Saturday, May 30, 2009


Our site at the Dopps In July of 2007, when we were traveling the coast of Oregon, we answered an “ad” on the electronic bulletin board of our Boomer group: a Boomer couple with property near Portland and a big organic garden needed someone to “garden-sit” for three weeks in August while they took a trip. We were interested, responded, and met the Dopps.

We had a great time taking care of their garden and grounds, and have met up with them in our travels a few times since. You might remember Richard from prior blog posts about the small earthen ovens he has built in the desert near Quartzsite and Borrego Springs. His oven experiments were our inspiration to built a larger oven at Rosanna’s ranch in Sunizona, AZ.

The Dopps house is within an easy day’s drive of our volunteer job in Hood River, so we stopped in to visit with them for a few days on the way north. Something new since the last time we visited: an earthen oven!

Richard's Earthen Oven
Oven growing grass

Richard built a raised foundation to bring his oven up to a comfortable level relative to their deck, and fashioned his cob insulation layer to look like a beehive. The oven hasn’t been officially inaugurated yet, and I get a huge kick out of the hay GROWING out of the cob layer (click on the photo to enlarge it)! That isn’t something you would see in Arizona. :)

We are staying pretty close to home while we’re here. Richard directed us to a great walking/biking path a short drive away and, as you can see from the top photo, the Dopps property is so green and lovely that hanging around is an attractive idea. We had Boomer business to take care of, Odel spent an hour at a nearby driving range, I did some reading and napping…

We’ll be here until Monday morning, when we move to our host site in Hood River, “home” for June and July. Tomorrow? Nothing but relaxing.

Oh, by the way: I resized the setup of the side-by-side photos in this post. I hope this solves the previous problem of the right-hand photo being cut off on the right side.

Thursday, May 28, 2009


If you have been reading along, you know that the switch from analog TV to digital TV (as ordained by the government) opened a miserable can of worms with our old, analog TV equipment.  In our bedroom, we replaced the small, old, analog TV with a small, new, analog/digital TV.  In the living room, we hooked up a digital converter box to the big, old, analog TV.

Luna relaxes with a toy while the work is done. That's her "I'm not doing anything!" look.Once we did that, our TV world turned upside-down.  I’ve run through the details too many times, so won’t do it again.  We had “professionals” work on it in Sacramento, but we were not satisfied with the results.  We also noticed that our automatic satellite TV dish labored longer and harder to find and lock on the satellite signal.  I joked to Odel that it only wanted to work when it was cool… which turned out to be true!

When we called the satellite tech guys – in Florida - we were thrilled to discover that they could recommend a satellite technician in Eugene (can you believe it??) who was familiar with our brand (Trac Star) and had a workshop full of parts.  He used to install satellite dishes, TV’s, the works for the big RV manufacturers in the Eugene area – but has lots of free time now that so many manufacturers have gone belly up (or have slowed production to a crawl).

Off we went this morning for our 8:30 appointment with Cal Thorne at Advanced Satellite (no website: 541/607-8968, near the Eugene Airport).  While he got to work, Odel hovered, Luna relaxed with her toys, and I went to a nearby campground to secure an overnight site.  We left at noon with all problems diagnosed, the cabling unscrambled, a new receiver (ours was dying, one of the sources of our problems), and a rebuilt satellite dish one iteration newer than our 7 year old dish – one that doesn’t mind hot weather.  :)  Each TV is now capable of displaying the satellite feed, the over-the-air digital stations, and a cable TV feed.  Sharp and clear.  Problem(s) solved!

Relaxing spot 5-28-2009 2-17-14 PM  

Fern Ridge Lake 5-28-2009 4-22-07 PM

By noon, we were on our way to our overnight stop, Richardson Park (read our review and see more photos here), a country park on a big lake near Eugene.  We settled into our favorite site (selected when we first visited here in September of 2007), then Odel took off to get a replacement for a broken latch that holds the hot water heater cover in place.  He was back and had the repair completed in an hour, and we were off for our daily walk.  By 4:00, we were kicking back in our chairs in the shade, Luna relaxing on the big picnic table.  It was a problem-solving kind of day, and we’re feeling satisfied.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009


Crossing the Willamette south of Eugene Scotch Broom in bloom

We had a beautiful drive from Grants Pass to Eugene yesterday. After spending the winter in the arid southwest, it seems impossible that so much water, so much green, and so many trees can exist!

Parked along the Willamette River at Valley River Center AM at Valley River Center 5-27-2009 12-56-41 PM

Our target was the Valley River Center mall (click here to read our review and see more photos) in Eugene. Many RV’ers utilize WalMart parking lots for overnighting; we aren’t among them. We do, though, look forward to parking at VRC! Two nights are allowed, self-contained RV’s only, and only in the northwest corner of the HUGE parking lot… which means we are steps from the banks of the Willamette River, with only a paved walking/biking trail in between. This section of the parking lot is virtually empty; the nearest building is a football field away.

Eugene Bike Trail Odel on footbridge

The pedestrian bridge over the river, on the other hand, is about 50 yards away. As soon as we arrived, set up, and signed in with security (they come around in their vehicle to register your rig, and circulate through the parking lot frequently), we were off for our walk, across the river and through a couple miles of shade-dappled parkway to the university.

Menu: Adam's Sustainable TableIt was a beautiful day for strolling and people-watching, and Eugene is a good place for both. The variety of folk and modes of self-powered locomotion are amazing: very young to very old; very (VERY) fit to those of us working on it; men, women, and dogs; walking, biking, skating, riding in wheelchairs, jogging; scantily dressed to full sweats. Some people are listening to music, some are talking with companions, some are talking to themselves, some are on the phone. Some are just sitting on benches along the trails; others are reclining on the grass. You are just another of the many folks adding to the color and interest of the scene. We love it!

By the time we got back home, we were hungry and I could tell Odel was not in the mood for leftovers, so I played my ace – the menu of a restaurant I had previously researched as a good possibility for a dinner out while in Eugene. Once I had him interested, we took off to downtown Eugene and Adam’s Sustainable Table (click here to read their philosophy).

Ummmmm…. We started with a shared appetizer of calamari. Good, though not the best we have ever had (which is served by Paragary’s Restaurant in Sacramento, CA) – but we did eat up every bite. We each ordered a glass of white wine from their excellent list of local wines. Odel switched to a local microbrew to go with his dinner, so more wine for me. :)

I had the Steamed Pacific Mussels with White Wine and Garlic for dinner, with a small loaf of Homemade Organic Bread (and soft butter) to soak up all the delicious, garlic-y juices. Odel had the Knee Deep Burger with Crispy Fries, and pronounced it one of the best burgers he has had. We split a “Cupcake of the Week” for dessert: a lemon cupcake filled with lemon curd, topped with lemon cream cheese frosting.

As penance, today we walked an extra mile. It was worth every step.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


Our Texas friends, Norma and Larry, asked for Odel's rib recipe. We like "dry" ribs, no sauce, so we can taste the flavor of the meat. Here's the recipe:

1 slab of good lookin' pork ribs (raw)
Lowry's Black Pepper Seasoned Salt (see photo)*

Rub ingredient #1 well with ingredient #2. Cook in the solar oven or crock pot for 3 1/2 to 4 hours. Slice apart and fall upon them with slurpy abandon.

*Lowry's makes both "Seasoned Salt" and "Black Pepper Seasoned Salt" (BPSS). We search around for the BPSS, and usually buy 3-4 containers when we find it, as it is also the "secret ingredient" in Odel's best-in-the-world grilled chicken thighs.

In a pinch, you can make your own BPSS using the common Lowry's Seasoned Salt and cracked black pepper - but the BPSS has just the right mix of the two.

Monday, May 25, 2009


That man of mine can really cook!  A few days ago, sitting out in the sunshine next to Scoopy, he brought up one of his favorite cooking implements, our folding solar oven… and one of his favorite meals, slow-cooked pork ribs.  As he waxed poetic, I smiled and said “why don’t you take charge of that for our Memorial Day dinner?”

And so he did.  I took care of the “sides”:  Quinoa and Black Bean Salad with Smokey Lime Dressing (which I always pronounce to be my very favorite food after my first bite) and Pan-Asian Slaw (newly added to the recipe archive).  The slaw is a particularly good summer recipe, quick (10 minutes) and simple, an excellent potluck dish.  Here is our day, in pictures:

Solar Cooker 5-25-2009 5-04-08 PM

The solar cooker on the TV tray in the driveway.

Ribs in Pan 5-25-2009 5-35-16 PM

The seasoned ribs after 3 1/2 hours of cooking.

Cut Ribs 5-25-2009 5-40-51 PM

All cut up and ready to eat.

Memorial Dinner 5-25-2009 5-43-37 PM

A good-looking plate!

Eating 5-25-2009 5-45-02 PM

The happy chef diner. 

Luna's Day 5-25-2009 5-56-40 PM

Where Luna went after dinner to relax.

After dinner 5-25-2009 6-31-06 PM

Where Laurie went after dinner to relax.

Sunday, May 24, 2009


Take several heavily forested and very green mountain ranges, separate them with wild, foaming rivers, lace trails throughout. Add the sounds of wind in the trees, the roar of foaming waterfalls, the peeps, cheeps, and screeches of birds. It adds up to summer vacation.

I know, I know - we live as though we are on vacation all the time, but summer in the mountains takes me right back to summer camping vacations with my family when I was a kid - and it is a special, very relaxed feeling. Lucky is the child who has parents and grandparents who introduce them to the great experience of camping. (Thanks, Mommy and Daddy!)

We’ve been in Grants Pass three days, and we have hiked on each of them. I’ve got pictures to share. Double-click on any photo to enlarge it, then use the "back" button to return to the blog:

Our first hike was to the top of Upper Table Mountain, 20 miles south of Grants Pass. Spectacular view, huh?

The next day was a slightly more challenging hike, the Rainie Creek trail along the Rogue River (far right photo). VERY rocky, occasionally steep – but we had the Rogue River beside us (usually far below) the entire hike.

Mt McLaughlin 5-22-2009 2-24-25 PM Snow covered Mt. McLaughlin from Upper Table Mountain.

Rainie Falls Trail 5-23-2009 2-50-02 PM

Rogue River 5-23-2009 3-21-41 PM
This is the Rogue, looking quite calm as it flows towards the Pacific Ocean.

Wild Yellow Iris 5-23-2009 2-45-57 PM
A wild yellow iris along the trail.
Rainie Falls 2 5-23-2009 4-05-58 PMRainie Falls, 2 miles from the trailhead. What they lack in height, they make up for in width. They were so noisy we could barely communicate with each other.

Today we took a much longer drive, the Redwood Highway from Grants Pass, Oregon, west to Crescent City, California (85 miles one way). We mostly wanted to check the suitability of the road for possible future travel in Scoopy, but we also planned several short hikes along the way.

One of the best was a walk to the point where the north fork and the middle fork of the Smith river converge – named “The Points”.

Smith River Point 5-24-2009 1-08-42 PM The jade green color of the Smith River is caused by the high concentration of Serpentine rock through the canyon, leaching its color into the water.

Smith River Clarity 5-24-2009 1-13-27 PM

I was on a rock twenty or thirty feet higher than the river when I took this photo. The water was incredibly clear.

From The Points, we drove through the Redwood national and state parks to Crescent City. After driving the Scenic Tour route along the ocean, we found a Safeway and bought custom made sandwiches for lunch. Back along the ocean, at a spot we had selected earlier, the fog had lifted and the water sparkled with sunshine. Woo-hoo!

Crescent City Lighthouse 5-24-2009 2-09-02 PM

The lighthouse at the Crescent City harbor. The weather was typical northern California coastal fog.

Crescent City beach 5-24-2009 2-54-29 PMOur lunchtime view. Just as I turned away from taking this photo, a dozen huge Pelicans went soaring past.

Tomorrow is Memorial Day, and we plan to stay close to home, taking a walk in a city park near our RV Park. Odel plans to cook a slab of ribs in our little solar oven; I’ll make “sides”. Have a good holiday, everyone – and travel safely if you are on the road.

Friday, May 22, 2009


Leaving Redding at 8:00 in the morning yesterday, Mount Shasta was still ghostly on the horizon. See the snowcovered peak barely noticeable in the upper left?

Northern travelers soon begin the climb into the heavily forested mountains, towards Shasta Lake. Though it is enormous, Mt. Shasta mostly disappears from view as you travel the twists and turns of I-5 - then suddenly re-appears, larger each time. When we came over a rise and caught a glimpse in the lower left photo, both Odel and I gasped in awe. What a mountain!

Past Mt. Shasta City, the road flattens in a high, dry, volcanic plain to the Oregon border - where the climb begins to the highest point on I-5,
Siskiyou Summit. Though it is only 4,310 feet high, heavy snowfall causes frequent closures in the winter. Not so yesterday - we sailed over in 66 degree sunshine.

While the climb from Redding to Shasta Lake, Mt. Shasta City, and Siskiyou Summit is gradual, the descent is anything but. Just as you cross the pass, a warning sign alerts you to a long, steep descent: 7 curvy miles at 6% grade. Not one, but TWO runaway truck ramps, one at 2 miles and one at 5 miles. To us, that always means "LOOK OUT". Yesterday, we had the added excitement of road work underway. :)

Those road conditions don't fluster Odel anymore. He put the transmission in 3rd gear and we cruised slowly down the long, long hill into Ashland, rarely touching the brakes.

We pulled into at big Pilot truck stop at 11:00 - our first fill up since the beginning of April. Diesel had gone up about 20 cents a gallon; here in Oregon, it currently costs less than regular gasoline.

Since we had the afternoon before us and only 20 miles to go, we pulled off the interstate in the beautiful rest area at
Valley of the Rogue State Park, an Oregon State Park right along I-5. We spent a couple nights in the campground there in 2007 (too close to I-5's noisy traffic for my taste) and knew we could take a long walk through the campgrounds and along the river... it was a good break.

By 1:30 pm, we were in Grants Pass, where we had reserved a site at an RV park we've never seen before, Moon Mountain RV Resort (read our review here). It's a small park, with terraced sites stepping down a fairly steep hillside.

Our site is one of the largest; we have just enough room for Scoopy, a small picnic table, Luna's crate, our chairs and BBQ grill. Luna likes our top-of-the-hill site and was content to spend the afternoon lounging in the shade, regarding the view.

The downside of the park: it is just as close to I-5 as Valley of the Rogue State Park! The traffic noise means we have to keep the windows closed at night. :(

The upside (besides the beauty of the park and friendliness of the manager): a local woman makes homemade ice cream and cookies that she sells at the park office. We took advantage of that last night. Yum!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


When I woke up this morning, it was still dark. I was excited, ready to get up and go.

Last night, we had done everything that could possibly be done the night before departure: tires checked and aired up; vacuuming completed; outdoor rugs and chairs stowed away. Odel had removed the big snap-on sun screens, and I had stowed and secured the dishes, books, etc.

I peeked at the clock: 12:30 am! Sheesh. I thought it was around 5:00. I reluctantly put my head back on the pillow and slept until 5:30.

It was forecast to be another hot day in Sacramento, and even hotter in Redding, 150 miles north, our destination. We planned to leave around 9 am, to complete the 3-hour drive before it got too hot - and we were on the road way early, 8:20. By 9 am, Sacramento wasn't even a speck in the rearview mirrors.

The drive up I-5 through the Central Valley of California is flat and boring, a drive we have made too many times. I am still surprised, though, by the vast agricultural spaces in California. We passed cornfields and rice paddies close to Sacramento, hayfields farther north, then the olive groves around Corning.

Just before Corning, we glimpsed a welcome hint of the beauty to come: the faint, faint mirage of huge Mt. Shasta looming to the north, and the much closer, less impressive Mt. Lassen to the east. Both are still covered in snow. Mt. Shasta is totally spectacular, seemingly standing alone, overwhelming. We'll get beautiful views tomorrow.

We were in our site at the Redding Elks Lodge
(read our review here) by noon. We make this Elks lodge our planned stop when traveling I-5 for two reasons: its beautiful setting, and the wonderful walking opportunity.

The lodge is on the banks of the Sacramento River, running high, fast, and cold today. A paved walking/biking trail runs for miles in both directions, through lovely green parks, under huge riverside trees (photo above - the span is a railroad trestle).

As soon as we deployed, got the A/C going, and finished lunch, we took off down the trail, heading east to the Sundial Bridge, about a mile and a half distant. What a unique and beautiful bridge this is, with its opaque, green glass surface and unusual style. The large "fin" at the end is actually a sundial arm, marking the passage of time on tiles set in a garden to the north. A few steps away is a strikingly colorful arboretum of plants suited for northern California's climate. What an asset Redding has made of its river frontage!

Tomorrow's drive is spectacular, up past Mt. Shasta into Oregon and Grant's Pass, our stop for the Memorial Day holiday weekend. We have a climb of around 4,000 feet to the top of Siskiyou Summit so, once again, the hot temperatures dictate an early departure (yes, I know that many of you are laughing when we call anything prior to 9 am "early"). We're looking forward to Oregon's cooler sunshine.

Monday, May 18, 2009


Tonight will be the first night in a week that we will eat dinner at home. That's a first for us!

Everything we needed to do in Sacramento is done, and our last week here filled up with social events... all dinners. We've eaten out with friends old and new, with my sister and bro-in-law, and with my parents. Yes, I have retained my hard-won ability to fit comfortably into my pants, but barely.

It has been particularly nice NOT to be cooking since we are suffering through Sacramento's second heat wave of the season. Yesterday the highest recorded temperature was 104 degrees, which tied the current record for May 17, which was set LAST year. Yes,
we were here for that one, too! UGH.

Though our two air conditioners can keep us cool indoors, cabin fever sets in quickly. We've spent many hours daydreaming about the cooler weather soon to be ours in Oregon (today's photos are from our last visit there in 2007).

Today is forecast to be slightly cooler (highs in the upper 90's). Odel is on his way to the golf course, and I am heading out the door shortly to walk to the nearby Best Buy store to checkout new laptops.

Our current Toshiba laptop is 3 1/2 years old. We use it daily, heavily... in fact, the most-used letters of the alphabet have worn right off our keyboard!

It is now developing a worrisome problem: every so often (once a day, average), the screen freezes, then slowly fades to very light pastels or white. If I jiggle the screen, it usually "comes to life" again and on we go - but I am thinking it is a problem that won't fix itself.

If anyone knows of a reliable fix for this, let me know. At Best Buy today, I'm "just looking", since we will be in Oregon soon and can purchase a computer without paying sales tax. When the time comes, I want to have our options narrowed down.

So, out the door I go. This is likely to be my last posting until we are one the road again - SOON. We're leaving Wednesday morning, spending Wednesday night in Redding, then heading to Grant's Pass, Oregon, to hang out by the Rogue River through the Memorial Day holiday (we like to be OFF the roads during holiday periods). Woo-hoo!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


Odel called me from the golf course a few minutes ago - he had just received a call from the doctor's office with the results of his first followup PSA results since receiving Proton Beam Therapy for prostate cancer this past winter. PSA: 1.5!

Odel's highest PSA reading was 9.7, in October of 2008. After 45 Proton Beam treatments, the prognosis is that the first followup PSA reading should be half of what it was prior to treatment. 1.5 is fantastically fabulous! I am teary-eyed with happiness and relief as I type this (while he is out on the golf course no doubt grinning ear to ear).

Odel was diagnosed with prostate cancer 11 months ago, right here in Sacramento. If any of you want to read about the treatment he chose, here is my
long (and illustrated) description of the process from a prior blog post. To read more about Loma Linda University Medical Center (LLUMC), Odel's treatments, and our three month stay in Loma Linda, click on LLUMC under "Find Blog Posts by Topic" on the left side of the blog. We can't say enough good things about the LLUMC experience.

And one last reminder: please, please, all male readers, get a PSA test. Medical experts say to begin testing at age 50, earlier if there is ANY history of prostate cancer in your family. Establish your "baseline" number early, then watch for "doubling", a sudden jump in the number (no matter how high or low). Maybe it is nothing, maybe it is something - monitoring and perhaps a biopsy will tell. Odel's cancer was caught early, so he had his choice of excellent treatment options. Everyone should be so "lucky". :)

Now, back to my previously scheduled program - vacuuming and dusting! I'm floating on air.

Sunday, May 10, 2009


We took the short drive to the Davis, California, yesterday morning to visit the annual Whole Earth Festival held on the quad at the University of California. I love festivals: the people (mostly young), the colors, the music, the movement, the food. I come away smiling and energized.

Check out the roaming "Free Hugs" guy. Odel got a good hug from him, then I put away the camera and got one, too. :) He stayed very busy, walking all over the quad lawn and giving hugs.

I know that hugs are good for you, and when I got home, I googled, looking for research on the health benefits of hugging. Guess what I found? The Free Hugs Guy is part of a world-wide movement. I found this interesting, touching, inspiring video on YouTube about the guy who started it, Juan Mann (click here to visit the Free Hugs website and learn Juan's story). Take a look - and be sure to give out several hugs today (and everyday).

Saturday, May 9, 2009


We bought Scoopy used, one year old with 12,000 miles on our Cummins engine. We knew next to nothing, but had a “must have” checklist:

Diesel engine, no fewer than 350 HP: this can move our 31,000 pound GVWR motorhome and 5,000 pound Jeep over the highest mountains in Colorado without weeping in frustration.

Two slides: one in the living room, one in the bedroom, and each has windows on both ends.

An interior look and feel we both found appealing: fairly simple, no etched glass, no mirrored ceiling, nothing “country”. This varies for everyone, but be certain you are going to enjoy the time spent inside your rig.

50 amp electrical service: we often have only 30 amps, but like the option of 50 amps if we are staying for awhile in a hot climate.

Two air conditioners.

A full-sized shower.

Two comfortable rooms that can be easily separated from each other: we both like “alone“ time.

Propane oven: these are becoming rare in RV’s. I like to use mine in winter, or in the morning on a cold day. In summer, I use the convection oven or microwave (they are combined in an RV).

That was it for the must-haves.

Here are the things we didn’t think to look for that turned out to be important to us (all of which we have):

Dual pane windows: improved temperature and noise control.

Built-in 7.5 KW Onan generator which can be turned on and off from inside Scoopy: very convenient, and imperative for boondocking.

Inverter and 3-stage battery charger: also imperative for boondocking.

4-door propane/electric refrigerator/freezer with ice maker: no boondocking without a propane-cooled refrigerator.

Stacking clothes washer and dryer: we never would have included these on a wish list as new buyers; now we wouldn’t be without them.

These options came with Scoopy. We're glad to have 'em, but not sure we would pay to replace them if they became non-functional:

Automatic, in motion satellite dish: we definitely would not bother with the “in-motion” aspect of our automatic satellite, but probably would opt for the automatic rooftop satellite dish again. It means you have much less flexibility in campsites in wooded areas, but avoids a LOT of hassle and frustration, especially in wet weather.

A large, chest-style refrigerator/freezer in the basement: it can be used as either a refrigerator or a freezer, depending on where you set the temperature. We keep it full of white wine and other beverages, and vegetables when we have stocked up for travels in remote locations or visited a farmer‘s market. It’s a real convenience, but would we pay to replace it? I’m not sure.

Electric power reel for the big, heavy, 50 amp electric cord: we appreciate the ease of a power reel, especially if the cord has been laying on muddy or sandy ground. We probably would pay to replace it if it broke (unlike the power hose reel, which broke twice - and we didn’t bother to replace it again).

Over the past six years, we have added several options:

Custom-made, snap on, exterior solar/privacy screens for the windshield, the front side windows, and the one side window that does not have a window awning. Motorhomes should not be without them! This is our number one most cost-effective purchase. Buy them early in your travels.

Electric awning: we just added this 4 months ago. It is a costly purchase, but we already have used it more times than we used the manual awning in the prior six years - primarily because it can be easily deployed or retracted by one person.

Pressure Pro tire pressure monitors: another rather expensive purchase that we pondered for many, many months. It is not difficult to monitor your tire pressures manually, but we had the money available and wanted to eliminate both the hassle of frequent tire pressure checking and the concern of a tire problem while underway. If we were on a tight budget, we would have nixed this purchase; I consider them a luxury (and both useful and fun).

Leather sofa: after wearing out the fabric cover on our old sofa TWICE, we bought a leather sofa from friends who had an extra. We no longer have any fabric covered furniture. Two real advantages to leather in the fulltiming life: MUCH easier to keep clean (fabric holds a LOT of dust), and it holds up much better under constant, constant wear.

Satellite radio: Love it, love it, love it. Satellite radio makes all the difference in the world in those very remote spots that have no over-the-air radio reception other than religious programming or Spanish-language stations, both of which seem to broadcast to every little quarter acre of the U.S. Even works in Mexico!

Catalytic propane heater: totally silent, and it uses no electrical power. We bought it primarily for boondocking, but use it often when we want a little more warmth without the noise of the furnace.

4 AGM "house" batteries: expensive and worth it. Without adding solar panels, we went from running the generator once a day when boondocking to once every other day (in summer).

Here are the few things we wish we had, but we don’t:

Lanyards on the air tanks: air tanks on a diesel motorhome should be purged of water every so often (frequency depends on whether you travel in humid or dry climates). Lanyards make this task much easier.

Flatter dashboard, smaller windshield: Scoopy has an incredibly oversized windshield, the better to catch all the rocks thrown up by passing cars. Large windshields also tend to “shift” more easily than smaller ones. I vividly remember our panic the first time we noticed that the upper corner of the windshield had pulled away from the frame! I also would prefer a flat dash instead of our very sloped dashboard. I know we would soon have it junked up with maps, books, cat hair, etc - but we might be able to use our dining table again.

Regular passenger seat instead of the “buddy“ seat: The original owners of Scoopy had 4 small children, and had a “buddy” seat installed in the passenger position. A buddy seat is sort of a seat-and-a-half, good for a parent (or grandparent) and child, or a person and their pet. I’d rather have the standard, narrower seat for ease of ingress and egress through the front door.

More hard surface flooring, less carpet: just about every RV’er I know has this same wish! A hard surface would be easier to clean and probably longer lasting, and throw rugs could be changed easily when you get tired of the old look.

Easily accessible battery compartment: the horribly inaccessible battery compartment was one of the main reasons we switched from lead-acid batteries to AGM batteries - we couldn’t see into the lead-acid batteries to see whether they needed water.

One last piece of advice: Buy used!

That’s it for the “Buying an RV” mini-series. Safe travels, all. :)

Photos, from the top: Oregon coast at Sunset Bay State Park; taking the train from Durango to Silverton, Colorado; Bridal Veil Falls, Yosemite National Park, California; Bumpass Hell, Lassen Volcanic National Park, California; White House Ruin, Canyon de Chelly National Monument, Arizona; the pool at Balmorhea State Park, Balmorhea, Texas; Ridgway State Park, Colorado.

Friday, May 8, 2009


Today was Early Mother's Day. My sister Nancy and I planned a fun day with my mom: lunch out - with gifts - followed by "spa" pedicures (manicure for Nancy, who already had good lookin' feet). I love having a pedicure: the massaging chair, the foot massage, the attentions of a "trained professional" to all the bumps, lumps and wierdly shaped toenails. Clomp in on hooves, glide out on dainty woman-feet.

The other reason I love getting a pedicure: it is such a "girl" experience. Martha Stewart's Living, Oprah's O, People, More, Family Circle... all the women's magazines are there (I opted for the O magazine from August of 2006). The pedicurists chat among themselves in an Asian tongue; the gaggle of girls getting ready for the prom gossip together; friends discuss their kids and husbands. I am rarely in that atmosphere anymore, and it is relaxing to listen to these slices of female life.

Over coffee after our pedicures, my mother mentioned that it had been several days since I posted a blog. All I could say was, "I've been soooooo busy!" My working sister laughed outloud at that, and I tried to think what, what, what have I been doing?? Two things have consumed a lot of time lately: picking out my new glasses, and planning our trip north.

My cataract surgery results are fantastic - I couldn't be happier. I still need glasses for reading and computer work, though, and HATE putting reading glasses on, taking them off, searching for them throughout the rig, digging into my purse for them when I am out, needing to find 'em to read the prices at the grocery store...

So, I want full-time glasses. Put them on and forget about 'em. Prior to cataract surgery, I wore the same pair of glasses for about 4 years: narrow burgundy frames, out-of-style shape. I am sick of them! I wanted something cute, something modern, something that took 10 years off my face and neck. With that tall, tall order in mind, I decided to start looking at frames well in advance of yesterday's "final checkup" of my eye and the resulting new prescription.

Any of you who wear glasses know what it's like to pick out your new frames. Too wide. Too big. Too heavy. Too dorky. Too "cute". Too trendy. When you find a pair you like and set them aside, you don't like 'em anymore 15 minutes and 22 frames later. Brown? Plum? Khaki? Purple? Bling, or bling-free? So, that is ONE of the things I spent time on (I went for brown, narrow frames, as bling-free as possible, semi-trendy shape).

The other is trip planning, and that sucked up ALL of my computer time for several evenings. We are leaving here on Wednesday, 5/20, a few days before the Memorial Day weekend. Fulltimers know this: be prepared for 3-day holiday weekends! The smart move is to be in place on Friday and stay put until Tuesday. If you are staying in a commercial campground or state/federal park, you have three choices: go where there is snow on the ground; go where the temperature is 100+ degrees, or have a reservation.

We have 12 days to move from Sacramento to our volunteer job in Hood River Oregon. Hmmmm...

Up I-5 for the umpteenth time? The driving is easy; we have favorite stops along the way; the mileage is shortest. One of the most beautiful RV parks we have ever visited is on that route (Seven Feathers RV Resort in Canyonville, Oregon), as is one of our favorite free sites (drycamping in the huge parking lot of the Valley River Shopping Center along the Willamette River and the bike trails of Eugene, Oregon).

But how about taking Hwy 101 through the California redwoods and up the Oregon coast? We haven't been that way in a long time; we love Eureka/Arcata (in California); the Oregon coast is beautiful and we have friends volunteering along the way to visit... but what if it is rainy, or foggy? But it is SO beautiful if the sun is out....

And how about Crater Lake - we haven't been there in ages? Oh, the open spaces and blue skies... we'd see some new sights, have excellent hiking... but what if there is still snow on the ground???

Stage One is to make a commitment to a route, and we spent a couple of nights researching and discussing - in impossible-to-describe detail - the pros and cons of the various options. Last night, we FINALLY decided to commit to the Memorial Day weekend in Grants Pass, Oregon. We've never spent time there and several fun events are planned over the long weekend so. Today, Odel called and reserved a spot for us in a highly-rated RV park within walking distance of the Rogue River. After that, we'll check and decide which way to go!

While I was having lunch with Nancy and my mom today, talk turned to food and recipes (of course). As a former Sacramentan, I still enjoy reading the Sacramento Bee. Wednesday is the day the food section comes out and, a few weeks ago, an unusual recipe caught my eye: White Bean and Shrimp Stew with Dandelion Greens.

I made it a couple of nights ago and Odel begged me to keep the recipe. As always, I made a few changes: I didn't have easy access to pancetta, so bought a couple of strips of applewood smoked bacon (you don't need much) from the butcher counter in Safeway, added more garlic than the recipe called for, and cooked the beans in the morning when I wanted to warm up the motorhome instead of in the afternoon when it was already damn hot inside! I also used kale instead of dandelion greens (not as readily available at Safeway and I wasn't in the mood to forage).

Since I didn't want to type the entire recipe, I googled it to see if I could snag it from the internet. Turns out that the Sacramento Bee's recipe had been printed in several newspapers, including the LA Times - who provided this yummy photo, copied off of their site. Consider that to be official accreditation... I don't want them tracking me down!