Saturday, October 31, 2009

Settling in at the Park, Sunscape RV Resort

As mentioned a couple of days ago, we're here and does it feel good! For all of you readers back in the cold country, perhaps global warming hasn't gone away totally. It was in the mid 80s here today and it felt good, with wall to wall sunshine.

Since we were a day late leaving Iowa a week ago, we have had to pay for it every warm day here. The lady bugs are a pain, not just one or two but by the dozen. We catch them in a butter container that has a little bit of water and soap in the bottom and it is instant paralysis to them. Then after we have caught 2 or 3 dozen to the point that they are building up on the bottom, they get a free ride to lady bug heaven (down the stool). I think I've emptied my container 6 or 8 times.

Sandy and I took a walk around the park this morning, looking at the concrete patios on the various lots. We are planning to do some improvements to the lot and before we talk to a contractor, we need to know what we want. Some lots have a nice arrangement with the concrete squares, others have about a 12 by 20 concrete patio and a few have wall to wall concrete, which in our case is about 55 by 70 (which leaves a 5 foot border around three sides of the lot.) Decisions, decisions, decisions.

In the PM, I took a long walk through the park again and then outside in the undeveloped land to the north of the park. I think they've had some recent rains, but you'd never know it by how dusty everything is.

Tonight, no wind and nice temperatures.


Thursday, October 29, 2009

We have Arrived at the Park, Day 9

It was a real red-letter day today for us. we have arrived at our winter destination park (Sunscape RV Resort, Casa Grande, AZ) and we are happy to be off of the road. This morning in Deming, we wondered if the wind had laid down enough for us to travel. Of course, the answer was yes and if need be, we'd pull over.

Because we didn't plan ahead for an early departure, we didn't get away until nearly 9 AM, much later than I like. Driving was very relaxing, with a few trucks to share the road with. Traffic was light. We fueled up at the Lordsburg Flying J and thank goodness we learned our lesson earlier at Tucumcari. The RV lanes were stacked up, so we used the end pump on the main gas pump islands. So we got right in and out. After filling, we took a small break in their RV parking area, where they have slots of 10 RVs. A very nice RV setup. However while we were waiting there, the RV island was full and 3 more rigs came in. It was almost a bottle neck of RVs for a little bit.

Our next stop was Willcox, AZ at the visitor's center and C of C welcome center on the edge of town. We've been there before and like the out of the way location and level parking. Again, we were well treated. when it was time to continue our travels, it was back on I-10 and heading west. Our next stop was a Prince of Peace Lutheran Church on the western edge of Benson, AZ. We helped the church many years ago pour the concrete for the sidewalks and also Gene helped when they laid the roofing on.. It is about a half mile from the interstate and has a nice gravel turn around for us with the big rig.

With our final break over, we gritted our teeth and headed for Tucson, our big city for this trip. Actually, all went well, traffic was moderate to heavy, but everything kept moving. No hold ups or sudden lane changes. Finally,the highway construction work in Tucson has been finished and it was nice. The highway is very smooth, and is 3 lanes each way. It was great.

We decided to top off our fuel tanks before parking for the next 2 months, so another stop at the Eloy Flying J this time. Again we elected to not use the RV lanes and in the process almost got myself into a hole. But I was fortunate that two vehicles blocking my exit moved and we were able to quietly leave with everyone happy.

One reason to fuel up one last time was to check our fuel mileage because we have been using a fuel additive this time. In a nutshell, we did get better mileage, the details in a later blog.

Upon arriving at the park entrance, we had to sign in and then park it on our lot. Per our time, it was nearly 5 pm, so Sandy went ahead with dinner. When I couldn't get any news on the TV, we finally realized that Arizona must not be on daylight saving time. Instead of arriving at 4:30, we had arrived at 3:30 PM. Anyway, we enjoyed an early dinner and shortly, I'm going to enjoy an early trip to bed. It is nice to know that our travels are over for a few weeks. Plus the weather forecast says the highs are to get into the mid 80s next week. That will be very enjoyable!!!!!! Isn't that why we came?


Heading to Arizona, Day 8

Heading for Arizona, Day 8
Okay, I'm a day late and probably a dollar short. I neglected to write this last night. So this morning at 5:45, I'll try for a short posting. (I took another early evening cat nap.)

It was very windy yesterday here in Deming and by the reports, also along most of I-10 to Casa Grande. So wisely, we decided to sit tight. It was not a nice day here in the park either, as the wind blew and it was cold. Our LP space heater ran continuously just to keep the living room area comfortable. (The bedroom was like ice.)

We did take a break from in RV stuff and took the Saturn for a short spin around Deming with a stop at Walmart for a few groceries. Walmart was fairly busy considering the weather.

Otherwise, it was a restful day other than thinking that if I would have just moved on Tuesday, we could have had clear sunny weather all the way. (But it is not warm in Casa Grande today either, so it really does not make much difference.)

Check out here is not before 8:30 AM, so no real hurry to get moving. We could have checked out last night for an extra buck, which we should have done - but didn't. Right now, there does not appear to be any breeze outside or at least no awnings are flapping in the breeze. That is a good sign.

Enough for now.


Monday, October 26, 2009

Heading to Arizona, Day 7

To put it mildly, here I sit at nearly 9 PM and I just woke up from an early evening snooze. And no blog written yet.

We arrived here at Deming at high noon from a short drive from Socorro, NM. My one regret was that as we went through the little town of Hatch, NM, we didn't stop. Iit was apparent that the main product of the town was chili Peppers. It is in a small valley just off of the interstate as we headed across country to Deming. I saw a small store front that was nearly covered with hung groups of red chili peppers. I was temped to circle the block and park it so I could have a closer look, but my navigator said, "keep driving". Sometimes, I need to just do what instinct says to do.

It was great to hang up the driving chores early. Deming has a nice Escapee's RV club park and while it is not anything fancy, it is always a place to see friends. True to form, we met a couple at the social hour that we have visited with in Florida 2 or 3 years ago. It is a small small world.

We're here to spend an extra day and relax. Considering how well I slept after dinner, I must be tired. I sure hated to quite early since the wind was breezy and out of the east. What a nice tail wind and we ignored it. We leave on Wednesday and they are predicting wind gusts up to 45 mph in the afternoon. So while the plan is to leave, if the weather changes on us, we might just sit tight. Again, we have good hook ups and stuff to do.

Happy trails,


Sunday, October 25, 2009

Heading to Arizona, Day 6

Heading to Arizona, Day 6

It was a full day of travel for us today. As we pulled out of the visitor's center at Guymon, we decided to update our clocks in anticipation of getting into Mountain Standard Time. So we were really on the road at 7:30 AM (too early.) Then we decided that it was a bit too far to Tucumcari, NM on what we had for fuel, so we stopped and added in 12 gallons. We wanted to wait to fuel up at Tucumcari because they have a Flying J and it had the best price. Back on the road, we noticed a major station that had diesel at the same price as the Flying J, but I'm happy with the Flying J, so on we go. But a 100 miles down the road, we began to have second thoughts and stopped to add some more fuel, since I don't really like driving with the fuel gauge bouncing off of the bottom of the empty mark. (I know there is spare in there, but you don't want to run a diesel dry!

Finally, we arrived at the Flying J and we had two downers: The fuel price was more than what we paid at Guymon and we had to wait in line because of so many other RVs wanting to fuel up. Dummy me didn't think to go to the regular pumps until after I was locked in to the RV pumps. Okay, we learn!

The rest of the drive was uneventful. We drove I-40 to Santa Rosa and then dropped back to state highway 54. I love traveling the lesser traveled roads when in no hurry, which was today. Plus I didn't really want to take on Albuquerque Sunday evening.

We ended up parking for the evening at the Socorro Walmart. Lots of space, level and off of the interstate. There are 3 other RVs here. It should be a relaxing evening.


Saturday, October 24, 2009

Heading to Arizona, Day 5

Our two day stay at Venango Corp park ended this morning as we quietly pulled out for warmer climates. That is one park that we shall keep on our list to return to, especially between October 1st to April 30th. The price is right.

The drive was very pleasant as we headed south and then west. Thank goodness there was only a half mile going east because the sun was very bright at 8:30 AM. Traffic was null on our way to Great Bend where we found the SuperWalmart so that we could restock our larder. It was early in the morning and we had lots of room in the parking lot to turn around. The other advantage was that we had to contend with very few customers in the store.

One minor problem developed as we headed west from Great Bend. We both knew the route number and there was no other conversation. We went through some familiar towns like Pawnee Rock and Larned and several miles down the road, Sandy very calmly says, "I think we're lost!" We were supposed to be on highway 56 and instead, we were on highway 156. No wonder the highway signs never mentioned Dodge City. Eventually we found a highway to take us south to get us back on track. How embarrassing. We only added 14 miles to our trip doing a dog leg verses the diagonal.

Tonight we're parked in a very quiet Oklahoma Visitors Center in Guymon, OK. One reason it is quiet is that it was closed when we arrived and by the looks through the door, it is probably closed for the season. We're about a mile plus from the downtown railroad tracks and it is apparent that the train whistle works very well this far. They blow the whistle for every cross street and there must be dozens of them. We may have different opinions in the morning, but right now we're comfortable here boondocking (no hookups). (No electric heater or electric mattress pad to keep us warm through the night.) Perhaps we need to become adapted sometime!

Tomorrow will be another day similar to today, headed to the southwest, perhaps close to Albuquerque by night fall.


Friday, October 23, 2009

Heading to Arizona, Day 4

This was to be a layover day and we intended to really lay low. In reality, it was a busy day. In the AM, we decided to get really serious with our backup computer and install the external wi-fi adapter that I purchased about a month ago. The only problem was I couldn't find the adapter. We had picked it up in the mail at Beth's house 2 weeks ago and I remember returning it to the motorhome when we were ready to leave. The adapter was the size of a large sized flash drive with a 6 inch antenna.

So today I look in my computer case for the adapter and could not find it. Then we checked Sandy's computer case with the same result. Eventually we ended up outside at the basement to look in two of my older computer cases, again with no success. I think I rechecked the cases two or three times and could not find the adapter. It was getting close to noon and I was getting very frustrated, as I knew we had it someplace. So back to the primary computer case and I opened up each pocket very wide. Then for some strange reason, I wondered what was in a brown envelope. Wups, there was the adapter, in the mailing package, just as I had packaged it. What an embarrassment.

In the PM I did get the wi-fi installed and it works well. I also was intending to install a hard disk boot manager so that the computer could boot to Windows or Linux. I downloaded a couple free manager programs but gave up before we lost what we had. I need to learn more about some of this Linux stuff.

When I was outside looking in the basement compartments, it also became obvious to me that there must be a water leak, as several of the papers, some maps and a couple of boxes had water damage on the bottom. So it being a dry day with a strong wind, we emptied both compartments to find the source of the leak. However, other than one small box, all of the wet items were really on the floor and the floor was not entirely wet. (The floor is covered with a thin carpet material and it was not really wet.) We never did find the water source. I suspect that it might have been from the bucket fill line which ran on the ceiling of the compartment and yesterday when I had used the hose fill connection to our holding tank, I had over filled it and water had back flowed out of the bucket fill door, under slight pressure. Perhaps the bucket fill line is cracked, but we'll wait until another time to resolve that issue.

At mid afternoon, Sandy and I decided to take a short walk for some fresh air. All went well until we were on the final leg going up a small hill when Sandy tripped on her own feet and went flying to the ground. Of course it is not a graceful fall, but she stiffens up and topples over, hitting her head on the side, and jamming her arm into her side. It was not a pretty site, but eventually she recovered her composer, and we got her up and back to the motorhome. After she was settled down, I went for another 2 mile hike, perhaps a bit further than I should have, as my legs are complaining tonight.

The real results of the fall became apparent tonight when Sandy was making dinner. Just about every movement caused a groan of some sort. Just opening a drawer requiring a slight pull caused a noticeable groan! I think she bruised every muscle in her body and especially at her joints. The one activity she seems to be able to do is operate her computer resting on her lap. (But there is a groan when she moves it off of her lap.) It will take a few days for her to recover from this episode. (I can wash the dishes, but don't ask me to do the cooking.)

Tomorrow we are on the road again. Our intention was to make a quick stop at Greensburg, KS and see how their recovery from a devastating tornado is progressing. We'll make that determination when on the road tomorrow.


Thursday, October 22, 2009

Heading to Arizona, Day 3

Today was the right day to be off of the road, as there is a stiff cold
north wind with a trace of moisture that has been blowing all day. As I
mentioned yesterday, this was a planned layover. And we're enjoying the
relaxation. We are on Kanopolis Lake, SW of Salina, KS in the Venango Park Campground.

This morning, for fresh air and exercise, I walked to the south end of the
campground. The real test was on the return when I had to face the wind.
It was cold and penetrating. This afternoon we walked over to the north edge
of the lake and walked on some of the shoreline rocks (like little boys do).
Since it was behind the trees it was very pleasant until I returned to the
motorhome. But you need some out time now and then.

The bonus for the day was when Sandy took advantage of the full AC power and
made two loaves of Quick bread using some of our cranberries. What a short
lived treat! It has been cut, wrapped and frozen, so again I'm on limited
rations for the treats. She believes that out of site is out of mind and
then she can be a hero when she reminds me that there is still some available.

We haven't had any real rain, but it has often misted some on the front
window. The snow in Kansas was along the western edge. Since we have a
very flexible schedule and driving might not be much fun in this stuff, we've
even talked about laying over another day. After all, the price is right! We'll decide in the AM.

Enjoying life one day at a time!


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Heading to Arizona, Day 2

It sure was a lot easier to get the motorhome rolling along today, as we were on the road by 8 AM. Traffic in St. Joseph wasn't too bad and we quickly were on the southwest corner, headed out of town on highway 59. Surprisingly, the traffic on the highway was more than we expected, especially for grain hauling semis. (They left us once we crossed the river into Kansas..)

We took a break before we arrived in Topeka where we would get onto I-70 for a hundred miles. After the break, we had indications that it sure would like to rain, but not enough to require the wipers. But the over cast clouds gave the impression that a real winter storm was just around the corner.

We arrived at Venango C.O.E. campground southwest of Salina about 30 miles before 2 PM. Yesterday, a friend had suggested it because of the low price, nice facilities and lack of users and it is just as described. For us old fogies (with a Golden Age Pass), the nightly fee is only $2 a night. To get that great rate, we have to do without the campground host and about half of the restrooms are closed. (Since we use our own facilities in the motorhome, no big deal). It was 60 degrees when we arrived, but a short time later, a light rain moved in. I just saw the forecast for tomorrow and it is not for sissies, the high might be up to 42, with a 20 mph NW wind. I suspect we'll keep ourselves busy in the motorhome doing something. We've been on the road for 2 days and our plan is to drive 2 days and rest one day. (That plan is going to be severely tested when I see the weather getting worse as we wait!) But why hurry with such a great parking rate and a 50 Amp connection.

We're away from the big cities now, but we still have 7 TV stations and one of them has the Wheel of Fortune tonight (so Sandy is happy). Plus the internet connection works well, so we're both happy!


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Heading to Arizona, Day 1

We did a normal departure from the farm, we didn't hurry. We took our
time, read the mail, rechecked all of the locks, hooked up and pulled out at
9:05 AM. It was cloudy and over cast, so no bright sunshine to get in our
face. Traffic was moderate on I-80 and we seemed to make good time.

Our route was I-80 to Des Moines, then south on I-35 to Missouri highway 36
and west to St. Joseph, MO. We arrived here at a Walmart around 2:45 PM and
proceeded to get some credit added to my Walmart card. (I get three cents a
gallon discount doing it that way.) We fueled the MH with diesel and had to
leave before we were blocked in by the fuel delivery truck. Okay, next
time. I did like the price at $2.50.9

We checked with a few people and yes, RVers are allowed to park in the lot
over night. And since the weather seems to be very cooperative, we decided
to just call it a day. It is so nice to have weather close to 70 degrees
and no wind. Actually, we'd be happy with there was some wind now to blow
the lady bugs away. It is hard to describe the number of bugs we have
inside and outside. They certainly hung on for dear life coming today,
because I don't think we're missing any of them. I rechecked the lawn before leaving for
any forgotten items and it is obvious that the lady bugs were going to make
their winter home under the tires. I'm not sure how they did it, but it
was a solid mass of squashed bugs where the tire depression was. Two good
things, they won't fly any more and they will now contribute to the lawn
fertility. A characteristic of the bugs at this time of year is that they
seem to want to gather in bunches in very tight quarters. I should have
put some boards down with about a quarter of an inch gap between them.
Perhaps I could have squashed a few hundred more.

We are parked in what seems to be an odd appendage to the Walmart lot. No through traffic, probably employee parking. We don't complain.

Tomorrow onto a C.O.E. park in central Kansas. Venango campground, near Langley, KS.


Monday, October 19, 2009

Departure Day Minus One

We leave on Tuesday (tomorrow) and about right now, we feel like it is a
day late! We have been invaded by lady bugs of the most aggressive kind.
It is unreal how many we have swarming on the east side of the rig (where
our door is). We thought we had pretty well escaped this year when we went
to Wisconsin last month. I guess it is not to be.

I've done my little errands in town and we're ready to depart I think.
Actually we could have left except that friends are bringing out some Chili
Soup, the main ingredient from a dinner that we canceled out on last Friday.
We were planning to compare notes about our previous outings. (They
in Ohio and we in Wisconsin.) I guess we'll wait until spring to finish
the job.

Larry W (our farm operator) stopped by this morning and said that both the
corn and the beans are too wet to combine. Of course, the price is very
decent now and who knows what it will do when the harvest swings into full
gear. Just for keeps, I did go out into the corn field this morning and
picked three ears to carry along (as reminders of my roots). I was
impressed with how well filled out the ears are, right to the end of the
cob. I also had to smile about how tight the ears are sticking to the
stalk. It was a two handed job (and then some) to remove the ear from the
stalk. Normally, that is a one handed job and too often in times past, the
ear just falls off. Not this year, at least now.

We loved the weather forecast for tomorrow here in Iowa, only a 20 percent
chance of rain late in the day. That gives us a good shot of getting all
the way to St. Joseph, MO for our first stop with decent driving. I
wouldn't mind it also if it was a bit cloudy, with a north wind to top it
off. (I love a tail wind.)

We've picked out our first stop, Lewis and Clark State Park south of St.
Joe. Our second day will be fewer miles to a Corps park near Lindsborg, KS,
where our current plan is to rest a day. A friend heading there today says
the price is right ($2 / day), so I think we can handle that. From there,
it is anyone's guess. If the weather is sullen, we'll head for Deming, NM
to hole up for a day. Other wise, we'll take I-40 I think. We have no
schedule to hold to other than our own wishes. We had wanted to do some
touring of Indian ruins in New Mexico, but with the after effects of this
cold I've had, I'm looking for some really hot weather to bake it out of
me. (Of course, that isn't want Sandy likes!)


Sunday, October 18, 2009

Tuesday Departure (we hope)

It seems like we have been here on the farm forever, but really just 7
days. I've been motorhome bound since Thursday afternoon and it is
frustrating. Thursday night was a real bummer of a head cold when I had a
very stuffy, plugged and still a runny nose. At about 3 AM on Friday
morning I finally woke up to the idea that there were some pills in the rig
that would somewhat alleviate the symptoms. They helped some (but not
much). I spent Friday mostly on my back, on the sofa and downing the pills
as recommended by my nurse/caretaker/boss. Friday night was a bit better.
At least the pills stopped the runny nose. On Saturday, I actually felt
like I might live

Today is better, but I'm afraid I've got a ways to go. I haven't taken any
pills since last night and my head feels great. However, there is some
sinus drainage and I periodically seem to need to do a weak cough.
However, this afternoon, I finally put the coat on and went outside to do a
few small pre-departure items. It sure felt good to be outside in the fresh
air, even if it was very windy.

Our departure is tentatively scheduled for Tuesday morning. Our route is
flexible, depending upon what the weather map looks like at departure.
Supposedly, we're to get more rain on Tuesday (not what the farmers want or
need right now as the harvest season is ready to begin when the weather


Saturday, October 17, 2009

Grounded, short term

Our plans when we returned to the farm were to depart today or tomorrow. Well, as health would have it, we came down with a bummer of a head cold, nasal congestion, or sinus problem on Thursday. We decided that we would hibernate on Friday and Saturday for certain. (Yesterday was not a good day in my book!)

As I write this on Saturday morning, I at least feel like I'll live. We have not determined a new departure date and probably won't until it is here. Are we in a hurry to leave? You bet ya! I've had enough of this cold, wet miserable Iowa fall. Plus as I hibernate here and watch a national news cast now and then, I hear comments like: 90 degrees in Arizona or Florida. That is where I'm headed, Casa Grande, AZ. I'm ready to get some place where I can stretch out in the fresh air and let the sun burn this junk out of me.

Hopefully, next time I'll feel like writing more.


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Back at the Farm (and it is cold)

We left Beth's on Friday, and stopped in a county park outside of Marion, IA
where we used to live. On Sunday morning, we went to our home church, which
is a rarity since we're on the road. We make a special effort to get there
spring and fall to let them know we're still around. What a joy to see
so many wonderful friends of yesterday. The other thing we noticed was
that the church is changing. I guess it can be expected since moved out of the community 16
years ago. There are so many new faces. Even the president of the
congregation is a stranger to us. Actually, that is good, as it means that
the church is growing!

For the rest of the day, we laid pretty low in the motorhome. It was just
too cold to be out wandering around in the park. This morning, Gene was up
early (he always is) to read the email and do his surfing. However, no
breakfast until nearly 9 AM because he had to have a blood test done at 8
AM. The blood suckers seem to want their share also.

We then organized the RV and made it ready to travel. It was lunch and then
off to the dentist to allow him his pound of flesh. For once I got by
without any fillings, but the bill seems plenty high anyway. We were in a
hurry and the dentist seemed to be in no hurry. I think we were his only
customers for the afternoon. One reason we wanted out was so that we could
get the RV and head to the farm. Plus the park wanted us out by 3 PM. We
were 30 minutes late, but nothing was said. On the way to the farm, we
stopped at the west side Walmart and picked up some last minute items. Then
it was on to Amana to see my mother. We wanted to park on the road and then
saw a big sign (No Parking). Then we spotted the employees parking lot that
was about half empty (it was 5 pm). So we wheeled in and parked.
Perhaps not where we ought to be, but there was lots of space.

After a short visit with mother, it was on to Williamsburg. and the farm.
We were ready to get off of the road and when we pulled in, I told Sandy
that we weren't unhooking the Saturn until we were parked. So we wheeled
in, did a U turn on the grass and parked in the usual location on the lawn.
Then I unhooked the Saturn and noticed that we did leave a depression in the
grass. It was a good thing that we kept it moving until we were parked. Later
I checked the rain gauge and noticed that we had 2 inches of
rain since we left 2 weeks ago.The big disappointment is that none of the
soybeans are harvested in this area. I was hoping that they'd be out so
that I could do some work in the field before we leave. Okay, we can't win
them all.

Time to turn in.


Saturday, October 10, 2009

Heading Towards the Farm in Iowa

On Friday morning, we gathered our belongings and tucked them back into the motorhome. It is truly amazing how much stuff we carry out of the motorhome and into her house. No wonder we love just staying in the motorhome. We've heard other people also comment that when they visit friends, they prefer to stay in their RV. It bugs their friends who feel that they have a very nice spare bedroom for their guests. But staying in one's RV is so much more convenient for the traveler.

Our drive yesterday was truly amazing. We seemed to have a tail wind the entire distance and the motorhome just wanted to roll along. Secondly, we connected with the green light at every stoplight until we arrived at the Walmart here in Marion. When we first started driving up to see Beth via U.S. 151, it went through every small town and each one had a stop sign or two and the highway was all two lane. Today, it is a 4 lane highway, with only four stop lights in Dubuque and the one in Marion. We're not really going to complain, but we do miss the Interstate rest stops that are usually every 40 to 50 miles. There is one rest area on the Wisconsin border, which is too close to our departure point of Dodgeville. Oh well.

This morning leaves no doubt that winter has arrived. The Saturn was entirely covered with frost. And tomorrow morning is to be worse, with snow flurries on Monday. We're planning to be here in Iowa for another week or two, so I'm waiting for the warming trend that almost always occurs after a severe cold spell. We looked up the forecast for the weather in Dodge City, KS since we're planning to pass close by there. It was almost the same as Cedar Rapids. As the weather forecasters have said, "The Midwest is in a deep freeze." Last night they said that the Cedar Rapids temperatures for the first 10 days of October have been 12 degrees cooler than the average. Where is Global Warming?


Thursday, October 8, 2009

The Last Night in Daughter's House this trip

We've been here at daughter's house since Sunday. It is always fun to reconnect with Beth and this was no exception. I've changed a number of her light bulbs (but not all of them). She has more then once accused me of changing a bulb when I didn't! Is it really a problem of light? Actually, I like the way they have a slow start. Some brands or wattages are slower than others.

It was raining slightly this morning, so I was thrown off schedule. We did the errands around town in the AM. In the PM when the rain (or mist) let up, I worked under the motorhome, stringing my antenna cable. A couple of times I wondered if I was under it for good, since I had to slide down off of the curb and then immediately under the motorhome. Most of the time there is plenty of space, but not near the curb. The cable is strung with about 6 feet to spare. It isn't really tied in place, but well enough for road travel.

We also picked up more walnuts from her lawn. What a back breaking job! We delivered them to city landfill lawn and garden waste pile and later got an email from an uncle offering me the use of his Sheller to de-husk them. At the moment, we don't think we'll do that. I don't need nutshell pieces in the motorhome.

While picking up the walnuts, I finally glanced at the single grape vine Beth has along her property line. I was impressed and after dinner tonight (in the dark) I went out and clipped off 3 groups. I was amazed how many bunches of grapes are on the vine hidden under the leaves. I told Sandy I was going to get enough to make some wine, which obviously didn't impress her. I wish I could, but that is a hobby that had to be left behind when we went fulltime.

Tomorrow we leave Beth's wonderful hospitality and head for a county park near Marion, IA. Hopefully, we'll have some time to meet and greet a few of our friends from church, work and the old neighborhood. On Monday morning we have a blood test as part of my physical of last week, then in the PM we both get our annual teeth cleaning. I'm sure the dentist will say that I need to return for at least one filling. Once that is done, we have little to keep us in Iowa, especially considering the cold wave coming through. Perhaps a couple of items to take care of on the farm and we hit the road (maybe).

Looking at the weather map, the Midwest is really getting hammered with rain and cool weather. I thought it was global warming we were concerned about.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Resting at Daughter's House

We arrived here on Sunday noon and while we're resting some, we're also doing a few "daddy do" items for daughter, storm windows for one. Prior to today, I was about ready to leave. She keeps the house so darned cold that I need my coat on to keep warm most of the time. Today, finally, with the bright sunshine, I'm a bit more comfortable. One of the little things that I really enjoy while here is being able to use our old king sized master bed. I have no problem with my toes poking out of the bottom and with the heavy weight blankets on it, I sure hate to get up in the morning. It is very comfortable!

One of the items to be done was to put a set of locking hardware on the downstairs half bath sliding door. When we re-did the down stairs 14 years ago, we didn't finish the job. So today I cut in the lock such that it can be locked from the inside. Just little details. Also this afternoon, Sandy and I picked up 2 garbage cans worth of walnuts on her back lawn. The green ones are fine, it is the soft and mushy outside ones that are a real pain. Thankfully leather gloves protect the hands from getting a real stain..

I also continued to run my new antenna wire in the motorhome for the 2-meter ham radio. We've decided that I need a better connection, so we're removing it from the drivers location and locating the radio next to my table and chair. It ought to work much better when we get the cable run to the rear and up the ladder so that we have a roof top antenna. Had I spent all day on it, it would be done, but for what ever reason, we do a little bit each day. Day 1 we mounted the radio. Day 2 we ran the cable up from the basement. Day 3 we ran the cable through the storage compartments and out by the LP tank. Day 4 will probably run the cable through the engine compartment and day 5 perhaps finish it. Like farming, it is a lot more fun to work on it in the sunshine.

It was interesting this evening when Beth came home and was helping Sandy get dinner ready. Then she let go with a real challenge to me, like, "Dad, so where have you put the new lights now?" She was accusing me of changing a lot more lights than what I have. She really detests the curled lamps, although she didn't notice the two that I put in the kitchen until I suggested she look up. Even then, it took her a moment to realize that they were new. (I only changed 2 of the 4 lamps.) After dinner, she went into the living room and turned on the switch and let out another gasp! For some reason, the living room lights are very slow to brighten up and I heard about it. (Actually, I like it because you don't have the sudden bright light. I can remember when people paid good money to have a slow on lamp.)

Tonight, I get to watch another session of the "National Parks by Ken Burns". I love it.

Monday, October 5, 2009

In Daughter's House and Freezing!

We took our time on Sunday and ended up not getting to Beth's house until well after noon. We're here so often, it is almost like home. Everything except I don't pay the bills, or set the standards. In a nutshell, she keeps it so cold, you could almost free ice on a pan. I ended up with my coat on for most of the evening. (Perhaps it is a very low humidity, so dad gets to rework the humidifier on Monday.

We told her about our plan to install energy efficient bulbs in her house. Was I surprised, "She didn't want any of those queer looking curly queue bulbs. Okay, I think there are more expensive ones with a full globe around it. (Some people have very fussy tastes for some things!.) She has also become an "organic food customer". I had better not complain, as the rent is pretty modest here. Just a whole lot of "daddy do" items like storm windows, clean the humidifier, install a heat register and a few small items (I hope).

We had a long chat on the phone with eldest daughter Julie after we finished dinner. Speaker phones sure work well for that activity. As usually she seems to be burning the candle at both ends. Next Sunday she leaves for a tour of European offices, it is 6 nights in about 5 different cities. They are both flying or driving between locations. I guess I'm happy to be retired.

My morning has been upset. I usually read Nick Russells Blog, which is religously posted after midnight each day. Well, nothing this morning!

Have a great day.


Saturday, October 3, 2009

Day Six of our Caravan / Rally

We've had a great time on the caravan / rally and today was no exception. We departed the campground at 8:15 (which is early by RV user standards) and drove to the Wetherby farmstead/marsh/bog. I was afraid that we were the first ones, but there were already 3 cars there. (I guess we were early enough.) But it didn't take long for our hostess to announce that she was starting the first tour early, so gather around. (Perhaps a dozen cars or more, and more coming in.)

She told us a little bit of cranberry history (we've heard most of it) and then told us what we were going to see. She was in no hurry since they were still setting up the equipment across the bog. The machine used to remove the berries from the bog was a big blue contraption that sucked the berries and lots of water up a 6 inch pipe to an upper sifting rack. In the upper sifting rack, the berries were separated from the leaves and other trash and rolled on to a conveyor to be elevated onto the semi truck. The water, leaves and other trash ran down a chute into a dump truck that had a drain to allow the excess water to run directly into the adjoining berry bog. To keep the berries moving towards the entry, they used a fire hose to move all of the berries towards the opening funnel. Further more, all of the berries in the bog were corralled by a hose laying on the water much like that used to contain oil slicks.

It was then back to the main buildings where she gave us a quick tour of the primary sorting machine. Because of concerns that bad bugs might live in wood, they had to replace the berry grader that had been used by her father for 40 years. They now have a stainless steel computer driven assembly that uses ultraviolet light and air to pick out the bad berries and give them the boot. It also detects off color berries and uses a blast of air to send them to the juice mill. Finally, the last grading stage was where two women sit and manually watch the moving berries and do a final check. The last stage was the bagging machine which could automatically weigh and bag the finished product.

They have an exclusive contract with a distributor to market their berries under the Wetherby name. When a competing store wanted to sell the same berries, Wetherby's set up a second brand (much like our Itasca brand of the Winnebago motorhomes) so that they can market the same quality of berry to other stores.

She also demonstrated to us two methods of removing the berries from the vines, one using an automatic rake and the other a dragging rake. Either way you look at it, the harvesting of the berries is a labor intensive project, in a cold wet environment. Having seen enough, we went back to the store area and bought a good supply of berries and two bottles of cranberry wine. I guess if you can't sell all of the berries, you juice them and make wine to sell.

We left the marsh after a couple of hours and went back to the motorhome. There, we said our good-bys and bid everyone in our group a great winter. A couple were staying in the park another night. We decided to head south to a city park where we might have better success getting some TV reception. Others were hoping to put some miles on going west and south.

So ends our 6 days of the caravan/rally. While it was a small group, we had a great time and learned much. Growing apples or cranberries is no easy task and requires lots of input. One just doesn't realized the amount of effort needed to make the product appear in the store in a clean plastic bag.

Tonight we're settled in to a city park in the little town of Viola, WI. Nothing fancy, we have neighbors and the price is half of the county park


Day Five of our Caravan / Rally

Friday was a very interesting day inspite of what it looked like it was
going to be. As mentioned earlier, our Sphagnum moss place would never
return our call and when we finally found their town garage, they suggested
we go see a competitor. We called the competitor at 8 AM and they agreed to
see us at 2 PM. We then called the log home place and moved our tour up
from 11 AM to 10 AM.

The log home tour was interesting and informative. Just like everything
else in life, what you see isn't exactly what you get. It may look like a
log home, but looks can be deceiving! The do provide the makings for a
fully log home, but most of them are veneered imitations. They took us
through the various buildings used for storage of the pre-cut items. They
have some nice relatively new equipment to plane the sides into round shape.
They make lots of shavings and use a vacuum system to take the stuff outside
and drop it directly into a semi trailer. It is sold to a packaging
operation that bags it for sale in Menards etc. Everything they use is
Wisconsin White Pine. The real downer on the tour was that I had my rain
slicker on and no coat underneath. It was cold and I nearly froze. A

In the PM, we headed out to the Sphagnum moss place in the nearby town of
Millston. These folks are really into the production of items for the home
gardener. They showed us their harvesting equipment, an old Oliver 1940 or
so crawler, with extra wide carriage and with the track pads replaced with
oak 2by4s 2 feet long. Again, he said it can drive on a marsh where a man
could not walk. Yep, once in a while, they bury one and have to pull it
out, clean it up and use it again. The harvested moss is spread on a sandy
field using a farmers silage feeder wagon to make neat windrows of the
stuff. They then hand rake it flat. It takes a week of sunny weather to
dry the moss and in that time, they turn it three times. When it is moss
turning time, everyone in the shop (from mechanic to the office girl) are
called out to rake the moss over.

They package the moss in various end user arrangements (pole, donut, or
box). They also process Spanish moss from Florida and a sheet moss from the
Carolinas into retail packages. They employee 20 to 30 people and are
located in non-descript metal buildings with not the cleanest surroundings
(but it gets the job done). While standing their listening to him, about 10
or 15 four wheeler go carts came charging off of the road into a filling
station. He commented that the primary business of the area was 4-wheeling
in the Black River Forest which totally surrounds the town. Then he pointed
to the bar across the tracks where 4 wheelers were lined up like horses tied
to the hitching rail.

On our return trip to the rigs, we stopped at what looked like a log home
development and water park. The place was well kept and reminded on of the
movie "On the Beach". No one was around, no cars or people. We finally
spotted a fellow loading golf carts, so we stopped and asked him what was
going on? He told us that the water park was bankrupt and had been closed
for over a year. The homes were condo's that had been sold where the owner
could use it or let the developer rent it to others. But since the water
park was closed, there were no renters or owners using the homes.

The homes were real log homes like the ones we had seen in the morning, but
the smaller ones. It was a whole city of homes, multiple row homes and
apartments with no one around. He also mentioned that there was a nice
campground over the hill that was part of it. So obviously we had to go

The campground is a Jellystone RV Resort Campground and is the one that
Sandy and I priced last summer for this caravan. Their special rate was $53
a night with use of the outdoor water park. (Just what we need this week.)
We had passed on that great opportunity. The campground was not too busy
either, like only one RV on top of the hill.

A most interesting day.


Friday, October 2, 2009

Day X in our Rally/Caravan

There is an old saying about sometimes it is better to keep your mouth shut as to open it and leave no doubt about knowledge of the speaker. My chief word-smith has told me that I missed a day, Wednesday. So here it is.

On Wednesday (day 3), we drove to Soldiers Grove and settled into the city park campground before lunch. The city park campground is really the old downtown business district that was so often flooded out. Finally, they moved the city businesses to higher ground.

In the PM, we went to the Kickapoo Apple orchard for a guided tour by the owner. It was most interesting to listen to him tell how he markets the crop, the pricing structure and the challenges they face. In a nutshell, there is a glut of apples on the market and the market cash price for the grower is the pits. In addition, he was hit by a hail storm, so much of his crop has been damaged (not grade A apples). He showed us the cider press and the commerical sorting barn. Likewise, the wholesale price for apple cider is not good. Most of us then had an apple turnover or some other apple product and rested in the eating area. Then we loaded up on apples and returned to the rigs.

In the evening, we went to the local motel/restaurant/bar for dinner. The owner also provided us with a video of the problems that the community had as they went forward on the idea of moving the town center. Uncle Sam was not willing to help until another even worse flood came along. Then they were moved in 2 years. The new buildings are all very environmentally friendly. Most of them need very little supplemental heat during the winter.


Thursday, October 1, 2009

Day Three of our Caravan / Rally

We started the day in a way that is frankly disgusting. All went well rising and getting ready to depart the campground in Soldiers Grove. The problem developed when we ignored all of the signs and left town, heading north (we thought). It was 8 miles later when we came to a T intersection that we realized that we had a big problem. To our utter amazement, none of the roads were highway 131 and the road signs were for places we hadn't heard of or didn't want to go to.

We made a start, decided we were wrong and went through the process of unhitching the Saturn so that we could backup and go the other way. We then spotted two fellows talking nearby, so we went over to explain to them that we took the wrong turn. When I mentioned where we were headed, he politely informed us that we were still heading in the wrong direction. We needed to unhitch a second time and go back the way we came from Soldiers Grove.

We were finally turned around and headed back to Soldiers Grove and both of us were left wondering "How did we do this foolish thing?" Eventually we realized that we had been on the road leaving Soldier's Grove when we were touring the area in the Saturn. We headed north out of Soldiers Grove and met up with our fellow caravaners who stopped at the visitor's Center for the Kickapoo Valley Reserve to learn more about its history. Needless to say, we felt pretty foolish, leaving 10 minutes before everyone else and arriving 10 minutes after everyone else had arrived.

The rest of the day went much better (all according to plan). We're parked as a group in the county park, then we toured the Cranberry Museum and enjoyed a piece of wonderful Cranberry Pie Alamode. As the rest headed back to the county park, Sandy and I went looking for the Sphagnum Moss place who has refused to return our phone calls. We found the rural location, with no one around. So back to Warrens. In Warrens, we went looking for a semi trailer that appeared to be loaded with loose hay and we suspected that it was really Sphagnum moss. We found our way to the front door of the building and as we were headed in, a young man came out. He took us in to meet his dad, Mr. Hancock. We had an interesting conversation but never broached the subject of why they didn't return our phone calls.

They were in the building, working on an old Oliver crawler tractor that had to be as old as myself. The steel track pads had been replaced with oak two by sixes, 3 feet long. He told us that it can walk on the marsh muck even when a man dare not to walk on it. A couple of times they were unfortunate and buried the tractor up to the exhaust pipe. They were fortunate enough to have a cable on it and using 3 similar crawlers, they retrieved the stuck machine, hauled it back to the shop, cleaned it off, replaced all of the oil and it still runs well. He would like to buy another one, but collectors always out bid him at an auction when they do become available.

In the end, he suggested that we visit a competitor in a neighboring town who has a layout where it is easy to see everything about Sphagnum moss production from the road. So tomorrow, after we visit a log cabin maker, we shall visit the competitor. and hopefully learn more about Sphagnum moss.

When we left his shop, it was well past 4:30 and time to call it a day. So back to the campground where it is cold and with a light rain. Fall is definitely here.