Now in Crawfordsville, Indiana

Now in Crawfordsville, Indiana

We are now in Del Rio Texas

We are now in Del Rio Texas

Farewell to Harrisburg and Hello to Crater Lake Oregon

Thursday - Friday:  September 27 -28, 2012 

We decided to stay at the River Bend campground until Thursday after the rally so we could get caught up on just minor stuff.  The campground lets you wash your rig so I took advantage and washed the RV and the truck.  I also installed the new bike rack and rearranged the “basement” of the RV.  I took the ladder and the extra sewer hose and put them in the bed of the truck.  It’s easier to get the ladder now and I’m not sure I will ever use the extra-long sewer hose again until we are back in Cindy and Rob’s driveway.   

On Thursday we left River Bend for an appointment at Guaranty RV in Junction City at 8:30 am.  Guaranty is only about 6 miles away on SR 99 in Junction City.  We were so impressed with Guaranty at the rally we decided to use them for work we needed to get done. 

A note about hitching wrong since we started.  This morning I got to try the correct method I learned about last week.  It worked perfectly the first time!  I have now hitched 3 times since and each time it hitched perfect the first time.  It took me 6 weeks and 3000 miles to learn that lesson.  There will no doubt be more!

We had them fix the 2 slide issues we were having.  Turned out that the kitchen slide’s wood trim was catching on the floor when sliding out as it was too long.  Guaranty trimmed the trim (under warranty) and it works fine now.  The other slide issue, the big living room slide was skipping when retracting.  That was due to it needing to be lubricated.  They lubed it with silicone spray on the underside of the slide and at the 2 rollers inside the RV under the rug.  This is maintenance and is not covered under warranty.  So now I know!
Our House in the shop.
We had a couple of modifications done as well.  We had roof vent covers put on our 2 vents and an external manual sewer pipe valve installed.  The vent covers will allow us to open the vents even in the rain and while it is traveling.  This helps to keep the rig cool when in travel mode also.  As for the sewer vavle addition, we have had leakage from the black tank valve since we purchased the rig.  The outcome of that is crap water would accumulate behind the sewer pipe cap if we were dry camping or left some water in the black tank when traveling, which I do to help keep it clean.  Then, when I would take the cap off I needed a bucket to catch about a gallon of crap water before I could put on the sewer hose.  I wear rubber gloves when I do this anyway, but still, yuck!  So now, with the additional valve, it will make no difference if the black tank or either of the other 2 grey tank valves leak, this external valve will allow me to take off the cap and put on the hose without getting crapped on!  This external valve is also close enough to the pipe opening that I can clean it out.
The added external sewer valve.
We also had the bathroom door fixed under warranty.  The door would pop open at the slightest movement in the rig.  We also had to bungee it closed when traveling.  They just shimmed the door out a bit and it is fine now.  It stayed closed all the way from Junction City to Crater Lake, 180 miles.

The work was not going to be completed in one day, so they pulled our rig just out of the service bay and hooked us up with 50 amp power and city water.  No sewer, but we could dump just across the street before we leave if needed, we didn't need to.  It was a little weird “camping’ in, for lack of a better description, a parking lot. 
Our camp ground for one night.
After we set up camp in the parking lot, we went to dinner at a local BBQ restaurant, the kind where you throw your peanut shells on the floor.  This seems to be common here in the West or it may just be the type of places we like to eat. 

BBQ Restaurant in Junction City 
Out front of the BBQ restaurant in Junction City.

I know they have these in the East but we had never had them.  These are deep fried dill pickles   Not bad, but I think they could be made better.
Just a note about eating out that we have learned.  We have only eaten out for any meal 5 times in 7 weeks and 2 of those were breakfasts while the rig is being worked on.  Our not wanting to eat out took us by surprise as we ate out a lot in our Sticks & Bricks life.  It just seems that our food is better and we don’t need more entertainment.  Our days are pretty full right now.

After dinner we went to have cocktails with our new RV-Dreams friends who were also getting work done with Guaranty RV.  They have been here for a few days now and are in the dealer’s campground across the street from where we are camped.  They are having a lot more work done than us so they are here longer.  Are new friends are Gina (a solo), DJ (also a solo), and Monty and Rose.  It was a great time telling stories around an LED light we used as a campfire.  DJ had the best and funniest story about losing her cat on the way here from Tennessee.  She spent ½ hour looking for her cat in the bushes at a gas station when the cat was hiding in the truck all along.

The next day, Friday, we went for breakfast as they wanted to start on the rig at 8 am.

The 6th Avenue Wine and Deli. Great breakfast, slow service.  Very eclectic!
They told us that they believed they would be done by noon and, if they are correct, we could still make the 3.5 hour trip to Crater Lake.  Great news, they finished by 10:30 so we bade our safe travel wishes to Gina, DJ and Rose who were there when we left.   We were then hitched up and moving by 11 am.

The trip here to Crater Lake was uneventful, just more very scenic beauty! 

We saw these all over since Wyoming.  This is the first we could catch and this big.

They are just dust/dirt funnels.  These are several hundred feet high.

We went by one real close some where and it pelted us with rocks and dirt.  They look like small tornadoes.

I was hoping the yellow sign was visible on the right.  It says Low Clearance 12 foot 10 inches.  Our rig is 12 foot 10 inches!!!!!!  The good news is that it is only that low on the side they are working on!!  Note that the shoulder is so much less on that side.  We waited 15 minutes in line here to enter this tunnel.  We went by a worker who was holding a clearance pole to see who could clear the tunnel.  When we went by she looked up and and made a jester like "seems good"!!!  Ahhhhh!!!

Just good looking stuff along the way.
The camp ground is probably the most rustic we have been in and its full 50 amp hook up.  There is no cell phone or over the air TV here.  We do have some WiFi, 2 hour per day each then you need to ask for more.  Not sure if that extra is free yet. K  The 2 hours of WiFi is per computer so 2 for each of us.  Also, we have a pep wave WiFi booster with and external antenna and its own address that the camp system thinks is a separate connection.  That gives us 2 more hours shared per day.  Just for fun, I’m going to change the address of the pep wave and see if we get another 2 hours. J  We don’t even need the extra time but I just want to “cheat” the system.  Once a kid always a kid.

Our Crater Lake Camp site.  We love it.

View out of our dining area window.  Just 2 months ago this was Cindy's backyard!
Before dinner we went for a walk around the camp ground.  We met 2 sisters that were camping in a class B that they rented from Guaranty RV in Harrisburg where were just came from.  What a small world!  We were shocked at the cost they paid to rent the unit, $900 for 4 days!  For those who don’t know, a class B is a manufactured conversion van.  It mostly has everything a class C has but way smaller.  One sister has a 36 foot class A and she is helping the other sister with camping for the first time before she decides what she wants and if she wants to do this.  We talked for a while and they came over and took a tour of our place.   We are the largest towable here and I think the largest RV also.  There are a couple of 35-36 foot class A’s here also.

We cooked stuffed peppers in the convection microwave oven.  We still are experimenting with this oven and do not have it down yet.  Patty’s peppers were very delicious but we couldn't get the peppers to soften.  This is mostly because I suggested that she not do her usual and precook the peppers. :-)

We watched some satellite TV and hit the hay early at 9 pm.  We didn't sleep as well last night in the RV parking lot as we normally do.

This is just way more fun that a couple should have!  We have a great life!

We are not sure about tomorrow.  We are staying here till Monday so we have a couple days to explore.  There are trails leading out of the camp that look like fun and there is a music festival just up the road within walking distance over the weekend.  Patty is now ready to bike again so we will take our bikes up to Crater Lake and ride there one of the 2 days we are here.

Stay tuned!

325 mile Road Trip in Oregon

Monday:  September 24, 2012 

We were up early at 6:30am as Patty had an appointment with a physical therapist in Junction City, about 8 miles south at 8am.  After the appointment, we went to a local restaurant to have breakfast.  It was kind of a dumpy place with a lot of flies :[]  The food was ok, how do you mess up eggs anyway.  Done with breakfast and we were off for a big road trip up the coast to Portland.

First view of the coast just north of Florence OR.  Looking South.

First view of the coast just north of Florence OR.  Looking North.

Note the salt/fog in the air.  It's all over the truck now.

The sign says for us to watch for bikes in the tunnel.  Really! 

Interesting concrete bridges.

Buildings in Portland OR.
The end of a great day.

We planned to head west on some small roads until we met up with SR126 to get to Florence on the Pacific coast.  Then we would head north for about 50 miles of coast driving up SR101.  This is the same road as the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) in California.  The views were absolutely beautiful.  It was a shame that we couldn’t stop much as we needed to be in Portland by around 4pm for another appointment Patty had with an herbal Dr.  

We turned east on SR18 to Portland for about 90 more miles.  We did stop once to get some pictures and to get some local produce.  We stopped at a produce farm on SR18 and got some fresh tomatoes, onions, and some cucumbers.  Patty planned to make a salad from this produce for dinner. 

We arrived in Portland just before 4pm and we were a little worried we would be too late for the appointment.  We didn’t need to have worried, Patty got right in.  We were done there around 5:30 and headed back to our RV 89 miles south on I5.  We got back just as the sun was setting over the mountains to the west.

We had a great dinner of shrimp cocktail, corn on the cob (not good), and the absolutely fantastic salad.

Tomorrow we plan to do domestic stuff, laundry, food shopping, and get a couple of vent covers for the RV.  I may even wash the truck.  It is covered in salt from the ocean spray.

Stay tuned!

RV-Dreams Rally At River Bend RV Resort in Harrisburg Oregon

Tuesday - Sunday:  September 18 - 23, 2012 

What a great Rally!  We met so many people from a lot of places.  RV-Dreams with Howard and Linda is sort of a fun RV cult.  Howard and Linda Payne started this club from nothing but their desire to show people how to fulfill their dream of living this free RV lifestyle.  RV-Dreams is a very loose club as there are no membership dues or real rules.  You belong by wanting to live your dream by RVing full time.  Howard and Linda derive their living expenses from these rallies and by promoting RV stuff like insurance, inflatable boats, weighing rigs, and workamping (camping for a free site and/or wages).   Their reputation is what sells for them.   Really cool people.  If you are interested, you can see what this lifestyle is all about by going to

Our site at the rally.

We started off the week going to Eugene to get a new bike rack, a better front step for the RV, and a haircut for me.   We got back in time to actually register for the rally.  The first rally day is mostly signing in and then there is a catered dinner where announcements are made to get everyone prepared for the seminars and activities.  This was our second RV-Dreams rally so we sort of knew the routine.  Our first rally last April in Sevierville Tennessee we didn’t yet have a rig and were not retired yet.  That rally helped us get prepared for full timing.  This rally should help us with the stuff we are now experiencing as real full timers.

Our new front step!

New bike rack that hangs from the ladder.

This couple in their early 40's pull this at 65 feet long from Las Vegas.  They have a smart car, kayaks, and bicycles in the trailer!

Another interesting rig.  They pull a small RV with the Motor home!

Patty playing a game where you have to put both tea bags on the hat with just your head.

The second highlight was the driving school put on by the local RV dealer in Junction City. They had 2 Class A's, a Diesel Pusher and a Gasser.  They also had a Travel trailer and a 33 foot 5th wheel, both with their own trucks all there ready for us to test drive.  It was in a really big open paved lot.  They put up cones for a back in site and for maneuvering through tight “S” curves.  I was going to drive but it took so long to get through people who had never driven a 5th wheel first that I decided to skip it.  However, Patty got to do it.  It was a great experience for her to do this here as there wasn’t any pressure and it was their rig, not ours!  I wish I had done this before I had to do it for real.  It is very hard to find somewhere to test drive a 5th wheel.

RV Dealer in Junction City gave us a BBQ with free wine and beer!  This was after the driving school.

The vehicles waiting for us to test drive with an instructor.

Patty going through the test course.

Patty with the instructor.

Patty getting instruction to start.

We all identified ourselves in the park for the rally.
We finished the rally on Saturday night with a 70s type dinner dance.  After the dance, Patty and I started a fire and about 5 couples joined us to chat until about midnight.  It was a great ending to a great rally and the day.   I was just a little toasted when we got back to home.

Patty at the dance.

Howard and Linda doing announcements before the dance on Saturday night.

Us at the dance.  Note the asterisks on our name tags, that means we are full timers.

Patty blowing bubbles.

Howard with his 70s hair dancing with Linda at the beginning of the dance.
A couple of highlights from the Rally.  I finally found that we have been hitching the 5th wheel wrong since we got it.  The way the dealer showed us was just wrong.  There was a 5th wheel hitching demo at the rally that I watched that started me thinking.  The demo was with a different type hitch, a Husky 24k, mine is a Reese 22k.  The Husky has a hook in the hitch head and mine has 2 jaws that come together to hold the king pin on the trailer.  What I noticed at the demo is that they did the hitch very, very slowly.  We were shown to “hit” the hitch with the truck and then put the hitch handle into the lock position.  At the demo with the Husky, it automatically hitched when the truck was backed into the RV king pin.  All they needed to do was to put the lock on the release lever.  I then went on the Internet to the Reese site and found their procedure for using my hitch.  Yes, I am to start with the jaws closed, not open as I was shown, and then back into the jaws slowly until the king pin in fully engaged in the jaws.  Now I feel like a real idiot.  We haven’t tried this yet but it should work much better than what I was doing!

We finished up the event with a great breakfast on Sunday.  Linda and Howard played an emotional song about living your dreams and having a smile as you go, got some people tearing up ;) We said our goodbyes and headed to our RV home to write this and then take a nap J

Tomorrow we go are going to Junction City so Patty can get some physical therapy for her arm that that she broke back in Ohio.  Then we are going to take a drive up the coast and over to Portland so Patty can get some “coupons”:()

Stay tuned!

Just hang’n in Harrisburg OR

Monday:  September 17, 2012 

We didn’t do the hot springs as they are 2.5 hours away, would make a 5 hour round trip.  I decided to do a bike ride into the town of Harrisburg which is only a couple of miles away.  The town’s population is around 5,000 people.  I rode up and down the towns 20 or so streets and found a bike path along the Willamette River.  It was a very short bike path but it did take me down to the river.  My bike ride lasted all of 45 minutes and I was back to the RV.

Since Patty’s arm is still not strong enough to hold her on the bike, we went to the on-site pool and hot tub in the afternoon.  It’s very weird with the low humidity here.  The air temperature is 85 and the humidity is around 20%.  You just don’t seem to sweat J  We really like the climate so far here in Oregon.

The trees here at the park are planted in such a way that it looks like there is a tunnel built in each row.

Swimming pool and hot tub all to ourselves.

There are some interesting rigs here.  This one is from BC Canada.  They have a queen bed in the truck!  Also pulling a 40 foot 5th wheel.  They are 65 feet long when pulling!!

One of many bus conversions here.
The rally is sponsoring (for free) an RV tech to fix stuff on your rig.  The repair needs to be an hour or less and you pay for parts.  I had them look at my black tank leak-by problem and they suggested that I have a secondary manual valve put in.  Made sense to me as this is what we did on locomotives.  The valve near the toilet on a locomotive would sometimes leak or be left open.  Then the maintainer would try to empty the tank and get crap all over him when he would open the cap.  Same with the RV, I open the cap and crap comes out before I can get a hose on it, not very nice.  The place does warranty work on our unit so we scheduled an appointment for them to do the warranty work we need and to put on the secondary crap valve next week when we leave here.

There are about 35 rally attendees here now.  The rally starts tomorrow afternoon with sign-in starting at 2pm. 

We plan to go to Eugene about 12 miles away to get a part for the BBQ and to get my hair cut.

Stay tuned!

Travel from Bend OR to Harrisburg OR

Sunday:  September 16, 2012

Another great day for traveling.  I started out by getting the truck washed and topping off the fuel tank.  After that I got rid of the bike rack that basically fell apart from the travel.  The base cracked back in Wyoming and the whole thing started to lean into the road.   I had them bungeed to the ladder, but now one of my turn signals was blocked by the bikes.  I decided to put them in the bed of the truck laying down next to the cab. I can then just cover them with the original bike cover when we tow the RV.  I'm not completely happy with this but it's much better than on the back of the RV.

Notice the lean?

My bungee job.

This is what it looks like without the bungees!

There is the crack.

So, we set off for Harrisburg at noon as we only had about 140 miles to go.  This the type distance I like to go in a day.  We are also staying for 10 days in Harrisburg.  We like that too.
The trip was mainly through the Cascade Mountains on SR 20 and 126 to Eugene OR and then north on I 5 for about 12 miles.  We started at about 3,000 feet in elevation then went up to 7,000 feet then all the way down to 600 feet here in Harrisburg.  At the intermediate elevations we ran into a lot of wild fire smoke.  We had to have our lights on so, mostly, people would see us.  The inside of the truck started to smell like a campfire.  After the decent to 600 feet and flat ground, we are now officially on the west coast.

Burned out trees

The smoke in the air.  This is about 1:30 in the afternoon.

Almost there!

When we pulled in we were greeted by the rally sponsors Linda and Howard Payne.  We hadn’t seen them since the Tennessee Rally last year in April.  We got checked in and our new site is a back-in site L  Now I was going to back-in and show off my skill or, lack thereof, to our peers.  Linda came over to watch and could see I was a little nervous.  She gave me the best tip for backing in to a site.  She said to get the rig as close to the site entrance side of the road as possible and then do my normal routine.  This will give the truck the room to maneuver the trailer into the site.  She was exactly right.  I put the RV in to the site in one shot!  Both of our neighbors were impressed.  So was I!

We ate dinner and then the gang of early arrivals headed over to the group camp fire.   There were about 15 of us sitting around the fire discussing all things RV.  We had people from BC Canada, Washington, California, Kentucky, and us from NJ.  We broke up at 9:30 and we went back and watched some TV and went to bed.

Tomorrow we should do the hot springs.

Stay tuned!