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RV Stay in Phoenix, Oregon
Winter '08-'09

Holiday RV Park
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October 19, 2008: We moved from Howard Prairie today to Phoenix, Oregon. This is the Holiday RV Park which is near Interstate 5 but the traffic noise is blocked by a small mall between the park and the Interstate. Normally we would never choose to stay in a park such as this one. Remember we just left a mountain resort where we have been the only RV parked in our end of the park. We had no neighbors. The Holiday RV Park is a popular park with only a few empty spaces. We have a little breathing room but only about ten feet from our neighbors on both sides. We are here so I don't have to drive a long commute route. I'm only five miles from my office and plan to ride my bike as much as possible, even in the dark because the park is on the bike trail which passes only a couple hundred yards from my new office. This park is far more expensive than the Applegate Park we loved the last two years. However, TV and Internet are including in the price so we can save $115/month when we turn off our satellite TV and satellite Internet. I hope to save about $300/month on gasoline too. On the positive side, this park has 50 amp power with plenty of voltage while Howard Prairie has only 30 amp and very low voltage. We already turned on our heat pump which we hardly ever use. For Morgan, there is a small grassy area and of course she can go for walks down the bike trail. We've been greeted by three friendly neighbors and told to "get the wheels of our vehicles off her lawn (dirt)" by a fourth. So I guess three out of four isn't bad. Our plan is to stay here until December 19 when we head south to Arizona for five weeks. Note December 19 is exactly two months ... we did that on purpose to get two months at the monthly rate. There are a few days in November we will vacate the park to get warranty work done on our trailer but keep the spot. Click the photo to enlarge. We are the only blue pickup truck.

October 20, 2008: Today we called Dish Network and cancelled our satellite TV account. Our plan is to switch to DirectTV next April when we move back to Howard Prairie. The reason is because I can mount the DirectTV receiver on the same satellite dish as our Internet account. That means we need only one satellite dish and not two. Until next April we will use the cable connection which comes with this expensive RV park. However, we've lost more than TV with the loss of Dish Network, we lost our DVR which came with the service. We have become addicted to a DVR. DVR, digital video recorder, gives you the power to record digitally, rewind while watching a show, pause during commercials and pick up the show after the commercial, set to record all popular shows and watch later. Our DVR holds about 120 hours of recording. We tried to buy a cheap VCR to replace the DVR but a VCR is no longer sold so we found one for $13 at the local Goodwill. It's awful to think about returning to this outdated technology but it's our only choice until April.

We've also turned off our HughesNet satellite Internet until December 19. It was easier than Dish Network. HughesNet will restart our service automatically in December. Turning of these two service will save up $115 each month.

October 21, 2008: The VCR I discussed yesterday did not come with a remote or instruction manual. It's taken nearly a day to finally figure out how to get it to record at a set time of day. With our DVR, we just pointed to the show we wanted and pressed one button to have it record for all future shows. I'd guess we will be ready for something different by next April.
October 23, 2008: Today marks the fourth day in a row to commute by bicycle. It's cold in the morning requiring tights, jacket and ear and hand protection. The late afternoons have been comfortable with temperatures perfect. Let's see how long I can keep this up.
October 26, 2008: This was a special weekend for both Gwen and I. Gwen spent her weekend in Ashland with a girlfriend doing "girl-stuff". She went shopping, spent three hours at a spa, ate well at dinner houses, wonder breakfast treats and stayed Path to the Pacific
Looking south at dawn

in an Ashland Bed and Breakfast.

Dale took Morgan and went to the coast. The weather was perfect with a very rough surf. Morgan and I walked about 5 miles of beach. The view above is the trail to the beach and the view to the left is at dawn near Brookings. Click either photo to enlarge.

October 28, 2008: It's difficult to return to work after a weekend and especially difficult after a three day weekend. I've continued to ride my bike to work from the Phoenix RV park. The mornings are between 36 and 40 degrees while the ride home is about 65. Fortunately I have cold weather and wet weather riding gear from the "old days". I wear the cold weather riding gear in the morning but get to ride in shorts on the way back. After this weekend, I'll experience something new, riding in the dark. Daylight savings time ends this weekend. I've found my headlamp will fit under my helmet so I don't have to buy anything new to ride at night. We'll see how that goes.
October 30, 2008: The story today is the weather change to wind. The rain is due tomorrow. Rather than ride my bike tomorrow I'm choosing to take the truck for an oil change and tire rotation. Those duties should keep me out of the rain tomorrow.

November 2, 2008: After returning from my trip to the coast, I decided to set a goal of losing 20 lbs in one year. I weighed myself last Monday and recorded 184.4 lbs. It's been one week of salads and increased exercise. After daily measurements showing fluctuations in weight, my recording this morning was 182.4 lbs. That's a good start to meet my goal since I only need one-half pound per week. The holidays will likely be the real test.

I got down the mountain bike today. Bad weather is predicted for next week and I figure the mountain bike is the bike for poor weather. I thought I had fenders which would fit but learned they won't. Let's see how that problem is solved.

November 9, 2008: We arrived in Salem late and immediately parked at the Phoenix RV Resort only about a mile from Wagers Trailer Sales where we will deliver the Cameo in the morning. The Phoenix is an excellent park with wide concrete spaces surrounded by well groomed lawn. The nightly and monthly fees are very competative.. Phoenix RV Park in Salem
Keiser Renesaunce Inn November 11, 2008: We get the news that the trailer must stay in the shop for another day and we must stay in a motel. We choose the Keizer Renaissance Inn. We chose it by using GPS software on Gwen's old laptop computer while driving Salem in the truck. This was software I purchased nearly two years ago but have not used much. We searched for lodging, made a choice and had the computer give us driving directions. This was priced well and very nice with a full breakfast. The room we rented was probably bigger than our whole trailer.
November 12, 2008: On the way back from Salem to Medford, we stopped at the Timber Valley Escapee Park in Sutherlin. This is one of the Co-op parks where we could become a member. There are 199 names on the waiting list. It is a very nice park but not cheaper than some of the others we have considered. 1112
November 13, 2008: After returning to our home base at the Holiday RV Park we are back to the sound of the "ocean" (really ... Interstate 5 nearby). This is a popular park with many overnight travelers and the same number of long term residents. It is very interesting to us after spending a couple nights at the Phoenix RV Resort in Salem. The Salem park had much larger spaces and professionally cleaned plus 1/3 cheaper than our home base. There doesn't seem to be much maintenance happening at our home base park. You can always check RV Park Reviews to learn camper experiences at parks. According to this review, the last few reviewer are giving Holiday 9/10 points. I would not give this park more than 6/10 due to the tight spaces, virtually NO landscape maintenance and the amount of traffic noise. It appears the individual campers landscape their own space with gravel or sod, but camper maintained. I would give the Phoenix RV park an 8/10 rating. Although the spaces are wider and landscaped beautifully, there is no pool or hot tub and they charge for WiFi. It is considerable cleaner and better maintained than the Holiday.
Oregon State Football November 15, 2008: Oregon State won again today. Only two more teams between OSU and the Rose Bowl. They must beat Arizona next week and the University of Oregon (civil war game) in two weeks.
November 22, 2008: The photo to the right is one of the bridge supports of the Phoenix Bridge over Bear Creek. At the ten foot level, the Holiday RV Park would likely be flooded. We are about 100 yards from this bridge leg and about 100 feet from the creek. It has been at that level in the past but not recently. Bear Creek is normally a year-around creek but usually at a low level as it is today. In January through April there is always a chance of a warm rain storm melting snow in the mountains and bringing Bear Creek to a flood level. Toward the top of the markings, the Holiday RV Park will flood and we would have to evacuate the park. I'll take another photo in the spring if the level moves higher. Phoenix bridge over Bear Creek
Morgan teaches us November 26, 2008: Our RV park has an area very close to the doggie area which is marked with the sign. We did not even notice the sign for the first week. Anyway, Morgan has been with us for eight years, long enough to learn this lesson from me. Now she's teaching it to others.
November 27, 2008: This is Thanksgiving. Gwen and I chose to volunteer at the Maslow Project in Medford. The Maslow Project is a shelter and help for homeless youth. Their theme is a "hand up, not a handout". Draw your pointer through the photo to the right. Maslow Project Dinner
31 pound turkey with volunteers The project was given a prize 31 pound turkey. The volunteers behind the turkey are part of the serving crew. We are all glad to serve where there is need.

The local television media from more than one station showed up to film the event.

Below Gwen is on the serving line. I acted as one of the bus-boys.

Gwen on the serving line
Oakland, OR November 29, 2008: Today we visited the small historic town of Oakland, Oregon. It has a small business district of turn of the century buildings. Today was Christmas decoration day. The town's Christmas tree is set in the center of main street. They are using the scissor lift to install the lights. We visited the hardware store and Tolly's. I knew of Tolly's Restaurant from a previous visit while on two day state meeting for Oregon Community Colleges. It is a wonder restaurant, soda fountain, bar and gift shop. Probably one of the most successful businesses in this small town. It's worth the two mile trip off of Interstate 5. Click any of the photos to enlarge.
Tolly's Lounge area at Tollys
November 30, 2008: We have a day or two to spare so we drove a bit more than an hour north of Medford with the trailer to check out the Timber Valley RV Park in Sutherlin, Oregon. This is an Escapee park, the only one in Oregon. There are about 205 spaces. Timber Valley Club House
Wild Turkeys in the park

The club house is pictured above. It has a large meeting room with pool tables and a craft area, a smaller dining room with large screen TV and enough space to fit 50 for lunch. The kitchen and laundry room are also located in this building.

The park has wandering deer, wild turkeys and rabbits. I'm sure there are more animals but that's what we saw this weekend.

The photo below is taken at the top of the park. Click the photo to enlarge.

Timber Valley RV Park
December 6, 2008: We took another step today toward my eventual retirement. For 18 years I've had my bank accounts with a local bank with branches only in Grants Pass and Cave Junction, Oregon. We've decided to go with a bank with branches in most of the United States. We chose Wells Fargo and opened both a checking and savings account today. We do all of our banking online but still occasionally need to visit our Grants Pass branch so if we need to visit our bank while traveling, we'll have options. Wells Fargo gave us a plush Wells Fargo pony as a gift for opening an account. We knew exactly who would like a new toy. Morgan gets a gift from Wells Fargo
Maslow kids arrive December 10, 2008: Today was a special day. I came up with the idea of inviting the Maslow Project kids to the college to view The Polar Express in our presentation hall. We have a Blu-Ray player and projector plus a surround sound system. They arrived at 2:20pm after having a short day at school. Over 90 kids, 2nd through 6th grade. I talked one of my colleagues into playing the part of the conductor below. He punched all tickets which we had provided earlier. My staff, Daisy and Cheri chose to pass out cups of popcorn and it didn't take the kids long to figure out the swing-up writing desks. Note the ticket on the desk.
Kenton punch Polar Express tickets The kids figure out the writing desks quickly
Ready for the movie

Most of the kids wore their pajamas including Gwen and I. The kids are ready for the movie above. The Blu-Ray disk filled the screen which is the size of the front wall, yet the picture is sharp as a tack. I'm convinced, we'll have to own a Blu-Ray player by next Christmas. A Blu-Ray player enhances regular DVDs too. I was afraid the roller-coaster scenes in the movie might make the kids sick but they survived well.

After the movie, Daisy and I handed out bells to each child who still had their ticket. Everyone had a ticket ... none were missing. Daisy also wanted to give them candy canes. Yes, I'm in my bath robe and PJ bottoms with a HO-H0-HO Santa hat. I ordered the bells from a craft supply on the Internet ... no local craft shop had bells of the right size, color and price. I then threaded some left-over cotton yarn supplied by Gwen so the kids could put the bells around their neck.

Dale and Daisy pass out the bells
New Electric Heater December 11, 2008: Our radiator style electric heater in the living area quit working. We found the heater to the left at Costco. It's a 1500 watt heater as was the radiator oil heater. It's also a silent heater as was the radiator. However, this heater puts out more heat and easier to control. Morgan and Annie love it. We love it too. We still have a working oil radiator heater in the bedroom. The oil heater is smaller than the Costco heater so fits better in the bedroom. Both are excellent since they are quiet and put out lots of heat. Freezing fog is expected tonight and tomorrow morning but we are toasty warm in our trailer since we are plugged into 50 amps of power. Click the photo to enlarge.
December 14, 2008: The weatherman has been forecasting snow for the last several days and it finally arrived today. The arctic blast should increase over the next couple of days. A high of 29 is predicted in two days. I've already disconnected the fresh water and filled the fresh water holding tank so our hoses are clear. We are still staying warm with our 50 amp connection and prepared for a power outage should it arrive. It's Sunday and we will be towing over the highest pass in southern Oregon on Friday so hope the weather improves by then. Snow in the valley
Superbowl 43 February 1, 2009: We watched the men's final of the Australian Open last night. Federer was my hope but Nadal beat him in 5 sets. Today we watched the 43rd Superbowl and were hoping for a Cardinal win but it was not to be. Of course I changed the anode rod in the hot water heater and checked the level of water in the batteries before the superbowl started.

Our Space at Holiday RV Park
February 2, 2009: Our space at the Holiday RV Park in Phoenix, Oregon is in contrast to the desert camping where we were 1/4 mile from our nearest camper. I measured the distance from our dining area to our neighbors bedroom at 7 feet. We are a little further from our southern neighbor. Fortunately, both neighbors are virtually invisable. We are about five spaces from where we previously parked. Interstate 5 is on the other side of the Exit 24 Mall so the mall helps to block the noise. We are further from the Phoenix bridge so the bridge noise is less. What we can't avoid is airplane noise, the park is in the flight path for the Medford International Airport. Remember, we are here because it's only 5 miles from work, that's a plus. We expect to move back to Howard Prairie Lake Resort by April 12 so we can stand this for another two months .... I think. In the flight pattern
February 3, 2009: Solving a Battery Charging Problem
This story will illustrate my competence or incompetence (depending upon your point of view) in my ability to manage the batteries in my RV. On Sunday afternoon I unplugged the system converter then disconnected the two batteries and removed them from the trailer. The converter is the devise in the trailer which converts AC power (when connected to “shore power”) to 12 volt DC power to charge the batteries and power the DC system in the trailer. I removed the batteries because my trailer (unlike most trailers such as the King of the Road I owned before this one) leaves no space to check the battery electrolyte without removing the batteries. I tested the electrolyte using a temperature compensating hydrometer and found all cells reading 1.270 (specific gravity) which indicates fully charged.  I replaced the batteries connecting them exactly as before, and then plugged in the converter.  Everything is working normally.
Testing the battery voltage On Monday evening I noticed my little DC voltage indicator showing only 12.2 volts when it normally shows 13.9 volts when operating from the converter. The voltage indicator often gives bad readings and must be removed and replaced or twisted in the socket to give a correct reading so I did both and still only a 12.2 volt reading. I further tested by turning on several DC halogen lights and saw the voltage drop to 11.7 volts (anything below 12.0 indicated a nearly dead battery).  This was a puzzle to me since even if the batteries were dead; I should not see this reading since I was operating off the converter.  I checked the AC circuit breaker to the converter, no problem. I must have blown a 12 volt fuse when reconnecting the batteries.
Tuesday morning I’m in my forward compartment removing the two 30 amperes, 12 volt fuses on the converter. There is no problem with either fuse. I’m thinking, “my little voltage meter in the trailer must be faulty”. I get out my digital multi-meter to test the batteries directly. The battery reading is 12.3 volts. I test the current coming from the converter, 12.3 volts. “Something is wrong with the converter”, I thought. “No problem, my trailer is still under warranty so I should be able to get a new converter but how will I keep the batteries charged until the new converter arrives”? “Let’s test the AC outlet to be sure I have power to the converter”, I continue thinking. I pulled the converter plug from the outlet and plug in my air compressor which sits directly in front of the converter and flip the switch to the compressor. Nothing happens. “Ah HA!” The circuit breaker needs to be reset; I must have missed it last night when checking. But wait! The compressor isn’t plugged into the outlet, the converter is. How did I get the two plugs mixed up? I plugged in the compressor plug and the compressor starts working. “Could I have plugged in the compressor thinking it was the converter?” I thought. I plugged in the converter and tested the converter voltage, 13.9 volts, not the 12.3 volts I saw only moments ago. I tested the voltage at the batteries, 13.9 volts. “How stupid can this be?” I thought. I had plugged in the air compressor rather than the converter. The charging problem is resolved.
From this I have relearned that the simplest answer is probably the solution to the problem. Also, my little DC voltage meter in the trailer does have a value even if it sometimes shows bad readings. I would not have known of the problem without that meter until the batteries were completely dead and the lights stopped working. I’ve also learned that these two batteries are very near to needing replacement. There is very little draw on the batteries when plugged into shore power (and the converter is unplugged), only lights and a few sensors, yet they only lasted 24 hours before near complete discharge. I think I will put some colored tape on the converter plug so it’s never confused with the compressor plug.
February 6, 2009: I read an article in the Mail Tribune, the local Medford, Oregon newspaper, concerning Mike Libecki coming to visit and lecture in Ashland.
Mike is an adventurer and world traveler whose passion is "big wall climbing". I just barely knew what that was and have never had an interest is such a crazy thing, however, he is giving a free lecture and show in Ashland on the topic of his Greenland and Antarctica trips. The photography did interest me and I didn't mind knowing what kind of person would do the things described in the newspaper article. The show got off to a slow Mike Lebecki visits Ashland
start but it only took seconds to capture my attention. I got to the show early but still stood in the back with many others expecting to become bored. Standing would give me a way to make a quick exit. Instead, I was fascinated with the show, photography, geography, the athletic ability of Mike and his philosophy of life. He repeats throughout the show how much he "loves life" and family. At first it's hard to believe seeing the places he takes himself. The second phrase he repeats during his show is "follow your passion, follow it NOW". I've lived some of that philosophy, quitting jobs and/or moved at times for no reason other than to find a more attractive and healthy location to live. At 35 Mike has figured out how to support himself using his passion of climbing. He is sponsored to travel and climb. Enough so he can spend much of his time with his daughter (he is a single parent) and her kindergarten class. He was voted "Father of the year". When I was his age, I spent several hours each day working to stay in good physical condition, mostly on a bicycle. I was able to do long distances that I can't do today. Until I'm proven differently, I believe I can't do what I did then, not because of age but because of the lack of conditioning. I know what it takes to get into peak condition because I've been there. When watching the show, I was amazed at Mike's strength, endurance and perseverance. Far beyond what I experienced in my thirties. I remember those days where my body would just ache with the desire to get on my bike and ride fifth miles. I think I can get back there but it will take time, a loss of 20 lbs and hours each day in conditioning. It's not all work. I just came back from riding 2 - 3 hours at a time in the Arizona desert. Even in my poor physical condition, the enjoyment, riding techniques and endurance was returning with only two weeks of riding. Watching the show with Mike describing his achievements did not encourage me to take up big wall climbing but it did promote perseverance, what I lack the most at this time.
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