Monday, August 30, 2010

Trip Notebook

Since we have started taking longer trips, we have begun to keep better records while on the road.  This helps when I blog and also when making a scrapbook of a trip.

For the upcoming trip I have expanded on recordkeeping by creating a notebook.  the notebook contains: calendar of the trip with specific reservations indicated, reservation forms, the dogs’ vaccination records, log sheets (one for each day), vinyl multicolored tabbed divider pockets for receipts, a spiral notebook, camping club roster and in the back brochures for campgrounds we frequent.  The zippered binder I am using has pockets on the inside front cover where I have placed a calculator, Woodalls on disk and camping club membership cards as well as our vehicle insurance card.  Found this gently used binder at a rummage sale for $.25.  Registrations, Calendar and dog vaccination certificates are in plastic sleeves.

2010 Aug 30_Travel notebook_0935 edited

As Promised--Adventures with our 1988 Bounder

I remember going to look at the Bounder for the first time.  It looked so nice with it's flashy orange and brown stripe, the awning was open and it looked great for a 12 year old.  We had been looking for a "new to us" motorhome for some time and most were disasters.  Most folks didn't even attempt to tidy up, carpet was stained, bumper stickers plastered all over the  back and they were in a general state of disrepair.  Not this bounder.  It was shiny and clean and everything worked.  There was real pride of ownership. 

After a thorough inspection we took it for a test drive.  Now this was the first Class A that I had driven in.  The windshield was huge.  It almost took my breath away, but not in a good way.  It seemed everything was right there in your face--the road, the trees and utility poles, traffic and the yellow and white lines on the road.  Now you would think good visibility would be a good thing, and it is.  I don't know if it was that I was so high up or just it was so much to take in at once but it was a bit overwhelming. 

The next thing I noticed is how much steering it took to keep on track.  This should have been red flag, but again I had never been in a Class A before and I don't recall Tom saying anything at the time.  So the deal was made and we became the proud owners of a 1988 32' Bounder.

We scheduled our first camping weekend and took off after work on Friday.  It would have been better to book a site at one of the local campgrounds, but for some reason we booked about 40 miles away.  We didn't arrive at the campground until after sunset and it was a madhouse.  This was the weekend before Labor Day and the final fling of the summer for many families. 

The site they gave us was impossible to get into.  It was almost like, as I remember it, a field with a swale that we needed to drive through to park.  We figured if we tried to park there we would have hung up the back end of the motorhome so we cut our losses and left.  We had no idea of where we were going really but headed back to the Interstate and ended up staying at a rest area.  Our first night in our "new to us" motorhome and it's spent in a rest area. 

The next day we headed over to the Mississippi near Dubuque.  We discovered a nice little county campground right on the river where we spent the next night.  We had a pleasant time there until that evening as we were sitting outside we kept smelling gasoline. After a brief investigation we discovered that our gas tank was leaking.  It was a very restless night as we lay just above the gas tank hoping that no one passing by would toss a cigarette butt near us.  So much for the first outing.  One of the baffles in the tank had come loose and had to be welded.

The next time out reverse quit.  I backed it into a campsite and it just stopped going backwards.  We did stay, but on the way home had to really plan any stops so we didn't get into a situation where we would need to back up.  So another expense.

Then there was our 2003 trip to California, Las Vegas, and Arizona.  Remember I mentioned the steering . . .  Well, it wasn't my imagination, the Bounder was squirrely.  Every undulation in the road or passing vehicle caused the Bounder to drift.  When a semi would pass the Bounder would leap toward the shoulder right over the rumble strip.  Every time we would lurch to the right, I would tense up, Quark, who sat on my lap would dart under the seat.  This set up a pattern that he still needs to overcome.

There’s more but I will save them for another time.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Camping Through the Years

70 something adventure wheels 1970 Something 22’ Adventure Wheels—Taken on the way to Myrtle Beach.  This was the first RV we purchased in ‘82 or ‘83. This motorhome had a rear dinette with a pull down bunk above.  We got a lot of service out of it.    79 Volkswagon Camper Van1979 Volkswagen Camper Van—That’s me and Joe taken in the mid-‘80s.  Next we purchased this VW camper.  Imagine two adults and three kids on a trip to Florida.  Me and Tom up, Amy and Tim down and Joe on a hammock above the front seats.  I don’t know how we did it.

73 Midas Class C

1973 21’ Midas —Taken in Washington, D. C.  Note there is no air conditioner.  Had this one for a few years.  As you can see it was small enough to take in the city.  How did we make it without air?

skamper pop up

Skamper pop-up year unknown.  We had this for a short time.  As we had a boat, we decided we wanted to pull the boat instead.

We also had a Skamper slide-in truck camper  on our 4-cylinder Ford Ranger for a short time.  Couldn’t find a picture. 

The only time we used it was when Joe and Sue took it on an outing.  It was cold and the pilot light on the furnace kept blowing out.  So Sue was in and out of bed all night re-lighting the pilot.  The same weekend Tom and Tim took the van up north fishing.  They were cold in the van too and headed home early.  Sue would not be bested by the guys and made sure they got home first, in spite of the miserable conditions.

When it came time to leave, the campground exit was up a steep hill from the river bottom and the poor little ranger almost didn’t make it.

78 Winnebago class C

1978 24’ Winnebago Class C—Taken in Spokane, WA.  Sadie our Black Lab in picture. This was a really nice unit.  The layout worked really well for us.  The sofa and dinette were up front, the kitchen was in the middle and the bath with a large wardrobe in the back.  The bunk in front was huge.

88 bounder Washoe st pk nv

1988 32’ Bounder—Taken near Carson City, NV.  This was our first Class A.  It was “tired” when we bought it. I will write another time about all the “adventures” we had with the Bounder.

2009 Trip West 020

1995 32’ Flair—Taken in Zion NP.  Our current RV.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Goodlettsville (This entry got lost in my draft folder-oops!)

The hot weather continued during our visit with Tommy and Grig. In spite of the heat we had a great time.

Grig came to the campground for supper on Thursday evening, but the remainder of the visit was at their house. I thought we could have everyone over at the campground and we could swim and hang out at the campsite. Didn’t happen. It was too hot to sit outside and the pool was the size of a postage stamp.

We went to what was a favorite restaurant on Friday evening. We got there before 5 p.m. and I ordered white meat fried chicken. The waitress came back to tell me they were out. OUT of white meat chicken on Friday evening at 5 p.m. Come on. So I ordered another special from the white board—baked ham. OMG the ham was so dry and generally yucky. What a disappointment. Won’t go back there!

Met the horses’ new landlords. During the big flood in the Nashville area, Tommy and Grig had to evacuate their horses due to rising water at their boarding stable. They intended to just tether them in the yard until they could figure out what to do when their neighbors up the hill saw them unloading their horses. The neighbor offered the uses of two stalls in their stable for free. After a while it was apparent that it would be a while before their former boarding stable was back to normal, so it was decided to make more permanent arrangements with the neighbors. This seems to be working out well. The stable is much nicer than the old place and it is walking distance from the house, not a 20 minute drive each way. Not having to drive is saving the guys both time and money.

We always have a great time with Tommy and Grig. Eat, shop, hang out at the barn, eat, play games, eat . . .

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2010 jul tom-grigs_0776

The guys have a butterfly bush that was just loaded with butterflies.

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Planning a DYI project.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Motorhomes Ho!

entire route for blog

Tentative Route

We are about to set out on another adventure.  This trip we will be caravanning with friends, Jim and Sherry.

The plan jelled when the four of us were chatting at one of our spring campouts.  We were talking about things we always wanted to do and the Albuquerque Balloon Festival (ABF) came up. We agreed that it is something we would like to see and it became a focal point for this trip.

Throughout the summer planning continued and we now have plans to go to three Samborees* as well as the ABF.  We will be connecting with two other couples from our group at the ABF.

*A Samboree is an RV Rally sponsored by the Good Sam Club.  Each state has at least one per year. 

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Aud and Em Visit Papa and Nana

2010 Aug 3 Dells_0833

The girls made their first overnight visit to our house without their parents.  This is a big deal as we are over 100 miles from their home.  If they would get homesick, it’s a two-hour drive home.

I am happy to report everything was great.  We had a very busy couple of days. We picked them up on Monday evening.

2010 Aug 3 Dells_0840

Tuesday, we took them to the Wisconsin Dells via the Merrimac Ferry.  We rode the Original Wisconsin Ducks and went back home via the ferry. For supper the girls wanted to go to Texas Roadhouse so they could ping peanut shells on to the floor (they did eat, too).  At home we made necklaces and watched a movie.  Then it was bedtime.2010 Aug 3 Dells_0871

Wednesday, we went Madison.  We toured the Wisconsin Capitol Building where we not only learned about the building but also a little about the workings of the state government.

 2010 Aug 4 Madison_0901 2010 Aug 4 Madison_0889   

2010 Aug 4 Madison_0898

Next, it was off to Henry Vilas Zoo.  This is a wonderful, small zoo right in the heart of Madison. It is just big enough to see plenty of animals but small enough that Papa and Nana won’t get worn out. 

2010 Aug 4 Madison_0911  2010 Aug 4 Madison_0913

Monday, August 9, 2010

Goodlettsville to Home

We left bright and early Monday morning. Our plan had been to stay at Land Between the Lakes but with the oppressive heat we decided to skip LBL and stop at Lake Carlyle then home.

Lake Carlyle is one of our favorite places to stay. The campsites are huge and park-like. 2010 Jul 12-13 Lake Carlyle_0791 The 26,000 acre lake, campground and marina are located in Clinton County, Illinois.

2010 Jul 12-13 Lake Carlyle_08012010 Jul 12-13 Lake Carlyle_0797

The following morning we connected the car and were leaving the campground and had travelled about 50 feet when the car’s transmission popped back into gear–not a good thing. The car shuddered as the tires caught and the motor home dragged it a few feet. We stopped and Tom put it back in neutral. There were no further problems with the transmission and it appears there was no harm done.

As I described in a previous entry, when towing our car, it must be started and put through the gears at least every 200 miles. This mixes up the oil in the transmission and coats the parts to prevent the transmission from burning up. Well, we left Lake Carlyle and were heading home. It was a total of 300 miles home, so we tried to find a rest area about mid-way to stop. The map showed one south of Bloomington, IL at mile marker 145.

Now, that day was as hot as any during this trip. We stopped at the rest had lunch then Tom went out to start the car. Well the car's alarm went off and the car wouldn’t start. So we had to disconnect the battery cables. Of course first you must dig to find the tools to do so. So here we are, the temperature felt like 100 with the air temp and heat from the pavement, struggling to get the battery disconnected so we could figure out what was wrong.

During our travails a “Country Coach” motor home pulled in next to us. The phrase,”If you have to ask, you can’t afford it.” That’s a Country Coach--45 ft. of luxury motor “coach.” Why these people even pulled in next to us is a mystery to me. The rest area was one of the largest we’ve been in. There were only us and one or two semis in the truck/RV area. So they are parked next to us, spewing diesel fumes and more heat toward us. They went to the rest rooms and came back and sat in their air conditioning having lunch spewing and spewing and not asking if we needed help. I was certain they were sitting behind their tinted windows watching our struggles.

We determined that the car battery was dead. We don’t know why it drained but it was dead. So we had to jump the car with the motor home. It would have been a cinch if there wasn’t a spewing (I like this word) behemoth next to us. Tom could have backed the motor home next to the car and ba-da-bing, ba-da-boom that would have been it. But that was not to be, the Country Coach did not move. So Tom had to pull out, turn around, go against traffic and pull in nose-to-nose with the car. Fortunately there was room to do that and no traffic to get in the way.

Rest area

The green rectangle is our car, the blue dot is the Country Coach and the red line is the movement of our motor home.

After the car was running we had to back the car out of the space to another one and pull the motor home in front to reconnect. WHEW!!

After we got home we decided that the battery problem was caused by the brake buddy being too close to the brake pedal and then possibly shifting when the brake was applied. We will need to prove this theory next time out.

This was a very rough trip on us mostly due to the extreme heat. We were planning to take Audrey and Emily camping but we just didn’t feel like it. We also had planned to go to Potosi, WI with our camping group and decided not to go. Saving our strength--and money for our upcoming trip—three Samborees, the Albuquerque Balloon Festival and tour of southeast Arizona and southwest New Mexico.

The adventure continues . . .