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! :)