Thursday, October 13, 2011

Little problems

Even under the best circumstances things are going to go wrong in an rv. It is absolutely inevitable. Often, those things are quite simple to fix, like when everybody panics for a few minutes that the stove isn't working, and it turns out that someone switched the gas detector off (which shuts off the gas and results in an inoperable stove). Sometimes they are somewhat less simple, as in the awning that got stuck in the extended position and had to be rolled back up by hand after all the wires were pulled loose. Occasionally, it is a simple problem whose answer is not instantly apparent.

 Friday, after we had come all the way across from Minnesota, through the Donner Pass (which although very high up and very covered in snow turned out to be beautiful, but uneventful)  we were greeted at the border of California by way of an agriculture inspection border station. Our apples and oranges were duly examined by a trained inspector, the pepper plant that the A.B. carries around was forbidden to leave the camper (Although his aloe, peace lily, and BABY APPLE TREES were scarcely looked at.) the dog was duly noted, and then the trained inspector handed us a yellow slip of paper and let us go on our way. We then encountered California traffic, probably the worst that we have seen in our travels so far. Exhausted and ready to crawl into our sleeping spaces, we drove to the campground only to find the dreaded sign "No Vacancies." Apparently there has been a sudden increase in jobs in Auburn, California, and the only campground in town is booked solid for months to come. There is one other park in town, but the very name of it kind of cuts our crew right out. Elder's Senior Citizens Park. Yeah. It doesn't exactly  call out our name. Overnight RVing in parking lots is generally frowned upon in Auburn, CA, so our hopes were dwindling as evening loomed. After calling half the stores in the town, our inverter quite suddenly failed us. With all computers rather close to shut down, we tried one last phone call, and wonder of wonders, K-mart declared that they welcomed rv's in their lot overnight. So to K-mart we went. We found a nice little place where it was not too bright, and somewhat less noisy (and actually, we wound up in the Rite-Aid lot). We parked, and were pleased to see that we even had the convenience of several restaurants within walking distance (as in, across the parking lot). After some discussion about whether or not it was proper etiquette, we decided that putting down the leveling jacks  was acceptable as long as we put down the weight distributing pads to avoid scarring the asphalt. Someone pushed the button on the control panel, and the horrible truth was revealed. The inverter had not died, it had blown a fuse. Now, fuses generally fall into the category of simple fixes. We carry a stash of them at all times. The most difficult part is figuring out which fuse is causing the trouble. So the Admiral began checking. He checked and checked. And checked. There are about five fuse boxes spaced around Tallulah. There was plenty of checking to be done. About three hours later, we went for dinner, without having found the fuse. None of the owners manuals held the answer of the fuse's location. The Admiral and the First Mate kept checking. The meter kept signalling the all well. The Commodore and the Admiral had work on Saturday. In the evening, we finally made it to our current location, a park in a tiny mountain town. Sunday, the Admiral checked again. Monday, the Commodore called a help line, just as she was put through to the correct person, the Admiral came through the door, holding (Tada!) a blown fuse. It was, of course, one that we did not have a replacement for. So, he decided to pull an identical fuse from another place and make sure that it was, indeed, the correct fuse. He did just that, and then we discovered that he had pulled a fuse necessary for starting Tallulah, and a running engine is necessary for the leveling jack control panel to work. Thus, a no go all around. He replaced the critical fuse, and we eventually made Tallulah operate again, but the blown fuse was not the one causing all of our troubles. So the First Mate and the Admiral resumed checking fuses. They continued on and on, through an hour, and in and out of days, checking every fuse that they could find. Whenever the Admiral was home from work the fuse checking began again. On and on.We began to fear that the problem was not a fuse but something else. And then, the Admiral had a scathingly brilliant idea. He declared the METER faulty, and suggested that it was giving false positives. The meter, naturally, was hastily replaced. The First Mate crawled back under the driver's seat to check the fuses there once again, and there, in the 38th slot, he found it. One pesky little mini ten amp fuse. Naturally, it was a fuse that we did not have a replacement for. (But we got one in less than thirty minutes, because the rv park is in the backyard of the town's lone gas station.)

And that pretty much sums up our first days in California.

Thursday, October 6, 2011


When the Summer is spent with the entire crew sprawled across half a continent, it becomes necessary to  regroup before moving on. At rallying time, the Admiral, Commodore, Second Mate, and the Navigator (formerly the 2nd AB) were in Minneapolis. The First Mate, the Dog and I were back at Home Port and the Harbor Master, Her Husband, and The Baby were stationed in Missouri but visiting home for a week.

Saturday morning, the Harbor Master and Her Husband, the First Mate and I began packing. Because of our excellent packing skills, we were actually on the road by 3:41 in the afternoon, only 41 minutes behind schedule according to the Harbor Master's Husband's plan. We drove all night, stopping only when the Baby demanded breaks, and for Mass on Sunday Morning. We reached our destination in Missouri by the middle of the next day. Here the First Mate, the Dog and I jumped ship and joined up with the Commodore and the Admiral. We got to Minneapolis at 1:30 AM Monday morning.

We had to wait for a package to be delivered to our camp in Minneapolis, which afforded the First Mate and I our first chance at a bit of rest. We left around ten on Monday and drove as far as we could, which brought us to Jamestown, ND. We picked a lovely Wal-Mart parking lot to camp in. Boon-docking often requires sacrificed sleeping quarters. By the luck of the draw, I got the passenger chair. Although not very rested, we did at least manage to get an early start. On Tuesday, we made it all the way to Billings, MT where we stopped at the world's first KOA. There are those who say it is also the World's best KOA. It's in our top two.  While most of the drive so far was  fairly familiar to all of us, Wednesday began the real adventure. After three years of trying to maneuver it, the Admiral finally got us to attempt Yellowstone in Tallulah.

 Roosevelt's arch at the entrance of the park. 

 The super delightful road going in. Note how pleasantly the road twists right out of sight. 

 The Boardwalk for Mammoth Springs. 
Mammoth Springs
 The Navigator in front of a hot spring. 
 A lone Bison. 

 Nothing says fun like a falling rock sign!
Of all the wildlife we saw in the park, these guys were probably the wildest. It was very close to freezing weather, and there they were, standing in the middle of the river, all to catch a fish. 
Because the weather was not very nice, and we were in Tallulah, and we were rather rushed, we managed to do the impossible, and go through Yellowstone without seeing Old Faithful. I suppose that just gives us a reason to go back someday. 
Yellowstone took up a huge portion of the day, and we stopped not too far after that in Idaho. 

After a decent start this morning (Thursday) we made it to Nevada, and we are now within six hours of our California destination. 
Tomorrow we just have to make it through the Donner Pass. Which is currently frozen. It's ok though. We have kitty litter (for traction in the event that we get stuck) food, water, blankets, warm clothes, matches, charcoal, lighter fluid, and, most importantly, we have all read Gary Paulsen's "Guts." 

 The best vehicle  we were behind today "Milky-Way: Drinkamugamilkameal
 The canyon at Twin Falls, Idaho

 Mountains in the distance. Idaho
Coming out of some bad weather in Nevada

Monday, May 16, 2011

Here in Aurora

Logistics required us to find a new place to stay in Colorado in the Denver area. So, we are in the Cherry Creek State Park in Aurora. The park features miles and miles of "multi-use" trails, so it has plenty of exploring opportunities. We have no idea how far we actually biked this morning because the maps are about as helpful as a broken compass. It was far enough for me to get a goathead (a burr produced on a plant aptly called a puncture vine) in my tire. The tire is supposed to be a self sealing one, so the situation was not as awful as it might have been, but there was the decidedly unwelcome HISSSSSSSSSS of leaking air when I so stupidly pulled the thing off of the tire. Experience has shown that NOT pulling the burr out is the best way to make it home, but who listens to experience? So I rode home on a not-quite-flat tire, while the 1st A.B. called "Come on already!" Right. (He did graciously offer me his own bike when we were almost home.)
Before the goathead incident though, it was a very pleasant ride. We could not have asked for a better day; brilliantly sunny, seventy degrees, a cool breeze. The perfection of the day was affirmed by the dozens of bikers and hikers we met along the way. They would have been out there even if the day was horrid--this is Colorado--but many of them offered a "Great day, huh?" as they passed. Before we even got out of the campground section, we passed a herd of around twenty-five deer. Several were bucks with their horns just starting to grow in. We did not have a camera with us then. We chose a path and followed it. Getting lost was relatively unlikely, as all of the paths are (I think) connected and somewhat circular. We did not actually discover whether this is true, as we were compelled to seek out the shortest route home, so we left the trails and took the road. We caused one passing cyclist quite a bit of amusement when one of the A.B.'s yelled "There's the campground! The one we belong to!" They were right, and there were only three more hills, and about a mile of biking left to our whole ride.

Before we went biking, we did take the camera out on  a trip to find the lake that is shown on the map. The map did not actually help us any at all, but we did find the like, and this time, we have the pictures to prove it.

The view out our front door. 
And of course "Adventure is out there!"

The squirrels were watching us all the time. 

We were trying to get a good picture of this Magpie...

When he was attacked by a Robin.

But we got the picture anyway. 

The crew. 

This is one of Robynne's worst nightmares. 

Because there were no pets allowed on the beach, we had to find the lake from another direction. 

Our first good look at the lake. 

Denver out across the lake. There are mountains in the distance, but they aren't very visible today.

This bird is awesome because it has a worm in its mouth. 

That pretty much sums up our adventurous morning. 

Friday, April 15, 2011

Away to Unknown Lands!

Or not. Maybe just to Missouri. We set out on Sunday April 10th, after attending the baptism of the Ship's Baby. The drive to Missouri has become curiously routine, and rather than seeing a thousand new sights, we sighted a thousand landmarks. We stopped overnight in West Memphis, and got a halfway decent start in the morning. However, owing to circumstances beyond our control (the need for human beings to eat, and the the very indirect road system of Missouri) it was rather late when we reached our destination.
Bevier is in the middle of nowhere Missouri but it is not unpleasantly so. The campground here is not the best, but it is far from the worst as well. It is owned and operated by mechanics, and that is obvious in all the areas. There is a nice lake (pond) where one can look at, but not catch the fish. The lake is also home to a great many bullfrogs, who are delightfully unafraid of humans. Dan found one sitting next to crayfish pincers. We are supposing that the rest of the crayfish was eaten by the frog.
The lake is connected to the outside world by a creek. The creek is crossed by a rickety old bridge. The bridge is highly appreciated by the crew members, particularly the 2nd A.B. who has become infatuated with the "Redwall" series. The bridge never fails to be completely blocked by savage armies for the A.B. to fight his way through. Tallulah is parked at the top of a hill. The hill provides an excellent slope for the First Mate, the First A.B. and the Second A.B. to charge up while the First A.B. (also known as Basil Stag Hare) cries out "We're going home like a proper army, not a ragamuffin crowd!"(Mattimeo).
So far, they do not seemed to have disturbed any other campers with their antics. This is a good thing, as one of the other ships is marked multiple times with "no trespassing" signs, one of them complete with a diagram of how to properly defend one's territory.
Fortunately, the campground is also equipped with a large, open field, perfect for staging any sort of battle. Pirates vs. Natives. Woodlanders vs. Weasels and Wildcats. Crewman from the Starship Tallulah vs. Aliens From Distant Galaxies....
So, even in the middle of nowhere Missouri, we have managed to entertain ourselves.

The Baby

The newest member of the crew.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

New Adventures

Our recent activities have primarily involved waiting. Waiting for the right new car to show up, waiting for the next adventures to begin, and most especially, waiting for the baby. 
The Harbor Master is expecting her first child very soon, and we have been at home for several weeks in anticipation of the coming of this little one. Of course, in addition to being the Harbor Master and RC's first child, it is also the first grandbaby for the Commodore and the Admiral, and the first niece or nephew for the members of the crew. Needless to say, everyone is quite excited. Things seem to be as ready as they will get, with the majority of things in place for the Baby. 
So right now, we are really just waiting, which can be its own adventure. 

Friday, March 25, 2011

In the Wagon's Footsteps (Tire tracks?)

After a prolonged illness aggravated by by improperly qualified old car docs, the Y.S. has met her match. She crawled into the front yard, and breathed her last. Yes, after more than 200,000 miles, the old station wagon has gone belly up.

Perhaps the most interesting part about the Y.S. was not the fact that she made several cross country trips, or that we could load her with enough gear for six people for two weeks (that includes camping gear and a full collection of schoolbooks for five different grades) or that she once went airborne, landed in a water/mud filled ditch and was pulled out by a tractor practically unscathed, or that she could never be mistaken in a parking lot or even any of her other many, many adventures. Rather, the best feature of the Y.S. was her unflagging ability to remind people of good times--or fond times at least. We cannot even count the people who have smiled on our old wagon and chuckled, as they said "We had one just like that when I was a kid...."
Realistically, a car is just chunks of metal and plastic and cloth. However, it is also a mnemonic device, and looking at it tends to trigger memories connected to the time when countless similar cars roamed the streets, though they are now about as common as bison.

This has been very traumatic for some members of the crew, not just because the car that has served us well for the past 8 years is no longer among the living, but also because the death of one car means that another must be brought home. Shopping for a car is an activity that has been avoided like three plagues among our crew. So many factors to consider, and so few vehicles that fit the bill. Also, there is the sad fact that fewer and fewer car dealers are willing to haggle. For instance, one really should be able to argue until a great deal has been made.

Which is precisely what the Commodore did. And after all that  bargaining, well, she was sorta obligated to bring the thing home. So, without further ado, I introduce the new station wagon Otherwise known as Freebird.