Thursday, January 23, 2020

From Arizona to South Dakota!

Our trip north from Arizona to South Dakota was relatively uneventful. That is compared to what it could have been. Filling up in Parker our range with a full fuel tank went from 300 miles to 590 miles. What a big difference traveling without our rig! The other difference is the ability to drive 75mph rather than 55-65mph with the 5th wheel. With smooth sailing this alone would have cut 4 hours off our travel time!

I say “would have” as we just cannot seem to have smooth sailing. All went well the first day. We did not leave the DMV in Parker until almost 11:00am. We pointed our truck north with our destination being Salt Lake as this is roughly ½ way home. With the later start, we did not check into our hotel until 8:30pm. We actually stayed in Sandy Utah which is where our daughter and family lived for many years. The bonus of staying here is that we were able to visit our favorite sushi restaurant! We got a few rolls to go and had a late dinner in our hotel.

We were up bright and early the next morning (3am actually) and ready to hit the road but a look at the road conditions on our travel route put the brakes on that. High winds, slush and ice caused the closures of I80 from Evanston to Rawlins. According to the Wyoming DOT it was going to be closed for 8-10 hours.  
Red dots are never good!
So much for getting home early…. But this gave us time to hit the local donut store and just relax in the motel room for a while. 

We hung out in the room until the 11:00 checkout time. The WY DOT website was updated but still showed I80 closed for 8 hours. Looks like we won’t we making it home today after all! Barb called ahead to Evanston to see if there were rooms available there should we decide to hit the road. They said they had plenty of rooms so away we went! Barb continued to watch the road conditions and it looked like they opened the road to Rock Springs so Barb called a motel there and they too had plenty of rooms. So with luck we would get 3 hours closer to home. 

The roads were not bad. It was windy but they were dry. Arriving in Rock Springs traffic was still heading steadily west so we just kept on a truck’n towards Rawlins. Maybe we will make it home! All went well until we were exactly 7.9 miles from our Rawlins turn off when everything came to a halt. No idea what was happening, we were just stopped dead for as far as we could see. Barb jumped on the internet to see what was up and found that they closed the interstate again! She also found a traffic camera 5 miles ahead of us and this is what it looked like….
Over 10 miles in total back up
View ahead of us
View behind us
It was backed up well over 5 miles ahead of us and several miles behind us, looks like we will be here for a while. It was 18 degrees with winds about 30mph but people were still getting out of their cars and stretching their legs. We sat for a little over an hour when traffic started crawling again. We eventually made it to Rawlins where we saw a sign stating that I80 was closed. Luckily we were turning north on WY 220. We stopped, filled up and talked to a police officer at the gas station who said 220 was open but they were advising no unnecessary travel. Having lived in Wisconsin and Minnesota most of our lives we knew what that meant and carried on to Casper! There were a couple of wind-blown areas but the roads were just fine. We pulled into Casper just after 6pm and had a decision to make; do we carry on the last 3 hours or do we stop for the night. Not wanting to push our luck we decided to get a room, get a good night’s rest and finish our journey in the morning.

The next day the last 3 hours were smooth sailing and before we knew it we were pulling into our driveway! The first order of business was to unload the truck. With no 5th wheel filling up one side of the garage we were able to pull right in and unload everything with ease. 

The first order of business was to check out the sheetrock that was installed while we were gone. They did a good job but left the place a dusty dirty mess.
Master Bedroom

Loft bathroom

Loft bedroom

Loft bedroom closet
This is our first time here without the 5th wheel and we quickly realized how much we relied on it. We had no bathroom/shower, we had no kitchen for cooking and doing dishes and all assemblance of organization had gone with the rig. 

The next order of business was to install (make) a toilet.....

It works!
Whew, getting that done I needed a break. The next day we spent the day in Rapid City running for store to store. We came home with a real toilet, bathroom vanity, a laundry tub, a paint sprayer and bags and bags of miscellaneous items. 

Wednesday while I was busy installing all these purchases Barb went back to Rapid City to buy more. I managed to get the toilet, shower head, bathroom vanity and laundry tub installed (after several trips to the hardware store in Custer). The last two are just temporary but will work for the next year until we get those areas fully finished.
Shower head, toilet and vanity all hooked up and operational!
 When Barb returned she arrived with a new mattress, a box spring as well as the TV for the living room (we moved the existing one in the living room to the bedroom). Kevin and Cheryl were nice enough to loan us one of their bed frames until they need it when their place is done. 
Barb even got the closet set up!
And thanks to our friends Dan and Bonnie we also have a fridge and a stove! They are remodeling their place and donated their used appliances to the needy.
What more could we ask for in a kitchen?!??!
Now that we have the place livable we can start on construction again! The weather is a lot different from that in Arizona but unseasonably warm weather for January here in South Dakota makes it very bearable.  We will take 40's anytime this time of year! 

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Some Things You Just Can't Make Up

This week we felt like we were in several episodes of the Twilight Zone. There was some normalcy to our week so let me get to that first…..

We made a trip to Prescott to pick up a saddle that Kevin and Cheryl had bought during their visit down here. Since they flew, they had no room to bring it back. We had never been to Prescott before so we made the 3 hour drive up there to pick up the saddle and check out the area. 

We loved the area and the drive there was incredible! We went from 900’ in elevation up to 6,100 feet. Had some snow and some great scenery. 
Yes, those white specks is snow....

The town of Prescott was pretty cool too. Touristy, but definitely a town we would like to visit again. After picking up the saddle we went to lunch at the Palace Saloon. If you ever get up that way you need to check it out here. If you have time, read about its history, very interesting. 
The original bar has seen a lot of history!
The saddle by the way is pretty cool, it was made in 1917 for WWI and will make a great show piece for their new house. 

We also had dinner at Ray and Deb’s again. Deb had cooked an incredible pork prime rib. I had never heard of it but it is a meal we will not soon forget! Steve and Dianne were there as well as we feasted on the prime as well as potatoes and two other things I have not eaten before a keto cauliflower dish and asparagus in a cheese sauce. Two things I cannot stand but you could not taste either as the sauces were so good!

Ready to eat!
Tuesday night was Guy’s birthday so we all gathered around the fire for the celebration. We were also celebrating the arrival of our friends Harry and Vicki. We had not seen them since we crossed paths in Klamath Falls this past spring.
Here is the birthday boy, Guy!

Harry, Dino, Dianne and Lisa

Sue, Vicki, Pam and Red
So what was our Twilight Zone experiences?......

Imagine if you will, you are parked out in the desert surrounded by your friends. It is 11:00 at night everyone is tucked safely in their beds when you hear the sounds of vehicle tires crunching on the gravel. As the sound gets closer your senses become in tune with the noise and you wonder; “Who is driving around at this time of night?”. The sounds comes closer and closer until you realize that the vehicle is passing within feet of your rig. This is what happened to us a couple nights ago here in the desert. 

Why is a vehicle passing by our rig at 11:00 at night? We are not on a road, someone has to intentionally turn off the main road into our area to get that close. As I look out the window a white van, (you know the creepy kidnapper type vans everyone warns you about) is circling within feet of our rig, not once but twice. Then it stops literally within 5 feet of us, turns off their lights and just sits there. WTF!?!? I turn on the outside light. They just sit there. I get dressed, text my buddie Dino that I need a little help over here wait a minute and get nothing, just crickets in return. Where is my wingman? Probably passed out drunk again.

So I wake Barb. Yes, she is sound asleep as well and tell her I am going to go outside to confront the intruder. I go up to the driver’s window and this tweaker looking guy is staring back at me. Acting as tough as I could I say; “You’re not parking here move along!” “Huh?” I repeat myself and he starts his van and does a full circle around the rig again before heading off into the dark. I was so wound up after that and could not get to sleep for a while. 

Our next episode occurred when the buyer of our rig showed up at our door to let us know when he would have the money to buy it. He lives in Arizona but was from Washington where he still does his banking. He proceeds to tell us that he is getting at $20,000 cash advance on his credit card and is transferring that and some money from his bank account to another bank down here so he can buy our rig. Who does that?!?! Apparently the terms on his credit card makes this a very appealing option. The problem being that it will take another week for all this to take place. Hey, I don’t care where he gets the money from as long as I get a cashier's check when we turn over the rig and title.  Update..... after I wrote the above the buyer stopped by to say his money had cleared and would like to take possession on Friday. Well, that was a quick change. We went from having a week to pack up to two days!

Our last Twilight Zone episode occurred after we returned from Walmart where we had bought 4 plastic totes to pack all of our belongings as we vacated the 5th wheel. The totes were all stacked together and as we separated them we discovered that someone had stashed some merchandise between two of the totes. We had never pulled them apart and were now the recipients of this ill-gotten merchandise. What was it? Was it some valuable diamond jewelry or perhaps some really cool electronic devices? No, we were the proud owners of 4 enema bottles! Out of their box but still in the plastic packaging! The greeter even checked our receipt when we left. Could you have imagined if they looked between the totes? We would have been in handcuffs for stealing enemas!
So what does one do with 4 stolen enemas? You give them to your neighbor (Dino) who will drink anything free and tell him it is a new type of beer packaging!

Our last two days were passed quickly, way too quickly. We spent the days packing. Even though we had pared down prior to coming down we did not do enough. We had thought that we would have the ATV trailer to put most of our stuff in when we sold the rig and left. But our last minute decision to leave the ATV changed all that. Unfortunately it was so last minute that we did not take anything else out of the rig. This is the result of that......
We are full!
Happy hour on our 2nd to last day turned into something totally unexpected. It was supposed to be a simple run of the mill happy hour. Dino and Lisa, Steve and Dianne and Harry and Vicki came over. Then we started to drink some of the beers that we had brought down for beer tastings. Since Lisa does not drink beer she had brought several bottles of wine plus we had several bottles of booze that we wanted to get rid of before we left.
Let the fun begin!
Dianne and Vicki
This one was not nearly as good as the name implies
You get the picture (literally). It was a great time but I for one paid for it the next day. 
Speaking of the next day, we made a mad dash to get our Mexico run in. Since our truck was 1/2 packed, Dino drove. We left at 7:30am, none of us feeling very good. Someone, (I will not mention who but it wasn't Barb) even stuffed a plastic bag in her purse just in case her stomach decided to revolt on her. 

Our mission was to get all the medications we needed for the next year and a couple bottles of booze. We walked the sidewalks getting bombarded by the vendors and went to the Purple Pharmacy with our list of drugs. Barb had premade a list and rattled everything off as the clerk filled a large bag with our purchases. 
I waited outside while Barb made her purchases

This guy was looking for treats from the tourists
That chore done we headed over to our favorite fish taco place. Their shrimp tacos are only $1.50 each and contain 4 large shrimp, yum! On our way back I decided that I wanted more of my cholesterol medication and stopped at one of the smaller pharmacies along the way. My medication was 1/4 of the price it was at the Purple Pharmacy! Next time we will remember it pays to shop around!

Then it was off to the liquor store. We are each allowed 1 liter to bring across the border. Still feeling the effects from the previous night we did not even want to look at a bottle of booze but we forced ourselves to pick out a bottle and made our way to the border to head home. Steve and Dianne had come a couple of days earlier and had waited an hour and 40 minutes in line to get back across the border. 

It was just after 11:00 we were able to basically walk right up to the agent and present our passports. I had my one bottle and the bag of medications from the Purple Pharmacy. The agent asked what I was bringing back and I said "1 liter of booze and some pills". "What kind of pills?" he asks. It is at that point I realize I have no idea what is in the bag. I look over at Barb being processed at the next line over I think to myself, "Oh great, I am about to be probed" and tell the guy "I honestly have no idea, just some medications". He looks at me for a second and hands me my passport and says "Have a nice day". I guess he is used to clueless husbands serving as drug mules for their wives!

That night, for the first night in....well, a while neither Barb nor I had a drink at happy hour. In fact we just walked over to say goodbye to everyone and were back in our rig and in bed by 7:00! 

The next day we were up bright and early getting ready for our big day! I started by putting down the solar panels and continuing to pack the truck. That thing is so full we seriously could not fit anything else in there. We barely fit the dogs!
Dakota stuffed into the back

Daisy is still queen of her castle

Really dad, you expect me to ride 20 hours like this?
The bed of the truck was not any better. We had bought two cargo nets to secure everything and even after piling everything in we did not fit it all. Dino and Lisa were nice enough to take our table and chairs and deliver them next time they pass through. Whenever that will be......

Harry and Vicki came by as we were packing up to say good bye. We only got to spend two nights with them, not nearly enough. Hopefully our paths will cross again this year. Red and Pam stopped by as well. We hope to catch up with them in Texas within the next year. Then it was over to Steve and Dianne's, Guy and Sue and finally Dino and Lisa's. We had a great month here with lots of laughs. Imagine living in a community surrounding by so many great friends. It was very hard to leave. 

At 9:00 the buyer arrived and after a quick walk through we followed him to the DMV in Parker to transfer the title. An hour later we handed over the keys and walked out with a check in our pockets. From there we went to the back and deposited the check and was good!

Bittersweet day for us. We lived in our 5th wheel for the better part of 6 years, it took us to some amazing places and provided us with memories that we will never forget. Both Barb and I were close to shedding tears as we took one last picture and headed north towards our new home in South Dakota....
Good bye old friend...

Sunday, January 12, 2020

We Sold our Rig!

Or at least we think we have. We have a deposit and a date that we are going to the Arizona DMV to complete the transaction so hopefully everything goes smoothly.

After moving closer to town we had several people stopping by each day inquiring about the rig. We only spent a total of 3 nights at that location before it was sold. Then we packed everything up and moved back to LaPosa South. The buyer is an Arizona resident and he wanted to go to the DMV to complete the transaction. We have scheduled that for the 17th or 21st which means we will have no place to stay and will leave that day to head back to South Dakota.

It was a quite relaxing week with a happy hour of some sort almost every night. One night we had a large group to welcome two of our newest arrivals; Steve and Debbie as well as Les and Sue. Neither one of them are parked in our area but did stop by for the night. Steve and Debbie had stopped by our area in South Dakota for a few days this spring. This time they brought Debbie's brother Steve and Diane, not to be confused with the other Steve and Dianne. So at this happy hour we had 3 Steve's, 2 Sue's, 2 Jim's and 2 Dianne's!
Barb talking to the two Steve's (Steve M, and Steve C)
Deb on the right, her brother Steve on the far left (in the sun) and her sister in law Diane in the middle
Sue and Les
 Another day we went to Lake Havasu City with Dino and Lisa. Every time we travel through that city we say someday we are going to stop by the Mudshark Brewing Company and it did not disappoint. From their brews to their food it was a great stop. Barb and I shared a flight of beer which consisted of (6) 5 ounce pours. Barb’s favorite was Morning Buzz and mine was Full Moon. We both got the Caribbean Shrimp Tacos which were incredible! We are already talking about stopping by there on our way north in a week or so. 
My 4 are on the left, Barb's 2 on the right 
Our next stop was Hanger 24 Brewery. Quite a disappointment after being at Mudshark with both the atmosphere and the brews. No need for us to stop by stop by that one again. 

Saturday we went back down to Yuma to have ultrasound scans. For $70 they scan you looking for 12 areas; arteries, liver, gallbladder, kidneys, bladder, thyroid and a few other things. We have several friends who get this done annually so we thought we would give it a try. Plus, it gave us another opportunity to get to Yuma and stop by for sushi!  Since it was just Barb and I this time it was much less traumatic. The Ultra Sound Tech said that they frequently find things that patients need to follow up with their physicians on.   I am happy to report that we are healthy and ready to carry on with our adventures!

 On our way back we got a message from Dino and Lisa saying that they were at Grubstake watching the Vikings so we went straight there to watch them get beat by the 49'er. 😠

Dino and I each got a basket meal while the girls decided to split an appetizer sampler. The waitress said it was big but they had no idea what they were in for!

They only finished about 1/2 of it and fought over who had to take the rest home as neither one of them wanted it. Dino settled the argument by suggesting they give it to one of the dozens of homeless people throughout town. So Dino and I jumped in one vehicle while Barb and Lisa jumped in the other in search of a homeless person. They were home 15 minutes later saying that they made the guys day and he was double fisting jalapeno poppers and mushrooms as they drove away!

Today we are headed over to the person who is buying our rig to set up a delivery date. We are thinking this Friday if everything works out right. If that is the case, we too will be homeless in Quartzsite!

Monday, January 6, 2020

Sushi With Dino....

Week 3 in the desert was our best yet weather wise. Sunny days with highs in the 60’s brought smiles to everyone’s face in our little desert community. People often ask “Don’t you get bored out there in the desert?” Our answer is “No”. 

So far we have been content not doing too much. I initially thought that maybe we would be discontented without a project to work on every day. But we have adjusted just fine relaxing and just enjoying the down time. That is the beauty of the being here with friends; you can do as little or as much as you want. No judgements, no questions.

We went to Yuma this week with Dino and Lisa to explore a couple of the flea markets. That was really a bust as the two we went to were lame. The highlight of our trip was going to Ninja Sushi for lunch. Barb and I make a point of stopping here when we are in the area. 

The bonus is that we were able to share it with Dino and Lisa. Since it was buy one get one free we each ordered two, sat back and waited for our orders. When they came Lisa, Barb and I dug right into our sushi using the chopsticks provided. Dino, was another story. It was both sad and entertaining trying to watch Dino struggle with the chopsticks as his gnarled arthritic ridden hands fumbled with the sticks. 

He would try and grab a piece and totally miss. Time after time after time he would poke his chop sticks at his plate and come up empty handed. It was like he forgot he had opposable thumbs as he would poke and jab at the sushi. Then the one time he did finally connect with a piece he crushed it like grape and nearly send it flying on the table behind is in a mad effort to get it to his mouth!

We were ½ way done with our rolls when he finally stopped the waitress and asked for a fork. The waitress brought a fork and a cellophane wrapped chopstick cheater called Fun Chops that they apparently give to toddlers who have not perfected the use of chopsticks. 
With renewed enthusiasm Dino tore into that cellophane wrapper like a man possessed. For the next minute and a half we watched him trying to open the apparently “Dino-proof” package before Lisa ripped it from his hands, opened it and handed it back to him. Dino attached the chopsticks and began stabbing at this sushi again with the same result. 
Fun Chops, not so fun for some!
Maybe if he didn’t have arthritis it might have been easier but for some reason I doubt it would have made a difference. Since the rest of us were now done with our lunch and were just watching him with tears streaking down our faces. Barb and I from laughter, Lisa on the other had....she was just silently crying. He finally picked up his fork and finished his meal. Well, most of it, as by the time we left there was sticky rice all over the table, on the floor and I think each of us had some in our hair from Dino’s flailing chopstick routine.  We were so traumatized, Barb, Lisa and I are now in counseling trying to work through what we experienced. Some things you just cannot unsee….. 

Saturday morning Barb and I packed up our belongings and left our desert family and headed to a new location closer to town right along the highway in the hopes of getting better visibility to potential buyers. We lowered the price as well and are now less than a mile from town right on Highway 95. A lot noisier!
View from the road. Our rig is above the truck

View into town

Barb building a fire pit
Since moving over here we have had a lot of interest in the rig. With a couple people coming back for a 2nd walk through and one has been over 3 times! Several people have said it was priced too low but we have had it on RV Trader for almost two months, listed it on about every Facebook Marketplace we can think of, Craigslist in Phoenix and Las Vegas and every bulletin board in town and not one call. Yet it takes moving it by the road to get people to see it? I thought this was the age of technology!?!?!

We also had a surprise visit from blog followers Butch and Dona. We had met them a couple years ago while on a walk when Butch walked up to us and asked “Is that Daisy?” Apparently she is more recognizable then us! 
Fellow RV'ers and home builders Butch and Dona
We have a lot in common with Butch and Dona. They both love bow hunting, both travel in their RV and are in the process of self-building their own house in South Dakota as well! We chatted for well over an hour before they needed to head back. We traded contact information so we could stay in touch in the future. 

Arriving this week were friends Guy and Sue as well as Cindi and Roger. We had not seen Guy and Sue since this past spring and summer when they spent several weeks at our place helping out prior to their work camping gig managing 6 campgrounds outside of Hill City. Roger and Cindi was even longer than that but again in South Dakota when they stayed on Jim and Brenda's property next door for a couple of weeks. 
Guy, Sue and Barb

Roger and Cindi
With luck next post will be about us selling our rig. In the meantime we will sit here by ourselves trying to attract potential buyers. It will be different not being with our friends but we have been over for a couple of happy hours to catch up on the latest gossip in the desert!