Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Our First Three Months In The Palms

Encinitas, CA

It’s been three months now, and I wanted to put down a few thoughts I have about living in a 24 foot long RV – the interior living space including the bathroom, kitchen, couch and dinette area  is 16’ long by 8’ wide, or 127 square feet, not including the over-cab sleeping area.

Amazingly, although that’s a very small space, it has everything I need to live comfortably.  I haven’t found anything I need that’s not here, and there’s nothing here that I don’t need.  There are lots of large windows and 7’ ceilings; it’s very light and bright.  I don’t turn on lights until it’s actually dark outside.  It really is pretty amazing. 

So far, in the last three months I’ve driven to and lived in three states, California, Oregon and Washington.  The campgrounds I’ve visited in each state have been different, and I’ve enjoyed each one. 
  Santee Lakes, Santee, CA

 Vineyard Park, Vacaville, CA

Fern Ridge Lake, Veneta, OR
Armitage Park, Eugene, OR

Stan Hedwall Park, Chehalis, WA

The weather has been good so far, meaning fair and warm, only a short time of really hot days, and only a few overcast, cool days.  I’ve only worn jeans once, the rest of the time I’ve been in shorts.   I’m hoping for a little storm, some rain, a bit more wind.  I love the good weather, not needing the A/C or the heater.  But I’m looking forward to some “bad” weather.  (I hope I don’t eat those words.) 

So far I’ve spent days along the beaches, weeks in parks with lakes, rivers and lots of trees.  I’m not much of a sightseer, and that wasn’t my plan when I decided to full-time.  I’m doing exactly what I wanted to do:  live at the beach, live by a lake, live in the forest.  I’ve overnighted at highway rest areas and Wal-Mart parking lots, one restaurant parking lot and one casino parking lot.  Even parking lots have trees, and maybe a field or something scenic next door. 

 Tamarack Beach - Carlsbad, CA

Wal-Mart Parking Lot, Eugene, OR

Cher-Ae Heights Casino in Trinidad, CA

I’ve enjoyed the drive from place to place, going through small towns, cities, forests, and along beaches.  Windy coast roads and wide freeways.  Lots of bridges and tunnels, short and long.

 The Grapevine (I-5), CA

Bridge over Siuslaw River

Astoria Bridge - Astoria, OR

I’ve learned a lot, had my owner’s manuals out a lot, had a back-up camera, coach and truck batteries, and vent covers installed, and some minor repair work done.  Katie and I have established a daily routine, and it works well for us.

I’ve been lucky that we’ve found a place to stay every night, had good neighbors, and when there was a problem, it was easily fixed and I learned from it.

Living in an RV is very romantic, and I mean that in this interpretation of the word:  “imbued with or dominated by idealism, a desire for adventure, chivalry, etc.”  For people wanting to see all the different cities, towns and areas and what they have to offer, there really isn’t a better way to travel. For those of us wanting a simpler life, same thing.  How else could I have spent my days, with my dog, by the beach, lakes, rivers, parks and forests I’ve visited?  And so comfortably, with all my “stuff” right here with me. 

In the next three months I’ll be in at least three new states, ending in Arizona for the winter.  When I leave Arizona, I don’t know if I’ll visit new states or retrace my steps.  I’ve stayed in more parks with hookups than I thought I would, but I love having water and electricity.  I hope to boondock in the future on forest lands and in the desert.

From Me and My Dog, Katie, here’s to the next three months on the road with The Palms.   : )

Monday, August 29, 2011

Went to town today

WELCOME to our new Follower, Sam!  Sam, it doesn't look like you have a blog, so I can't check it out, but thank you for joining Katie and me in our full timing adventures.  We're happy to have you along! :)

I don't know what was wrong with Katie Saturday night, but she kept wanting to get out of bed and go outside...  I put her up in the bed around 8:00 as usual, and she was constantly coming to the edge staring at me - that's what she does when she wants to get down. We finally went to bed/sleep, and twice during the night she wanted to get down.  I took her outside twice, and she did go potty.

This morning she was up at 8, two hours earlier than usual. I put on her Princess dress and took her outside, where she rolled in the dirt before I could stop her and got her dress full of dirt.  I wish I had gotten a picture.  She looked like a Tomboy, kind of cute, actually, but I had to wash her dress and hang it on the outside ladder to dry. 

She's been scratching a little, so I brought her inside and gave her a shower, put on her flea meds a few days early, put another dress on her, and she seems calm and sleepy now and isn't scratching. 

I cleaned and vacuumed The Palms, and got all the laundry and towels ready for the laundromat tomorrow.  All I need to do is strip the bed and throw the sheets in.  We are going into town in the morning.

This morning, my neighbors left.  They really moved in, so they had a lot of things to stow away.  They quieted down after that first day, and were actually pretty good neighbors.  As they were leaving, I talked to the woman, and she said the day before, Saturday, they had to take one of their dogs, Sadie, to the vet and have her put down.  Apparently she wasn't acting normally and didn't look good when they woke up.  They live 45 minutes away, so they took her to their vet and the dog had a large tumor on her spleen, which burst during the night and she was bleeding internally. She was 12, I think, and it was decided the best course of action was to put her down.  So sad for them, and also for their yellow lab, Max, who is 6 and grew up with Sadie.

As they pulled out, I took a photo of the other trailer all folded up - it's pretty cool looking, I think:

They said they would be back next weekend, they've reserved the same two sites, and I'm glad they will be my neighbors again.  I feel bad complaining about him yelling, and then they turned out to be nice neighbors, AND his dog dies the next day.

Last night Katie wanted to get down again, so I took her outside in the middle of the night, then left her down to sleep in her bed on the dinette bench.  Tonight she's sleeping in her own bed again.  There is no way I'm getting up in the middle of the night again tonight.  It's 10:30 PM now, and she is sleeping in her bed and hasn't wanted to go up into the bunk. 

 Sweet dreams, little Katie

So, today I unhooked and Katie and I stopped on the way out and dumped the tanks, then drove across the freeway to the town.  We went to the post office where we had general delivery mail waiting, then Walmart for grocery shopping.  I also got a 2 quart crock pot (I hope it's big enough) and a square cake pan.  I realized I don't have a pan I can put in the oven for small casseroles or baking. (My last chicken/rice/artichoke casserole I had to cook in a pot on the top of the stove.)

Then  I had the LP tank filled, and lastly we stopped at a laundromat and got the laundry done.  I put everything away and made up the bed before we drove away.  When we got home I was tired, so I took Katie for a walk, went through my mail and had a bowl of cereal and blueberries for dinner.  We should be good for the rest of the week until we leave this campground on Monday.

I love shopping and putting things away before leaving the parking lot.  No worries about frozen foods.  And also with laundry.  Putting everything away and making up the bed in the parking lot is so nice. When you get home, it's done!

From Me and My Dog, have a great Monday evening, everyone!     : )

Friday, August 26, 2011

Settling in until Labor Day

WELCOME to our new followers Merri and Steve!  According to their profile, after 14 years in the Arizona desert, they are back in Spokane, WA and are busy hiking, geocaching and will eventually be camping in their future Lance 825 TC.  Thanks for following along with Me and My Dog, and I hope you'll be out camping in that Lance soon! : )

We are still here in Chehalis, WA, having decided to stay put until after the Labor Day holiday.  I had a travel plan in place, but I decided to ask if I could stay longer than the stated limit of seven nights.  The Camp Host said it would be no problem. I could probably stay as long as I want, but after seven days, it's his call, I think.  So, I don't have to worry about being on the road during the holiday weeks, and after Labor Day, the parks should have more available sites and more parks will allow Passport America discounts.

It's pretty mellow in this park.  Nothing really special, but no negatives, either.  And close to town, a short drive across the I-5.  There are only 29 campsites, three of which are for tents only.  The tent sites are across from me, and all three are taken today.  They are having a Garlic Festival in Chehalis this weekend, and then Labor Day next weekend, so I'm figuring we may have more sites taken than usual.

It's been very quiet until yesterday when my neighbor next door came in.  He's really loud,   "MAX, GET OVER HERE.  MAX!  MAX!  MAX!  GET OVER HERE RIGHT NOW!"  His very sweet Yellow Lab isn't leashed, and is very friendly, so he tends to wander.  Instead of getting up, he YELLS at anyone not right next to him.  "HEY, BABE, BRING ME XXXX."  Good Grief, these are small, narrow sites, he doesn't have to YELL!  I keep telling myself what I read another blogger say, "I need to remember this is my life, but it's their vacation.  And they will be gone on Sunday."  That is so true, and a good thing to remember. Calmed me down right away.

  The Palms and our neighbors.
Different eras, different styles.

I've been really lucky so far to have nice quiet neighbors, considering I've been on the road for three months now.  And this guy isn't that bad.  They settle down early.  Sorry for the rant. : (

My e-mail friend, Fred, left earlier in the week, heading south - Hi Fred - I hope you got settled in and are enjoying the new park. : )

 1975 Hi-Lo Camper Trailer

When this trailer pulled in, it looked like a regular pop-up trailer.  When I saw it later, I was surprised to see it is a regular size traler when it's "popped up."  The young man who owns it said it was given to him, he just painted it black and now is going to work on the inside.  This is the second weekend they've taken it out, and it looked like they were really enjoying it.

There are blackberries ripening all over this area, Oregon, too, and I got a little bag full during one of our walks.  They are really sweetening up.  These will be great on my cereal tomorrow morning. : )

 Fresh Blackberries

Last night Katie took a chew toy to bed, she's never done that in The Palms.  It was fun watching her decide where to hide it:

 I've gotta find a good spot.

 No, not there.

 Under the pillow - perfect!  No one will find it now. 

 That ought to do it.

And it's still there. Under an extra pillow at the foot of the bed.  She used to hide her chew toys in the condo, but this is the first one she's hidden here.

I think Katie is getting the idea that this is home.  She used to lie in the sun on the carpet in front of the patio slider.  The back of the couch has either the morning or afternoon sun, and she  just found it.  I was surprised it took her so long to find this warm spot.

 Watching a butterfly.

 Queen of the couch top.

From Me and My Dog, have a great Friday evening, everyone.  : )

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Chehalis, WA

We moved to a new site last evening:

We are right at the end, on the river side.  We have a nice view in every direction, and it feels much more open here.  

This is what this area looked like yesterday:

There's only one rig on this end of the road, and two women who put up a tent last night, and just broke camp and drove away. 

Here's a photo of the river - I've been lucky to be camping near lots of water so far, which is really nice.

 Lots of kids swimming and playing in the water over the weekend.

 Wonder what brought this big tree down? The top is in the river.

  Train on the other side of the river. 
Long trains go by, we can hear them at night.
Blowing their whistles and chugging along.

They really use the fields here.  When I came back yesterday the parking lots were filled with cars, and there were games going on.  I drove by a football game, and saw others across the fields - baseball or soccer probably.

The next town up the I-5 is Centralia, WA, and they have a team right now, literally, playing in the Babe Ruth World Series for 13-15 year olds in Jamestown, NY.  They are the  Pacific Northwest Regional Champions. As of last night, they lost 2, won 1, beating Jamestown, NY 24 to 1, and setting some season records.  This morning's game will determine whether they go to the next tier, or come home, but it isn't looking good, they are behind 15 to 5 right now. 

Yesterday evening was perfect for sitting outside and enjoying the area.  Katie did a lot of roaming and sniffing around our site.  And now it's a beautiful, warm morning, with slight breezes moving the leaves in the trees.  Nice.  We've had great weather so far.

From Me and Katie, have a great Wednesday, everyone!  : )

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

We're back - missed you all! Still in Washington

I don't know what was going on, but it sure was frustrating.  The worst part is that since Blogger is free, there doesn't seem to be any tech support.  Long story, and I don't want to repeat it again.

Finally I e-mailed Rick - and that's all it took. Kind of like making a doctor's appointment, and within the hour you're cured.  Thanks, Rick!  It sure is nice to know you'll  help if you can, and I appreciated your quick e-mail in return. Just sending you the e-mail made me feel better. : )

WELCOME to two new followers:  Ellie Great, who has a couple of blogs.  She doesn't appear to be an RVer but is an author and works with children.  Welcome also to Susan, from Atlanta, GA - must be nice to be a Southern gal. : )  I've been following your blog for a while, and I'm really happy you are following along with me and Katie, too.  A BIG welcome to you both!

It's been five days since I last posted, but not a whole lot is going on. After sleeping in the rest stop right inside Washington at the Astoria Bridge, we woke up to a river full of boats.  There must have been something running big-time, and every fisherman in the area knew about it. Kind of exciting to watch them.

 The whole river that I could see was full of boats.

After a while I got ready to drive again, sat down in the driver's seat, turned around to make sure Katie was settled, and this is what I saw:

 WHAT???  I like watching the boats, too.

We had a little talk about feet on the table, and she got down and into her bed.  :)

 Our official welcome - we traveled for a while on the Lewis and Clark Trail

 Lots of waterways here.

We took the I-5 toward Seattle

We're in Chehalis, WA in a little City RV park that is only $15 a day for water/electrical hookups, and a dump nearby.  They have old but clean bathrooms and showers.  The showers are 25 cents for 5 minutes.  There aren't very many RV sites, but there is a camp host during the months the RV park is open.  And a few tent sites.

There is a river right down the road, soccer fields, Little League baseball fields, and a large field with a big brick cooking/serving area.  Its a really nice city park.

My e-mail friend, Fred, sent me a message about this park in Chehalis, so I drove up to check it out. It's right off I-5 and was on my way.  As I drove in, he immediately recognized me and told me what to do and where to go.  I let him know I wasn't stalking him, just checking it out, but I decided to stay.  I chose the open site next to Fred so I'd get good TV reception, but so far I'm getting nothing.  There are lots of empty spaces, so I talked to the camp host, and tonight I moved down to the other end to a prettier, larger site.  It's much more private, and has prettier views.  The camp host said he'd come over tomorrow and check it if my cable isn't working.

Stan Hedwall Park - Site 2

Saturday there was a group of 220 bicyclists that came through and camped out in a field right next to us.  They were doing the Annual Ride Around Washington (RAW), and that day had cycled 70 miles.  They had a big shower truck, lots of portable potties, meals prepared in the large brick building, and a huge field of tents.

 This was the shower truck

  The next morning.  
They cleared out early, and it looked like they were never there.
One of the participants said the oldest cyclist is 75 years old.  They are traveling 400+ miles in six days.  That 75 year old man sure has good endurance and balance for his age.  Another man said a large majority of the participants are between 50 and 60. 

I went to town this morning to run a bunch of errands, including buying new batteries and a new antenna handle.  I went to one of the RV places, but all their service guys were at lunch, and I wasn't quite sure what the deal was, so I went a bit further down the same road, about 5  minutes, and found the other RV Sales shop, Baydo's RV Sales.  They were great, I bought what I needed, and the Service Manager installed a new truck battery and two new coach batteries, fixed the antenna for me, and now I'm all set.  Filled the tank again, stopped for lunch and found that Safeway has free wi-fi, and here I am. : )  Good as new, and even found that my blog sign-in is back up and working.  I am a Happy Camper!

From Me and My Dog, have a great Tuesday evening, everyone!  : )

Thursday, August 18, 2011

We're in Washington State, #3

Post Two - 7:00 pm 

We are just over the border into Washington.

We crossed over the Columbia river and into Washington State this afternoon.  So now we have three states on our map.  Yeah!

I'm typing this as we are parked in a rest area.  We went up the 101 to Astoria, OR and over the Astoria Bridge, which stretches 4.1 miles from Astoria, Oregon, across the mouth of the Columbia River, to Point Ellice, Washington.  The main span is 1,232 feet in length, the longest “continuous truss” in the nation.  It is a very cool looking bridge, and loooong.  My favorite bridge so far.  

Astoria Bridge - Oregon side.

I accidentally deleted my beginning photos of the bridge, so the photo above is courtesy of Oregon Department of Transportation, an on-line photo.

 Starting to head down.

Still going down.

About halfway through the second “structure,” we were in Washington:

 I almost got the sign. :) 
 Going down to one lane - what's going on?

They were painting sections of the structure on the Washington side.  It was down to one lane, and draped on the sides and top, very weird feeling driving through.

This is a very long bridge, before I got on it, we went over a drawbridge, then through a large structure under which boats/ships can sail on the Oregon side, then over a long bridge, into the second structure, which is a series of seven smaller structures on the Washington side.  Two are being painted. 

 Drop cloths on the top and sides of two sections.

We came off the bridge and turned right toward the Rest Area shown on a sign, just a mile, I think, from the bridge end.  It’s very nice with a panoramic view of the water and the entire Astoria Bridge.  In Oregon the rest stops said overnights are prohibited, they sounded very serious about it, but this rest stop has a sign asking to "Please limit your stay to eight hours," so I’m going to try to spend the night here and leave early in the morning.  We’ll see how that works – keep your fingers crossed that we don’t get the dreaded KNOCK.

 How would you like to own this house?
It overlooks the mouth of the Columbia River
and the Astoria Bridge.  Nice.

 Gorgeous view of the Columbia River from the Rest Stop.
Lots of boats out today.  I can also see five huge commercial ships from here.

 View of the bridge on this side, showing the painter's drop cloths.

My patience is being tested and my knowledge expanded, that’s for sure.  When we packed up to leave at noon today from Pleasant Valley RV Park, all I had to do was unplug the electric cord and bring down the TV (that didn’t work there) antenna.  While I was turning the TV antenna handle, it came off in my hand.  Then the spring dropped to the table.  I got out the antenna instructions and tried and tried to get it back on, but it didn’t work, then the wire dropped again and I couldn’t find it.

The antenna was almost down, but not completely.  I remembered once, at the very beginning in May, driving with the antenna like this, when I thought I had lowered it completely, but not quite.  That worked out okay, so I thought I’d try again.  The antenna was level with the height of the roof A/C unit, so it wasn't sticking up much.

As I was driving along, the ceiling plate dropped out onto the table.  I was a little worried that these things were holding it together and the whole antenna would fly of the roof and hit someone.  But that didn't happen - I guess they are installed better than that.

We got here to the Rest Stop okay, and I got out some tools and the instructions again.  Just didn’t work, so I turned the metal bar (elevating shaft) that the handle attaches to with pliers, and the antenna went all the way down.  Whew!  So that was okay now.  I tried again to attach the handle, and I think I’ve got it.  We’ll see next time I try to raise the antenna.  But at least I won't be driving with the antenna part way up.

Everything else went well today.  We drove for around four hours.  I wanted to limit my time on the road because I slept so little last night, only about three hours.  I went back to bed at 5:30 am, after I published the first post this morning, and I finally fell asleep until around 8:45.

I was feeling fine while I was driving, but I know I’m not 100 percent on three hours sleep.  So we’ll stay here tonight and start out early tomorrow refreshed.

I don’t know where we’re going tomorrow, but I have a couple of ideas.

From Me and Katie, have a good Thursday evening, everyone!  : )