Saturday, August 13, 2016

Leaving the Heat Behind

Saturday 8/6

Off first thing this AM to H F Coors for the first Saturday sale. Surprisingly there were almost as many people there today as there are on winter weekends! Guess thay have been promoting the monthly sale. Nancy found a few treasures. Stop at Walmart to drop off prescriptions, oops, pharmacy not open yet!

Back to Tucson Estates Hardware to mail a package to Joan, then back to Walmart to drop off scrips. Back home about 9:30. Temp headed to 100 today, so we basically hibernated.

Sunday 8/7

Short walk around the RV park this AM, then watched our regular Sunday Morning TV shows. 

Late in the morning we went into town to the Verizon store. We decided to get a small iPad to take with us on our upcoming trips, particularly the Jeep trip in September, instead of lugging along one of our laptops. The problem in September is the Jeep will be open when we stop for meals or sight seeing so any valuables cannot be left in it. This applies in general as well since with the soft top locking it up is an exercise in futility.

Anyway, research over the weekend showed that Verizon prices were the same as the Apple Store and there was the possibility of saving $250 if we signed up for a new two year contract! I called our favorite Verizon store on Saturday and they had the models we were interested in in stock. I say ’favorite’ because every person we have dealt with at this store has been friendly, knowledgable and helpful!. 

After looking at the Aire 2 and the mini 4 (same price) we decided the mini 4,was the right size. Then the rep suggested that the mini 2 would work just as well since they are the same except for the fingerprint ID. So we saved money all around. (See why we like this sore!) Added the iPad to our Verizon data plan, with discount for a new 2 year contract, and are ready to go. 

Since we were already right down the street we stopped at Beyond Bread for lunch. Back home we hibernated again - triple digits today. 

I ran into some issues loading apps on the iPad. Since it was new device I had to answer security questions in the App Store and they did not match up with my records! Spent more than an hour on the phone with AppleCare with no resolution. Actually got locked out of Apple Store account and had to wait 8 hours before they could reset! How crazy is that? 

I also had to adjust our Verizon data plan to the “new plan.” We had been at 12 GB per month while we were traveling. Options now go from 9 GB to next step of 16 GB. Backed off to 9 GB and saved $10 per month. After September trip we should be able to back off to a cheaper plan since we will have Desert Trails WiFi until we get into the house.

Monday 8/8
Morning walk in the desert. Things are much greener than they are in the winter. Getting hot already at 7 AM! We are running our AC 24/7, nighttime lows in the high 70's 
AppleCare scheduled call at 8 AM and quickly had App Store security issues resolved. Thinking about it, there may have been a relation to my data loss in June. 

Quick trip over to the Foothills Assoc office to clarify the storage lot assignments. Then we stopped by the house. Plumber there running water lines, something getting done every day. They said plumbing would be done by the end of the week. We are liking our layout more and more

Ice machine here on the fritz, so we had to stop at the Circle K in Tucson Estates to get ice. 

Back home and relaxed. 

Tuesday 8/9

Up just before 6 AM do walk in desert much more pleasant temp, but we were still drenched with sweat when we got back. Don't think we will be spending much time here in August in the future!

Partly cloudy early, then dark clouds really socked in. Light rain here, but flood warnings for Pima County. That has been a regular thing the last week. 

Nancy got the vacation drug refill straightened out with Humana yesterday, so her extra prescription was ready at Walmart. Took the truck in case we encountered water on the roads and that was a good decision. There were several places where the water running across the road was deeper than would be comfortable for the smart. Not an unusual occurrence this time of year.

Stopped at BK Tacos for lunch, the bank for travel money and then back home.

We did not see a lot of rain here West of the Tucson Mountains, but from what we see on the news there was a LOT of rain in Tucson proper, over 2” in most places. A lot of main roads flooded and closed.

Wednesday 8/10

Up at 6 AM for morning walk. A bit cooler, low 70’s, but it felt good to get back into the AC. Ice machine working again, yeah!

After breakfast we drove into town to pick up our reassembled table from Bix Furniture. Good to have it back! Crossing the Santa Cruz river we could see it was running fast with muddy water, not full to the banks, but a lot more water than we have ever seen there. Usually it is dry, or at most just a trickle.

Stopped at the house to look around, most of the plumbing is done - fixtures not in yet. Measured garage so I will be ready to order the next time SwissTrax has a sale. Hopefully it will be before I am ready to order. The more we look at the house the better we like it, so far we are really pleased with the layout. No internal walls yet, just studs. Guessing electrical wiring will go in next.

Back home mid-morning. Nancy did some laundry. Not as hot today, but the sun is really hot when you are out of the shade. Very quiet here, place is kind of spooky without the regular winter residents! Less than a half dozen RV’s in the park!

Thursday 8/11

Early morning walk around the park, there seem to be a fair number of flying bugs out in the desert, so we have just been walking around Desert Trails and Diamond J next door.

No rain today, so clear roads. Nancy went down to the shopping center on Irvington for a pedicure. I straighten up and vacuumed. Spent some time packing for the trip.

After lunch we zipped over to the Bank of the West in Tucson Estates to pick up Nancy’s checks. She opened a checking account there for direct deposit of her Social Security the first of the year.

Went by the house again, nothing happening today. We expect the electricians will be starting next week.

Friday 8/12

Early morning walk as usual, then after breakfast we loaded up and moved the trailer over to a different site alongside the pool hall. Still shaded on the West side, but away from trees and cactus gardens that might be harboring pack rats. Don’t want those little critters getting in while we are gone over the next several weeks.

The other reason for moving is that we can stay in this site until the end of November, the site we were in is reserved starting November 1st.

After moving the trailer we took the truck over to our site in the storage lot at Tucson Estates II. We rented the two lots last spring to make sure we had storage space when the time came. Annual fee is about what we were paying for a month in Illinois! Again this is hopefully to avoid the pack rat issue. 

Getting hot again here, supposed to be triple digits over the weekend.

Saturday 8/13

Happy birthday Joan!

Did our final packing for two weeks in Alaska, hard to get into the mindset of what clothes we need for 50 to 70 degree weather! Also packed up open packages of food from the pantry and put them into a Rubbermaid bin that we will take to our storage locker this afternoon. Storage is climate controlled so not worries about heat.

Will not have our laptops with us on the trip, so I won’t be updating the blog until we get back. I will continue to take notes on the iPad though. On past cruises I kept a handwritten trip diary, will see how the iPad works out for note keeping.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

A Lot of Rain, Then Hot In Arizona

Sunday 7/24

Recuperation day. Mile and a half walk first thing around a really large city park across the highway from Sundance RV Park.

Watched the F1 race, but for some reason our DVR failed to get CBS Sunday Morning or Fareed Zakaria.

Otherwise we just relaxed.

Monday 7/25

Same walk again first thing this morning, good to get out and get a nice stretch of the legs.

Headed for Canyon of the Ancients mid-morning. 20 miles North  out of Cortez, but when we turned on the approach road it turned out to be nine miles of rough, washboard gravel road! Did not like shaking the truck so much, so we turned around and headed back to Cortez with plans to go out of town to the South to Hovenweep National Monument

Saw a sign towards Hovenweep before we got back to Cortez, so we headed West on a pretty well paved road 25 miles to Hovenweep. Interesting scenery and no traffic all the way across. I think we met four vehicles in the 25 miles!

Also saw a machine in the field picking up and stacking hay bales. Even that task is automated now!

Hovenweep had a very  nice visitors center with an informative movie. We were able to walk 300 yards down a paved path to get  a good view of much of the ruins. There is a two mile hike all the way around the canyon, but too hot for that.

Road back out of Hovenweep (the way we had planned on coming in) was much rougher and twister than the back road we actually came in on! 43 miles back to Cortez. Hovenweep is actually just across the sate line in Utah.

Not much in the way of restaurants in Cortez, so we went back home for lunch. 

Tuesday 7/25

Nice long morning walk around city park. I had looked at a National Geographic book listing all National Parks & Monuments while we were at Hovenweep yesterday, but did not get it. Decided later that I wanted it, but no way was I going to drive all the way back to Hovenweep! We thought we might go out to Mesa Verde to check there, but then we found it for sale in the Visitor’s Center right across the street!

Stuck around home rest of the day, Nancy did laundry and I did some cleaning. Had lunch at restaurant next door to park, Jack & Janellle’s. Cute little place though not much to look at from the outside.

Wednesday 7/26

Fairly short travel day today, so we took our morning walk and took our time getting going. Made a quick trip to Walmart before we left. On the road about 10:30.

Easy trip to Bluff, UT. Cottonwood RV is a nice looking park, mostly dirt and sand (as is most of the town!) Our hostess said if we needed anything she would be up at the cafe on the highway, so we went there for lunch. Nothing fancy, but she has a lot - and I mean a lot! - of native jewelry for sale. Nancy spent a lot of time looking at it and finally selected a couple of nice necklaces.

Bluff, UT comes by it's name honestly! This is the view standing behind our trailer,

And this is the view standing in front of the trailer!

After lunch we decided to drive up to Natural Bridges Monument. Beautiful scenery on the way, through the Vally of the Gods. This whole place if full of sandstone bluffs and towers.

Thwarted once more by a road that could not take the truck! 10k weight limit, gravel, hairpins and 10% grades! As Sister Mary Francis always said, “Discretion is the better part of valor!” Went back to Bluff and then on into Blanding for a stop at the hardware. No stores to speak of in Bluff, population 300!

Dinner at home and relaxed. Seriously hot in Bluff! 100 degrees a couple days, we kept AC on all night.

Thursday 7/27

Off to Monument Valley first thing this morning. First half of the 45 mile drive duplicated where we drove yesterday, but there is so much to see that it was still very interesting. 

Visitor’s Center at Monument Valley had very interesting display room dedicated to the Navajo Code Talkers. 

Great views from the visitors center, once again the truck was too big and heavy to do the drive through the valley.

On the way we saw an intriguing restaurant at a tight turn by one of the bridges over the San Juan River. On the way back we stopped at the San Juan Inn for a pretty good lunch. Again, nothing fancy, but good food.

On the way into Monument Valley we met a car with a movie camera on a boom hanging in our lane! They pulled it back just in time. Later at lunch we parked next to an Audi with a phony license plate painted to match the car, like you see in car ads and commercials and the camera car we had seen was in the Inn parking lot. Apparently filming a car commercial.

Back in Bluff we stopped at Cow Canyon Trading Post to look at Navajo baskets. Very nice lady gave Nancy a lot of information and advice. Then we went across the street to Twin Rocks Trading Post. These were the folks who had the big basket display at the Anasazi Visitor’s Center.

Very informative gentleman who had a lot of knowledge about native baskets. Had a lot of really nice (and REALLY expensive) baskets.

Later in the evening we went to San Juan River Kitchens for a very good dinner. No AC but the building was fairy comfortable.

Friday 7/28

Travel day, headed out about 9:30. Easy trip down into AZ and highway 191 South of US 160 was nice new pavement for about 10 miles, then it turned into the worst roller coaster pavement we had ever been on! One big whoop-dee-do after another! For 30 miles! Even slowing down to 50 MPH did not do much good. Stuff in the trailer tossed all over the place and our small table between our recliners (which had been loose from the glue drying out in Tucson) literally fell apart!

Several of the small towns along the way were having flea markets on Friday, a lot more traffic than one would expect. 

Finally got out of the nasty rough stuff, but the rest of the way down to I-40 it was a very narrow two lane. Tiring drive.

Finally got to show Low around 2 PM and stopped at Jalapinos Cafe for lunch. We stopped here on the way North in May. Good food, friendly service and big parking lot.

Hon-Dah Casino RV Park (pronounced Honda) is about a half hour drive from Show Low. Lots of trees, but we had asked for a site with a clear view of the sky so we are parked right in front by the highway. Tight roads, roads and sites are all cinders. Huge park over 300 sites, mostly permanent or seasonal from the looks of it.

Finally out of the Dish Network Denver spot beam. Not close enough to Tucson to switch over and no over the air signal at all. Will have to ask Joan to record Dancing on the Edge for us Sunday evening.

Saturday 7/30

Walked across the street to the Hon-Dah Casino for breakfast. We received vouchers for a discount coupon book which included a 10% discount in the restaurant. Nice breakfast buffet, but nothing to write home about.

Took a walk around the RV park on the way back, nice place with a lot of permanent and seasonal setups. Very few transient rigs other than right around where we are parked.

Later in the AM we drove into Show Low, stopped at Walmart to see if they have the Scotts RV toilet paper that we use and sure enough they did. Lots and lots of RVs in this area. Picked up 10 packages to top up our supply. A bit more expensive that regular paper, but we have kept our black tank healthy for almost 10 years using it along with tank additive, so no reason to mess with success.

Looking for a place to have lunch we did not find much. There was a brew pub along the road to Show Low, but the parking lot was too tight for the truck. Not much on offer in town, thought there would be more eateries.

Finally spotted Sweethearts Cafe on the main drag and there was a large lot for Cattleman’s Steakhouse right next door.  They were not open for lunch, but we thank them for the use of their lot! Sweethearts Cafe turned out to be a good choice. Excellent lunch with large servings.

Stopped at Safeway on the way home to pick up a pizza for dinner tomorrow, then back home. 

Late in the afternoon we took another walk through the park. No one has TV antennas up, confirming our experience of no locals. When we checked in they asked if I want to use their cable TV and I said no figuring we could use our sat dish.

Went back to the office and asked about the cable, turns out they supply a cable box for free! Got one and hooked it up, so we were able to watch the news and will be able to watch CBS Sunday Morning and PBS tomorrow.

Sunday 7/31

Stuck around home today, nice early morning walk around the RV park, then watched some of CBS Sunday Morning. Entire show about guns, so we bailed about halfway through and went back and watched the F1 race.

Rest of the day we did some packing and getting ready to hit the road to Tucson tomorrow morning. Planning on getting an early start as there is rain predicted later in the day.

Able to watch the PBS shows in the evening thanks to the cable box.

Monday 8/1

Up early and on the road at 7:30 AM! May be a new record for us. There was rain predicted for mid-day around Globe and Oracle and we wanted to get ahead of it. We did so successfully, only hit a short, light sprinkle.

We had to go back into Show Low in order to pick up Rt 77 South, we were surprised at the total lack of traffic early on a Monday morning, obviously a vacation/retirement community! 

Uneventful trip to Desert Trails, a lot more downhill than we expected, neither of us recall climbing that much went we went North in May, but the truck climbs so effortlessly that we don’t even notice. Coming back South I was using the engine brake a substantial portion of the trip.

Desert Trails looks weird  with no one here, there are only two or three other residents in the entire park! Rather than taking our traditional spot we took one that has some trees along the Southwest side to try and get some shade.

Got settled in, gave the car a quick clean off and went over to see our new house! It looks great! We are really happy with the layout and the space, actually better than we expected in some ways. Met another of our new neighbors from the street behind us. He was driving by to check out the house and stopped. Then he came back with a jar of home made Prickly Pear jelly as a new house gift!

This is the front of the house, 

The big opening is where there will be 16 feet of windows, two 8 foot sliders, looking out at Golden Gate mountain. Door is center is from porch into kitchen, window on the right is master bedroom.

here is Nancy in the master bedroom,

and in her new kitchen!

We won't really have a pond in the great room, it has been raining a lot since we got to Tucson!

After checking out the house we drove into town for lunch at Beyond Bread. (Of course!) Traffic in town and around here is noticeably lighter this time of year. Although traffic coming down from Oracle this morning was pretty heavy.

Back home we got the satellite dish set up and transferred our location so we could get local stations. Trailer is all settled in for the duration! We will be gone quite a bit during the next two months though.

Almost spooky in Desert Trails. One other trailer in sight is occupied, there are a couple left here for the summer but no one in them.

Tuesday 8/2

Rain most of the night, heavy at times. According to the TV weather last night they are way ahead on water for the year, which is really good news as this area has been in an extended drought. 

Still raining this AM. I had a dentist appointment and Nancy wanted to stop at the Bank of the West in Tucson Estates and open a checking account and get a safe deposit box. Bank and dentist are in the same shopping center so Nancy went with me. We took the truck in case of standing water. Both Bopp Rd. - the road we would normally take - and San Joaquin Rd.  had “road closed” signs up, but traffic seemed to be getting through on both. We took the long way around on San Joaquin as that road has shallower dips. Water was running 6 to 8 inches deep in a number of low spots, no problem for the truck, glad we took that instead of the smart!

After our errands we zipped into town for lunch at BK Tacos, then back home. Rain has stopped and roads are clear, still bit humid though.

Wednesday 8/3

More rain during the night, still have not done a morning hike because it has been raining every morning and then getting too hot. 

Nancy had a dentist appointment late this morning, she had do go a round-about way to avoid roads closed because of high water.

After lunch we went into town to pick up our bathroom lights at Illuminations Lighting. As we came over the pass we could see it was raining downtown! When we got to Oracle and Ft Lowell the first couple blocks of Ft Lowell were flooded. Cars were going through, but we detoured North to Prince and worked our way around the low areas.

Still lots of water on the roads all the way over to the East side. Before picking up our lamps we stopped at Off the Wall Furniture Solutions to look at what might be an option for adding a guest bed in our den. Then picked up our lamps at Illuminations.

Back West of the mountains we stopped at our storage locker to drop off the lamps. We now have all of the hardware for our new house.

Back home I spent some time trying to recover my iTunes music. For some reason, maybe with the hard drive debacle last month, my iTunes had lost all of my music! Managed to recover 4,628 songs! Still some missing though. Have to figure out how to retrieve them from my phone or the iPod.

Thursday 8/4

Dry this AM so we got out for a nice walk in the desert. Only thing that looks really different is that the prickly pear cactus are all covered with large red fruit.

and the Ocotillo all all covered with leaves! This one is right by our trailer,

Very humid though, a bit uncomfortable, even though we were out quite early in the morning.

A lot of back and forth today. We ran into town to drop our little occasional table off at a woodworking shop, Bix Furniture Stripping, for reassembly. The table sits between our recliners in the trailer, we bought it in Amana, IA a number of years ago. The joints had dried out and become loose from seven winters in dry Arizona. The roller coaster road in Utah last week caused it to fall completely apart. I tried to reassemble it, but could not get all the dowels to line up at once.

After lunch we drove back into town to the Farmer’s Insurance office on North Oracle Rd. to meet with the adjuster. Still trying to get everything sorted out from my accident in April.

On the way home we stopped by our house again. All the ductwork for the heating and cooling is in. Making progress! We spent some time trying to place furniture, appears that everything will work out well.

Late in the afternoon we drove back into town again! This time to the Tucson Cactus and Succulent Society monthly meeting. Stopped at Costco along the way and Culver’s for dinner.

Interesting meeting and every attendee gets a small, actually tiny, potted cactus. So now we have three little cacti!

Friday 8/5

Walked around the park first thing in the AM, mid-70’s but the humidity has dropped a bit. Still quite warm, head for triple digits the next three or four days!

Nancy cleaned out and defrosted the little freezer in out trailer, then she sorted through the stuff we have in our small safe to pull out the things that we can put in the new safety deposit box we rented on Tuesday. We picked up a small fireproof safe after we sold the house in Geneva. I had located a good spot in the trailer to hide a safe so I carefully found one that fit into that space. My plan had one fatal flaw - in order to put the safe into that space I needed to lay on my belly and reach out at arms length to place the safe in position. HOWEVER, I cannot even lift the safe while lying on my belly, let alone move it out to arms length!

So, plan B, we found a good location for the safe in the truck, which has worked out well.

Later in the morning we ran by The Bank of The West inTucson Estates to put the stuff in the deposit box, then took a look at the RV storage lot in the Foothills. Still some small confusion as to which storage sites are ours. The ones we “think” are ours were open, so we stopped by the office to confirm, but the lady that manages the association was off today. 

Quick run down to the Walgreens to pick up a prescription, than back home. 

Clear and sunny this morning, but as I am sitting here writing this at 2:30 in the afternoon we hear thunder and there is a brief downpour! The Tucson area is almost 50% ahead of normal rain totals year-to-date. Which means of course that we have just over 6” YTD vs. 4” normal!

Most of our errands that we needed to get done in Tucson are taken care of now, relaxing week ahead and then we are off to Alaska on what will most likely be the last Prairie Home Companion cruise.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Fun Time In Colorado

Monday 6/27

Checked things out on the truck this AM while Nancy did her Spanish, then we drove into Geneva, lunch at Barrel & Rye, a stop at library, Blue Goose, and a couple of mattress stores & Bed Bath & Beyond looking for a new TempurPedic pillow. Found what I was looking for at American mattress. One last stop at Trader Joe’s and back to Big Rock in the late afternoon. Beautiful day, lower humidity, but a stiff breeze.

Last day with the Jeep - bummer. It goes into Joan’s garage tomorrow. Will be there until we get back to pick it up in September.

Tuesday 6/28

Off to Joan’s this morning to put the Jeep in her garage for the next two months. We’ll be back the first week in September to pick it up and drive back to Tucson. Joan has been a real lifesaver storing my cars like this for the last nine months!

Had Joseph’s sausages on the grille for lunch and went to Culver’s for dinner. Nancy did laundry, I tucked the Jeep into the garage and sorted through some insurance issues on-line. Also caught up on my regular website visits. We have been working Joan’s WiFi pretty hard this visit since we are using our Verizon data at the campground. Did I mention she is a lifesaver!

Back home late, TV and bed.

Wednesday 6/29

The parts lady from Holiday Hour RV in Cortland called yesterday, the spring cartridge for our toilet came in. The spring on the toilet pedal broke last week.

Ran up to Cortland on the back roads and picked up the part. Back home to fix the toilet. Nancy’s phone decided to crap out trying to do an update during the night - needed a WiFi connection to do the update! How crazy is that! 

So she ran into the Verizon store in North Aurora to get it fixed while I scrambled around on the floor fixing the toilet. Both tasks got done in a timely fashion. The toilet works better than it has in long while and Nancy’s phone just needed the WiFI at the Verizon store to finish the update.

Picking up and packing away various items the rest of the day. Headed into Hinkley for one last rib fix at South Moon BBQ. Back at the Campground I loaded the smart on the truck, first time for this one, went just fine. Ready to hit the road in the AM.

Thursday 6/30

Smooth start this morning, out of the RV park a few minutes after 9 after dumping the tanks. Uneventful trip, some very light showers, but never drove on wet roads. Stopped at Cracker Barrel (of course!) in Davenport for lunch.

Tried to stop at Maytag Farms in Newton, IA for Blue cheese but the factory store was closed for remodeling! Would have been nice if they would have put a notice on their sign on I-80!

Arrived at Timberline campground about 4 PM. Lots of trees, satellite cannot connect, but good over the air reception. Will miss F1 this weekend.  Sights are also pretty tight and very small and close together.

Friday 7/1

Pretty day in the 70’s. As close as the sites are in this campground, it was very quiet last night.  One of the quietest parks we have stayed at, in spite of it's being a holiday weekend with lots of kids around! Walked around the campground this morning and saw a couple of sites where our satellite might work. We get really good over the air here, but I would like to be able to watch the F1 race this weekend. Asked if we could move and they said yes, so we moved to a site where I thought it would work, no luck and while it was searching it came up with a message that a motor was “stalled” Oh oh! When I powered off it did stow OK, so we will see what happens when we get to a spot where we know it can see the satellites. That is the one drawback to the permanently mounted Traveler - you get onto trees and you cannot move the dish around to find a hole through the trees. I had carried our portable dish for a couple of years and never used it, so we don’t carry it anymore.

Saturday 7/2

Cool and drizzly all day, never got out of the 60’s. We headed out early to go to the Farmers Market in downtown Des Moines. Took the truck as we had not bothered to unload the car for a short stay. Turned out the parking lot I had searched out on Google Maps was a private lot. The market website had showed parking there, but that was a garage - no go with the truck! No place to park on the street either so we skipped the market.

Stopped at a Perkins for breakfast, so, so. Then a Hy-Vee for groceries. Turned out to be a really nice supermarket. Nancy wishes there was one in Tucson!

Went to the movies to see Dory. It was good, but not as good as Finding Nemo. Always amazes us that everyone jumps up and walks out as soon as the movie is over. Particularly with animated movies there is always some great stuff during the credits and the final big joke of the movie was after all the credits were over! By that time there was only one other couple still in the theatre!

Back home and relaxed. Listened to the last Prairie Home Companion show with Garrison Keillor. We however, will be among the privileged few that will see some additional, non-broadcast shows on the Alaska cruise in August.

Received some pics of our house from Pauline Herder. Not as far along as we thought it might be, framing just getting started!

Sunday 7/3

Quiet day at home. Unable to watch the F1 race (see above) so we followed a live blog on line. Looks like we missed a pretty eventful race. Watched CBS Sunday morning, then relaxing and reading with a couple of short walks around the campground.

We will be able to watch our favorites on PBS this evening.

Monday 7/4

Up fairly early and dumped tanks before leaving Timberline. Left at 9:02! Seems no matter what we do we are on the road right around 9 AM.

Uneventful trip, nice weather and fairly light traffic. Only fly in the ointment was lunch. We decided to hit the Cracker Barrel in Omaha even though it was a little early, but as we came off the exit we could see the lot was jammed with people waiting outside! No place to park and probably a long wait. McDonald’s right there with a dirt parking lot next door, pulled in and parked. Walked over - nope - doors locked, drive-up only!

Back on the highway we pulled into a Flying J and ate at the Denny’s, good food, but really slow!

Arrive at Sunny Meadows - a real misnomer for a gravel parking lot with RV hook-ups! - just before 4 PM. Time to relax and unwind. We’ve stayed here before and will again. An easy drive out of Denver and right off the highway plus a Passport American rate. Bumped up to $20 this time, used to be $12. WiFi worked really well this time. 

Tried the Winegard Trav’ler that had issues in Iowa and it worked fine. Apparently the “stalled” message that we got was due to it’s inability to see the satellites. That was good news!

Hot and humid here! 10:30 PM still 74 degrees and 84% humidity. AC will stay on tonight!

Tuesday 7/5

Uneventful trip into Denver. Stopped for lunch at a McDonald’s in Sterling, CO. Lunch spots on this part of the trip are far and few between.

Settled into Cherry Creek State Park and then headed over to Connie & Laurie’s for a nice dinner. The Winegard Traveler stalled the first time I tried to put it up, but worked fine on the second try.

Wednesday 7/6

Nancy did laundry first thing in the morning, then we went over to Cherry Creek shopping center to the farmer’s market. What a traffic nightmare! They are repaving the main street outside the center and the traffic from every direction was virtually stopped! 

Managed to weave around on side streets and get into a parking garage near the Whole Foods. Picked up some fruit in the market and lunch from Whole Foods. Then back to Connie’s for the afternoon and another great dinner! Laurie’s homemade ice cream is fantastic.

Greg and Emily are in Boston with the kids this week.

Thursday 7/7

Truck maintenance day! Nancy went over to Connie’s while I took the truck up to Flying J for a fill up, then a stop at Speedco for oil, lube and filters, followed by a nice wash at Blue Beacon and then back home.

Friday 7/8

While getting the truck serviced at Speedco the tech spotted a failed bushing on the rear torsion bar between the rear axle and the frame. I called Volvo of Denver, local heavy duty truck dealer Thursday afternoon and Jake said bring it in right now. Could not do that as I had an appointment at SafeLite to have a windshield chip fixed. Got that done and then Nancy followed me up to Volvo of Denver to drop the truck off. Sure easy to spot that bright yellow smart with it’s LED running lights behind me in the traffic.

Spent the rest of the day at Wood’s house, then out to Tag Burger Bar for dinner with Connie and Laurie.

Saturday 7/9 

Emily, Greg and the kids returned from Boston mid-day. Connie, Laurie, Nancy and I trooped over there for dinner, which Laurie had made. Really nice evening with the kids.

Volvo dealer called this evening, truck is done. Really fast service!

Sunday 7/10

Watched the start of the F1 race and then went up to Volvo of Denver to pick up the truck. What a great dealer! From the look of their lot all they work on are heavy duty trucks which  is nice, means parts are in stock (everything I needed was in stock! First time that ever happened!) and their techs know their way around our trucks. Most detailed repair order I have ever seen. A great experience over all.

Monday 7/11

Cleaned out the storage compartments in the truck first this this AM. I had taken our safe and my toolboxes out before I took it in for service. Good time to take everything else out and straighten things out.

Nancy did some laundry here at the park, then we stopped at Bed Bath & Beyond, followed by a stop ay Home Depot for some PVC elbows. Nancy found a plan on the web for making a kids periscope out of PVC pipes. 

Then we went over to Wood’s and Laurie and I spent about two hours figuring out how to grind slots in the elbow with the Dremel  and get the mirrors properly placed. Actually worked out pretty well! 

Laurie cooked fresh salmon on the grill tonight, followed by homemade ice cream again. We are getting spoiled!

Tuesday 7/12

Miles’ fifth birthday today. We have a family celebration in the late afternoon. The big shindig for all his friends will be on Saturday.

Wednesday through Saturday

Pretty uneventful the rest of the week, just visiting and enjoying being with family. Wednesday Laurie and I, along with his brother Bob, went to the Clive Cussler Museum in Arvada. Quite a nice collection of cars and a very enjoyable visit. Before the museum Bob gave me a tour of huge shop with his motorcycles and a 1941 Cadillac that he is restoring. Most impressive was his massive license plate collection covering all the walls of his shop. Plates with a number themes like the plates from every state and province for the year of his birth, complete runs of plates for several states, etc. He also has one of our Illinois “FOR TWO” plates from the smart and the “JAG 1952” plate from my XK120.

Laurie continued his gastronomic feats with a couple of great dinners including seriously impressive bar-b-qued ribs on his Big Green Egg grille!

Nancy’s other sister Joan came in from Chicago for the weekend and Miles’ birthday party. The three sisters always have a good time together.

Saturday afternoon MIles’ birthday party was a great success, including a massive birthday cake, a bouncy house complete with a water slide and pool, and a massive pile of gifts! I don’t think he even got them all open by the end of the day!

I spent some fun time helping Miles put together a couple of Lego models. Actually somewhat depressing since often by the time I figured out the next instruction he had already found the piece and put it in place!

Monday 7/18

Dropped Nancy off at Joan’s house in the AM and went back to Cherry Creek to load the car, do some cleaning and a couple of maintenance items. Then took the truck over to Britt’s house so Miles, his brother Oliver and their sister Hillary could climb all over the cab and push all the buttons and switches. 

Tuesday 7/19

Departure day since we have hit the 14 day limit for our stay in Cherry Creek. While hitching up I gave the trailer a pretty good whack with the truck - not good for the spring hangers. All looked OK, but as we were heading out of the park I could see that the trailer was dog tracking - oh, oh.

Stopped outside the campground office and while Nancy went to pick up some ice for the cooler, I looked at the springs and sure enough, one broken! I have the bolts and bushings with me but it is a bit hard for one guy to do it. The last time I got lucky and caught it while the broken bolt was still holding the spring in place and I was able to drive the new bolt in.

This time the bolt is gone and the spring is several inches away from lining up with the bracket. We spent the better part of two hours trying to find a mobile RV tech or a shop where we could take the trailer in. No luck, all the mobile techs were booked for the day and the shops were booked for a week or more!

Finally I decided there was nothing for it but try to get it done myself. Fortunately we can jack the trailer using our BigFoot levelers, so Nancy operated the jacks while I watched the spring and it slipped almost back into place! Using a pry bar I was able to get it lined up close enough to get the bolt started and drive it into place. Better to be lucky than good!

So we finally got on the road to San Luis State Park at 12:30. Skipped a lunch stop and arrived at the park at 4:45. The truck did great up over 9,413 foot La Vita Pass. Ninth gear all the way and only one tap on the brakes coming down the other side! Love our Volvo!

San Luis State Park is disappointing. To start with no one on duty at the entrance at 4:45; then a seriously bad washboard road to get to the campground. All the water bibs - and the electrical hook-ups - are on the wrong side.

This place is a serious rip-off at $24 per night plus a $7 per day vehicle pass! Cherry Creek, much, much nicer and close to Denver, is only $26 per day. We already bought an annual pass for the truck for $73, so at least we did not have to pay that part.

San Luis is in the middle of nowhere, a screwy layout with semi-paved roads and gravel sites, no water or sewer, electric only (we knew this going in). We located the site we had reserved - and paid for in advance - only to find two tents pitched there and a permit for one night on the post!

Found another site, not many people here anyway. There is a beautiful view of the Great Sand Dunes National Park across the lake with mountains behind the dunes, but that is all this place has going for it. We will see tomorrow if we can get into the park in Cortez a couple of days early and get out of here.

I won’t even talk about the full glass of red wine that we managed to spill during dinner! Looks like we got all of it out of the carpet and most of it out of the upholstered chair. 

Oh well, all minor hiccups, fortunately nothing serious.

Wednesday 7/20

Took our time getting going this AM, left San Luis about 10:30. I will be trying to get a refund for the other four days.

First couple hours of the trip were fairly boring, San Luis is in the mountains, but on a large flat plain. Stopped at Boogies Cafe in Del Norte for lunch, very good.  After Del Norte we started getting back into the mountains.

Beautiful scenery all the rest of the way. The Volvo performed beautifully over Wolf Creek Pass! 10,850 feet with no issues at all. To make the climb even tougher and more interesting, there was road construction which meant only one lane was open most of the way up the East side. The single lane stretches were long, which meant long waits for the other direction to come through.

The first stop was not too long, the second on was 15 to 20 minutes! Biggest problem though was restarting from a complete stop on a 5% grade! No sweat with the Volvo though!  One benefit, after the road opened up at the top the few cars that had been behind us at the last stop went by and we had no traffic all the way down!

Speed limit for trucks over 26k pounds was 25 MPH (we weigh 37k) so I just put it in 6th gear and let the engine brake hold speed all the way down, never touched the service brake pedal!

Towards the bottom there is a 180 degree curve and as we went around we could see the remains of a semi on the side of the mountain between the two roads! Several hundred feet down a 45 degree slope!

Sundance RV Park in Cortez is very nice, sites are a bit tight. A lot of trees, but our satellite dish managed to lock on to all three satellites. Unable to get the HD channels, but we are getting all of the Denver stations in standard def. Will be able to get the F1 race this weekend as well.

Thursday 7/21

Quite day today, both of us kind of tired from two weeks of family activities and two long travel days. Took a short walk in the morning and then just vegged at home. Nancy a bit under the weather.

Received e-mail from Paulette Herder with four pictures of the house! Looking really good, framing is complete. Looks like a house now!

This is actually the back and the garage, but it gives a good look at the view of Golden Gate Mountain that we will see from the great room.

This one shows the front door and entryway, although the opening for the sliding doors in the great room is blocked in this view by the palo verde tree!

Friday 7/22

Off to Mesa Verde this morning, spent most of the day there. We did not bother to unload the smart here, no place to do it in a fairly tight RV park and easy enough to just drive the truck around. Truck did just fine on the climb up onto Mesa Verde.

After stopping at the Visitor Center we entered the park, used our Senior National Parks pass. We were able to run the speed limit all the way up onto the mesa. Beautiful views in all directions on the way up.

It is 20 miles from the visitor center to the pueblos and cliff dwellings. Stopped and had lunch at a park cafe on the way and then looked at a couple of pit houses and pueblos, then we stopped at an overlook where there was a really good view of the cliff dwellings. Stopped at the museum and watched the park video and looked at the exhibits. By then we were both pretty worn out. Hot day and high altitude most likely.

Back into Cortez and the RV park after a stop at the grocery store.

Saturday 7/23

Took our morning walk a ways down the main drag this AM, checked out the City Market grocery store, then stopped at a Colorado Welcome Center right across the street from the RV park. Really nice one with a lot of info, picked up a number of brochures and found out about another scenic route in New Mexico that we will check out in September.

Watched F1 qualifying in the AM, then about Noon we headed up to the Anasazi Heritage Center in Delores to check out info on Canyon of the Ancients Park. Turns out this is great museum in itself! Well worth the visit. We spent most of the afternoon there and did not really get a good look at all of the exhibits. Lots and lots of info on the Pueblo culture, the archeological sites around the area, and the history of the area since the arrival of European Americans in the late 19th Century.

After our visit we walked up the paved path to the top of the hill where the museum is located, about a half mile. Seemed a lot longer in the 88 degree heat! Great views from there, including a number of the fourteener mountains.

We had spotted a barbecue place on the East end of Cortez and thought we would stop there since we had skipped lunch. Turned out to be out of business! Went back West into the old part of Cortez and found JImmer’s Back Country Barbecue, which turned out to be pretty good.

Back home, turned on the AC and relaxed!