Miles for day = 295

 

 

 

1/11/06 to 1/14/06
(Sierra Vista AZ)

We are really enjoying our stay here. Sharon, the campground host (not Sharyn), has been finding ways and places for us to stay beyond our first three days. Yesterday she had to put us in a non-site dry camp spot, but last night someone had to leave due to a family emergency and today she moved us to their site. We'll be here until Wednesday. These are really nice sites and the people staying here are a fun group. If it wasn't that the Escapee Boomer group that are meeting up with in Quartzsite start their "Boomerang" on Friday we'd stay here longer.

Several days ago, we took a ride to Tombstone, the historic town of Wyatt Earp, Doc Holiday, the OK corral, and numerous bad guys. We've been to other "historic" places that have either been preserved or recreated (eg: Mystic Connecticut) but none of them have had the authenticity that we found in Tombstone. It may be because, in large part, what it is is what it was. Several blocks in the center of town are blocked to vehicular traffic (except for the stagecoaches) and the street is still dirt. It may also be that "town" isn't much bigger today than it was back in the 1800's. Go several blocks and you're out in the desert.

While we were there we also visited Boot Hill Cemetery on the outskirts of town. It seems that to die a natural death was not the norm. Hangings and shootings were the most popular, while Indians and accidents killed more than a few.

We still want to visit Bisbee, an old mining town about 20 miles from here. We'll probably do that on Monday (today is Saturday).

Getting back to Apache Flats FamCamp, the day before yesterday there was a pancake breakfast. Last night there was a "social hour" with hors d' oeuvres and bring your own wine. Then it went on to everyone going up to the microphone and telling jokes and/or stories. I even told the story about the laid back bumble bee that got eaten by a cow.

This morning there was something that I don't know what it's called. It was sort of like a neighborhood yard sale where everyone brought stuff that they wanted to sell, get rid of, or giveaway. A few people also brought stuff that they routinely make or sell, like Sharyn set up her jewelry stuff. I saw very little stuff being bought and most people took back what they had brought down. Sharyn bought a two baskets for a dollar each, plus another basket full of realistic make believe ivy for two dollars. The basket of ivy looks good on the dash.

Even though buying and selling was at a minimum, everyone enjoyed the coffee and deep fried apple fritters (deep fried while you waited), while kidding each other about whose junk was the most useless.

I'm not sure when this will get uploaded to the server because lately I've been having trouble with my satellite Internet access. The dish seemed to keep losing the satellite and I noticed several days ago that the tripod head had movement in it. Before setting it up on this site I went to tighten up the head and discovered that the corner of a cast piece was broken. That most have happened when the whole deal got blown over during a thunderstorm back at the Allegro factory in Alabama. I can't recall, but that could coincide with when I started having trouble. Anyway, I'll have to come up with something to get back online.

 

Stagecoach picking up passengers

Don't know these guys

He unknowingly bought a stolen horse - they didn't believe him

Another boot hill grave

Our campsite

 

Odometer reading = 76,075
Miles for day = 0

 

 

 

1/15/06 to 1/17/06
(Sierra Vista AZ)

This entry ( Jan 15-17) may not flow, and may, in some respects, be repeated in subsequent entries, because it's being hand written the night of Jan 27. Putting all these hand written pages together I see that I never wrote about this three day period.

Anyway, it turned out that my computer problems involved more than just a poor Internet connection and/or a broken tripod that my dish is mounted on. My computer was in the early to mid stages of a crash. It's discussed later, but basically the hard drive crashed, had to be reformatted, and XP reinstalled.

But getting back to these three days at Fort Huachuca, from what I (we) can remember at this time, we checked out the museum depicting the history of Fort Huachuca, the territory it protected in the days of the early west, and what went on there during the Second World War. We also visited the Army Intelligence Museum, also on base. It had always been my understanding that when the US recovered an Enigma encrypting machine from a German U boat that her crew was unable to scuttle quickly enough was when we and the Allies gained access to the German code. That was wrong -- the British had broken the code years earlier but were not sharing the code with us, so the capture of the Enigma was still a windfall to the US.

We also drove to Bisbee, an old mining town about 35 miles east of Sierra Vista. Unfortunately, we got there very late in the day and not too long before nightfall. From what we saw we were sorry that we had not arrived earlier. Particularly since we were leaving for Quartzsite the following morning and would not be able to make a second trip to Bisbee to see the place in greater detail.

We thoroughly enjoyed our stay at Fort Huachuca and the next time we are in this part of the Country we will try to make reservations for an extended stay (maybe a month). That may be dependent on Sharon still being the camp host. In large part, she makes it the place that it is.


Original Homeland Security (that's Geronimo on the right)

 

Odometer reading = 76,075
Miles for day = 0

 

 

 

1/18/06
(Gila Bend AZ)

This morning, after coffee and conversation, Sharyn went to the commissary while I got the motorhome ready to go (mostly dump the tanks, fill the water, and put away all the loose stuff). When I finished I went to a large parking lot near the commissary where, while I waited for Sharyn, I had breakfast and cleaned the windshield and mirrors.

It was quite a while before Sharyn got there, and when she did she probably had more groceries than we've ever bought at one time since we've been in the motorhome. Since we're on our way to Quartzsite where we'll probably be boondocked in the desert for two weeks or better, the idea is to have enough stuff to get us through most of that time period.

Our computer crashed several days ago and I had to reformat the hard drive and reinstall Windows. At this point we have reinstalled most of our software, but have been unable to get Direcway to operate properly (our Internet access is via Direcway's satellite) so we have been unable to get online. Obviously that means we can't send or receive e-mail or update stringbean, but more importantly, we can't access bank accounts or pay bills.

We bought our Direcway system from RV Sat-Link in Gila Bend back in 2003, so we decided to stop at Gila Bend to see if they could get us back online. Unfortunately, we found out that they are all in Quartzsite.

Anyway, we're parked at RV Sat-Link where we've had dinner and, since I can't upload this anyway, I'm conserving battery power by writing this out on a yellow pad. I suspect we'll probably go to bed early and get an early start in the morning. We're only about 130 miles from the Escapee "Boomers" rendezvous location in Quartzsite.

 

We met this couple in a rest area

 

Odometer reading = 76,269
Miles for day = 193

 

 

 

(Quartzsite AZ)

Since we tend to go to bed early when dry camped, we also tend to get up early. Also, when dry camped for one night only, getting back on the road in the morning only means bringing in the slides and driving away. Accordingly, we were up and on the road to Quartzsite fairly early.

It was early afternoon when we arrived at the Boomers group. We were the 26th rig to check in. This annual gathering out in the desert several miles east of town is at N 33.65051 and W 114.15218.

The only other time we were in Quartzsite was in January 2003. As I probably described here at that time, from mid-January to early February has to be the world's largest gathering of RVs -- if for no other reason than that there is no where else that can accommodate so many RVs -- an estimated 200,000 RVs and 500,000 people people occupying mostly federally owned lane under the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) spreading out over a roughly ten mile radius (actually more north and south than east and west) from town. There are numerous private campgrounds in and around Quartzsite but the numbers that they can accommodate are an insignificant part of what's here. Quartzsite is basically a crossroads town with a fixed population of about 3,000 people where US-95, running north and south, crosses over I-10, running east and west.

Every RVer should "do" Quartzsite at least once, although most people we talk to have been here multiple times -- some many times.

In addition to the RVers, there are numerous shows going on at any one point in time (talking about the period mid-January to mid-February). Some follow others, some overlap with others, etc., but there's always a lot happening. The main focus is probably RV related stuff, then rocks, gems, and minerals, followed by usual, but very large array of flea market kind of stuff, although the flea market stuff is heavily oriented towards RVers and gem and jewelry people. All of this is happening simultaneously, and covers an area of a square mile or more. It takes place on both sides of I-10 and on both sides of US-95. It is hailed as "The World's Largest Flea Market."

Anyway, after locating our motorhome so that we would be upwind of the dust raised by passing vehicles, have the sun on the front side, and have the sunrise come through the front windshield, we took the car into town to "check it out." We walked all over the place, checking out all kinds of stuff, particularly looking for RV Sat-Link. Eventually we tired out, gave up, had some ice cream, and returned to our home in the desert. We'll still have plenty of days, and time, to walk the shows.


Sharyn checking out some large crystals

 

 

Odometer reading = 76,404
Miles for day = 135

 

 

 

1/20/06 and 1/21/06
(Quartzsite AZ)

These two days each started off with the usual coffee and conversation, followed by our driving into town and finding a parking space on "this side" of the main congestion (which already puts us into some of the displays, vendor tents, etc. From there we walk more of the show. Again, when I say "the show" there are actually a number of shows going on, but the lines of demarcation are invisible to show goers -- it's just one big happening

After several hours, we (mostly me) tire, and we start back to the car and then the motorhome in the desert.

There is a daily 4 o'clock "happy hour" at the Escapee gathering place, followed several hours later with a big gathering around a bonfire. We have not yet gone to one of these bonfire gatherings, but I believe they are every night.

Anyway, we are still off-line as our Direcway satellite problem remains unresolved. Yesterday we called Direcway, and for $99 plus a 15 month commitment at $59 per month (the same as we've been paying for three years) they are sending us a DW-7000 modem that is two generations newer than DW-4000 dual modems that we have been using. In addition to being faster, both upload and download speeds, the DW-7000 does not require any software.

Since 1995 I don't think we've ever been off-line for more than several hours, if that. Now we've been off for a week and it will probably be another week before the modem gets here. Going without Internet access is not as bad as going without water or electric (not referring to boondocking) but it's not too far behind. We are cut off from all the information in the world.

The daytime temperatures approach 70° while just before dawn it's pretty close to freezing. Our Olympian 8,000 Btu catalytic heater is the sole source of heat we've been using at night, and when we first get up in the morning. Using very little propane and no electric, it's performance meets all our expectations.


Part of our water conservation program

An aerial view of the Boomer group (looking west)

Another view (looking east)
Note: Before this file was reduced from 12 MB to 83KB you could see Sharyn taking the photographer's picture

Sharyn's picture of the picture taker

Another one

 

Odometer reading = 76,404
Miles for day = 0

 

 

 

1/22/06 to 1/27/06
(Quartzsite AZ)

The big news is that our new modem arrived yesterday, and as of several hours ago we were back online for the first time in what has probably been three weeks.

Since we're trying, with some degree of success, to live off of our solar panels and not run the generator, there is pressure to not keep the computer up and running for extended periods of time (certainly not 24/7 as when we are enjoying full hookups). Since January 20 I have been doing the travelog on a yellow pad to minimize computer time since I can't upload anything anyway. In addition, the pictures that will accompany these entries have not yet been selected or "Photoshopped." This will probably all be done and uploaded tomorrow when the sun is shinning bright.

Yesterday we went with about ten other couples on a 4-wheel drive trek through and across the desert about 50 miles north of Quartzsite. For the most part 4-wheel drive wasn't really necessary, but a little more ground clearance would have been nice.

It seems that in the last 3-4 days the nights have not been as cold as they had been, rather staying in the mid 40's with the daytime temps around 70°, with intense sunshine pretty much all day, every day. While we still aren't crazy about the desert, the weather sure is nice. Actually, yesterday Sharyn remarked that the desert does tend to grow on you.

Because of the messed up way that this travelog stuff has been getting done since our computer crashed things are a little messed up and maybe out of sequence. That's why the following pictures may not relate to this particular entry but I wanted to post them anyway.

The 14 miles traveled is when I took the motorhome into town to have one of the solar panels checked out. While in town I also dumped our holding tanks, and filled up with water and propane.

 

Sharyn selecting gem stones

One of my show favorites

Sharyn enjoying the nice weather

There are all kinds of rigs parked in the desert

Taking a break on our 4-wheel cross country

Warning sign

At this point Sharyn thought we were going to tip over

 

Odometer reading = 76,418
Miles for day = 14

 

 

 

1/28/06 and 1/29/06
(Quartzsite AZ)

Yesterday we went back to the show again as I had seen a really neat tool that I liked but had not bought. It basically wraps wire around the end of a hose, tube, or plastic pipe where you would otherwise use a hose clamp, or if you had one, a crimp with the matching crimp tool. Several months ago, and then again a week ago, I was looking for someone to make me up custom propane hoses (for the first application I eventually used copper tubing and ended up with a better job as a result). Had I had this tool I could have made up both lines myself. Anyway, now I have it. We also bought the two aerial photos posted this morning. He usually sells his pictures as 8x10 prints, but we wanted the picture in digital format so he gave us two pictures , out of the hundreds he had, on a CD for less than the price of one print.

We then went to fill up our two five gallon collapsible water jugs, but on the way to the water place we stopped and looked at a bunch of motorhomes. One Winnebago we looked at had a very interesting floor plan -- quite nice and very different from what we usually see. Most motorhomes have floor plans that are only slight variations of a few common schemes.

From the time we got back to our home in the desert, until I finally shut off the computer around 11 o'clock last night I was working on bringing this site current. It was not until midday today (Sunday the 29th) that I had it current, with photos, up through the 27th.

Last night, while I was still doing this website, Sharyn walked down towards the fire pit and discovered a sing-a-long, story telling, gathering that we had known about but had forgotten. She stayed for a while before coming back to get the camera. Unfortunately, campfire pictures taken in what is otherwise total darkness are difficult when the subjects (people) are spread out or some distance from the fire.

Right now it's mid-afternoon and we're both sitting outside enjoying the bright sunshine and the, just beginning, cool breeze. It's on the verge of being too hot to stay in the sun (I've changed to T-shirt, shorts, and Birkenstocks). Sharyn is making some new pieces with some of the great materials she found here at the show (check out her stuff), while I'm "composing" this on a yellow pad before turning on the computer to type it in.

With this upload stringbean will be fully up-to-date for the first time in about three weeks.

 

Our neighbor has been cooking dinners in his solar oven (350°) for ten years

Last night's sing-a-long

New modem up and running


Odometer reading = 76,418
Miles for day = 0

 

 

 

1/30/06
(Quartzsite AZ)

While the five gallon collapsible water containers on the kitchen and bathroom sinks help us to conserve the water in our main tank, and thereby enable us to remain longer in the desert, there was room for improvement.

Several years ago we replaced our RV water pump with one of the, then new, quiet type. This morning I went into town to get some ½ inch tubing to convert our old water pump into a transfer pump. It works terrific. Now we have about a two foot hose coming out of the pump that connects to our regular water intake. Another two feet of hose from the pump inlet gets put into one of the five gallon containers, connect 12 volts to the pump and in about two minutes the five gallons has been pumped into our main tank. It has even gone through our filter system.

During the day today there were two "seminars" around the firepit. The first one was about connecting to the Internet with Direcway's satellite system. I went, but didn't stay long. It was really "Intro to Internet via Satellite 101" for people who were interested in satellite access but knew nothing about it. The second "seminar" was about boondocking and we both went, figuring that we'd get some worthwhile hints from people who had a great more experience than we do. It did start out that way, but was soon hijacked by what you might call a few earth friendly environmentalists hung up on "we all use too much water, energy, etc." Unfortunately, what should have been an opportunity to learn got turned into a lecture on how we should all live our lives. The average age here is sixty something and most of us decided long ago how we were going to live our lives. I don't think anyone here was seeking such advice. After about a half hour we folded up our chairs and left, followed by a few others.

After that we went into town to the western end on the north side of I-10. We had not yet been there, but as it was now late afternoon we just walked around a short while, Sharyn found and bought some some neat clasps, and we returned to the motorhome.

On the way back we stopped to refill our two 5 gallon containers at a water dispenser where you put in a quarter and 5 gallons of water comes out. In the right place there's a market for everything.

 

The mid-morning view from my chair

Two wire crimps made with that cool tool I bought

Transfer pump in operation (with temporary wiring)

 

Odometer reading = 76,418
Miles for day = 0

 

 

 

1/31/06 through 2/4/06
(Quartzsite AZ)

The number of RVs in the Escapee Boomers group has thinned out considerably over the last 4-5 days, as have the number of RVs in Quartzsite generally. While other shows and exhibits still go on, the big "Quartzsite RV thing" is over.

Yesterday we had to take the motorhome into town to dump our black water. After dumping we did not return to the remaining Boomers, but instead selected another spot that does not require the two mile trip out the dirt road (which really is less like dirt and more like talcum powder).

The Boomer group, which maxed out at about 140 rigs, is now probably down to about fewer than 30. Where we are now we are sharing an area of about 25 acres with seven other RVs. A week ago we probably could not have fit in here. We even have a fire ring and some some kind of a tree/bush that provides mid-afternoon shade. The only downside to where we are is that I-10 passes within several hundred yards of where we are and we get traffic noise.

Before leaving the Boomer area and taking down our satellite system, we uploaded some of Sharyn's new necklaces to her website (support our retirement -- buy stuff). We had not moved since switching to our new modem system and we weren't sure we'd not have a problem getting setup again and back online again. As it turned out we were okay.

This morning I walked to the end of the paved road and back -- about three miles. I could not help but notice that while there were probably something close to 1,000 RVs camped along this road last week, there is not a single piece of debris to be seen. I think that says a lot for all those people who were here.

The other day I had gone into town to go to the post office, and while I was there I stopped in again again at the bakery for a cup of coffee and a Danish. I find it amazing that out here in the middle of nowhere there is a real old fashioned family owned bakery A remnant of the past that almost doesn't exist anymore.

The temperatures continue to warm up a little more every day. We no longer leave the heat on at night (we do use the catalytic heater on low before we go to bed), and the daytime temps have been around 80° (sunshine seems to be a given).

This afternoon we went to the Arts and Crafts show which was a waste. We also went to the Gem and Mineral show and the car show. We have to go back to the Gem and Mineral show because Sharyn wants to do it again when it's not so hot. (the sun never stops). With respect to the car show, I'm not as car oriented as I was once upon a time, but there were several cars there that I photographed, and which must be mentioned.

In 1943 my parents bought a 1939 LaSalle for which my father had a great deal of enthusiasm. In 1953 they bought the first new car they ever owned, a 1953 Chevy. When they got the Chevy my father gave me the LaSalle. I was only 15 years old, and with no drivers license and no license plates I could only drive it on dirt/farm roads, but I had fun anyway. It was my first car. There was a 1939 LaSalle at the car show -- perhaps the only other one I've ever seen. As an aside, one of the things my father like best about the LaSalle was that it had no running boards. One of the first cars not to have them.. The one at the show had running boards, so I asked the owner, "how come?" It turns out that running boards were available as an option.

In 1956 I got the first car I ever bought. It was a 1946 Ford Coupe. The guy I bought it from worked for Mr. Hulse, a local farmer who was a friend of my father. He wanted $30 for the car . I only wanted to pay $25. Mr. Hulse, hearing this discussion came over and said, "Philip, you're going to pay him $27.50, and (whatever his name was), you're going to take $27.50." The deal was done. The car at the show was a 1948, but from 1946-48 they did not change.

Another car at the show was a 1957 Chevy. I didn't care too much for the '57 Chevy (I had a 1958), but this car was really something. It has never been restored, repainted, reupholstered, or anything. The present owner bought it from the family of an 89 year old lady who bought it new when she was 65. He keeps it in a carpeted, insulated garage. When the lady bought it from the dealer in 1957 it could not have been cleaner or shinier than it is now. I told the owner it was the most impressive car in the show.

 

Our new location

Our chairs, our "tree/bush," and our fire pit

Sharyn searching our area for cool rocks

1939 LaSalle

1946-48 Ford Coupe (mine was a little rough around the edges)

 

Odometer reading = 76,429
Miles for day = 11

 

 

 

2/5/06 to 2/9/06
(Quartzsite AZ)

Since we've moved to this spot it certainly has been more convenient to go into town -- and we have been doing so frequently. The selection and availability of materials for Sharyn's jewelry making sure is better here than anyplace we've been in the past. As the time for us to leave draws near (and the gem and jewelry shows wind down) Sharyn has been going over her inventory of supplies, but at this point it looks as if she's set.

Tomorrow we're moving into town for a day or two so we can dump our tanks, take on water, do laundry, and most of all, equalize our batteries that have really been carrying our electric load since we first moved into the desert three weeks ago today. After taking care of all those things, and taking a couple of long hot showers, we plan to move west to Joshua Tree National Park where we intend to try dispersed camping, a term and option we were previously unaware of.. It allows dry camping, or boondocking, on federal land in areas outside of the regular campgrounds. The idea is that such disbursed camping allows campers the opportunity to get out and away from improved areas and enjoy the natural environment. Also, because the campers are widely "dispersed," rather than all grouped together in campgrounds, the impact on the environment is minimized.

We'll see how it works for us.


Where we've been for the last week

This place had really nice material

Odometer reading = 76,429
Miles for day = 0

 

 

 

2/10/06 and 2/11/06
(Quartzsite AZ)

Yesterday morning we left the desert and moved into Katie's RV Park on Main Street in Quartzsite. It's not exactly a five star facility, but we have water, electric, and sewer. They have propane, and a Laundromat, plus there is a grocery store across the street, and the bakery is next door. That all adds up to a lot of convenience

We celebrated our arrival in town with long hot showers and a half gallon of ice cream that we ate in one sitting.

Now that the laundry is done and the batteries have been equalized, we'll be leaving in the morning with water, fuel, and propane full, and holding tanks empty.


View from motorhome before we came into town

Parked in Katie's RV Park


Odometer reading = 76,433
Miles for day = 4

 

 

 

2/12/06
(Joshua Tree National Park CA)

This morning, in spite of the fact that the bakery is closed on Sunday, we were in no real hurry to get out and going. After doing all the dumping and filling and taking down the satellite, we pulled up to the LP pump where we took 14.2 gallons. Since we had topped off our propane on January 23, that seemed like a lot of propane to use in only 21 days. However, considering that in addition to cooking, the refrigerator is using propane, plus the catalytic heater which we were using quite a bit for the first few weeks in Quartzsite, plus the occasions when we turned on the hot water for showers (instead of heating a kettle on the stove for sink baths), 14 gallons is probably not an excessive amount.

Before getting onto I-10 we pulled into a Pilot station whose sign said $2.319. It turned out it was only $2.299 at the pump where we took on 52 gallons.

About 30 miles down the Interstate, just over the California border, we pulled off at Blyth to get some groceries at Albertsons. We also took note that gas in Blyth was $2.859. Fifty-six cents more than we had paid. A $29 savings on a tank of gas is pretty substantial!

It wasn't that much longer before we got to Joshua Tree National Park. It turns out that RV camping, as opposed to tent or backpack camping, is only allowed within established campgrounds in the park. The dispersed, or free range, camping we were interested in has to be outside the park boundaries.

The lady in the office who told us this also told us that she believed it was BLM land south of the park boundary and north of I-10. That's where we are now as I'm writing this on a yellow pad while sitting outside the motorhome enjoying the late afternoon sun. From where we are sitting we can see the traffic along I-10, but unlike in Quartzsite, we're now several miles away and can't hear any of the traffic noise.

Since our choice of where we can park the motorhome has been substantially reduced from what we had anticipated, it looks as if we'll head for San Diego tomorrow. Also, as Sharyn says, we just spent three weeks boondocked in the desert, so she's not too upset about this unexpected turn of events. There must be maps or some other way to locate BLM lands. We'll have to pursue that.

 

Our "campsite" for the night
.

Odometer reading = 76,540
Miles for day = 107

 

 

 

2/13/06
(Joshua Tree National Park CA . . . just outside of . . .)

When Sharyn got up this morning I was sitting outside in my pajamas having my coffee.

It was quite mild outside even though the sun had just come over the top of the mountain. It was peaceful, quiet, comfortable, and quite enjoyable. Sharyn suggested we see about finding another spot not so close to the entrance road to the park. We used the car to search about and decided upon another site about ¼ mile west of where we were.

After several hours in our new spot we decided to remain here for several days so I set up our satellite system so we could be online.. The almost unbroken silence is very nice, as is the weather.

This afternoon we walked further down the dirt road to where it was washed out so that Sharyn could check out the wash for new and/or interesting rocks. The was is about ¼ mile past where we now are -- it was because of the wash that we could not go further west. Anyway, we came back to the motorhome with only 5-10 pounds of rocks. Not a very productive search.

The Interstate is about two miles south of us, and about 1,000 feet lower in elevation. When sitting outside we face south, looking out at the mountains that raise up on the other side of the Interstate that runs east and west through a valley formed by the mountains on either side. We are probably half way up the mountain on the north side. The northern end of the Salton Sea lies about 12 miles to the southwest and we can just barely see the northwest corner from our location. Yesterday, from a higher vantage point in the park we had a much better view of it. In December 2002 we drove the eastern shoreline of the Salton Sea on our way to "Slab City" as we were working our way towards Quartzsite. In fact, we stopped at a state park along the shoreline to take a break and make a pot of coffee. We thought the location was so pretty that we ended up staying the night.

This evening we had our dinner sitting outside, eventually coming back in after the sun went down and the temperature began to drop.


Sharyn searching the wash

Examining the day's take

A look at where we are

Our campsite

At the Salton Sea December 27, 2002


Odometer reading = 76,540
Miles for day = ¼

 

 

 

2/14/06
(Joshua Tree National Park CA . . . just outside of . . .)

Our prearranged plan for today was to go through the park to see the Joshua trees on the northern end and to stop at the park headquarters to see what information we could get about BLM lands. After our coffee and conversation we headed north through the park

After traveling about 40 miles to the north side of the park we arrived at the headquarters where we got a California atlas that also showed the BLM lands within the state. We also learned that the San Andreas Fault runs right through the park and under our motorhome.

Leaving the park headquarters we came upon and stopped at the Twenty-nine Palms Marine Corps Base where we did some grocery shopping at the commissary and, of course, checked out the BX. We then headed west, and then south, basically going around the western end of the park to the BLM regional office that the lady at the park headquarters has directed us to.

The BLM has 15 large, detailed maps that show all their land in California in much greater detail than we probably need. Since these maps are four dollars each we only bought the one showing the area where we are now, mostly so I could familiarize myself with the details and format of their maps. The atlas pretty much gives us the information we were looking for -- it shows us where the BLM lands are.

By the time we had completed our circumnavigation of the western half of the park we had traveled 159 miles and arrived back at the motorhome not too long before dark


Cactus growing in the park

Parked by the "cactus garden"

Sharyn said it was her turn to take a picture

Joshua trees

Our campsite as seen from I-10

 

Odometer reading = 76,540
Miles for day = 0

 

 

 

2/15/06 through 2/20/06
(Joshua Tree National Park CA . . . just outside of . . .)

We have not done a great deal in the days since the last entry, having used the car on only four occasions.

One day we went to Indio, about 25 miles west of here to do some birthday shopping (Katlin :-) and find a post office. Another time we went to Barnes & Noble in Palm Desert, about 15 miles past Indio. There was a Macy's next door to Barnes & Noble and Sharyn thought that was cool. On the way back we stopped at a Ralph's for some much needed grocery shopping.

The other trip was much shorter. We went to Chiriaco Summit, a tiny place at the next Interstate exit, just 5 miles east of here that, we discovered, has it's own post office. It also has an old Route-66 style cafe where we went to eat. For quite some time Sharyn has been craving "a thick, old fashioned, greasy, hamburger." She found that at at Chiriaco Summit (it was really very big, very good, and not greasy at all). I had liver and onions with mashed potatoes, gravy, and asparagus. If we lived here, we'd be regulars at the cafe.

Chiriaco Summit also has a story to it. In 1927 Joe Chiriaco drove from his home in Alabama to California to see Alabama play Stanford in the Rose Bowl. He never went back. He bought a piece of property on the gravel road to Blythe where on August 15, 1933 he opened a gas station and general store. When the hard surfaced US-60 came through business only got better. In 1942, on orders from the War Department (anticipating the desert war in North Africa), General George S. Patton established the Army's Desert Training Center with it's headquarters near Chiriaco's general store and gas station. The Desert Training Center (subsequently renamed the California-Arizona Maneuver Area) was enormous, ultimately extending 350 miles in width from Pomona, California to Phoenix, Arizona, and 250 miles deep from Yuma, Arizona to Boulder City, Nevada. Between 1942 and 1944 1,000,000 men trained there. Eventually, the Interstate Highway System came through and then finally, on June 21, 2000, commercial electric power came to Chiriaco Summit and they were able to shut down their generator for the last time. Today the business is still family owned and is run by his grandchildren.

Anyway, enough of that. For the last 4-5 days it's been too cool to sit outside, particularly with the wind -- bummer! However, listening to the cold temperatures that seem to be in place all around the country I don't think we can complain that it's in the 60's and not the 70's. At least we've got sunshine.

Today I went back to Chiriaco Summit to take some pictures. This time I did some exploring along the way, first taking a narrow dirt road up into the mountains on the south side of the Interstate (the mountains that we've been looking out at for the last week), and then going to Chiriaco Summit via what I think is the old abandoned US-60 (took more pictures).

In the meanwhile, Sharyn has signed up for a booth at the Escapees Spring Escapade at the Fairgrounds in Chico, California April 23 -29 where I expect she'll do very well selling her jewelry.

As of now, it's our plan to leave here in the morning and head towards San Diego, probably stopping when we pass through California's 600,000 acre Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, west of the Salton Sea. We'll see what happens!


Half-way up the mountain

Where I turned around

Chiriaco Summit (all of it)

Chiriaco Summit Post Office (on cafe patio)

Traveling abandoned US-60

Our campsit as seen from US-60

 

Odometer reading = 76,540
Miles for day = 0

 

 

 

2/21/06
(Joshua Tree National Park CA . . . just outside of . . .)

Well, we didn't leave here this morning as planned, but then that doesn't surprise us. I think we'll really leave tomorrow.

Today I took Sharyn up the road into the mountain where I went yesterday. She said it was not a place where she could feel relaxed and at ease -- it certainly is remote. As we came back down we stopped several times when Sharyn saw interesting rocks that needed to be investigated. Before we got to the bottom we diverted onto another dirt road that followed a power line, eventually turning onto still another dirt road that took us to the old US-60 which we than took to Chiriaco Summit.

We had lunch at the cafe and then visited the General George S. Patton Museum that is a part of Chiriaco Summit. Yesterday, in an attempt to spare the details, I omitted the fact that Joe Chiriaco and his wife, Ruth, established a memorial to General Patton which, over the years, and with the help and cooperation of the BLM, evolved into a real museum honoring Patton, the Desert Training Center, the men who trained there, and all the men and women who have fought for America. During the six years we've been full-timing we've come to discover that every place out in Nowheresville seems to have a museum for something or somebody -- more often than not, just a way to get you to leave a bit of your money behind. That's not the case here. Four dollars ($3.50 for us old guys) is a great price to pay to see this well done museum.

Patton has always been one of my favorites (I have a number of them) and walking around looking at the exhibits I again gave thought to how this country's military has always been successful when the military ran the operation (e.g. American Revolution, Civil War, WW I, and WW II), but cannot succeed when hamstrung by politicians making political decisions (e.g. Korea and Vietnam).

Anyway, anyone traveling I-10 between Indio and Blythe should get off at the Chiriaco Summit exit, have lunch at the cafe, check out the Patton Museum, and appreciate the story of how it all came together.

 

Up in the mountain

Statue in front of museum

Don't know the story of this car, but it sure looks good

Odometer reading = 76,540
Miles for day = 0

 

 

 

2/22/06
(Anza-Borrego Desert State Park -- specifically: N33.30309° W116.27485°)

We sat around this morning with a little bit of "should we go, or should we stay?" Since our black water needed dumping we had no choice about that. We disconnected from the satellite dish, pulled in the slides, got rid of the "loose stuff," and I proceeded to take the motorhome six miles up the hill (mostly in 2nd gear) to the nearest dump station in Joshua Tree National Park. When I got back we decided that even though it was past noon, everything in the motorhome was ready to go, so we'd leave. By the time we'd put away the satellite system, lowered the solar panels, hooked up the car, etc., it was one o'clock when we pulled out.

While we had finished the coffee, we had not had anything to eat, so when we got to Mecca we pulled off on the side and had lunch. The transition from the road to Mecca, to Mecca, is both abrupt and amazing. Mecca is on the western side of the Salton Sea, which is several hundred feet below sea level. The road we traveled, Box Canyon Road, basically runs from the south entrance to Joshua Tree National Park to the northern end of the Salton Sea. For the most part, the road seems to run down the center of the big wash that carries all the run-off from the mountains north of I-10, funneling it down from it's initial width of a number of miles to something in the order of maybe a 100 yards. The contours of the land, and the high stone walls that give Box Canyon Road it's name seem to preclude any alternative. I guess when it rains the road just gets overrun with roaring, running , water. The road work crews and equipment that seemed to be putting the road back together in numerous places would seem to bear that out -- and it hasn't appeared to have rained in several months.

Anyway, back to my transition into Mecca. After following this dry and sometimes sand swept road through the barren, dry desert for a good number of miles, we came over a small crest, and before us appeared the the flat, emerald green green fields of Mecca. Initially, citrus trees and grape vines, but I'm sure there were other crops as well. Mecca is clearly a farming community that shows what irrigation can do for otherwise dry desert land.

We continued on past Mecca, soon entering the 600,000 acre Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. Looking for a place to spend the night, we saw a number of roads and washes going out into the desert, but were concerned that the motorhome could get bogged down in some soft sand. Our 24,000 pound setup is hardly intended for "off road" exploring, so we try to be careful about where or when we pull off the pavement. Around 3:30 we came upon an area where there were perhaps a dozen RVs spread out over a ½ mile area. It looked pretty good so we drove out into the same general area where we sat outside and enjoyed the warm, late day sunshine, had some fresh popped (microwave) popcorn, and eventually retired back inside the motorhome as the sun went down behind the mountain and it started to cool off. Having had dinner, Sharyn is reading her book while I write this. Tomorrow we'll be on to San Diego.

We note that while it has been dark for several hours and there are now as many as 20 RVs in the area, there is total silence. Not a generator anywhere!


Our spot in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park

Another view of our spot

Odometer reading = 76,616
Miles for day = 79

 

 

 

2/23/06
(San Diego CA)

During our morning coffee and conversation we decided that we didn't care for the Anza-Borrego Desert (at least this part) as much as we did the desert south of Joshua Tree Park.

Anyway, we were underway before mid-morning. It was probably no more than 20-30 minutes before we had passed through the tiny town of Borrego Springs and the road began an upward climb that would, within two hours, bring us from the sea-level desert to snow on the side of the road at 5,000 feet. Upon getting into the higher elevation we commented on how nice it was to once again see saturated colors, greens, and even water flowing in mountain streams.

Coming back down the western side of the mountain we had no sooner gotten onto I-8 about 35 miles from San Diego when we came upon a sign warning "6% Grade Next 10 Miles." We sure came down faster than we went up!

Coming into a major city with all kinds of merging and intersecting limited access highways, when I'm not sure where I'm going and everyone is driving 70 miles per hour is not my favorite kind of RVing. Anyway, without missing any of our turns we did find and cross the bridge linking downtown San Diego with the very picturesque village of Coronado.

Fiddler's Cove, the Navy FamCamp, is about two miles south of Coronado on the east side of the highway, which puts it right on San Diego Bay. The Pacific Ocean is on the west side of the highway. Initially we drove right past the (practically) unmarked entrance and came upon the State Park Beach on the ocean side a mile or two beyond Fiddler's Cove. They have a large parking lot that runs for a mile or so between the highway and the sandy beach, and there were a good number of RVs spread out along the beach edge of the parking lot. We inquired, but it was $23 per night to dry camp there. As pretty as the beach was that sounded kind of steep.

Back at Fiddler's Cove the sites with hookups (water and electric only) were extremely narrow -- to the point that your awning would almost touch the next guys slideout. We opted for the dry camp area with much larger sites (most of which were empty) for half the price ($12 vs $22). After 6 weeks boondocked in the desert, hookups don't seem too important.

When we went to setup in our assigned site, Sharyn noticed that several sites down there was a sloped area that provided access to the beach/water, and that if we had the site next to that we'd, in effect, have a site twice the regular size. While I unhooked the car Sharyn went back to the office and got our site changed.

By the time we were all set up it was only about 3 o'clock, so we drove over to the North Island Naval Air Station on the other side of Coronado where we checked out the BX (NEX in the case of Navy), bought some groceries at the commissary, and returned home.

We like it here. With the motorhome facing San Diego Bay, we look out across the Bay to the ships at the San Diego Naval Station and the City of San Diego.

 

Climbing out of the desert

The road we've just traveled

Our view of the Coronado Bridge

Odometer reading = 76,735
Miles for day = 116

 

 

 

2/24/06
(San Diego CA)

When I woke up at 8 o'clock (yesterday I was up at 4:30) it was quite comfortable in the motorhome. Since we are facing north, when the sun comes up it covers the entire right side of the motorhome, warming it up fairly quickly -- at least by 8:am.

We had planned to go to the San Diego Zoo today, but after an extended coffee and conversation, setting up my satellite system, and sitting outside looking out over the Bay, it had suddenly gotten to mid-afternoon so we decided no zoo today. Actually we figure the zoo will be an all day trip.

We went to the Travel and Ticket Office by the BX, talked to the girl, and got brochures on a number of things to do and see in and about San Diego. We've decided we really like it here and could stay here for a week or more. We'll have to put together a list of what we'd like to do and see. I'm sure we'll run out of money before we run out of time.


Why we didn't get to do anything today!


Odometer reading = 76,735
Miles for day = 0

 

 

 

2/25/06
(San Diego CA)

Last night I typed up the travelog text for the last several days (I try to do the text on a daily basis, although when we are not hooked up to electric I may do the initial writing on a yellow pad to save on battery consumption -- it takes less time to type it out if I'm not putting it all together at the same time). This morning I did the pictures to go with the text and uploaded the whole deal to the server.

We then drove into San Diego to see the aircraft carrier Midway which is docked adjacent to the Maritime Museum of San Diego. We paid for four hours parking, figuring we'd spend two hours on the Midway, and then two hours looking at all the shops, etc., along the waterfront. Well we spent the entire four hours on the Midway and if our parking time was not running out we'd probably have spent the better part of another hour. The brochure says that the "complete tour" (there is a shorter version) takes about 2½ hours.

The format is excellent. Throughout the ship there are about 40 numbered exhibits or marked areas. Every visitor is given a small player device the size of a deck of cards with a set of earphones. Push the button for the number of the exhibit you are interested in or standing in front of, and you hear the story or explanation that goes with it.

Of course the main event, so to speak, is just the opportunity to wander about this incredible ship, much of which is put into clearer context by the audio program.

As a bit of trivia, what kind of mileage do you think the Midway got when underway at sea? Think about it. You'll come to the answer further down.

One of the things that impressed me was that fact that during its years of service (1945-1992) there were 225,000 men that served onboard. That's almost a quarter of a million men!

In addition to the do-it-yourself audio program, there were retired pilot speakers at both the arresting cable location and at the catapult launch location, who explained in detail the operation of the respective system, and then answered any question. By the way, the Midway travels one mile and burns 260 gallons of fuel.

Anyway, after we got back to the motorhome and had something to eat, we went to checkout a local Walmart about 10 miles south of here (and about 2 miles north of the Mexican border). After buying milk, windshield washer fluid, and aspirin we headed back to the motorhome, but decided to continue on past Fiddler's Cove and go into Coronado to find an ice cream shop. We did, and it was good!


Sharyn in companionway

Engine room

On hangar deck

Mess area

Island as seen from flight deck

Forward flight deck as seen from flight control (forward planes are in catapults)

Another view with carrier Nimitz across the bay

View from dock to give concept of scale

Great photo taken from www.midway.org


Odometer reading = 76,735
Miles for day = 0

 

 

 

2/26/06 to 2/28/06
(San Diego CA)

Somehow or other I missed the fact that February 25, the day we visited the Midway, was the first day of our seventh year of full-timing. Seven years and 76,000 miles -- we've seen a lot and done a lot. Life is really a great opportunity!

Several nights ago as I was getting into bed, the lights across the bay caught my attention. There is much that we see but, for numerous reasons, can't capture on (digital) film. That midnight view out the front windshield was not such a case. Since I would require a long exposure time I had to first get out and set up my tripod, which I did. I like the results (link below).

Yesterday we drove into Coronado, parked the car, and spent several hours walking around town. Coronado is really a very attractive little town. Sharyn says she could live there, in part, because there is a "flower lady" on a little park-like corner. She says every pretty little town should have a flower lady.

Our walking included checking out numerous little shops that line the main street. If the shop had a bench out front, and many of them did, I sat there and read the paper. I decided long ago that women "shop," that is they browse all kinds of stores and shops looking for all kinds of stuff, without any specific intention of buying anything -- what I describe as "recreational shopping" (maybe in lieu of tennis). Men, I think, "go to buy." If they need something they go and buy it. If they don't need anything they don't go looking in stores. Of course you might ask the question, "what do you mean by 'need?'" That's a whole other matter.

The Coronado Hotel was one of the places we checked out. Built in the 1880's it certainly is a grand and magnificent structure. Of course we looked in all the upscale shops (admittedly they had nice stuff), checked out the main lobby (grandeur from a bye-gone era) and several of the dinning facilities. All very nice and quite impressive.

Anyway, on several occasions, as we walked and shopped, it started to drizzle. It was overcast and cloudy all day yesterday and the forecast was for a big wet weather system to hit the west coast and linger for 4-5 days. Last night it was here in full force with high winds and heavy downpours which have only let up slightly today. They are now saying that this will last through most of the week. Unfortunately, I did not have my camera with me yesterday to get any pictures of what I have described. We'll have to go back and get the pictures to add to this entry.

The area where we came across the mountains into San Diego are under flash flood warnings for flooding along rivers and streams with possible mud slides, particularly in areas burned over in the recent fires. The forecast is for more than 15" of rain to fall before this system passes through.

These are not good dry camping conditions. Our solar panels are producing next to nothing so the generator has to make up the deficiency, and the weather precludes any outdoor activity. As the song says, "Into each life some rain must fall," and that's okay.

 

Midnight view across bay

Odometer reading = 76,735
Miles for day = 0

 

 

 

3/1/06 through 3/7/06
(San Diego CA)

Having been here for about two weeks we've decided that this is really a nice place -- I'm referring more to Coronado than to San Diego, but the little bit of San Diego we've seen has been nice also.

We did the San Diego Zoo as well as the San Diego Wild Animal Park about 35 miles north of town. While they're both nice, we preferred the zoo. We had wanted to see both and it turned out that it was cheaper for us to join the San Diego Zoological Association and get unlimited one year passes to both, instead of buying two adult tickets to each. If it was not for the lions and gorillas at the Wild Animal Park (they have gorillas at both) I'd say go to the zoo and forget the Wild Animal Park. One cool thing that happened at the Wild Animal Park was that at the gorilla display I asked the guy standing next to us about the large Canon lens he had on his camera. He asked if I'd like to try it on my camera, which, of course, I did. A 100-400mm zoom really does enable you to reach out and touch someone.

Another place we visited in San Diego was the Seaport Village, right near the Midway. It is a collection of small shops in a park-like setting along the waterfront. We had figured we'd spend half a day there, but were finished in about an hour. It was not nearly as large as we had envisioned. Front Street in Greenport on Eastern Long Island is better, and Mystic Seaport in Connecticut is much better (a whole different category of better).

Here in Coronado (meaning this side of the bridge) it nice to just walk along the sidewalks or sit on one of the many sidewalk benches and enjoy the sunshine and the people walking by. One place you don't want to miss is the Mootown Creamery Ice Cream Shop. They have some of the largest portions we've ever run across, plus the ice cream itself is excellent -- even if it's really bad for you (high fat content I'm sure). We've enjoyed their product several times!

Not too much more to say, but I've sure got a lot of pictures (and most of them I haven't used).

 

Looking north along the ocean with Coronado in the background

Someone at the zoo

Sharyn's favorite - the pandas

This guy was really worked up -- apparently having a bad day

First one of these I've ever seen

Polar bear

Baby hippo under water

Male gorilla (at zoo)

Must be Florida!

Coronado -- we ate here -- 64oz ice cream floats

Hotel Del Coronado

The Flower Lady Stand

Daytime view out of front window of motorhome

Sharyn at Seaport Village with Coronado Bridge in background

I like this one

Male gorilla zoomed to 375mm

One big sleeping lion

Sharyn likes this picture better (I don't like the reflection in the glass)

The crowd liked him too

Downtown San Diego from Coronado Bridge (USS Midway in center background)

That's a lot to pay to have it pumped for you!

Waiting for pizza in Coronado's Village Pizzeria

Our last visit to Mootown Creamery

Another view of Coronado's sidewalks


Odometer reading = 76,735
Miles for day = 0

 

 

 

3/8/06 through 3/12/06
(El Centro CA)

Leaving San Diego we climbed from sea level to just over 4,000 feet (a lot of 2nd and 3rd gear climbing) over and through the Tecate Divide and Laguna Mountains, then back down to 75 feet below sea level at El Centro Naval Air Facility in the desert of the Imperial Valley. Since this area is flat desert in almost all directions we did not understand the "Valley" part of Imperial Valley. Looking at our topo we see that the Imperial Valley is a wide swath of below sea-level land extending south from the Salton Sea (which itself is more than 200 feet below sea-level) down into Mexico, bordered on the east by Chocolate Mountains (elevations around 1500 feet), and some 50-70 miles to the west, by the Laguna Mountains.

When we got to San Diego it was our plan that from there we'd be heading north. Sharyn has a booth at the Escapees Spring Escapade in Chico the week of April 23rd and we're slowly moving in that direction. However, while we were in San Diego we learned that the Blue Angels, the Navy's precision flying team, were putting on an air show at El Centro NAF. We figured we could not be that close and not go to see them.

Arriving at the El Centro FamCamp we learned that there was no place for us to stay. We knew that with the scheduled air show there would be no sites with hookups, but El Centro had unlimited dry camp space. Well, that has changed and now there are only some 20 such sites in a paved lot, and none of them would be available until the next day so we drove into town, El Centro, and spent the night in the old Walmart parking lot.

El Centro certainly has changed since we were here three years ago. We both had the recollection of a sleepy, dusty little town that looked more like Mexico than the US. That is definitely not the case today. New shopping centers, major stores, and new businesses have really revamped El Centro. Anyway, we returned to the base the next morning and got the just vacated dry camp site. Having been dry camped for the last 7-8 weeks we were looking forward to trying some electricity.

Yesterday, Saturday, a good part of the base and flight line was opened to the public for the air show. The weather , which had been kind of cool and windy, but otherwise quite nice, was terrible -- dark, cold, and blustery -- and the forecast was even worse, calling for heavy rain and thunderstorms. The show was scheduled to start at 10:am, and we walked over to the flightline shortly before that. Having dressed for the weather (I'm always cold anyway), I was wearing long underwear, pajama bottoms (layering), dungarees, shirt, wool sweater, and down vest, all covered with hat, foul weather gear, and Gore-Tex boots. Sharyn was similarly dressed, but not as extreme (she's never cold). Anyway, after an hour or so of watching individual aircraft do their acrobatics -- the Blue Angels were not scheduled until 2:pm -- we decided to go back to the motorhome to get warm before returning for the Blue Angels. We were probably at the motorhome for about an hour, during which time the sun came out, the sky seemed to clear up, and it got much warmer. We returned to the flight line no longer prepared for the weather we had prepared for in the morning. Bad idea!

It wasn't very long until the sun disappeared , the sky got dark, the temperature dropped, and the wind picked up something terrible. About 20 minutes before the Blue Angels were scheduled to fly the sky opened up, and the cold, wind driven rain quickly dispersed the crowd which tried to find some degree of shelter behind or under vendor's tents, trucks, aircraft, etc. We had found shelter under a large display tent, so while we were out of the rain, there was no protection from the cold wind. Because we were in an area without the public address system we couldn't tell if the Blue Angel's flight was delayed, canceled, or what. After 75-80% of the people had left, we finally gave in and, cold and wet, returned to the motorhome. I had no sooner begun to remove my wet clothes when the Blue Angels screamed right over the top of the motorhome. Quickly getting my foul weather gear back on (I had not worn it the second time out), I put my camera into a big zip-lock bag and hurried back to the flight line. Unfortunately, the show was cut short and I did not get much in the line of pictures. However, as Sharyn said, we'd been watching them fly, and taking pictures, for several days, so to some extent, the show was somewhat anti-climatic. It was worth it to come here.

On another topic, the air show being over, many of the RVers in both the FamCamp and the dry camp area left today. At 10:am this morning we moved into a full hookup site. After all these recent weeks of dry camping it's really great to again be plugged into unlimited electricity, have unlimited hot and cold water, etc. We've paid for a week and could stay for a month. By the way, today was bright and sunny, with clear skies and warmer temperatures. A beautiful day!

 

These are pictures of practice sessions during the days before the show:

Practicing over the base

This clearly would have been better if I had caught the nose of the lead plane instead of the power lines

More practice over the base

 

These pictures were shot during the show

Sharyn with one big helicopter

The weather is looking questionable

Sharyn with Ricky Recruiter (who is trying to steal guys from the Navy)

A lone Air Force F-15 makes a high speed pass over the runway

I got this one while hurrying back to the flightline

Their final pass -- my final picture

 

These pictures are lo-res downloads of some of the hi-res pictures from the Blue Angels official website

Photo #1

Photo #2

 


Odometer reading = 76,874
Miles for day = 139

 

 

 

3/13/06 to 3/20/06
(El Centro CA)

Well it's been over a week since this site has been updated, and Jordan is telling me it's time -- so here goes.

There really isn't a great deal of interesting stuff to write about. Our week in the FamCamp was up on Sunday (yesterday), but we've extended for another week. The weather continues to be really nice, plus, if we began our movement north, it's still kind of cold up that way. There's not much incentive to leave sunny 70° to go to overcast 55°.

We've gone into town on several occasions, and several nights ago we went to the movies here on base (free movies every night at the base theater). I've also done a few minor repairs on the motorhome, plus changed the oil and filter in the generator which was way overdue.

Since Fox News and Tony Snow are back on Sirius Radio again I've reactivated my account with Sirius. The Sirius equipment I have is quite nice (a birthday/father's day gift from Phil), particularly when compared with the $25 XM radio I bought which appears to be made out of paper maché. Until yesterday, while the satellite radio antenna lead in the car had been snaked from the roof, through, under and behind all kinds of things and places to be out of sight, the 12 volt power supply still came sticking the plug into the cigarette lighter. Yesterday I finally hard wired the radio into the cars 12 volt system. Once upon a time, on my 1950 Mercury for instance, that would have been a nothing job, but on a 2000 Honda CRV it's considerably more challenging -- kind of like playing with a Rubric's Cube, only knowing you have to get it back together again.

Anyway, the point of this is that while removing sections on the center dash/console I was very impressed with the number of screws holding everything together. On one particular component I thought that whereas American auto manufacturers would have used two screws, saying, "That'll do," the Japanese used eight screws saying, "That'll NEVER move." That comparison also reminded me of the story I came across back in the 70's. In that story there was a group of Japanese auto design/engineers at a conference. A newly designed electric switch was passed around. As they all handled, examined, and flipped the switch on and off, they were all excited about the smoothness and silent operation of the switch as well as it's quality build. When the same switch was passed around in a group of their General Motors counterparts, the switch was just passed from one person to the next, generating no interest whatsoever except for an occasional, "a switch is a switch."

I'm sure that no longer represents Detroit's attitude, but it may be too late!

That's it Babe (Jordan) -- updated!


The air show is over, but the Blue Angels are still flying


Odometer reading = 76,874
Miles for day = 0

 

 

 

3/21/06 to 3/25/06
(El Centro CA)

Several days ago we went to Algodones, Mexico, a small border town slightly southwest of Yuma, and just across the border from an Indian Reservation (I forgot the name of the tribe). The tribe has a giant sized newly paved parking lot where for three dollars you can park your car and walk across the border a few hundred yards away, which is what we did. As soon as we got to the Mexican side the street was lined with store front signs for dentists, optometrists, and pharmacies -- apparently the mainstay of Algodones We had been told that lots of retired military go there, as apparently do many others from the Yuma area. That's not to say, of course, there there are not also vendors of all kind of items -- jewelry, leather, and clothing seem to be the favorites. Vendors seem to fit into one of two groups; those that appear to be tired and bored, and those that really seem to enjoy what they were doing and were both funny and friendly. Several pleading, "let me sell you something you don't need."

Algodones doesn't appear to be a very big place -- not more than half a dozen blocks in each direction. We came upon an outdoor cafe at the edge of town where we had a Mexican lunch to the loud beat of what I guess you'd call Mexican music. Actually, everywhere we went, the music was there. We'd almost walk from one speaker to the next -- all of which were playing different songs, but with the same sound. As loud as it was, it all went together to make an overall party or carnival atmosphere. It was a fun day.

If I recall correctly, it was the next day that Sharyn went to the Imperial Valley Mall, an inside mall about 12 miles from the FamCamp. We had been to this mall previously, and while it was OK as malls go, shopping in the abstract is just not something that brings me pleasure. This time Sharyn went by herself. That way I do not suffer, and at the same time she can be relaxed without concern that she's taking too long and I'm getting anxious. We've discussed this numerous times and have concluded that if it's purely recreational shopping it's better for both of us that she goes alone.

On this occasion, one of the things she bought was a pair of New Balance walking sneakers for me. We've been looking for walking sneakers for me for several weeks, but without success. Great selection for running, but no men's walking sneakers. Sharyn bought herself a pair in Coronado and has been super pleased with them. It turned out that the pair she bought for me, while they were my size, didn't fit right, so later that evening we went back and exchanged them for a pair that fit better. They do seem to be better than what I had before.

Yesterday we went to Mexicali, Mexico, only 20 miles from here, and just across the border from Calexico, California. Unlike Algodones, where there were nothing but Americans walking around, and all the vendors and shopkeepers spoke English, in Mexicali, which is a much bigger town, there were no Americans anywhere, and almost no one spoke English.

Again, we had parked the car on the American side and walked across. We had not gone but a few blocks into Mexicali when Sharyn, feeling somewhat uneasy, said she was ready to go back. We didn't, but continued to walk around, looking in store windows, checking out what was being sold by sidewalk vendors, etc. This was definitely not a tourist town and as a result was much more genuine Mexico. We had been there for several hours when I said I'd like to find something to eat -- as much for the experience as for the food (I had enjoyed eating in Algodones even though Mexican food is definitely not my favorite). Anyway, we were standing in front of some kind of a food place where they gave you the food, but there no place to sit and eat it except for several chairs out on the sidewalk. I told Sharyn that I wanted a place where I could sit at a table. At about that point a man standing nearby inquired if we were looking for a place to eat. The scenario that followed we thought was kind of funny, even if it doesn't come across that way in the telling. The dialog went like this:

 

 

Helpful Man: Are you looking for a nice place to eat?

Me: Yes.

Helpful Man: There is a very nice place. It's very clean and has good food. Not expensive.

Me: Sounds good.

Helpful Man: (Motioning towards the nearby corner) It's right down that street. It's only about four blocks. You take a taxi.

Me: Why do we need a taxi, we'll walk?

Helpful Man: It's only 70¢

(There are several taxis there and, after he and the driver of one converse in Spanish, the three of us get in. We drive about a mile until he points to a small open air restaurant and tells the driver something. The driver stops and the Helpful Man gets out, speaks to the driver. We also get out.)

Helpful Man: That's four dollars.

Me: What happened to 70¢?

Helpful Man: He said it's a "special situation" because there were so many people. It's not my fault.

(We don't have four dollars in small bills or in pesos [we had hit an ATM machine on the way to the border], but have about three dollars in US and Mexican coins. Helpful Man takes the coins out of my hands, gives the to the driver, tells him something, and the taxi goes away. Helpful Man walks us into the open air restaurant)

Me: Just tell me how we get back.

Helpful Man: I'll stay with you.

Me: That's okay, just tell me how to get back.

Helpful Man: (Pointing) Turn at that corner and keep going straight.

Me: Got it

(Helpful Man [sort of] starts to leave)

Me: Wait a minute

(I have no coins or small bills. I ask Sharyn what she has. She also has no small bills but finds some change we give him and he leaves)

 

 

Although she likes Mexican food, Sharyn wasn't hungary and just had a diet Coke. I had enchiladas. It was one of the things on the menu, but I didn't know what any of the stuff on the menu was. The waiter, who really tried to explain the menu, could only do so in Spanish so I really didn't get too much out of the explanation. Anyway, when it came it was a pretty large plateful and I told Sharyn she should have some because I would not finish it. She didn't, but I did!

After eating, we walked the mile or so back to the central downtown area, passing an entire block of good smelling eating places, did a little more shopping, walking, and looking, and then headed back to the border and our car. In spite of Sharyn's initial hesitancy, we both enjoyed the day, and we both liked Mexicali better than Algodones


Our campsite

Algodones

Flower lady in Algodones (sorry for large file)

Outdoor restaurant in Algodones

Algodones -- $1500 designer pocketbooks for $20

Sidewalk in Mexicali

Another sidewalk view in Mexicali

A third view

Where the Helpful Man took us to eat

 

Odometer reading = 76,874
Miles for day = 0

 

 

 

3/26/06 to 4/8/06
(El Centro CA)

Looking back in this Travelog I see it was a month ago today that we arrived here from San Diego. Since my last entry somewhat over a week ago we've led rather sedate lives. We've been to town a number of times, have eaten out on, I think, two occasions, gone to the movie here on base several times, and a couple of days ago we went to Yuma for the day. I guess we've been doing what a lot of retired people do, which is not too much.

By and large the weather has been near perfect -- a few days could have done with less wind. We thought that if we could get our kids to move out this way, then we could more easily spend the winters here. It does seem to work the way we mentioned in the past. People, at least RVers and retired people, do move north and south with the seasons -- from the northeast to Florida, and back -- from the northwest to the southwest and back. There appears to be very little east/west movement. Basically, no one here is from the East Coast, and no one in Florida was from the West Coast. While Florida gets you out of the cold, it's too humid and too crowded. Anyway, that's my opinion. I really do like the southwest.

While we've been enjoying all this beautiful weather, we have been following the weather in the rest of California, and have extended our stay here on several occasions (canceled our departure) because of the apparent unrelenting bad weatherthroughout all of the Central and Northern parts of the state. Reading in today's Sacramento Bee, it appears that not only are there major concerns about dam failures and flooding throughout major portions of the state, particularly the San Joaquin Valley, it seems that there are two major weather systems, in the Pacific and over Siberia, that are responsible for the unprecedented rainfall, and the meteorologists are saying that the precipitation could continue for several months. That sure sounds pretty ominous, but it also means that we may as well get going.

We plan to visit the Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley as we head north. Sharyn will be selling her jewelry at the Escapees Spring Escapade in Chico the week of April 23rd. She also has a sister and a niece in Oroville that we will be visiting with, prior to and during the Escapade. Our destination from here is the FamCamp at Beale AFB south of Oroville. We'll stay there until we move onto the fairgrounds in Chico on April 22. Rain or no rain, we're moving that way.

The price of gasoline around here has gone up more than 20¢ a gallon since we got here, and is running about $2.899, with some places getting $2.999. Might as well call it $3 per gallon. When gas first passed $2 we said that $2 gas, while we were not happy about it, it would not be a problem. We also speculated that if it got to $3 it would then have become a problem. I think we were right. At $3 per gallon it costs us about 40¢ a mile to move down the highway. At that rate, the 77,000 miles we've traveled would have cost us almost $31,000 -- Holy Cow!

At our first fillup we paid $1.329 per gallon, and our total motorhome fuel costs since we've been on the road has been $15,458.38.

Not too much more to add at this point, except to say that as of midnight last night Sharyn and I have completed 14,245 days of marriage -- 39 years!


Wind generators in the mountains between El Centro and San Diego


Odometer reading = 76,874
Miles for day = 0

 

 

 

4/9/06
(Simi Valley CA)

There always comes a time to leave and this morning the time had finally come. While at El Centro we've been typically getting up around 7-8 o'clock and today was no exception. Without any particular effort to hurry, we were on the road by 9:30, which was only one hour after we started our "let's get ready to leave." The initial leg of today's travel was to backtrack along I-8 back to San Diego, then head north on I-5. We had at one time considered taking Routes S-2 and 79 that would have taken us 130 miles in a northwesterly direction through the mountains to Jobba Hills, an Escapee park near Temecular where we spent Christmas several years ago, but ultimately we decided against that route.

Anyway, after passing through San Diego, as we headed north on I-5 we again came to Camp Pendleton, the Marine Corps base just north of Oceanside, where we thought we'd dry camp for the night and buy gas while on base. The FamCamp there is right on the ocean, but they had no dry camping and all their campsites were full hookups and cost $25. We decided we didn't want to spend $25 to park for one night. That, plus the fact that it was early afternoon and we were only 130 miles from Simi Valley, we decided to continue on. The satellite gas station near the FamCamp had only 10' vertical clearance so we ended up not buying gas either. We later encountered some stop and go traffic in Los Angeles, but otherwise arrived in Simi Valley without incident.

The Reagan Library website (http://www.reaganfoundation.org) says that they don't have adequate parking for large RVs and suggests the Walmart in Simi Valley as an alternative, so Walmart was our immediate destination.

After getting set up at Walmart's, we walked through the store, and then I took the car to go see just where the library was. I started to take my camera, but then decided that since it was getting dark and we'd be going back tomorrow anyway, I didn't bother. Anyway, I found the library just where it was supposed to be. I then thought I'd drive around a bit to see what else was in town (Simi Valley is a very nice community). At one point as I crested the top of a hill I saw before me a giant red-orange sun poised just above the top of a distant mountain. The sky was glowing with the same red-orange color as were the thin clouds above the sun, while the valley between me and that distant mountain contained wisps of fog that glowed semi-irridescent with the same color. I couldn't believe that I was seeing this and did not have my camera. It never fails, the best photo opportunities seem to occur when I have left the camera behind.

When I got back to the motorhome I described that scene to Sharyn and told her that from now on I'm taking my camera anytime I go someplace. It was 6:18 pm when I saw that setting sun, and if we're still here at that time tomorrow, I'll be back on that hilltop with my camera, hoping for a repeat performance.

 

Odometer reading = 77,141
Miles for day = 266

 


4/10/06
(Simi Valley CA)

We were up this morning before 7:am, had our coffee and conversation, and even a little breakfast before setting off for the Reagan Presidential Library. We both thought it interesting (and a nice sign) that each of us, without any discussion of the matter, and independent of the other, upscaled from our normal dress of shorts and T-shirt.. Upon realization of what we were each doing, we made the comparison to when we were in Little Rock. We saw the Clinton Library, which is only a few blocks off the main drag in town, and is a prominent structure along the the river as you drive across the bridge from North Little Rock. Having seen it from the bridge, we decided to drive over and get a closer look at what Bill and Cheryl refer to as "Clinton's Double Wide". We looked at it from the parking lot and took several pictures, but did not go in -- to have to do so would have come too close to recognizing or paying homage to a U S President who deserved neither. Ronald Reagan, on the other hand, was a great American, a great president, and a great leader who made the world a better and safer place for everyone.

Getting back to the Reagan Library, it is a giant trove of historical facts, artifacts, and history. The largest display, by far, is Air Force One used by Reagan, and retired from service under President George W. Bush. We don't know how the library came to get this plane instead of the Air Force Museum at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio where the other Air Force One planes are on display. The Air Force Museum is an absolute must see for anyone who ever gets within 500 miles of Wright-Patterson in Dayton, Ohio. We spent three entire days there -- beyond imagination!


The 707 that was Air Force One under Ronald Reagan (and other presidents)

This marble engraver, asked what he does if he makes a mistake, replied, "I try not to."

President Reagan comes to speak with Sharyn

Replica of Reagan's Oval Office

From patio area, looking out over the Valley

 

Odometer reading =77,141
Miles for day =0

 

 

4/11/06
(Kettleman City CA)

Our day started early today when Sharyn noticed flashing lights outside the motorhome around midnight. We, along with two other motorhomes in the Walmart parking lot, received tickets for illegal parking. Since the parking lot is lined with signs saying no overnight parking there is no real basis for compliant. The problem is the Library has no parking facilities for RV's and there are no campgrounds anywhere around Simi Valley. Since the Walmart parking lot is not owned by Walmart and the City enforces the no overnight parking, it might be appropriate for the City to consider just what RVers visiting the Library should do.

Anyway, its been kind of wet and raining for two days, I've got a cold or some kind of thing that makes me feel lousy. This morning we were up and out fairly early, worked our way back to I-5 and again headed north. I was not feeling well at all and we eventually pulled into a rest area after having only gone 75 miles. The mountain terrain makes progress pretty slow. While we go downhill at 60 mph, half the distance is uphill. Uphill we only go 40 mph if we can do it in third gear, or 25 mph if we are in second gear.

Shortly before we pulled off we witnessed a woman nearly get killed. Two cars, the woman, and a police car were off on the side of the road, but barely out of the traffic lane. As we approached I moved slightly to the left because the woman was standing next to her car in what I thought was a very dangerous situation. (I've always marveled at the way people pull off the road and then stand next to their cars, oblivious to 60-70 mph traffic passing by within inches). She then opened the door and got into the car just as the tractor-trailer in front of us hit her open door and sent it flying through the air. Luckily she was mostly into her car and didn't get hit, but I told Sharyn if she was pulling the door closed she probably sustained injury to her hand when the truck hit. Sharyn said the flying door did not get the police officer. I didn't even see where it went. The motorhome ran over the interior door panel which had separated from the flying door. This entire scenario took perhaps two seconds (60 mph = 88 feet/second, so things happen pretty quickly).

Anyway, after our 75 mile stop we got back on the road again trying to cover some distance so that we could arrive at Beale Air Force tomorrow. We finally exited the mountains and got down into the San Joaquin Valley where we engaged our cruise control for 58 mph. We really need it to be level to use the cruise control as the slightest incline will force a downshift -- which we typically don't want. Anyway, around 2:pm we pulled off again behind some fast food places at one of the exits when I told Sharyn I'd like to sleep for a hour before continuing. I did go to sleep but when I awoke we decided to just spend the night. Hopefully tomorrow will be a better day -- I think we've got about 230 miles to go.


When we pulled off we had the place to ourselves

Odometer reading = 77,318
Miles for day =177

 

 

 

4/12/06
(Beale AFB CA)

When we woke up this I felt much better (practically normal). When we pulled in here yesterday afternoon there was no one else here, but as the evening drew on more rigs began pulling in, both RVs and tractor trailers. Anyway, this morning we had our coffee and conversation and wondered about all the UPS tractor-trailers that were dropping off their trailers and driving away, while other tractors were coming in, hooking up to the trailers and leaving. We asked one of the drivers who told us that they come from Sacramento to the north and from Los Angeles to the south, switch loads and go back. Sharyn had said that's what they were doing, and it made sense. It just seemed to me that UPS would be doing this at some kind of a depot or facility, not just a dirt spot on the side of the road.

We also watched a young girl pull in in front of us with a horse trailer behind her truck. She opened the empty trailer and just hung out while her silly little dog ran around. Eventually another truck with several more girls and a horse trailer pulled in. We watched as they all unloaded the horse from the second trailer and negotiated with him to eventually get into the first girls trailer. Girls, trucks, horse, and dog all drove away, followed shortly thereafter by us.

We made several stops at rest areas as we continued north along I-5 as far as Sacramento. There was no shortage of evidence of all the rain that has come down in this area over recent weeks and months -- flooded farm fields and over flowing rivers. Passing by one large lake we realized that the lake was, in fact, a flooded park with various signs, fence lines, and small structures sticking up above the surface in numerous places. The other day we read in the Sacramento Bee that a water district in the San Joaquin Valley was telling farmers that they could draw off all the water they wanted for free. It looked to us as if the farmers would be more interested in having the water district take back some of the water standing in their fields.

It was mid-afternoon when we arrived here at the Beale AFB FamCamp. Checking in at the office we met the couple that had been parked next to us at one of the rest areas earlier in the day. They are now our next door neighbors, and are also on their way to the Escapee's Spring Escapade in Chico. Entering the FamCamp charge into Quicken we saw that the last time we were here was back in October/November 2002.

I had trouble getting my Internet connection up and running so while I was messing with Direcway Sharyn went to the BX to get some stuff we needed. Eventually I gave up on Direcway, we watched some TV, read some, and went to bed.

 

Odometer reading = 77,580
Miles for day = 262

 

 

 

4/13/06 to 4/16/06
(Beale AFB CA)

It seems that all those weather reports from Northern California that we were following while still in El Centro were really telling it as it was, and it continues unchanged. The rain here continues pretty much unrelenting, and speaking to other people here they tell us it's been raining non-stop for over a month. The grass in the FamCamp has yet to be cut this spring as the ground is too wet to support the mowing equipment. You might call it a rather depressing environment.

Tomorrow we plan on going up to Chico to see about getting Sharyn the necessary business license and resale tax number. We also want to take a look at the physical layout at the fairgrounds where this Spring Escapade is scheduled to take place. If the plan is to put any RV's on areas of grass that's going to be a major, major problem.

Not much else to write about. We'll be leaving the FamCamp on Thursday and probably spend Friday in Oroville before checking in at the fairgrounds in Chico on Saturday morning.. The Escapade begins Sunday -- a week from today.

For now, have a Happy Easter!


Our campsite

More rain on the horizon

Odometer reading = 77,580
Miles for day = 0

 

 

 

4/17/06 through 4/20/06
(Beale AFB CA)

Things have really improved. The last three days have been sunny and beautiful. The ground has begun to dry out, and they even cut the grass in the FamCamp!

Several days ago we drove up to Chico, both to locate the fairgrounds and to see what the situation was going to be for Sharyn's setup at the Escapade. We were a little concerned to find out that we'd be parked on grass, but with three good drying days since then it looks as if it will be okay. The Escapee people who are on-site getting things ready are doing a great job, plus they have done this a good number of times in the past and have had nothing but successes.

Yesterday we drove up to Oroville to visit with Sharyn's niece Kelly.

On several occasions at night we have heard coyotes barking out in the large field behind the FamCamp. One time they were more like screaming. In fact, at first I thought it was a bunch of kids fooling around until the sound changed to the more conventional howling bark. In addition to the coyotes we also have a pretty good supply of rattlesnakes. There are warning signs all around the base, but what brought it home to all the campers happened yesterday afternoon when our neighbor's young dog was bitten in the face by a small rattler, 18-20" in length. They rushed the dog to a vet in town but then had to take him to another veterinary clinic some distance away as that was the only place with the anti-venom. Anyway, "Charlie" came home from the clinic this evening, and while I'm sure he's happy to be home, he still seems a little woozy.

Our other neighbor, Sherry, of Bob and Sherry, sent out invitations for a "Celebrate the Sunshine" get together in the M circle (the campsites here are set out in groups of eight around lettered cul-de-sacs) at 4 o'clock this afternoon. With everyone bringing something to eat, something to drink, and a chair to sit in, it was a festive event that we all enjoyed. Most of the people here are full-time RVers and it turns out that probably 50% of them are Escapees and are going to the Escapade.


Kelly showing Sharyn one of her three or four horses

Our "Celebrate Sunshine" celebration

Another view

Charlie -- still not quite himself

 

Odometer reading = 77,580
Miles for day = 0

 

 

 

4/21/06
(Beale AFB CA)

It had been our plan to leave here this morning and move up to Chico where we were going to spend the night in Costco's parking lot (Costco is right down the road from the fairgrounds) so that we'd be in good position to check into the fairgrounds early tomorrow morning as scheduled. We commented this morning how sometimes when it's time to leave a particular place you feel you're ready to leave and move on -- other times you'd prefer to stay a little longer. This morning it was the latter. So, I walked down to the office and extended for another day. Our plan now is that we'll take down the satellite and get everything ready tonight so that we cane pull out of here early in the morning. Ideally, I'd like to be at the fairgrounds at 8 o'clock.

I saw Charlie this morning and, unlike yesterday, he seems to be pretty much recovered from his ordeal

We have a small swarm of bees that moved into a tree next to our campsite. They began gathering there yesterday afternoon and now seem to be comfortably settled in. The guy in the office called someone to see about having the swarm removed. He said, "If some kid throws a rock at them . . ." Someone did show up later on, looked at the swarm, hung around for a bit, and then left. I don't know what's happening, but the general consensus seems to be to just leave them alone and they'll move off on their own within a few days.

Unfortunately, the clear and sunny weather has given way to overcast with occasional light rain, periodically interrupted by blue sky and sunshine. Apparently the same weather is occurring in Chico. I just hope the ground there doesn't get too wet for all the RV traffic that will be entering the fairgrounds over the weekend. Once everyone's settled in it will be much less of an issue.

This paragraph is an add-on. The picture of the swarm of bees contains quite a bit of detail -- leaves, bees, twigs, etc -- which tends to make a larger file size, even when reduced. Years ago, when everyone had dial-up, I used to worry (and even feel bad) if picture files got over 40K. The bee swarm, which was 1.3MB before cropping and reducing. It's now down to 78K. Today, when I think few people use dial-up, I tend to think that's an acceptable size (unless I get too much comment to the contrary).


This swarm is about the size of a basketball


Odometer reading = 77,580
Miles for day = 0

 

 

 

4/22/06 to 4/27/06
(Chico CA)

We left Beale AFB fairly early in the morning and stopped in town (Marysville) to get gas. We were going to get gas on base but the canopy over the pump area did not have enough vertical clearance for the motorhome -- we basically need 12 feet. Anyway, after topping off the tank we continued on to the Chico Fairgrounds, running into occasional drizzle as we drove north.

It was not raining when we got to the fairgrounds but apparently they had had over a ½" before we got there. They were directing all RVs into the paved parking lots that they were using as staging areas while they gradually got people moved into their setup spots on the grass. While a few vehicles did get stuck, for the most part the several days of sunshine had greatly improved field conditions and the mud problems that we had envisioned did not really materialize. By the end of the day, we along with all the other vendors, had been checked in, put into our assigned locations, and were preparing for the arrival of the regular show attendees the following day.

We thoroughly enjoyed our entire time at the Escapade even though, while I wandered around a bit, for the most part we spent our time at the motorhome where Sharyn had her vendor tables set up. While we have been Escapees since 1999 this is the first Escapade we have attended. We have, however, been to a number of other large RV rallies over the years, and they, like the Escapades, sponsor numerous seminars on all kinds of RV related subjects. In the beginning we did attend many of these seminars as there is a lot to be learned. However, after several years of full-timing (or even non-full-time RVing) you learn a lot, particularly from reading. Since most of the seminars are done at the entry level (i.e. RVing-101) they are greater value for those just starting out.

Anyway, we met and enjoyed our neighbor vendors and hope and plan to see some of them again. Actually, Nick and Melodie (Drawstrings of Malibu) have invited us to stop and visit at their home as we head for the coastal areas of Washington and Oregon -- if, in fact, we do decide to go north -- as we'll be driving right past their house. They sell really nice stuff -- 100% pre-shrunk cotton wear made in the USA (Sharyn bought some).

Sharyn's jewelry was well liked by everyone who saw it, and by the end of the show she had little inventory left to sell. Many of the people who came by also told Sharyn that she should be getting more money for her stuff -- that she was selling it too cheaply. Actually, she has heard that in the past from a number of people, mostly those who buy it. We had talked about doing a Pow-Wow coming up in Stockton next month, but at this point there just isn't enough inventory for another show. I guess that's good.

The show basically ended at 3:pm this afternoon and everyone has to be off the grounds by noon tomorrow to allow for the auto races taking place tomorrow night. Earlier today Bob (of Bob and Sherry, our neighbors at Beale's FamCamp) invited us to accompany them and two other couples to Chico's weekly street fair/farmer's market in downtown Chico. The eight of us, all full-time RVers, had dinner downtown at Smokin' Mo's Barbecue and spent several hours walking around the vendor booths and displays set up on all the downtown area streets. It was a nice event and an appropriate culmination of a fun week. As Sharyn and I were leaving the motorhome to head downtown I said "I'm not going to take the camera." After my experience with the glowing sunset in Simi Valley several weeks ago, and my promise to never go anywhere without my camera, that was a totally inexcusable idea -- proof of chronic dumbness! As a result, all of the really neat goings on at the street fair, and there was a lot to photograph, may never be seen by those of you reading this travelog Dumb, dumb, dumb . . . .


Some wet spots remain

Official "Welcome to Spring Escapade 2006"

Sharyn with her display

A portion of the Outdoor Market area

Sharyn being cute

 

Odometer reading = 77,641
Miles for day = 61

 

 

 

4/28/06
(Beale AFB CA)

Last night they announced that the official attendance at the Escapade was 842 RVs with just over 2100 people (I forgot the exact number), and 250 walk-ins. Anticipating a mad rush as 842 RVs tried to exit the fairgrounds early this morning, we decided that we'd not get up early, have our usual coffee and conversation, take our time, and play it by ear (I had suggested leaving last night when we returned from town, but that idea was quickly vetoed). Anyway, it turned out not to be a problem at all. Gradually, with no rushing or crowding whatsoever, people were moving out. It was about 9 o'clock when we said good-bye to our neighbors, hooked up the car and drove away. I should mention that a number of what I guess would be described as professional vendors, those who routinely travel the country setting up and selling their wares at dozens or more shows, did comment that, as groups go, Escapees are the nicest, friendliest, most easy going group they ever encounter.

It didn't take us long to get back to Marysville and the FamCamp at Beale. We are once again in the M circle, a few sites from where we were before. Passing through Marysville we passed by the gas station where we filled up on our way to Chico. We had paid $2.859 per gallon. Now, six days later, the price is $3.079, up 22¢. Ouch!

Sharyn spent a big part of the day doing laundry. I must have done something, but I can't remember what it was.

When we checked in at the office the guy told us that six rattlesnakes have been killed in the campground since we left. Several other campers have warned us about the number of snakes as well. We're not crazy about having so many around. Apparently they're in the grass (at least two killed on the blacktop) and not too visible as you walk across. They're keeping the grass cut short, but with those numbers it doesn't seem to be helping very much. By the way, Charlie is still here and seems to be a pretty happy dog -- I guess he's recovered. Also, the swarm of bees left a day or so after we did.


Sharyn relaxing (and wishing I'd go away with the camera)

 

Odometer reading = 77,702
Miles for day = 61

 

 

 

4/29/06 to 5/6/06
(Beale AFB CA)

It's more than a week since we returned to Beale and we continue to enjoy our stay here. We were scheduled to leave yesterday (Friday) but extended for another week. We have now decided that instead of leaving on a predetermined date we will just stay here until we want to leave or go someplace else. I suspect that when we do leave it will be to head north into Oregon and Washington, but we'll have to wait and see how it develops.

Sharyn's birthday was on May 3rd and her sister Sandy had us over to her home in Oroville for a birthday dinner the day before. That was very nice and Sharyn really enjoyed it. Sandy's daughter Kelly and granddaughter Ashley were also there, as was Kelly's friend Brad. It was probably 25 years ago that Kelly lived with us on Eastern Long Island for the better part of a year. Ashley is now about the same age that her mother was back then, and during conversation Ashley said that she'd like to travel with us for awhile during her summer vacation. We told her she would be very welcome, and that while we would thoroughly enjoy her company (as we had enjoyed her mother's some 25 years ago), she might not enjoy ours. While we can be interesting for an hour or so, over a period of days, weeks, or months, I don't think many 15 year olds would find us too interesting.

On another topic, we've come to the conclusion that while there are some rattlesnakes around here, there is nothing like the number we had been led to believe. We have been looking (I figured I could maybe get some photos) but have not seen a single snake. Also, it is very strange that they kill six rattlers the week we're in Chico, but none the week before that and none the week we have been back. Also, I told Sharyn that with that many around here the landscape guys must get them all the time with their high speed lawn mowers. So, the other day when they were mowing in the campground, I asked one of machine operators. He said it only happened once, and I got the impression that it was not too recently. So much for the idea of rattlesnakes run amuck.

One day, before we had decided the rattlesnake thing was a hoax, I took my camera and went for a walk out towards a fuel storage tank thinking I might get the opportunity to photograph a rattlesnake up close (but also wishing I had a longer lens). Following the gravel road out through the pasture I saw that as the road approached the tank the main part curved off to the left and went up a hill. I decided I'd go as far as the top of the hill and then turn around. However, as I got to the crest of the hill I saw a pond or lake some distance ahead so I decided I'd go as far as the pond. At the pond I took a few pictures and met a young airman who told me he'd only been stationed at Beale for two weeks but that this was one of the best bass ponds he'd ever come across. Still didn't see any rattlesnakes.

Several days ago we drove into Yuba City, a small community just across the Feather River from Marysville, where Sharyn got to check out a small shopping mall. Yesterday we drove down to Rocklin and Roseville, two communities about thirty miles south of here, not too far from Sacramento. Our first stop there was Camping World where we walked around for some time, looked at everything, and ended up buying two small, folding snack tables. Jordan tells us we should replace the two folding lounge chairs that we have had for five years or so, but the ones we looked at yesterday ran from $129 to $200 each, comparable to what we paid for the ones we have, but even though they certainly looked better than ours, none of them were as comfortable. Admittedly, the fabric is kind of worn on ours, to the point that Sharyn has put a pair of socks over the end of the arms on one chair to keep the padding from coming out. Maybe we'll try to recover them. Anyway, after Camping World we drove a few miles to a big shopping center where Sharyn dropped me at Barnes and Noble while she went to check out Macy's, Nordstroms, and numerous other places that I'd rather not go to.


Blowing out the candles on Sharyn's cake

Ashley in the backyard

View of pond from top of hill

A corner of the bass pond

Best bass pond he's come across

Site M-2 at Beale FamCamp

 

Odometer reading = 77,702
Miles for day = 0

 

 

 

5/7/06 to 5/15/06
(Beale AFB CA)

I'm updating the travelog at this time because I haven't done so for quite some time -- not because there is much to write about.

At the Escapade in Chico, one of our vendor neighbors, Smokey and his wife, was selling DRI-WASH 'n GUARD, something that makes your car or RV clean and shiny without washing or waxing. I think it a polymer kind of thing. I was talking with him about it and asked him to show me how it worked on our motorhome and I guess I was impressed. The following day, after Sharyn told me I had to get past Simonize Paste and Blue Coral, I gave Smokey something like $50 for the stuff he thought I needed. Well now I've just about finished doing the motorhome and I'm pleased and satisfied with both the result and the relative ease of getting that result. In the following picture of Sharyn you can see how the motorhome now looks. Bear in mind that the last time the motorhome was properly done (compounded and waxed) was at Grand Forks AFB in North Dakota back in July 2003.

Yesterday was Mother's Day which started when I brought Sharyn "breakfast in bed" -- coffee and a freshly toasted, buttered bagel. I opened the bedroom door, turned off the fan, opened the window, and generally made a considerable amount of noise, all to no avail. Sharyn continued her peaceful sleep and showed no sign of waking up. Figuring that a mother should not be woken up on Mother's Day if she'd rather sleep, I returned to the living room with my coffee and half of her bagel. Later in the day we joined Sharyn's sister, Sandy, and her two sons, for dinner at Sandy's.. Dinner was good, as was the overall visit and the conversation that flowed. While we were there we also worked on getting Sandy set up with e-mail so that she can communicate more readily with Sharyn, their sister Carol in Florida, and other assorted cousins, etc.

Beale is the home of the Air Force's 9th Reconnaissance Wing flying and supplying U-2 aircraft for surveillance and reconnaissance around the world. When we first approached Beale in October 2002 I told Sharyn that the planes we were seeing looked like U-2's but that I had to be mistaken because U-2's were from a bygone era and were no longer in service. My identification was correct, my history was wrong. The U-2 that most people would be familiar with would be the one flown by Gary Powers and shot down over Russia on May 1, 1960. The plane bore no markings and the pilot carried no identification. President Eisenhower at first denied that the US had anything to do with the the alleged "spyplane" shot down by the Russians until it became clear that Gary Powers had miraculously survived the shoot down and was in Russian custody. While the incident was a major embarrassment for US Intelligence, the U-2 had, and continues, to recover vast amounts of valuable reconnaissance information. As far as my idea that the U-2 was a relic and no longer in service, it turns out that the Air Force has plans for the U-2 at least until 2020. For a great site with a lot of non-classified information about the U-2 go to http://www.fas.org/irp/program/collect/u-2.htm. Everything written here with respect to the U-2 is published information and is in the public domain.

Finally, for several decades, in spite of trying to limit my intake of high-fat and/or saturated fat, my cholesterol has lingered in the low 200's. Plus, my ratio of LDL's to HDL's has been even worse. Last summer I got my doctor back in Virginia to start me on Lipitor. Lab tests done this morning show my total cholesterol to be 152 and my ratio at 5.8 -- very acceptable numbers. Now I can eat more ice cream (sprinkled with Lipitor, of course).

Sharyn in front of shiny motorhome

Air Force photo of U-2

Odometer reading = 77,702
Miles for day = 0

 

 

 

5/16/06 to 5/24/06
(Beale AFB CA)

The 95° weather that we were experiencing last week has passed on through and we are now enjoying weather that is pretty close to perfect (except for an occasional light sprinkle).

As I may have mentioned earlier, most of Beale's 23,000 acres is open pasture with low gently rolling hills. The local cattlemen's association has worked out some kind of a deal with the Air Force whereby the local cattlemen can use vast areas of the base for grazing their cattle. There are several herds of cattle grazing on various parts of the base. One of these herds is only a mile or so from the FamCamp so we can them any time we look in that direction.

This morning Sharyn saw several "cowboys" driving a part of the herd into a smaller loading area -- they were riding Honda type quad-runners. Sharyn commented that "John Wayne would be embarrassed." Anyway, later in the day I took another walk out to the pond I described the other day and on my way out I passed the loading pen, and by golly, the cowboys sorting the cattle were on horseback, using lariats, etc. I took pictures to show Sharyn so that she could feel better, and John Wayne could once again be proud. Also, a week of so ago as we were coming back onto the base there was a cowboy, on a horse, riding along the side of another herd down by the flightline.

As I started my walk towards the pond, before I got to the cattle, I came across a dead rattlesnake in the road. He was freshly killed, I assume by a car, but when I first came across him I wasn't sure that he was dead -- I used a stick to make sure. An hour or so later as I walked back, the snake was gone. Probably picked up by a buzzard.

The other day I used the car to clock the distance to the pond and back -- it was just about exactly three miles.


The road to the pond as seen from the FamCamp (some cattle are visible)

Dead rattlesnake

Picking their target

Going for him

Got 'em

Redwinged blackbird down by pond


Odometer reading = 77,702
Miles for day = 0

 

 

 

5/25/06 to 6/4/06
(Beale AFB CA)

When there is a lot going on, or we are traveling, I tend to do more frequent updates. When we are staying in one place, relaxing and taking it easy (easier), I update less often. This poses a double problem; there is less to write about, and, what there is to write about happened several days ago and I can't remember it. That having been said, this entry will be more pictures and fewer words.

Last Thursday (today is Sunday) we picked up Sharyn's sister Sandy, in Oroville, and the three of us continued on to the Street Fair (Farmer's Market) in Chico. We had a barbecue dinner at Mo's (again) but this time I had ribs (as did Sandy), while Sharyn opted for the salad again -- saying she liked it the last time and was going to do it again. Dinner was on Sandy which we thought was unnecessary, but very nice. After dinner we just walked around looking at all the people and all the stuff. Before leaving Chico we stopped at Starbucks where we all had Mocha Frappachinos.

This weekend, both yesterday and today, the Air Force Thunderbirds performed at the Beale AFB Open House Air Show. The Thunderbirds are to the Air Force what the Blue Angels are to the Navy. We went yesterday and saw some really impressive stuff. In addition to the Thunderbirds, who were the main attraction, there were a number of other aircraft that performed, including a WWII P-51 Mustang, the finest fighter to see action in that war, and a Russian Mig-17. Probably the most impressive plane was the big, cumbersome appearing, C-17 that after the demonstration flight landed and came to a complete stop in just 1500 feet. It then proceed to back down the runway (didn't know planes could do that).

I most enjoyed the F-15. The deafening roar of it's afterburners that, at close range and full throttle, vibrate your bone marrow, gives me goose bumps -- I love it! He made a low pass over the runway at 500 mph, then circled back, and at midfield, went into a vertical three mile climb (that's literally out of sight). With a top speed in excess of 1800 mph, the F-15 has been around since 1974. I can't wait to see a demonstration of its replacement, the F-22 Raptor!


My walk to the bass pond turns left just before the storage tank

Taking a shortcut back to the FamCamp (over the creek and through the woods) I came upon this guy fishing in another pond

Street scene at the farmer's market

Beautiful onions

Sharyn and Sandy on line at Starbucks

This guy from California's Cereal Bowl (fruits & nuts) was not there this time
(Photo by Sherry, who took this picture on our last trip to Chico when I did not take my camera)

Carl Jr's in Marysville

Thunderbirds before the show

Thunderbirds pass directly overhead

Amazing (this is NOT Photoshop!)

Thunderbirds bring their own mobile control tower

One of Army's Golden Knights Parachute Jump Team about to land on target

F-15 and P-51, each the finest of their era, do a joint flyby

This C-17 Globemaster III landed and came to a full stop in 1500 feet!

Lots of cargo capacity

And finally, it provides shade for spectators when the official temperature at Beale AFB reaches 94°

 

Odometer reading = 77,702
Miles for day = 0

 

 

 

6/5/06 to 6/7/06
Beale AFB CA

This coming weekend it would be two months since we arrived here at Beale. I think that's the longest length of time we've spent in one place since we started this back in February 2000.

This afternoon Sharyn's niece Kelly brought her 15 year old daughter Ashley out to the base. Ashley is going to travel with us for a month or so. She's looking forward to meeting her cousin Katlin who is just outside of Kansas City, and then some more of her cousins in Virginia

In the morning we're heading east to be back in Virginia for Jordan's birthday on June 28. Three thousand miles in three weeks is not the way we prefer to travel. When we first got here it was our plan to head north, spend a month or so in Western Washington in and around the Puget Sound area, and then head east at a leisurely pace so as to end up in Ohio for the Escapees Fall Escapade, then to South Carolina for the Octoberfest in Sumter, then back to Virginia for Thanksgiving and Christmas. We'll see what happens from here.

For now it's time to upload this to the server so I can take down the satellite dish while there's still some daylight left.


Golden Eagles in a nest several hundred yards down the road


Odometer reading = 77,702
Miles for day = 0

 

 

 

6/8/2006
(Winnemucca NV)

This morning did not get off to a good start -- at least not for Ashley. She had just finished her shower and was standing in the bathroom under the open roof vent (you can't stand in the bathroom and not be under the roof vent). Sitting on the top edge of the open roof vent cover was a bird who did what sitting birds so often do. While the vent screen kind of "filtered" it, what came through got all over the previously clean Ashley. She was not happy!

We were on the road shortly before ten o' clock, but when we pulled into a rest area on I-80 at one o'clock we had only gone 100 miles. The narrow, winding Rt-163 that we took to get to I-80, plus the constant climbing on I-80 that pretty much held us in 2nd and 3rd gear, insured that we would be off to a slow start. After we reached the Donner Summit at 7,239' we had a lot of downhill travel that not only helped our time, but certainly improved our gas mileage. By the time we passed through Reno and got into Nevada the terrain had pretty much leveled out to the flat high desert at about 4,000' elevation.

As the afternoon progressed we decided to go on as far as the Flying-J in Winnemucca where we'd fuel up and spend the night at either Flying-J or Walmart (Flying-J, like Walmart, welcomes RVers to spend the night in their parking areas). I had thought that after fueling up and having dinner I'd be be good to drive another 100 miles to the next Flying-J. A big chunk of my reasoning was that I'd like to make it to the FamCamp at Warren AFB in Cheyenne, Wyoming by the day after tomorrow, so an extra 100 miles today would reduce our remaining distance to Cheyenne from 800 to 700 miles. However, after we fueled up at Walmart (67 gallons for $205) the consensus was to stay here, so that's what we did.

Actually, there was one other thing that went wrong today for Ashley. She discovered that when she left her local calling area she could no longer send text messages on her telephone. Now if this doesn't sound like a big problem, then you just don't understand the significance of not being able to text message with Chris in a sequence that goes something like:

"Hey, what r u doing?"
"Not much"
"That's cool"


Ashley at Beale the morning we left

Sharyn and Ashley at Donner Summit


Odometer reading = 78,000 (note that round number)
Miles for day = 298

 

 

 

6/9/2006
(Evanston IN)

We were probably on the road by 8:am again heading east on I-80. We crossed over two summits, one before Salt Lake City and on after. Climbing out of Salt Lake City was both long and steep -- it was a difficult climb and we were discussing if the motorhome no longer had the power it once had, or if the seeming lack of power could be attributed to altitude. Anyway, within a distance of a very few miles we went from the high, flat desert country to steep, but beautiful, lush green mountains. A massive thunderstorm chased us into Salt Lake City (it came close, but didn't get us). As we approached the Wyoming border another thunderstorm was bearing down on us, only this one caught us just as we crossed the state line. We pulled into a Walmart at exit five (5 mile marker) only to find that with all the big trucks and RVs that were either spending the night or were just sitting out the storm there was not much room left for us.

Perhaps a 100 yards from the motorhome there was s Sonic drive-in fast food place. While we've never seen one on the east coast, they are a common sight in many parts of the Country. We've never been to one, and Sharyn was excited that now she'd get to check one out (envisioning shades of White Castle on Long Island in 1959). Not even waiting for the rain to stop we ran over to experience whatever it had to offer. What it had to offer was the pits. We're all in agreement that we don't have to do another one. One good thing did come from our visit, however. Ashley got to see what a carhop was -- she had never heard of such a thing, and at first didn't believe that you parked your car and they'd bring your order to where you then sit and eat it. She watched as it happened the way we had described it. Her question; "why not just go to a drive-thru?"

When we got back to the motorhome it was cold. We turned on the furnace as we watched two more episodes of 24 on the DVD player.


Thunderstorm just outside Salt Lake City

Sonic Drive-in as seen from motorhome


Odometer reading = 78,435
Miles for day = 435

 

 

 

6/10/2006 and 6/11/2006
(Cheyenne WY)

We got off to a bit of a late start this morning because the front right tire of the car was totally flat. Using the compressor Sharyn had given me for Christmas I put air into the tire and was able to drive around to Walmart's tire service area. The tire had a cut in the sidewall and was not repairable. The end result was that we bought two new tires, plus the lady who ran the tire section said that one of our other tires was wearing in a manner that it should not have been, so she replaced that tire on warranty. When we left on our delayed start we had three new tires on the car.

It was, in fact, our plan to get to the FamCamp at Warren AFB in Cheyenne and take a day off from driving, which is what we did. Between the fact that it was the weekend, and that we weren't looking to do anything anyway, we did very little while here, other than relax and enjoy the nice day.

The base has an interesting history having been established as Fort Russell in 1876 to enable the Army to better protect the railroad workers constructing the Intercontinental Railroad from the Indians. (To read a short but interesting history of Fort Russell/Warren AFB click here). We spent several hours driving around the base looking at and photographing the old brick buildings. In it's early days the fort was a cavalry outpost with between 4-5,000 horses. I particularly liked the beautiful large brick stables that line a number of streets.

Ashley's photo of her feeding one of these things at rest area where we stopped to eat

Antelope on hilltop just outside of FamCamp area

One of the old cavalry stables

Another view

Odometer reading = 78,974
Miles for day = 359

 

 

 

6/12/2006
(Lincoln NB)

We had wanted to visit the base museum but it is closed on weekends. This morning (Monday) we did check out the museum before leaving Cheyenne.

Late in the afternoon, after having covered some 450 miles we pulled into a Walmart in Lincoln, Nebraska. Unfortunately Lincoln must be one of those towns that restricts overnight RV parking. There were signs all around the parking lot saying no overnight RV parking so we pulled around behind the store where there was more than enough space for us to park for the night, which is what we did.

As soon as we were settled Sharyn and Ashley went into Walmart to get some groceries. Ashley, who had never seen a Walmart Supercenter, could not get over the size of the place. "This is the biggest Walmart I've ever seen in my life!!!" (with amazement).

The only problem we encountered was in the middle of the night the automatic sprinkler system came on and when the spray went across the side of the motorhome Sharyn (who hears everything) woke me (who hears nothing) with a "what was that?" When the spray came by again and I heard it, I didn't know what it was and said, "I don't know." By that time Sharyn, who had been listening to it for awhile said, "It's a sprinkler." I said something like "that's nice" and went back to sleep.


Our parking spot behind Walmart


Odometer reading = 79,248
Miles for day = 452

 

 

 

6/13/2006 and 6/14/2006
(Olathe KS)

We have two fine grandchildren here in Olathe. The last time we visited Kim and the kids we stayed at Walmart some 5-6 miles away. However, the local elementary school is only a few hundred yards from the house and a week or so ago Katlin told us someone had parked a 5th wheel in the school parking lot and remained there for several days. This time we figured we'd try the school also. It really worked out well as we could all walk back and forth between the house and motorhome.

It was particularly nice for Katlin and Ashley as they could hang out together and do their thing -- even if they had to watch Philip some of the time. While this stop was really a visit, it also doubled as a layover day, which was good because this cross-country trek is getting a little long in the tooth.

We had only been here for several hours when a lady came to the door and spoke with Sharyn. She turned out to be the head custodian at the school and was just inquiring about the motorhome. Sharyn told her we were visiting grandchildren and the the last time we had stayed at Walmart. The lady said, "this is much better than Walmart," that we should stay where we were, and that if anyone said anything to tell them we had cleared it with her.

Thinking about it, this was a very good stop for Ashley because she got to sleep in the house in a real bed, instead of the inflatable mattress we had bought for her to use (since we have taken out the sofabed and replace it with a chair and computer station we have lost some of the extra sleeping space). Since we have to get to the other side of Kansas City when we leave here, and we plan on an early start in the morning, we told Ashley she could sleep in the house again, but only if she'd be back to the motorhome before 6:30 tomorrow morning. She said she would.


The "crew"

Hambone -- "Take my picture Grandpa"

Katlin

Ashley

To everyone's amazement (except mine) grandma demonstrated that she can still ride a bike


Odometer reading = 79,450
Miles for day = 202

 


6/15/2006
(Someplace in Kentucky)

The alarm went off and we were up at 6:am. At 6:15 Katlin and Ashley came to the motorhome. Ashley went straight back to bed, while Katlin talked with us for a few minutes before going back to the house. We were on the road by 6:35 -- pretty impressive!

There was nothing outstanding about the day's travel other than the distance traveled (622 miles) and the total time on the road. We pulled into a Walmart at 8:25 pm, almost fourteen hours after starting out this morning -- too far and too long for one day, although it will be much easier to get to Jordan's tomorrow (only 422 miles to go) -- one day earlier than planned.

At this point I should probably mention that when Ashley signed up for this trip we warned her that it was not going to be like what she reads in this travelog; that this was going to be a mad marathon across the Country that could take several weeks of nothing but driving all day everyday. She said "That's fine." Turns out that some friend of hers (who has probably never been out of Oroville) told her it was only a 3-4 day trip. Ashley has been bored silly. We now know that one of the things she does to amuse herself is to take silly pictures of herself (WOW!).


Ashley taking picture of herself


Odometer reading = 80,072
Miles for day = 622

 

 

6/16/2006
(Louisa VA)

We woke up this morning to find that the entire parking lot area where we had parked had been roped off during the night and there was nothing or no one around us. Sharyn opened up one end of the rope and we got an early start for the day.

It was late afternoon when we drove up to the house where Jordan was out on the lawn throwing tennis balls to Jill, her newly acquired female shepherd. We were happy to see her, and she was both surprised and happy to see us. Jill was more interested in the tennis balls.

It was a very long trip in too short a time; 2,795 miles in eight days (six actually on the road), but now we're here.


Jill

Jill again


Odometer reading = 80,497
Miles for day = 425

 

 

 

6/17/2006 to 7/1/2006
(Louisa VA)

It's two weeks since we arrived back here in Virginia and it is only in the last day or so that things have pretty much settled in.

Ashley flew back to California several days ago after having been treated to a whirlwind tour of all the shopping places in and about Central Virginia, a tour of Montecello, Thomas Jefferson's home in Albemarle County, and pretty much any other place that Ashley wanted to go.

Jill, Jordan's new German Shepherd, who only arrived on the scene shortly before we did has acclimated quite well to her new surroundings and enthusiastically has taken Jordan as "her person." Phil has offered to let Jordan use his invisible fence charger since he isn't using it at the moment.. I suspect that within the next week or so we'll (me AND Jordan) will be installing approximately 1,000 feet of perimeter wire to enclose the entire property so that it can be regularly patrolled by Jill.

I may have mentioned in the past that the downside of parking our motorhome on the concrete slab near the house (where we have installed full hookups) is that when we sit out in front of the motorhome we are looking at the shed and the house -- the back side of the motorhome faces the road and the front lawn. While at El Centro several months ago we were sitting outside enjoying the warm, dry climate and talked about the nice new slabs in the FamCamp with landscaping around the perimeter. At that point we began to consider putting such a slab, with hookups and landscaping, here in Louisa. Anyway, about a week ago we moved the motorhome to the far rear corner of the property, situated in such a manner that now when we sit outside we face across the lawn with the house somewhat off to the right, and the road off to the left. While we are presently getting our electricity through a 100' extension cord that limits us to about 15 amps, this is a much nicer location for the motorhome. Whether or not we'll do the slab is still up in the air (first estimate was $4,500 for a 20'x33' slab consisting of 5" of fiberglass reinforced concrete over a 3-4" gravel base). It depends a lot on how often we will be here and how long we will stay when we are here. We have no idea. In the meanwhile, since we have no sewer connection here, yesterday Sharyn and I drove up to Camping World in Manassas and bought one of those famous blue Tote-Tanks for draining and carrying away your holding tank contents. We run our gray water into the woods, but today I did the black water into the blue Tote deal, then pulled it over to the sewer drain at the slab we had been using previously. It's a yucky job!

From my point of view, the best thing that has happened since we got here is that I got a new lens, the Canon 70-200 f/4. This is one of Canon's finest "L" series lenses. I have never heard or read a single negative comment about this lens. In fact, I have been longing for this lens for the last six months. It's too bad I didn't have it for the Blue Angels and/or Air Force Thunderbirds air shows. My existing lens (the "kit" lens that came with the Canon 20D) only reaches out to 55mm). While Sharyn supported my getting this lens, she also says she hopes I like eating peanut butter.

By the way, on several ocassions over the years I have stitched together (in Photoshop) a series of photos to make a wide panorama. The results have not been terriffic. Anyway, the other day I came across a program, Autostitch, available for free download, that does an amazing job, even when the photos themselves present some technical difficulties. To check it out and/or download the free version, go to http://www.cs.ubc.ca/~mbrown/autostitch/autostitch.html

When are we leaving here? Where are we going when we do leave? Got me -- I only know two things; Sharyn has a spot at the Escapees Fall Escapade in VanWert, Ohio in September, and she just received a notice for jury duty -- she has to report to the Louisa County Courthouse on July 13.

 

Canon 70-200 f/4 with and without lens hood

My new "desktop" as photographed at a local Starbucks

Our new, "experimental" location

Our early morning visitor on the day I cut the grass (this is the only photo here taken with new lens)

Panorama of five photos stitched together by Autostitch

 

Odometer reading = 80,497
Miles for day = 0

 

 

 

7/2/06 to 8/18/06
(Louisa VA)

We've been here for over two months and it's definitely time to leave. It's too bad we didn't spend the summer in and around the Puget Sound area as originally planned, but we did get to see and spend time with most of the kids and grandchildren while back here in Virginia

While it was much nicer having the motorhome parked on the far corner of the property we did not like the limited electric that we could draw at the end of a 100' extension cord. After several weeks we moved back to the concrete slab and the full hookups with 50 amps. Until the last week or so the weather was so oppressively hot and humid that there was no such thing as sitting outside anyway (so the view didn't matter).

By the way, after about two weeks of jury duty (which was supposed to run until September 16) Sharyn sent the judge a letter explaining that while we owned the house here in Louisa, it was our daughter who lived in it, and that we were full-time RVers who just happened to be here visiting when the mailman delivered the jury notice. The very next day Sharyn received a letter from the court that she was excused from further duty!

Anyway, we're leaving in the morning with no other plan except that we're heading in a northwesterly direction towards Ohio where we have reservations at the Wright-Patterson AFB FamCamp for two weeks beginning September 2. The last time we made a reservation was in 1998 when we were not full-time and had a 1985 27' Travelmaster. We made a reservation at the FamCamp at Fort Fisher just outside of Wilmington NC and we were a day late getting there. Hopefully, this time we'll do better. At the end of the two weeks we'll be moving on to the Escapee Fall Escapade in Van Wert, Ohio.


Odometer reading = 80,497
Miles for day = 0

 

 

 

8/19/06
(Summersville WV)

It was probably midmorning when, after saying good-bye to Jordan and Jill (who escaped from the house when I opened the door), we pulled out of Louisa and headed west on US-250. During the course of the day's travel we stopped at almost half a dozen places to get propane, but without success. Either they were closed on Saturday, had closed early because it was Saturday, or there was no one available to pump it. So much for propane. Our primary concern was that once we run out (which will be any minute) we will lose our refrigeration. Of course when we are hooked up to electric that is not a problem, but it would be while we ware on the road.

Anyway, our immediate destination was Battle Run Campground, an Army Corps of Engineers facility just south of Summerville WV. We like the COE campgrounds because they are always on some kind of a water project under the jurisdiction of the Corps of Engineers -- meaning there is always a lake or river, usually providing waterfront campsites. Usually they are in more rural, natural settings. Getting here late on a Saturday afternoon in the middle of the summer I was concerned that there might not be any sites available. We really lucked out on that -- we got the last site -- a prime site at the end of a tiny peninsula.

We had hardly gotten settled in when a violent thunderstorm moved across the lake taking the awnings off of several of our neighbor's rigs. Since the rain continued after the storm had passed over we didn't do much of anything this evening. We've paid for two days so we'll see what happens tomorrow.


Thunderstorm approaches the campground


Odometer reading = 80,723
Miles for day = 224

 

 

 

8/20/06
(Summersville WV)

When I woke up this morning it was only 1:30 -- way too early so I went back to sleep. The next time it was six o'clock so I got up and turned on my coffee pot. It's probably silly, but after almost 40 years Sharyn and I now have separate coffee pots. It seems that in recent months she has preferred her coffee weaker, while I have been liking mine stronger, so rather than making it medium where we could both drink it, but neither of us enjoy it, we bought a separate 4 cup coffee maker and we each make our own (weird -- but we both like our coffee better).

After pouring my coffee (and turning on Sharyn's coffee pot) I sat outside and watched as daylight broke and the fog lifted from over the water. All was calm and quiet -- much different than last night. By the time I thought to get my camera it was pretty much daylight.

Since Sharyn wants to go to a bead and jewelry show in Columbus, Ohio next weekend (only about 225 miles from here) we've decided to stay here for the week and continue on up to Columbus on Friday. The only problem was that someone has already reserved our campsite so we had to move. Oh well, the site we are now on is fine, actually quite nice, just not as nice as the one we had. We can get spoiled in less than 24 hours!

After getting repositioned in our new site we drove in to a brand new Walmart Supercenter just outside of Summersville to get a few groceries. By the time we got back to the campground it was raining again -- it's been raining off and on all day. During the gaps in the rain I managed to get my satellite up so I'm back online and can update stringbean.

 

Early morning fog has pretty much lifted

Another view

Our campsite out on the point

 

Odometer reading = 80,723
Miles for day = 0

 

 

 

8/21/06 to 8/24/06
(Summersville WV)

Since the rain of our first full day here ended we have had nothing the beautiful weather all day, every day. We've decided that, for two reasons, we like this campsite better than the one on the point. First, all of the sites on the water, in fact, most of the sites in the park, are occupied by families with lots of kids who get much more out of the water than we would. Also, from our present site located on a knoll we get to watch all the little kids having almost more fun than they can handle -- we thoroughly enjoy watching and listening to them.

Several nights ago we went to a Chinese restaurant on the highway going into Summersville. It was undoubtedly the worst "eating out" experience we can recall. It was really terrible -- the chicken was tough and dry, the shrimp were mushy, and everything was cold. Bad!

The restaurant experience, however, was unable to make a dent in an otherwise thoroughly enjoyable week. This is a great park, particularly for families with small children, grandparents with young grandchildren, and people like us to can just enjoy watching it all happen. There are more bicycles here than tents and RVs, and half of those bicycles have training wheels on them. The speed limit is 10 mph but few people drive more than 5 mph.

As we travel we almost never use the shower or restroom facilities at campgrounds. We just prefer the ease, convenience, and cleanliness of our own. However, since these campsites have no water or sewer hookups (have 30 amp electric only) we have been trying to go the entire week without having to refill our water tank or dump our holding tanks. Accordingly, after taking the first night's shower in the motorhome, I went down to one of the restroom/shower facilities to take my next shower. It was perhaps the cleanest, best maintained, such facility we have come across. So much so that the following day I went to the little office building to tell them how impressed I was. Today, I was riding my bike (more about that in a minute) along the top of the dike that partially borders the lake when I stopped and spoke with the guy running a bushog. We talked about a number of things, but I also mentioned how attractive and well manicured the grounds were. He said that while he likes to hear that, everyone who works in the park takes great pride in the park, the way it's run, and the way they keep it -- it really shows in many ways.

The place is Battle Run Campground on Summersville Lake, run by the Army Corps of Engineers, just outside of Summersville WV (304-872-3459). The lake is 2,790 acres with 60 miles of shoreline.

It was probably about a year ago that we began to think we would probably use bikes more than we were using our kayaks. We certainly have not been using the kayaks at all and there have been a number of times when I had wished I had a bicycle for one reason or another. After doing some online research -- "How to Buy a Bike" -- "What Kind of Bike is Best For You" -- etc., yesterday we drove to Beckley (the closest town with a "real" bike store). First we went to a new Walmart Supercenter and looked at their bikes (and spoke to the guy does does all their bike assembly), then we went to Ride N Slide Sports on a small side street in Beckley. After talking with the guy for some time I tried out what seemed to me like the best bike for my (our) purpose and ended up putting it in the car and bringing it home. It's a Specialized Exhibition Sport -- also known as a Hybrid, or "comfort" bike. With 24 speeds, fat tires, and a front fork suspension it's good, but not ideal, for use on paved surfaces; good, but not ideal, for off-road use on dirt roads or trails. Pretty much fits the bill. After riding yesterday and today, mostly on dirt and gravel trails, I've got a somewhat sore butt -- but I also got places to take pictures that I otherwise would not have been able to get to. Now if Sharyn would just get one.


Panoramic view from our campsite

Another view (looking to the right)

Campground as seen from beach

Campground panoramic as seen from top of dike

Another view of lake (several miles from campground)

Our campsite

 

Odometer reading = 80,723
Miles for day = 0

 

 

 

8/25/06
(Circleville OH)

We both agreed this morning that while we could leave this campground without any difficulty, we could also stay longer. Anyway, we left, dumping our holding tanks, filling our water tank, and then proceeding out to the highway where we finally got the propane we so badly needed. It was noon when we pulled out of the propane place on our way to Columbus.

When we drove up here from Virginia last week we came a good number of miles on US-60, a very narrow, twisting, two-lane road that goes up, over, around, and through the hills of backwoods West Virginia. Today, after about 15 miles we were back on US-60, once again heading north through the hills (I don't know if I've mentioned it before but, as a kid, I was told that if they flattened out West Virginia it would be bigger than Texas).

We're not sure if we'd be able to get into the parking lot at the Veteran's Coliseum prior to the show opening tomorrow, and since the Coliseum is smack in the middle of downtown Columbus we didn't want to find ourselves looking for an alternative safe place to spend the night. We never even consider parking somewhere for the night in a big city -- we go on the assumption that there's too much potential for trouble. Accordingly, at six o'clock we pulled into a Walmart Supercenter in Circleville Ohio, about 25 miles south of the Coliseum and well outside of Columbus.

As we pushed our shopping cart across the parking lot, after having bought our groceries, Sharyn commented on how friendly all the people in the store had been -- a good number of them had smiled and nodded as we passed them in the aisle.

It seemed very hot today, and now at 8:pm it's still 81° outside and 83° inside (plus it's very humid). If we don't get some drastic cooling off it's not going to be a good night. Actually I suspect it will probably be down around 60° by daylight, but that won't be helping much over the next several hours.


Kanawah River in Gawley Bridge WV

 

Odometer reading = 80,925
Miles for day = 202

 

 

 

8/26/06
(Dayton, OH)

When we went to bed last night this whole end of the parking lot was full of tractor-trailers which had pulled in for the night. When we awoke this morning almost all of them were gone -- and they had all pulled out without us hearing a thing!

Anyway, since we only had about 30 miles to travel we had a leisurely morning of coffee and conversation before starting out. We had previoulsy located the Coliseum on the GPS map so it was just a question of following the big orange line. Somehow I still missed a turnoff onto a tiny side street and we had to circle on around and come up from the other direction. It was not a problem, and I frequently tell Sharyn that after following the GPS and that big orange line for a number of years and many thousands of miles I don't know if I could get anywhere by more conventional means.

Pulling into the parking lot (it's a good thing we didn't come here to spend the night) we were charged a double fee and when I asked how come she replied, "You are going to take more than one space." That's certainly true, but no one ever charger us for multiple spaces in the past.

Well, the two day show that we figured we could probably do in one day we actually did in less than two hours! I'm sure glad this show was on our way to Dayton. When the magazine ad for this show (a half page ad) did not say how many vendors would be there I said to Sharyn that we really could not tell how big an affair it was. It wasn't big at all -- only 24 vendors. Luckily the one vendor that Sharyn knew was going to be there (she had talked with them) is a high end supplier that Sharyn had only dealt with once and she very much wanted to see more of their stuff. She saw it, loved it, and bought a good bit of it -- extavagently beautiful handcrafted sterling silver beads and clasps.

Leaving the show we had lunch in the motorhome while admiring Sharyn's purchases.

Finishing lunch we headed for the FamCamp at Wright-Patterson AFB in Dayton, Ohio. The first and only other time we ever made reservations was in April 2000 at the Fort Fisher FamCamp in Wilmington NC. That time we arrived a day late. This time we arrived a week early. Since we arrived after the office closed we just took an available spot that we liked.

 

One of Sharyn's purchases -- a 2" gold plated toggle clasp

 

Odometer reading = 81,024
Miles for day = 99

 

 

 

8/27/06 and 8/28/06
(Dayton, OH)

As we were enjoying our coffee and conversation we saw the host lady checking sites so I quick got dressed and went out to talk with her. She had us on another site beginning September 2 (the first day of our two week reservation), but we told her we really liked where we were and when I later went to the office to pay she had made several changes and we are going to stay on the site we now have for our entire stay, which will now be three weeks. That was certainly nice of her to do that.

We later drove around going to the commissary, BX, and "Home Center," before returning to the FamCamp.

We were here back in June 2000 when the site for this FamCamp was under construction. While the old campground on the other side of the base only had 30 amp service and no slabs or sewer connections, it was set in much nicer surroundings -- a wooded area with ponds behind the row of RVs and a large stream of clear running water across the road. The new campground has everything the way it should be, but it's somewhat "sterile" in comparison.

I rode my bike around to the old campground but after 3½ miles I came to a closed gate -- only a few hundred yards from where I was trying to get to. I'll have to try another way, but I have to wait for the rain to stop.

This morning we went to a Hobby Lobby that's only about 5-6 miles away, plus we checked out some other stores that were in the same area. I'd like to get some kind of a rear view mirror for my bike but haven't found one I like. I think I'd like one of the tiny ones that clips onto your eyeglass frame but haven't found any of those. In the meanwhile, it's been raining on and off (mostly on) since we got here and the forecast is for this to continue for several more days. Oh well -- "In to each life . . . . "

 

Odometer reading = 81,024
Miles for day = 0

 

 

 

8/29/06 through 9/5/06
(Dayton OH)

The stormy, cloudy, rainy weather finally moved out and now we've had two really nice days. In spite of the weather I've made it a point to ride my bike every day -- 10 miles yesterday, 8 miles today, lesser amounts on prior days. I'd like to get to 10 miles every day as a minimum daily routine. I was having difficulty carrying my camera on the bike so I bought a rear rack and a camera bag-like affair that mounts on it. Now I can carry camera, lenses, filters, etc. I also bought a mirror, helmet, and "computer" (actually a speedometer, odometer, etc. that gives numerous readouts) that's about the size of my watch.

We've made several trips to the local Barnes and Noble as well as the base library where we have checked out several books and magazines.

The most exciting thing that happened was when we got a call from Jordan that her car, a 1992 Toyota Tercel with well over 200,000 miles, had finally died and she bought a 2004 Toyota Corolla with only 20,000 miles on it. I suspect that our level of excitement is nearly as great as hers. Sharyn particularly had been extremely concerned about Jordan driving that old, unreliable Toyota, particularly with winter coming on.

There clearly isn't too much to write about but I don't like to go so long without making a travelog entry.


Me on my bike

Jordan's new car

Our campsite

A relaxed Sharyn with a book

Odometer reading = 81,024
Miles for day = 0

 

 

 

9/5/06 to 9/14/06
(Dayton OH)

Since we're leaving here in the morning to go to the Escapade in Van Wert, about 100 miles north of here, this is an appropriate time to update this site.

Sharyn has been spending a good amount of time making more jewelry for the Escapade and has a lot of very nice pieces to sell. Some of what she has is considerably more expensive than what she has had in the past and she's concerned that it won't sell as well. I doubt if that will be the case. While the new pieces have been photographed I have not put them up on her website because I think we're going to redo that entire section of our website.

Today we bought one of those 10 x 10 canopies that you see at lots of trade shows. Sharyn will need it at the Octoberfest in Sumter SC next month to set up her outside booth. I'm going to use it at the Escapade as we're going to set up a "Have your picture taken at the Escapade" booth next to the motorhome. The Escapade is set up differently than most shows in that vendors set up right next to their RVs. That makes it particularly nice for trying the picture taking experiment because the computer, printer, etc. are right there -- have your picture taken and pick them up in 20 minutes.

Sharyn took one day off when she went to a nearby mall which even included a Macy's where she was able to find a birthday present for our grandson Scott who will be 17 in two more days.

I may have mentioned that the training center for the military workdogs is about 50 yards from our motorhome. While we see them come and go we usually don't see them training. The other day they did some practicing in the FamCamp while we were sitting outside. The dogs were supposed to find things that had been hidden and they were pretty good. It's amazing how these dogs are totally focused on what they're doing. When they're working they're totally oblivious to people or things going on about them. One dog came right to the edge of our concrete pad and gave no sign of being aware that we were sitting less than 10 feet from him (I'm sure he knew we were there). The dogs looked like mixed breed, but they all looked the same. We asked one of the security guys what they were and he said they were Belgian Malinois, a variety of Belgian Shepherd.

I've been riding my bike every day and doing my ten miles on most days. In order to keep track of my progress (if I continue, and if I do make progress), and to play, I downloaded OpenOffice.org (from the website of the same name), primarily for the spreadsheet that's part of the suite. OpenOffice is a complete office suite like Microsoft Office only it's open source software -- it's downloadable and free to anyone who wants to use it. Other open source software in common use includes the Firefox browser and the e-mail application Thunderbird, both by Mozilla, both of which I have used for years. There is a bit of "anything but Microsoft" in my psyche that goes back to when Microsoft first started with Internet Explorer.


Necklace of hand crafted, free form, sterling silver beads

Black onyx necklace with Swarovski crystal roundels

One of Sharyn's favorites -- turquoise and silver

Security dog waiting for command

Information page on Belgian Malinois

 

Odometer reading = 81,024
Miles for day = 0

 

 

 

9/15/06
(Van Wert OH)

When I wrote yesterday's entry I forgot that we were actually going to arrive in Van Wert a day early. -- we aren't supposed to get here until tomorrow, and can't get into the fairgrounds until tomorrow. The problem was that the Annual Air Force Marathon is taking place on Wright-Patterson AFB tomorrow and all roads on the base will be closed to traffic from 6:AM until 3:PM. We certainly didn't want to leave that early, and 3:PM would be too late in the day. That's why we left a day early.

Anyway, it was a very relaxed drive through the Ohio countryside to the small town of Van Wert. We've decided that we like Ohio and the people who live here. Most everyone we meet is friendly and seem to be very happy and content. It's make for a nice environment.

When we got into town we inquired as to the location of the new Walmart Supercenter from a man working in his flower garden. We had the location of the old Walmart on our GPS mapping program but we knew that it had been replaced by a Supercenter even though we didn't know where that was. We certainly were not the only ones to have arrived early -- there were about 15-20 RVs in the parking lot. After getting parked and speaking with a number of our new "neighbors" about where they had come from, were they full time, etc., we went into the store to get some of those clamp-on lights with the 10" aluminum reflectors to use for my planned portrait taking endeavor. We then went to a Chinese Buffet at the far end of the parking lot that was highly recommended by the other RVers, It was very good and we'll probably eat there again while we're in town.

 

Odometer reading = 81,121
Miles for day = 97

 

 

 

9/16/06
(Van Wert OH)

I was up at 5:30 this morning and Sharyn got up about 15 minutes later. It was very foggy as we enjoyed the peaceful quiet of an early morning, foggy parking lot as the background for our coffee and conversation. Two nearby rigs pulled out about 7 o'clock so we decided we should get dressed and leave also. We were out by 7:30!

It wasn't too long after arriving at the fairgrounds that the parking people directed us into our spot, or more accurately, onto the place on the grass where we should set up. It seems that the best way to get a lot of rain is to schedule an RV rally. They sure must have had a bunch of rain in the last several days as the tires on the left side of the motorhome went about 4-5 inches into the soft grass. The real bad news was that we had apparently left most of our blocks at Jordan's house -- not sure how that happened. Anyway, scrounging around one of the fairgrounds maintenance shed we found some pieces of wood that we could use as blocks. The problem was exacerbated by the fact that the tires were so deep into the surface that with a single 2" piece of wood under the jacks we could not lift high enough to get the wheels out of and off of the ground to put blocks under then, retract the jacks, put more blocks under the jacks and start all over again to raise it further. In addition, the rear jack broke the wood we had put under it and the jack pad went all the way down into the muddy ground. Hydraulic jacks, unlike electric jacks, have no positive retraction power but rely instead on a powerful spring to retract the jack when the pressure is released. Unfortunately, the spring could not pull the foot of the jack back out of the goo. I had to dig it out with a shovel until the remaining mud released its grip. At that time we were only back where we had started from with the motorhome six inches lower on the left side. At that point the parking guys said I could reposition the rig several feel further to the right which would improve conditions substantially. We did and it did and we finally had ourselves set up and level.

We then opened and assembled the canopy tent for the "photo studio." I got our neighbors to pose for a test run portrait to see how our background, etc. would work out.. As I'm typing this Sharyn suggested that we place the scarecrows/logo (which we have mounted on a 20x30 inch piece of foam board) on the ground leaning against the people's legs. That a great idea because we were having trouble getting a good height and location of the board with respect to the person/people.

Late this afternoon he management people brought Sharyn a great big table for her display set up which we won't do until the morning. I was much relieved to see the table arrive because there was some question as to whether they could even get us a table. We are in the outdoor market area and are supposed to provide our own tables. We sure appreciate them finding that table!

This evening we went to the "vendor's appreciation dinner" where we had fried chicken which I really like.

Since we'll be here until Friday with only the water and holding tank capacity we arrived with, I checked out the fairground's showers and decided I'd take my showers there. Earlier I had ridden my bike around checking out what was going on but didn't do anything near ten miles -- maybe two!

One problem I almost forgot about is that we, and all other Cingular customers here, are unhappy about is that we have no cellular phone service. Everyone else does, but Cingular customers get "No Service." They don't tell you that in their TV commercials.


Walmart's parking lot around 6:AM this morning

Our neighbors and the test photo that will be posted on the front of the tent/canopy

 

Odometer reading = 81,127
Miles for day = 6

 

 

 

9/17/06 to (the morning of) 9/18/06
(Van Wert OH)

We've come to the conclusion that this Escapade is not going to be a good experience. It started off with getting stuck in the mud. Then yesterday afternoon the wind caught our brand new canopy and blowing it over did substantial damage to some of the frame members -- that's the end of our photo booth. Now it's pouring down rain and is supposed to continue with showers, thunderstorms, and high winds through tomorrow night. Besides effectively shutting down all the outdoor booths, including Sharyn, for the next several days, it raises some question as to our ability to drive out of here on Friday morning as scheduled. That's not just us -- there are probably in the neighborhood of 600-800 RVs parked on grassy areas throughout the fairgrounds.

Anyway, Bill and Cheryl (a couple we first met at the Great North American RV Rally in Gillette WY in July of 2000 and have been friends with ever since) got here yesterday afternoon and after several hours of talking, laughing, and catching up, we all went to the Chinese Buffet for dinner. Again, it was very good and we all ate too much. The place was packed with RVers from the Escapade. Clearly the word has spread that that's the place to eat!

The first picture below shows a woman who has been full-timing by herself for three years backing her 36' 5th wheel into place behind and parallel to the motorhome on the right. With basically no room to maneuver that was a pretty impressive job -- plus she did it with no problem!


No room whatsoever to maneuver

Our "photo studio" blew away

Sharyn's table setup

This guy lives in the tree in front of Sharyn's table



Odometer reading = 81,127
Miles for day = 0

 

 

 

9/18/06 to 9/21/06
(Van Wert OH)

Well the show/rally wrapped up at 3 o'clock, about an hour ago. The sun is shinning and it's 75° and beautiful.

Right now Sharyn is finishing putting all her stuff away. Specifically, she's putting all the earrings in their respective little ziplock bags. Bill and Cheryl, together with Debbie and Russ (our neighbors across the way who "modeled" for the camera the other day), have gone to the main pavilion for the closing ceremonies where there will be drawings for a number of prizes including a six day rally at the Oshkosh Fly-in Air Show with all show expenses paid. Two nights ago our name was drawn for two $25 dinners at Cracker Barrel but you had to be there to win and we weren't there. There are entertainment shows every night with prizes awarded but we haven't gone to any of them. Why not? Got me -- who knows?

Anyway, when they all get back we're all going to the Chinese Buffet for dinner. Actually last night was the first night we didn't all go out to eat. We've eaten at the Chinese place twice, the VFW, and a pizza place called East of Chicago. Last night we stayed home and had Sharyn's bean soup. When we got here I weighed 182; now I'm 186, and tomorrow I'll be 188.

I'm doing this now because we might get back kind of late and I want to take down the satellite tonight so it will take us less time to get out of here in the morning when, together with Bill and Cheryl, we'll be going back to the FamCamp at Wright-Patterson for a few days to visit the Air Force Museum. I've told Bill and Cheryl, as I tell everyone else, if they ever get within 500 miles of Dayton OH the Air Force Museum it is an absolute "must see."

*********

It's now 9:30, we've all been to the restaurant and beck again, I've taken my shower, and after I upload this I'll get in bed and read while Sharyn is watching TV. In the morning we'll be saying good-bye to Russ and Debbie who are about 15 years younger than we are and are in the process of positioning themselves to go full-time. We have to talk them into Quartzsite in January.


Sharyn & Cheryl discussing Sharyn's display

"Smoky" -- he was our neighbor in Chico at the Spring Escapade

The current version of our satellite system

A classic 1976 motorhome with 350,000 miles on it

Bill & me keeping watch

Debbie, Russ, and Cheryl talking it over

Wine, cheese, etc.

Bill is always happy

Chinese Buffet


Odometer reading = 81,127
Miles for day = 0

 

 

 

9/22/06 to 9/28/06
(Dayton OH)

It will be a week ago tomorrow that we arrived back at Wright-Patterson AFB with Bill & Cheryl as our sponsored guests. Clearly, the big attraction here is the Air Force Museum (officially called National Museum of the United States Air Force) which is free and open to the public 7 days a week.

The four of us went there two days and Bill and I returned for a third day. Other than the museum, Sharyn and Cheryl spent one day shopping at a large local mall while Bill and I stayed at Barnes and Noble on the other side of the highway. One day we drove down to Springfield, a suburb of Cincinnati, for some Cajun food at Pappadeaux's. The food, service, and physical plant were all so thoroughly enjoyable that even I think the $100+ bill was well worth it. Pappadeaux's will be a regular stop for me and Sharyn whenever we come across one -- unfortunately, most of their locations are in Texas.

Earlier today Sharyn and I went back to the museum again, this time to go to the Imax theater to see Fighter Pilot - Operation Red Flag on the super giant screen with the overwhelming audio system. "Operation Red Flag" is the ultimate training exercise for fighter pilots and support personnel in the world and air forces from other nations actually participate. It's a massive annual exercise that takes place at Nellis AFB just outside of Las Vegas and involves in excess of 250 units, 700 aircraft, and 11,000 personnel, who will fly 12,000 sorties and log over 21,000 flying hours. The story of how such an exercise came to be is itself quite a story -- read it here!

Bill and Cheryl returned home to Arkansas two days ago.

This evening the couple in the next campsite are coming over for wine and cheese and to talk about full-timing as they are about to make the transition.

Tomorrow we'll be leaving here and heading for Shaw AFB in South Carolina -- probably arriving there on Sunday (in three days).


One of the hundreds of aircraft on display at the museum

Another

Kamikaze trainer (an oxymoron?)

The B-29 that dropped the atomic bomb on Nagasaki on August 9, 1945

The bombardier's station in the B-29 Bockscar

The bomb that was dropped

Descriptive sign in front of bomb

Bill, Cheryl, and Sharyn take a break

Stuffed at Pappadeaux's

My daily bike ride took me around the far end of the runway

This wall display in the museum bears a warning that too many in Congress choose to ignore
(This picture has been added to the opening page of www.stringbean.com)


Odometer reading = 81,229
Miles for day = 101

 

 

 

9/29/06
(Exit 9 on I-77 in West Virginia)

We were up shortly before 8 o'clock, but between getting all set to go and talking with the neighbors we had over last night, we didn't get out of the FamCamp until almost 11:am, and by the time we filled up with gas at the base shoppett across the highway it was 11:45 when we finally got on the road.

Not much to write about -- around 2:pm we pulled into a rest area where I made a peanut butter and jelly (actually preserves) sandwich and Sharyn bought a USA Today.

Shortly after six we pulled into a Walmart Supercenter at Exit 9 on I-77 where we had BLT sandwiches for dinner. It's now 9 o'clock and Sharyn's reading here book while I'm doing this. Now I'm going to get in bed and read (we routinely read for an hour or so when we go to bed).

When we got back to Wright-Patterson from the Escapade I put the catalytic heater away since we were once again on full hookups. Tonight we'll be using the furnace in the bedroom. By keeping the bedroom door closed we'll only be heating a very small area so the furnace will not run very much. The furnace circulating fan is a big draw on the batteries so I'm not crazy about using the furnaces. I much prefer the catalytic heater (no battery draw, plus almost 100% efficient). Of course we use the heat pumps when we are on utility company electric.

I think Sharyn finds me to be somewhere between funny and amusing when I talk about furnace fan, battery capacity, etc. She tends not to spend too much time on such issues.


Odometer reading = 81,515
Miles for day = 286

 

 

 

9/30/06 to 10/4/06
(Sumter SC)

We arrived at Shaw AFB here in Sumter by mid-afternoon after a pretty routine day on the road. Street Atlas USA had selected the route for our GPS to follow from Wright-Patterson to Sumter. We were somewhat concerned when traveling a narrow road through the pine forest and Street Atlas was telling us that we were only 20 miles from the base because we had not passed through Columbia, which is about 40 miles west of Sumter and which we (in our minds) we had to pass through to get here. Best of all it did this without running up excess mileage.

Our two favorite campsites were occupied when we got here, but they had us down to move into one of those sites this morning (Thursday,Oct 4) when one of the sites became available. We're now set up and paid through the month of October.

Yesterday as we were coming back from the commissary a flight of F-16s were coming in right over the road to the FamCamp. I had my camera in the car and got the picture shown below.


F-16 landing at Shaw


Odometer reading = 81,809
Miles for day = 294

 

 

 

10/5/06 to 10/15/06
(Sumter SC)

We've pretty much settled into a relaxed semi-routine, doing the things we feel like doing and not doing too much besides that. I'm riding my bike on most days and think I'll be alternating between two routes on alternate days, one 8 miles and one 3.6 miles -- working my way to doing the 8 miles every day. Shaw AFB is the ideal place to ride. Perfectly flat and very little traffic to worry about -- none on weekends.

Last Sunday we went to IHOP for breakfast where we ate too much and felt less well when we left. We try to eat kind of healthy at home and find that when we eat out we almost always eat the wrong kind of food, and too much of it. The usual result is that we tend to feel better when we walk in to a restaurant than when we walk out.

Several days ago we went down near Charleston to visit our youngest granddaughter, Mary. Now that she's in SC we'll get to see her more often than when she was in Louisiana or Florida. She certainly has grown rapidly -- and talks a mile a minute. We really enjoy her.

Yesterday we "did" the Sumter Octoberfest where Sharyn had a booth to sell her jewelry. It was kind of a bust, very few people (mostly kids and teenagers). Sharyn did last years Octoberfest and did pretty well -- that's why she did it again this year, but it's doubtful she'll do it again. We've kind of concluded that very small, very local, affairs just don't bring out a sufficient number of people to make a successful show from a vendor's point of view (unless you're selling hot dogs).

Anyway, we had ordered replacement parts for the tent/canopy for Sharyn's display (it blew over and was damaged at the Escapade in Ohio) which only arrived the day before the Octoberfest, but we had it all repaired in time. This time we fastened it to the ground better and it worked out fine.

I (I think "we") thought the best part of the day was Mike Townsend across from us who hires himself out as a DJ for parties, weddings, etc. He has over 50,000 songs on his computer, including the top 100 (for as long as they've had a "top 100" -- before that it was a "top 25") for every year from 1900 to 1999, except for 23 songs that he has not been able to find. Many of them he suspects no longer exist. Those that he has found most recently, the oldest and rarest to find, have been on wax cylinders. He has the equipment to play, cleanup the clicks and hisses, and re-record from any format. He's been in radio and working on this project since the 60s.

Since he was taking requests I asked for a song called "Fraulein" from 1957. A lot of time was spent in the BX at Steward AFB that year, drinking 3.2 beer and listening to Fraulein on the jukebox. I don't think I've heard it since. His immediate response was "Fraulein by Bobby Helms, coming up." I was impressed; I had no idea who the artist was. I later requested Danny Boy from the album Sil Austin Plays Pretty for the People. It also is very old. He said there were a number of renditions of Danny Boy by Sil Austin, but he'd get the one from the Album. That probably took him 2-3 minutes. Again I was impressed, but later when I asked for Cry Me a River by Julie London I said I know you'll have this." Of course he did. As Sharyn and I said, with 50,000 of the top songs of the 20th century, it's unlikely that there's anything either of us has ever hear of that he doesn't have.

At the end of the day as everyone was breaking down their display, he gave us a DVD, "100 Top Hits of the 20th Century." We were up until 1:AM listening to some of the original recordings from the early 1900s. What took us by surprise was that those songs (say pre-1950) that we were familiar with were often not the original recordings. e.g.: Bird in a Gilded Cage by Jere Mahoney from April 1900. (Listen) Mike's website is at http://www.freewebs.com/creativeprogramassociates Just bear in mind his forte in music, not website design.


Mary

Mike Townsend at his booth (his shirt reads "Quit Work, Make Music"

Entry in Custom Car Show

Another entry (this one's really a portable stereo system)

Winner - Custom Motorcycle

Kids entertainment

Sharyn's booth

 

Odometer reading = 81,809
Miles for day = 0

 

 

Vote on Election Day

But before you do consider this . . .

 

Would you like to see Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid in control of Congress?

 

 

10/16/06 to 11/7/06
(Sumter SC)

Since the last entry in this travelog we have been going about living our often sedate lives with activities (or non-activities) that would hold little interest for readers. However, readers, like everyone else, must take the good with the bad, the interesting with the boring, etc.

The biggest or most exciting thing that happened was several weekends ago when there was a knock at the door shortly before midnight. Sharyn opened the door to a "Hi Mom" from Jordan. Jordan had arranged to have a long weekend and wanted to come down to visit and surprise us both. However, some practical considerations required that she let me in on her plans -- practical considerations such as making sure we'd be here when she arrived. Also there was the issue of getting into Shaw AFB. It worked out well -- earlier that day I had gone to the security office and arranged to have a visitors pass waiting for her at the gate. Sharyn could not have been more surprised. We all enjoyed being together for several days. It was a really nice happening.

Sharyn really likes old houses, particularly old houses with character. If they are large old houses with character that's even better. Anyway, ever since we've been here the same ad has continued to run in the local paper for a big old plantation house "for sale or lease." One Sunday we called the owner and arranged to drive out and look at it. The house was very nice, but it's contents and furnishings, were magnificent. It was, however, much larger than it appeared in the ad, and something we might have been interested in when we were a lot younger than we are now. Of course, that would also require that we reevaluate of present full-time life style.

For the last several years I have been looking back into my mother's family's history here in South Carolina. With a great deal of help from a cousin, Bobby Thigpen, I have good data going back to William Broadway who was born in Sumter District, SC, in 1760, joined the Third Regiment of the SC Continental line on July 24, 1776 and served until 1784. As strange as it is I probably have more unknown answers relating to people in the last 50 years, particularly my own generation and younger. Trying to fill in some of those more recent blanks I located a first cousin of mine, Katherine Broadway, who we went to visit. There is a family photograph showing her and I as flowergirl and ringbearer in a wedding that took place about 65 years ago (I think we'd only seen each other twice then). It was a nice visit, and since she has always remained here in South Carolina, she has much greater knowledge of the cousins, etc., here than I do. She gave me a great deal of information and is in the process of gathering together some of what she could not recall off the top of her head.

Since Katherine lives about 15 miles from the Camping World just outside of Myrtle Beach, when we left Katherine's house (she has grandchildren living with her who are the 5th generation in that house) we went to Camping World to see about getting some new chairs to replace the ones we bought in May of 2002. The old chairs have really needed replacement for a year or so, but while we have looked at replacements in the past, none of them have been as comfortable as what we had. Anyway, the old chairs had gotten to the point that even I was forced to the conclusion that we could not continue to have them out in front of the motorhome. The mistake we had made was to buy chairs that had foam padding and really could not get wet or be out in the weather. In spite of our best intentions they did occasionally get wet. Plus over time the sun basically rotted away the fabric. Anyway, we did buy two new chairs that are not as comfortable as the old ones, but are fine nonetheless. Another 10 years years we'll probably have to replace them also!

This past Saturday we went on a day trip on an off shore gambling boat that sails out of Little River, SC. The trip to Little River was via a small bus operated by Shaw AFB which carried about a dozen people, mostly humorous old ladies who like to gamble -- a number of them seem to do this on a fairly regular basis. We left at 7:30 in the morning and did not return until 8:30 at night. The boat goes three miles off shore before turning on the slot machines and opening the tables. It was an interesting experience, but not one I think we'd do again. For one thing, you can't just leave when you're ready to go -- the ship's sitting out in the ocean. Also, this particular boat (big boat - small ship) was rather cramped and dirty. Not exactly like the casinos in Vegas or Biloxi. Anyway, at the end of the day Sharyn had only lost $26 and we had had a free brunch on board -- plus the overheard conversations during the bus ride were quite funny. An okay day.

We had originally planned to leave here yesterday and go to Savannah for a week or so. Not knowing if the campsites at Savannah would be under trees and preclude us from getting our TV satellite signal, and not wanting to miss the election returns, we decided to stay here until tomorrow. Now, however, it's been raining all day and is supposed to continue for several days, both here and in Savannah. We'll see what it looks like in the morning and decide what we want to do.

We have always marveled at the amount of dust that seems to permeate the motorhome all the time. We used to attribute it to the vibration, bouncing, etc, as we travel down the highway. More recently we have taken note that the dust seems to appear just as quickly even when we are staying put. Thinking that maybe we just keep recycling the same dust through the heating and air conditioning system (roof top units), I have substantially modified and upgraded the filtering system on these units, including some ideas that could more easily be incorporated into the manufacturing design. I just did this today and if it proves effective I'll describe in some detail just what I did so that any interested readers could do the same thing with their own units. Dust seems to be a chronic motorhome problem.


Jordan (indulge her father)

More than we want to deal with at this stage of our lives

Me and Katherine circa 1942

Can you tell the old from the new?

Another F-16 photo (taken from off base)

 

Odometer reading = 81,809
Miles for day = 0

 

 

 

11/8/06 to 11/12/06
(Savannah GA)

Actually this really doesn't start until the 9th as we did not leave Sumter the day we had planned -- imagine that! Anyway, we have planned on numerous occasions to visit Savannah, yet each time something came up that precluded us from stopping. This time we finally made it. We are at Skidaway State Park, a beautiful campground/wildlife sanctuary on one of the many sea islands that border along this area of the South Carolina and Georgia seacoasts. Not only is it quiet, secluded, and beautiful, but it's only ten miles from the old downtown riverfront area of Savannah. After getting ourselves organized in our campsite I took my bike and checked out the rest of the campground as well as some of the trails that wander throughout the park. It's all quite nice and, of course, sunny and 75° does not hurt the perception or the reality.

On our first full day here we drove in to the visitor's center in downtown Savannah where we were told there was a great deal of worthwhile information available. Leaving the car at the visitor's center we took the free city trolley to the downtown waterfront area. The trolley is really neat (it's actually a small bus). It travels a 40 minute route through the main city area stopping at 30 "shuttle stops" as it goes. You get on and off at will, and as I said, it's free. We did quite a bit of walking along the riverfront and the downtown area business area, including the City Market and some rather "touristy" sections -- the waterfront is almost pure tourist stuff, but has some really nice eating places. We had lunch at the Cotton Exchange where the waitress talked me into having their "world famous" Ruben. That was too bad, because within a pretty narrow range a Ruben is a Ruben. The Greek salad looked outstanding and I should have stuck with that.

After many hours of walking, looking, and taking pictures, we ended up back at the corner of Bull and Broughton where we had gotten off of the trolley There was a Starbucks on the corner so we stopped for a cup of coffee before continuing on to the City Market several blocks away. A short while later while walking through the market we saw the trolley coming so we got on and returned to the car and the campground.

The next day, after an extended coffee and conversation (the conversation outlasted the coffee) we drove out to Tybee Island to see the lighthouse (the oldest and tallest in Georgia) and whatever else happened to be out there. The lighthouse is actually located on a 5 acre parcel that is the lighthouse support facility that includes the lighthouse keepers cottage, summer kitchen building, fuel supply building, etc. When the original structure was built the only way to access the island was by boat coming out the Savannah River from town. Later they built a short run railroad, and eventually a bridge and US-80. Across the street from from the lighthouse property is the Tybee Island Museum, housed in what once was Fort Screven's Battery Garland built in 1898-99. A 12" gun was placed atop the battery and was a part of America's Coastal Defense System until it was decommissioned at the end of WWII in 1945.

By the time we finished with the museum it was getting near to 3 o'clock and we were hungry, so we went to the beachfront bar and hamburger place that we had seen from the top of the battery gun emplacement. The hamburgers we had were not made from patties, but rather were a good 1¼" thick chunk of chopmeat prepared with some kind of flavor/seasoning that made it the best hamburger either of us can recall in recent time. Anyway, from there we continued further out along US-80 looking for an Arts & Crafts Fair that was supposed to be going on. We found a small one that took us less than 20 minutes to complete.

From there we started back towards Savannah, stopping at Fort Pulaski, a historical site maintained and run by the National Park Service as a National Monument. The fort is in remarkably good condition. Completed in 1847, the fort had taken 18 years and 25 million bricks to build. At the time it represented the cutting edge of fortification design and technology and was considered by all to be invincible. However, some 7 months after the commencement of the Civil War, in November 1861 the Union established a beachhead on Hilton Head Island, some 15 miles north of the Savannah River and Fort Pulaski. Over the next several months, operating under cover of darkness and behind Sand dunes, the Federals erected 11 artillery batteries with 36 guns and mortars along the northwest shore of Tybee Island -- about 1½ miles south and to the east of Fort Pulaski. Ten of the Union guns were the new rifled cannon that had much greater range, accuracy, and destructive power than anything seen before. On April 10, 1862 these guns opened fire on Fort Pulaski and after 30 hours and 5,275 rounds the Union fire had actually blown away the 7½ foot thick wall at the southeast corner of the fort. The age of masonry fortifications was over and the fort surrendered. The Union troops took possession of the fort and rebuilt the damaged wall in six weeks This is the only fort that Sharyn or I have ever seen that was surrounded by a moat (7½ feet deep and containing at least one alligator).

This morning (Sunday) we went to the Omelet House, about 3-4 miles down the road for breakfast. When we pulled up and saw the line standing outside we almost didn't stay. Luckily we did, however, as the line moved rapidly and the breakfast we had was really good. I had a seafood omelet made with shrimp, crab, and scallops, plus grits on the side. I wasn't sure how compatible those ingredients would be in an omelet, but as I always told my kids, you should always seek to broaden your "repertoire of experience" (funny, I don't think they ever liked hearing that). Even as we finished eating and left there was still a line waiting to get in.

This is a heavily wood campground and the tree canopy blocks all all satellite signals for TV, Internet, or Sirrius radio. There is a cable connection at the campsite for TV so we have been relegated to watching the three networks and CNN for our news. We usually get our news from the Internet and the Fox News channel -- what a difference! I told Sharyn this morning (as we watched some of Chris Matthews and Tim Russert), "Wow, talk about a one sided perspective on what's going on!" Forget about "fair and balanced," you wouldn't even know there was another point of view!

For now I'm going to stop typing and go buy a newspaper. Tomorrow we'll be leaving here and going to the Mayport Naval Station FamCamp located near Jacksonville FL, As I understand it the FamCamp is located on the point where the St. Johns River meets the Atlantic Ocean. It's supposed to be quite nice.

 

Entrance to campground

Bike/hiking trail at Skidaway Island

Our campsite

Shops along the riverfront

Sharyn loves a "penny candy" store

Looking west you see where US-17 crosses the Sanannah River

Riverboat rides are an option

Sharyn window shops

The second street back from the river is at a considerably higher elevation

Tybee lighthouse complex

Closeup of top of lighthouse

Moat and drawbridge at Fort Pulaski

Gun mount at Ft. Pulaski

Interior view of fort

Mounds cover powder magazines and tunnels to gun emplacments

Underground powder magazine

1862 photo of destroyed southeast corner of fort

Repaired corner as it looks today

Makeshift Memorial Day Display along side of highway

 

Odometer reading = 81,987
Miles for day = 177

 

 

 

11/13/06 to 11/20/06
(Mayport FL)

The FamCamp here at the Mayport Naval Station is pretty much as we understood it to be. The campground is right on the Saint John's River with all the boat traffic on the river, including all the Navy vessels, passing in review right in front of the campground -- there're some really impressive ships going in and out, both from the Navy yard as well as from other facilities further up the river (the river runs right through the center of Jacksonville, some 25 miles upstream. The pride of the fleet here at Mayport is the aircraft carrier USS John F. Kennedy. It's in port now and is, by far, largest thing on the horizon. I'd love to see it sail out past the campground, but unfortunately, I guess that isn't going to happen while we're here.

Several days ago Sharyn again went to sea for a day of offshore gambling on a large ship out of Mayport (the Town). This time I didn't go, but get get a picture of the boat as she and it returned to port that afternoon.

Sharyn likes that part of the Jacksonville area that we have seen and visited -- mostly along Atlantic Boulevard (State Rt-10) running west from the ocean. There certainly are lots of shopping options along that route, and it looks as if there are a number of really nice residential communities on the streets running off of Atlantic. The area does meet two of the criteria that we have always said we would want in a community, 1. a Barnes and Noble, and 2. a major military installation (for commissary and BX).. Add to everything else all the surrounding water that Sharyn loves and I can see why she likes it here.

One day we went to Barnes and Noble, and while I stayed there Sharyn walked down the road a ½ mile or so to a shopping center that had a number of stores that she likes, and on several other days she explored on her own and estimates that she has probably completed more than 50% of her Christmas shopping.

I've been trying to ride my bike every day and have come pretty close to being successful. Had it not been for the fact that we were both sick for three or four days (with some residual remaining) I think I only would have missed two days. The best part is that, unless I fall back, I've gotten to the point where I can ride ten miles every day. Whether I do or not is a different matter.

Looking across the river through binoculars we can see several RV's that appear to be boondocking on the beach so this morning we decided to drive over there and check it out. Going out the back gate of the base puts us right in the little fishing village of Mayport, originally settled in 1564. Of course I don't know how big a settlement it was then, but it really isn't too much bigger today. Anyway, from Mayport we took the ferry some 1700 feet across the river where we then followed Highway 105 for several miles to Huguenot State Park. It turns out that those RVs are actually in campsites right on the beach -- not exactly boondocking, but paying $7 per day for dry camping. We liked site 70 so we signed up for that spot tomorrow -- again, that spot was only available for the one day as someone has it reserved after tomorrow (today is our last day here -- our time is up and someone has this spot reserved through Thanksgiving).

While the weather has been very nice (sunny and high 60s) that is supposed to change by tomorrow and begin several days of cooler, cloudy weather with 30% chance of showers each day. Depending upon the weather and how we feel about it, we'll do the one day on the beach and then either move to a different site or begin a gradual movement northward towards Shaw AFB and Virginia for Christmas.

Getting off the ferry back on the Mayport side we went into a small seafood place for lunch (after I checked it out and assured Sharyn it was not just a bar). Lunch was very good. Everything is fresh caught and cleaned the day you eat it. Sharyn even had some of my hush puppies and said if the first hush puppies she ever had had tasted like that she would like hush puppies. Mayport, and where we ate, are quite unique in that while they are probably unchanged in 20-30 years there are no tourists to be seen (except on the ferry).

Our two oldest grandsons, Scott and Patrick, are both major high school soccer fans and players. Last week their school went all the way to the state finals, where unfortunately they lost, and were feeling kind of bummed. However, as I told our son, to be number two in the State is a pretty major accomplishment and nothing to be down about.


Coast Guard heading out past FamCamp

Sharyn checking out USS Kennedy and other vessels

Navy ship entering port as seen from motorhome

Casino ship returning (can't quite make out Sharyn)

USS Kennedy (and Honda CRV) as seen from (at) Huguenot State Park

Sharyn checking out beach at Huguenot State Park

Fishing boats tied up in Village of Mayport (as seen from ferry)

Where we had lunch

Information about Mayport Naval Station From Wikipedia

Scott celebrates scoring after rebound

Southold team upon learning they made state finals

 

Odometer reading = 82,156
Miles for day = 169

 

 

 

11/21/06
(Fort George Island FL)

Last night and this morning the weather was cold and windy with occasional rain -- pretty crummy! We talked about just staying at the FamCamp and moving into the overflow area but decided to move across the river anyway. After getting our propane tank filled we left the base and took the ferry across the Saint John's River to what is known as Fort George Island. The motorhome with two passengers and the car in tow (overall length about 50 feet) cost $4 -- that has to be one of the best deals in America -- several years ago we paid $26 to drive across the George Washington Bridge in New York.

We checked in at Huguenot State Park where we had prepaid for one day. While the site location was terrific, it was too cold and windy to enjoy the beach, the water, or anything to do with outside (temp in the 40s and wind gusting to 30 mph).

Since the forecast for tomorrow is for more of the same we decided we had no interest in extending for another day. We will, however, keep this place in mind for a future visit with better weather.


Our campsite at Huguenot State Park with aircraft carrier John F. Kennedy in background

View from windshield towards mouth of Saint John's River

Another view of our site (these last two pictures were taken quickly when the sun popped out for a minute)

Odometer reading = 82,165
Miles for day = 9

 

 

 

11/22/06
(Sumter SC)

Since Huguenot State Park has no hookups, getting ready to leave only entails bringing in the slides and lifting the jacks. After our coffee and conversation it was only a few minutes before we were hooking up the car and leaving the park.

Wanting to get to Shaw AFB before dark, we only stopped twice -- once for gas, and once to have lunch and make a pot of coffee. Unfortunately, with only about 60 miles to go, traffic on I-95 came to a complete stop. We spent almost an hour until we were able to get off and travel US-15 instead. That delayed our arrival at Shaw to about an hour after dark, but when we saw that our favorite site was vacant we figured it was a good day. A couple of hot showers just topped it off.

 

Odometer reading = 82,462
Miles for day = 298

 

 

 

11/23/06 through 11/30/06
(Sumter SC)

My granddaughter Katlin gets on my case about my updating this website whenever I become derelict beyond a reasonable degree. I guess I'm beyond a reasonable degree because I've heard from her about it. Now, since I'm doing this on December 3, I'm relying on memory which is never a good method. Nevertheless . . . .

While it rained our first day here, after that the weather turned beautiful -- sunny with temperatures in the 70's. Wherever we are, it's always a nicer place when the weather is so perfect. Sharyn, of course, did a great deal of Christmas shopping. Christmas must be an especially joyous season for those who love to shop.

We ate out several times and even checked out another house for sale that turned out to have been pulled from the market by the owner. It was on the same street and only about three blocks from the house my grandparents lived in when I was a little kid (pre-kindergarten).

We thoroughly enjoy our stays here at Shaw. What precipitated our leaving was the weather forecasting an end to the sunshine and warm temps. With a week of cloudy, cool weather, with frequent rain and showers on the way, we decided it was time to leave.


Odometer reading = 82,462
Miles for day = 0

 

 

 

11/31/06 through 12/3/06
(Louisa VA)

Our plan was to take two days to drive up from Sumter. We have done it in one day on a few occasions but find a two day time frame much more comfortable. Accordingly we made no effort for an early start and didn't get on the road until shortly after 11 o'clock. We seem to be doing more traveling on the Interstates than we have in the past and that has a lot to do with how it comes about that our 200 miles per day rule has been being broken so frequently. Anyway, when it got to what would have been a reasonable time (for us) to stop for the night we had little more than 100 miles to go -- so we went.

It was after dark when we arrived at Jordan's house. Having unhooked the car several miles from her house, Sharyn had driven ahead and pulled the car into the yard in such a manner that the headlights were illuminating the concrete slab that we put the motorhome on. It worked well -- within ten minutes we were level, slides extended, and plugged into 50 amps. The water and sewer connections waited for daylight.

It's nice to see our kids again, and Sharyn enjoys seeing all her "stuff" in the house.

Sharyn has now wrapped all (or most of) the Christmas presents she (we) have bought. I've managed to ride my bike every day even though it was raining the first day and I turned around and came back after only a mile or so. Since then I've twice pedaled a seven mile route that has lots of hills. While none of these hills are serious, this is the first place I've ridden that has had any hills at all. Not only does it make for more interesting riding, but as I told Sharyn, when it's flat you can pedal as hard or as easy as you want. When there are hills, below a certain level of effort the bike just won't go. Also, the ups and downs probably make for better exercise.

We'll be here until shortly after Christmas when we'll leave for warmer climates. In the meanwhile our activities probably will not lend themselves to interesting writing or reading, so there probably won't be too much written here until we're back on the road.

In the meanwhile, check out the new link below read about and download OpenOffice, a free open source office suite that pretty much parallels Microsoft Office. This is NOT an oddball software package for geeks. The governments of India, France, and hundreds (perhaps thousands) of other municipalities have switched from Microsoft Office to OpenOffice, as have innumerable private corporations, state and private schools and universities, libraries, etc. OpenOffice.org forums provide more information than you (I) can absorb http://www.oooforum.org/forum/. Check it out and give it a try -- I switched over several months ago.


Odometer reading = 82,860
Miles for day = 396

 

 

 

12/4/06 through 12/16/06
(Louisa VA)

Since we've been back in Virginia we've been busy shopping, wrapping, shipping, visiting, and generally getting ready for Christmas.

Several days ago Katlin sent me a great photo she had taken of the Gateway Arch in St. Louis. I liked it a lot and told her I was going to put it on the website. Check it out!

Not much else to write about at this time except to say that if you highlight (click and drag your mouse across) the area in the box below you will discover a secret message that no one else can see but you!

We wish you a Very Merry Christmas

 

Photo of the Gateway Arch taken by Katlin from a moving car!

 

Odometer reading = 82,860
Miles for day = 0

 

 

 

12/17/06 through 12/23/06
(Louisa VA)

This entry has to do with two newspaper articles I recently came across -- nothing to do with RVing. Interestingly enough, and as way of background information, I believe it was 1996 or 97 that I started this website. It was going to be what is today called a "blog," It certainly would have been one of the first, if not the very first. There were no blogs then and there may not have been any such word! I wanted the name of the website to be "Attitudes" -- www.attitudes.com. Unfortunately that name was not available. Neither were the next dozen names I tried to get (how and why I got stringbean is another story).

Anyway, the first news article had to do with dumb things people do with their vehicles when they are using a GPS. In one instance the guy was supposed to make a right hand turn at the corner, about 50 yards ahead. The voice said, "turn right now." He did -- $2600 worth of damage. Another guy drove his car into a river in Germany. He was supposed to have waited for the ferry but told police the GPS display looked like it was a bridge. In a third instance the driver ran right through and into a construction area. He told police he thought his GPS knew a shortcut! These stories were reported by Reuters, not my favorite news service, but it does seem to have some followers. All of these stories remind me of my thoughts when the "No Left Turn" signs first began appearing at the end of the approach ramps leading onto the Interstates. If we really needed those signs we were in big trouble! Now it's years later and it seems that we do, and we are!

The second news story was that Toyota, the most profitable auto manufacturer in the world will, in 2007, surpass General Motors and become the world's largest auto manufacturer (as well as the most profitable). That reminded me of an article I read more than 40 years ago depicting the difference between the Japanese and American auto manufacturers. There was a meeting of automotive design engineers. At the meeting someone produced a prototype for a new on/off electrical switch. As the switch was passed around the Japanese engineers examined it closely, marveled at its smooth action and silent operation. The American engineers were pretty unimpressed and brushed it aside with, "a switch is a switch." It's too bad no one at General Motors ever heard about what went on at that meeting -- or maybe they did!

 

Odometer reading = 82,860
Miles for day = 0

 

 

 

12/24/06 through 12/30/06
(Louisa VA)

Well Christmas has come and gone and I think everyone enjoyed it (it is certainly supposed to work that way). It gave us the opportunity to be with three of our four children which is about the most we can ever get together in the same place at one time, and even that doesn't happen too often.

We had planned to leave here yesterday but Sharyn wanted to help Jordan get her house back to it's pre-Christmas condition. They're doing that as I'm kind of getting the motorhome ready, updating stringbean, and generally probably not being too useful. When it comes to creating order out of chaos Sharyn cannot be beaten. At the same time I don't know where to begin (I'll get rid of the Christmas tree and help put stuff back in the attic).

Anyway, this will be short because I want to get this uploaded to the server so I can take down the satellite.


Shane, Jordan, and Phil


Odometer reading = 82,860
Miles for day = 0

 

 

 

12/31/06
(Sumter SC)

We pulled out of Jordan's driveway at 9:45 this morning, topped off the fuel tank at the corner market, and headed south. With only two stops we arrived at Shaw AFB at 6:pm. Unfortunately our two favorite campsites were taken so we pulled into a spot next to one of them. That way I'll be able to set up the Hughes Net satellite dish on the line between the two sites. If the other guy leaves before we do we can then change sites and not have to move the dish. Of course we don't know who will leave first, in large part because we don't know how long we're staying here.

Tomorrow we're stuck on base because our DOD windshield sticker on the car expires at midnight tonight and we won't be able to get a new one until Tuesday. Until then, if we leave the base we won't be able to get back on.

For now I'm going to close up this 2006 page and start one for 2007.

Happy New Year!

 

Odometer reading = 83,255
Miles for day = 395

 

 

Skip ahead to January 1, 2007

***Top***
***Home***

 

 

 

 

Complete Travelog February 2000 through last December
(This is a big file, probably not suitable for download via dialup connection)