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Miss Dory, Winter, 2015 - 2016

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Dr. La Belle removes sutchers from Morgan's eye Tuesday, June 7, 2016: The most important happening today was the removal of the sutures from Morgan's eye surgery. Dr. Amber LaBelle is one of two animal ophthalmologists in the state of Idaho. Both ophthalmologists are at WestVet in Garden City a suburb of Boise. After the removal of the hood and the sutures she informed us the biopsy showed no disease in the eye which meant her other eye was safe. Instead, the right eye damage was from "blunt force trauma". Gwen and I have no idea when this happened. I believe this is also a way to say, "we don't know what caused the eye damage". Morgan continues to have energy, eats well, and eliminates well. We hope this will give her another year with us. Click both photos for additional views. Gwen with Morgan in the parking lot

Hi Valley RV Park for a night

Monday, June 6, 2016: This was moving day from the Caldwell Elks Club gravel parking lot to the Hi Valley RV Park near Garden City, Idaho. Garden City, Idaho is where WestVet is located. Tomorrow, Morgan gets her stitches removed and the darn hood taken off. We wanted to be closer to the vet so we could start north once the vet visit was behind us. But, before we moved, we had a last breakfast with Dave and Brook in their favorite location in Nampa. Today was also the first time to tow the Subaru which went fine. This is a lovely and affordable park. Good parks are hard to come by in this area. We know because we have looked. This park would rent for $800/month in Arizona. We pay $500/month in Verdi, Nevada during off season and that park is not this nice. We have reserved a month in 2017 here for $375 plus electricity. Click the photo for a view from our motorhome.

The finished look of the lawn



Sunday, June 5, 2016: Here is the finished look of the lawn. The underground watering system is installed and the sod is laid. Dave and Brook kept the grass away from the house so they could install flower beds and bushes. This was a lot of work completed in two days. The single lane gravel road to the left is common access to the back yards and a dividing line between two housing developments. Directly behind the house is a green space available to all homeowners. The green space has children's play equipment and is cared for by the homeowner's association. All this space makes a small lot feel un-crowded. A paved walkway will be continued next to the house linking to the green space. This puts the house much farther from the neighbor if no walkway existed.

Getting the yard ready for grass

Brook learning how to use a wheelbarrow


Saturday, June 4, 2016: This was work day at Dave and Brook's new home in Nampa, Idaho. It is a brand new house and in need of landscaping. They had a load of top soil delivered in preparation for a sprinkler system and sod to be completed tomorrow. We worked to spread the top soil today. Meanwhile, Morgan and Belle stay cool in the shade. This weekend is having a record heat wave, just in time for hard yard work. Click the photos for additional photos.

Gwen visiting with her friends Leon and Audry


Friday, June 3, 2016: This was a special day for Gwen and her friends, Leon and Audrey. They have known each other for many years and we visit every chance we get. Gwen caught up with news of all the other friends they have in common. We had lunch together in "The Village" Mall then walked around the mall circle. Gwen was glad they are still very healthy. Click the photo to enlarge.

Looking west onto the Columbia River from a Greyhound bus Wednesday and Thursday, June 1 and 2, 2016: I hoped onto the westbound Greyhound bus at 8 am Wednesday morning. The bus passed through all of eastern Oregon on Interstate 84 which follows the Columbia River to Portland arriving at 4:40 pm. That gave me enough time to walk into the Pearl District where I found the Burrito Bar with fresh burrito ingredients. They also had WiFi so I could check my messages plus kill time while waiting for the southbound bus. It departed 25 minutes late from Portland and didn't make up any time on the way south. Two-thirds of the passengers had to rush out the door at each stop to smoke. They would have been climbing the walls if the bus driver shortened the stops to make up time. My friend, Glen, picked me up in Roseburg and drove me the ten miles back to Sutherlin. Thank you Glen! I got up early Thursday morning to complete my to-do list of things to get. I was back on the road in the Forester by 8 am. It was a tough drive to Idaho due to the road construction along the way but I was back in Caldwell by 8 pm. Click the photos for additional views. The Pearl District from my Burrito Bar dinner location in downtown Portland

The Samurai is sold

Tuesday, May 31, 2016: The idea we had was to tow the Samurai to Alaska rather than the Forester mostly because we were afraid of the potential damage to the Forester. After covering the Forester and leaving Sutherlin for Boise to visit family I found some methods of protecting the Forester while towing. I began to wonder, "is anyone in Boise interested in buying a Samurai?" I placed a CraigsList ad, the same way I sold so many other vehicles. It took five days but today a buyer showed up with cash in hand and now the Samurai is on it's way to Payette, Idaho. So what about the trip to Alaska? I will be taking Greyhound Bus from Nampa, Idaho to Roseburg, Oregon tomorrow, then drive the Forester back to Idaho. We will tow the Forester to Alaska after all.

Snake River on the Oregon/Idaho border
Monday, May 30, 2016: Because of Morgan's emergency surgery we must stay in this area for another week. We have looked at the weather forecast and see 100 degree weather coming our way. The Elks club parking offers only 30 amp connections so I have been running our air conditioning at only half power (there is a switch to do that). However, with higher temperatures will mean the need for more power. We have found the RV park we prefer but they don't allow dogs. We drove to another RV park which sounded promising and it's right on the Snake River in the tiny town of Marsing, Idaho. We crossed the Snake River and found the River Haven RV Park but were not impressed with the tight space. I've decided one option is to put both the refrigerator and hot water heater onto propane and devote ALL 30 amps to the air conditioner. I've been experimenting with that for two days and watching the voltage. With nothing running I see 120 volts, with the refrigerator running, I see 111 volts. Running only the air conditioning, I see 111 volts. So I'm satisfied that an option is to stay at the Elks Club.

Jake receiving his diploma

Sunday, March 29, 2016: This has been a weekend devoted to Gwen's grandson, Jake. We came to Boise specifically to visit Gwen's family and watch her grandson graduate from high school. The celebration included several meals and parties and of course gifts for Jake.

When reading Facebook, an author mentioned the high school diploma to be the "minimum of achievement standards", which is a negative way to say the achiever must continue to be self motivated enough to continue with their education or training. I happen to have a master's degree and have been surrounded by educated people all my working career because I retired as an administrator of a community college. However, since retirement I have met MANY happy retirees who had no more than a high school education but skills that were valuable to employers. I don't agree with trying to make the minimum wage a "living wage". Minimum wage is for those without marketable skills and for those in training. I worked for minimum wage for many years while gaining my education and skills. Without either credentials or valuable work skills, the worker is doomed to a life at the minimum level.

Windshield on the motorhome to be replaced but NOT by this one!

Friday, May 27, 2016: We have been waiting the last few days for the mobil windshield guy to show up with a replacement windshield for the drivers side of the motorhome. Our current windshield on that side has a good crack in one corner. He pulled up today with the replacement windshield on his trailer. However, when he went to get it, it was shattered apparently during the transportation. It may be a while before ours is replaced. Click the photo for a wide view.


This animal hospital is under construction
Receptionist at West VetThursday, May 26, 2016: I mentioned the animal ophthalmologist we visited was the only one in Idaho which makes the animal hospital a very special one. The photo above shows the building currently under construction. Last night we got a sample of why they need a facility that large. They are open 24/7 and we were told to pick up Morgan at 8 pm which meant we would not arrive at the hospital until 8:40 because we were about 40 minutes (driving the Samurai) from the hospital. We waiting for nearly two hours while emergency after emergency came into the waiting room. This animal hospital actually has its own pet ambulance (click the receptionist photo to see the ambulance). Every examination room was full so they finally delivered Morgan to us in a room not normally used. We were impressed with the efficiency of their operation. Yes, the doctor did call this morning to learn how Morgan was doing. She actually seems to be recovering quickly.

Gwen enjoying the water fountain at The Villiage Mall

Wednesday, May 25, 2016: Today is a "mixed feelings" day. Morgan is 15-1/2 years old, pretty old for a Golden Retriever. She has been with us since a puppy. Since December, she has struggled with an eye problem. It was pretty obvious she was blind in her right eye but also appeared to be "inflamed" . We took her to a Tempe, Arizona veterinarian who diagnosed "Valley Fever" in that eye and prescribed an anti-fungal medication. Once we returned to Sutherlin in April, we took her to our own vet and she was not sure what was wrong so wanted us to see an ophthalmologist. We wanted to know how this might progress before going on our Alaska trip so took her to the only animal ophthalmologist in Idaho located in Garden City, Idaho, a suburb of Boise. After examination and discussion it was decided to remove the eye. We were told she would feel no pain and she would have a better quality of life for the rest of her days. While waiting for the surgery to be completed we visited the Village Mall in Meridian Idaho. Gwen has a favorite store there. They also have a "dancing fountain" with comfortable seating around the fountain. So we hung out to watch the people and kids enjoying the area.

You can click the photo to see Morgan as she was given to us tonight at 10:30 pm. You may NOT want to see this so think twice before making the click. Gwen stayed up with her until 2:30 am to give her a pain pill. She did drink and eat a little. Some tough decisions must be made for old dogs. She has been with us since 12 weeks old.

Craft store going out of business sale, lots of gift ideas

Tuesday, May 24, 2016: Gwen, Morgan and I were out on a walk into downtown Caldwell today and came across this large craft shop with a going out of business sale. 70% off everything in the store and much in the store was already discounted. We had to visit, they even let Morgan walk the store. We found much we could use for gifts and craft-days with the grand kids. It's always sad to see a store going out of business but it was to our benefit today. We struggled to carry everything back to the motorhome since we didn't have our vehicle with us but made it without breaking anything.

How low can you go?

Monday, May 23, 2016: How low can you go? Out on a hike today with Dave and Brook and came across this "lowered" Ford pickup. When this guy "parks" his truck, he really parks it. Fortunately he made it easy to answer the obvious question, how do you get it off the ground. The pickup bed is cut open to see the workings of the suspension. Pump some air into the airbags and up it comes. Click the photo to see what I mean.

Dave at bat

Sunday, May 22, 2016: This morning I tested the CB radio with an SWR meter and learned the SWR (standing wave ratio) is too high. After watching some online video, I'm assuming it's high because it has no ground plane. I drove to two truck stops and a Radio Shack looking for a solution to the problem but found none.

Dave and Brook are on a church softball team so we attended the game this afternoon. The weather during the game was trying to clear but we still had a few rain showers which caused both teams to scramble occasionally. It was a quick one hour game with both teams scoring many runs.

After dinner with Dave and Brook we returned to our Elks club camp spot and learned we had a Red Box within walking distance. We rented the movie, "The Big Short". It is the Hollywood version of the true story concerning those who recognized the faulty and fraudulent economic practices of big banks along with the negligence of the government agencies to oversee such practices. This resulted in the world wide economic collapse in spring, 2007.

Click the photo for a wider view.

A trip to Dave's favorite coffee shop
Saturday, May 21, 2016: Gwen and I visited the day with Dave, her son, and his lady friend, Brook. We drove the area in Brook's new Honda HRV, a vehicle we had considered to replace the Samurai. So we had fun comparing Brook's car with our new Forester. Dave drove us to the Hyde Park Java Coffee Shop, his favorite coffee service shop where I ordered his favorite drink, the "Cup of Soul". It was good, I'd order it again. After coffee, we walked the Hyde Park commercial area visiting several unique stores. Click the left photo to see one of my favorites. One of the unique stores in Hyde Park near Boise
Following the North Fork of the Malheur River toward Idaho Friday, May 20, 2016: A travel day from the Chickahominy Recreation Area to Caldwell, Idaho along the North Fork of the Malheur River. This feels like a very remote area of Oregon but it is actually only 1 -2 hours from Ontario, Oregon, a major eastern Oregon city. We passed through Ontario on our way to Caldwell, Idaho to stay at the Elks Club for a few nights. We had lunch in the tiny town of Juntura, Oregon at the Oasis Cafe, a surprisingly good cafe. Many years ago, we camped at the Oasis RV park just next to the Cafe. Click the photo on the right for another view of the eastern Oregon scenery. Click the photo on the left for a view of our Caldwell Elks parking. Tiny town of Juntura, Oregon has one cafe

Eastern Oregon, wide open spaces.
Thursday, May 19, 2016: This is a travel day into eastern Oregon's wide open spaces as we drive toward our Idaho destination. We left this morning in the rain and encountered cells of rain along the way. So far I've remembered only one thing I've forgotten, a pad for the Samurai windshield to protect it while towing. It wasn't on a list so items NOT on a list are forgotten. Eastern Oregon is high desert so few trees and those that are around are small. Today it's cold and windy but it can get hot during the summer months. When I retired in 2009, we spent 3 months just wandering around Eastern Oregon. As we approached Burns, Oregon I spotted some RV's parked a half mile off the road. I was looking for a place to stop for the night in a boondock location, quiet, dark and free. I began slowing and soon saw a sign pointing left to the BLM Chickahominy Recreation Area. I knew, whatever the camping fee, we would only pay half due to our Senior Access Pass. That fee turned out to be only $4. We got the perfect spot in the "Shoreline Campground". We had the perfect view of the reservoir to the west and could watch the storms come toward us. This is our first night of a three month trip which will include serving as staff members on an RV Adventure Trek 50 day Alaskan tour. Click the photo for our view of the reservoir.

I believe we are ready for our three month adventure to the far north.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016: Our list today included items like: Weed whacking, spreading weed seed germination inhibitor, roll in the awnings, pre-pay the park maintenance fee, leave an electricity fee deposit, set up mail collection with Peggy, turn off the propane and water, transfer pillows, vitamins, tooth brushes, computers, books, refrigerator items.

Without a list, I know we would forget something. Unfortunately, rain is forecast for tomorrow which means the clean motorhome and Samurai won't be clean very long.

Carl is burn off the weeds from lot


Monday, May 16, 2016: This is Carl. Carl is burning off the weeds coming through the gravel on our lot. We will be leaving for our three month trip to Alaska on Thursday so we must get our Timber Valley lot as clean as we can before we leave. While I was in the back, against our hill, weed whacking, Carl was in the front getting rid of the weeds coming through the gravel. Our intention is to spread Caseron, a weed seed inhibitor on the lot the day we leave. Others at Timber Valley have used Caseron successfully so we will give it a try. We've had lots of rain this spring so everything is green and growing including the weeds so more work than usual to keep our lot clean. Carl has the propane flame thrower to burn the weeds. Last year I purchased a string trimmer so I could take care of the hill behind our lot. That made it easy for me to grab my own machine and clean up the hill. It took Carl only an hour to burn off all the gravel weeds. Click the photo for a wider view of Carl's work.

I get a CT Scan, this is Russ.


Thursday, May 12, 2016: Here I am at the hospital for a CT scan. My most recent physical blood test showed a higher Cholesterol count than the previous test. Out of desperation and to try to keep from taking a Statin drug my PA suggested a "Calcium Count". If the calcium count shows a low score I can avoid the statin. This was my first CT scan and I was impressed with the technology. Russ informed me of what would happen next every step of the way.

As it turns out, I didn't have a low calcium count SO.... we'll try the statin drugs again then retest next September. Darn!

Elks RV Park north of Florence

Sunday, May 8, 2016: After making breakfast for Lesa and Mark in Waxmyrtle Campground, it was another travel day but for a short distance. We moved north of Florence to the Elks RV Park where we get power and water plus a 4 channel cable hook up. Of course this is not our first time to park here, it is one of our favorite locations on the coast. Today was our arrival day with few campers in the park so we were brave and used their WIFI to watch a few Amazon movies knowing few others would be using the WIFI. It was our first TV in 5 days. Of course we were relaxing after the days with the "kids" on the sand dunes.

Cresting the fore-dune to the Pacific
Gwen exams the sand splatter Mark gave us
Which way next? Saturday, May 7, 2016: It is our turn to get onto the sand dunes with Lesa and Mark as our leaders. The last time we tried this, we got stuck several times. This time, I let more air out of the tires and most of the sand was supportive. We were also more brave with Lesa and Mark to help and better prepared with a shovel on board too. We didn't need either the help or the shovel. The Samurai did fine and has the advantage to be street legal so I can drive off the sand and onto a paved highway where the Quads can't. Click the photos for additional views. Ten inches of water on the return trip

Enjoying good weather while it lasts


Friday, May 6, 2016: Our campsite at Waxmyrtle has a private sitting area and surprising to us, few campers have arrived for the weekend so we are enjoying the quiet.

Gwen likes to play cards so it's a day like today I must play a game or two with her. She beat me badly, as usual. I just can't think fast enough for her.

We DID use our new little barbeque (red lid in the background) to cook marinated chicken.

Lesa and Mark are set up in the ATV staging area where a hundred other ATVs find their way onto the dunes. Click the photo to see their location.

Space 22 at the Waxmyrtle Campground




Thursday, May 5, 2016: This was a travel day with Gwen, Lesa and Mark from Sutherlin to the Siltcoos Recreation Area on the Oregon Coast near Florence. We have parked in this campground before and in space 22 where we are tonight. This is a nice private space with a huge parking area, large enough for our motorhome, Samurai and Mark's pickup truck when they come to visit.

Lesa and Mark are primarily here to recreate on the dunes with their ATVs. Gwen and I will enjoy their company and do some hiking. We may even take the Samurai onto the dunes.

Click the photo for another view of our campsite.

Morgan and I visit the home location of Jesse Applegate

Monday, May 2, 2016: This was a moving day from the Alsea River to the Kaiser Brake and Alignment for an appointment tomorrow. While enjoying the day, Morgan and I visited some of Oregon history. It is well know that Jesse Applegate created the Applegate trail leading into Oregon but I did not know the rest of the history. There is nothing left of the Applegate home mentioned but dirt. The area of the home seemed pretty remote for all the activity that Applegate was involved in Oregon politics. After our history lesson we visited several RV stores looking for blackout shades and ovens. Eugene is a big RV town but we couldn't find what we wanted.

At the end of the day, I took Morgan for a walk along the Willamette River, a very popular area for walking, running and biking. Click the photo for a view of the Willamette.

Parked on the Alsea River in Blackberry Campground
Sunday, May 1, 2016: Morgan and I DID take our longest walk yet on the beach at Tillicum Beach Campground then decided we had enough of the ocean and began our drive inland. We didn't get very far until Morgan motioned for me to pull over at the Blackberry Campground which is only a few feet from the Alsea River. She decided we should stay the night here even though we had NO Internet access because it was a perfect river for her to sit and cool off. We even decided to camp in the shade on this warm day because we already had a full charge on our batteries. Besides, there was plenty of mowed lawn for Morgan to enjoy too, our campsite was settled.
The Alsea Bay Bridge
Saturday, April 30, 2016: Morgan and I visited the Alsea Bay Bridge. The Pacific Ocean is a half mile to the left of the photo. The bridge is located on the north edge of the city of Waldport, Oregon. Waldport is our favorite place to get Clam Chowder in a bread bowl. My morning breakfast was a frittata with polenta. The breakfast came from our favorite restaurant in Yachats.
Morgan enjoys the ocean
Friday, April 29, 2016: Here's why I'm here, for the pleasure of the dog!
Camped a few feet from the Pacific at Tillicum Beach Campground
Thursday, April 28, 2016: A travel day from Tillamook, Oregon to Tillicum Beach Campground on the Pacific Ocean between Waldport and Yachats, Oregon. My first view of the ocean came just north of Depot Bay at a popular scenic view area. Gwen and I like this National Forest service campground because it's right on the ocean and half off camping with our Senior Access Pass. The beach is huge so a hiker could hike to exhaustion. We also like Waldport and Yachats, both 4 miles from this campground, for their restaurants and eclectic shopping. Rain is forecast for tomorrow but warm days after that. Click the photo for an ocean view and the sun sets.
Tillamook Coffee Shop Wednesday, April 27, 2016: After breakfast and taking Morgan for a walk around the Elks park, I grabbed the Blue Ox tow bar looking for a metal worker in Tillamook. The Ready Brake mechanism makes the extension behind the motorhome pretty long and the Blue Ox "Shank" makes it even longer. I want the shank cut off and hole re-drilled to shorten the shank. I looked for "welders" and found two in Tillamook. The first shop was too busy for this 15 minute job but C.H. Welding would do it if I left it then returned later. So while "waiting" I visited a downtown funky coffee shop. I've not seen a coffee shop this funky since my college days back in the 60s. I'm not sure what all they sold in the coffee shop but I just got Adjusted by C. H. Welding in Tillamook
coffee. Click the coffee shop window for a view of the inside. Anyway, I spent about an hour sipping coffee and answering emails. The right photo shows the shortened shank, about 8 inches shorter. This brings the towed vehicle 8 inches closer to the motorhome. Click the photo to see what the shank looked like yesterday. I took Morgan for another walk in the park after replacing the tow bar and shortening the brake cable which operates the ready brake.
Parked in Tillamook, OregonTuesday, April 26, 2016: A travel day to Tillamook, Oregon. I've always heard the Tillamook Elks Club had a grand RV park and this is one of the nicest we have visited. Lots of open space and full hookup (for those who much have full hookups). Tillamook is only a few miles from the Pacific Ocean so we are experiencing coast weather. This was our first trip with the new (used) Blue Ox tow bar. It is much easier to handle, connect, and disconnect than the bar we got with the Samurai. I'm not towing the Forester yet. I want to find good methods of protecting the Forester from debris first. Click the photo to see the BLue Ox connected to the Samurai.
Sue and Anita play a dwarf skit Monday, April 25, 2016: Our "home base" is a lot in the only Escapee park in Oregon, Timber Valley SKP RV Park in Sutherlin. There are 206 lots in the park and about 100 of the lots are occupied year around by those who, for one reason or another, don't travel as much as we do. Those folks like to welcome back the "snowbirds" in April (although a number of leaseholders will not return until May or June). Sue and Anita on the left are dancing to different tunes with the help of Joan and Chris behind the curtain. Ed and Ruby provided additional entertainment with popular tunes. Ed and Ruby sing favorites
This is Pearl, we are dog sitting Sunday, April 24, 2016: Today is Pearl day. Gwen and I were dog-sitting Pearl today. This was not our first time. We had Pearl for only 24 hours and she was the perfect dog. I doubt Annie (our cat) thought so since Pearl took over Annie's bed (left photo). While Pearl is visiting we had three other visitors to our patio. Morgan no longer chases turkeys but Pearl does. I just can't let Pearl off the leash so we chased the turkeys together. In the photo to the right, Pearl is at the window watching for her family to arrive. Pearl is looking for family

Eugene Elks Club #357
Wednesday, April 20, 2016: Today was moving day just one hour to Eugene Elks Club. We have two reasons to be in Eugene all day Thursday. We brought the Forester (Ebony Shadow) with us to have the base plate installed so we can tow her behind Miss Dory. Ebony Shadow is at Ron's Hitch and Tow in Eugene for this installation. Fortunately, Ron had a used tow bar which we will also buy. While Ron is working on Ebony Shadow, I'm taking Miss Dory to Kaiser Brake and Alignment for a front end alignment. She has new shoes and I want to be sure they are aligned perfectly. The Elks Club is a convenient location for us to park for the night. They are serving Pot Roast for dinner so I think we will join them.

Morgan is overseeing the reorganization of the storage bins
It was harder than it looks to install this knife rack
Sunday, April 17, 2016: I've continued the reorganization of the storage bins, today on the passengers side, yesterday on the driver's side. I need some plastic storage bins to get the items organized. I don't like just throwing things into a storage compartment. I promised Gwen a knife rack on a wall with a mirror. I have a glass drill bit and was successful drilling the first hole. However, when I attached the rack at that location, the mirror cracked. Fortunately, Gwen didn't like the mirror anyway but not knowing what was behind the mirror, I chose to drill the mirror. Now I don't have a choice, I must remove the mirror. I was successful without damaging the wall behind the mirror so now Gwen has a knife rack on a wall without a mirror. Click both photos to enlarge.

Early morning with Miss Dory parked next to our Carriage Fifth Wheel at "home base", Sutherlin

Saturday, April 16, 2016: We have arrived a "home base", our lot at the Timber Valley SKP RV Park in Sutherlin, Oregon. This is where we keep our Carriage, 36', 3 slide fifth wheel and my shop. I swore, the first thing I was going to do when arriving at home base was to empty all the storage bins in Miss Dory and get rid of everything we don't need plus reorganize the storage bins. So, that's what I started on today. I got one side done, tomorrow will be the other side.

This morning, I was up with the sun and the mist so took photos of Miss Dory parked next to the fifth wheel greeting the rising sun.

Click the photo for another view.

Gwen and Lesa at grandparents grave


Sunday, April 10, 2016: Today was a fun family day, our last weekend in Klamath Falls. I went with Gwen and her daughter Lesa to visit the cemetery where Gwen's Father and grandparents are buried. This was a day for memories.

Ready to show to the dealers.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016: I spent the day getting our Sutherlin home ready for Gwen's return. Then continued with washing and photographing the Toyota Prius. I've listed it on Craigslist and plan to show it to dealers tomorrow. We would like to trade for a Subaru Forester but there is only ONE in the entire states of Oregon and Washington. Still, one dealer has offered a good price on that ONE, IF they can get it from another dealer. Tomorrow is "field trip" day to talk with a few dealers. This is a fun car to drive and much more sporty than a Forester so I have mixed feelings about this. (smiley face)

New tires for the Prius Mount and balance
Tuesday, April 5, 2016: You can't sell a car if the tires are nearly bald so I went to my favorite tire dealer, Les Schwab. Boy, does the car drive and feel better with new rubber. This was a travel day from Klamath Falls to Sutherlin for me in the Samurai. It's three hours of torture in the Samurai. I had forgotten how nice the Prius was, what a difference from the Samurai. I wish I could keep it but it can't be towed without a dolly so "our needs have changed". Gwen wants something she can take off-road so our compromise is a Subaru Forester. Now, just to find one with a manual transmission (so we can tow it).
Hiking away from the lake
This isn't camping!
Ranch land east of Klamath Falls
Saturday and Sunday, April 2-3, 2016: I went hiking while Lesa and Mark rode their ATVs on the miles of roads surrounding the lake. Gwen took the dogs for a long walk. We all enjoyed Mark's 42 foot toyhauler. He rolled out the awning at night to reveal a 20 foot LED strip light along the edge of the awning. We also had a serious camp fire because Mark was able to get good firewood with his Stihl chainsaw. Mark also used his dutch oven to bake a peach/raspberry cobbler. I guess we really did learn something about "camping" this weekend. Click the photos for additional views.
We found our favorite Gerber Reservoir campsite
The Stan H. Spring
Previous campers here were real ASSHOLES
Friday, April 1, 2016: Lesa and Mark want to go "camping" this weekend. I put "camping" into quotes because we are "living" in our RV, not camping in it yet we are doing the same thing as Lesa and Mark and in the same location. We have the same experience yet I think we experience it differently. Originally we were going to Lake Shasta but couldn't get any help from either the forest service or Bureau of Land Management for dispersed camping areas around the lake. Only one area was suggested which we didn't want to visit. That helped us decide to visit Gerber Reservoir, only 1.25 hours from Klamath Falls. Gwen and I visited this same location in June, 2009. This time we tried to get lakeside but the ground is too soft and I was not able to level Miss Dory, the hydraulic jacks just sunk into the ground (even with blocks under the jacks). Click the sign photo for our first try lakeside. We moved back to the campground area where the ground was more solid. Click the spring photo for that campsite. Yes, we are in the trees, so no solar charging. We are here only two days so we won't have power problems. The final photo shows what we found left by the previous campers. The fire pit was full of beer cans. What's the name given to campers who disrespect a camp area like this? I'd call them ASSHOLES. We didn't experience anything this bad even when we were campground hosts. Gwen picked up their mess and we will dispose of the cans properly. Click this last photo for a photo of our campsite with Mark's 42 foot toy hauler.

Lucy in today's snow, Reno, Nevada
Monday, March 28, 2016: It's chilly here in Klamath Falls but I was sent these photos of my Granddaughter, Lucy, in Reno, Nevada. This is the snow they received today. Reno is only 250 miles south of Klamath Falls and at the same elevation yet they get the snow and we didn't! Good job, Scott, on the photos and the collage.
I'm in my "Elmer Fudd" hat showing the size of my new Fold N Go Thursday, March 23, 2016: I've been waiting to get to Oregon to replace our old barbeque grill. That happened today. I've had the "Fold N Go" by Coleman on my Amazon Wish List for two months. It's small (holds four burgers or two burgers and two buns), light weigh cast aluminum, very easy to clean, electronic start and easy to store. Tonight was my first time to use the grill. It fits my portable propane tank fitting so I don't have to use those little green tanks. I also have a griddle to fit perfectly so on a warm morning I can fix pancakes. Click the photos for additional views. I like the red color too. You can buy one too! The Fold N Go is just large enough for four burgers

Lunch at Lake of the Woods in the snow.
Sunday, March 20, 2016: This was a wet day in Klamath Falls so we decided on a road trip in Mark's 4WD Chevy pickup truck to Medford to visit Costco and REI. On the way, we stopped at Lake of the Woods where we had lunch on a heated patio on the edge of the lake during a snow storm. The resort stays open during the winter but the busy season is during the warm summer months. We continued our trip to Medford where we all found something to bring home.
Building a canvas garage Saturday, March 19, 2016: This was a great day to build a Costco garage for Lesa. It was a good thing Lesa's friend Mark was the engineer for the project. He made sure the garage was erected correctly. You see, Klamath Falls has some pretty strong winds at times. There are concrete blocks buried at the base of each upright. The uprights are anchored to the blocks. At the end of the assembly, Lesa drove off after ice tea so I drove the Samurai into the garage as a joke. Lesa enjoyed the joke. Click the photos for additional views. Almost finished
In line at the DMV before they opened today.Monday, March 14, 2016: I have a long list of "to do" items for Miss Dory when returning to Oregon. I actually completed several today. Number ONE on my list was to get Miss Dory registered in my state of Oregon. I decided to be at the DMV before 8 am when they opened. In spite of the icy road conditions, seven other customers made the DMV before me so I was number 8 in line. The Arizona Motor Vehicle Department had given us a temporary registration and title which expires in six more days. While at the Arizona MVD (yes, they are the MVD, not DMV), I had them do a VIN inspection knowing Oregon would require one. This morning two DMV staff members worked for 20 minutes to learn if they could accept the Arizona VIN inspection. If they would not accept the inspection, I would have to bring the motorhome to them. Fortunately, they decided it could be accepted. Before giving up the Lazy Daze, I kept the Oregon license plates knowing I could save money by transferring them to Miss Dory. So that's what happened today. Miss Dory is now an Oregonian. Click the photo.

Parked in the driveway at Gwen's daughter's house
Sunday, March 13, 2016: Here's a different view of our parking spot at Gwen's daughter's house. Check the telephone wires hanging under the power line. Gwen had to lift those wires so Miss Dory would fit. I hope we remember to lift the wires on the way out of the driveway.
Stormy on the drive from Verdi to Klamath FallsSaturday, March 12, 2016: A travel day from Verdi, Nevada to Klamath Falls, Oregon. We planned this day to slip between storms but still got our share of stormy weather. The crosswinds between Verdi and Susanville, California were the worst I've ever experienced. "High Profile Vehicles" were NOT advised and one truck trailer was seen on the side of the road flipped over. I slowed to below the speed limit figuring the warning was enough for me to be more careful. We also encountered heavy snow over one pass but, fortunately, it was still only 4" of slush, where my tires still reached the pavement. It was a short 5 mile section so grateful we didn't have to deal with more of it. The route we drove took us through the small town of Adin, California with ONE general store. The store had a little bit of everything, sporting goods, groceries, cafe, gift shop, and clothing. It is one of my favorite locations to stop. Click the photo for a view of the Adin Supply Company.
Waiting for a storm in Verdi, Nevada
Friday, March 11, 2016: We are in Verdi, Nevada only four days and all four have been stormy. Mostly just strong winds making it very cold but also overcast and rain showers during the day. The nights were clear, cold and windy. Still, we enjoyed our visit.

Noah is all smiles riding a carousel horse


Thursday, March 10, 2016: Today was my day to spend with Noah while his dad went to work and his sister went to kindergarten. We started the day with crafts for about 1.5 hours. Next, we were hungry so McDonald's was our choice. From there we drove to Dollar Tree to shop for something for Gwen then something for Noah. So Noah looked at every toy in the Dollar Tree at least three times. I finally asked if he would like ME to make a decision since it was so difficult. He agreed so I chose a 12" plastic dinosaur. Even though he knows all the dinosaurs by name and likes them, he was not happy with my choice. He quickly decided on a package of three plastic boats. From the Dollar Tree, we drove to Boomtown hoping the carousel would be running. It was and Noah really liked the ride. We finally drove back to the RV and before Noah took a nap, he rode his bike to show me he no longer needed training wheels. Click the photo for Noah on his bike. This was a special day.

Lucy loves the trampoline

Wednesday, March 9, 2016: This is my granddaughter Lucy. She loves free play day at the gym where she takes lessons. Her favorite is anything she can jump on like the trampoline. Click the photos for more jumping photos.

Here is a video so you can really get the idea of how much Lucy likes jumping. Click here for the video.

Jumping into the foam bin

Donner Summit at noon today
Boreal Ridge Ski Area at the top of Donner Summit today
Tuesday, March 8, 2016: This was a travel day from Lodi, California to Verdi, Nevada. The day was clear when we started and was forecast to be clear but the further we got into the mountains, the more threatening the weather. We must climb to Donner Summit (7,100 feet) to get to Verdi and the descent into Truckee, California from Donner Summit is especially steep and subject to ice so I was slow in the descent. Other than the dark skies and what I call "flaking", the roads were clear and we arrived in Verdi in good time. However, once we arrived, Verdi was experiencing serious winter weather, strong wind and very cold. Much different from the 80 degree weather we left in Arizona. Still, we are here to visit my children and grandchildren so worth the effort.

Phillip is fixing Mom's furnace



Monday, March 7, 2016: We woke up with my mother's furnace not working. While doing what I knew to do I discovered only one of the four burners was igniting which caused the furnace to shut down. So I called a furnace repair after consulting YELP. I found a five star rated firm. Phillip showed up, identified the problem in seconds and fixed it in minutes. Phillip told me the furnace installation caused condensation in the flu pipe which dripped down the flu pipe and clogged the gas jets. Lodi has been getting heavy rain lately so after Phillip left, I chose to look at the top of the flu pipe coming through the roof. The cap on the pipe was the original cap so 69 years old. It was paper thin and had lost its integrity. My quick fix was to cover the cap with aluminum foil. I figure that will last the rest of the rainy season in Lodi. Click the photo to see my repair.

My Mother and Gwen ready for church

Sunday: March 6, 2016: The three of us head to church this morning with clear skies after a night of rain and wind.

After church, Gwen and I check the ATT store for Mom's missing cane then off to the Raley's Grand Re-Opening for 99¢ eggs and apples at Mom's request. We also hit J.C. Penney for a coupon special plus new PJs for Mom.

Later in the afternoon we had an ATT service call to fix Mom's Internet connection. I called for the service and was told they would schedule the service for Sunday afternoon. That was a surprise but an additional surprise was the claim that we should get better than 3meg download speed with DSL. I'll believe it when I see it. Anyway, we now have a dedicated DSL plug in the house which should solve Mom's network problems.

Last, we will watch the last episode of Downton Abby tonight together.

My sister clearing a downspout



Friday, March 4, 2016: I was able to spend some time with my Sister today when it began to rain. The weather forecasters are predicting a "river of wet weather" for the next few days. Robin is my sister's partner and holding the ladder. Robin reported to me that water was dripping into the kitchen and my sister was going to fix the problem. "I've got to take a photo of this" I responded. Apparently she has fixed this problem before. She knew the downspout was clogged and knew how to clear it. In fact, once she reached the top of the ladder, it was only seconds until water was rushing out of the bottom of the downspout. It's nice to know that she is ready to do "handyman" work while I'm traveling around. My two sisters do a great job of checking on Mom.

Alaska RV Tours
Thursday, March 3, 2016: We got some exciting news today. Several weeks ago Gwen and I applied to become staff members for RV Adventure Treks. Today we learned that our application has been accepted and we will be the "Tailgunner" for the 60 day Alaska tour beginning June 29. We are very excited to work with this well-known tour company. They have done this trip many times so we know we will learn all the best places to visit plus the history details of each place we travel. This is truly a "paid vacation" for us although we know there will be much work involved too. I invite you to visit their Webpage (click the photo) and read the itinerary of the 60 day Alaska tour.

My sister and Mom are good grocery shoppers

Wednesday, March 2, 2016: Today I tagged along with my sister and Mom while they went grocery shopping at the newly remodeled Raley's Grocery store. Both are coupon collectors and Raley's provided many coupons to celebrate their "grand re-opening". In the photo they are discussing the next item to put into the basket to take advantage of the next coupon. Mom likes to visit so she talks to nearly everyone in the store. After we got home, I was instructed to tell Gwen "dinner was to be fixed my ME and her".

Parked a Mom's houseTuesday, March 1, 2016: This was a travel day from Tehachapi, California to Lodi, California. We are visiting my Mother before traveling further north. Mom is very active and we usually get tired trying to keep up with her. Fortunately, she has a large driveway where we can park while we visit. I believe she has a list of "to-do" items while we visit.

Watching the sailplanes take off and land

Monday, February 29, 2016: Here we are, parked in Tehachapi, California on the border of a sailplane airport. Oh darn! Nothing to do but watch the planes take off and land. Click the photo to see what I mean. There is nothing but grass between us and the planes so it is easy to sit and be entertained. It is also a quiet and dark location because we are up against the mountains to the south.

The only dirt football field in the United States ... in Trona.
Our personal air show this morning at the Pinnacles
Sunday, February 28, 2016: This was our last day at the Trona, Pinnacles and a travel day to Tehachapi, California. Before leaving we had to visit the community of Trona, California where the town is known for the only dirt high school football field in the United States and, of course, for the potash scrapped from the huge dry lake bed nearby. Click the photo at left to see the largest employer in the area. This morning, we were treated to a personal air show by six parafoil ultralights. They flew overhead and circled the Pinnacles. Pass your pointer through the parafoil photo to see them fly.

Saturday, February 27, 2016: We spent our day wandering the Trona Pinnacles National Landmark. In eastern California, the sun rises an hour earlier than western Arizona because of the time zone change. That means, I was up early to see the moon setting. Morgan and I took a walk around the Pinnacles in the morning to take photos. Click these photos for additional views.

The pinnacles are calcium carbonate deposited many centuries ago when this area was deeply underwater. As we walk around, I imagine we are walking on an ancient sea bed.

My feeling about this location is it would be a good place to film a movie like "The Martian". The photos from Mars and this landscape look alike to me. Does that mean the Martian landscape was also once under hundreds of feet of water?

Views of the Trona Pinnacles The moon setting in the morning
Driving into the Mojave Desert Friday, February 26, 2016: This was another travel day. Today it was from Quartzsite, Arizona to the Trona Pinnacles in California near the town of Trona. This was a long drive for us but without any problems. On the drive we were attracted to a replica 1950's restaurant called Peggy's Diner. I would give 4 stars for the decoration but only 2.5 stars for the food. Click the left photo to see Peggy's. We learned of the Pinnacles by reading an RV travel report called "Gone with the Wynns". I doubt we would have ever driven the 5.5 mile dirt road without trusting the Wynn's report or driving the road first with the Samurai. Unfortunately, another camper had the Wynn's camping location otherwise we would have been in their same spot. More photos and reports to follow. Click both photos for additional views. Entering the Pinnacles National Landmark

Gwen shopping at her favorite kitchen store in Quartzsite
Thursday, February 25, 2016: I though Quartzsite would be the perfect location to find a couple of RV parts I needed so I took several hours today to visit the promising stores. I finally found one of the parts I needed, a storage bin latch which I will show in a later post. I did not find the other part. Gwen chose to visit the kitchen store she likes. Usually, if we spend any time near Quartzsite, this store is the one she visits first. She knew exactly what she wanted so purchased two hoping they would last until next year. Tomorrow we leave Quartzsite for a scenic location in California.

The lowest price yet for fuelWednesday, February 24, 2016: This was a travel day from Roosevelt Lake to Quartzsite, Arizona. We had to drive through Phoenix to get to our destination so stopped at a Costco for fuel and a few other things. I had already checked fuel prices and learned a half dozen Costco stores were offering fuel at $1.279 but this Costco was closer to our route. This is the lowest price on fuel we have paid in a long time.

Click the photo to see the entrance to the Hi-Jolly free camping area 3 miles north of Quartzsite on Highway 95. This is our third time to stay at Hi-Jolly this winter. All our visits have been short. If we were to stay longer, we would choose a different location, close but not so crowded or dusty and offers more privacy. Having said that, we drove deeper into the camping area which is quieter and darker. We are staying only two nights then on toward California.

Our second hike at the Tonto Monument
Approaching the lower Salado Ruin
The view from inside the ruin
Tuesday, February 2, 2016: Gwen, Jeanne and I visit the Tonto Monument again after hiking to the Upper Ruin three weeks ago. This time we hike to the Lower Ruin, a short 1/2 mile hike but up a steep climb. The trail is paved and advertised as "handicapped accessible" but I would sure not want to try to push a wheelchair up this half mile. Again, the weather was perfect and the views seemed unlimited. Click all photos for another view.

It's time for fresh water


Sunday, February 21, 2016: Ok, it's happening again. We didn't manage our utilities very well so it's time to dump and get fresh water. That's what is happening in the photo, fresh water, 90 gallons of fresh water so it takes a while to fill the tank. Click the photo for the dump line-up. Fortunately I don't have to put the solar panels down to get to the dump station. We are leaving Roosevelt Lake mid-week so we will have just the right amount in our holding tanks since we are traveling to more boondock areas.

Tonight's moon is spectacular in Arizona. This photo doesn't do it justice but the best I can do with my Samsung S6 phone.

Wooden artwork found in Globe Saturday, February 20, 2016: Today, the four of us, Gary, Jeanne, Gwen and myself drove to Globe, a copper mining town nearby. We stopped into a trading post hoping for gifts but found the items far too expensive. Still, I wanted to remember the wood art work thinking I could make it myself once I return to Sutherlin. My son, Joe, is interested in a turntable so I sent him this photo as a joke. I think he is more interested in a turntable the style I owned in the late 60's and 70's. Another reason to visit Globe was to see the Pueblo ruins. This was apparently a "distribution center" for the Pueblo tribe. Before leaving, we also found the lowest price on gas for several years. Click these photos for additional views. Vintage turntable

The Javelina like to eat prickly Pear


Friday, February 19, 2016: Today, while taking a hike, Gwen learned the camp has been visited by Javelina, a small wild bore (looks like a pig). She was told Javelina like to eat the Prickly Pear Cactus in the park. As we walked the trail we could see where the Javelina munched on many of the Prickly Pear. Click the photo to see another view. We are not sure what animal is making the stick nest found in many of the Prickly Pear Cactus. It seems far too big for a pack rat nest.

Beginning this off road adventure in the water
What are these three doing with this dead Sajuaro The Four Peaks above Lake Roosevelt

Crested Suguaro


Thursday, February 18, 2016: This is another off road adventure which begins with crossing Reno Creek. This takes us to the north side of Roosevelt Lake with a great view of the Four Peaks Wilderness area and of the Lake. Gwen, Gary, Jeanne and I were searching for treasures among the cactus. I believe Gwen and Jeanne found what they were looking for. I believe they will both turn the cactus treasures into some sort of art.

The best treasure of the day was finding the crested Saguaro. I was watching all the Saguaro on the hillside for the rare crested one (rare: one in 250,000). Fortunately, Jeanne spotted this one on the side of the road. It's not known what causes this. Speculation of the cause is genetics, lightening strike or freeze damage. Click all the photos for additional views.

Single lane Salt River bridge just before meeting Roosevelt Lake
Gary and Jeanne having lunch with an incredible view
The diversion dam on the Salt River Wednesday, February 17, 2016: Let's take a cross country trip to Young, Arizona on a partially paved road (about 30 miles of gravel and dirt). Young, Arizona is a very small community and very remote. The valley is located with two roads leading into the valley. Both roads have at least 15 miles of rough dirt and gravel. Still, the community seems self contained with a small grocery, hardware and animal feed store. We saw one restaurant plus an elementary school. Click the photos to see Young and the incredible views we saw on the way to Young. We reached Pleasant Valley, the location of Young, AZ

Gwen is searching a dead Sajuaro for Sajuaro boots
Tuesday, February 16, 2016: Gwen learned during one of our ranger lead tours about the "boots" found in a dead Saguaro Cactus. A boot is manufactured by the cactus as a response to the many birds which create a hole then nest in a Saguaro. Gwen has learned to decorate the boots in many ways. The photo at the right is a boot suspended with a plant in the boot cavity. Click the photos for additional views. Gwen decorates a Sajuaro boot
A replica of the Zane Grey CabinMonday, February 15, 2016: Gwen, Gary, Jeanne and I visited Payson again. While there we heard of the Zane Grey cabin which we found next to the local museum. Gwen learned we could have a private tour with a guide for only $2.50 per person. During the tour we learned that the original cabin was located many miles away and was destroyed in a fire. This cabin was reproduced by groups in Payson to share Zane Grey's experiences and lifestyle. Enough interest was sparked that Gwen has already purchased several Zane Grey books and I will read some too once I finish my current read.

Yesterday laundry, today it was "dump and pump"
Saturday, February 13, 2016: Yesterday was laundry, today was to be a quick visit to the dump station. But the Tonto National Forest must have had someone with no RV experience design the dump station. There are about 400 campsites at this campground and the one dump station with one recepticle is open on Saturday and Sunday from 10 am to 2 pm. So you can't be in a hurry when you go to the dump station here. Having only one dump recepticle open for such few hours is bad enough but ... the hose for fresh water is located at the end of the station. After dumping, you drive forward for fresh water which takes much longer to fill than dumping the holding tanks. The road is now blocked to the folks behind. Some of those folks may want to go home and don't need fresh water but they must wait for those who DO want water. So this is a poor design for those on their way home.

Visiting Payson, AZ, I couldn't pass this up

Friday, February 12, 2016: We set out today to do the laundry and were told the only place nearby was at Jake's Corner, about 20 miles distance. So Gwen and I and Jeanne drove all the way Jake's Corner. We learned there were three washers and one was out of order while a second was being used. Gwen and I needed five washers and Jeanne needed three. Jake's Corner wasn't going to work for us. Gwen and I drove on to Payson, another 20 miles while Jeanne decided to go to Payson another day. Click the photo to see the laundry in Payson, very clean and quick. While there we did some shopping for groceries and a new carbon monoxide detector. After the shopping, Gwen and I revisited a restaurant of five years ago. As I walked in the door, I noticed this poster on the door. The name was all I needed, I couldn't pass it up and it was really good! So was the fish and chip dinner special.

The Roosevelt Dam near Roosevelt, Arizona
The most exciting part of the Apache Trail, the side of a cliff.
One lane road with not much of a guard rail Not all the route is this narrow Our destination, Tortilla Flat Saloon
Thursday, Fabruary 11, 2016: This is the photo story of our drive on the Apache Trail yesterday. The route is 44 miles long from Apache Junction to Roosevelt Dam with 23 miles of gravel road. This is not our first time to be on this route. We did it five years ago and I built a whole page to describe our experience. This time we were in vehicles better suited for such a route although we saw all sorts of vehicles brave enough to drive it. The views and the "Arizona experience" can not be beat. Gwen has stated, "I never want to do that road again". I agree, although I DID see some hiking trailheads off this road which look interesting. This time we visited Tortilla Flat which is a popular destination for tourists.

Gary's invention to shade his refrigerator


Monday, February 8, 2016: A warm day kept Gary and my refrigerators running all afternoon. Gary decided to invent shade for his refrigerator. His invention is in the photo. He moved it every hour following the sun. I listened to his refrigerator still running all afternoon, of course mine was running too, but it's good to know, shade doesn't help. I investigated Gary's refrigerator because it's the same as ours. Since ours seems to burn a lot of propane I was wondering if there were parts missing. I learned Gary's refrigerator was burning lots of propane too. So, perhaps I'll stop worrying about ours.

Later, Gwen, Morgan and I took a hike around the park. Click the photo to see a view across the lake. The award winning bridge, just in front of the dam, can be seen in the distance.

A view of the Cholla Campground in the distanceSunday, February 7, 2016: Gary and I went on a short drive today to learn of a "bail-out" point on a long hike I'm planning. On the return from the mountain search we found a good view point of Roosevelt Lake and of Cholla Campground where we are camped (the arrow points the way). Click to enlarge the photo.

Today is Superbowl Sunday which has become a huge US national sport day. The best part was the introduction of the first 49 "Most Valuable Players".

The tour to the Tonto Monument begins
Approaching the Tonto ruins
I'm taking a panorama, click here to see it.
Saturday, February 6, 2016: Our friends, Steve and Tina joined Gary, Jeanne, Gwen and myself for a tour of the Tonto Monument. I made the tour reservation two months back knowing the tour would be limited to 15. The hike to the ruins is allowed only following a tour leader. This tour was full with 15 participants. The round trip hike was only 2.5 miles with 600 feet of elevation increase. Something the residents of the ruins would have had to do to get water and tend crops. Will and Tim are the volunteer tour leaders telling of the best guesses by archiologists of the life style of the inhabitants. The cave dwellings were built about 1300 and abandoned in 1450, the reasons for the dwellings to be built and abandoned after only 150 years is only a guess. Will and Tim showed how the area provided life sustaining plants, animals and water. The views and the visit with friends could not be surpassed. Click the photos for additional views such as this one.
A sample of the Apache Trail we will exploreFriday, February 5, 2016: We made a long drive today back to Phoenix to meet with Gwen's Daughter, Lesa who flew from Oregon to Phoenix to visit an Arizona friend. There are three routes back to Roosevelt Lake. Highway 60 was our first route with lots of road construction. Highway 187 is the route we drove BACK to Phoenix, a beautiful road and route. Finally, the Apache Trail, mostly a single lane, mountain road with half the route as gravel, very tight, 15 mph hairpin turns and 1/2 step from being a 4 x 4 route only. The Apache Trail is how we returned to Phoenix. Very scenic and personal (up close views of the Arizona Mountains) but a very slow road. It's half the length of the Highway 187 route but takes 30 minutes longer. We will explore the Apache Trail again.
Cholla Campground at Roosevelt LakeThursday, February 4, 2016: A travel day from Apache Junction Elks Club to the Cholla Campground in the Tonto National Forest on the shores of Roosevelt Lake located about 50 miles east of Apache Junction as the crow flies. We had to take a road since we aren't a crow, a much longer route and with road construction, a challenge. Still, we arrived about 2:30, enough time to set up the DISH satellite and tip the solar panels to the south. We were here five years ago with Ralph and Janet. The camping fee has more than doubled to $8 but not much else has changed. We expect to visit many of the same features as 2011 but this time with Gary and Jeanne.
A camping neighbor at the Elks Park
Hiking behind the Elks Club

Wednesday, February 3, 2016: Our neighbor at the Elks park has built his own RV to fit all his "toys and tools". He is pretty proud of his design. He has a cubby hole for everything and everything in it's place. He has a nice set of solar panels on the roof too. Click that photo to enlarge.

There is a nice trail behind the Elks club. We hiked for about a mile before turning around. While walking in the desert, we saw a coyote nearby. Morgan didn't notice and the coyote seemed to ignore us too. The hike came after a day of running errands and shopping but now we are ready to move tomorrow to Roosevelt Lake.

View of the Superstition Mountains from our camping location at the Apache Junction Elks ClubTuesday, February 2, 2016: Another travel day, this time from the La Posa South LTVA to the Apache Junction, Arizona Elks Club. They have as many as 30 RV parking locations, most with a nice view of the Superstition Mountains nearby. I believe we have the best parking spot with a private picnic area and windshield view of the Superstitions. Last year I backpacked into the Superstition Mountains with a small group I met as a "Meetup" group. You'll find some great, close-up photos of a 16 mile loop trail through the mountains at the link above. Today, we are here to enjoy the view and do some shopping before moving on to Roosevelt Lake. I was surprised how popular the Elks Apache Junction RV parking is since there are NO hookups, just a piece of desert to park on. Still, we like the rural feeling, the sound of the coyotes and, of course, the view. Click this photo to see our picnic area next to our rig.

Camped at La Posa South near Quartzsite, ArizonaMonday, February 1, 2016: This was a travel day from the Imperial Dam LTVA to the La Posa South, LTVA near Quartzsite, Arizona. When camped at an LTVA you have a choice of a two week pass for $40 or a season pass for $180. We purchased the two week pass knowing we planned to move on. The pass works at ALL the LTVAs so no new pass is needed for the La Posa LTVA which expires in two days. I wanted to stop here only to talk with the booth selling digital TV antennae. We are considering discontinuing our DISH satellite TV contract due to the cost so would be using over-the-air TV reception is we wanted television service. We go through this cycle every time we have a satellite contract. We get 200 channels that we don't watch and much of what we DO watch is available for free over-the-air. We hate paying the high contract satellite fees so here we are again, about to turn off satellite TV. The only antennae we have is the unit which came with the motorhome. The antennae said to "just leave well enough along", he doubted he could provide anything any better. Click the photo for another view.

Sales Tax of 10.6 percent

While visiting Quartzsite, Gwen wanted to visit "Silly Als" Pizza restaurant because it is one of her favorites. Quartzsite, in the past, has been a destination for winter RVers but we have noticed a significant decline in winter visitors over the last several years. We've heard rumors of why that is happening. One of the reasons for the decline is the implementation of a city sales tax of 3%. The city tax added to the state sales tax brings the total tax to 10.6%. I suppose many Quartzsite visitors come from states with a substantial sales tax so it's not a surprise to them. However, we come from Oregon with NO sales tax so having to pay an additional 10.6% plus tip on top of the meal bill will likely have us looking to alternatives. We just purchased our Motorhome in Arizona but did not have to pay the Arizona sales tax because we are Oregon residents. We've learned the city sales tax must be applied even to out-of-state residents. Surely RV buyers think-twice about a Quartzsite purchase due to the city tax. Something HAS affected the winter visitor population in the Quartzsite area, this is just one reason to stay away. Of course, Quartzsite is STILL too crowded for us so if we return, it will be at some distance from here. If you like "flea-markets, garage sales, street vendors, and junk sellers", you must visit Quartzsite at least once during the winter months.

Jeanne gets her wish, close-up to a burro

Sunday, January 31, 2016: Jeanne finally got her wish before leaving the LTVA, to be close-up to a burro. As we were driving the access road, Gwen spotted a couple of burros and Jeanne was the first out of her vehicle to get a photo. They weren't very close so Jeanne called to them and this one came trotting to see if she had a treat. These are wild burros so Jeanne was careful to keep from biting distance. Click this photo to see the photo Jeanne took. She also took this one. Thank you Jeanne for sharing your photos.

Yuma Date FestivalSaturday, January 30, 2016: Every time we drive to Yuma we drive by Date orchards so we had to attend the Yuma Date Festival in Old Towne Yuma. I was expecting the advertised "Art and Craft booths" but found most information booths for social programs and agricultural information. Still, we enjoyed walking through Old Towne Yuma. The surprise for me was the crowd. Since there were very few booths selling product, the visitors had to be attending for the information about Dates, agricultural products, agricultural equipment displays or other social programs. As we were returning to the LTVA, we passed the harvesting of lettuce. All these "salad" crops are labor intensive. Click the photo to see the harvesting crew in the field.
Entering Los Algodones, Mexico Friday, January 29, 2016: This was our ONE day to visit Mexico. The tradition for US tourists to visit Algodones is for four items. They shop for new glass, dental work, stock up on pharmacy (without a prescription) and for one bottle of liquor (at a good price). We did purchase a supply of antibiotics for the next bacteria related cold but otherwise, our shopping was for gifts, a blanket to cover our couch, a belt for me, and a windbreaker for Gwen. Gary was the real winner by ordering then getting a pair of prescription sun glasses in two hours. Click the photos for additional views. Shopping for gifts

Our first campfire


Thursday, January 27, 2016: Gwen and I have been RV camping for ten years but have never had a campfire (that I remember). But with Gary and Jeanne's encouragement (and insistence), we bought firewood at Home Depot (which turns out to be White Birch from Estonia) and had our first campfire. It was perfect weather, just a slight breeze and with good friends to listen to my lesson about Estonia (from Wikipedia) since our firewood came from Estonia. The real excitement today was the sighting (finally) of the wild burros which inhabit the area. Click the photo to see the burros on the hill.

20 off road vehicles ready to start into the desert
Driving into the early morning sun
Climbing Black Mountain Arriving at the summit Starting off the back side of the mountain
Getting very steep and rocky Some of the group has already made it down to the floor of the desert The last of the group slides to the desert floor

View the rocky path off Black Mountain


Thursday, January 27, 2016: Today was our first true off road test of the Samurai. It did well, keeping up with the Jeeps. At the Imperial LTVA, every Wednesday at 8:30 am, the leader of the off road group (handle: slobber Jaws) leads an off road adventure into the desert (Jaws Jaunts). Gary and Jeanne drove their Jeep, we drove our Samurai and there were 18 other drivers. We didn't know where we were going because all announcements are made by CB radio and neither of us had a CB with us. As it turned out, we drove to the summit of Black Mountain found to the west into California. It was an easy drive to the summit through a sea of large black volcanic rock. The trip down the mountain was much different. The road was really more of a path with large rocks and holes often on the edge of a steep drop-off to the desert floor. It was enough for me to hold my breath in several occasions. Lunch on the desert floor was delayed due to one of the Jeeps breaking part of the drive train. The rest of the ride was relatively easy with no more climbing or descending but cross country driving in the desert. So the Samurai and it's passengers survived some tough off road travel. Click each photo for additional views.

At the Yuma Elks Club with friends.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016: What a good day. Gwen is visiting with some Escapee Chapter 37 friends from our early days of RVing. The Yuma Elks club was chosen for the meeting because of the good food and because most of us are Elks members. Dick Champion made us aware of the chicken buffet dinner meeting or we would have missed seeing everyone. Dick has always liked joking with me about my equipment such as the Yamaha generator I purchased in 2010. He and my friend Ralph own Honda generators. It was good to catch up with RV friends.

Gary is preparing a panel for mounting.
Mounting bracket and roof cover over entrance hole
The finished installation
Monday, January 25, 2016: We have finished the solar charging installation on Gary and Jeanne's motorhome. They are liking the idea of desert camping off-grid and wanted the convenience of solar charging. As I explained to them, you don't get solar to save money, you get it for convenience and quiet charging. Both our motorhomes have generators with high powered chargers to charge the batteries quickly but it's so much nicer to use the sun and avoid the generator noise. This is my sixth solar installation since the first time and considerably cheaper. Gary used the same solar charger I did on my first installation. The Morningstar is a wonderful charger and Gary got the remote to go with it. We needed to lift the panels the long way due to the space on Gary's roof so came up with a method to support the panels to pivot on each end. Gary has designed a method to raise the panels even higher to point directly at the sun but will install that after he returns to Oregon. We manufactured our own "combiner box" following a design we saw at the solar dealer. The clips used to connect the wire to the roof I learned about from the solar installation on the Lazy Daze They are self-adhesive and really make a clean look. I found them (accidentally) at Home Depot. Gary needed only the panels, charge controller and wire for the system. The total for a 320 watt system was $1,300. His system was more than mine mostly because of the better Morningstar controller. We did all the labor. The dealer wanted $450 to install the system. I DO plan to change my "combiner box" to the style we did for Gary, it's much better than using wire nuts. Click the photos for additional views.

Arizona Market Place, Yuma

Sunday, January 24, 2016: It has been a few years since we have shopped at the Arizona Market Place. It is an outdoor mall with seasonal vendors. We first visited in 2011 and unfortunately the vendors have not been returning so the market is about half the size now what it was back in 2011. The tool vendor I like to visit is still here but many others have gone elsewhere. This was a place to find nearly everything needed for an RV and more with good prices but now one must watch the prices carefully because I've learned I can get the same items online at Amazon or in Quartzsite cheaper. Still, I DID find some high quality LED bulbs at a discount putting price considerably cheaper that what I've found online. When installed, these discounted bulbs looked great. Gwen found a shirt and dress for $10 each. Click the photo for another view.

Our afternoon began with a visit to a date processing plant
We were anxious to share "The Names" with Gary and Jeanne
A tribute to our friend and mentorFriday, January 22, 2016: We drove our "Jeeps" into the desert today specifically to find "The Names" but first we had to stop at the Imperial Date Gardens to shop for date related items and a "date shake". "The Names" is a location near the Picacho State Recreation Area where thousands of names have been laid out with rocks to identify those who have visited and a memorial to those who have passed. No doubt, the desert means or has meant something special to every name laying on the desert floor. We specifically brought Gary and Jeanne because this is such and impressive part of the desert and very near where we are currently camped. While driving through "The Names" we came upon the "Bullshipper", the handle for Dick Montague. Dick and Doris are key people who helped guide Gwen and I when we were new to RVing. We learned about boondocking and desert camping from Dick and Doris. We also learned about living with solar power from them. They were the couple who first drove us to "The Names" and taught us the advantages of living in the LTVA. When I saw "Bullshipper", I was immediately saddened because Dick passed away recently. The tiny red car represents the red Tracker Dick would drive into the desert and the bull represents his ranch occupation he did for many years. Click all the photos for additional views.

The view of the LTVA to the northeast
Thursday, January 21, 2016: Our first day at the LTVA. Gwen was up early to watch the Australian Open Tennis Tournament live. I was fine tuning our solar charging system and very pleased. Even though we had the TV and satellite receiver on from dawn, plus the coffee maker, the solar charging system had the batteries fully charged before noon. This view is from the roof of Miss Dory while I was making solar adjustments. It is to the northeast toward the main part of the Imperial LTVA. You can see one of the fine advantages to boondock, desert camping, the private space surrounding the camping. Our friends, Gary and Jeanne are camped close to block the wind and make a "happy hour" space between our rigs. These LTVA areas (there are seven) are administrated by the BLM. This one has the most services to offer and the best organization (IMHO). The fee to camp and use the services (water, holding tank dump, garbage all located near the main service building about 1.5 miles from our location) is $40 per two weeks or $180 for the season from mid-September to mid-April. The pass received from the fee is accepted at all seven LTVA areas, so a camper could move around if desired. Click the photo to enlarge.

Our desert boondock location in the LTVA

Wednesday, January 20, 2016: This was a travel day from Tucson, Arizona to the Imperial Dam LTVA (Long Term Visitor Area) about 20 mile north of Yuma, Arizona. We are traveling with our friends, Gary and Jeanne. They are new to "off-grid" camping so we are showing them how to do it. It is also our first time off-grid with the new Dolphin motorhome and with the new solar charging system I installed three weeks ago. You can see two of my three solar panels pointing at the southern sky. We are parked at one of my favorite locations at the edge of the LTVA with a fabulous view of the wash and mountains to the west. I like putting out my "Rally" sign because it invites other Escapee members to join our "rally". Click this photo for another view from the west side.

Hiking the Bug Spring Trail
Gwen and Jeanne climbing in the snow
The trail is snow covered about half the distance and we follow a small creek as we pass through a valley The girls learn to navigate the stream without getting wet Gary and Jeanne suggested a shuttle hike since we had two cars

The last third of the trail is without snow


Monday, January 18, 2016: Our friends Gary and Jeanne plus Gwen and myself decided to do a serious hike called Bug Spring Trail which is on the road to Mt. Lemmon, the southern most ski area in the United States. Gary and Jeanne suggested a shuttle hike from the high point of the trail back to the lower trailhead. We began at 6,100 feet, climbed to 6,500 feet then descended to 5,000 feet. About half the 4.6 miles was in some serious snow pack making this the first hike I've done where I wished for MICROspikes. I may have to put them onto my wish list. Still, we all slipped and struggled up and down half the trail. On the way, we had our lunch at the top of the highest point looking at fabulous views. The snow exhausted us but the lunch gave us all the energy and will to continue the hike downhill. Click the photos for additional views.

High Spirit Flutes in Patagonia, AZ
Patagonia, Arizona historic railroad station, now the city hall
Tumacacori MissionFriday, January 15, 2016: A good day for a drive to the south. Gwen and I purchased Indian flutes from a friend a couple months ago in Bullhead City. The flutes are made in Patagonia, Arizona, a strange little artsy-fartsy town about 80 miles south of Tucson. That was our destination today to see the "flute store" (also known as High Spirit Flutes). There are hundreds of flutes to choose from in many different woods. Each is finely tuned to a specific key. My flute is in the key of "C" while Gwen's is in the key of "G". Gwen was looking for a smaller flute but after trying several decided to spend more time with her "G" flute before trying another. After Patagonia we drove on around to loop back to Tucson and found the Tumacacori Mission a National Historical Park. The Tumacacori Mission was first established in 1687 by Francisco Kino, a name well used in the Tucson area. This historic area was well used by the Indians for agriculture and for protection from the Apache.
Friends are treated to an authetic Ethiopian meal with Jacob as our guide
Injera is used to scoop the meal from the common plate
Thursday, January 14, 2016: Our friends Gary and Jeanne recognized Jacob, one of the RV park employees, as an Ethiopian man then became friends. Jeanne has spent time with the US Government in the country of Ethiopia helping train the trainer. During their discussions with Jacob, they learned of an authentic Ethiopian restaurant in Tucson. Jacob volunteered to be the guide to the food selections and explain Ethiopian customs during our meal. So our friends, Jack and Carol, were also invited. The right photo shows Injera, a sourdough-risen flatbread with a unique, slightly spongy texture made of teff flour. It resembles a folded pancake. The diner breads off a portion of the Injera then uses it to pick up food from a common plate. We ordered "The Works" from the menu (click the first photo to see the menu). The plate delivered to the table can be seen by clicking the Injera photo. All diners eat from the common plate, then, using the Injera to grab the food. No utensils are used. We were expecting some spicy food selections but none was too spicy and all was enjoyed. There was enough food for six with enough left over for Jacob's next-day lunch. This introduction to the Ethiopian culture was a real treat.

Hiking into the Tucson Mountain Park and the Sonoran Desert

The "Douglas Fir" of the Sonoran Desert




Wednesday, January 13, 2016: A great day for a hike, no wind and a warm 70 degrees. Gwen and I hiked from our RV park directly into the Tucson Mountain Park (an Arizona State Park) and part of the Sonoran Desert. This is a wonderful time of year to hike the desert, I sure wouldn't want to do it during the summer months although I'm sure the locals do in the early morning. Since Gwen and I have been visiting the desert every winter we have learned some of the native Sonoran plants. They should all be happy now since we had several days of rain last week. Click the photos for additional views. I call the Saguaro at the right I call the "Douglas Fir" of the Sonoran Desert (since I'm from Oregon). When you click that photo you'll see the Palo Verde which seems like a leafless tree but it actually has very tiny leaves to conserve water. Both are equally numerous in the Sonoran Desert. Walking through the desert you learn to appreciate all desert life.

The view of Desert Trails RV Park from the "observation hill".
Tuesday, January 12, 2016: Still recovering from a virus but I took the time (from resting) to take Morgan to the top of the "observation hill" in the center of Desert Trails RV Park. Today was a beautiful clear weather day and a great day for a photo. I have mixed feelings about this park. RVs are parked within ten feet of each other which is not to our liking. On the other hand, this park has a large variety of activities and many are physical such as hiking and cycling. Click the photo for a view in the opposite direction and of our parking space.
Gary and Jeanne join Gwen and I on a drive through the Saguaro National Park
This is a pretty tame road for "high clearance vehicles only"
Gwen photographs one of the majestic Saguaros Jeanne hiking back to our vehicles
Friday, January 8, 2016: We visit the Saguaro National Park which is only a few miles from our RV park, with our friends Jeanne and Gary. This is the first time for all of us. First, we stop at the Visitor Center for maps and gifts then onto the loop drives through the park. We did get a chance to drive a "high clearance vehicle" road but it was pretty tame. The Saguaro is special to the native American and incredibly adapted to this high desert environment. A Saguaro must be at least 75 years old before arms begin to grow so some are pretty old. We took Morgan but must be care when we hike among the cactus and other desert plants. She does not see well any longer and every bush and plant (and, of course, cactus) has some sort of spine ready to stab you. We guide Morgan around the bushes and cactus. Click all the photos for another view. No doubt, all these desert plants have been happy the last few day due to the rain.

Star Wars

Thursday, January 7, 2016: Ok ... raining all day so Gwen and I with Gary and Jeanne went to the new Star Wars movie with all the same cast (plus new cast) from 1977. After watching many previews, the movie finally started and it was action for two more hours. For some reason, it seemed more exciting back in 1977 but it still makes directors, producers and actors lots of money. I won't give away the plot or results.

We are visiting the Arizona-Desert Museum in Tucson
We attend a live animal demonstration Jeanne finds the mountain goat exhibit

Watching the cougar exhibit


Thursday, December 31, 2015: On New Years Eve day, we visit the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum with our friends Gary and Jeanne. This is a mostly outdoor museum to become educated with desert animals, plants and birds. We arrived early and left late and there is still much to see and do. This is a great way to learn about all the desert plants and why EVERY ONE has a thorn. Click the photos to see another view. It's Clemson and Alabama in the Championship Bowl.

Gwen and Jack riding the Tucson trolley to the Arizona Bowl
The Nevada band arrives at the stadium
The Colorado State band with a view of the Arizona Stadium
Gwen wrapped up for mid-30 degree temperatures, we are next to the Colorado band Tuesday, December 29, 2015: Last year we went to the Fiesta Bowl because we were within driving distance of the University of Phoenix Stadium. This year we are close to the Arizona Stadium for the first annual Arizona Bowl where the Nevada Wolfpack (from the University of Nevada, Reno) will play the Colorado State University Rams. Our friend Jack went along with us. Gary and Jeanne had planned to attend but their refrigerator stopped working so they waited for the "RV Doctor". Jack showed us how to ride the Tucson Trolley to the game, it's something we will have to try again to visit the downtown area. Since my three children and three grandchildren are Reno, Nevada residents we were routing for the Nevada Wolfpack. We arrived at the stadium just as the Nevada band was marching into the stadium. I'm always routing for the band since I played trombone in the marching band in high school and college. This was our first time into the Arizona Stadium, a Pac12 team where the Oregon Ducks have defeated Arizona many times. Of course, Arizona has defeated the Oregon State Beavers many times too. In this case, the Wolfpack defeated the Rams but it was a good game to the last second with the Rams threatening when time ran out. Click the photos for additional views.

Filtered water tap, new to us

Monday, December 28, 2015: This was a shopping day looking for Costco items, RV items, hardware items and groceries. One of the items was a replacement freshwater filter for our filtered fresh water tap. This is our fifth RV but our first fresh, filtered, water tap in an RV. Since we don't know the age of the filter, we want to change the filter. It turns out, this is a very expensive filter but good for 5000 gallons. I wasn't able to find the replacement so instead of continuing a search around Tucson, I've ordered the replacement from Amazon. Click the photo to view the filter. Arizona water is badly in need of a filter.

Lights keep the pack rats awaySaturday: December 26, 2015: What a lazy day. We watched Washington State beat Miami in the "Sun Bowl" where it was snowing. I'm sure the Miami team must have become confused with the snow.

Most of the rigs in the park have lights under their rigs, not for decoration (although it helps) but to keep the pack rats out of the wires and electronics. I know!, hard to believe, but the pack rats like to eat wire insulation and the lights keep them away. Another RVer told us to spray Pine Sol on everything to keep the rats away so I spray around the Samurai each night. Now it's time for UCLA to beat Nebraska ... Go Pac12!

Hiking into the desert on Christmas day

Friday, December 25, 2015: Our friends, Gary and Jeanne are also visiting the Desert Trails park. We took a short hike with them into the desert around the park. Tucson Mountain Park (TMP) is nearby and a hiking trail leads into the TMP. We had Morgan so kept the hike short, she can do only 2 miles. After our hike we barbequed Salmon and combined that with an apple salad and vegetable dish plus Gary's fresh baked bread. Gwen and I spent the rest of the day continuing to clean and organize Miss Dory. There are miles of trails leading from the park and we will spend some time exploring.

Parked for a month at Desert Trails RV Park, Tucson, AZ

Thursday, December 24, 2015: A year ago, we made a reservation at the Desert Trails RV Park in Tucson, Arizona. Our friends Jack and Carole come here every year because they enjoy the activities of the park. We are giving it a try. It was this day we decided on "Dory Limited Edition", Miss Dory for short as the name for our Dolphin. Gwen and her daughter Lesa, liked this name the best and I'm going along for the ride. Note: the front wheels are off the ground due to hydraulic leveling, much easier than the manual method I was using with the Lazy Daze. I've already moved my external propane connection to Miss Dory so you see the external propane tank under the slide.

Our first night camped in the desert

Wednesday, December 23, 2015: After getting delivery of our Dolphin in Blythe last night, we turned around to drive back to Quartzsite, it's late, we are tired and we know a desert location where we can park for free. Everything was thrown into the Dolphin so nothing is stored and boxes are stacked everywhere. We were is such a hurry yesterday, we forgot some key items so we are on a return trip to the dealer then on to Tucson. The Dolphin drives like a dream. We are discussing a name for our new motorhome. Click the photo for another view.

Dory is not ready, still being cleaned

Tuesday, December 22, 2015: Today is the day to trade the Lazy Daze for a Dolphin LX Model 6342 manufactured by National RV in California. Our trade did not come off without a "hitch". The dealer was late in preparing the Dolphin which made us late in transferring our gear. In the meantime, Annie (our cat) got loose and hid in the dealer lot. Most everyone of the staff came to help look for Annie. Click the photo for a view of the folks looking. When an RV is purchased by an out-of-state resident, the RV must be delivered some where other than Arizona. We had to hire a driver to drive the Dolphin to Blythe, California where the Dolphin was official delivered to us in front of a notary public. All this to avoid paying Arizona sales tax which is quit high.

Dawn in the Arizona Desert
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