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!