It’s OK – It’s a Dry Heat – Part 1

It was kinda of sad leaving Sunny Valley. We had such a great time with Mike and Dawn (read Dawn’s take on our meeting here), it was hard to say “until we meet again”.

We spent the night in Kingman, AZ so we could have dinner with family…

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Our plan was to spend the next week exploring Death Valley. Death Valley is the 5th largest National Park in the United States and the largest in the lower 48. It covers 5262 square miles (roughly 3.4 million acres). It is 140 miles long and about 75 miles across at its widest.

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We decided Beatty RV Park in Nevada would be the perfect jumping off point for our explorations.  On our way to Beatty, we passed the Hoover Dam…

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And drove through Las Vegas. It was noon when we pulled into the park. We got set up in our site and headed into town, actually, to be completely honest, we were looking for a liquor store. The camp host told us we could probably buy liquor at the casino. My first thought was, yeah, what would THAT cost. After we drove around town a bit, we headed to the Stagecoach Hotel and Casino. Just for fun, we put $6.00 (big spenders, right?) into the one-armed-bandit and hit on the 3rd pull. Woohoo. Let’s cash out of this machine! And so it went. A few bucks here, a few bucks there and at the end of the afternoon, we were up enough to cover the cost of the bottle, which wasn’t as expensive as I imagined. When we got back to Waldo, there were wild burros across the street, which I thought was really neat…

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I can just hear the burro, “What, haven’t you ever seen an ass before?”

The next day, we headed into Death Valley…

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Once we passed through Hell’s Gate, the temperature started to climb. It was 58 degrees in Beatty and 75 degrees on the valley floor. The wind had been kicking up for days and it was really noticeable in the valley. I knew it would be hard to get great pictures of the overall landscape because of the haze…

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Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes

So, I tried to focus on the smaller scenes…

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Our next stop was Mosaic Canyon, a 4 mile round trip through narrow slot canyons and polished rock walls…

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Looking back toward the parking area
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The canyon walls, smoothed by rushing waters
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Steve getting a picture of the landscape

From there, we walked the Salt Creek Interpretative Trail.

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Since it was only April, there was still plenty of water flowing. The water is 4x saltier than the ocean. In spite of that, it is home to the Salt Creek pupfish…

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Not a great picture, but you can see several pupfish

April is the beginning of mating season and the males were a beautiful shade of blue. As we were walking along, I could have sworn I saw a gorilla face in the mountains…

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Do you see a gorilla or was I imagining it?

I was in sensory overload, it’s hard to take in all the naked beauty at once.

It was several days before we got back to exploring. Before you get into Death Valley, there are 2 must see places. The first is the Goldwater Open Air Museum. It seems a strange place for an art museum, in the middle of nowhere, but it is definitely worth the stop…

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Fred Bervoets’s  Ode to Shorty
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Charles Albert Szukalski‘s Ghost Rider
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Charles Albert Szukalski‘s The Last Supper
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A very large metal origami crane
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Dr. Hugo Heyrman‘s Lady Desert The Venus of Nevada
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Onny Huisink’s The Beauty of Decay
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Sofie Siegmann‘s Sit Here

Just passed the museum we discovered several abandon homes and vehicles…

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This was a prelude to the ghost town of Rhyolite. The town boomed into existence in 1904 and had burnt itself out by 1916. Remains of several of the buildings give us an idea what town was like in its heyday…

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I thought one of the neatest buildings was Tom Kelly’s bottle house

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Despite the fact electricity to the town had been shut off in 1916, the last tenets of the house lived there until 1969. Tommy Thompson and his family added miniature houses to the property…

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From Rhyolite, we headed back into Death Valley. We drove along Mustard Canyon Road…

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Then visited Harmony Borax Works

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The iconic 20 Mule Team wagon used to transport the borax

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Even in this harsh environment, flowers still find a place to bloom…

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Our final hike of the day was to the natural bridge…

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I’m going to wrap up Part 1. There is still so much to tell you about! So here is my closing shot until I get to Part 2…

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Have you visited Death Valley?

Settling In – Part 2

We were given a couple days to settle in before we had to report to work. We spent most of the first day getting Waldo rearranged. I’m sure we’ll be rearranging again and again until we find “just the place” for everything. What seems like the perfect place for something frequently becomes “Why the hell did I put that there!” We’ll figure it out…

The weather has been mostly sunny and hot – just the way I like it, so naturally we stripped Trouble of all those unnecessary things like doors and the soft top. We did put the bikini top on to keep a little shade over the seats. I wouldn’t want Steve’s head to get sunburned! We needed a few things at the store and I was anxious to get out and explore the area. The GPS told us the nearest Walmart was about 30 minutes away. Off we go.  With the shopping out of the way, we headed to Sulphur Springs. There was something I had read about and had to see for myself. In the old town square, there is a lovely park with public restrooms and it was the restrooms I wanted to see. Yes, you read that right…I wanted to see restrooms. These aren’t your run of the mill relief stations…they are made with one way mirrors – no, I’m not kidding…

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From the outside, it looks like a mirrored box
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This is the view from the inside
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You feel a little conspicuous while you are relieving yourself. Note the guy in the background taking a picture…

Once I was done giggling about the restroom (Steve wouldn’t use it), we walked around the park taking in the sights…

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We decided to stop for lunch at the Corner Grub House

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We both had burgers and they were pretty good. With full bellies, we decided it was time to head back “home”.

The next day, we grabbed our cameras and set out to explore. We stopped at a farm stand and I was so excited to see fresh figs…

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We splurged on some figs, plums, tomatoes and summer squash. A little expensive but oh so tasty! I got to see my first Texas longhorns…

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And an oil pump…

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I couldn’t resist getting a picture with my MOV bottle to send back to the store with a tag line about “Big Oil”.

We made one more stop before heading back…

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How’s that for a hay field?!?

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Diesel says “Life is good here!”

Thanks for coming by!

Doing It Florida Style

So here we are in Florida. After the “adventure” of our trip down here, I was definitely ready for some down time. I knew we had to get Waldo over to the repair shop for an estimate on the roof, but first we had to unload the belongings staying in Florida. I’m sure Waldo was quite happy to shed a few pounds!

On Thursday, we brought Waldo to Nature Coast RV, handed over the keys and hoped for the best. It would be a few days before we got the estimate so we set our sights on some relaxation time.

It had been quite a long time since Steve had enough spare time to get out in the kayak. While water sports aren’t his favorite activity, he does enjoy kayaking on calm waters. My first thought was to head down to the Gulf of Mexico (only about 10 minutes from my dad’s house). We made a quick stop at the store to pick up some sunscreen. Steve has two colors of summer – Casper white or lobster red. Not wanting him to spend his first week in sunburned pain, we opted for spf50! I thought better of the gulf because the waters can be choppy and there is no shade. I decide a trip on the Rainbow River would be better. The Rainbow River is a busy river with boaters, tubers, kayakers and paddle boarders. Since it was father’s day weekend, the river was crowded, but not so much to make it unenjoyable. Steve seemed to have a good time…

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We promised my dad a trip to his favorite restaurant for father’s day. I dislike eating out on holidays due to the crowds, so we waited until later in the week. Peck’s Old Port Cove serves steamed blue crabs. Daddy and I split 1 1/2 dozen crabs while Steve had their fried fisherman’s platter…

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A great meal – as always!

Before we left New Hampshire, I had been looking for a place to workamp. Work Camping is when you work at a campground in exchange for your RV site. Sometimes there is an opportunity for extra hours for pay, but not always. We had committed to a park in Texas, but didn’t leave NH in time to make it when they needed us. I was very happy when the manager of  Wind Point Park in Lone Oak, Texas emailed me and said we were still welcome to come work for the summer! Their website shows a beautiful park and conjures visions of lovely sunsets and quiet evenings by the campfire. I can’t wait to get there and settle into our new life as workampers!

We had received the estimate for Waldo’s roof…gasp! Between $7000 and $9000! Double what it cost to put a roof on the stick and brick house in NH! But, it has to be done! Steve checked in on their progress this week and it’s getting there…

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They are hoping to have it done by the 30th so we can be on our way.

While Steve was checking on the roof, I decided to take my kayak out to the gulf. I drove to the end of Ozella Trail. There is a great park there with a  boat launch. A few other kayakers were out. I parked next to them, unloaded and hit the waters. As I suspected, the water was choppy, but it was a gorgeous summer day and I made my way around the mangrove islands and headed back. I hadn’t checked the tide report before I went out and I won’t do that again! When I got back to Trouble, the tide had come in enough I could paddle right up to it…

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It was still over an hour before high tide, so I’m glad I headed in when I did.

Hoping my next post is about an uneventful 14 hour trip to Texas and our arrival at Wind Point Park!!!!

 

Looking Through the Windshield

Happiness in the rear view mirror didn’t last as long as I planned! We had barely made it out of New Hampshire when the problems started. In a motor home, you can have 2 completely different sets of problems, either of which can leave you on the side of the road. On one hand, you have the mechanical components, the engine, transmission and so on. On the other hand, you have all the same problems you have in your house, the roof, the windows, the plumbing, electrical systems, yada yada yada…

If you saw the last post, you know we are already aware of the fact we need a new roof. We had already taken care of a plumbing issue (the cap on the faucet in the kitchen had to be replaced). Steve fixed a starting issue with our generator. SO, when we left, we were pretty confident we were on our way. Not so fast…literally! Not long after we hit the highway in Vermont, we started noticing a steep decline in speed every time we started up a hill. Since Vermont is nothing but hills/mountains, this quickly became a major problem! At first, I thought it was because we were loaded to the brim and overwieght. Every available inch of space had something in it, so I sat quietly in my seat calculating how long it would take to get to Florida, 1300 miles, at 30mph. After a while, we were climbing hills at 18mph and getting up to 30mph on the downhill side of the hills. Not good! Finally, five hours later, somewhere in the southern part of Connecticut, Steve pulled off on the side of Interstate 95 and changed the fuel filters. It made me glad to have mechanic for a husband, I wouldn’t have thought of it!  Problem solved! Woohoo – 65mph. Since it was getting late, we pulled into a rest area and got a couple hours sleep.

Our first full day on the road started early. With the fuel issue solved, I had high hopes of making good time the rest of the trip….not so fast…literally! Not that again!! Nope, new problem.  Ugh.  Now, Waldo was overheating. We had had this problem before, but we thought it was fixed. Obviously not. We babied Waldo as best we could and finally made it to the outskirts of Roanoke, VA. I have a cool app on my phone called Overnight RV Parking It uses your location to show where verified free overnight parking is available. Or you can search an area using the map. I found a place we could stop for the night and give Waldo a break. Right off the highway was a Gander Mountain that allowed parking. We settled in for the night. There was another family parked near by. They had a dog too! Diesel got to spend some off-leash time playing ball after the store closed. Happy dogs!

We set off in the coolness of the early morning, knowing it would be slow going as long as the engine kept overheating. Most of the day was uneventful. We pulled into every rest area, letting Waldo cool down. The only one happy with this was Diesel because he got to get out and investigate the area. Ok…maybe I didn’t mind too much…

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We’d been pretty lucky with the weather, once out of New England, we were out of the rain. The temps were rising and a cold one was just what I wanted.

Knowing we wouldn’t make it to my dad’s house without stopping again, I began to look for a place to spend the night. I figured how many miles I thought we could make and chose A Big Wheel RV Park in Saint Mary’s, Georgia. A small, quiet park sounded like the perfect place to spend the night. Lucky for us, this is the off season and they had a pull-thru site available. We used our Passport America membership and our spot only cost us $19.

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After getting setup, I cooked our first meal on the road…

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We took Diesel for a nice long walk, ending up near the fishing pond. There was another family there with their bicycles and I was going to let Diesel get a drink until they pointed out the baby alligators. Across the pond was a sign which read “BEWARE Alligators Poisonous Snakes Red Ants” I tried to get a picture of it – not my best shot…

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We debated staying another day, but when we awoke the next morning, the skies opened up and drenched us. Knowing Waldo’s roof didn’t need the ‘bath’, we headed south…

Stay tuned for our Florida adventure…

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happiness in the rear view mirror

I know it has been quite a while since I’ve written a post and I’m sorry. An awful lot has happened in the last nine weeks! It has been an emotional rollercoaster, to say the least. In April, we put the house on the market. But it seemed every time I turned around, there was still some unfinished little project that needed to be done. Touch up the paint here, wash that cabinet, clean out that room. It was almost never ending and it really took a mental and physical toll on me. In May, we liquidated the contents of our business and our home. We auctioned off all the business assets. There was quite a crowd but the bidding was low and we came away with a lot less than we had hoped. But it was done! Next came our moving sale. Steve and I spent every spare moment moving items from the house to the garage. I organized and tagged while he did the heavy lifting. How in the world did we ever end up with so much stuff!?!?! The sale lasted 3 days – 3 long days! In the end, we did pretty well and a lot of “stuff” was gone. But what to do with the rest of our possessions? As I looked around at the leftovers, I made mental lists of what could be donated (and to whom), what should be thrown in the dumpster and what should be brought to Our Town Co Op, my favorite consignment store. It took several weeks to go from…

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To…

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In the midst of all of this, there was a family get together. For the first time ever, we had all three of our kids and all three of our grandchildren together.

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Plus there were lots of friends to say goodbye to. Breakfast with Bill and Sue, dinner with Jeff, lunch with Keith, dinner with Lindsay and Leo, beverages on the patio with Rick and Carol, lunch with Martha. It seemed every day we squeezed in one more goodbye. Unfortunately, it was taking away time I needed for wrapping everything up. Don’t get me wrong, I love our friends dearly, but I was feeling the stress of finishing my to-do list. Last week, I checked one of those things off my list – mowing the lawn for the last time…

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Finally it came down to packing Waldo. Our first destination is my dad’s house in Florida. There are just some things we don’t want to part with, but do not need on the road. Leaving them in Florida just makes the most sense, plus we need to have a new roof put on Waldo before we hit the road for good and staying at my dad’s sure beats nights in a motel! Finally, Waldo was loaded to the brim, every available inch of space was stuffed with something. It’s time!!!

 

We did stop at the end of our driveway to say one last goodbye…

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Happiness in the rear view mirror….

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Florida – Here we come!

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can’t do that to me! I’m a SHOWER CURTAIN!!!

Well – Yes I can! You see, you USED to be a shower curtain. Now your just a curtain!

I should probably back up a little here. Last week, I wrote about how I made personalized curtains for the bedroom, using a collection of family pictures. This week, I took making Waldo our own a step further. About 8 years ago, I helped my mom sew together the curtains they used as the privacy curtain (for those of you not familiar with being in an RV, that is the curtain you can draw which blocks the windshield). It has several functions. It serves to keep nosy neighbors from seeing you before you’ve had your coffee and it helps insulate from either the scorching sun or the cold wind. The curtains I helped my mom with were a lovely shade of 1970’s gold. And later, after a trip to Mexico, my mom made curtains for the rest of the windows from very colorful Mexican blankets she picked up at a bazaar. I wanted a new privacy curtain and window curtains, something more in line with our taste.

About the time I came up with the idea for the bedroom curtains, I also had an idea for the rest of the windows/windshield. Now don’t laugh! Fabric shower curtains!I have to admit, it isn’t the first time I’ve used shower curtains for window curtains.

After scouring too many websites to count, I picked several shower curtains and waited anxiously for them to arrive.

The first step, was to determine which part of the curtain I was going to use. Most shower curtains are way to long for window curtains…

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To be completely honest, the curtains in my dining room are shower curtains

Once I decided what part of the scene I wanted, I cut them to size and lined them with room darkening fabric (just like the bedroom).

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It took a total of 3 to make the privacy curtain. The 2 sewn together will be drawn to the driver’s side and the 3rd one will be drawn to the passenger side when we are moving….

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Now, no matter where we are, the scenery will be beautiful!

If I had made curtains like this for my office, this wouldn’t be what I am seeing right now…

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Hitting the road can’t come soon enough!

Taking it all with us – Or Not!

Despite the fact I have never been over attached to crap we’ve collected over the years possessions, downsizing can be an emotional roller coaster! Lucky for us, we began the process several years ago (something else we learned from my parents – start early). We’ve had numerous yard sales over the years and more Craig’s List posting than I care to count but what about the truly personal items: the scrapbooks, historical photographs, hand written notes from loved ones? What do you do with those items?

Several weeks ago, an idea began to take shape. While it is not practical, weight wise, to take all those photo albums with us (and seriously who ever opens their photo albums and looks through them?), there isn’t any reason we can’t take the pictures. We do have one of those electronic picture frames where the images scroll by, but I wanted something more personal and functional. We have done very little in the way of making Waldo our own. It still has the curtains my mom bought and while they do the job, they aren’t exactly my style. What did I having lying around I could repurpose? I’ve always made my own curtains, I just can’t justify the expense of fancy store-bought ones. The only exception to that was the blackout curtains Steve bought several years ago (To be honest, Laura was visiting her parents when the curtains magically appeared – Steve) Well, I could cut them down to size and that would be functional and while the soft blue color does match our bedroom, it won’t make them personal. My plan was to use the blackout curtains as a liner. I wanted to do this as inexpensively as possible, so I used an old microfiber bed sheet I had lying around for the “front” of the curtain. I ordered dark fabric iron-on transfers and turned our favorite pictures into transfers. I took some time to size them, print them, cut them out and iron them on, but the result was exactly what I had hoped for…

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I included pictures of our parents, our children through the years, our grandchildren and us. The blackout liner will be perfect when we finally get to “The Land of the Midnight Sun” aka Alaska. I hadn’t told Steve about my idea and had them folded up on the dining room table when he got home from the shop one night last week. I think I might have seen a tear in his eye when he looked at them. Now our favorite pictures will always be right where we can see them!

On another front, we are one step closer to being ready to put the house on the market. The new carpet was installed this week. Now all the flooring upstairs is new. Of course it wasn’t as easy as just getting new flooring, I had to finish all the painting before the installers arrived – no small task! But – IT’S DONE!! woohoo!

Out with the old…

 

And in with the new…

 

The final thing I accomplished last week was to design and order new business cards. Here are the results…

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What do you think?

My goal this week is to finish the painting downstairs and to start getting ready for our final sale, our moving sale!

“Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer.” – Anonymous