Saturday, November 21, 2015

Roosevelt Lake

My brother Dale made it back to town from his summer sojourn up north, so I wasted no time convincing him we should do a weekender in our Minnies. He suggested Roosevelt Lake because the weather would be nice up there in November.

Last Saturday morning we headed out. We took the northern loop, driving up the Beeline Highway toward Payson. I was in the lead for the first leg of the journey, but when I missed the turn off Highway 87 onto Highway 188 and had to U turn and come back, I let him lead the rest of the way to the campground. Good thing too, because I would have pulled into Cholla, and he was headed to Windy Hill. It's all about the AT&T cell signal, and Windy has more bars.

We drove around until we found a couple of facing spaces where I would be in the shade and he would be in the sun. (Guess which one of us has solar panels?)

That's me on the left, and Dale on the right
After setting up and taking Hanna for a walk, we hopped on his motorcycle and zipped up to the dam for a look around.

Very pretty! Then we went to Tonto Monument to tour the Visitor Center. We decided to climb up to the Lower Cliff Dwelling that afternoon. It was a very steep walk up a paved trail and we stopped a few times to catch our breath, but the view and ancient village were worth it.

Looking toward Roosevelt Lake
(the water level is pretty low)

We made a reservation to join the guided tour to the Upper Cliff Dwelling on Sunday morning and then rode back to the campground. We sat outside in our chairs for a bit before starting supper, then I went into the motorhome to get something and found this:

After just a couple of hours of sitting in camp, my coach batteries were dead! Fortunately, the engine battery was still fine, so I wasn't stranded. Well, my brother was there, so I guess I wouldn't have been stranded. But neither of us had jumper cables, so my Minnie might have been stranded if it wouldn't have started. Whew! We checked everything we could think of, and had a lengthy text conversation with my oldest brother Richard (who is also an RVer), and all we could deduce is the batteries had gone bad. Headlamp to the rescue!!

After sharing our supper and a movie in Dale's mini-Minnie (his is 24' compared to my 27'), I went home to get ready for bed by "candlelight". Okay, so it was really a flashlight, but it did feel slightly primitive.

As I did when I went to the Rim in September, I had taken my laptop and some DVDs and I went to bed to watch Gilmore Girls until I fell asleep. It was cold - down into the low 40s - but I had snuggly blankets. However, I did get worried about Hanna in the night (she doesn't sleep with me, but curled up on the chair), and I got up to cover her up. I had to command her to lie back down on the chair while I put blankets over her because she thought I was getting up to play. Silly girl! It was 1:30 in the morning!!

I went back to sleep knowing she was warm, and slept until 5:20. I swear, when I retire the first thing I'm planning to overcome is the habit of waking up at such horrific hours. Ugh! I couldn't fall back to sleep, so finally got up to make some coffee and oatmeal.

About 9:30, Dale and I rode his motorcycle back up to Tonto for our Ranger-guided tour to the Upper Dwelling. We had packed some snacks, sandwiches and water in a backpack, and we were ready for the trek. We had been informed it would take about 3 hours. There was a lot of climbing up a steep trail and lots of steps, but the ranger stopped several times along the way to point out interesting things or give us some history of what we were seeing. We did lose one guy along the way; he was slightly overweight and out of shape, and just couldn't keep up with the group. It was very interesting, and the higher we climbed, the prettier the views became.
The Ruins

Our Ranger guide in a well preserved room.
Notice the grinding stones at his feet.

The view through a T-shaped window
It had started to rain while we were in the ruins, so we nearly sprinted back down the mountain to get back to the campground before it started pouring.

It was time to head home, but I had one more new RVer initiation that needed to be done first. We drove back up to Cholla Campground where there is a free dump and I learned how to do that distasteful job. I'm happy to report it wasn't so bad, and everything came out fine in the end!

My first dump!
We took the southern route home, through Miami and Superior, and back into the city via US 60. It rained pretty steadily most of the way, but was a beautiful drive home.

Now to figure out what is wrong with my batteries.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Kimbopolo and the Mobile Kodger create a poem

Kimbopolo, one of the RV bloggers I read on a regular basis, has collaborated on a poem with Randy at Mobile Kodgers. I found it so clever and inspirational, I wanted to share it with you.

Kim:    Well Randy--what did you do today?
Randy:  I blogged and blogged the day away.
            Writing my posts gives me reasons why
            I don't park my rig, lay down and die.
           What's your motive for writing your thing?
Kim:    Just the sheer joy that a blog can bring  
           I have this urge to write and write
           forever waiting for the muse to bite.

Randy: Well now you are a thing that's new;
           So today I think I'll blog about you.

Kim:   That might please your readers no end.
          As for the photos-- can you make me look thin?

          And I think I'll also blog about you.
          Tell me your goals and what you do?

Randy: I write poems and travel to the new.
           Now tell me your goals and what do you do.

Kim:   My needs are small, my goals are few:
          go round the bend---admire the view.

          You've been free for so long now,
          share with me the why, the how.

Randy:I had a good mind--never found where it fit;
          I'm a nobody---making-- the best of it.

          But you've climbed the heights of academe;
          can you find contentment in a drifter's dream?

Kim:  Contentment's mine on the open roads;
          "afoot lighthearted"---you know how that goes.

          Would you ever settle down;  cease to roam?
          maybe build a fence 'round an earthbound home?

Randy:I've made my gypsy bed---now I
          will mosey 'round until I die.

          Does moving, moving--on the whole
          polish your manner, your mind, your soul?

Kim:  All of the above, I guess
          since I pulled away from a life of stress.

          You think as we keep wandering this way
          we become more polished day by day?

Randy: Yes, -- like rocks tumbling downstream;
            the bump and bumble makes us glisten and gleam.

            Since those you meet are mostly strangers
            do you give much thought to risk and dangers?

Kim:    Stepping away from the TV news
           for good and forever changed my views.
           I find decent people wherever I go.
           Don't you also find this so?

Randy: Yes, I find goodwill---up and down;
            seems every new place is Mayberry town.

            But tell me how you choose where to go
            and what's the sweetest places you know?

Kim:    Trip planning is my favorite art---
            I open my map--then open my heart.

            What guides you in your nomad style?
            what experiences do you find worthwhile?

Randy:  By far the richest thing I do:
            engaging folks the likes of you.
Kim:     Well this has been great; I love to talk deep,
             but I have promises to keep.
Randy:  The pleasures' been mine--thanks a heap;
             I have miles to go before I sleep.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

To the Rim and back

I was awake on Saturday morning before 5:00 a.m. Can you say EXCITED for my first adventure? I decided to get up and get ready. I had turned the refrigerator on the night before and was relieved to find it was cold that morning. I loaded my food, secured most of the stuff inside, and waited a loooong 2 hours for Richard and Dianna to come meet me at our pre-arranged time.

The city had made recent “improvements” to the sidewalk in front of my house, and the boards I had used before to back into the road no longer worked, so we had to made a quick run to Home Depot for some 2x10 planks. That was just “barely” enough, but we got the Minnie into the road and headed to the gas station. After filling up, we were on the highway north by 10:15.

Richard rode with me and Dianna followed in their car. R taught me a couple neat tricks for handling the motor home on curvy mountain roads. For keeping centered in the lane on curves he said if I look at the outside of the curve instead of the inside (which seems to be more natural), I won’t stray so much in the lane. That means look toward the shoulder line on left curves and the lane line on right curves. It worked great, but requires some focus. The Minnie powered up most of the hills and soared down the other side with relative ease. R showed me the “overdrive off” button on the gear shift knob, which when engaged held the coach at a fairly even speed on a 7% downgrade, eliminating the need to ride or pump the brakes. Very handy!

We stopped at the Home Depot parking lot in Payson for lunch. My first food prepared in the kitchen was chicken salad sandwiches. I know ... not very exciting, but I did have real cooking plans for dinner.

We turned on Forest Road 141 and drove down for about 3/4 of a mile to where FR147A branched off. I found a nice space and maneuvered into a level area. We put out the rug, chair, awning, and Hanna’s tether, and then took a short walk up the road to stretch our legs from the ride.

All set up and ready to relax!
A lovely woodsy area

This meadow was the view from my front door. (That's me across the way.)

R & D sat and chatted for a while and then asked if I was ready to be on my own. I have to admit I had mixed feelings. I wanted them to leave so I could start my solo adventure; I wanted them to stay in case anything went wrong or I had more questions. But it really was time to be on my own, and after giving hugs and thank yous, I waved goodbye.

I read for a while, but Hanna and I were restless, so we took another longer walk. When we got back to our site, I was sitting outside reading and noticed some cows in the meadow making their way toward us. I said to Hanna, “Let’s go see the cows!”. As we got closer, I realized they were not cows -- they were bulls! We made our retreat before they saw us.

I was getting hungry, so I decided to make my dinner. The propane stove was so great (I have electric at home), and everything came together nicely.

Cooking in my little kitchen felt like playing house. I ate my meal while looking out the window at the forest.
We sat outside for a little while after dark, looking for stars, but it was too cloudy. We did see the beautiful full moon.

Hanna enjoyed spending some time on the rug outside the front door
It was getting cold, so we went in for the night. I tried to read, but Hanna was very antsy, trying to figure out why we were not going home. So I turned off the lights and got in bed at 8:00 to watch a DVD on my laptop, and she finally settled down. She slept soundly until I got up to go potty at 5:00 and took her out to do the same. It was cold, so I got back into my warm snuggly bed for another hour and a half. Then my desire for coffee overrode my desire for my warm bed and I got up. When I opened the door to put Hanna out, I discovered it was warmer out than in, so I left the door open while I made my breakfast.

After cleaning up, we took another walk up a different road, finding different smells along the way. Hanna would not be able to investigate all the fascinating aromas up there if she sniffed full time from now until doomsday.

So many smells. So little time.
I had a headache, so went back inside and laid down for a bit, but felt like I was wasting my time in the woods, so I got back up and sat outside to read. About 11:00, the rigs up and down the roads began to pull out, and I felt like I was alone by 1:00. I decided to start packing up, pulling in the awning, putting away the chair and rug, securing everything inside, making my walk around and determining the best way to get out of my spot and back on the road. It took some maneuvering through the trees, but I managed to squeeze through and was headed down the mountain by 1:40.

Again, the Minnie handled well on the road and I pulled into Mesa at 4:10. It's hot, hot, HOT here and I'm ready for my next sojourn up to cooler country.

In summary, dispersed camping off a forest road was much different and much better than I expected. I was imagining very remote isolated closed-in areas, but it almost felt like a huge campground with great spread out camp spaces, plenty of room, no facilities, but a beautiful setting. I could just barely hear distant talking and see the campfire of my closest neighbors. If I had had an emergency, a loud shout from me would have summoned help, I have no doubt. I was able to get a Verizon signal on my iPad (my phone is ATT, which was useless there), so I could stay connected. That helped me feel much more confident ... and entertained, too! ;)

Want to know what I missed most from my luxuries at home? Nope, not TV. Surprisingly, it was my garbage disposal! It will take constant vigilance not to throw food scraps in my sink. I had to clean them out a couple times.

Next weekend is Labor Day, so I won't try to compete with holiday campers, but maybe in the next 2 or 3 weeks, I'll go out again.

(Note: A huge thanks to Richard and Dianna for taking me under their wing(s) and showing me the ropes this weekend. I don't know how I would have done this without your help. I certainly would have made a LOT of newbie mistakes. Mwaaahhh!)

Friday, August 28, 2015

My maiden voyage

I'm going to take my Winnie Minnie out for a spin this weekend, on an overnighter up to the Mogollon Rim. I plan to leave Saturday morning and drive up past Payson and Pine and try to find a boondocking spot off one of the forest roads somewhere between Lake Mary Road and Blue Ridge Ranger Station.

My brother and sister in law are going to drive up with me (in their car) and help me find a spot and get set up.  I'm just a little unsure of how all the systems work and what is required to make it all run, so they will help me become a bit familiarized with everything (or at least the critical things) this first go-round. Then they will head back down the mountain and Hanna and I will be on our own. 

Since I don't have an inverter or solar power yet, and don't really want to run my generator too much in the woods, I'm planning to spend most of my day doing non-electric activities like reading and walking with Hanna in the forest, and then after dark I can watch DVDs on my laptop. I'm sure I'll spend some time puttering inside organizing the things I have so far and figuring out how to cook and live in it. And teaching Hanna what she is and is not allowed to jump on ... like the dinette table. :)

Speaking of Hanna, she doesn't yet know we are going, but she will be very excited when I put her inside and start driving up the road. She loves to jump into it in the back yard and doesn't want to get out when I'm ready to go back in the house. I called the vet earlier this week to see what dosage of Dramamine I could give her if she gets carsick.

I'm borrowing a satellite phone from my brother Daryl just in case I have an emergency out of cell phone range, but hopefully I won't need to use it. I'll post another entry when I get home. Wish me luck!! Here I go!

Monday, August 3, 2015

A new tv

When I bought my motor home, there was a TV lying on the loft bed, but was not mounted nor connected to the antenna cable. I asked the seller to mount it before I picked it up, but it was one thing they didn't do. I let it go, figuring I have plenty of brothers who I could sweet talk into doing that job for me.

When the warranty inspector went through everything, he said he couldn't include the TV without verifying it was in working order. Like I would even make a claim on a $250 TV when I have a $500 deductible!

Saturday, my handy helper Daryl, came over to mount the TV, but alas, it doesn't fit the mount, nor does it fit the space where it is supposed to go. Methinks the previous owner pulled a fast one, swapping the TV that was in it for this old, mismatched one.

So off to Walmart we went, and found a great buy on a 23.5" Vizio TV, and also a nice little Sony DVD player. Daryl got them both set up, connected together and to the antenna. Everything works great!

The TV is on a swing mount; the DVD player is in the cabinet to the right
Now I can drive up to the mountains, park in the woods and sit inside watching DVDs! :)

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Fill 'er up!

Last weekend, I cranked up the generator, turned on the air conditioner and cleaned my Winnie Minnie motor home. It didn't look very dirty to me, but I had to change grimy water several times, so I guess it had accumulated a lot of dust.

I wanted to take the mattress outside and let it lie in the sun for several hours to air it out and ensure any mighty mites were fried by the UV rays. But that thing is H E A V Y !!! and I couldn't budge it more than to raise each corner just a bit to slip the mattress cover off. So I vacuumed it, wiped it with a wet cloth, and threw the mattress cover in the washer and dryer. Then I unrolled my new foam topper and placed it on top. 

It could use a little trim around the edges.

I've been collecting kitchen utensils and dishes over the last year, and had fun finding places for them in the cupboards and drawers. I found I had purchased way too many plastic covered containers, so I put a lot of them in the house kitchen. I guess I was imagining having lots and lots of leftovers when I travel. (Maybe I'll be putting things in them to keep mice out of them. Yuck!)

I still need lots of stuff, but it's a start. With what I have so far, I can make coffee and toast, heat up a can of soup, or cook a burger. That should do me, don't you think? I'm hoping to take my first weekend trip on August 15-16 and drive up to the Rim to spend one night.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

National Park Passport

I heard about the National Park Passport book from Kimbopolo, one of the bloggers I follow. She described how the National Park Service developed the guide and keepsake to help travelers discover and collect memories of the wonderful treasures that exist throughout our beautiful country. I knew I wanted to get a book and begin collecting stamps from the parks, monuments, memorials, forests and recreation areas that I visit in my RV. So I ordered one online.

On my recent cruise to Alaska, I realized I had forgotten to pack my NP passport book. We visited Mendenhall Glacier, a federal recreation area which sits in the Tongass National Forest. As I listened to a ranger talk at the visitor's center, I was very disappointed not to be able to collect my first stamp.

A few days later, we visited Denali National Park, and again I was lamenting not having my passport book with me. So I went into the visitor's center to buy a new one. They told me they were out of books, but that I could get a stamp at the main desk and put it in my book. I walked over to find people stamping small pieces of paper, so I did the same. As I pushed the stamp down on that scrap, I said to the ranger, "I forgot my passport book," and she replied, "You're the only one who ever has." (wink!)

When I got home, I carefully cut around the stamp and glued it into the Pacific Northwest & Alaska Region page. My first stamp in my book, and it's from the king of all National Parks, magnificent Denali!

Friday, June 19, 2015

It passed

The warranty inspector came yesterday to inspect my motor home and ensure everything was in working order. Everything checked out, as my brothers thought, and I am now covered under a 48 month / 48,000 mile extended warranty/service contract. Those things are expensive, but if I have a break down, I'll be very glad to have things covered. Buying something used, you never know just how precariously something is working at the moment, or how well the previous owners took care of things, so it's better to be safe than sorry.

I got Roadside Service coverage added to the insurance package I bought, so if I break down somewhere I can call for help or a tow truck. This seems really important for a woman on the road alone.

Since it's been 113° or higher all week with no relief in sight for the next month or two, very little is going to get done inside to clean or update. I just don't have the energy or desire to do much of anything like that when it's this hot. I am going on an Alaskan cruise in a few weeks, so I'm not planning to go anywhere in Winnie Minnie until at least August anyway. For now, it's parked in the side yard and Hanna is making sure it doesn't drive away without us.

It just fits!

Friday, June 12, 2015

Getting the gate ready

The gate into my side/back yard was only ten feet wide, and was directly under the 20 inch overhang of the roof eave, so it was too narrow for getting my RV through. I had to have it widened to twelve feet. Here's a few before and after pictures.

Old gate
Widened the opening
New gate
These trees need to go

My landscaper is going to remove a couple small palm trees and grade and level a driveway through the yard, so I won't drag the rear end coming up the hill. That won't be until after I bring the coach home, so if I can't get it up through the yard, I will have to park it at my brother's house for a couple of days. Getting closer!

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Spending money like it's going out of style!

I knew the base price of my RV was not going to be the only cost I would incur to become an RVer. But I am quickly finding out there are a lot more hidden and unexpected expenses that are taking a big bite out of my savings.

Of course, I knew there would be license and insurance, plus all the items that I want to stock the inside with. But I didn't anticipate the expense of widening the gate to my back yard, grading and leveling the entrance to that gate through my front yard, and ramps to get up over the curb to my yard. And frankly, I never even thought about a service warranty for my new (used) Winnie Minnie, but it's certainly a requirement for me since I can't handle repairs should anything go wrong. All of these things are adding up to many thousands of dollars.

I have been slowly purchasing some items that I want to have inside the rig (mainly the kitchen). I'll take a lot of the things I use on an every day basis from the house to the MH for at least the first year, but over time, I want to purchase as many duplicates as makes sense so I don't have to pack and unpack so much stuff every time I come and go.

My rig will need new curtains right away, as the ones in there now are pretty sun damaged. Other than that, there's really nothing urgent that some Mr. Clean or Comet won't fix. I may eventually recover the dinette cushions if I can find something that coordinates with the existing color scheme, but they are fine for now.

But amidst all this never ending drain on my bank account, I don't have any buyer's remorse about the coach I bought or my plans to hit the road.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

I Did It!

I am the proud new owner of a Winnebago Minnie 27 ft Class C motorhome. It's the one I've had my eye on at for a few weeks, and today I talked my brothers and sis in law into going with me and we drove down to Tucson to check it out. It was everything that I want and more, so I put a down payment on it and signed the contract. They are going to keep it for me while I get a wider gate installed in my side yard.

Here are a few pictures I copied from the seller's website.

This is going to make working for another 10 months that much harder. I already have short timer's disease. Now I have an RV and I'm anxious to get on the road.

Monday, May 11, 2015

A Woman's Perogative

I can change my mind, can't I?

After all the analysis and arguments for why I wanted a trailer, I've changed my mind. I've been visiting lots of RV shows, and to tell the truth, those fifth wheels kind of scare me. They are really big and intimidating, and thinking about towing one on an interstate or through a big city is kind of  overwhelming.

I read a LOT of RVer's blogs, and a few that I have been enjoying lately are written by women who travel solo in motor homes. I would really love a little Class B for road tripping, getting in and out of cities and towns, better gas mileage, and being able to stealth camp; but I just don't want to live in such limited space. Even if I am only going part time, I still want a little more room. And my original requirements still stand: separate shower in the bathroom, a bed that stays a bed, a small slide out to give a bit of extra room. That's why I have been thinking more and more about getting a Class C.

My [expert adviser] brother agrees that it would be a wiser option for me. He also says I could tow a small car and hardly even know it's back there. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I actually have driven a motor home. My folks owned a small class A back in the 60s and 70s and I drove it quite a lot.

So I've been shopping online and found one I really like. It's in Tucson, and I think I will try to drive down and see it and maybe give it a test drive this weekend. It's a 2005 27 foot Winnebago Minnie. From the pictures on the web, it looks like it's in fantastic shape. I guess I'll see, and then I'll update more.