Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Proposed Route

I've been working all night on my "itinerary" which I tried to do in Google Maps but, as usual, ran into problems.  I will try to post the route map as a JPEG picture and see if that works.  It's not terribly accurate but will give some idea of where I plan to go and when.  Remember, if you want to enlarge the map, double click on it.

Sunday, July 26

Linda lives in a neat house on 3 acres of land which she has fenced off in several different ways to accommodate her 14 dogs (plus one more she was babysitting).  Most of them were in crates in various rooms of her house and when she started opening all the crate doors, it looked like something out of 101 Dalmations, except that hers are King Charles Cavaliers which she raises, breeds, and shows.  When they were all outside in one area I let Maggie and Juliet out with their muzzles on.  They greeted each other through the chain link fence at first, then we let them all be together in the large yard.  Maggie was acting fairly friendly and I took her muzzle off after a little while.  Juliet's I left on because she sometimes would nip at one or another of the Cavaliers if they came too close.  It was a riot to see so many dogs all playing, rolling in the grass, trying to get onto Linda's or my lap or trying to sniff out the two newcomers (mine).  When playtime was over, Linda reversed the process, letting them into the house and getting them all into their proper crates.  It was even funnier to watch than letting them out was! (maybe I'll try adding the video to one of these posts).  Overall, I was very pleased with Maggie and Juliet's behavior and maybe this experience will make them more sociable with other dogs now.
I left Linda's at 5:00 pm and headed for Nikki Seeler's house in Camdenton, MO, about 100 miles away.  Nikki (one of my Roadtrek Solo friends) lives on the shores of the Lake of the Ozarks in a beautiful condo overlooking the lake.  Once again I managed to get lost finding her place (although I did get to Camdenton without any problems).  She kept telling me to look for the Roadtrek in the driveway.  So I drove around the lake (well, not ALL the way around---it just SEEMED like it) until I finally saw the Roadtrek and pulled in next to it.  I called Nikki back on the phone and told her I had found it, although the address didn't match the one I had for her.  She kept insisting that she was standing in her driveway and I was definitely NOT there.  Now who would have expected there would be TWO Roadtrek 190 Populars living on the shores of Lake of the Ozarks!?!  I did eventually find HER Roadtrek and the right address.  We  had a nice cold drink on her enclosed deck which overlooks the lake---very beautiful.  A little later we had some dinner and  talked.  We had to break it off around 11:00 because Nikki had to get a good night's sleep before a medical procedure the next morning.  But it was really great to see her again (it's been a few years since we camped together).  

Nikki's picture is  at the TOP of this post --- can't seem to move it down here.  But at least I now can do a post along with pictures of the same day!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Sat., July 25

I was parked under a shady tree last night so the RT didn't heat up quite as early and I slept late.  Had a leisurely breakfast, emptied my holding tanks (first time this trip), and got off about 2:30 pm.  I was headed for Springfield, MO, to visit Linda Elliott, a good friend from high school days.  I put her address into my GPS and also talked with her on the phone where she gave me some slightly different directions since one of the bridges had been "washed out."  So my first problem was having Nuvi (that's the name I gave my GPS) and Linda giving me different directions.  The second problem was that my printed map clearly showed Route 44 as being the most direct route but Nuvi kept directing me to take different roads.  I usually listen to Nuvi but this time I was insistent on taking I-44 and just ignored her repeated requests to get off the highway at each exit.  When I stopped for lunch I went into her settings and discovered that I had checked "avoid toll roads" (which works quite well in Southern California---I think there's only one toll road there) and I-44 is a toll road.  So with that change, Nuvi was happy to direct me along I-44.  Before she knew about the late start I'd gotten, Linda had made a reservation for dinner for us and another friend of hers at a nice, historic "Inn" in Springfield for 6:30 pm.  She changed it to 7:30 when she realized I would not make it there in time.  When it didn't look like I would make it there by then either, she went and met her friend there and had dinner, saving me a seat with the assumption I would be there soon.  Well, that didn't happen.  I got lost, somehow, and was in the middle of a forest and no matter which way I turned, I would come to a sign that said "dead end."  I don't remember now if that was before or after I ran out of gas on the highway.  I knew I was low on gas but didn't want to stop because I was late for dinner.  I'd forgotten the lesson I'd learned last year (near home, fortunately) that my gas tank goes empty before the indicator hits "Empty."  Anyway, I was about a mile from the next exit (which I knew had a gas station because I'd gone north, south, and north again on this section of the highway---don't ask why), on a hilly portion of the highway when suddenly my engine died.  The really scary part of that is that when the engine dies, you loose power steering and power brakes.  I was able to move over to the shoulder of the road, coast down the hill (putting the RT into "N" and trying to start it which didn't work), couldn't make it stop even though I was standing with all my weight on the brake pedal, but did come to a stop as I reached the bottom of the little hill and started up the other side.  With the nose of the van pointed upwards, I was able to get the engine started, drive up to the top of the next little hill where it again died as I crested the top, coasted down to the bottom, and stopped.  I repeated this 3 or 4 times until I was at the exit where the gas station was.  Unfortunately, that was on relatively level ground, just past an intersection with a stop light with one car in front of me stopped at the red light.  I guess I prayed loudly enough that God heard me, made the light turn green as I coasted (with little ability to stop or steer) down the off-ramp, through the intersection, into the gas station, and came to rest at the nearest gas pump!  Boy, talk about driving on fumes!!!  The tank took 31.9 gallons.  It's a 32 gallon tank.  After I stopped crying (my usual reaction in these stressful situations), I called Linda and told her I'd be a little later.  The other thing that contributed to my being so late was that the address I had entered into Nuvi was Linda's OLD address in Springfield.  I'd forgotten that she'd moved to Ozark, about 30-45 minutes further on.  Sort of irrelevant at this point because I was supposed to meet them at the Inn.  I did eventually find it.  It was 10:00 pm and the proprietors were waiting for me so they could close up.  I was able to make a fine meal out of their leftovers, the delicious bread sticks, and the array of cheeses and grapes, olives, and pickles on the table.  I then FOLLOWED Linda to her house.  We decided not to introduce Maggie and Juliet to her 15 dogs until the next morning.
(Note to self:  no more than 300 miles on a tank of gas --- no matter WHAT the gauge says!)

Friday, July 24, 2009

This is my new favorite campground chain.  (for those of you who don't have Macintosh computers, it is a place inside an Apple Store where they will help you fix any problems you are having with your Mac or software---for free!  Fortunately for me, they seem to have them all across the USA.)
I drove 266 miles today, getting to Oklahoma City, OK, a half-hour before my appointment time with the Apple "Geniuses" there at 8:00 pm.  I spent part of the extra half-hour playing with the dogs in the sprinklers we found turned on along a grass strip in the parking lot of the shopping center where the Apple Store was.  It was fun and cooled us all down after another hot day of driving.  Only took them 1 hour to get my iPhoto straightened out this time.  I had a little trouble finding a campground afterwards but eventually did.  I was planning on posting to this blog that night, but for some reason Google decided I was not the author of my blog and wouldn't let me post to it.

Driving off into the sunset...

These are from the Petrified Forest.  By the way, if you want to make any of the pictures bigger, just double-click on it (at least that's how it works on a Mac).

I am trying to follow historic Route 66 wherever possible.  I took along my new Metal Detector and had visions of checking out old dump sites or interesting old parks, etc., along the way and finding old artifacts, old silver coins, and lost antique jewelry.  But with the temp never below 90 degrees outside and my always being in a hurry to get somewhere, I have not taken it out yet!  Maybe when I get to Joel & Carolyn's house...
Celebrating my birthday in the Roadtrek with Maggie and Juliet!

Pictures from first few days

This is one of the first views we had of the Painted Desert (Arizona)

This is one of the shops in Oatman, Arizona.  The burros don't buy much but they do accept handouts (mostly carrots) from the tourists.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

July 17-23

It’s Thursday night, July 23, and I am in Amarillo, TX, and this is the first chance I’ve had to start my blog.  As expected, the hardest part of the trip so far was getting packed and out of the house last Friday.  I was determined to leave on July 17th, and I did --- with 15 minutes to spare!


Friday and Saturday, July 17-18


Accompanied by my two bichons, Maggie and Juliet, I left San Diego and drove about an hour to Wilderness Lakes Campground in Menifee, CA.  In the morning (relatively speaking), I went to my cousin Judie Friedlander’s house in Murietta, about 20-30 minutes from the campground.  We had a nice visit and she was kind enough to make me a sandwich for lunch.  But when I got out my computer to show her photos of my beautiful grandsons, I could not get iPhoto to work.  Not wanting to start out my trip without the ability to view and show photos, I drove  all the way back to Escondido where the nearest (50 miles) Apple Store was located.  On the way there, I had a little mishap where the lock on my pantry cupboard pulled out of the wall and most of my canned goods, vitamins, etc., fell out onto the floor.  After a hasty clean-up and jerry-rigging the lock, I continued back towards San Diego.  After 2.5 hours of working on it, the “Genius” at the Apple store was able to get me back in the photo business, although he had to upgrade me from iPhoto 6 to iPhoto 8, and reinstall the operating system on my computer.  It was 10:00 pm when I arrived at the house of Solo Roadtrekker friend, Sally Chastain, who lives in Temecula, which was on my way back to Wilderness Lakes.  Fortunately, Sally is a night owl like me, and we had a good visit until 1:00 am.  And, I’m happy to report, my iPhoto worked fine.  Got back to Wilderness Lakes at 2:00 am this time.


Sunday, July 19


I still had one more friend to visit who lived in the area.  Chris Pettit, another Roadtrek Solo Trekker, lives in Hemet, with her 7-year-old bichon and a new little maltese puppy.  Fortunately, the 4 dogs got along pretty well, mostly by ignoring each other, except for the puppy who wanted to play of course.  Chris and I had a nice visit and discovered even more things that we have in common besides bichons  (caring for an elderly relative, gall bladder attacks, etc.)  (Did I mention that I had a gall bladder attack the week before leaving with a gallstone stuck in my common bile duct for a day until it passed?  Surgery to remove my gall bladder and its other stones awaiting me upon my return in October.)  Leaving Chris’s about 5 pm, I headed for my next destination:  Needles, CA.  It was 97 degrees there when I arrived at 9:30 pm and didn’t cool off much below that all night.


Monday, July 20


I got an early start  (11:00 am) and took Historic Route 66 to the little town of Oatman, AZ.  It is a small old town known mostly for the wild burros (“wild” but friendly) who roam the streets freely, poking their noses into the various stores and looking for handouts from the tourists.  I had to leave the dogs in the Roadtrek with the generator and air conditioner running as I explored the town; it was 110 degrees out!  Leaving there, I returned to I-40 at Kingman, AZ, and continued east.  I ran into some very heavy rain and lightning, but, thanks to a fabulous detailing job by San Diego neighbor Robert Chun, I had Rain-X on my windshield and the rain just sheeted off.  I barely had to slow down from my usual cruising speed of 80 mph (grin)! 


Arrival in Holbrook, AZ, at 8:30 pm was interesting.  I pulled into the campground and could not get my key out of the ignition.  I tried starting the engine again and it wouldn’t start.  Nothing.  I looked at the oil gauge and it said “empty.”  I explained to the nice Spanish/broken English-speaking male owner of the campground that I was out of oil, couldn’t start the engine, and could I just stay where I was (only sort of in the middle of the street) until the morning when I could see better and put some oil in.  He offered to come take a look, telling me that if I had been driving with no oil, I would probably need a new engine.  This did not make me happy.  However, when he checked the oil dip-stick, it showed a normal level of oil, which was good news I guessed.  He said to try starting it again.  It worked just fine --- after I took it out of “drive” and put it into “park.”  And with the engine actually running, the oil gauge didn’t read “empty” any more.  If I had been at my hometown RV repair shop, this is the sort of thing they charge a $25 “stupidity fee” for.


Tuesday, July 21 (my birthday!)


I was planning on just driving by the Petrified Forest and Painted Desert National Parks but I fell in love with them and spent the whole day exploring the 28-mile long Parks.  The dogs were not thrilled with my stopping at every viewpoint, but they didn’t complain too much, especially when I took them out with me.  The petrified wood there is from trees 200-250 MILLION years old, which is hard to imagine.  They have turned into quartz, jasper, agate, and other colorful gemstones by the permeation of silica-containing water when the trees originally fell at the end of the Triassic period.  Let’s see if I can import some of the pictures I took:


Well, that was decidedly unsuccessful and now I have screwed up my iPhoto again.  I wonder where the nearest Apple Store is to Amarillo?


I had another “incident” this morning as I started out with my pantry cupboard door again opening during driving.  This time, unfortunately, a glass jar of red cabbage fell out and shattered against the heater vent grill under the bed.  The juice from it went underneath my floor tiles, the dogs decided they liked red cabbage (but mixed with glass shards I wasn’t letting them have any, much to their distress), and everything else that fell out of the pantry was soaked in red cabbage juice.  It took almost an hour to clean it all up.  I think I will super-glue my cabinet door shut.


After the Petrified Forest, which I left when it got dark, I didn’t travel too far.  I wound up spending my birthday night at a truck stop next to a Chevron station on the Navajo Indian Reservation (dry camping).  I bought an ice cream bar in the mini-mart there, sat with Maggie and Juliet and sang “Happy Birthday” to myself.  I have a cute picture of the 3 of us celebrating which I hope I can post soon.  It was a very nice 61st birthday spent in the Petrified Forest (hmmmm…. symbolism there?), and everyone in my family and some friends called me during the day so I really didn’t feel alone.


Wednesday, July 22


I drove to Albuquerque, NM, today, shopped at a WalMart, and got to a campground there early enough (for a change) to sit in the Jacuzzi for a while.  Later that evening I got hold of AT&T and FINALLY got my air card thingy set up correctly so that I can now send and receive e-mail and get internet on my laptop anywhere I can get a cell signal.  Of course by then I was too tired to answer any of the 43 e-mails I had waiting!


Thursday, July 23 (wow---almost caught up!)


I didn’t sleep well last night; neither did Maggie.  I was very sleepy while driving and had to stop every hour or so and take a nap (and I even took 2 No-Doz!).  I’ve not been able to keep the generator going in order to have air conditioning for a few days now (probably the altitude) and my “naps” seemed to end when the temp inside the Roadtrek got over 90 degrees.  But I made it to Amarillo, Texas, and am in a nice campground with TV for the first time.  However, it is now 1:00 am (Central Time) and I’m too tired to watch.  I will now try to post this to my blog and tomorrow I will let everyone know the web address.  In future posts I will try to have more pictures and less verbiage! 

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

First blog - TEST

This is a test to see if this blog stuff works.