October 28, 2004

Albuquerque, NM

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , at 6:52 pm by diandy2004

Well, Andy has been asking for “the desert” again (meaning warmth and sunshine) and we’re definitely here. Red rock, buttes, canyons, and cactus. We’ve had sunshine, but not necessarily warm weather (nights are going to the 30’s still).

Jim and Chris arrived shortly after we did.  We had them over to our RV for dinner – they are our first dinner guests!  It was great to see them and incredible that this is the third time since buying our RV that we’ve crossed paths with them. We just spent the night catching up and comparing our trips and the such.  It’s nice to meet up with friends on the road.  We were glad that they were able to detour slightly on their trip from Santa Fe to Roswell to spend one night with us here in Albuquerque.

Our First Dinner Guests

We had more good news! We talked with a Ford dealer who could finally get the recall repairs done. Ahh, nothing too imperative – just that the RV can catch on fire even when it’s not being operated.  We’ve been trying since Washington to have this done, but none of the dealers had the right parts til now.  So we decided stay another day or more so we could take the rig in for the new parts for the anti-lock braking system.

On October 27th we drove our RV to Bob Turner Country Ford and had to wait a whopping 12 minutes for them to make the recall repairs to our ABS. We spent more time trying to find a dealer who had the time or parts than it took these guys to fix the darn thing. But thanks to their speedy work we arrived at our next RV Park in Tijeras (east side of Albuquerque) by ten o’clock a.m.. We were lucky to be in such a dark area to enjoy the lunar eclipse.

Lunar Eclipse

We spent the next day playing around in the Sandia Mountains. We hiked the Embudo Trail in the morning and the Pino Trail in the afternoon. We were “taste-testing” the different areas of the Cibola Nat’l Forest. Both trails were nice with a combination of desert plants, oak trees, pinon pines, and rocky cliffs or large jumbled boulders. Both trails also went up…as in uphill, increase in elevation, up around 7,000 ft elevation. The elevation was bothering us here – rapid heart rate, tiredness, etc. Even though we’ve been at high elevations, we’ve also been along the coast for so long now I think our bodies re-adapted. We would’ve loved to have taken the Tramway to the top of the mountain and hiked down, but the Tram was closed for repairs the week we were there (of course).

Snake Sunning Himself

Overlooking Albuquerque

Hiking Embudo Trail

On the Pino Trail

** There are more pictures on our Web Albums – just click on any of these pictures and scroll to see others.

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August 25, 2004

PA-FL-WA-CA-WA

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , at 3:30 pm by diandy2004

Pennsylvania – Florida – Washington – Canada – Washington

That’s what those code letters mean.   What a whirlwind trip in the past three weeks…three states and two countries within a twenty-four hour period…

Washington…We left Spirit at an RV service center to have some warranty work done while we were on our trip.  They agreed to hold her for the two weeks we’d be gone.  Whew!

Philadelphia…Spent 6 days visiting with family and friends and had a great time as always.

Boca…Then flew directly to Boca for another 6 days.  Not enough time to do what had to be done. Weeding, trimming, cleaning, repairs, visiting with friends and family, soaking in 85 degree ocean, etc. Wished we could’ve seen everyone, but there just wasn’t enough hours in the day.  This is the price we pay for keeping our house while we are on our Trek.  Eventhough we’ve hired people to maintain the yard and pool, and check on the inside of the house, we just felt more comfortable coming home to check on things and complete tasks that weren’t on anyone else’s ‘to-do’ list.

Seattle…Had another hellish travel day, but all went as well as it could have, I guess. Flew from Ft Lauderdale to Phila to Salt Lake City to Seattle. Only took 12 hours this time. Surprisingly, on almost each leg of our trip our planes pushed back from the terminals early! We stayed at a hotel near the airport that first night back. Since our RV parts hadn’t been delivered yet, we decided our first touristy adventure would be to head over to Victoria….

I’ll put our Victoria visit and more on our Washington explorations in separate posts…

August 14, 2004

Seattle and Sequim

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , at 3:27 pm by diandy2004

Driving through eastern Washington I was surprised to learn it was desert-like.  I guess I just never thought of it being on the ‘other side’ of the mountain range and that it wouldn’t be wet like we’re expecting Seattle to be.  We had one overnight stop along the way to Seattle.

Seattle
Our first impressions of the northwest coast were some of the simple things: large starfish, cold waters, and city streets like San Francisco. Seattle is a pretty city, but I had to quit my job as navigator – there were just too many one-way streets, and no left turns allowed, that had us constantly going the wrong way. It’s more fun to walk the city than try and drive it.

Seattle Space Needle

Seattle Space Needle

Flowers at Pike's Place

Flowers at Pike's Place

Shopping Pike's Place

Shopping Pike's Place

We rode 21 miles on our road bikes on the Burke-Gilman Trail.  Outside of the fact that there were a lot of driveway crossings and the path was cracked and raised from tree roots, it was a pretty ride.  Our views were of the houses that are on the edge of Lake Washington and the boats and docks in the lake.  There were trees and berry bushes lining the path.  The berries were ripe and people were out picking them, but we didn’t know what kind.

Burke Gilman Trail

Burke Gilman Trail

Biking around Lake Washington

Biking around Lake Washington

On the only rainy day we had in Seattle, we visited the Boeing factory. The largest building in the world by volume. I wasn’t sure if seeing the factory where airplanes were made was a wise thing to do days before taking a flight…but it was fascinating, and I didn’t see anything too scary. Regarding its size, it is almost too big to fathom. But they gave us a comparison to consider: you can put Disneyland inside the space, and still have 12 acres extra.  The doors are as large as a football field.

The Boeing Factory

The Boeing Factory

Sequim (“skwim”)
The ferry to Sequim was great (the Edmonds-Kingston Ferry). They are efficient, fast, and its a beautiful ride across the waterways. It was cheaper for us to take both vehicles on separately, versus towing, so Andy drove the RV and I took the Element. Andy had to park within inches of the wall on one side, and other vehicles inches away on the other side.

We took our RV to Eric’s RV performance shop in Sequim.  After attending Life On Wheels, we decided to upgrade to the Bilstein shocks and to a larger sway bar.  While we waited for him to do the work on the RV, we walked along the Dungeness Spit – a 5.5 mile long sandbar.  It was a great place to see birds, seals, and otters.  And the sound of the water was different – it popped and fizzed as it rolled over the rocky beach.  I also enjoyed the sounds of the small rocks as they clinked when they rolled with the gentle waves.  Much different than the sounds on our sandy beaches.

Dungeness Spit

Dungeness Spit

We haven’t seen much of Olympic National Park yet. Plan to do it upon our return, but we did spend a day at the Hurricane Ridge section of the park. Beautiful views of the mountains…we could see Blue Glacier on top of Mt Olympus and Carrie Glacier on Mt Carrie. Went for a hike, but some “killer bees” took the enjoyment away and we turned around sooner than we would’ve liked.

Hurricane Ridge - Mt Olympus

Hurricane Ridge - Mt Olympus

We’ve read about some great scuba diving sites in the vicinity – with seals, otters, large octopus, shipwrecks, etc – but with water temperatures averaging a “warm” 45-55 degrees, we think we’ll have to pass (we don’t think a dry suit would be enough for Andy).

Here are two other pictures I took in the area that I wanted to share:

LadyBug

LadyBug

Solar Circle

Solar Circle

Can’t wait to see many of you soon during our travels back East.

Philadelphia
Well we made it safely from WA to PA. It only took several car rides, one ferry, two planes, and a train but 24 hours later, we finally made it! Two days later, and our bodies are still trying to recover. We have more sympathy now for our west-coast friends & family who travel east frequently. The fun part of the trip was seeing meteors Wednesday night from the plane.

July 31, 2004

Glacier to Couer D’Alene

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , at 3:23 pm by diandy2004

Driving from Glacier NP to Couer D’Alene, ID

It was hard leaving Glacier because there was so much more to do…if only our bodies could take more. We decided on long driving days to get to Couer d’Alene quickly – we have to be in Seattle by 8/12. We took a slightly different route back, to minimize back-tracking on the same roads. It was a very scenic, 245-mile, 6-hour drive.  We spent one night in a National Forest campground outside Troy, MT. At this point we’ve been boondocking again for over one week. We’re starting to get good at this style of camping. But this also explains why we can’t update the blog as often as other people we know (heh, heh Jim and Chris).

The “loop” from Moscow, ID to Couer D’Alene, ID
We’re back in civilization! And we had to practically do a full loop to get back to a city with phone service, internet access, etc. Since we left Moscow two weeks ago, we’ve gone to Glacier Nat’l Park and back. To understand our “loop”, Moscow is only 81 miles due south of Couer D’Alene. And when we left Moscow, we had to drive north before cutting East, just 21 miles south of Couer D’Alene. I now have a map on our website so you can take a look at our crazy driving pattern – look for the new “map” page.

July 19, 2004

Moscow, ID – Post-Conference Events

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , at 2:53 pm by diandy2004

Yep, we’re still here. We’ve been saying we were going to leave Moscow since Saturday…but the furthest we got was moving from the blacktop parking lot to a grassy field with a better view.

View from our Grassy Lot

View from our Grassy Lot

We have the Same Neighbors

We have the Same Neighbors

Our plans are to leave today, it’s just taken us the two days to map out our plans. Part of our dilemma was that our original plan was to leave Glacier National Park and go north into Canada to see Banff and Jasper. We just learned, however, that you now need a passport or birth certificate to cross the border. Stupid, stupid, stupid. Ours are safely tucked away in our safe deposit box at home. So, for now we’ll have to postpone our trip into Alberta. We will go to Glacier, then cut across to Seattle (most likely via I-90, but who really knows).

We’ve made flight arrangements to go to Philly and Boca Raton. We’ll be in Philly on Aug 12th, then fly to Boca Aug 18th to 24th. Hopefully our luck will continue with Winnebago dealers and we can leave our Spirit in Sequim (“skwim”), WA for repairs while we are flying across the country.

It’ll be weird leaving Jim and Chris. We’ve gotten so comfortable knowing that we could go next door and chat with friends. They are continuing along the Lewis and Clark trail to the Columbia River Gorge. Who knows where or when we’ll cross paths again, but I’m sure we will. You can keep up with them by checking their weblog at www.geeksontour.com if you want to see what other RVers are up to.

July 17, 2004

Moscow, ID – Life on Wheels Conference

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , at 2:50 pm by diandy2004

It’s been an interesting week here at the Life On Wheels conference – for several reasons. The conference is at the University of Idaho. We are parked on the campus blacktop parking area and were fortunate to get into the section with electric hookups. Since we’re not skilled at “boondocking”, we figured this was one less thing to worry about. Remember, we’re here for a week living off of a 36 gallon water tank and 56 gallon holding tanks (black and gray combined). As Andy just said – “you guys try that!” Ha! You learn quickly just how much water is wasted in everything you do – showers, hand washing, brushing teeth, washing dishes, etc. This make-shift campground is also tight quarters, so you have to consider your neighbors. Each RV is given a space 2-parking spaces wide. Thankfully Jim and Chris are on one side so we don’t have to worry about annoying them – we love doing that! We open our front door, Chris opens her window by her desk and we talk. Our awning is used to shade the side of their RV and our slide-outs touch the yellow lines on the other side. It’s that close.

Close Quarters on Campus

Close Quarters on Campus

The other interesting thing about this past week is the atmosphere. We have 4 classes a day, 1 ½ hours long each. We ride our bikes around campus to get to our classes. We get lost finding our classes. We can get showered in the gym locker room. We carry around notebooks and basically look and act like college students. After school, we are all usually so tired we don’t want to do anything else. I think most of us had forgotten how tired you get sitting and listening for 6 hours a day.

Here is a list of some classes we’ve attended:

Andy: Ford Gas Engines, All About Batteries, Radial Tire Safety, RV Electrical Systems, Suspension & Handling, RV Exterior Care, Back Clinic, Boondocking, and he may have taken more but he did skip two sessions…

Diane: Basic RV Maintenance, All About Batteries, There’s More to Writing Than Words (4 parts), Inverters/Chargers, Generators, RV Awnings Care, Digital Photography, Taking Great Pictures, Solar Power (2 sessions), Hosting in NW State Parks…

Granted, maybe Andy’s classes were more technical, but at least I’ve attended a class in each session!

The negative about all this wonderful information we are receiving is the expense. Now we are considering upgrading some of our parts to increase performance, safety, etc. We never considered this outcome when we came here.

We’ve also been wowed by the city of Moscow. The local businesses and Chamber of Commerce have really enticed the RVers to come into town. They’ve offered discounts at most restaurants and stores, a free barbecue, and even free tickets to the theatre. It’s been really wonderful how excited they are by this conference. Last numbers I’ve heard is there are 666 RVers (about 300+ RVs) in attendance. We were happy to contribute some money to the local microbrewery and winery.

We graduated! We wrapped up our classes Friday and went to the closing seminar, but didn’t win any of the door prizes. There were some big ones too – a 24-day trip to Baja Mexico; 6 tires from Goodyear; and much more. Oh well, we usually aren’t very lucky with raffles anyway. This morning we got up early to go get the rig weighed. We’ve weighed it several times on our trip at truck stops, but those scales generally can’t weigh the left and right sides separately – only each axle. The good news is that we are good on the side-to-side weighing. The bad news is that we are still a little heavy on the rear axle, but we’ve known this and have tried to make adjustments. We can’t control it all though since all of our tanks (holding, fresh-water, gas, propane) affect the rear axle.

Most everyone has left the campus by now. We’ve decided to hang out another night here. They’ve taken away the electricity and water hoses, but we just weren’t ready to leave yet…we haven’t even decided where we are going next! Today we went to the Farmer’s Market to get produce, we’ll decide our plans for tomorrow, and we’ve been looking at our new “projects” since learning all of this new stuff this past week.

Here are some more pictures from campus that were taken throughout the week:

Our Campus Campground

Our Campus Campground

University of Idaho

University of Idaho

Football Gargoyles

Football Gargoyles

Movie Night at the Guld's

Movie Night at the Guld's

And pictures from the area:

Pastural Scenes

Pastural Scenes

A Big Red Barn

A Big Red Barn

The Surrounding Sights

The Surrounding Sights

Sidenote:  Here is a picture of our route to get here compared to Jim and Chris’ route. They went North, then West whereas we went West, then North.
Andy                                              and Diane Jim and Chris

July 10, 2004

From Missoula to Moscow – Our First Caravan

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , at 2:49 pm by diandy2004

Yesterday, Friday, we left Missoula to start heading towards Moscow, ID for the Life on Wheels RVing Conference. This week-long conference offers classes on living in an RV, maintenance, and even writing and photography classes, etc. This will be our first caravan…(even if just a 2-RV caravan!).

We chose the southern route, Highway 12, for the scenic route. It is part of the Lewis and Clark Trail and runs through Clearwater National Forest. It is also referred to as the Long and Winding Road. And that is was. Long and winding all along the Lochsa River and Clearwater River. Andy and I believe it is the longest stretch of road we’ve ever been on that never left the side of a river. We stayed in the Nat’l Forest on Friday night at Wilderness Gateway campground. There was a nice creek running right behind Jim and Chris’ site, forests, mountains, deer, and unique wildflowers.

Caravanning

Caravanning

Wilderness Gateway

Wilderness Gateway

Organ Pipe Wildflower

Organ Pipe Wildflower


At an Overlook

At an Overlook

The rest of the drive from Wilderness Gateway to Moscow was just as beautiful. After turning north onto 95 near Lewiston, the scenery changed, but was just as beautiful. The Moscow area is referred to as the Palouse – which is the rolling hills and fields of lentils, garbanzo peas, and other agriculture.  All of these pictures were taken on Hwy 12, with Jim and Chris leading the way!

At an Overlook

On Hwy 12

On Hwy 12

On Hwy 12

On Hwy 12

On Hwy 12

Farm Fields of Idaho

Farm Fields of Idaho

Missoula, MT – Biking, Rafting, and trying to Relax

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , at 2:46 pm by diandy2004

July 2, 2004

When we left Yellowstone, we weren’t really sure where we were going to stop. Missoula, MT was 355 miles away, which we figured was too far to drive in one day so we were thinking of spending a night in Butte, MT. But we got up early and pushed through. Plus, I think Andy was trying to punish me for the last long trip when I drove, so he made this one longer. Eight hours in a car…a 49-foot long vehicle…made for a *long* day. We’ve gotten a little tired of the pace we’ve kept up recently, so we’ve been thinking about taking some time to settle down and unwind. We figured Missoula was a big enough town to let us take care of some things, but also be close enough to mountains, rivers, etc to still have some fun. But our plans may be changing again, since we recently heard from our friends Jim and Chris who will be in the area as well. We’ll update you when we know more about our plans. The RV Park we’re at now has WIFI so hopefully updates should be easy.  We started off our stay in fashion – trying the local Huckleberry ice cream!

Fourth of July in Missoula:

We took our bikes downtown to ride on several bike paths.  We enjoyed the Kim Williams Nature Area Trail.  It is a Rail-to-Trail and runs along Clark Fork River and Mt Sentinel.  Then we rode the Commuter Pathway – this is a great trail for riders to get from point A to point B, but it is not a scenic ride.

We did see fireworks here in Missoula on the Fourth. Here are a few pictures from that night. We do have to say that we were very pleased with the fireworks display – they had some nice large ones with good boomers, too.

Andy Enjoys the Fireworks

Andy Enjoys the Fireworks

Happy Fourth of July!

Happy Fourth of July!

Thursday, July 8, 2004

It’s been hard, but I think we’ve accomplished some relaxation while here in Missoula. Diane has gone to Yoga twice and has gone running twice this week. Andy joined her in a run once (but kicked her butt). We went to the local Smokejumpers Center for a tour, visited the Farmer’s Market, walked around town, and have done some other touristy stuff without that go-go-go pressure we’ve put on ourselves more recently.  We hiked the “M” Trail, which takes you 628′ above the University of Montana.  Nice views of “Glacial Lake Missoula” – the town and valley used to be under water.

Our friends Jim and Chris made it into town yesterday and it was wonderful to sit and chat with them. We had lots to catch up on: our trip, their trip, and RVing in general. We’re really looking forward to spending this upcoming week with friends. Today we have an outing scheduled – we’ve planned a white-water rafting trip down the Alberton Gorge. Wish us luck! We’re still debating whether we should ask for wetsuits…water temp is about 60 degrees, current air temp is 60 degrees (but it may go up to high-70’s).

Can you tell we're friends?

Can you tell we're friends?

Saturday, July 10, 2004

We had a blast on our white-water rafting trip! Chris was the experienced one in our group, the rest of us were newbies. It was the four of us, the guide, and two ladies from El Paso, TX. We were worried about the Texans initially, because they had make-up and jewelry on and their hair was done up nicely…oh, and they didn’t want to get wet! Yikes! After just a few minutes with us hootin’ and hollerin’, they were having a blast too. As you can see in the pictures below, we all got wet. And very wet at that. You’d be proud of all of us since we opted NOT to get the wetsuits and just go with fleece jackets and nylon water-resistant jackets on top. Yes, our guide is in a bathing suit and nothing else – he thought we were wimps. Chris and I started out in the front row (we were the brave ones), but we switched with Jim and Andy half way through so they could experience the fun (and soaking) that we had. It was a great day.
(To help identify the paddlers in the pics: Jim is in his yellow Kayuba slicker, Andy is in the front also, Chris is behind Andy with a teal hat on, and I have my navy Temple Owls hat on, behind Jim.)

missoula100

missoula101

missoula102

Jim, Diane, Chris, Andy

Jim, Diane, Chris, Andy

Jim and Andy, In the Front

Jim and Andy, In the Front

The Survivors!

The Survivors!

February 7, 2004

Alabama and Mississippi

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , at 1:19 am by diandy2004

Alabama – we stopped and had lunch outside of Mobile.  That has to count for “visiting” the state, right?

{editor’s note:  later we learned that RVers have different qualifications for what constitutes as a “visit” for the record.  And, if you have a map of the states you can only put a state sticker on the map when those qualifications are met.  So we had to decide on what our criteria would be – and we decided that we would have to spend the night in our RV to be classified as a “visit”.  So, Alabama didn’t count…yet.}

We were a little nervous driving through the Mobile tunnel.  This was our first tunnel in the RV.  “Hazardous Materials” were not allowed to be transported through the tunnel, and considering we had a propane tank, we weren’t sure how we were classified.

Mississippi – We stayed in Biloxi, MS for several nights to play at the casinos.  What we didn’t realize was that the railroad tracks ran right through the center of town.  Our campsite was literally 20 feet to the tracks.  After 2 nights (and days) of no sleep, we moved our RV to a spit of land that jutted out into the Gulf of Mexico.  It was our first night of “boondocking”, which means no hook-ups – no sewer, no electricity, no water connections.  But, it was as far away from trains as we could get!  The land was owned by Treasure Bay Casino, so of course we gambled there that night.  The players and the workers at these casinos really seemed relaxed and just had a good time.
Boondocking next to Treasure Bay's Pirate Ship

Boondocking next to Treasure Bay's Pirate Ship

Another casino we enjoyed was the Beau Rivage.  They have a microbrewery and it was Karaoke night.  Normally, we do not enjoy Karaoke, but last night we heard the Sugarbeets (a group of sugar beet growers in town for a convention) singing Jon BonJovi’s “It’s My Life”.  They were hysterical, and now “It’s My Life” has become my theme song and motto because “I want to live my life while I’m alive”.
During our visit we also toured Jefferson Davis’ home Beauvoir.  Beautiful views of the Gulf.
Sadly our pet parakeet, Nikki, passed away in Biloxi.  Nikki had been with us for 12 years and was a great little guy.  He’ll be missed terribly.  We wanted a place to bury Nikki that would be more ‘natural’, so we altered our plans to include a stop at a state park in LA.  I just couldn’t imagine him being in his eternal resting place next to casinos and railroad tracks.  He deserves more than that.