Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Back to Arizona


While parked in front of Brett’s place, two weeks ago, we experienced the pranks of high school students during Elk River’s Homecoming week.  The senior class and the junior class were competing with each other to see which could spread toilet paper on the trees at the most homes of the other class.  Sophia is a Junior this year, and the Seniors came to visit on Tuesday night.  In addition to TP-ing a tree in their front lawn, they also spread a lot of mustard on our pickup and the motorhome.  Wednesday morning the hose came out and the mustard got washed off.  We had a concern that it may have left a shadow on the protective 3M film on the nose of the motorhome.  Since we planned to stop at the Winnebago factory anyway, we added that concern to our list.



We spent one night without hookups (called “boondocking”) at the factory and were taken care of quickly the next morning (at no cost)!  Thursday night was spent in southern Iowa, and Friday night in southern Missouri, before getting to the Nomads’ Annual Meeting at Agricenter International just east of Memphis TN on Saturday.  We had a great time there, meeting old friends and making new ones.  Early in the week, before the business meetings and seminars began, we had a field trip to the Lorraine Motel, which was the place where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr was assassinated, and which is now the location of the National Civil Rights Museum.  We spent about 3 hours here, but it could have been even longer since there is so much to see and read.



After most of the week full of meetings and seminars, we took Friday off to do laundry and prepare for our trip west.  It had rained a lot while we were in the Memphis area, and we were parked on grass.  Friday was a good day for the ground to dry up and we pulled out on Saturday with no problems.  We had planned for 5 driving days of about 300 miles each to get to Paula and Tom’s place in Arizona.  Saturday evening we pulled into a small campground near the Oklahoma/Arkansas border and were surprised to see another Nomad couple setting up their 5th wheel.  They had arrived just a few minutes before us.  We had dinners on our own, but went out together for dessert at Braum’s Ice Cream.



While we were headed west, Hurricane Rosa was aiming toward Baja California, and later dropping lots of rain on Phoenix.  Last night we stopped just outside of Flagstaff Arizona as the last of the rain moved out of Phoenix.  Today was a much easier drive to Paula and Tom’s place than yesterday would have been.



So now we are once more in their driveway and will be here for a few months, while fall finishes and winter comes to the north.  Us “snowbirds” should be warm and dry here in Arizona through the end of the year, and then some.

 

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Time to Move On


Summer is still officially ON, at least until later this week, but hints of fall have already begun.  Here and there the leaves are beginning to turn colorful and the ferns along the roadside are already brown.  We have been feeding hummingbirds all summer long, but there are fewer of them lately.



Big changes are coming our way next year.  While a part of the Benson family for more than fifty years now, the cabin has always been primitive, with no sewer or water.  Carrying fresh water here at 5 gallons per tank and using an outhouse for relief has kept some potential visitors away.  We also had our own sauna in place of showers, where sweat and soap got us clean, and lake water rinsed us off.  As we said, changes are coming: a well will be drilled and cased this fall, with a pump and water main brought to the cabin next spring.  A licensed On Site Sewage Designer has been contracted to go through the county permit process for us, and to install a high-capacity holding tank next spring.  Our lot is too low to allow any kind of mound-based septic system, so we will have a sewer truck pump out our tank at least once per year.  That is how the outhouse works but this will give us a lot more capacity.  Trees have been removed for access to both systems.  Last weekend we took down 3 of them for the well driller to have access and last Wednesday the power company took down 4 more where the holding tank will go, plus a standing dead pine, plus 2 more birch which will die next year when the trenches to and from the cabin will be dug.  While we are contracting for this work, Brett is looking into expanding the cabin’s floor plan to add a shower and toilet and likely expand the living room.  It will be messy around here next year.



While all of that was taking place last week, we were also packing up to leave.  Yesterday (Saturday) we pulled out early in the morning to get to the Twin Cities area in time to take Olivia to a soccer match in the early afternoon.  Today (Sunday) we went to Pam’s place to watch the Vikings tie with the Packers and to pick up some items we will deliver to Arizona for them.  Tomorrow we will finish our annual water system disinfecting and flushing, then meet with David and LeJoy and family for dinner.  On Tuesday we have appointments in place for the motorcycle and our finances.  Then we will leave MN on Wednesday for Winnebago in Iowa.  That should be a quick stop, then we are off to Memphis for a week at the Nomads’ Annual Meeting where we will catch up with about 1,000 of our best friends.



After Memphis, we will head to Paula’s place in Glendale, AZ once again to help her for awhile as she just had knee surgery – again! 

We have scheduled 4 volunteer work projects during the winter, 2 in Arizona and one each in Texas and Missouri before returning next spring.  


Thursday, June 14, 2018

Quiet Time at the Lake


It has been awhile since we last posted.  Seems like not a lot happening in our lives.  We have had a lot of short (50 mile each way) trips into Duluth for laundry, medical, and social activities.  Both Bob and Joyce have had quite a few medical appointments until this week, when we have had none at all.  We had a quick trip to Elk River to pick up our Grand-dog for her “summer camp” while Brett and family are on a vacation out west.  Anna planned the trip for them, because she wanted to see the Seattle area.  They will return prior to the Fourth of July because the girls like to be here for that holiday.



After experiencing this area’s last snowfall of the season, we have had cool, quiet weather.  The reservoir is about as full as it can be and the dam is wide open in anticipation of a lot of rain this weekend.  We have had a lot of east winds (on shore to us) that have become tiring.  On the other side of the peninsula, Steve and Dianna are getting a new deck and landscaping, so we have been checking the contractor’s progress each evening.


Monday, April 30, 2018

Off the Road for Awhile


We have finally made it to the cabin for the summer, but it was quite a journey. 



When we last posted, we were in Salt Lake City, waiting out the weather.  We left the next day but only made it until lunch-time.  As we pulled into a rest area for lunch, a fellow traveler pointed out a noise coming from our truck.  Paige made a few loops of the rest area while Bob listened and confirmed a strange rattling coming from the underside, like the 4 wheel drive’s transfer case.  The smartphone found a GM dealer about an hour up the highway so we pulled in there for an examination.  They confirmed that a cover was gone and some type of “keeper” was loose on the front driveshaft.  They didn’t have the needed parts in stock, but thought they could get them overnight.  We “boondocked” in their parking lot, counting on our batteries and generator while waiting for the parts to come in the next morning.



The parts did not arrive.  Rather than have us wait another full day, the service writer suggested that he pull the front drive shaft off so that we had either 2 wheel drive or neutral.  That plan worked for us so we left about noon, loosing one day of travel time.  We went down the highway about an hour or two when “low coolant” and “check engine” icons came on in the motorhome.  Another check of the smartphone helped us find a diesel service outfit on our way.  This stop only cost us about 2 hours (and $200) where they checked the on-board diagnostics, reset the fault codes, and added a gallon of coolant. We were once again on our way.  Having proven that we could spend the night without full hookups, we decided to do it again by spending Thursday night in a WalMart parking lot in Casper Wyoming. 



Bob’s cousins had planned a family reunion for mid-day on Saturday and we figured we could make it if we could get at least halfway across South Dakota on Friday.  With an early start on Friday, we planned a big driving day.  A highlight of the day was when a herd of 30 to 40 antelope decided to cross the highway in front of us.  Zoom In to see them better:

            

We got cell phone service late morning as we came into South Dakota and got near Rapid City.  Most of South Dakota was hard hit by a snowstorm last week and we soon found that the RV parks around Mitchel and Sioux Falls are not yet open, so we planned on boondocking once again.  Sioux Falls has 3 WalMarts to choose from, but none of them allow overnight parking due to a city ordinance.  Worthington Minnesota is less than an hour further east, and on our way, so that became our target destination.  We first planned on parking at a restaurant on the edge of town, but it was too full of idling trucks and mud, so we backtracked into town and found their WalMart, which allowed overnighters.  Three nights in a row off-the-grid!!  Wow, that wasn’t planned at all, and neither was 650-mile day in a motorhome.



On the bright side, we had only 100 miles to cover on Saturday morning, and we could make it to the reunion, where we had a good time seeing most (11 of 16) of Bob’s cousins and siblings.  After that gathering broke up, we had another 100 miles to Brett’s place, where we had a 20-amp electrical connection waiting for us.  We spent 2 nights there, catching up on the activities of his family, touching base with Dave, and getting a spring-time motorcycle ride in.

             

We needed to get to Duluth on Monday morning for a number of medical appointments, both for us and Paige’s mother.  We parked for 3 nights outside Paige’s cousin’s house while all these appointments were taken care of.  On Thursday, we re-parked the motorhome at the cabin.  It was a fine spring day for settling in and unloading the motorhome.  The lake is still frozen, but most of the snow is gone.



We had a number of social activities back in the metro area for the weekend, so we only had a one-night stay at the lake.  Friday morning we awoke to the pitter/patter of droplets on the roof, which quickly transitioned to large, wet snowflakes.  By the time we left for Minneapolis there was a fresh inch or two of slippery snow on the ground.
This in late April??.....only in Minnesota!
           

We had a great weekend in the Twin Cities, with Anna’s History Day competition at the University, and Olivia’s soccer game at St Johns, plus breakfast with David, LaJoy, and Kaylen while Brayden had to work.  We got back to the cabin in time to join Steve and Deanna for turkey burger supper.  It was good to get back to the lake for a few days of quiet time before another round of medical appointments later this week.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Stopped Again


After waiting out the high winds in Arizona on Thursday, we left Paula and Tom’s place on Friday on our way toward Las Vegas.  US93 north of I-40 gave us a different view of Arizona, with quite dramatic hills.  We had originally planned to stop just short of the Nevada border, but the campground we had in mind was full.  After calling a couple of others, we crossed into Nevada and stopped for the night near downtown Las Vegas.



Saturday’s drive was also very scenic, up the Virgin River valley, back into the corner of Arizona, and into Utah.  I-15 is in a wide valley.  Years ago we had been in the next valley to the east on a motorcycle trip, so now we got the see the “other side of the mountains.”  We stopped at Beaver Utah, which gave us a shorter day into Salt Lake City on Sunday morning.  It was a gorgeous day and we got to see the mountains both east and west of us. 

Sunday afternoon we spent with family: Bob’s sister-in-law Dianne is in town, spending time with her granddaughter while Bob’s niece, Becky, is out of the country with a grad school group.  We had a very nice afternoon, just visiting, and a pleasant dinner.  Eden had made some fresh brownies for dessert.



While Eden was in school on Monday, Dianne led us on a tour of the area: Great Salt Lake State Park, Antelope Island, and Temple Square downtown. 
We really appreciate her help because we wouldn’t have seen all of these on our own.  Monday was a good day for sightseeing and not traveling because a new front was coming into the area with high winds, again.  This time they were over 50 mph, so the motorhome stayed parked.  As the front came through on Monday night, we got some of the snow that was forecasted. 



We changed our plans, staying in Salt lake City on Tuesday to wait out the weather again.  Not the wind today, or even the snow.  Some freezing temperatures came with the front and they are lower to the east, where we are going.  Another day and the temperatures will be a little more acceptable.  Tuesday was spent doing laundry, buying Comey’s new book, and sightseeing in Park City. 

Tomorrow will be a warmer travel day into Wyoming.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Anxious to Roll Once Again


Our work projects are done, our RV repairs are done, all “stuff” has been repacked and loaded.  We are ready to hit the road; but we are sitting still for another day.   Why?  Mother Nature.  This time of year Northern Arizona often has high wind warnings and we are traveling in a “high profile vehicle” so we tend to watch out for these warnings.  We are planning to return north to the Midwest by way of Salt Lake City (because we haven’t been there before).  It is out of the way, compared to the shortest distance, but not by much.  Here is part of a warning from the local forecast:



* TIMING...Beginning 11 AM this morning continuing to 7 PM this
evening.
* WINDS...Westerly winds of 20 to 30 mph gusting up to 45 mph.





We will put up with gust to about 30 mph or so, but these predictions are a little too much, so we will sit it out for another day and leave Phoenix tomorrow.



Since there is also a good sized snow storm now moving from South Dakota into Minnesota and Wisconsin, we have another reason not to hurry.  We will give it time to melt before getting there.



Apparently much of the country has experienced a delay in getting their normal spring weather.  We follow a daily blog by Nick Russell and his “Thought for the Day” hits the spot:

            Mother Nature apologizes for the lateness of Spring, but Father Time
             was driving and refused to stop and ask for directions!

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Quiet Once Again


We have had a busy few weeks here in southern California: first a 3-week work project at LaVerne that we described earlier, followed by another 3-week work project at San Dimas, followed by a 5-day visit from Jen&Brett’s 3 girls that just ended this morning.  During all of that we also met with Jamie and Jeff and their 2 daughters and got some resolution on Bob’s medical issues.



Between the work periods, we met with Jamie, Jeff and their 2 girls at the LA County Arboretum and Botanical Gardens (with all of their peacocks).  It was so good to see how the girls are growing up!


The following week, Bob had his prostate inspected by a ‘scope where the condition was defined as BPH and a surgery is recommended, but it will wait until we are parked for the spring and summer in Duluth.  A 4th catheter was inserted and will stay in place for the next month.



The San Dimas project went well.  We worked on the parsonage’s garage and lawn as well as a number of items at the church itself (including some painting, some ceiling fans, a small shingled roof overhang, some interior drywall and plaster repairs).   As a group, we had a number of meals together, including comfort food, sushi, and Italian, plus lots of lunches and snacks from the congregation.  A good time was had by all.  It all came to an end last Thursday and our leaders left that evening to meet with family.  Another couple left Friday morning.  Bill and Ogie stayed until Ogie left on Easter Sunday for an early flight to Korea.  She is visiting her family for 2 months and will meet Bill in Hawaii before coming back to their motorhome.



On Friday afternoon we met Brett’s 3 girls at LAX where they were traveling as “unaccompanied minors”.  The pickup process went smoothly, but we found this morning that Delta Airlines’ personnel did not finish their part the correct way which caused a slow process for their return flight this morning.  While they here we took them to the Venice canals:


plus Venice Beach, the LA County Museum of Art:
a Twentieth Century Fox Studio tour,
as well as the Getty Museum:

  Mixed in with those were a tour of the USC campus, a drive-by near UCLA, plus a walk along the Avenue of Stars in Hollywood.  We all got to see a lot of Los Angeles.

Now we have a night of quiet TV and packing before returning to Arizona tomorrow.  We have some repair work scheduled on the motorhome and will see Paige’s sisters before taking a roundabout way north for the spring.