Archive forApril, 2006

Friday Drive

The Big Sur area was buried in a fog bank, but that didn’t stop us from having a lovely day. Kelly allowed my grandson, Kris, to get off school (he’s a senior and most of his classes have wound down), so there were four of us.

The drive is awesome. Every view south along Hwy. 1 is lovely. We were impressed.

Kelly found a picnic spot for us (below): quiet, with a river flowing beside it.

Picnic Location

We walked through a state park to a small waterfall with a scenic view. Probably one of the prettiest places we’ve seen.

Waterfall view

The bridge below is featured in countless ads (especially for cars). Looks like someplace in Europe.


All in all, it was one of the nicest days we’ve enjoyed. Such fantastic scenery!

We only have two days left before we head home.

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The weather’s definitely not been very cooperative so we’ve had to find “inside stuff” to do.

Monterey Bay Aquarium

Yesterday (Wednesday) we went to the Monterey Aquarium which is considered the best in the world! We spent most of the day. My favorite exhibit displayed jelly fish. They’re beautiful!

jelly fish

Today was the best (weather-wise). John and Kelly have been doing yard work. She really likes having “Dad” around. They went for a long walk this a.m. I should explain that Kelly is a brown belt karate practioner and her husband a black belt. They’re really into physical fitness. Tonight John’s going to attend their sensei (class). I have begged off, because I know I can’t keep up. I have a feeling John’ll be plum tuckered out when he gets home.

Not a lot of music.

Tomorrow we’re going to Big Sur. I have been there before and remember that the drive is awesome. The weather is expected to improve, so I’m sure it’ll be a grand day.

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Sat. and Sun. with Family

Yesterday and today will be spent with the family. I can’t believe how grown my grandsons are. At nearly 18 and 15, they are young men.

My daughter has two very large but well-behaved dogs so Willow is living in the RV where she’s comfy.

We are enjoying this leisurely pace. John says it’s the best sleep he’s had since leaving Michigan.

The couple of times we’ve gone where we had an ocean view, it was lovely. This next week we’ll have lots of time to sight-see. We’ll be here until a week from tomorrow.

Yesterday I received a message from California Bob Rowland. He invited us to stop in and say hi as we’re heading toward Reno next week. (FYI Bob is a super nice guy who often drives across country to attend the Evart festival in Michigan. He always introduces super great tunes – like “The Gale.”) We’d like to visit them. We’ll see.

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Thurs.-Fri. in California

We’re in California!

Last night we over-nighted in Bakersfield, CA, at the Moose Lodge. Again, nice folks who were very welcoming. Unfortunately they didn’t have anything going on where we could get food, so we walked (too far) to a Taco Bell. We were back in our trailer for a quiet evening of TV and relaxing. Went to bed about 10:15.

This morning, bright and early, (6:30) we were awake and soon packed and back on the road. We’re now about 100 miles south of Seaside, where my daughter lives.

She’s a little panicky about our RV fitting in her driveway, but one way or the other, we’re here and we’ll just have to find a way. (All along she’s said there is room, but now that it’s for real, I think she’s concerned.)

The temperature here is only about 60 and isn’t expected to get any warmer today. But at least, for right now, the sun is out.

John’s impressed with the vineyards. Miles and miles of grapes growing is heaven to him.

We’ve stuck closely to our schedule and we’re arriving about when we said we would. When we get to my daughter’s we’ll have driven over 2,900!

My advice to anyone doing this is to get a GPS. I use Microsoft Streets and Trips with GPS and it has been a God-send. The setup I use requires a laptop, but it was something like $80, which sure has been worth it!

I have a camera full of photos so I should download them and post a few. I’ll see if I can do it before we arrive.

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Tues.-Wed. in Vegas

We got here (at Vegas) yesterday and decided to take a walking tour.

It’s really a jaunt from hotel to hotel. I believe we walked more than at the Grand Canyon. Saw a million slot machines but didn’t spend a penny in one. (We’re definitely not gamblers.)

Circus Circus (we stayed in their RV Park)

Harrahs (just one of the many lovely hotels)

Last night we went to the Freemont Experience which is a phenominal light-show. There were talented street acts. Certainly quite an experience. The “hands” photo below was actually projected many feet above us using millions of lights. Quite impressive.

Freemont Experience Light Show

We’re going out to dinner tonight. Won’t be doing much more walking. We’re pooped!!

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Grand and Glorious

Some places just don’t live up to their hype, but the Grand Canyon is much more than we’d imagined.

After the sunrise service, we returned to the trailer for breakfast. By mid-morning we’d boarded a shuttle bus to head to the east most area where we took photos galore.

The east end of the Grand Canyon

This evening we want to go view the sunset from the west most end of the park.

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“Grand” Canyon

We’re here at the Grand Canyon and it’s Easter Morning.

At 5:45 we were at the Easter sunrise service. It was lovely. A native American flute provided much of the music. Very appropriate.

Sunrise at the Grand Canyon
The sunrise service

Sunrise at the Grand Canyon

Sunrise at the Grand Canyon

Sunrise at the Grand Canyon

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Unfriendly Flagstaff

Never, never again. When pulling a trailer in Flagstaff, we encountered all kinds of problems. There’s a town ordinance against over night parking. If you’re a semi, they have “auto parks” but RVers are just NOT welcome.

We had planned to stay in Winslow, Arizona, and we would have been much better off, but it was early and we figured we were good to go, so we continued on. Next city is Flagstaff. We wasted an hour or so trying to find someplace to just stop, fix a meal, and stay until morning.

Finally we gave up and drove on up the road to a rest area on Hwy 40. Would have been ok, except that a semi parked immediately next to us, ran his engine all night. It was really loud. John said, not as bad as the Flying J the night before, but I felt it was much worse.

While in Flagstaff, we encountered an extreme dip in the temperature (45-50) coupled with winds of 35-40 mph. It was bitter cold. Right now it’s 43 degrees, but at least the wind has died down. It’s currently 8:35 a.m. We may have a problem when we get to our campground (Xanterra). I just re-read our reservation request and it says we can’t check in until 4:00.

We should be at the Grand Canyon National Park in a few minutes. I’ll write more later.

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We’ll be “Petrified”

We left Albuquerque about 9:00 and stopped for gas. Got on the road west at about 10:00. We should pass into Arizona in about an hour. It’s a little past 11:00. We’re now 130 miles from the Petrified Forest National Park which will be our next stop.

The scenery has been fantastic. Flat topped mountains all around us. Road is new and really smooth. Traffic light to moderate. Temperature about 65 degrees.

I’ll have to post some “scenic” photos as soon as I get a chance to take them out of my camera. Right now I don’t want to divert my attention from the beautiful scenery.

I’ll write more later.


The Petrified Forest was really interesting. We stayed several hours and found it really mesmerizing. I took a gazillion photos. Here’s one:

Petrified Forest

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Moose Lesson

When I head back to Saginaw, I plan to report to our Moose Lodge that the friendliest Moose Center in the nation has to be in Albuquerque, NM. The folks were warm and receptive. We felt like we belonged from the minute we walked in the door. By the time we left, everyone knew we were “the folks from Michigan.” We kidded that we’d heard about their Thursday night hamburgs and that’s why we were visiting. The hamburgs really were great. But the people…. no way to explain how the welcome one receives makes a difference.

We actually considered staying an extra day just because of these folks.

The perks here included electric hookups and a convenient faucet. Can’t ask for more!

We did have one slight problem. Our RV battery leaked acid and it sprayed along the side of our unit. The paint was affected, but we have cleaned it up and a little paint should make it like new.

It is hot here in Albuquerque and the big news is a fire north from here.

It seemed that quite a few of the folks we met were Native American Indians, or of Mexican descent. All were long-time Albuquerque residents. All were welcoming, nice folks.

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Flying J “Flops”

The worst Flying J we’ve ever experienced was the one in Amarillo, TX, on Hwy. 40. We just left there and vowed, never again. Rest rooms in disarray, pre-pay at the pumps, cramped and hard to maneuver. When we tried to get back on, there was gridlock with the semis coming in. What a mess! The only good thing was we paid $2.579 for a gallon and it’s now $2.699.

As we approach New Mexico, it’s a gradual but consistent up-hill grade. We’re at about 3,940 ft. elevation and climbing. Not only that but there’s a fierce wind, so we’re getting lousy m.p.g.

We’d like to stop and have lunch but it’s 86 degrees, and there’s not a shade tree to be seen.

…..little later….

We found a “rest area.” Consisted of three or four picnic tables. No restrooms, no trees, nothing. Had a quick bite to eat in the trailer and resumed our trip.

We’re now in New Mexico. The scenery has changed considerably. Totally different country.

We were surprised at the hills in the area of Branson, MO, but this area has flat topped mountains all around us. Temperature is 88. Elevation about 4,250 ft.

Traffic is comparatively light.

I’m hoping that in the Albuquerque area, I’ll be able to use my cell phone again to go on line. Lots to catch up on. I need to post these entries to my blog and monitor my sales site. (

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Texas Hold ’em

“Texas Hold ’em” has new meaning. We have noticed that in Oklahoma and now Texas, there are very few rest areas. So we’re playing Texas Hold ’em as we drive along.

Last night we stayed in Sayre, OK, and for me, despite the truck noise, it was a great night’s sleep. Cooled off nicely overnight and in fact, before morning we had a blanket over us.

Nothing special planned today. We’ll get to a Moose Lodge in Albuquerque tonight. I think they even have electricity. Great! Nothing but wide expansive ranches around here. Temperature is only 78 degrees but it’s 10:00 in the a.m.

I am finding that cellphone reception isn’t great. Thanks to my Wilson trucker antenna, I did get an important call from my mother’s nursing home a short while ago. Mom was taken to the hospital last night because they were concerned about a urinary problem. She’s back at her nursing home and will be going to the doctor today. (Mom has Alzheimer’s and I have power of attorney and am responsible for her care and needs.) Hope it’s nothing too serious.

Gas prices just continue to rise. It always seems that the station we passed up ends up having had lower prices than the one where we gas up. Oh, well.. It’s just a gamble, and we aren’t very good at gambling.

Twenty more miles and we’ll be in Amarillo, TX.

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92 degrees Near Yukon (Oklahoma)

Gas prices have been horrid.

We’re now on Hwy. 40 which will take us across the country. Traffic is moderate but gas prices are frightening. We just filled up at $2.529 for diesel (not the worst price we’ve paid).

We spent a couple of hours with Bob and Pauline Bedard. They have to be two of the nicest folks I’ve ever met. Sure wish they lived closer. Pauline and I share a love for hand crafts (crocheting, etc.) She even gave us a lovely crocheted doily. Hours of painstaking work. It is perfect!

Bob and Pauline Bedard

Bob gave us a tour of his hammer workshop where he makes quality hammers for playing the dulcimer. The smell of the wood was grand.

Lunch couldn’t have been better: taco salad (with Pauline’s special dressing), ice tea flavored with home grown mint, hot Texas toast, and freshly baked blueberry pie. It was hard to stop and I’m still full.

They’re the kind of people you immediately like and feel at home with. I’m so glad we stopped.

We’re a tad behind schedule. We want to be at Sayre, OK, for the night and Sayre is about 115 miles west. John wants to be at our destination each night before dark (no night driving) and it’s 7:00 p.m. right now. Only good thing about being a little late, is that the temperature might drop a tad. Tonight, without power, we can’t run the air conditioner, and with it being 90+ we sure won’t be cold.

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We Got “Tanked”

Here it is Wednesday, and we’re in Oklahoma on a toll road, about to get to Bob Bedard’s house. He invited us for lunch but we won’t be there until about 2:30 so we’ll be eating a bit later than usual, but we’ll survive.

Yesterday, in Branson, was a fun experience. We hit a bunch of gift shops, a dulcimer store, and then in the evening went to a dinner/theater to see “Magnificant Seven” variety show. It was very impressive from vocal/dancing cast of five men and five women plus an eight piece on stage band.

For me, Amanda stole the show.. She was a multi-talented 18-year-old, who could belt ’em out like the best of the professionals. The costuming was great, dancing up to speed, band “right on” and the vocals super. We were impressed.

Today we left Branson about 9:00 and found an RV salvage place at exit 22 on Hwy. 44. They had a rebuilt hot water heater, so we got it and John installed it there, where he could ask questions, if needed.

That stop delayed us so I hope Bob understands. (I have kept him advised by email and called him when we crossed into Oklahoma.)

Temperature is 83 with a little haze and some fluffy clouds. No rain is predicted.

When we leave Bob Bedard’s, we’ll still have 250 miles to go before we stop tonight, so we want to be back on the road at about 4:00. (It’s 2:03 right now.)

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America’s Best Campground

Billing themselves as “America’s Best Campground” really sets them up for failure, but this “ABC” Campground” (here in Branson, MO) is really nice. The bathrooms are super clean but available by door code only. (More of a nusiance, than security.) The availability of wireless internet and cable TV really speaks well for the place, and “escorts” when you’re coming in and looking for your site is a nice feature. Each site has a graveled level spot for an RV with a paved patio at the “front door.”

The campground is only about 1/4 full, but it’s early in the season. I’m sure at peak times, the place is packed.

We were eligible for a couple discounts and ended up paying about $25 nightly, which isn’t bad.

We took it easy today. After setting up, we just lazed around.

John took out the water heater. The tank is split from end to end. I think it’ll have to be replaced, but he’s optimistically hoping we can find a welder who can make it water tight again. Since the heating part of the unit is still functional, he may be right. We’ll see tomorrow. We did find a “salvage” RV place nearby and might resort to picking up a whole replacement unit there.

Tonight we were going to leave after dark to see the “lights” of Branson, but John’s asleep, and I’m in no mood to leave our cozy place.

Weatherwise today was perfect!! Daytime highs were in the mid 70’s. Tomorrow’s predictions are expected to be higher than today. Moving from tempterature zone to temperature zone requires multiple layers both in dressing and sleeping. We’ve switched from our down comforter to a lighter weight one for tonight’s sleeping. It should be about 50 instead of about 30 tonight.

Pizza and wine made a lovely dinner.

We might go see a “show” tomorrow, but all the good deals require the purchase of tickets in advance, here at our campground, and we aren’t sure what we want to see. We will probably drive to Branson without tickets and figure out what we want to do when it’s too late.

We really aren’t into viewing shows anyway. We love to perform, but being part of an audience isn’t as appealing. Seems like the thing to do when in Branson, but we may just sight-see.

Tomorrow’s our only full day here, then leave early Wednesday…. and on our way West.

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A day ago Brazil now Cuba!!

Hi all,

We just left Rick Thum’s workshop and we’re headin’ to Branson, MO.

Yesterday we enjoyed Rick’s hospitality. He gave us a really interesting tour of his workshop. I’ll post photos, as soon as I have a chance. Quite an operation!

(Note: For those of you who aren’t familiar with Rick Thum, he’s the supplier of instruments I sell on He’s been one of my workshop leaders since I started doing workshops at Evart 11 years ago.)

Rick’s workshop was a marvel of planning and forethought. He has really created an efficient operation. The attention to detail is impressive. The results show. Her’s a photo of Rick hard at work:

Rick hard at work.

After the tour, he invited us to his home. He’d suggested that we stay there, with him and his lovely wife, but since we have Willow (our dog) with us and we are comfortable in our place, we declined his invitation. The house is one of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen! On second thought, it was THE most beautiful. What a place! A marvelous view, wonderful hardwood floors, huge spacious windows, decorating that is perfect, and wonderful touches like a church pipe organ. It is over 5,000 square feet and just perfect!

Toward the front door/entry was just as impressive:

Not so humble bath area:

It’s not totally complete, but truly impressive!

For dinner, the four of us went to a Mexican restaurant where we enjoyed a pitcher of margarettas and great fajiatas.

We were back at the fifthwheel about 8:30.

But our evening didn’t end then.

We were all set to hook up to electricity and water, but unfortunately the best laid plans didn’t work out. Out hot water tank, which we hadn’t used since last fall, had ruptured over the winter. (Yes, John had carefully winterized it, but something apparently didn’t drain, and the tank has a major hole.) We will wait until we get to Branson to see about getting it fixed or replacing the tank. We’re not going to let it affect our trip. Just a small glitch. At least at Branson, we will have wonderful facilities at the ABC campground, so we can shower there, until it’s fixed.

Oh, and about the title to this posting.. We just stopped at a gas station and the on-ramp we took said “To Cuba.” You never can tell where this trip will take us.

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Sad morning

Just found out that a dear, sweet friend, Mary Lou Orthey, and passed away this a.m. Words cannot express my sorrow. I found her to be one of the most beautiful and charming people I have ever known. Losing her takes the shine off a beautiful day!

I’ll write more about the trip, when I have time to digest this.

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In Brazil

This first day, we only went 390 miles and we’re over-nighting in Brazil, Indiana, at a Moose Lodge.

We’d hoped for the availability of an electric outlet, but that didn’t work out. They do have an empty level grassy lot adjacent to their parking lot so there’s lots of room for us.

The only person we’ve talked to (a lady Moose hauling out the trash) was pleasant. We probably won’t spend much time in the lodge. We went in to use the restrooms but the place is a blue haze of cigarette smoke, probably because they had a bingo this afternoon. With my allergies, going in there just isn’t a good idea.

We had dinner downtown which is within walking distance. Nothing fancy just a little hamburg joint with about a dozen stools at a lunch bar. Kind of a throw back to the 50’s.

It’s 6:20, the TVs on (running off batteries); my cellphone and digital connection seem to be working fine. We tried the furnace out and it came on.

This first day hasn’t been very exciting, but at least we’ve started our journey. Can’t say we’ve seen any glorious scenery, but we can now brag that our trip included an excursion to Brazil! Wow!

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California, Here We Come!

9:18 a.m. we left our house and we’re officially on our way.

Our destination tonight is a Moose Lodge in Brazil, IN. Never having taken advantage of a Moose Lodge’s hospitality, this will be a first. As I mentioned in a previous post, we plan to do a lot of “boondocking” (free camping).

There’s a dusting of snow on the ground here (Lansing) area. But the sun’s out and there’s barely a cloud in the sky.

…And miles to go before we sleep.

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Day after tomorrow..

After weeks of planning, the day after tomorrow, we’ll take off on our great adventure.

John laughs at me because when we ride, I’m “wired.” I’m generally holding my laptop which is outfitted with a GPS (Streets and Trips) with the sensor suction cupped to the windshield. The laptop is plugged into an inverter so I always have power. I have my cellphone in one of the computer’s USB ports with a data cable which allows me to get my email wirelessly. (A Wilson trucker antenna assures that I have maximum cellphone reception.) This whole setup is great, but I’m always in danger of hanging myself when I get out of the vehicle. The maze of wires is rather daunting. It’s been known to take me several minutes to “escape.”

Today we’ll try to finish up our packing. We’ll polish up all the details tomorrow.

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Getting Ready

John and I will be heading out in a few days. We’ll have Willow, our long-coat chihuahua; Charlie, our cockatiel; and our musical instruments. We’ll be driving across the country with many stops along the way. We’ll spend more than a week with my daughter, Kelly, and her beautiful family in California. Our return trip will again be punctuated with lots of sight-seeing.

We’re staying at some nice RV parks (in Branson, Grand Canyon, Las Vegas, and Reno). You can find their websites in the “Links” area on the right side of this page. But we’ll also be boondocking quite a few of the nights. (Boondocking is when you camp for free. It’s often done in parking lots, rest areas, etc.)

We can’t see paying camping fees when we’ll be pulling in after dark and hitting the road at dawn. At those times, we’ll pull into places that allow overnight parking: Walmart, Moose Lodges, or as a last resort, Flying J Truck Stops. (Flying J’s are popular with long-haul truckers who run their big rigs all night so they are horribly noisy.)

We are planning to travel 6,000 miles over five weeks. We’ll take Hwy40 for the most part as we head west and Hwy80 as we come back. We plan to stop at Branson (2 days), Petrified Forest Nat’l Park in AZ, Grand Canyon (3 days), Las Vegas (2 days), and stay 10 days in the Monterey, CA, area parked in my daughter’s driveway.

our trip

Our more northerly return trip will be by way of Reno, NV (2 days), Salt Lake City, Rocky Mountain Nat’l Park (3 days), and then home by way of Lincoln, NE; Davenport and on home to Michigan.

Our vehicle is a 2003 charcoal gray GMC 3/4 ton Duramax diesel. We’ll be pulling our ten-year-old 28-foot Jayco fifthwheel with a dining room/living room slide. Our set up may not be “top of the line” but it has beautiful oak interrior and provides a wonderful home away from home.

Our on-the-road-home

I’ll post lots of pictures and keep this blog as a diary.

If you recognize us from our rig with Michigan plates, or because we’re playing our hammered dulcimer music, with our little black and white dog and bird, please say “Hi.”

Packing is a pain. I sure don’t want to forget anything critical. I am an over-organizer. I make lists and then lists of my lists. Plus I double-check them. But I have been known to forget and leave my list at home. I hope we’ll be well-prepared. We purchased Microsoft Streets and Trips with GPS so we can find our way; added a Wilson Trucker cell phone antenna so we can stay in touch; and I have it all figured out so I can wirelessly email and go on line whenever we get a signal. Unfortunately I’ve discovered Verizon coverage isn’t solid from coast to coast, but we’ll get by.

Lots of last minute stuff to do: today Willow had her vacinations updated, tomorrow John gets new truck tires. We hope the weather improves ’cause it’s rainy and cold, but rain or shine, we’ll be hitting the road April 8th.

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