Tuesday, January 31, 2012

46 years!

Today was our 46th wedding anniversary.  We didn't do anything special, other than sharing a bottle of champagne that we bought for New Years and never opened.

It was a good day, however.  I've been on edge for the last couple of weeks because I found a small lump in my breast. (I had breast cancer a few years ago and went thru surgery and radiation treatments.)
I had to change doctors and medical groups when I turned 65 last November.  Today I went to see a new Oncologist. From the time I discovered it and now, the lump went thru several changes that led me to believe it was a cyst.  The doc agreed with this and we are going to just "keep an eye on it" for a month or so.  I have a return appointment, but also the reassurance that I can be seen at any time if I feel I need it.

All of this has really "lightened" my mood.  I kept telling myself not to be upset about it, but until I discussed it with the doctor I couldn't help worrying.

Also on a positive note, we picked out a cultured marble shower enclosure with a glass door, and the tile for the middle bathroom.  The installer is coming tomorrow to look at the job.  A big step forward!  This bathroom has been torn up and non- functional for over ten years. Craig has been working on it now and then for the last two, but so many other things got in the way.

We aslo talked a little about a summer trip.  In the next few days I am going to look into reserving an RV spot at Crater Lake in Oregon for a couple of weeks.  Since there don't seem to be many "in the park" sites, and it is best in the high summer, it might be a good idea to try getting a reservation sooner rather than later.

Tomorrow will be another good day!  I don't have cancer again!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Why I don't want to leave "stuff" in the RV.

Although the Alfa is parked at home, the trek up to her pad and the job of packing and unpacking her for a trip is not trivial, but I don't want to start buying duplicate items for house and RV.  If we never planned on selling the house and living in the Alfa full time for a couple of years, I would.  However I feel that to double up on stuff would be moving in a defeatist direction.

If I need it in the Alfa, I probably need it in the house. I have left one of our vacuum cleaners up there, but that is because I have three! And I have bought several things specifically for her that stay there as well. I've also left towels, some cooking equipment, and wine glasses. We have so many in the house we don't need them.

I finished the three animals that were on order, and I have to pack them tomorrow.  After that, if the day is dry I want to go up to the Alfa and do some dusting.  The weather has been cold and rainy since we returned and I haven't done a good post trip clean.

Craig continues working on repairs. 

I'm starting to look into a short trip for the end of February.  Have to give the Alfa her exercise so she stays in good diesel health.  

Thats all for tonight. 

 Sleep well.

Friday, January 27, 2012


Seems like a couple of new followers have signed on to read my posts.  I hope what I write is interesting, if not amusing.  

Welcome to Joe and BettyBob and JoPeter and Peggy.  I look forward to reading about your RV adventures, and other thoughts!

I've been having a bit of "blog block" lately.  I've written and deleted several posts because they just didn't seem interesting, nor complete.  

Craig has started working on the house this week. 

 The number and size of jobs needing to be done is overwhelming to me.  

As I look at all the painting I did last year, I see places that  need to be touched up again.  I know there are things I could be doing, but I don't want to have to do things twice.  

Our "new" roof is almost two years old, and the "new" dishwasher and double oven we put in are going on three. 

I haven't done much since the day  I "gave up" last May.  Hopefully, now that he is home,  I can be of help to Craig.  

I also feel overwhelmed by all of the "things" we have. When we got back from our trip and I brought all of the stuff we had taken along back into the house, it seemed I was returning it to overstuffed cupboards and closets.  I don't want any of it!

Someday ...

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Art Work and Parking

First off welcome Jackie, my latest follower.  Seems like a gal after my own heart, wants to travel but has a art/craft that involves lots of materials!  WE will figure it out!

I'm feeling pretty good today. I was able to put in a solid morning of work on several animal head sculptures. I had an order for a Polar Bear before Christmas that I promised for February shipment, and got orders for a Moose and a Deer while we were gone.  January is often a slow month, so these were an unexpected bonus.

Thoughts about our trip continued:

I'm learning that each couple, or individual, has to find their own way of doing things.  Some say there are "pink" jobs and "blue" jobs, or if solo "all" jobs.  But as I read about other couples, I have learned that some men do most of the cooking, and some women do most of the driving.  There is no "only" way.

It seems for most couples, the man is the driver and the woman is the ground crew giving directions.  If you have followed my blog for a while, you know we have an unusually difficult home parking situation, and although we did manage to get the Alfa parked four times before Christmas it was not without mishap, nor great strain on our relationship.  

So this time we tried reversing our roles.  Craig drove down the short but curvy part of our road, and got the Alfa backed into the first 37 feet or so of the driveway.  It took a couple of tries, but he did it.  However, but the time we got it that far I was getting frazzled.  So we stopped, and changed places.  It turns out Craig is much better at giving directions, and I am much better at taking them.  The result was we got her parked and were not upset with each other.  

Still not an easy job, but a neighbor who had watched us before happened to be walking his dogs on the road and declared we were getting to be "experts!"

Last fall one of our friends, who is a retired Navy pilot, told us that in parking a large plane a pilot must do only what the ground crew signals him to do.  He must not try to drive the plane himself.  That's what I did and it worked.

I don't mind this role reversal, but Craig can keep doing the dumping and power connections!  

Who does what in your rig?

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Sick in an RV

I think I will be reflecting on our first "longer" trip by writing a series of posts rather than try to digest it all in one piece. Much of what I have been thinking about writing is what I want to remember.  Some is written for others who are sharing this adventure vicariously, and some is just blather.
We left the rally grounds early Sunday, but not without catching the “bug” that was going around.  I became very sick about 9:00 PM.  I won’t go into the details, but it was much like what we called the “24 hour flu” when I was a kid! Maybe I don’t have the resilience that I had back then, but this sure took me down.  I was over the worst of it by morning, but rode lying down on the couch to our appointment at Alfateers so they could service our generator and install the new fuel filter that we ordered last week.

By Monday morning I was again able to eat and except for being weak and sore I was O.K.  The secretary at Alfateers said that at least 100 people had fallen ill at the rally.  I bet that was just the number reported into the first aid station, and that there were at least 100 more like me that did not.  She also told me that a few weeks ago she was at a family gathering in the area and 10 of the 60 people got sick.  One went to the hospital and was told there is a new strain of flu going around, and her doctor called it the Riverside County Flu.   So maybe it wasn’t “food born.” The good thing was that it ran its worst course in about 12 hours. Plus a couple of days of mild discomfort.

What I learned:

1.  Getting sick in an RV is no worse than getting sick at home.   Sick is sick.
2. The bathroom is closer in an RV than in any house!
3. In a class A, the couch is also a bed.
4. An air freshener would have been good to have, but running all fans full force for awhile can make the sick room smell better.  In general Craig and I both dislike artificial sprays or deodorants.  But it might be a good idea to try a few to find one that is tolerable for this type of emergency.
5. Carry a small bottle of bleach for clean up. 
6. Use the sanitizing hand wipes!  Just having them is not enough.
7. Pepto-bismol does nothing other than make things more colorful.

And last: 
All members of the team should be comfortable driving.   

When we left Alfateers Service center on Monday morning Craig was just starting to feel a bit queasy.  Since we had dry camped for six nights we were out of water and needed to dump. We had to get to our next full hook up location, two hours away, as quickly as possible.  

Craig started to drive because although I was better, I still felt weak and tired.  After about an hour he had to pull off at an exit, set the brake, put it in park, and leave the driver's seat for a dash to the back.  Because I had been taking turns as the driver, I was able to take over and maneuver through an unknown, semi-busy city area and get us safely back onto the freeway, and on to Santa Barbara.

I would not have wanted this to have been my first time driving!  If I hadn't been able to take the wheel, we would have been stranded on a busy exit of the L.A. freeway system! Not good.

So my message to all of you "partners" is share the driving.  Make a point of driving part of every trip.  You don't have to start with backing up or winding country roads, but you should be comfortable with all of those different controls, especially on the diesels.  Because I drove into the park for the pre-rally, the subject of women driving came up.  Several women told me that either they were afraid to drive, or that their husbands wouldn't let them drive.  

Ladies, most of us have had babies!  
We CAN drive large RVs.  

Besides it's fun...

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Home safe and somewhat sound

Just a quick note.  We got back mid afternoon Tuesday.  All is well (except for us) we both got sick.  I will compose some updates in a day or two.


Thursday, January 12, 2012

Caravan to FMCA Rally

We were up "bright eyed and bushy tailed" Tuesday morning so that we could be part of an Alfa caravan to the FMCA Rally in Indio.

26 Alfas all in a row were a neat sight! We managed to stay somewhat together on the drive to Indio, but a few stop lights and other vehicles did disrupt the line.

When we arrived we all parked together.

The Alfa owners are a friendly group. We've had a happy hour and camp fire every evening.

We went to several seminars today, and will attend more in the next two days.  Some of the information is new to us, but much seems to be much like live infomercials.  It is really amazing how many products there are for RVs.  

We did like "Mac the fire guy", and bought several small fire extinguishers.  We also took a look at our escape window when we got back to the coach this afternoon.  It's not much larger than the regular window right next to it.

I'm glad we came at this phase of our RV adventure, but I don't think we will be returning on a yearly basis.

I'm really not sure why 1500 motor homes have gathered here on this dirt lot.  

All of the people we have met have been very nice.  I feel we have learned much from the other Alfa owners, and hope that we can pass the spirit of helpfulness along as we travel on our own.

We went to a large gathering tonight, and heard that several of the officers are quite sick.  We wonder if it was something they all ate, and are glad that except for some snacks with the Alfa owners, and a breakfast burrito this morning from one of the vendors, we have been eating our own food.

Hope it isn't a flu outbreak.  There are so many really old looking people here.  

I must remember to wash my hands frequently, and not drink the water!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


I saw the sunrise yesterday. I rarely see one at our house because I'm seldom up early enough, and because we live on a west-facing slope.

The sunrise looked very much like the sunsets here. Very pink. I wonder if it is because there's a lot of dust in the air.

We've been up early every morning on this trip. Perhaps this is because at the house our bedroom is very dark and quiet, whereas in the Alfa the bedroom is quite light, and we are more aware of the noises around us. Our bed is very comfortable, and I have been sleeping soundly. At the house we tend to stay up much later, reading in front of the fire. On this trip, the new TV Craig put in the bedroom has been a draw, and we've been watching movies in bed. Actually we have been getting so sleepy after a movie is halfway thru that we have made each of the last two movies last two nights! Craig bought several BlueRay DVDs for me for Christmas.

At the house we do not have a TV in the bedroom.

Another morning difference is that at the house, Craig goes to the mailbox in the morning and brings in the newspaper while I make coffee. We read the paper in bed, and then Craig will usually stay in bed for a while. In the Alfa, there is no newspaper. Craig has been getting up long before I wake up, going up front to read the news on the computer. When I wake up, I've been ready to find out what's happening outside, so I get up and dress.

I do hope this early rising will continue after we get back to the house. It would promote getting things done!

I discovered a good thing about the iPad today. I can compose a blog on it. The other day it said it didn't support "compose", but now it does. I will still take a look at this on my laptop before I publish so that I can check spelling, but now I can blog when Craig is on the laptop. (I did that and now I will post it from the laptop.)

Monday, January 9, 2012

Emerald Desert RV Resort, Palm Desert, CA

The Alfa SeeYa's pre-rally has been held at the Emerald Desert RV Resort in Palm Desert, CA. 

My biggest complaint is the terrible WiFi connection.  I have tried several times to upload a few pictures with this post and have been frustrated! I will wait until Craig gets back and use the WiFi through his Android phone.  It seems to work very well.

Other than that, we've had a great time and have savored the luxury of the event and location, knowing it is probably a bit pricey for our on going budget.  But it sure has been a nice way to get to know some of the other Alfa owners! 

Not cooking has been a real pleasure!  The rally included a very nice catered dinner the first night, a pot luck on the third, and the resort had catered dinners on the second and forth! There was even a wine tasting before one of them.  On Saturday we had a resort sponsored poolside breakfast with Mimosas. The other three mornings the rally provided coffee and pastries.

Our spot is level and spacious compared to the KOA in Pomona. 

 I drove in on Friday, and after taking a look at it, said that if I couldn't park here, I would never be able to park anywhere!   I backed it right in easy as pie.  Several of the ladies who saw me cheered me on!

(From Craig: I'm surprised by how unequal the RV driving is in this group.  Merikay's attitude and outlook seem greatly improved when she gets to drive the rig.  I'm considering letting her do all the driving, for maximum improvement :-)

On Sunday I set up my little table on the "patio" and worked on a bear.  It was a little breezy, but with careful handling of the paper pattern pieces I was able to work without any problems.  The Alfa has electrical outlets right on her side for me to plug into.  I might consider a tent someday but this worked. I really didn't have to work, but I wanted to see if I could.

Craig went on the rally's golf event today, and I joined in a water aerobics class in the slightly heated pool.  It was about 85 degrees.  Plenty warm but not too warm to exercise. What a pleasure!

I could really get to love this kind of life!  No wonder Rick loves the Palm Springs area! Knowing we would be quite busy and wouldn't have a car, I didn't contact him.  Maybe next year Rick!  We will be back.

Tomorrow will be a very early morning.  We are lining up with 25 other Alfas to caravan over to the Indio FMCA rally together at 7:00 A.M.  Although we have been up very early every morning, I still will feel more comfortable if we set an alarm.

Good night all!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Rose Parade Float Pictures

Craig took some nice photos of the floats in the Rose Parade with his "Big Dog" camera (Nikon D3).

Instead of trying to import them into my Blog post, we've put them on a page on my web site.

It seems better to show them there than here.

Click on Rose Parade or copy and paste the URL:
to see them.

Friday, January 6, 2012


I am going to design a whole new line of animals: little DOGS!  We have come to the conclusion that having a little dog is almost mandatory to being an RVer.

Yes cats too!

And maybe Goldens...

Probably not as "trophy head."  Who would want to hang the head of their little dog?  But something.  For years I have said no, I don't do dogs.  But maybe it's time to give it a thought.

Shelties? Poodles? Dachshunds? Westies? Chihuahuas?So many kinds.

I did get an order for a deer head yesterday.  Not from an RVer, just from my web site.  I sent the customer an email saying I wouldn't be able to ship it until February and it was OK.  $$ in the diesel fuel fund.

Float building, RV Repairs

On Saturday and Sunday we took our grandsons to see the floats being built for the Rose Parade.

Before I write about it, I want to write a a bit more about Alfateers Service Center. The most important information I want to get out there is that they service brands other than Alfa.  So if you need service on any brand of class A diesel, and you are near Southern California, give them a call!  They are a great group, and they have several overnight spots. We feel they did an excellent job and were quite reasonably priced.

We had new seals put on both slides, some trim repairs, and had them go over the entire rig checking it out.  We are happy to say that everything is good!  They took it over to Freightliner for us, and we still need a new fuel filter (it was out of stock).  One was ordered for us and we will stop back there after the Indio Rally.  We'll also have Alfateers service the generator diesel.

Float Building

All surfaces of the float must be covered with organic material.  I'm not sure there's a rule for the percentage that must be fresh flowers; they also use seeds, leaves, beans and bark.  Stuff can be dried, chopped, and even put through a blender to create a powder that can be glued to the surface.

Can you imagine glueing individual split peas or lentils onto a float?  Cranberries are a little bigger.  They also use coffee and chocolate.

We waited in long lines full of fun people.  Most of the building locations had a high overlook walkway.  We did not get down onto the floor, but were able to ask questions of guides stationed every few feet.

Craig and our two Grandsons.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Too much to blog about

It is now 2:41 A.M.  I am awake and at the table in the Alfa.  I am never awake at this hour at home.  There I have disciplined myself to stay in bed if I wake up.  Oh, I do get up for a few minutes for a drink of water and a visit to the bathroom, but I don't "do" anything like read or look at the computer.

The last few days have been going by so fast, that except for a quick read of a few blogs,  I have had very little time or energy,] for the computer.

Pictures?  Give Craig a digital camera and he will shoot a couple hundred shots in a day.  Who has time to process or even look thru that many images?  I haven't had time to look at the few I have taken.

Is all of this bad?  No.  Living is so much better than sitting around the house dreaming!

Someday, after we get back home, I will have time to review the picture folders. 

But not tonight!

Yesterday morning we left the KOA and drove 20 miles to the Alfa repair shop called Alfateers.  When Alfa went under, the employees formed this repair center company and specialize in fixing Alfas.

We had a very long list of work that we want done.  We decided not to trust what La Mesa told us about maintenance, and are having everything checked out here.  We also are having the seals on the slide replaced, and some EternaBond applied to the top edge of the slide to prevent further leakage. We know the bill will be steep, but we want things done right!

So far they have solved two problems, the electrical and the tank sensors, by simply finding loose wires.  We had a problem filling the fresh water tank, and they found a kinked hose in the line.

As at many RV service centers, we have been able to park overnight with a 50 amp hookup.  This week there are five rigs with their owners staying in them.  We all gather at a picnic area while our Alfas are taken back into the work areas. At the end of the day they are brought back out and reparked and connected up for us.

The other couples have been quite friendly.  Tonight we had a bit of a party celebrating that we would all be moving on tomorrow.  One couple had driven cross country from South Carolina just to bring their rig to Alfateers. They are having extensive remodeling done and a full body paint job on the outside. They will fly back home and leave the Alfa here for several months.  I asked why they came all this way, and couldn't they have gotten the work done on the East coast somewhere.  Their answer was that they wanted it all done right and this was "the place!"

Yesterday we took the rental car and went to the Getty Museum.  Another of my long list of places I have always wanted to see!  The art was amazing of course, but the building and garden design was also a feast of fantastic views.

Banner on the wall

Patio at the Getty

Our repairs should be done tomorrow, and they will be giving her a wash and cleaning the carpets as a bonus free service.  (Nothing is really free, but it won't be a line item on the bill!)

We have a good feeling about this place and the people who work here!

Yawn!  No editing ... just publish and go back to bed!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Going Great

We are now parked in Pasadena, a block away from our parade seats.  We went out for pizza with our daughter etc.  She has just dropped us off back here.  

Everything is going well.  

I hope to be able to post some pictures in the next few days, but we are seeing and doing so much that the experience takes precedence!

Tomorrow should be unbelievable.  The floats are so beautiful that they make me want to cry!

Our grandson just got glasses.  His mother brought them with her tonight.  I am looking forward to his reaction tomorrow when he can see so much better than before.

It is wonderful that his first day of improved vision should be this "eye candy" day!

One of the floats we saw being built today