Sunday, April 29, 2012

Do You Notice Anything Different?

Well.....week 1 of our first workamping job is in the books. Notice anything different?
Think about it. See if you can figure it out. I'll tell you the answer later.

As I mentioned previously the 'compound' where we will be staying this summer is set up for 2 RV's. We currently have 5: 4 MH & 1-5th wheel; and that is down 1 23' TT that moved last week. Needless to say the 'resources' are being tested. 3 couples have been attending a management preparation meeting this week in California. They're back yesterday and the Area Ops Manager expects the extra RV's to relocate later this week to their summer campsites.

With only 5-6 CGs open now we started the week with a schedule for 3-days/20 hours. But things are starting to heat up as everyone is trying to get the 51 campgrounds our Ops Manager is responsible for ready. Some of the campgrounds will not open until June, but that still leaves an average of 1 opening each day into June. So after the first few days our schedule changed to full time. This week we've been covering for some of the camp-hosts on their days off; cleaning/raking/preparing campsites; opening and preparing restrooms in the soon-to-open CG's; setting up water/supply sites for new camp-hosts located in sites without FHU.

Now I wouldn't call raking and clearing broken limbs from campsites hard work; but if you haven't done yardwork for 8 hours a day/5 days a feels like hard work. Especially about an hour after you get off, clean up, eat supper and settle down. After you've watched a couple TV shows, or read a couple chapters in your current book; then decide to get up and get a discover you can't move any part of your anatomy without something hurting! Your hands and fingers are sore; your legs start to cramp; your biceps and triceps feel like you've held your arms over your head for 8 hours straight. Even my glutes hurt! Well, we've got 2 days to recover and start it all over again.

As we were paring down household items to move into the RV last fall Joan kept a pair of 'tried and true' hiking shoes to work in; I bought a new pair of hiking shoes for the same purpose. Well we learned that they are not as waterproof as we need them to be. Day 2 of work and Joan's socks were saturated when we got home. A quick trip to FredMeyers and we both bought waterproof work boots. BOGO! Buy one, get one 1/2 off. The next 3 days we felt dry and comfortable all day long, rain and shine!

Sunday was our day off and we decided to take the bikes for a ride. The forecast was for sunny skies and temps in the high 60's. We left around 10:30am, fueled up and headed south along Hwy 224. The weather was great and we rode until we could go no further. Don't believe me? Look for yourself......
That Ain't Beachsand

We really wanted to ride further. We worked our way around the first couple patches of snow, but finally couldn't go any further. At least without adding some knobby tires.

So back to my original you notice anything different? Need a hint? Do I look shorter? Maybe? All right, I'll tell you. Joan has taken on a new profession.....barber.
That's new 'do' was done by my one and only! 

And I think she did a great job. Especially as she had already taken her sleeping pill when she started. I kept checking to make sure she didn't etch any lightning bolts or stars or initials into my hair. Next it will be my turn...not to cut her hair, but help with some color touch up. Hope I can do as good a job as she did for me. Here's how you will be able to tell. Watch the pics in future blogs. If she's wearing a hat, it probably didn't go as well as we hoped.

Stay tuned. More to come.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Back From Seattle

Believe it or not we're back from our Seattle 'vacation'. I know it seems a little strange to be taking a vacation from what a lot of folks have described as a vacation. Maybe I should just call it a side trip. We had a great time and got to see lots of attractions;

Can you hear them shouting

Underground Seattle, Pike's Market.......

.....the Space Needle
Along the route we saw Mt Rainier and .....
Mt St Helen
lots of snow on the ground at only 3800'

 And we walked and walked and walked.

Only a 17% Grade

Puget Sound
We're back at our workamping location this morning and we actually start work tomorrow. We are anxious to see if the job is everything we thought it might be. Stayed Tuned.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

First 6 Days Have Been Great. We're Leaving Tomorrow!

Well we've been at our new workamping location for 6 days and I've got to say we're very happy to be here. We've met several of the workampers that we'll be working with over the next 5 months and we think they are all going to be so much fun to work with over the summer. 3 of those 6 days Joan and I have taken drives to see some of the CG's we'll be supporting as well as learning some of the area and seeing some of the sights in and around Mt Hood.
1 of 3 foot bridges along the trail to Bagby Springs
We've visited Bagby Springs, a local hangout that requires a 1.5 mile hike along a river to a series of rough wooden buildings and hot tubs.

You can have a hot time here
after your 1.5 mile hike through the snow

There are a couple of small hot springs which have been routed to soaking tubs for anyone to enjoy. I'm not sure of the origins, but there are 2 hot tub areas with larger tubs and at least 1 building with 5-6 separate stalls with wooden tubs large enough for 2. Rumor has it that it's quite the party area on weekends year round.

One day we drove all the way around Mt Hood getting to see the different views and snow that is still hanging around.

Today we took a couple of back roads, including a couple that weren't paved just to see if we could see some wildlife.

No wildlife but other interesting sites.

The first 6 days have been great. We're leaving tomorrow! No it's not what you think. With this years weather many of the campgrounds are not yet ready for opening. So there are still a couple days before we're really needed to begin work. We're gong to take advantage of that time and drive up to Seattle for the weekend. We're going to spend some time with Joan's friend Terri. So far we've got plans to attend a Mariner game, visit Seattle underground, Pike's Market and play a round of golf. Joan may try to take in a Tulip Festival and Glass Museum.

Stayed Tuned. There's always more to come!

Friday, April 13, 2012

What Do Gremlins, Hail and Smokey Have in Common?

We left Deschutes River State Park Thursday morning headed west for the final leg of our cross country trek.

After a few miles on I-84 we came to Multnomah Falls. These falls are located at a rest area right on I-84. They are the 2nd highest constant-flowing falls in the US. After a short stop we were back on the road.

I had the Gremlin, eh Garmin GPS in the RV so Joan was following me as we drove the last 50 miles to  our destination. Exit here it said. Take this road it said. Turn right it said. What! Wait a minute. You expect me to take my 40' MH pulling a 12' trailer and make an extreme right turn (an acute angle of about 1.5  degrees) onto a single lane bridge. Let's just say the turn was sharp enough that I could see the license plate on the rear of the trailer as I looked out the window during the turn. So back to Gremlin....go into this little town you said. Turn on Burton Street you said. Except Burton Street has a sign that says "No Trucks Over 40' ". So I pull into a gas station and pull out the maps to check this so called 'route'. Nope, not going to do it. But there is a return to the interstate at the next corner so we'll just go the long way. Back to I-84, south on I-205 and exit onto 224 East which is exactly where we need to be. A little longer maybe, but much easier on my soul.

About 10 miles from our stop I've ask Joan to take the lead so she can 'scout' the CG before we enter. The road follows the Clackamas River and the scenery is spectacular. Joan is probably 1/4 mile ahead of me when what to my wondering eyes should appear.....well it wasn't Santa and his reindeer. Rather it was a revolving red light in my rear view mirror. Yes folks.....almost 3300 miles from Florida to Oregon without the first little concern about old Smokey. Just 1 and 1/2 miles from our final destination and what do you know. Blip, blip, blip goes the red light. So over I go into the scenic pullout. And Smokey pulls right up to my drivers window.

Me: "Yes sir, what can I do for you today sir?"
Smokey: "Just wanted to let you know that one of the tires on your trailer looks flat. You need to check it before you have a problem.:
Me: "Yes sir, I'll do that right away sir. Thank you sir." (mama always told me to respect the fuzz)

And Smokey was right. I did have a flat tire on the trailer. So I can try to make the last 1.5 miles with 3 good wheels or just change the tire here. Let's do it here. Out come the tools. Loosen the lug nuts; place the jack; raise the trailer. Come on...raise the trailer. Raise the trailer. This is simple. Pump the little handle and raise the trailer. Well the pumping is going well but not the raising. The little 15 ton jack I bought is good for about 1.5 inches and that's it. By now 20 minutes has passed and I know Joan is starting to worry. No cell signal. Too far to call her on the handheld radio. I can hear the hungry wolves howling to their friends "Looks like we may have Florida Cracker for dinner tonight." Joan will come back for me...I hope.

Ah....there she is. So out comes the car jack and under the trailer it goes. And voila....up comes the trailer. Just as it starts to rain. Yes folks, you can't make this stuff up. And rain hard. And hail. Yes.....hail. Little white pieces of ice from the sky. We flee into the MH and decide to eat a sandwich while we wait for better conditions. About 15 minutes later the rain is gone and so is the hail. Off comes the tire, on goes the spare. Out comes the jack and we're rolling again. All 1.5 miles of the remaining distance to our home for the next 5 months. Lazy Bend Campground.

Yahoo! We made it!
Our first day in Mt Hood National Forest.
Yes that's snow on the ground. Lots cooler than Florida.

Total stats for our trip:

Miles Ocoee FL to Lazy Bend CG, OR:  3280
Fuel Ocoee FL to Baker City, OR (last fillup):  427 gallons
Fuel Mileage: 6.9 mpg averaging 65mph
Dash A/C: 4 days in Alabama
Roadside Breakdown: 3 days in Tulsa, OK (subsequently determined to have resulted from loose wire inadvertantly caused by A/C repairman)
Flat Tire: 1 hour in OR
Loss of Traction Control in car: loose vacuum hose; 15 minutes at Toyota dealer
Dogbite: torn jeans, scar to tell the grandkids about
Driving MH in snow for the first time (Cuba NM): Yahoo!
2 bad calls by Gremlin, er Garmin: we figured it out and found our way after all
Getting to know the local law enforcement personnel; Thank You officer, Yes sir officer, Right Away officer.
Getting hailed on....well you gets what you get and you makes the best of it.

So what do Gremlins, Hail and Smokey have in common? US! We're here! And we're excited to see what the next 5 months hold for us. Stay Tuned.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Almost There

We stayed in Hermiston for 2 days visiting with Joan's family and taking a tour of the McNary Lock and Dam. Tuesday morning we headed a little further west stopping at the Deschutes River State Park.

According to Joan, this is the prettiest park we've stayed in since our trip began. We met the camphosts Howard and Charmaign before selecting our site.

We spent the afternoon driving around and viewing some of the local attactions
Yard Art: Flower & Roll and Play

Maryhill Museum
Made from mining tools found at an abandoned mine

A little further down the road from Maryhill Museum is Stonehenge. It is a full size replica placed as a memorial to local soldiers who died during WW1

Just before we got home we notice one of the wind turbines being worked on. Apparently there is a hoist located in the top of each unit. A pair of doors, much like the bay doors on a space shuttle open on top of the turbine behind the propellors. The hoist pops us and lowers a cable over the side to lift parts to the top. We're not sure what they were working on but we did see the hoist in action.

We are enjoying the slower pace of the last few days. The views as we drive along the Colombia River Gorge are really neat. We expect to arrive at our workamping location Thursday or Friday this week.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Catfish? Snake? Or Both?

We left Declo Saturday morning headed towards Oregon. Along the way we stopped and checked out Malad Gorge. As we drove into the park we noticed signs warning parents to watch out for their children. Nothing too unusual about that.

Joan and I parked the car and walked towards the gorge through the scrub and sage along a sandy footpath. I was paying more attention to where I was stepping rather than where I was going and next thing I know I was 2 steps from a long quick decent to the bottom of the gorge. I was shocked. No guard rails; no signs or warnings at the precipice or along the path. Word to the Wise for future reference: Pay attention to the sign at the entrance.


Just a few miles into Oregon we pulled of on Hwy 201 and drove about 3 miles to Catfish Junction RV Park......located on the Snake River. Another small PA campground. We met the owner Dave who has had the park for about 7 years. Nice place with gravel drives, grass islands, boat ramp and lots of quiet. The closest town is Wieser located about 10 miles north off 201 on 95.

We considered staying 2 nights, but when we got up Easter Sunday we decided to travel a little further west.


Close to Pendleton we parked the MH at a rest stop and drove 3 miles down a side road to see Dead Man Pass. A turnoff onto a gravel 'drive' (that's stretching the description) into an open field.

The view was impressive, but it appeared this location was used by the locals for a hangout more than it was used by tourists as a must-see destination.

Another 30 miles and we decided to stop in Hermiston for a couple of nights so we could visit some of Joan's family.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Baby It's Cold Outside

We checked into Village of the Trees RV Park in Declo Id Thursday afternoon. Thursday night the temps dropped to 30 and we had icicles at the water attachment when we got up Friday morning.

The Tools of Choice When It's Cold Outside

Along with the ice was a wind advisory for most of the day forecasting winds up to 40mph. All things considered we elected to stay another day and 'chill'.

Very Cold Next to the Snake River
(At least for this Florida boy)
We got lots accomplished as we ran errands and got some odd jobs completed around the MH. As we checked the weather for Friday night the forecast was even colder; lows in the 20's. So we hunkered down, pulled in the water hose and made sure we'd prepared as per the motorhome owners manual. After all this was our first time in the MH with these temps.

When we woke Saturday the outside temp was 21 and the inside was 55. On came the heaters and the electric 'throw' (Thanks Lisa) felt nice as I was sitting in the living room waiting for Joan to start her day. We're headed into Oregon today; just a short 4 hour drive to our next stop and hopefully warmer temperatures.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Arches, Mesa Verde and the Drive to Idaho

Double Arch

Delicate Arch

It's Tough in Arches ....
when you have to climb the canyon walls to see the arches

Our Fall Back Plan if the MH Doesn't Work Out!

After two days exploring Arches and Mesa Verde National Parks we left Moab Thursday morning headed north. 
On the Road North of Moab

Pictures Don't Do It Justice

Village of the Trees Campground
Declo, Idaho

And settled for the evening at an extremely nice Passport America campground on the Snake River in Idaho. The sites are roomy and well kept. Well maintained gravel drives, green grass islands, trees............and great sunsets. You really should check it out if you're in the area.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

We're Back in the Saddle Again

Yessiree ladies and gentlemen, we are westbound and down...again! We were towed into Tulsa Thursday morning to a certified Cummins repair facility. They began work Thursday night and continued testing and communicating with Cummins into Saturday. There were 6 error codes; all dealing with either a low or high voltage condition. And all error codes came from 3 sensors on the same 'loop'. After pulling the wiring harness and 3 sensors; then reassembling everything; the motorhome ran fine. Two test drives issues.

We left Tulsa Saturday afternoon taking historic Route 66 westward. We stopped overnight at Oak Glen RV park in Chandler OK (gotta love Passport America). Sunday morning it was back on the road.

We stopped at the coolest gas station called Pops. Wonder Why? They had hundreds of different types of......pop. And the coolest art deco 'pop bottle' out front.

Joan & Toni

We stopped at the Oklahoma City National Memorial just before lunch; then headed back out again. Monday morning found us across OK and TX in New Mexico. We stopped in Albuquerque and had lunch with Joan's friend Toni.

Then we turned north and headed for Colorado. Later that afternoon as we were crossing the mountains near Cuba, NM we ran into a little rain, which included a little snow! First time for me driving in those conditions. It was pretty cool watching the snowflakes 'float' and begin to collect on the windshield of the MH. We decided to 'moochdock' at Walmart in Farmington, NM Monday night.

Tuesday morning we checked weather conditions and decided to skip Durango and head to Moab, UT. Little did we know that the Jeep Safari was in town for Easter Week. We lucked out and got a spot for 2 nights. Then we headed out for Arches. Pictures do not do it justice. 

We plan to visit Canyonlands before we leave. Keep those positive vibes coming. The MH has run great since Tulsa; no problems at all.