Sunday, March 11, 2018

Spring in Oregon

This was the highway we had to take to get to the airport
The transition from winter to spring varies from state to state. Our friends still in Arizona say it is getting hotter with highs going from the 70’s to the 80’s signaling the time to move north. We of course moved north a little sooner than that and are experiencing the spring transition that most of the states in the northern 1/3 of the country realize. What were snow showers last week have turned into rain showers this week. It is a mixed blessing, the warmer weather is melting the snow and feels good but along with it comes mud, and lots of it. Being from Wisconsin we are used to it. I recall donning the muck boots and slogging out to the horse barn or pasture with the ground oozing around your boots. A nuisance yes, but part of a welcome transition. I don’t mind it so much as you can put on your boots and take them off before you get into the house. That is a little harder when it comes to dogs. They have no sense of where and where not to step and really don’t take the time to wipe their feet when getting back in the rig. As a result I chase them around like a madman with a towel trying to wipe off their paws before they track up the entire rig. I am able to pick up Daisy and wipe hers off before I let her in but Dakota is an entirely different story. Oh well, hopefully it is very temporary.

A muddy mess on the way to the rig!

Dakota terrified to come near the trailer
With Forrest and Somer getting settled into their new house we have started one of the major projects on their list. Most A-frames have a cathedral ceiling with a loft space on the back half of the second level and that is how this house was originally built. The former owners, having 9 kids, put a floor across the cathedral ceiling part creating an additional room. Forrest and Somer want to return it to its original state and remove the floor creating that great open space again.
After looking at the original floor plans we went into action ripping down walls and tearing up carpet and subfloor. It was a dirty messy job but we got the majority of it completed in three days. Now comes the slow and tedious work or electrical, sheet rocking and painting.
Before (with a little trick photography)

After, all the walls are down, carpet is up!

Meanwhile Somer has been busy making their house into a home shopping for new appliances, beds and furniture. The only possessions they had was what they had with them in their trailer so they basically have to buy everything!

With Barb gone all week I again came to the realization that I am no cook. Having never lived on my own and being blessed with a great cook for a wife I never learned how to cook. I ran out of English muffins, ran out of pop tarts and even had a can of chili for breakfast before I evoked enough courage to fry up a couple eggs. How can something this easy turn out so horribly bad? All was going well until I tried to flip them. After that they did not look like anything that resembled over easy eggs. They would not have even passed for scrambled eggs! But I ate them all the same and survived another day.

Barb on the other had must be enjoying her vacation in Minnesota as she called and told me that they asked her to stay two more days so instead of coming home on Thursday she did not come home until Saturday. We all went to the airport and picked her up, did some shopping and lunch before heading home. Barb said she had a busy week in Minnesota rolling out a new system for the county and that some of the work may roll over into this week. The work could not come at a better time as we are getting ready to head back to South Dakota next month and start some project on the property!
Forrest and I did manage to get out for one play afternoon when we took a walk trying to find the back corners of his property. The back edge of their 11 acres is up a steep cliff so we spent a few hours exploring. We managed to find one of the corners but will have to return when the snow is all gone to look for the other.
Forrest checking his coordinates

Found the corner post!
We also put up a trail camera to see what kind of critters are in the area. No deer yet but lots of squirrels, jays, a coyote and a curious fox.
Coyote passing by

Steller's Jay

Jay and a Squirrel

Gray Fox

Sunday, March 4, 2018

We Are Not in Arizona Any More Daisy.......

I am reminded of this quote (or at least my version) as we drive north out of Arizona into Nevada, California and eventually Oregon. What were sunny days with temperatures in the 70’s were replaced with clouds, snow and lows at 10 degrees.  
Our first stop was a short 200 mile, 4 hour drive to Boulder Beach Campground in Lake Mead. We have been here several times before and each time for the same reason, not to enjoy the scenery (which is spectacular), nor was it to hike one of the many hiking trails in the area. Instead we were here to visit our friends Steve and Joan who are working for the park. These two are the first friends as met as fulltimers back in 2014. Since then we try to meet up whenever we are near each other. Our paths had not crossed since January of 2016 so it was nice to spend the day with them and catch up. They recently got an incredible new rig that you have to see to believe. As a bonus, Don and Ginny (another couple we had met through Steve and Joan) were also working for the park too so we got to catch up with them as well. Although it was only ½ a day it was nice to see them nonetheless.

Steve and Joan

Ginny and Don
Our site at Boulder Beach with Lake Mead in the background
Day two of our 4 day journey north turned out to be much longer than anticipated. We only planned on driving 4, 5 hours tops and then resting for the night but a quick look at the weather forecast showed us two snow storms headed our way a day apart. So what was to be 2 days travel turned into a one day 9 hour drive where we pulled into a truckstop just north of Reno just as the snow was starting to cover the roads.  The last 14 miles of this leg were white knuckled but we made it and tucked ourselves in for the night. It was a long day, everyone took turns driving and we were exhausted at the end of the day.
Even Daisy took her turn driving!
The next morning we waited until the sun was high enough to melt the snow on the roads before we started the last 5 hours of our journey to Klamath Falls. Although it had snowed the prior evening, the roads were clear and travel was going very good. The scenery in the was incredible with the pines and the snow covered ground.  All was going well until we hit a stretch where the trees sheltered the road from the sun. As luck would have it it was also a section with a mile long 6% downhill grade. Usually not a big deal but with what looked like slippery hard packed snow it was white knuckle time again.

We stopped to take a look at the road and see if it truly was as slippery as it looked. Yup….. it was. So with the truck in 4wd we crawled down the hill where the terrain opened up and the sun had melted the snow off the road and before we knew it we were in Klamath Falls!
Beautiful but slippery!
So why were we in such a hurry to leave the warm in Arizona and head to this frozen landscape? Well, our son Forrest, his wife Somer and daughter Lily were about to close on their new house in the area! After being on the road almost 2 years they finally found a spot that they wanted to settle down and call home. Ironically this little town is also where Barb spent several years in elementary school. What are the odds? Barb, born in California, moved to this town in Oregon and then to Wisconsin and our son and his family picking this town as their new home?  
We settled in at the Klamath Falls KOA just a few sites away from Forrest’s rig. A nice quiet park in the center of town. There are not a lot of choices of parks in town as the county parks are not open until April. At $32/night with full hook ups, showers and free Wi-Fi this park will do until we can move out to their new house.

 Dakota, Barb and I welcome the change and actually are enjoying the snow. Daisy….not so much.
Dakota loves the snow!
Klamath Falls is right in the middle of the Pacific Flyway waterfowl traveling to and from their wintering grounds. With the somewhat mild temperatures and all the water in the area some of the ducks don't even bother flying any further south and spend the winter right here at the Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge.

There were ducks and geese of several varieties as well as swans and other shorebirds calling this area home. I added a new species to my list. The Greater White-Fronted Goose is a rarity in the Midwest but pretty common out in this area. Also known as "Specks" or Specklebelly" these are really cool birds and were intermixed with snow geese
Pintails and Mallards
Lots of Swans in the area as well

A couple of Specks coming in for a landing
Snows landing in the field
Drake Mallard and Pintail taking off
How many Snows in this flock?

More Specks coming in for a landing

Look how long their necks are!
Friday finally came and it was time to move into the new house! They have one problem....they sold most everything when they went fulltiming and what they did keep is in storage in Salt Lake City! So instead we rented a Skidsteer and cleared the driveway of snow and moved some rocks that will be in the way when we move the rigs over tomorrow.

Barb and Somer spent time inside doing some cleaning while Forrest and I cleared some limbs along the driveway and moved the rocks.....

They bought an A-frame house on 11 acres about 15 minutes outside of Klamath Falls. Close enough to town, school and work and far enough away to get to enjoy country living! No cell or internet service and so many tress that our dish does not pick up any satellites so we will be out of touch with the world while we are here. After a couple hours of pushing snow we got the driveway and parking area clear enough to park our rigs.

This is where our rig will be......

...and here she comes!
So this is our home for the next month. This morning we got up at 3:00am so we could drive 2 huors to Medford where I dropped Barb off at the airport for another trip back to Minnesota to help out her former employer, She will be gone 4 days but I am sure the time will go fast as Forrest and Somer have lots of projects to make this house their home so I am sure I will be busy!

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Too Soon to Head North?

Our travel route this week
This week I was once again reminded of the reality that I am but just a bit character in this play called life. It all started with a 2 hour drive to the Phoenix airport where I dropped Barb off for her mid-winter vacation. She had enough of fun in the sun and flew to Minnesota for the week. Well at least I had the dogs to keep me company for the week.
When I returned home and opened the door, they jumped down the stairs, ran past me to the truck and stared at it jumping up and down waiting for Barb to get out. When it became apparent that she was not in there, they started looking off at each of the neighbors to see which one I had maybe dropped her off at. Then, realizing she was not here at all, they did their business and slowly walked back to the rig and up the stairs without even giving me a second look. It was apparent, painfully apparent, that I was just a bit player in this pack and every other time we came home in the past excited to see us it was not us they were excited to see it was Barb, the true leader of our pack they are always excited to see.  
The rest of the week dragged by as we waited for Friday and Barb’s return. Since we would be leaving on Sunday, I slowly started putting away tables, chairs, lights and accessories we had scattered around our camp. I also worked on a list of chores I was hoping to get done while she was gone. The first was the brakes on the truck. I had bought a new set of brakes over a year ago thinking that with over 100,000 miles on the truck they were due to be replaced. Last winter I pulled the wheels and calipers off only to find more than ½ of the original pads still intact so I did not replace them. I pulled everything off again last fall at the farm only to find the same. Now with almost 130,000 miles on them they would certainly need to be replaced right? It seemed in our working lives we were replacing brakes every 50,000 – 70,000 miles. But when I pulled them off this time they were still about ½ worn. Amazing! I guess in our working lives, driving always in a rush from stop light to stop light we really used them a lot. Now with all these highway miles and the assistance of the engine brake as well as the disc brakes on the trailer, they do not get used nearly as much. So I put the pads away to be used another day.

The next chore was to fix the caulking around the window we replaced last year in Tucson. When we replaced it I had used the white window caulk/tape that was provided and it oozes out of the frame as you tighten the window. I had wiped the excess off but you could see a white ring around the window seam. Didn’t bother me but by now you know I am not the boss around here and it bothered the boss so I set about trying to clean it up so no white was showing. Try as I may I could not get rid of the last of the white around the edges. Upon inspecting the other windows I noticed that they were painted after the window was installed so all the caulk was painted over. So I set about putting blue tape around the window so only the tiniest of surface was showing and sprayed it with black paint. Problem solved.

One final dump of the tanks and fresh water fill and we are all set for our departure....
Thanks Steve!
Between the chores and happy hours the week went fairly quick. Steve and Dianne invited me over for a fantastic lasagna dinner one night and the following night blog readers, Dale and Chloe invited our entire group over to their place for a delicious BBQ. Chloe keeps up on both ours and Steve and Dianne’s posts and is also originally from South Dakota and also has relatives in Garrison North Dakota and has even frequented the Douglas Bar! With a population of only 1,500 in Garrison and 61 in Douglas that is quite the coincidence! (Thanks to Dianne for the pictures!)

The gang over at Dale and Chloe's
Dale cutting up the BBQ!
Red and Pam also invited me over one night for an awesome pork chop dinner. Barb was gone 4 nights and I got invitations to dinner for 3 of those, that is what I call good friends!   
Four of us are set to leave tomorrow morning (Steve/Dianne, Vicki/Harry, Red/Pam and us) so the night before we left we had one more get together with our little desert community. Jim/Brenda, who returned after leaving us for more than a week and Dale/Ruth who arrived on the 19th also joined the celebration in addition to Dale/Chloe and Les/Sue. One last hurray and toast to good times and good friends.
Steve, Dianne, Red and Pam

Dale, Daisy and Cody

Harry, Vicki, Ruth and Daisy

Les, Sue, Brenda and Jim (And Daisy again!)

Chloe and Dale
Now with the embers of the fire dying and the laughter only an echo, we are set to leave this desert oasis. We have mixed emotions, they are all such good friends and you hate to leave but exciting adventures await us down the road. Who knows when we will all be together again. We, for one, have east coast plans for next winter. I know we will see Jim and Brenda in South Dakota. Vicki and Harry will be in South Dakota as well this summer, only an hour away working at Prairie Berry Winery in Hill City. We hope to catch up with Red and Pam in Arkansas or Texas sometime and it looks like Dale and Ruth will be in South Dakota in April to renew their drivers licenses. Our travel path might cross with Steve and Dianne sometime this year as they make their way east through Canada but neither of us know where we will be when as of quite yet. As for Les/Sue and Dale/Chloe it is not looking good but one thing about this lifestyle is you just never know what the future brings!

Today we return this spot back to the desert leaving only tire tracks and some rocks painted by grandkids Kendall and Dylan as evidence of our presence.
Our truck pointed north towards Oregon, we hope to be in 4 days where more adventures await, but maybe a little too soon?
Klamath Falls Oregon 10 day forecast

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Why do you Fulltime RV?

As we approach the anniversary of our 4th year on the road I could not help but reflect on our journey so far and if other's were similar or vastly different. There are a number of reasons why people hit the road and live fulltime in their RV’s. The sense of adventure, financial, to be closer to children, grandchildren and other loved ones….the list could go on and on. For us, the answer to that question is all of the above. We have always been ones to live on the more adventurous  side of life…. hunting, fishing, horseback riding, ATV’ing, really anything that will allow us to be outside. There is no doubt that living in your RV can be cheaper than living in permanent structure. We have not always found this to be the case but for the most part for us, it is cheaper than living in a sticks and bricks and our ability of visiting our kids, grandkids and other loved ones is certainly a huge benefit of being on the road fulltime. These are all great reasons to hit the road but for us, none were our main reason. 
If we were to be honest with ourselves Barb and I would both agree we went on the road to escape. Like many, we more or less lived for our jobs, lived to pay our mortgage and basically get by week to week, month to month. We both had careers that we liked, but personally for me, I did not like who I was doing what it took to be good at it. Priorities were wrong, thinking was selfish and I took way too many things in life for granted.
I will never forget the picture below taken by good friends of ours in Wisconsin. It was taken March 9th 2014, two days after Barb’s last day of work and the first day of our new adventure. So many unknowns lay ahead of us……

Look at all that snow!
Hitting the road was a chance to start over again and it is probably the best thing we could have done for ourselves personally and as a couple. Today, almost 4 years later we have absolutely no regrets, we are happier than we have been for years, have seen some incredible places and met some great people. We would do it over again in a heartbeat.
What started out as seeing as much as we could as fast as we could has evolved over the past couple of years. One of the best things was seeing something different every week and the ability to move on a whim....If you didn't like your view, pack up and move! If your neighbor has a noisy generator, pack up and move! The reverse was the same, if you loved the area you were in, stay a few days longer. Then without even really realizing it we found ourselves planning return trips to the places that we enjoyed the most rather than looking for new places and experiences. It is a Catch 22 really as we have had some incredible experiences and developed great relationships with people that we want to do it every year. More than once I have told Barb that if it wasn’t for this thing called winter I don’t think we would ever leave North Dakota and Ontario. So now our travels have evolved to visiting these two locations and exploring other places until winter passes and we can get back north. With the purchase of our property in South Dakota we have another place that we love and cannot wait to return to.  I am not sure if this is good or bad, typical or something unusual but it is where we are at right now.

So what will the next 4 years bring? I am sure that we will find ourselves spending more and more time in South Dakota as we build our house and explore more of that area but we still plan on getting up to North Dakota, Ontario, visiting our kids as well. That’s the great thing about this lifestyle, you are pretty much in control of your own destiny.  If we were able to mirror the highlight adventures of the past year again and again we would be very happy. We would like to do those while adding a few new ones to our list and we will probably try to do just that. 
But back to 2018….

The day after the kids left we headed up to Bouse to watch the Parker 425 with friends Tracy and DeLano. We had never been to Bouse let alone the race. From Quartzsite we drove east on Plamosa Road for about 20 miles into Bouse then another 6 or so miles to our viewing area. Tracy and DeLano had brought their rig out to one of the spectator areas several days before the race to save a good viewing spot about 100 feet off the course. The course itself is over 140 miles long and the racers make several laps over 6 or more hours.
The wind cooperated so the dust was being blown away from us which offered a great view of the racers as they went by. Just as cool as the racers were the helicopters following them and filming the event. They would fly by less than 100’ over the racers and wave as they went by.

Harry and I were also able to get out to play a round of disc golf and attend the Fun Fly Day at the local RC Airport. Did you know they have multiple discs for disc golf? Vicki and Harry's son is on the disc golf tour and uses 12-20 different discs in a round. We each used three; a driver, a midrange disc and a putter for the closer shots.  
Harry teeing off

The "Holes" were old washer tubs
A soft crash landing

With its inverted wings this one looked like it was flying backwards

Unfortunately, those were the highlights of the past 2 weeks as we put ourselves on a self-imposed quarantine. We started not feeling well Superbowl weekend with sore throats and congestion. I was able to fend off this round but Barb was down for the week. Soon after she started feeling better, I got worse. Looking back I can definitely say that my bout was much worse than hers as she was still able to make dinner and other things around the rig while mine was so bad I could barely get out off the couch and needed to be waited on hand and foot. I slept in the living room all week so she could try and get some sleep but when you are sick like that the rig seems to shrink…..

We spent both our anniversary (32nd) and Valentines Day not feeling well so we took rain checks on those and will celebrate them later.

When Barb started feeling better, she would sneak over to happy hour in the afternoons. I would sit it the rig and watch everyone over there laughing and having fun, every once in a while they would wave over towards the rig and laugh some more. That tells you how compassionate they are!
How dare they have fun without me!
I finally got out of the rig last night as Vicki and Harry made Tri-Tips for everyone so I snuck over to join the group only to find my chair well outside "germ range" of everyone!
Ya, that is my chair away from everyone else!
Dinner was great and it felt really good to get out into the real world. Now that we I am starting to feel better Barb is taking a vacation. What warm weather destination is better than Arizona this time of year you ask? Well, Minnesota of course! Actually, I don’t think she cares where it is as long as she can get away from my hacking for a week! But in reality she is heading up there to do some training for her former employer as they are rolling out a new system. It was a lot of work but I think I played the pathetic card perfectly as everyone has volunteered to invite me to various meals throughout the week. Maybe they are compassionate after all.......