Getting Ready To Travel (A Diary)


Saturday, May 18 – Monday, June 10, 2013

                   MORE MAINTENANCE – AND NOW TIME IS SHORT 

        We are now 5 days from departure on our six month excursion of the western states. 

The things that the coach requires to run smoothly are endless. It is “something” all the time. Recently I had a towing plate put on the front of our new Jeep Patriot, and a hitching device put on the back of the RV. We are now ready to tow the Jeep with four wheels on the deck. 

The seal is failing on our forward toilet in the coach and it costs just slightly more to install a new toilet than to repair the seal, so, we had a new toilet installed. To install a new toilet we had to spend another night at the Clark County Shooting Range to dump the black tanks. Easier to repair that way, and not so stinky! I had all of the onboard operating systems checked out. Everything is running fine. The flight is a go! 

It has been a real challenge getting rid of the last of our 35 years of possessions. Our small storage has space left for just a few items and it will be at capacity. Well maybe not totally full but the last hours will be interesting. 

Our kids are now in contact most every day. I think the realization is for them, and us, we are not going to be at arms-length. This is a first. 

This is probably the last entry in the “Getting Ready” (A Diary) section of this blog. “Beam us up Scotty”, it’s time to take flight!
 

Thursday, May 9-12, 2013


GETTING READY & GOING ON DOWN THE ROAD 


        This is “Mother’s Day” weekend and I had the coach home on this Thursday for some of the simpler maintenance in preparation of our trip this weekend with our two daughter, Stacey and Stefanie. Our destination will be about 165 miles north into Utah to Zion N.P.  

            I made reservations at Zion Canyon Campground about a half mile from the visitor’s center at Zion. We hadn’t been up to Zion for 18 years and was quickly reminded of the beauty of the entire area. Zion Canyon Campground, in the town of Springdale, Utah, is connected to and behind a Comfort Inn. The campground is right up against the Virgin River. Nice scene! 

            We drove the 165 miles to Zion on Friday morning in about three and a half hours. Comfortable and relaxing as the traffic was relatively light. We checked in, found our way to our spot, and got hooked up in about 30 minutes. The staff was very nice and professional. It turned out that our spot was in shade under a beautiful old tree and we couldn’t get the satellite to pick up the Dish Network I had installed the previous week. It was a good night for gin rummy! 

            We were excited and up at 7:00 A.M. for a short breakfast. We caught the free shuttle that runs every 10-15 minutes through Springdale, and we were at the Visitor’s Center in the park at 8:00 A.M. and decided to take the Emerald Pools hike. This pathway goes about three miles with a 400 foot elevation change. Beautiful vistas, and we were back to the Visitor’s Center about noon. We caught a shuttle into downtown Springdale and had a late Mexican lunch.  

            That hike must have made everyone tired because we all had a pretty good night’s sleep. Up early for a nice walk around the RV park and a little onboard breakfast. We left the park about mid-morning for the drive back to Las Vegas. 

            Nice little weekend and the girls enjoyed the trip. We should have had a coach when they were younger!
 
Saturday, April 27, 2013

                                    IT WAS ABOUT TIME!
          
           The time finally came when we had to dump our “black tanks”. All I can think of is Robin Williams in the movie “RV”. What a mess he made of his black tank dumping in this movie. Covered in raw sewage, and standing there looking like an idiot. The whole audience laughing beyond control.  Is this going to be me? 


We took our coach up the Clark Country Shooting Range at the north end of Decatur in North Las Vegas to accomplish this task. The shooting range has 80 full hookup spots for $20 a night. A beautiful view of the skyline of the city to boot. 


Well, fortunately for me a quick search of the YouTube came up a satisfactory video of how to clean the black tank. It told me what equipment I was going to need and how to connect it. It told me the exact steps to take and when to make them in order to our tanks as spotless as possible. 


The procedure was over in about twenty minutes. Whew!


Friday, March 29, 2013

 
GETTING ON WITH IT!
 
            This is the weekend we start taking our kids out on the coach. Sort of a practice session and prelude to our long excursion which hopefully starts mid-June.

           This weekend our oldest son, Jim, will be our guest onboard for a trip “over the hump” to Pahrump, Nevada, which is 60 miles west of Las Vegas on Highway 160.

           It turned out that Jim’s business kept him busy through the entire day, which is Good Friday. Consequently we took the coach out of storage at Oasis RV Resort in Las Vegas and drove the 60 miles to Pahrump without him. He will follow later and we will use his car for the trip to Death Valley tomorrow.

            Pahrump has six or seven highly rated RV resorts, but our favorite has turned out to be the Nevada Treasure RV Resort (Passport America) which is about six miles north of downtown Pahrump. I had some history with the resort when it was built approximately eight years ago. It has mature landscaping, full hookups, and nice-level cement pads.

           Jim got over to the resort around 7 P.M. and we sat around and had snacks while we talked about motorhome things, and our trip to Death Valley N.P. the next day.

           Saturday started early, around 6:30 A.M. as we got things together for an 8:00 A.M. departure for the one hour drive to Death Valley. Jim is our outdoors guy with a history of camping in back-woods places. He has been to Death Valley a couple time before and, I think, is looking forward to giving us the tour.

           The day was clear and sunny and the high temperature got to the low 90’s later in the day. While Death Valley is barren in nature with no trees like the Teton’s, or the beauty of the Grand Canyon, there is something magical about being there. Dante’s View, Furnace Creek Inn, the ranch with the nice gift shop, the nice green golf course, and the national park camping ground made it all worth the day. We didn’t get to Scotty’s Castle because of the construction going on there.

           If you were in Las Vegas and wanted to go to Death Valley for the day I’d plan a two hours each way for the drive. Be sure and take water. Nice trip.

           We were back in Pahrump by dinner time and had that at Mark’s Grill in the administration building at the RV resort. Wonderful flavors cooked and served by Abby in the grill. Thanks Abby! See you again one of these days.

           On Easter Sunday we had breakfast onboard the coach and the ride back to Las Vegas went flawlessly. Thanks to Jimbo for showing us one of the most interesting places in the USA – Death Valley.


Friday, March 22, 2013

                            ADJUSTING TO CHANGE

        I had a conversation with the sales manager, Steve, at Camping World this past Wednesday. He asked if I would go along with terminating my parking/storage agreement at Camping World. It was a condition of purchase when I got the coach. His solution would be they would buy me slab storage at their sister facility, Oasis RV Resort, about 5 miles down the interstate. While it is further from our home it did provide some other conveniences we liked, so we agreed to move there until mid-June. Naturally at their expense!

            I picked up “The Rig” from Camping World for the last time today and took it home for some cleaning and maintenance. Mid-afternoon I checked in down at Oasis RV Resort and parked the coach on our new spot. I opened the coach up to a slight breeze and did some reading while waiting for Janet to come and pick me up. I got lazy and tired and dozed off on the couch for about an hour. Janet showed at 4:15 and really liked our new home and the fact that we would be holding the keys full-time instead of asking for them each time we wanted to move “The Rig”.

            We have no plan for this weekend and headed home to get more of our stuff liquidated! Next weekend we are taking our oldest son, Jim, on a little further trip over the western Red Rock hills to the quiet community of Pahrump, Nevada. We will indulge in a 2 days stay at Nevada Treasures RV Resort while we commute to Death Valley National Park.

Saturday and Sunday, March 16 – 17, 2013

                                HOOKING UP AGAIN

            I picked the coach up mid-morning and took it home to do some of the simple maintenance on it. We really had no plan but started out running a couple of errands. Now this is stupid to some degree . . . running errands in a motorhome! On the other hand it is practical for a newbie (me) driving the coach in close quarters. It really makes me think about the access to the places we wanted to visit. Leaving room to maneuver and not getting in a spot where we might have to un-hitch a towed car and back up. Good practice for now but running errands is for the towed vehicle we will choose later.

            By mid-afternoon I concluded we should trek out to the very northern end of Decatur Boulevard in North Las Vegas to the Clark County Shooting Range. This is a two y.ear old facility that caters to the large shooting community in the area, and they have a very organized RV park. There are 80 gravel spaces that run in a straight line across the mountainside. The very flat spaces are surrounded by a “racetrack-road” configuration that makes for organization.  One way traffic pattern. We didn’t use the coaches leveling system but just put the slides out, hooked up to the sewer, water, and electricity. The view back across the Las Vegas Valley was spectacular with the full skyline of downtown Las Vegas and strip area. The cost for any camping here is $20 a night. The facility is gated and they give you an exit code if you should want to leave in the night. On this night only about 30% of the spots were taken. Not many people know of this spot yet!

            We had a small dinner and got into our reading for the evening. We turned in about 10 P.M. for what we thought would be an uneventful night but that was not to be. A north wind started around midnight that blew about 35 miles an hour, or more. Everyone scrambled to get their slides in and save any possible damage.

            We awoke to a very clear morning with winds of 15 MPH. We retracted our cords and hoses and got “The Rig” ready to travel. We toured to Henderson, which is south of Las Vegas, via the western foothills where the wind had subsided.

            Another successful overnight learning about our coach and motor home etiquette. The coach was returned to Camping World as usual.

Saturday and Sunday, March 9 - 10, 2013

PRACTICE GOES ON

        We took last weekend off from “The Rig” to attend to some family business. I picked “The Rig” up from Camping World this morning at 8 A.M. and took it back to the house to load more stuff onboard, do some maintenance things, and get Janet aboard. We had a couple of errands to run before we head to a near-local destination for some more practice camping. Practicing for the 6 month excursion to come.

            I told Janet our destination for the evening was going to be in the parking lot behind a Chevron station and small casino in the small town of Indian Springs, Nevada. This is on Highway 95 north of Las Vegas on the road to Reno. Indian Springs is home to a state correctional facility (3 miles out of town) that houses none other than O.J. Simpson. The small town also butts up against Creech Air Force Base which is/was the home for the testing of the U.S. drone program. Occasionally you see them in the air around the base!

            My real purpose for picking this overnight spot was to get fuel at the Chevron station. I don’t want to say that I lacked confidence but I figured if I was going to blow up a motorhome and gas station it might as well be in a small town! Actually everything went just fine as I turned down the propane systems and loaded diesel #2 into the tank for the first time. All $350 of it! In the next month we will get an idea of what type of gas mileage we will be getting in our travels. I have vowed to be a safe and slow driver by never going over 60 MPH. After all, we will be fully retired, and not in any hurry.

            Our overnight wasn’t fully uneventful as a couple trucks arrived in the middle of the night. We actually stayed in the rack for nine hours and were fully rested.

We drove back to Henderson and picked up my cousin and his family and went out to Lake Mead for a picnic. It was fun. We returned to Henderson and got the coach back to the Camping World parking area.

Monday, February 25, 2013


WILLOW BEACH, ARIZONA ON THE COLORADO RIVER


            This week has been expensive outfitting “The Rig”. One to two hundred dollars a day for RV accessories, and I probably have $500 to go, but what the heck, they are necessities!


            I picked the coach up from Camping World this morning at 8 A.M. and took it the four miles over to the house to pack our new treasures onboard. Janet and I have done well shedding our “stuff” to this point but we have a long way to go. We are trying to load the coach with the things we must have onboard for the upcoming excursion. We have a list that we have consulted each other on so things that are not efficient are currently not making the coach.


            We got some real interesting news this week. The lease is up on our house here in Henderson on June 15, 2013, and our landlord is showing interest in buying all of our furnishings. Not the personal stuff but just the major furnishings. This would make things too easy so I’m doubting this will go through! He said he would let us know in a couple days.


            I called and made a 2 night reservation for this weekend at Willow Beach, Arizona. It is part of the Lake Mead Recreational Area and is about 50 miles from our doorstep south across Hoover Dam on Highway 93. There is no beach there but the RV park is a new facility with flat roomy slabs, sewer, water, and electricity. This will be our first time to hook up to utilities. Willow Beach is four miles off the highway down in the Colorado River gorge about 20 miles below the dam. There is no phone, wi-fi, or cable. How will we survive! The river is dark and deep here and there is a good sized marina with a convenience store where you can rent a boat. We picked this spot because it is close to home and the utilities shouldn’t give us problems being so new. Being newbies, we have to work up to the problems that will eventually come.,


            Janet got away from her work at 4 P.M. and we got checked in at the convenience store down near the marina with about 30 minutes of daylight remaining. Just enough time to get all the utilities set up. The campground host was a nice and efficient guy named Dave! A painter by trade he is a resident of Montana.


            The nice man next to us (75 feet away) struck up a conversation. They are from southern New Mexico and driving an older nice-looking diesel. He mentioned he had put 150,000 miles on it! Through the years they had spent at least one night in 49 states (not Hawaii) and all the Canadian Provinces. They were entertaining their granddaughter for her 15th birthday, and she had spent all 14 previous birthdays on their motorhome. I don’t know if we will touch that many states but it will not be for the lack of trying. I do know one thing for sure and that is we should have made this transition to motorhoming many years ago!


            Our first evening at Willow Beach was quiet and uneventful. We both enjoyed the perceived freedom of being “gypsies” because we slept like babies without a care in the world.
            We had a little breakfast and took the half mile walk down to the marina. The walk back was somewhat uphill leaving me to believe I better get in some exercise, and soon.


            I activated our new B-B-Q grill for dinner this evening. We just cooked some hotdogs as the exercise was more to see if it worked. I didn’t burn the place down, or up. So far, so good!


We got our usual reading done after dinner but we did notice the wind accelerate in the river canyon just after dinner. It woke us up just after midnight when it started to howl. The campers in the park were finished. Wind velocity was certainly near  50 MPH. When we awoke in the morning there wasn’t a tent standing.

We disconnected the utilities and slowly packed up “The Rig” for the trip back to Henderson. Now, as the wind was still howling about 30 MPH the trick would be to get back to town safely. It was thrilling to drive up Highway 93, with its 75 MPH speed limit, and across the new bridge that bypasses Hoover Dam with the rest of the truckers doing about 45 MPH. Safety first, and that meant slowing down considerably.

The new experience of the wind was gained on this trip. Our hookups were fine, and we got the coach back to its parking place at Camping World in one piece. If you would consider staying at Willow Beach you will find a quiet and beautiful little place to hang out. Definitely call for a reservation as they only have 28 slabs. It was inexpensive (50% off) with our Seniors National Parks lifetime pass that made the price $17 a night.

Sunday, February, 17, 2013               

GETTING TO KNOW “THE RIG” AND THE ROAD

        We were up and around by 6:30 A.M. We wore more clothes this evening with socks and a warmer blanket. It was still very cold in the coach again this morning and I warmed it up with the heating system. While Janet has never been much of an early morning person she seemed wide-eyed and alert this morning. We had a little something to eat and were standing out of the coach by 7 A.M. Only one car went by in the last half hour. We were definitely in the middle of the desert. The boonies! From our position the highway went seven or eight miles up a two percent grade. No cars coming! Quiet and desert beautiful with the surroundings changing as the sun got higher in the sky.

            What a great boondock place on Nevada Highway 164 3-1/2 miles west of Highway 93 in Searchlight, Nevada. It is on the south side of the highway and you cannot miss it.           

We got “The Rig” in order and headed back towards our home in Henderson. Forty minutes later we stopped at The Coffee Pot Café in Boulder City, Nevada to take in breakfast. This is a quaint locals hangout that serves breakfast and lunch. It was highlighted on the Food Network show “Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives”. Thanks Guy!

We were home earlier than planned and got the coach off-loaded and returned to our temporary parking place back at Camping World. We were looking for some experience and that is what this weekend’s short road trips gave us. No big unruly surprises!

Janet and I will be back on the local roads around Las Vegas next weekend gaining more experience in anticipation of leaving the area on our full-time adventure around June 1st. We definitely have the itch!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

OUR SECOND DAY AND NIGHT

            We went back into town around 8 A.M. and had breakfast at our favorite place – The Egg Works a.k.a. The Egg & I. There are four restaurants in Las Vegas. If you have been to the Las Vegas area and not tried these places they are strongly recommended by Las Vegas locals. Us!

            After breakfast we were off to the Camping World Superstore, Home Depot, and Lowe’s to reduce the endless list of necessities we need in “The Rig”. It seems endless!

            Our kids came to the house at 1 P.M. and we took Subway sandwiches out to The Lake Mead National Recreational Area for a picnic. It was a wonderful day weather wise. All the kids were surprised when I opened the slides up to expose the extra living spaces. This short trip was a hoot for everyone, and we are sure the kids now see where RVing will be exciting for us. As I look back now, we should have had an RV in the family a long time ago for many-many reasons.

            My oldest son, Jim, has always enjoyed the outdoors as a camper. We told all the kids about our first night out and Jim recommended we go a little further off the beaten path. About 50 miles up Interstate 15 towards Los Angeles to Nipton, California. We headed for Nipton but arrived after dark only to find the same railroad tracks from the night before running right through the center of the half mile long town.

            We headed further east as the sign on Nevada Highway 164 said 32 miles to Searchlight, Nevada.  This is a lonely and desolate highway that is out in the middle of the desert. About 3-1/2 miles from Searchlight I found a large bare lot off the south side of the highway that offered a great place to boondock. It was about 100 yards from traffic that subsided early in the evening.

Being so far in the boonies I opened up the bedroom slide to add a little comfort. We read a little more about the workings for our new home and finally turned in about 10 P.M. The night was desolate-quiet compared to our prior evening’s experience. We both got a good night’s sleep.

Friday, February 15, 2013

The First Night

I picked up “The Rig” and left Camping World at 9 A.M. after a full presentation regarding the onboard systems. I immediately headed for the truck stop with full loads of diesel and water to have it weighed. I needed some numbers as a reference as we started to load it up over the next couple months. From the scales I headed to our house in Henderson to load the minimal necessities we had accumulated to date. Janet wouldn’t be off work until 4 P.M. and I knew she was excited to spend our first night in the boonies!

Many of the neighbors came by to look at the new novelty. They really hadn’t heard we were chucking it all to go nomadic. I think they all wanted to come with us once I disclosed the plan. When you think about it, as we have over and over, the thrill of traveling, new sights, and the novelty of it all after toiling all the years. Yes, they all wanted to come along!

Janet was home by 4:15 and very excited to hit the road and find a place to spend our first night in “The Rig”. I drove us out of Henderson on a frontage road that parallels Interstate 15 which goes to the Los Angeles area. We just wanted to find roots this first night and that is why we stopped about 20 miles from our house. I had picked the backend of a big lot about 300 yards off a major interstate. Through the years I had noticed many truckers and RVers catching some Z’s in Jean, Nevada. In Jean we have one smallish casino on the other side of the interstate along with gas stations on each side of the interstate. Other than that the whole setting is surrounded by desert.

It was quiet enough as we started the winter evening off. “The Rig” has 3 slide-outs with one in the bedroom, and the other two opposing in the kitchen/living area. I’m sure it will be reasonably comfortable once we eventually get in a park setting, but we were going to be squished in this evening. We were in for the ultimate in boonie one-night living. Just ruffing it with no slides out.

Too excited to wolf anything of substance we had a short snack for dinner. We put the window coverings down to block out the incoming lights and got into some reading material about “The Rig”. Not being physically experienced in this type of setting was going to lead to some interesting moments this weekend. We knew that because we had done extensive reading about things RV. But while you can read about the game and how to play the game it only gets real once it starts.  It was starting!

It’s 8 P.M. and another two trucks pulled into the lot.  Very noisy trucks about 100 yards in front of us when they stopped in the big truck lineup. Was this going to go on all night? Then across the interstate and about one mile away came the first blast from a train’s horn. Do you know how sound carries in the desert? Was that going to go on all night? The answer was of course, “yes”, to the tune of about twice an hour. All night!

The din of the traffic on the interstate about 300 yards away. The trucks coming and going, or staying with the ever present sound of generators whining. The sound of the train’s engines became louder as the interstate traffic subsided in the early morning hours, but the horns still echoed in the distance. While it was comical like some of the articles we had read, it was also factual. In the early morning hours as the temperature in the coach headed lower, and suffering from exhaustion, we got a couple hours sleep.

The temperature in the coach at 6 A.M. was 39 degrees. We vowed to bring warmer clothing and more blankets for the next evening. Fortunately I had paid attention to the customer service reps presentation on the heating and air-conditioning systems and I had the place warm and toasty in 10 minutes. And the moral to the story is . . . With a little pre-planning we will be looking for a lonelier and quieter place to spend even our most uncomfortable boonie stops. Oh, what the future will bring!