Friday, February 28, 2014

STUCK! ... HELP! ... (REALLY!)

So, into every life a little rain must fall.  And I guess into every dry camper's life a LOT of dusty sand must fall, too, and I drove right into it.

Yesterday late in the afternoon Katie and I took another walk and right near us someone had pulled out that day.   There was a perfect site for us.  Level, near the road, near the front of the Hot Springs area closer to the dumpster and vault toilets (for my family next week, if needed), and surrounded by large bushes, so a little privacy.

Excitedly, I went back to The Palms, took in the hummer feeder hanging in a bush nearby, and started the engine.  We drove around our neighbors and into the great site on the other side of their rig.  And into the sand trap.  Here's the front passenger tire:

But the real problem was with the rear passenger tires:

As you can see in the bunk window, we were having a beautiful sunset - yes, it was getting dark and we were stuck for the night.  This is the first time ever I couldn't have "escaped" if I needed to.  Thank fully we are camping among a very friendly group of RVers and had nothing to fear.

Front tire:

I noticed my neighbor outside bringing in his awning and I walked over to get his view on the situation.  He suggested digging out behind the rear tires, making a ramp, then pouring water on the area to damp it down and make the dust more solid.  At that point it was dark, and we both went home.

I immediately e-mailed Bea and Peter and asked if they had any suggestions.  I was going to try the neighbor's idea in the morning, but wanted a "spotter" to yell if I was digging myself in deeper so I'd stop.

Then I went on the Internet and searched for solutions.  I did a copy/paste from a few different websites to save as a Word document just in case this ever happens again.  The good stuff I got was that after digging out the trench/ramp, I could put a carpet piece down on the "ramp," or even the floor mats from the truck, material side down.  That sounded like a good idea, and I've heard of that solution before.

I got a couple of e-mails back from Bea, and she said they would be down around 8 am to assess the situation.

I set my two alarms for 7 am so I'd have time to dig before they got here.  After a surprisingly sound, though tilted, sleep full of good dreams, I woke up at 6:30 and got up right away. I had some digging to do.

This is what it looked like after I was done digging.  The tires on the other side were on solid ground, so they were okay.

A bit of a tilt - surprisingly, once I knew this was it for the night, the tilt inside The Palms didn't bother me at all.  I guess I subconsciously knew "it is what it is," and if I couldn't do anything about it, I might as well accept it.

This is my telescoping shovel - actually a small spade - but it collapses into a small tool and fits in my closet.  And it works great.  All metal, so no wood to dry out.

And Four Dollars???  If you don't have one, you've gotta get one.

In the morning, Peter arrived - and he had a big, solid chain that someone found out in the desert and loaned him.  He found a good spot to attach it to The Palms, then....

Attached the other end to their van.

I got in The Palms and started the engine, put it in neutral and sat there, waiting.  Peter started the van and slowly, slowly moved forward - in my imagination.  But in reality the van didn't move forward.  It started digging a hole with the rear passenger tire even though he seemed to be on solid ground.  The van just wasn't strong enough to pull The Palms out, I guess.

Next idea was the carpet.  So while Peter removed the chain, I got out my new $10 Costco carpet to lay under the rig, behind the rear tires in the ramp.  The photo below shows the rug, it's a "runner," so it's longer than a normal carpet piece and I thought it would be a longer area for the tires to grab and keep going.

This is the rug:

I went back into the cab, started the engine, and put it in reverse while Peter moved the van back out of the way in case I was able to reverse out and then he positioned himself so he could watch the tires and carpet and also be in my line of sight.  The articles I read said to move slowly, and if you started getting traction, keep going - don't stop!  I slowly pressed on the gas and we started moving - YEAAAA!  I kept moving and WE WERE OUT!   I kept backing up until we were on solid ground.

Thumbs up to Peter, and thumbs up right back at me.  :)   I got out of the truck and looked at the tire tracks. The rug was bunched up like an accordion in the rear tire hole, but it didn't wrap around the tires, thank goodness.

What a great feeling!  I was so stoked, and Peter had a huge smile on his face, too.

That's when I noticed my neighbors standing next to Peter. I hadn't met them yet, but they had come over for moral support and bearing a piece of lumber in case I needed it.  Thanks, Jim and Maryon!  Peter got back into the van and went home, where Bea was probably wondering what was going on.  Thank goodness he went home with a good report.  Maryon and Jim stayed for a while and had a really nice conversation. When they left to walk over to their rig, they said, "Well we haven't solved all the problems with the world," and I said, "Yeah, but we solved MY problem!"  :)   Very nice neighbors!

I got into the truck and backed up further to the hard packed area behind our site and moved The Palms over to the other side, where there's a nice, level, hard packed drive-through which is in the midst of large bushes and opens up on the motor home entry door side to a large "living room."   Perfect.  I filled the hummer feeders and my homemade dorky seed feeder and put them out and within hours I had some Costas hummers and some White-crowned Sparrows.

There is also a little critter here in our area - it's either a Prairie Dog or a light colored squirrel.  My camera battery was charging when I saw him, so I wasn't able to get a photo.  That's usually how I identify critters, snap a photo, blow it up big, and then look it up.  So, I'm waiting to see what he is, but I'm thinking a light squirrel, the color of the sand.

So - this is our new, and I hope last, campsite here at Hot Springs LTVA:

Around 1:00 after resting up and fooling around inside The Palms for a few hours, I went outside with my rake and leveled the area where we were stuck.  It's quite an eyesore in the middle of one's campsite.  With all the hard packed ground surrounding this area, though, I decided top put my American Flag in the middle of the soft sand area.  Just in case.  Maybe someone else driving over to visit, or just driving too close, might be saved from the indignity of getting stuck in the sand!

And now...  it looks as if it never happened.

Yeah, it never happened, you know what I mean, it never happened?  Yep, that's my story and I'm sticking to it.  :)

And here's the sunset on that fateful evening, very pastel:

From me and Katie - have a great Friday, everybody!  :)

Thursday, February 27, 2014

The new dress - thank you, Donna!

The other day Donna had a post offering three doll dresses she made herself.  She was cleaning out a closet, and after going through the toys and clothes she had for her grand kids who are now grown, she gave them all away to a niece who has young kids.   As she wrote in her post, "But, in my closet, pushed into a corner and forgotten, I found three doll dresses that I had sewn for the girls' 18" dolls."  She went on to offer the dresses to any Grandma commenters with granddaughters who might enjoy having one of the dresses.  All we had to do was leave a comment that we were interested in one of the dresses - so I did.

And guess what?  I won one of the dresses for my little cutie-pie granddaughter, Lauren, in Northern California.  Donna sent the dress out the next day and Lauren received it the following day.  My daughter was surprised it arrived so quickly, and Lauren loves the dress. 

Here are two photos of Donna's handmade dress - first on a bigger doll, and then on a smaller one.  I don't know what this doll's name is, but I think Lauren has names for all her dolls.

Then Lauren decided the hat didn't fit that doll very well, so the next morning she dressed Morgan in the dress and hat - yes, much better!

Thank you, Donna!  As you can see, Lauren is super happy with her new doll dress, and the dolls look beautiful in their new outfit. 

From me and Katie, have a great Thursday, everybody!  :)

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Wordless Wednesday - Dad colors in his kids' drawings

The dad goes by the name Tatsputin - he has a high powered job by day and flies to Las Vegas (where he owns a tattoo studio - hence the ability to color within the lines) for 10 days a month.  It's while he's on the airplane that he pulls out drawings his kids gave him and fills them in with his colored pencils. Then he brings back the completed drawings to his kids when he arrives back home.

For a while he was using an electronics device to color them in - you can see the difference in the tablet and colored pencil drawings.  He's back to colored pencils and I agree - I like them better, too.

Dad's real name is Fred Giovannitti.   There are so many interesting things going on around us that we'll never know about - but it's sure nice to see some of them.

From me and Katie, have a wonderful Wordless Wednesday, everyone!   :)

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

1,000 days on the road today! And a Half-Million Page Views!

Today marks our 1,000th day on the road as RVing Full-Timers.

Another landmark that we passed last week was having our Total Pageviews numbers roll over to show a half-million pageviews.

I remember when I hit the Publish button back in the very beginning of this blog. It made me kind of nervous, not knowing if anyone would read my post, or if I was being silly thinking anyone would be interested in me and my desire to buy a motor home and the steps I'd be taking to get ready to live in it full time with Katie.  I remember when I first saw I had a Follower, Karyn Lee - thank you Karyn Lee for noticing us way back then and hitting the Follow button -  I couldn't believe I had a Follower!  And she didn't even know me!  I was thrilled.

That first post was published Sunday, August 8, 2010.  Three and a half years ago. Wednesday, June 1, 2011 Katie and I moved into The Palms and starting our first full month as full-time RVers.  About 10 months after my first blog post.  That's not very long, but it sure seemed like forever at the time.  And here we are 1,000 days later.

Boy, has it been great!  I've learned so much, met so many people, lived in so many places, and killed so many mice.  That part wasn't great, but on the whole, there isn't much I would have changed, and I've never doubted that this is the life for me and Katie.  At least for now.  Each year I enjoy living in The Palms more, and I'm finding every year easier than the last because I've found places I like to be and will go back to my favorite campgrounds again this summer.

As I've said many times, I'm not living a full-timing lifestyle to travel or sight-see as many - probably most - full-timers are.  I want to just live in different places without having to buy and sell a house every year or two.

And I'm so happy to have my little sidekick, Katie with me.  She's such a trouper! I wouldn't have enjoyed this journey nearly as much without her, that's for sure.  She's a great companion, my protector and notifier of incoming people and dogs, and gets me out for walks at least three times a day.  She is such a little love.

Thanks to all our Followers, and also to our readers who are "lurkers."  You've all added to our pageviews - I really appreciate your interest in our journey, your patience with my frustrations and rants, your advice when I needed it, your kind corrections when I had something wrong, and your friendship through these years on the road - in person and in print.

I love landmarks - and I can't wait to write this post again after 2,000 days on the road - and One Million Pageviews.

From Me and Katie, have a great Tuesday, everybody!  :)

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Back in Hot Springs :)

Katie and I are happily encamped at Hot Springs again.  We ended up in staying in San Diego two extra days and drove back to Hot Springs on Wednesday.

We enjoyed spending time with my kids and grand kids - and new grand-dog.  They were perfect hosts and very generous, and they sure fed us well.   We had a great time!  In fact, in two weeks the whole family plus puppy are coming to Hot Springs to visit me and Katie for two days.  They are bringing their tent and all their camping gear - it's going to be really fun.

I was able to get all my medical/dental/vision appointments completed, and everything is fine.  Thank goodness it's all done until 2015!

When we first got back to Hot Springs, I was able to get a HUGE camping site area that has it's own driveway off the road and is surrounded by trees and bushes.  It would be perfect for when the kids arrive, there's even a little "room" off to the side with it's own bushes surrounding it for privacy.  Perfect for a tent.  So we set up camp there on Wednesday.

Unfortunately, after being there for two days, I decided we had to move.  For one thing, the entire floor of the campsite was covered with inches of fine dust.  I couldn't walk outside The Palms without getting my feet covered and dirty.  And the way Katie walks, with her nose to the ground sniffing everything, I figured she was sniffing in way too much dust.  Also, very little Internet in that site.  I was able to post one blog post, but was having trouble leaving comments.   And then I tried to pay bills, and couldn't keep a connection long enough to pay more than one.

So yesterday morning I packed up and we drove around a little and found a site in a new area for us.

This entire LTVA camping area is pretty small compared to the other LTVAs we've visited, but I've always found a site along the main road.  Our new site is in another area we haven't explored before.  It's nearer to the front of the campground area and I think it will work fine:  it's not dusty and has great Internet and TV reception and lots of room for a tent if the kids want to be here.  So we've set up camp again and we're here to stay.  At this time of year people are still coming in, but many are starting to pack up and leave, so by the time the kids come, there may be other sites available.  

NOTE: Just got settled in another site - I seem to be chasing Internet signals.  At first the last site was really good, now it's not.  Oh, well.  It's easy for me to move and there seem to be more sites opening up all the time.  I'll keep moving until I find one that's level and nice and has good Internet.  So far, so good on this one.  It looks just like the photos above.  :)

I have a few photos that I haven't posted yet of two meals I had in San Diego. I especially want to remember the first two. My son, Tom, is the best bar-b-quer there is.  I'd put money on him any time against anyone.  I love filet mignon and whenever I visit, he always cooks some up for me.  He gets the best meat he can find, it used to be Costco but he said their quality wasn't as good as it used to be, so now he gets his meats at a local small seaside market.  He also uses a special kind of coals or chips or something that he gets near where his dad lives, I think.  Anyway, he has his own process and it sure works!   Here are the filets on the grill:

This steak was more tender and delicious than any steak I've ever had.  We also had large artichokes that he boiled until tender, then he cut them in half, seasoned them, and put them on the grill for a short time. Trish cooked up some cauliflower and mashed and seasoned it, and it was delicious - the whole dinner was super.  I took my leftover steak home and made myself two French Dip sandwiches after I left San Diego.  Yummm.

One afternoon we went to Five Guys for lunch.  I've read about Five Guys on other people's posts, but I'd never been there, and now I know why everyone likes their burgers so much.  There were really GOOD!

For anyone who hasn't been to a Five Guys yet, order the Small.  It's enough of a meal for anyone, and if you order it with everything, they put on EVERYTHING - pickles, grilled onions, grilled mushrooms, lettuce and tomatoes.  It was so juicy and delicious.   They also have bins of peanuts in the shell you can scoop up and bring to your table.  My grand kids had fun with the peanuts.

I don't know why, but I thought Five Guys was an Italian place, that just happened to have good hamburgers.  I didn't realize it's a lot like IN-N-OUT Burgers.  I love their hamburgers, too, but I think these were a little better because of the additional grilled mushrooms. 

On our way back to Hot Springs, we passed a field of sheep, which we don't see often.  I always grab the camera when I see sheep in the distance.  Green, green fields, a flock of sheep, rows of palm trees and blue sky.  It was such a pretty scene.

From me and Katie, have a great Saturday, everybody!  :)

Friday, February 21, 2014

My Grandsons are in JAIL - and the police question me! :)

When we took the San Diego Trolley, we got off at the Seaport Village stop and had lunch.  On one side of the village is the old police department, which had been sitting empty for years, deteriorating.  It was on the Historical Landmarks list, so they couldn't tear it down and of course the property was worth a fortune.  So they refurbished a small section with some jail cells and tore down the rest and built shops and restaurants and a courtyard all around that area.

We had a great lunch at The Cheesecake Factory (and split a couple of Godiva Cheesecake slices with real whipped cream - yummmmmm), then walked around a little. I wanted to see the jail section, and we found it near the courtyard.  The hallway going to the cells was lined with photos, and I took some pictures of the old photos - I thought they were pretty neat.

First, though, the two dangerous criminals being measured:

Pretty small cells for two people - see the upper and lower beds?

And here they are, the two shifty criminals inside their cell:


They don't look very happy, do they?  Such good actors!

And here are the old photos:

 The Fleet of Police Cars:

I guess this is how they used to take mug shots:

And the fancy firing range:

The motorcycle police:

Of course, San Diego's location and the variety of scenery and architecture, the hills, ocean, bay - such a wide variety of locations! -  make it perfect for filming TV shows and movies.  If you're interested, this link will take you to San Diego Film Commission's Trivia Page.

Between a nice family breakfast, church, and our drive to Old Town San Diego to catch the Trolley, it was a super nice, very full day.  The night before we had our overnight at Grammy's and the couch and dinette were put into service as beds.  What a mess The Palms was - but kids don't notice those things, and we all had a great time.  We watched a movie and ate jelly beans.  When we got back to their house late Sunday afternoon, Tom helped me put The Palms back in order and I said goodbye to everyone and drove to my exciting sleepover in the medical office parking lot where I met two of the area's finest.

The second night I spent in the medical offices parking lot was not quite as calm and the first.  It was last Sunday night, and I planned to finish up two appointments then "hit the road."  So Katie and I were all ready to go.

We were parked at the far corner of the parking lot - there are lots of lights and it feels very safe.  We went to bed -  and around midnight I woke up with the entire inside of The Palms lit up.  I peeked out the side window of the bunk over the cap, and saw a policeman there, talking to another policeman out of my sight near the rear of the rig.  They had two cars, one pointing to the side of The Palms, and one behind us, so we were blocked in and couldn't have "escaped" if we were bad guys.  Both cars had their bright headlights pointing at us, and their spotlights too, and both policemen were shining their flashlights back and forth across the motor home. Whew.  I climbed down, pulled on a shirt and jeans, and heard knocking on the truck's passenger door.

I pulled the curtain over that separates the living area from the cab at night and had a light shining in my face.  Long story short, he wanted my name, what I was doing there, etc.  I was ready for my appointment early the next morning and told him that, and had my appointment cards, ID, Medical card, and credit card banded together to take with me the next morning.  I showed him, but all he wanted to do was glance at my Driver's License.  I guess I matched the license photo and the info that I'm sure they ran on The Palm's license plate.  He asked if I was alone.  I guess he wanted to make sure I wasn't being held against my will.

He said, "Okay, We had a call and they were worried. We're just checking to make sure you are okay."  Then they said, Have a good night, got in their cars and drove away.  I knew that sooner or later that was going to happen and I had my story and "props" rubber-banded together and ready and it was all good. 

After my annual physical the next morning, I went to the Member Services Department and asked to speak with someone in Security.  I explained to him what happened the night before, and said it never occurred to me to ask permission, since the facility closed at night and the lot was empty.  He said they had not called, it was probably someone from the neighborhood.  It was fine if I wanted to park in their lots the night before appointments, but probably a good idea to check in with security and let them know.  Then if there's a problem, I can say I have permission.  Yes, Sir, will do!

So... that's the story of my grandsons in jail and me being questioned by the police.

From me and Katie, have a great Friday, everybody!  :)