Mt. Shasta, from I-5 as we drove north to Oregon, April 2017

Friday, April 28, 2017

Defogging RV Windows in La Pine Oregon

We have been to, or through Oregon three times before. The first time, we drove up the beautiful Pacific Coast, then back down to California on I-5, in a Cruise America rental. The second time was our first trip with a towed car, and we spent a week near Crater Lake. The third time we just drove through, on our way up to the Olympic Peninsula in Washington. Each visit to this beautiful state was special in its own way.

As we make our way north to Alaska,  I expect to spend at least three weeks in Oregon, and another two in Washington. I'm not sure where our route south again in fall will take us.

On Wednesday, the defogging work on the Alfa went smoothly. Dave Root, 541-280-3612, did an excellent job. All of our windows are crystal clear now, and we appreciate the three year guarantee on the work. We had several windows defogged at a rally a few years ago, and they clouded up again. Dave said that work was done incorrectly.

Dave has a workshop at his home. There is no place for the customers to wait, so we went off to the La Pine Library, after having a nice breakfast at a local eatery. 

The library was celebrating its reopening after some severe weather damage. We were invited to have cake. The dinosaur in this picture was a "book-a-saurus" and was greeting the library patrons with a basket of library goodies. I got a pen and a note pad.

Dave finished in one day and we were able to stay in his driveway overnight. He had a 50 amp connection available.

We planned on heading back west over the Cascade Mountains on Thursday, but the weather forecast was for rain and snow. So we found a park near Bend to stay in. It was an opportunity for me to do a week's wash, and for Craig to find  a locksmith to make the fuel-door key he wanted. It took a lot more than just duplicating the existing key. Craig had to remove the lock and take it into the shop. With lock in hand they could make a custom key. Although it took a couple of trips from park to lock shop, the final cost was a mere five dollars.

After almost a week of yucky weather, Friday dawned cold but clear and sunny. I found a web page that shows live web cam images of the highways. We checked the route we planned on taking, and could see that although the road was still wet, the overnight snow and ice were melting quickly. The 160 mile drive was a go.

Fantastic scenery:

 Last year it was beaches, I guess this will be the year of mountains.

Much of the drive was fairly easy, on dry roads.

Somehow it was my turn to drive this somewhat harder part. Although the road was wet, it was not icy. I got lucky and found myself behind a large double trailer truck. Lucky because I was able to watch his brake lights and see when his automatic braking kicked in. Mine did too. I also did not feel pressured or guilty by the fact that quite a string of other vehicles followed us. He was setting the speed, not me. There were a couple of hot shot pick-up drivers that shot past us, going over a double yellow line. Future crosses on the side of the road!

We saw this mountain from a distance earlier. I think it's Mt. Jefferson. It looked like the Matterhorn.

We are now spending a couple of nights at the Polk County Fairgrounds RV parking area. It's not fancy, but we have a 50 amp connection, water hookup, and dump station. At $20 per night, it is a good stopover. It is located ten miles west of Salem in Rickreall.
I found it through an online application called Allstays Pro, one of several resources I find quite useful. 

There are a some interesting places in Salem we want to see, and then we will be going up to Silver Falls state park. We stopped there on our first trip and it was nice.

Monday, April 24, 2017

BRRR - It is COLD in Oregon!

Saturday was a very long, tiring day!

On Friday afternoon, our smart phone just up and died. Craig had planned on replacing it in a few months, but not this soon. But since it is both our phone and Internet hot spot, we cannot live without a phone. Thus, our first stop on Saturday was at a Verizon store in Sacramento. The purchase and switch-over went smoothly, but delayed our departure. We now have an LG G6.

Given that the day was bright and sunny, and the first rain on the Shasta Mountain pass was predicted for Sunday, we decided to try to push all the way to Medford, OR.  357 miles is a bit farther than we like to drive in a day, but having dry roads going over a mountain was worth it.

Craig does most of the driving, but I take the wheel from time to time to give him a break. We have the switch-over drill down pat, and usually change seats at an on-off exit, or a rest stop without shutting down. We also pack sandwiches so we don't have to stop to eat, and of course having the bathroom accessable is a perk of driving a motorhome. 

But we  still try to stay under 300 miles in one day.

Background: One of the mysterious design elements of Alfa motorhomes is the scoop on the bottom of the front. Some say it improves air flow for better mileage, but since no other make has such a thing, I doubt its effectiveness. Ours was broken when we bought the Alfa. We had it fixed, only to break it again shortly after. It was fixed again, and the image on the right is what it looked like last fall before we had it fixed for a third time. I wanted to have it cut off. We have seen other Alfas that have, but Craig wanted to keep it. When we were at our Alfa repair place this winter, we had it fixed again, as you see at left. 

Everything was going fine until it was time to stop for fuel. 

The entrance to the gas station was had a deep gutter. Scrape went the scoop. I was driving and stopped quickly. We were hung up. Craig had to disconnect the Jeep so we could back up and get unstuck. Fortunately the only damage to the scoop was a few little chips on the edge.  But it was stressful, and a bit of a delay.

Aside from that the drive was relatively easy with light traffic, and  beautiful scenery. Everything was green, green, green.

It is always amazing when the first snow covered peak is seen when driving north. 
Mt. Shasta

We arrived, safe and sound, in Medford at aabout 6 PM. But, getting a new gas cap key didn't work out. First, the shop was closed on Sunday, so we had to stay an extra night. No big deal, but the price of the park we were at was a bit higher than I like. 

Then, on Monday morning, Craig found out they could not copy the key. We have only had the one key for the last five years, but someone on the Alfa Yahoo group had posted they had gotten their gas cap key copied at that place.  If we lose it, we will have to replace the gas cap door. So we better not lose it!

Back to the weather: when we left Lodi CA, we were still warm enough to go jacketless. I tossed a sweater on the couch, just in case it was cold as we drove north, but didn't need it for the rest of the day. It was cool in Medford OR on Sunday, and finally started to rain Sunday night. On Monday we headed east on Oregon Hwy 62. Our route took us just north of Crater Lake. 

We were surprised to see some scattered snow along the roadside, but as we went higher it got deeper, and the rain became a light snow. 

The Alfa did well, and so did her driver.  😺

The road itself was wet, but not icy. It was also pretty straight with fairly easy curves and gradual up and down grades. Not bad at all.

Once over the Cascade Summit (5925'), the snow dwindled and the rain became more sporatic. 

We are now tucked in at Cascade Meadows RV Resort, in La Pine. 
The 50 amp, pull-through gravel spaces are in a wide, flat, open, grassy area which gives us excellent sattelite reception. With the Passport America discount, the cost was $31 per night. (note: I include the cost for the benefit of other RVers.)

Oh, and about the post title. Its 46°F now, with a predicted overnight low of 29°F. 


[From Craig] Merikay asked me to say a bit more about the new phone. I researched phones a bit Friday night. I wanted a phone that could use an SD memory card, which eliminated the Google Pixel.  Among Samsung phones, I would want the "latest and greatest" S8, but a Verizon phone rep said that they weren't available in Sacramento stores. Which pretty much left us with the LG G6, despite the fact that the one that just died was an LG G4.

When we arrived at the store just as it opened, they told me that the Samsung S8 had just arrived during the night. I looked at the S8 and G6, and held both. The S8 was actually narrower, and looked amazing with the wrap-around screen edges that Samsung has been offering for several models. Hard choice, but I had to choose a phone! Merikay stayed in the coach, so I couldn't ask her.

I chose the G6 because its screen comes all the way to the edge but not around it, and the S8's wraparound looks sexy but distorts a full-screen image. And the S8 costs about $100 more.

Today I went to buy a bottle of wine for some soup that I'll make soon. I couldn't resist the brand shown below.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Not All Beans are Vegetables

When you check into most commercial RV parks, you get a map of the park that often has ads for local businesses and attractions. 

The map of Flag City RV Resort included mention of the Fairfield Jelly Belly factory. Oh boy! We both like Jelly Belly jelly beans, and will go on a free factory tour whenever we can.

I checked the location and found that going to Fairfield on the way to Berkeley only added a couple of miles. Free samples here we come!

I was really surprised by how busy the visitors reception area was, until I chatted with someone else waiting in line, who pointed out that it was spring break at many schools. That was why he was there with his two grand-daughters.

Jelly Belly is a family owned candy company founded in 1869. There are two Jelly Belly factories in the US and one in Thailand.

Once we got upstairs and were doing the tour, the crowd was hardly noticeable. This may have been because groups of 30 or so were stopped to see an introduction video before they started the tour.

Although the factory tour was self-guided, it was excellent. From the windowed walkways, which overlooked the factory floor, we were able to watch every step of the process. There were numerous short videos explaining what was going on below, and human tour guides were stationed along the way to answer any questions. 

The introductory video described how candy makers in the 1800s carefully made their treats by hand. 

The big yellow machine in this picture is a robot that was moving and stacking flats of jelly beans.
Now most of the work is done by machines, and we watched as robots did many jobs. One robot can replace many workers, doesn't get bored or tired, or require health insurance. We do not need to go back to the old work ways. We need to improve our educational programs so that workers of today and tomorrow can design, program, and maintain the robots. 

Speaking of which, both of our grandsons are very involved in an international program in which teams of junior, and senior high school students design and build functional robots. This spring, we enjoyed attending one of the Southern California competitions our older grandson was in. 

It takes two weeks, from start to finish, to make a Jelly Belly jelly bean. Much of that time the confections spend resting in flats between steps. 

I wrote about the Berkeley Bowl grocery store several times when we lived in our house in the Santa Cruz Mountains in California. We haven't been back for several years, and I wondered if it would seem as remarkable as it had in 2011. 

It did. The produce section is as large as many entire medium size grocery stores. Most fruits and vegetables are available in several price ranges from low cost "seconds" or "smallish" ones, to magnificent specimens offered at a higher cost. 

Even though I tried to be a smart shopper, we bought more than we could easily store. I expected that, and got some of the insulated bags our daughter gets in her Blue Apron food boxes. Right now our couch is an auxiliary veggie bin.

It was a busy day, but we enjoyed it. 

Life is Good!

Thursday, April 20, 2017

A not so hidden Gem of a RV Park

I found a great place to "park" the Alfa while we drive the Jeep to Berkeley on Friday. I have to give the Flag City RV Resort, in Lodi CA, a very high rating! Minutes from I-5, the paved, level sites are easy to get into. Although the spaces are somewhat close together, there are enough trees to provide a bit of shade without interfering with the satellite reception. Our Passport America discount made the price nice at $26 per night, for a pull through with full hook-ups! If you are driving up I-5, it is a good place to overnight. 

Once we were settled in our spot, Craig and I worked together to put up a sign on the back of the Alfa. 

I handed him the letters.

RVers love to share their experiences. While we were putting it up, one of our neighbors, who was walking her dog, stopped and asked if we had ever been to Alaska. She then told us a little about her trip there. Cliff, the man next door, also started a conversation about Alaska, and we ended up chatting for some time, about a lot of other things. 

I wonder how many conversations and honks or waves our sign will generate.  I thought "Alaska or bust!" although very traditional, would tempt fate.

So far the weather has been clear and sunny. The forecast is for a few more days of the same before some rain hits. Our plan is to get over the Shasta Mountain pass while it is still dry. We expect Oregon to be wet at this time of year.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

The First Day of our Summer Travels!

We both woke up early and ready to go this morning.  The last minute jobs went quickly and we were out of the park by 8:30.

Of course when we were ten minutes down the road we thought of something we had forgotten to do! Neither of us had locked the shed. We have had a padlock on the door all winter, but most of the time we left it unlocked.  Rather than turn around, we called our neighbor and left him a message asking him to go lock it for us.  It's nice to have neighbors!

The drive to Bakersfield went smoothly. As hoped, the Alfa seems to be in good form.  Hope she stays that way!

Sometimes it does seem like our life is all about the food. Last night I watched an episode of "Diners and Dives" (a show about small unusual eateries throughout the USA) and they happened to be featuring the Moo Creamery in Bakersfield.

Since we had most of the afternoon free we decided to go and try one of their unusual specialities:  Bacon Ice Cream.

Yes, Bacon Ice Cream!  It was really delicious in a bacony sort of way. The ice cream was a smooth maple flavor and it was loaded with large chunks of sweet smoked bacon. 

If you are ever in Bakersfield California, and have a little extra time, stop in at the Moo Creamery and give it a try.

We are boondocking at Camping World tonight. I made a homemade split pea soup yesterday with the Honeybaked ham bone and we will be having leftovers for supper. The bacon ice cream was a nice appetizer.  


Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Count down ...

Well, it's not long now! 
We plan to depart on Wednesday April 19th.
I am really feeling the "hitch itch"! 

Our daughter and her family were on a trip last week to visit East Coast colleges for our older grandson. Their plane arrived around 7:15 pm Sunday evening.  Craig and I went down on Saturday to pick up a Honeybaked Ham, and on Sunday prepared a nice goodbye dinner for them when they got home

On Monday and Tuesday, we've taken care of the pre-trip jobs. When your coach is your home, there is very little packing to do. We did make a few decisions and shifted some things to our site shed. Not having to carry the back seat of the Jeep around creates extra space and reduces the weight a bit.  We did our big annual maintenance in October, and have taken the Alfa out for two exercise runs while here, so we hope everything will be 100%. 

Our first stop, Bakersfield, is only 212 miles, so we can comfortably have a late morning departure. We will overnight at the Camping World there. We used to stop there as a half-way mark when we lived in Los Gatos and drove down to San Diego. They have a clean, well lit dry camp area.

Then we plan on spending two nights in Lodi, so we can drive over to Berkeley to go to the Berkeley Bowl grocery store. If you followed my blog when we had our house, you may recall it was one of our favorite places to buy vegetables. It is about 75 miles out of the way, so rather than drive the Alfa there and back, we will overnight at an RV park in Lodi, and drive the Jeep to Berkeley and back.

When we lived in the Santa Cruz Mountains, Craig was willing to drive 80 miles round trip to go to Berkely Bowl.  I prefer to think of it as a "day trip" through the delta. It will be interesting to see if we see any flood damage, and if the fields still have standing water. But it's really mostly "all about food!"

After that we have a couple of more planned stops in Oregon. We want to go to Medford because someone on the AlfaSeeYa Yahoo Group said that there is a place there that can duplicate our gas cap key. It is an odd one, and we have tried to get it duplicated at several places. At this point we have only one key, and we would really feel better to have a spare.

Then we will be heading for Bend, Oregon to get some of our windows defogged. Again, our choice of where to take the rig is based on a recommendation.  We have an appointment, and plenty of days to get there, so where we stop will depend on the weather.

"On the road again, "

 ♬ ♪ ♫ ♪♩♪

Happy, Happy!

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Am I Bored? And a few thoughts about staying put for the winter.

By the time we leave Jojoba we will have spent almost six months in one place. I have to say that some weeks, the time seems to fly by and others drag.

One of our pretty little ponds

 I guess it has had to do with how active I have been. In the first three months we spent numerous nights in San Diego with our daughter and family for the holidays and just visits, but this month we were only down once, since she had work and travel commitments. Our younger grandson is going on a week long eighth-grade trip to Costa Rica, and then the family will be taking a "look at colleges" trip for our older grandson. They are not coming home until late Easter night. So, we have decided to visit one last time on the Monday after Easter.

Although just being together is reason enough for the visit, I have come up with another project to do while there. My daughter got a Food Saver for Christmas this year and uses it frequently. I am going to buy an extra large Honey Baked Ham for our dinner, and package up the leftovers into lunch-sized portions to take along for our travels north. I always make sandwiches to eat while we drive, and Honey Baked Ham will be a special treat!

I was also more social during the first few months. Although I like the concept of large gatherings and community dinners, the reality turns out less interesting.

Jojoba image from web
he bad weather kept me out of the pool in February, and it was closed for a renovation project for most of March. It is open again now, and I plan on going for a swim later today!

I am surprised that I did not feel confined by the small dimensions of a 35' motorhome during our long winter.  Craig and I don't seem to get into each other's way. We each have our own TV preferences, and the arrangement of the Alfa easily accommodates our needs. Sometimes he closes off the bedroom, and sometimes I do. And, of course we often watch movies or shows together. He often sits at the table with his computer, iPad, or Kindle, and I spend time at the little table behind the passenger seat which is just right for my coloring projects.

The only time I really feel troubled by the small space is when I'm cooking. I really have to be very organized to manage multiple ingredients and multiple dishes. I prefer cooking from scratch, so using prepackaged foods is not as much of an option as it could be. But I manage, and I think we eat pretty well. 

A pretty bouquet Craig brought home from Trader Joe's one day
Storage space? This winter I went through the cupboards and reviewed their contents. I tossed some things that have not been used in three years, and emptied some of the canister jars that contained expired flour, flax meal, wheat germ, etc., that I had used to make healthier bread. I'm still hanging onto the bread maker, but I find I am more inclined to buy fresh Artisan breads than to bake them.  The last loaf I baked tasted somewhat stale, which prompted the purge of the cupboard contents. Besides, I am once again trying to lose a few pounds by cutting out bread and other "white" foods.

A financial glitch caused by being full time RVers: Craig and I live a fairly modest life. We have no debt, use our credit cards all of the time but pay them in full every month, and have a substantial amount in investment and retirement savings. Yesterday we went shopping for a new comforter for our bed. Many of the stores were having good sales of 40% — 50% off. We found one we liked at a Macy's, but their sale was only 20% off. They did have an additional offer for another 20% off if we opened a Macy's account. We don't need a Macy's account, but with sheets and all we were looking at a savings of over $100. So, Craig applied.  Surprise! He was denied!  Why? Because we do not have a RESIDENTIAL address. It seems our Sioux Falls mailing service is not acceptable for Macy's credit applications requirements. We could have used one of our other cards, but would not have gotten the extra 20% off. Instead we walked. 

We had no problems getting a new credit account from Sam's Club last spring, nor one from Camping World. (The Camping World one gets us 4% off any commercial RV park in addition to the 10% GS discount, and the Sam's Club Mastercard gets us 5% of gas at any station.)

Craig thinks it is because banks are changing their credit card requirements, I think it is because the CW and SC cards are associated with memberships.

Has anyone else run into this? 

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Morning Glorie Muffins and Pretty Flowers

Good morning!

In the Bayfield Bunch's last post, Al mentioned Morning Glory muffins.

Craig looked up the recipe and we made them for breakfast this morning. Yum! Strange, because Craig normally does not like carrot cake or cinnamon. I thought they were a bit on the sweet side, but good despite that.  

I have never been much of a baker, and because of the difficulties of keeping the bottom of things burning in an RV oven, I have not done much of it in the last three years. This time, I was successful  using foil-plus-paper cupcake liners and two sturdy cupcake tins.  I have also learned it takes a long time to pre-heat our oven, and usually almost double the baking time.  But, we now have enough muffins for several days.

[From Craig] If you decide to try these, please pre-taste your walnuts.  Ours were from WalMart and were somewhat bitter.  You would think a place named WalMart would have good walnuts!  🙂

As my readers know, I love flowers. Jojoba Hills is really beautiful right now:

The image above is along one of the roads in the park.

Many of the individual sites are also decked out with potted flower gardens.

Yes, you can see your neighbors rig, but there is plenty of room for plants.

Jojoba Hills is in a high desert area, so much of the common ground is devotet to cactus.  These are just across from our dining table window.

Finally, I leave you with one more delightful Jojoba Sunset as viewed from my kitchen window.

And, a new feature, the travel countdown:  

24 days to departure!

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Thank You

First off, I want to say Thank You to those who left comments on my last post. It has encouraged me to think about posts that I might write in the next few weeks, before we actually get back on the road. So I looked through some of the pictures we have taken this winter for inspiration.

We have gone on a few outings while here at Jojoba. We met this fine fellow at the Flying LC Ranch. It was the home of Leo Carrillo who played Pancho, the sidekick of the Cisco Kid in the 50's. The ranch is now a Carlsbad municipal park and the grounds are quite interesting. In addition to being a working ranch, it was a well-loved retreat for many Hollywood celebrates. We were amused to here about how they would bring down their Airstream trailers to stay in while visiting. Apparently there were some really good parties!

The peacocks were just filling in their magnificent tails since the breeding season was approaching  They are wild birds who descend from a few original pairs brought to the ranch by Leo. They are not fed or protected from coyotes. The city does protect them in the surrounding neighborhoods, and they are said to be a welcome nuisance. Imagine a dozen peacocks, screaming and pooping in your back yard!

There is always something to see if you look for it.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Spring Flowers

While the Northeast has been dealing with a spring blizzard, we have been enjoying the sudden arrival of summer-like weather.

Southern California is blooming!  The hill sides along the roads are covered with dense patches of wildflowers.

On Tuesday we drove our Jeep over to Borrego Springs to see the desert bloom.  We had heard that over the weekend there had been bumper to bumper traffic around the small town. We were happy we had the luxury of visiting on a weekday. There was some traffic, but it was not bothersome. Everyone seemed to be mellowed by the beauty of the blooming fields of wildflowers.

I guess we have gotten out of practice for taking pictures. As far as I could tell, all my pictures of the field were out of focus.

There were many kinds of flowers blooming.

These were scattered in among the yellow.

Speaking of flowers, the hillsides around Jojoba Hills are lush with blooms as well.

The flowers are wild flowers, but I think they were seeded.

This is a close-up of the hill in the previous image. Wonderful!

It's hard to believe we have been here for almost five months. I have started to write posts from time to time, but they just never get finished. In general we like Jojoba Hills, and are comfortable with our decision to "buy in" here for a winter home base. My only disappointment has been in the weather. January and February were much colder than I expected. We were glad for the rain, but it spoils my almost daily attendance at the pool.

My summer plans for our trip to Alaska are coming together. We will leave here on or about April 18. We want to  spend May in Oregon and Washington. My first reservation is in the Vancouver BC area for the Memorial Day weekend. My next reservation is in Valdez, AK for the 4th of July, and then at Denali National Park in mid-August. We plan to travel "with the wind" and make reservations a few days ahead, but only if it seems necessary. Although not enthusiastic about boondocking, we are comfortable dry camping for a few days at a time. It looks like there are a limited number of full-hook-up parks in Alaska, but plenty of no-hook-up accommodations. 

I hope to start more regular blogging once we are on our way. This is a travel blog after all!  And travel we will.