Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year

Craig and I are sitting in front of a fire at our house for hopefully the last New Year's Eve.  Although we are living up in the Alfa, we decided to come down and enjoy an evening in the house.  We will be having Champagne, Herring, crackers and Black Eyed Peas soon and visiting with our Daughter via Skype.  

We are at peace with the world, and thankful for all the good things that have happened to us this year. Several wonderful trips and good health.

We are of course looking forward to many RV adventures in 2014. 

We are ready!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas Wish

Merry Christmas to everyone!

Merikay and Craig

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Fun Weekend

We had quite a busy day at the RV park on Saturday. The park sponsored a Christmas event on the grass park space just across a walkway from our rig. They put up a cute white picket fence and holiday decorations. At 4:30 a truck with a snow maker came and filled the area with man made snow. There was hot cocoa, cookies, popcorn and hotdogs. Santa arrived at 5:30, and there was a tacky Christmas sweater contest and rig decoration awards. My daughter just happened to have two classic Christmas sweaters in her car that she had just gotten back from someone who had borrowed them for a similar contest. We each put one on, and I won the contest!  The prize was two tickets to the movies, so Craig and I will probably go see Catching Fire Monday night.

Knowing all of this was going to happen, I invited our Point Loma "family" for a late afternoon cookout at the Alfa. My daughter thought the kids might be "too old" for the snow play and Santa, but they got into it just fine, and helped the younger ones build mini snow men and make snow balls. The kids ignored Santa's tent, but my daughter and I got our picture taken with him. Just for fun!

The party was pretty much over before 7:00. Our guests left, and after a quick clean up of our site, we wandered over to our neighbors with a bottle of wine and enjoyed a couple of hours of conversation around their warming gas portable fire pit.

Except for taking up storage space in the bay, such a thing would be really nice to have. It felt warmer than a wood camp fire, and no one had to move to get out of the smoke. We aren't going to run out and buy one, but it is something to think about in the future. They said they bought it at Sam's Club for around $60.   If fire wood is as expensive in the rest of the country as it is in California, it would pay for itself very quickly. A night of propane would cost way less than a bundle of firewood, especially since our Alfa has an outside LP connection. Something to think about.
This one looks a little smaller than the one they had. It is called a Camp Chef
and is on sale at Cabela's

Sunday we went to the lovely home of one of our family for a tamale-making party. Some of us helped our hostess Josie prepare the masa, slice the cheese, cut the veggies, and shred the meat she had cooked overnight. 

When all of the ingredients were ready, we gathered around for a tamale-making lesson. The boy in the white chef's jacket is my younger grandson. He takes cooking very seriously, and won this jacket when he took second place in a county fair kids' cooking competition.

The women and children all pitched in.

The men watched football.

The kids finished up folding the last of the tamales while the women cleaned up.  

The men watched football!

After steaming the first batch in a very large steamer, they were finally ready to taste.

They were the best tamales I have ever eaten. The kids loved them.

The men filled their plates and went back into the living room to watch football!

Sorry guys.  I'm really just kidding you about the game. It was the Steelers and the Packers after all.  

Everyone was pretty happy. Craig is a Packer fan said that despite their loss, it was a terrific game. Josie's husband Max is from Pennsylvania, so he was pleased with the result.

We brought home a couple of dozen tamales for dinners in the Alfa. Josie also told me they were very good for breakfast, if I just fry them a bit and serve them with a sunny-side-up egg or two.

I now have a far greater appreciation for the simple tamale. It is a lot of work to make them from scratch, but oh so worth it. No wonder it is a Holiday tradition in most Hispanic homes.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Catching Up

Craig said I really should put up a new post because it has been a week since his birthday.  So here goes...

Our month in San Diego is almost over. It has been a whirlwind of family activities and good times.

We have played games:

Cooked together:

Had a yard sale

This guy bought a necklace I had made in the 70's

Decorated the tree:

We got together with our extended (not related) family:

We enjoyed some beautiful weather and gorgeous skies:

We took some walks along Mission Bay just steps away from our rig.  I should have walked more, but I was just too busy!

We also went to two school band concerts, a Boy Scout awards ceremony, Ender's Game, did lots of shopping, had a little car trouble, and worried about selling the house.

I mention the last because it is always there. We are glad we had this time with loved ones to distract us from the process.  In another week we will be heading back to Camp Driveway and wintery weather.  In the Santa Cruz Mountains, freezing is rare, but it does happen. We are more likely to have heavy rains and/or wind.

Our emphasis for the first few weeks of January will be to clear out as much of our remaining stuff as we can. We will do better if we pressure ourselves to get it done.

Thursday, December 12, 2013


Dear Craig,


A good day for me, even if I wasn't born yet, because it was the day you came into the world.

I wish you a happy birthday and hope you have many more.

Love Merikay

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Thanks for all the great responses.

I enjoyed reading them, and will keep what you said in mind as I plan our next life!

Whenever anyone asks Craig what we are going to do after we sell the house, he answers "we are going to get into our RV and drive off into the sunrise". We live only a few miles from the Pacific Ocean and wouldn't get far driving off into the sunset!

When they ask me, I usually say: "north if it is spring, and south if it is fall."

I am pretty sure we will be houseless full timers sometime in the next year, and am looking at some destinations that require advanced reservations. For example, the Bahia Honda State Park in Florida, at the tip of the Keys, takes reservations eleven months in advance. So if we want to be there next winter, we should be making reservations soon. 

My way of planning "trips" has been to make the core reservations as soon as we decide where we wanted to go and make "coming and going" plans as side trips presented themselves.

I'm learning to use a variety of resources to find places to stay. We really have not yet done any BLM camping or boondocking, but I do try to find the best bargains thru Escapees and Passport America. I also use the Good Sam book.

Recently I bought a book called "RV Camping in State Parks" at Camping World.  It lists all state parks in the US that have RV camping, their size restrictions, approximate cost, hook ups, and contact or reservation numbers or web sites. I think it will be a valuable resource.

Of course I like the high-end luxury resorts with their heated pools and hot tubs, and we will go to some of them when we can get a deal or a Passport rate, or perhaps a winter monthly rate, but their regular daily charges are a bit rich for my budget. So far the state and national parks we have stayed in have been great. I find the park atmosphere appealing. That is why I was delighted to find the above-mentioned book.

As I have paged thru it, I am pleased to see that most states have parks with spaces big enough for the Alfa and have hookups. In California, many parks have size limits that are less than 35 feet, and hookups are generally not available. We don't need sewer or water, but an electric hook up in hot or cold weather is a must as far as I'm concerned. I hate to run the generator because of the noise, the smell, and because it disturbs the neighboring campers. We may add solar eventually, but not until we have really come to know our preferences. 

Of course, first we have to get the house sold, but it is fun to dream, and now I know it is just a matter of time. After living in the Alfa for more than four months, we both know we want to do this!

Being away from the house has given Craig some time to look into several upgrades he would like to do (or have done) to the Alfa after we sell the house. A new TV in the front, a satellite system, get fogged windows fixed, new AGM batteries, and eventually four new tires. As he talks about all of this I have to say: "Whoa, we know we are limited to the 36' size by camp driveway, but what if after we go on the road we want to trade up? Shouldn't we be sure we want to keep the Alfa before making these improvements?" 

So on Monday we stopped in at a couple of dealers and looked at the class A diesels they had on their lots. We looked at about ten very nice expensive rigs, both new and pre-owned. All bigger than our Alfa, and all with more luxurious decor. None of them appealed to me. Even the new $225K Tiffin Allegro Red didn't turn me on. 

When we went back to the RV park and I went aboard our Alfa, I knew we had the right rig! The only improvement would be to have a 40' See Ya or Alfa Gold. Our Founder is a 2007. Alfa went out of business in 2008, so there are not many newer than ours. 

All of this is just babble at this time. The house has to sell first. But it is fun to dream.

If you are a full timer, did you trade up after you sold your home?

Friday, December 6, 2013

What is the best month?

I'm starting to dream beyond the West Coast.  Once we are free of the house, we will be free to go anywhere in the US or Canada without having to double the fuel cost by including the miles back to the Santa Cruz Mountains.  That will be really nice. 

So I'm asking for your opinions of what is the best month to be in various states and national parks. I have some idea, but it would be interesting to hear from you.

What is the best month to be in:
South and North Dakota
Minnesota (we hope to visit you Judy!)
The Northeast states - Maine etc.
The Adirondacks
Georgia, South Carolina, Northern Florida
The Florida keys

and of course Alaska

What was your favorite state?

I'm starting to get excited about our future.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

How do you clean the carpet in your RV?

We have had the Alfa for a little more than two years. When we bought her the carpets were pretty clean. Ugly, but clean. On two of our service stops at Alfateers, the carpets were done as part of their regular customer service. When we were there last time, the machine was not working.

So, by now the carpets were really in need of attention. At the house, we have either had a rug cleaning company come in, or rented one of the machines and shampooed the house carpets ourselves. I thought about that, but the Rug Doctor machines are so big I didn't think one would fit easily in the RV. I guess they have hand tools and upholstery attachments, but getting the basic machine in seemed difficult.

Since my daughter has two boys and a golden retriever, and light carpets, she also has a nice Hoover rug cleaning machine with a long hose hand-tool attachment. We used it Tuesday on the Alfa's rugs. I thought it would be a quick and easy task.  NOT! Craig did all the hard work because I have a "touchy" back. Bending and crawling around on the floor is just not something I can do without hurting for days after. So, I don't do that part, but I did help with the vacuuming and moving the machine from place to place.

Craig did a pretty good job and because we are sleeping at her house while they are gone, there is plenty of time to let it dry. Today while the boys are in school we will go over to the RV park and put things back in order. The Alfa looks like it has been picked up and turned over right now.

My question for other RV owners is "how do you clean your carpets?" Will the truck based carpet cleaners come to an RV park and do it for a reasonable amount? I know you can have a car detailed. Is there such a thing as an RV wash that will also do the rugs?

We (or should I say Craig) can do it, but I would like to hear about our options.

Of course, we are penny pinchers, so,  whatever the options are, we will probably keep doing it ourselves. We take our shoes off about 80% of the time, but during set up and tear down it just isn't practical. It also seems that any little smudge attracts black dust. We have had the exhaust system checked and we don't have any leaks, but diesel dust still seems to seep in and settle on everything.
When I run a cloth along the edges of hard surfaces like the window frames, my cloth picks it up.

Does anyone else notice this?

Monday, December 2, 2013

Family Times

I have been very distracted for the last few days and couldn't put together an interesting post.  We had a very nice Thanksgiving with our daughter, her husband and our two grandsons.

On Saturday our daughter and her husband left for a short trip to Switzerland, and we are staying at their home to look after the boys. They don't need taking care of, but do need to have adults in residence. We went to see a movie Saturday (Ender's Game) and on Sunday played a long game of Mexican Train before going to the home of family friends for dinner.

Today while the boys are in school we are going to oil the woodwork in the Alfa and shampoo the carpet. Exciting? Not! But it really needs it and this is a good time because we are not sleeping there for a few days.

I love being with family, but I don't think it makes for interesting post material. So if my blog is quiet for awhile, know I am relaxing and having fun with those I love more than anything.

I have a "Grand" smile today!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Los Algodones, Mexico

The next leg of our journey was to Indio, California.  The drive was just the way we like it, smooth and uneventful! Our alternative would have been to come south through Arizona, but MapQuest told us it was about fifty miles longer, and it seemed that Arizona was having some bad weather.

Besides, Craig wanted to get a Shields date shake.  No objections on my part.

Sunday saw us tootling along for the last 170 miles to Winterhaven CA. We stayed at the River's Edge RV resort. Not fancy, some train and highway noise, but it is one exit away from the Los Algodones border crossing. This is where there are dozens of dentists, pharmacies, doctors, opticians  and many other medical services pandering to the elder "Snow Bird" community.  

Had Craig not done some research and made an appointment for his laser periodontic (LANAP) procedure, it would have been quite daunting to run the sidewalk gauntlet of service hawkers. 
"Looking for a  dentist?"   "Come right in."  "Compare our prices." 

"Eye glasses?"  "Prescriptions?" "Come in!" "Lowest prices here!" 

"Gold chains? Rugs or blankets? Purses or leather belts?"  "Come right in, compare our prices!"

I insisted we go over early so we could find the dentist and take a look.

That took no time at all, so we walked around for a bit and had an early lunch.

As far as I know, things went fairly smoothly.  Craig is a bit uncomfortable tonight, but he would be if he had gone to a California periodontist too.  He will take antibiotics for a week, and we may drive back for a checkup appointment in two weeks.  It is about three hours from San Diego. We would come over in the car not the Alfa.

As we were waiting in line for re-entry, I had a conversation with a nice Canadian couple.  We discussed getting glasses in Los Algodones. The wife said you could see an optometrist in the morning and pick up your glasses in the afternoon. I am thinking about doing that when we come back for Craig's checkup.  It has been a long time since I have had my eyes checked, and I think I need new glasses. If they are good, it would save a couple hundred dollars, and if they were not good it wouldn't be a big loss.

I think of this as being one of the advantages of being a full-timer. 

We will see.  Have you had experience with Mexican medical/ dental/vision/pharmacies?

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Camping World, Bakersfield, CA

The first day of our winter trip went very smoothly.  We woke to very gusty winds, but no rain and were a bit concerned about driving.  It turned out that San Jose had a "killer windstorm" Friday night, but we got out of town before it hit.

Getting out of our drive and up our road is always a difficult process, but it seems to go more smoothly each time.  I have made a flag with "RV COMING" and long pink ribbons that I use to stop the rare car coming down the road when we want to go up.  I go ahead to the top of the road in the car and let Craig know when it is clear for him to come up. I use the walkie-talkie, and do the same thing at the one short "S" curve just before the freeway entrance.  All in all we live about a mile from the freeway, but it is tight, curvy with a steep grade.  All went well, but we are not overconfident about it.

We stopped in town to dump and to top off the propane tank and then headed out.  We were both smiling.  We were not bothered by any wind and made it to our first destination, Camping World in Bakersfield, CA.

I had read that they allow overnight parking, and was delighted to find out that they also have two free 50amp hook ups.  We did some necessary shopping at the store and settled in for a nice night.

Sunset in Bakersfield

Saturday's drive should get us to Indio.  

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Cabin Fever

I am happy to say that today, Thursday, is our last day at "Camp Driveway" for a month or more. We will head out for San Diego, by way of Los Algodones, Mexico for a dental appointment. 

Not for me. I decided to pay my American dentist big bucks because I had a complicating root splinter that had to be removed by an Oral Surgeon. I have no reservations about going there for simple work, but mine required several weeks of healing before the new bridge could be fit. In the future, if we are spending several months in Arizona, I might consider work that would take several visits over a period of time, but that wouldn't work for us right now.  Craig's work is a one-visit procedure.  We figure two and a half days of hard driving will get us there on Sunday. Appointment on Monday, and then over to San Diego on Tuesday.

For most RVers it is called "hitch-itch" The desire to get moving to the next place.  I have to call it "cabin fever" because the Alfa feels so much like a permanent structure on our land.  We have had more small fights about irrelevant things lately than I would like. We are not perfect!

I get negative about the house selling and exaggerate gloomy thoughts. Craig hates it when I'm an Eeyore.

And, I get mad at him when he acts like another kind of equine, and I don't mean a horse! 

I usually start a kerfuffle by questioning his way of doing something. I can't seem to keep my big mouth shut! He has done so much around the house and Alfa, and I still nag and question him. 

I'm sure things will get better as soon as we are on the road.  We both do want to do this, and we both are being worn down by the stress of having the house on the market. 

Most of the time when we are traveling we work together very well as a team.
Sometimes around the house too!
Enough about that. 

It has been quite cold and rainy for the last two nights. 

We noticed one interesting (to us) thing. In light or moderate rain you can only hear it in the back of the coach. It has to be coming down quit hard to hear rain in the front.  We wonder if that is due to less insulation in the ceiling, although Craig says he could see lots of insulation when he replaced the vent above the bed.

[From Craig] Folks on the Alfa Yahoo Group convinced me that the roof is well-insulated everywhere, so that we can only hear large drops.  There's a big pine tree behind our coach that "aggregates" (my word of the day :-) little raindrops into big ones, so that we only hear most rain in the bedroom. 

The rain stopped this morning, so Craig got the tires, oil and batteries all checked for travel. I'm getting the wash done. 

The sanitary dump place opens at ten, and after we are finished there we will be heading SOUTH! 628 miles in two and  half days.

PDS? No, he would do it in much less time. 

On to a new subject: I want to share a needlepoint project that I did this month.  It is a 3-ring binder for my reservations and stuff that I keep next to the co-pilot seat.  It is a little taller than a regular binder so it is easier to get in and out of its slot. The narrow pocket on the top of the inside is for a pen.

I'm working on more panels like these, but I'm not sure what I will do with them.  I find the basic images on the web and draw them onto the canvas with a sharpie. 

[From Craig]  How did I manage to get all the way to retirement age without ever having owned or used a creeper? 

Actually, I was a bit proud of this achievement, but it is no more.  Our leveling jacks needed maintenance, and it went a lot easier with a creeper. I cleaned the inside column of the jacks with brake cleaner, then greased them.  I should probably go under again and wipe most of the grease off, so that it doesn't accumulate lots of dirt.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Happy Birthday to Me

I've never really put a lot of importance on Birthdays.  Especially my own. But today was my 67th. and Craig brought me the appropriate items for celebration.


A cake:

And a bottle of BlackBerry Brandy:

We went to see Ender's game on Friday.  Wonderful movie!

I think I'm a bit buzzed from he Blackberry Brandy, so it's just Good night All. 

Friday, November 15, 2013

Organizing the Basement

I spent a couple of days this week getting some of Craig's things organized in the basement of the Alfa.  When we started putting things into it, I gave Craig a couple of big bins that I had used for storing art materials. I told him they were probably not the right size and shape, and that he should think about what he wanted.

Plastic bins were not high on Craig's list of things he wanted to think about. When it comes to tools he has always had the "leave it on the workbench" philosophy.  His usual way of finding what he needs is to ask me to look for it.  He has gotten better over the years as I became more and more reluctant to be his "gofer", but his first words about almost any project are: "Merikay, please go get the ..."

The other day he said the two bins he was using had too many things in them and could I move some of it to another container.

Aha!  I knew if I imposed some sort of system on him he would ignore it, but since he asked I went right to work.

First I measured the space I wanted to use and the existing boxes in it.  Then I went out to shop, stopping at Home Depot, The Container Store, Walmart, and Staples.  I found I had several options.  The best was from Staples.  Several same sized, handled,  stackable, click-close bins available in different colors.

I bought them and spent Monday sorting things out.

Three of these stacked up takes the same amount of floor space as one of the larger ones.  

The empty larger ones are still behind these, or in the other bay, along with a couple of other empty smaller colored ones. Hopefully he will be able to put things back into the correct container.  I have also made notes of what each color contains, so when he asks me where something is I can tell him to look in the designated color bin. We will see how long this lasts!

I have also reorganized a couple of the kitchen cabinets this week. Amazing how a little organization can yield more room and easier access!

Can you tell I have too much time on my hands?

Friday, November 8, 2013

Why Camp Driveway has been a good thing

We have been living full-time in the Alfa for almost three months now. Some of that time has been out on the road, and some of it has been here at Camp Driveway in the forest at the top of our property.

It is one thing to "dream" about living full time in an RV while still living in a large home, and quite another to actually live in the RV. Although I didn't plan on this "test" time, I'm glad we are going through it.  

When we came back from our last trip, there were only a couple of things that I brought up from the house that I had not transferred to the Alfa before we went.  One was a couple of slotted and serving spoons and a cooking pot lid that fit a particular pot that had not come with one.  Craig is still adding tools.  We know we will fit in a ladder, and bringing our bikes along is a question we have not yet addressed. The interior is pretty well organized, but the large basement bay still needs work.  I had several sturdy bins I had used to store furs and fabric, and we have been using them in the bays, but they are not quite the right size and feel like they waste some space.  I wanted to wait until Craig had brought up most of what he wants before I go out and get different bins.  This is the sort of job I really enjoy: packing things to fit a space!

I think we have come to the point where we need none of the stuff that is still in the house. We are in limbo on getting rid of more stuff right now.  Everything is either part of the staging or packed away in closets or the garage. When the house sells we will have the motivation to make a clean sweep.

I will say there are a couple of things I will miss. One is my Electrolux double oven, and the other is the rotisserie on the large Weber grill we have on the deck.  

 The Alfa has both a combination microwave-convection oven and an LP oven.  Craig uses the LP oven frequently to bake his frozen rolls and frozen French tarts that he eats for breakfasts.  It is hard to get up to temperature and is very small. I have nothing against convection cooking.  My Electrolux was a convection oven, but I just treated it like a regular oven with excellent results. 

I just haven't really explored the convection feature yet.  

I really like to make roast chickens on the Weber rotisserie because I almost always get three or four meals out of one large chicken.  I do not like the rotisserie chickens sold at groceries, Costco, or Walmart.  They are usually small, and because they have been brined have a higher salt content.  Tasty, easy, but not healthy. I'm sure once we are on the road I will learn how to do a whole roast chicken.

I am quite surprised that I don't mind hand-washing the dishes. They seem to get much cleaner than in a dishwasher, and washing up after dinner doesn't seem to take as long as it did to empty the dishwasher, rinse and load it, and then do the pots and pans.  I am cooking most of the same things that I did in the house.

Because we are being careful about filling up the tanks, I have been practicing low-water-use dish washing by wiping dishes off with paper towels, rather than rinsing them, and dumping the dish water down the hill outside instead of pouring it down the drain. 

We have also been taking showers and doing the wash at the house. We are not quite used to having only one potty, so some mornings I walk down the hill to the house for a bit of private time.  I've done this at campgrounds too; it is not a real problem.

We will be going down to town to dump the tanks every seven days. They don't get completely full, but we don't want to risk sloshing on the steep hills we need to go up and down to get out of our property. If we had access to a shower house, and if Craig would be willing to use it instead of the shower in the Alfa, I think we could do ten days at a power-only campground.  This is good to know, because many State and National park campgrounds do not have water or sewer hookups.

As the weather gets colder in the evening, I find I am cuddling in the bed and reading or watching Netflix more often. It's warm and comfortable. It's getting too chilly to sit outside. We have spent the last twenty or so years of winter evenings sitting in front of a cozy fireplace in our comfy chairs.  I will miss that a bit, but not my daily chore of cleaning up the hearth and floor.

All in all, I am so ready to leave this place and set out on our full time adventure.  

My emotions fluctuate between hope and despair about the house selling for a reasonable price in a reasonable time.  We have lowered the price, but there has still been very few showings.  But every time I go down there and walk thru I think: "What a wonderful house this is." 

We leave for a month in San Diego soon. It sure would be a great holiday gift if we got an offer while we were gone.  Then we could come home in January, clear it out and be on our way.  

It will happen, it's just a question of the right buyer coming to see it.

 (Note to robbers: there is nothing in the house worth taking.)

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Another way to install sliding drawers in a tight spot.

For those of you who are interested in putting in sliding shelves or drawers in a hard to use cabinet, here is another way of doing it:


Debbie included this URL in her comment on my last post.  They used hardware she found at Lowes.  Looks like it worked perfectly for them. 

 If anyone else has done something like this I'd be happy to pass on the information in a post.  

Friday, November 1, 2013

Shelf Improvement

No, I didn't make a typing error, this post is really about shelf improvement, not self improvement.

We've had the Alfa for two years, and have lived in her for over three months. I have to say that there are very few things I would want to change. But nothing is perfect.

This is my wonderful kitchen area. I like having the windows behind the sink and stove.  It gives me lots of light and I can look out while I am cooking or washing up.

On the other side of the coach is a cabinet that has three humongous drawers and two big shelves. Great accessible storage for canned goods,  snacks and miscellaneous cooking tools. I keep small hand tools like spatulas and wooden spoons in the drawers by the sink.  

The less-than-perfect cupboard was the one to the lower left of the sink.
The bottom shelf is deep and narrow. I had to go down on my hands and knees to get anything from the back of it. With the bottom of the sink taking up part of the upper space, it was not good for tall bulky items.

I asked Craig if he could make some slide-out shelves for it. Last week we went out and looked at existing hardware and pre-made shelving. Of course nothing was quite right.

When we got back, Craig searched the Web and came up with a company in Arizona that made custom size pull out shelves for a quite reasonable cost.  It is called Shelves That Slide. They have several standard sizes for depth, but the width is cut to your measurements.  We ordered two and they arrived within a week.

The company has locations in Arizona and Nevada. They will also install the shelves for you for a reasonable cost.  

Craig said he ordered the wrong type of hardware, but with a little modification it worked just fine.

I wasn't thinking when I made my counter-top holder for oils and balsamic vinegar. They really should be kept in a cool dark cabinet, not on a sunny counter. Now they are, and are still quite available when I'm cooking. The needlepoint holder will keep them in place when we are moving. 

Another plus is that this shifts just a little of the weight to the right side of the coach. The Alfa seems to be left side heavy because that is where her slides and closets are. 

Every little bit of weight balance can help.

So, that's the news from Camp Driveway, where the squirrels have fluffy tails and the bucks are following the does around waiting for the right moment.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Bobcat At Camp Driveway

This is a Web picture, but the one I saw this morning gave me the same look!

I saw our resident bobcat this morning when I went out to flap our throw rugs. He jumped out of a tree just a few feet from the Alfa and gave me the most disgusted cat look as he quietly slipped away down into the forest.  

I am very glad to see him and to know that our living in the Alfa has not chased him off.  We have only caught one mouse in the bays this fall, and have had no other "signs."  I think it is because we have this excellent guy on the job.  

Other than that, there is not much to blog about.  The weather here has been excellent.  We are comfortable in the Alfa, and are planning a couple of local hikes. I think we are going to the movies this afternoon while the Realtor holds yet another Open House.  

The house has been on the market for more than two months now, and waiting for something to happen is a bore. 

I know, it only takes ONE buyer. 

But I wish they would show up soon. 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Back to the House, RV Budget

Well, we are back at the house and parked up in Camp Driveway again.  

Not counting the repairs both expected and unexpected, our budget numbers came pretty close to what I expect for full time living. 

I've never been one for making and keeping day to day budgets, and Craig isn't either, but we both try not to spend more than we have, and keep track of the big things in life.  This has worked fairly well for us because we have always had a pretty good income.

But I wanted to get a better picture of our day to day expenses in this new lifestyle we are planning.  During the last few trips we have taken, I have been developing an Excel workbook to keep track of everything.  Craig has been very good about keeping receipts and or telling me the amounts of each purchase. 

Once the house sells, I want to set things up so that we have a set amount per month for all of our regular expenses, and a fund with starting "large" lump for future repairs, maintenance, and dental or medical expenses, and as well as annual expenses like registration or insurance. For example I know we will buy four new RV tires in the next year or so. If I start with a nice lump sum at the sale of the house, I hope to be able to add some to it each month so the repairs and maintenance are not a burden. 

I know a lot of you keep financial records and share your budget. I have found them interesting and helpful for me to get a rough idea of what to expect.  But each couple or individual has different priorities. For some, eating out is a big part of your life. For some boondocking as often as possible is a must. A small class C is going to use less fuel. 

If RV plans are written in JELLO, financial plans must be set in Ice.  They seem to melt away in nothing flat!

At this point, I do not feel our numbers would be helpful to anyone, and my Excel template still needs some tweaking.

I remember being a 19 year old new bride trying to figure out how to make the dollars and the days match up.  Keeping track of every penny for the first few years really helped. I've been amused looking at my record books from those days.  Our first rent was  $75, including utilities. Several years later, I was saving up at the rate of $2.50 a month,  to buy a snowsuit for my child. We didn't have savings or a buffer amount for many years.  "Pay check to pay check" was a way of life.  

We are so much better off now!  Or at least we will be after the house sells.

Speaking of which, nothing much is happening with the house. The realtor says there are very few people looking right now. I hope it is because of the government problems, and once that gets straightened out we will get some action.  

Our next trip is planned for Thanksgiving through Christmas. I've booked a month at an RV park down in San Diego near our daughter and grandsons. 

Until then it is "Camp Driveway" in the Santa Cruz Mountains of California.  

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Finally a Good Hike!

Although we have been able to take a few nice hikes, we had not yet done a good challenge hike on this trip.  For me a challenge hike is either one that has some really hard climbs, or is a pretty long distance.

Our hike on Saturday on the Goat Mountain Trail in the Bass Lake National Recreation area filled the bill just fine.

If we added in the distance walked from the parking area, our hike up to the Goat Mountain Lookout and back was more than nine miles!  

About two-thirds of the hike was through mixed second growth forest, along a narrow but easy path. There was quite a bit of uphill, and going was slow at times, but most was a gentle incline along the side of the mountain.

The upper portion was along a fire road.

The end of the trail was this fire lookout at the top of Goat Mountain.

Conveniently, there was a picnic table there where we had our lunch. 

Given that it is October we had expected to see some fall color, but  most of the trees are either evergreen or live oak.  There were some other kinds of oaks that were starting to turn bright yellow, but most were still quite green.  

This was one of the few spots of color we saw all day.  We're not sure whether it was a poison oak, or a small regular oak.

All in all, it was a very nice day. We both expect to be a little stiff in the morning, but that is not all that bad.  

Finally a word about the Accent:  We were very unhappy to learn that the clutch was not still under warranty. It was covered for only one year, 12,000 miles.  We have had the Accent for seventeen months and put 20,000 miles on it.  We realize it was a cheap little car.  We could have paid a lot more for a better, used toad, but at the time the Accent filled our need for a toad and a runabout vehicle.  We have also already replaced the Chinese tires it came with. Hopefully this clutch replacement is not indicative of future problems.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Dealing with the Good and the Bad

The good is that we are  comfortable in a very nice Escapee Park in Coarsegold California.  It's much more park-like and pleasant than most of the short term we have been in lately.  The space is nice, we have 50 amp power and good cable TV.  Our Verizon hot spot is working fine, and the weather is good.

So what is the bad? This morning we set out to drive to Bass Lake, about 30 miles north, for a hike.  As we went up one of the hills along the way, the clutch in the Accent had a problem.  We continued on and although we were able to keep going we were well aware that there was a problem. 

We were able to pull into a car repair place in Oakhurst, but they could not help us until next week.  Thank goodness for smart phones!  We were able to locate and drive to a Hyundai dealer in Fresno. The Accent is there now waiting for a new clutch. We have a rental car and are back at the SKP park. More bad is that the clutch is not covered by the warranty.   When all is done it will be over $1200.  Not good for my budget!

But  we can stay here as long as we need to, and perhaps we can take that hike tomorrow. 


Wednesday, October 9, 2013


As it turned out, the trains didn't disturb us at all.  They stopped blowing their horns at nine, and it seemed to me that very few went by after that.  Craig tells me I just slept through them. 

I asked him if they bothered him, and he said no, but it was interesting to feel the bed shake like you had put a quarter in the "magic fingers".

For my non-American friends,  hotels used to have beds that had a built in vibrator that you could activate for a quarter. It has become a symbol of cheap, old motels.

After  parking the Alfa at the RV park, we went  to a Bakersfield Costco for a few things including gas for the car.  I was delighted to see a big sign that read "Diesel Now Available". I hope more Costcos add a diesel pump because their stations, although usually busy, are relatively easy to find and get into.  They were not listed on Gas Buddy yet.

The Costco price was five cents less than the lowest listed on Gas Buddy.  In the long run that probably is not significant, but Craig does like to find the best price.

As it turned out, getting into the gas pump station was not a problem.  But the way this one was set up it required a rather tight turn to get out.  The attendant was very helpful. He made sure we had plenty of room for the turn by stopping some of the other cars, and we were on our way with no problems.  

Thumbs up to Costco customer service.

Tonight we are at the Escapee Park in Coarsegold California. We will be here for a few days and hope to find a few hikes around the area.  Coarsegold is at the eastern edge of the Sierra Mountains, somewhat near Yosemite. 

I feel very comfortable here.