Catch up time

Since I arrived back to Chimacum, WA from Why, AZ – I have been swamped with dealing with the VA claim, examinations and trying to find a contractor to build an extension on my 100 sq ft shed. Have been allowed to have up to 200 sq ft, but until now, did not have the money for the project.  I have been heavily on the phone since mid-March all the way thru mid-May – just wanting foundation, shell & rafters to get started, would worry about the interior later, if need be. I had been quoted from $25/hour to $8000.00.  The latter was ridiculous, the cheap one the guy bailed on me. It was frustrating, but lo and behold, I found a retired Math teacher/handy man at $30/hour.  If he wouldn’t have done it, I would have headed back up to Alaska once again, as I had run out of options. I could set something up for next year, but not this year it seems. But as you can see from the above pictures… I found myself a gold mine of a builder for my little shed extension.

George, is my builder.  George is building the new and fixing the old, and then will do an upgrade on electrical and dry wall it. So we have gutted the old, which was insulated but patched with cardboard, peg board and even plastic and a ton of miscellaneous shelving made from rough hewn wood. The old had zero circulation, so the condensation was a big problem. 27 years ago when it was built, they did what they wanted.  I just have to remind myself – Its JUST a shed. Smiling here.  Nonetheless, I want it as a weaving studio. So fixing the circulation issues, adding roof & ridge vents, other venting so it can breath will significantly cut down on mold and mildew. Will also seal the slab (both old & new) to prevent moisture seeping upward. I will heat/cool it when I am in town and use a de-humidifier when I’m not, so hopefully will have safe storage for yarn as well as genealogical records and maybe, just maybe eliminate the heated storage in town or at the very least be able to shrink the size of storage.

The one aspect I so enjoyed when building our house up in Alaska, was the buying of the stuff… junction boxes, electric boxes, wiring, light fixtures, windows, flooring, etc, etc, etc. Figuring sizes, placements of, etc, etc, etc.   I just got the biggest kick out of doing the research, then tracking it down and getting it.  Well, doing it for this little shed just sparks such great memories of it all.  And again…I have to remind myself its JUST a shed. Smiling here. I’m having fun.

And in May, May 10th to be exact…was a mind blowing experience for me.  The whole day was enchanting, magical… it started in the morning with the slab being poured for the shed extension. Yeah, I know, that wasn’t the magical or enchanting part of the day, but it was important in its own right!  Then my friend, Brad, & I headed to Bainbridge Island to take the ferry to Seattle. We arrived and got parked before rush hour. Then started walking. We walked around and thru a college campus to the Space Needle…I’ve never been up there. Wow! WOW!  Explored thru giant art, sculptures, etc. on a campus. Then went out to dinner – I had a superb salad meal. It had the typical feel of a city place that had after-work people drinking wine at the bar to tables full of people eating dinner. It just had that classic feel of a big city place that I haven’t experienced in many years. Nice!  Then we walked to the McCaw building for my very first opera. Oh my…

Opera.  Who would have thought that Melinda, who grew up in a small town, lived in Alaska for decades and now lives in a RV would be so totally enamored, so loss of words of such an amazing event. But I was, I am and will forever be.  The Magic Flute is my first opera. I was surprised that I picked up some of the German in the singing, altho I never really spoke German, like I did Italian.  The music, the singing…my God the clarity of reaching such notes sent chills thru my body and still does when I think about it. The costumes, the story line.  The beauty that was presented to me that night brought tears of joy like nothing I have every experienced before.  There just aren’t any words to express all that I saw, experienced.   Season tickets… tempting.

And to wrap this posting up… spent 4 days down at Fort Steven State Park just outside of Astoria, OR at the mouth of Columbia River and the Pacific Ocean… Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous spot to be parked for a few days.  It was my first May outing with my Lazy Daze family (I’m usually in Alaska by now).  Lots of old friends to see and made some new friends as well.  Our particular campground had more mosquitos then leaves… Laughing here.  I’m sure we got enough protein from them…

As for the photos. The bottom image and the one right above it on right – I was stuck (due to construction) on the bridge – that huge bridge over the Columbia River as I was leaving Astoria. Just taking pictures from my drivers seat.  Of the 3 pictures to the right of my boys Norm & Tucker – the middle one is showing the very last of the shipwreck.  I’m impressed that even that is left after all these years.  All in all, it rained one day, it was cloudy 2 of the days and sunny one day.  I got a chance to go look around the huge State park, but managed to wrench my back out, so it eliminated riding my bike.  I will come back…its a beautiful place to spend time, lots of maritime history, beautiful beaches. And super great to see my Lazy Daze friends.

 

Do it or not!

Ooh boy, it has been a long while since I last wrote.  My annual membership dues for this site arrived and I was extremely tempted to let it expire.  Spent a fair amount of time debating this with myself and I.  The end result…we will do it for one more year, then re-evaluate it at that time.

I was still hanging in the desert when I last wrote, whether I was at Quartzsite or not, in Yuma or not or near Why.  Got my new eyeglasses in Yuma, but not across the border as initially planned. Prices across the border were climbing on eyeglasses since Trump became President..so it was suggested I just get them in Yuma, so I did.  It was a delight to get to know Yuma once again..its been a few years since I had been there. Alas, I was only there long enough to do the glasses before I headed back to Why. After I left Yuma, I stopped in at the SunPro shop and got my cover for my windshield.  Love it, but realize I need to upgrade or simply replace my curtain in the cab, as one still need to turn off the outdoors at night. Smiling at that.  You see, the SunPro is a sunscreen/protector that covers the entire windshield outside and side windows and the windshield wipers. I can see thru it all day, but no one can see in from outside, except at night.  Surprising to me, is that it adds an element of insulation as well.

In Why…having friends around one sure can escape with friends around… but no weaving got done, again. Ah but a little light bulb went off – find an old RV, gut it, and make it into a weaving studio. I actually looked at a couple of rigs, even looked at bigger sites to fit both my RV and studio on same place.  Before I could take this further the weather turned hot. This is February – what is it about February that the darn deserts start doing their rapid heating?  Can I make it thru a week or two of this heat?  As that is what it did last year, then cooled off once again. Not seemingly with my old boys, but going north was out of the question. Hmmmm…  And I only got to see the beginning of an outstanding desert flowering…darn hot weather.

So I left Why and headed for appointment to get my RV serviced at the Sanderson Ford – they do my major service and any recalls, etc. annually. It was cooler here then in Why, so I stuck around a bit…had the honor of staying with a fellow Lazy Daze friend at her abode. Thanks Lisa!!! The above pictures are of a few of the outside of her house, including the chicken coop.  There is one image of Tucker sitting on my loom, not sure how it snuck into this collage. And the last item…drumroll….is an antique spinning wheel. What a delightful visit!

The weather going north was atrocious… there was no easy route and let me tell you I was studying the routes, the weather along those routes, reading about bridges out, landslides, snow, wind, etc., etc.   So why don’t I just sit on it and not go north? I had to be in Tacoma on March 17th for another non-VA physical examination for my claim. They in fact, wanted me there in 2 days, but I managed to push it back for a 8 days.  Problem with this, it takes me a week to do this route when I’m pushing it and that’s in good weather.

So I said my goodbyes the same day I finished with the Ford place. Dry camped at North Ranch Escapees park and headed on north at first light.  I had planned to stop in Barstow or Tehachapi if the weather held. Got to Tehachapi – no place to park – anywhere. I was wasting sunlight and time and finally said to hell with it and went onto Bakersfield. I pushed thru rush hour and got to I-5 and a truck stop and parked it – a very long day. I crashed – didn’t even make it into bed, just fell asleep on my dinette bench with cats wrapped around me.  Got up and first light, again left and headed up I-5.  Had planned to stop near Coalinga…was in wrong lane and could not exit.  So kept going.  The weather was absolutely gorgeous!!!  But seeing all the fields flooded, was a keen reminder all was by no means a-ok yet.  Kept on trucking’ and got north of Stockton and cut across on Highway 12 to go thru the California River Delta to reach I-80 in route to I-505 to go around Sacramento. Once reconnected to I-5, stopped at rest area and parked it for the night.  It rained all night, but in the morning the sun was once again out.

This time, I was only going to go as far as Redding, then take a break. But I got there – the sun was shining…everything was so flooded…I just kept going. And going. And going. No energized bunny here, but the forecast was lousy, but the sun was shining, so I kept going.  The narrow window of opportunity of getting thru the mountain passes pushed me onward.  The brilliant sun was still shining, but dark clouds were showing themselves. I seriously can’t believe I made it to Sutherlin, but I did and I crashed at Timber Valley SKP for 2 nights to regroup.  Dumped tanks, refilled water and did laundry. And slept.  It rained the entire time I was at Timber Valley, but I did not care. The morning I left…the clouds lifted and I was greeted by sunshine once again. The forecast for that day was periods of rain. Rain I can deal with, but it was sun that I had until I got north of Portland.  Wind driven rain pelted me north of Olympia, but I was so close I just kept going.  Pulled into Evergreen on Sunday and realized I had just done a marathon trip even with stopping for 2 nights in the midst of it. Whew!

The exam went pretty smoothly, keep discovering things about my body…they all ask different questions and examine you differently – end result, I learn new things about what my body is doing or not doing.  Such as I did not realize I can’t turn my body to the right. Say what? You know standing and turning your upper body to the left then to the right – I can do left, but not right.  Now to sit back and wait for the results.

The trip north prompted lots of critical thinking.  The idea of putting a studio down in the desert is just omitted. Realization, the chance of me staying for more than a few months in the desert due to the heat rules it out.  If I have to be parked, it will be in WA.  So I am in the process of getting contractors bids to extend my shed 100 sq ft. I’m allowed up to 200 sq ft total. More on that later.

I’m not traveling to Alaska this summer. I have several short trips over the summer in the Pacific Northwest.  So stay tuned for the next posting.

Onward

 

The majority of the pictures above (minus the bottom two) are all from Ajo Historical Society Museum.  A wonderful place jammed packed with history about the area, including the copper mine… I took far more pictures then these, but the glare from the overhead lights did me no favors. So enjoy.  The handwoven coverlet above was in amazing condition despite the edges. A well loved treasure.  The bottom pictures, Norm managed to tuck himself between the travasak and the comforter to get warm one morning.  The sunset was from my rig in Why.

To carry on the story from the last posting…the inverter was installed without issue, even tested it out with my hair dryer. Then I could not use it. Why? My delightful (not!) house batteries decided to really die. Deader then a door nail. So I managed to get 2 new AGM batteries and installed in a timely manner.  So with all this work done, I prepared to leave for Quartzsite (herein referred to as Q, as my spell checker doesn’t want to spell it correctly).

My arrival to Q was so uneventful, no traffic, not even a mini road jam… pulled into the Lazy Daze gathering spot and was shocked to see I was #3.  In all the years I’ve been coming, I have never seen so few people here.  A few more stragglers have arrived, we are now 9, no 8 as one has left.  Roger, the coordinator of this bunch, was a no-show. We thought his wife needed back surgery, but in reality they got tickets to Washington, DC for January 20th. Free tickets they claim… I bet.   Apparently word passed quickly that Roger would not make it, nonetheless…we, who are here, are enjoying meeting the new folks as well as our fellow friends. Its a quiet bunch, very low keyed, laid back kind of people. We see each other at happy hour and around the bonfire, but not rest of the time. Very different from past gatherings.  One of the new folks, went para-gliding over us yesterday…sure looked like fun.

The big tent, here at the Q, has been delayed opening for some reason, but it hasn’t stopped the zillion little flea markets around it from opening. I needed a cheater (to get a 2 prong plug to work with a 3 prong), but there was no way I was willing to wade thru those shops. So went to the Dollar Store…the line was weaving thru the rows at the store. Ridiculous!  So in the long run, it would not matter where I went. But found the adapter, so all is well.  Also found a RV parts store… found a new screen door handle. So got that replaced. Let’s see…. am hoping all the repairs are officially done now.

Why

Why is an un-incorporated town, which consists of one gas station, one RV park, one community center and one restaurant.  If you blinked on your way to the Organ Pipe Monument, you missed the town.  It is the place where two highways meet – 85 & 86. If you had a triangle and Why was on one spoke of the triangle, the other two (equal distance from Why) are Phoenix and Tucson.  That sums up the town.

I am outside of the town, in what I refer as glorified boondocking campground. One must have solar to stay here. Running generators is frowned upon, they suggest you go into Why for full hookups if you need that much electricity. Love that!  This is high desert camping, we are surrounded on 3 sides with mountains, cactus, creosote is the normal landscape. You see organ pipe goods on surrounding hills. Wild burros, coyotes are frequent visitors. Lots of hiking, bike riding, etc. So why do I call if glorified boondocking? There are 4 dump stations, 4 shower houses, clubhouse with computer room, craft & office), laundry with clothes line available.  There are spigots of water available all over the park, but if you want one on your lot, you need to pay for a year to get it.  Whoa!  There’s no way I’d be here in the summer time… the cost for the year includes a shed you can add as well.  How much? $550.00 per year. Or a monthly rate is $130 or a daily rate of $9 a day.  Being self-contained – this is an awesome place to park it for the winter.  Tons of solar panels galore and people do more here then in other campgrounds I’ve been at.

Grocery store is found in Ajo and they build up stock for all the RVer’s that play down here for the winter.  The store also has an ACE Hardware store attached to it.  Nice feature. So rarely need to go to the cities for anything, which is even nicer. There a great organic grass fed hamburger joint in Ajo…the best tasting burgers I’ve had in eons.  I’ve not eaten at the restaurant in Why, will have to try that out sometime.

Since I’ve been here this year… I have added two new solar panels.  I really thought I needed to get new AGM batteries…could not hold a charge for love nor money.  Well, the solar folks around here proved me wrong. After doing all the required testing (took 4 full days around the clock) and them adding an extra battery charger to my batteries, full sunshine and the generator running 3 hours in morning and 3 hours in the evening – my batteries finally got fully discharged. That term still confuses me – didn’t they just charge all this?  Anyway, once this was accomplished…another 2-3 days of testing and sure enough, I need more panels to make the batteries work better.  Now since this hasn’t been happening since I bought the rig… the batteries are definitely showing signs of being tired. The lifetime for AGM batteries is 5-6 years, I’m on the cusp of needing to deal with them anyhow, but… I’m using this time to test thoroughly on the cloudy days, partly cloudy days, full sun days.  So I got the new solar panels right before Christmas and its night and day difference. I stand corrected, glad they made me go thru those detailed tests (they drove me nuts! – no comment from the peanut galleries now!!!).  So I still have the 2 panels on my roof, that don’t tilt up. And the 2 new panels, they made me a PVC stand to support them to set at an angle on the ground. They fold up and I can move them easily enough.

This next week, I’m getting a Xantrex 2000 inverter installed too. I’m excited about that…  Its going to be fun to see what I can run on that. So much that I wanted or like to use, I have left in WA in storage, as I can’t use without running a generator and I hate to run my generator – noise pollution is a major taboo.  So with the inverter, this will change, life will get…what? I don’t know, guess I will find out.

A follow up note on protecting my tow car. A friend of mine, when I visited her in Sutherlin, OR before I came south, said “Melinda, having a car is a fun thing to have, but if you have to struggle, you aren’t having fun”.   She pointed out she had 2 mud flaps on her rig. One set immediately behind the rear tires, the other about 1/2 way out to the rear bumper.  I can’t get mud flaps right behind my tires, as my tanks are in the way.  But I do have the mud flap 1/2 between rear tires and the rear bumper.  So I started paying attention to fellow RVer’s as I came south… almost all of them, have no protection on the car or between the rig and the vehicle. None!!!  No damage to the tow either. All but 2 had two mud flaps on the rig. I managed to talk with one of the 2 about towing with only one mud flap. They have been doing it for 14 years – zero problem! In fact, they had tried the Protect-a-Tow and had the same issues that I encountered. So from Phoenix, I took off my $400 cover, and towed to Why. Zero problems. Was it a waste  of money to have gotten the full hood/window cover?  Yes and no. I will use it when I next go to AK, because I don’t have 2 mud flaps.  But its now being stored in my car.  I won’t put it on again, in fact, I can’t put it on by myself. I don’t have the hand strength needed to put it on.  Oh the things we learn…

I’m alive

And kicking…  I have had about a half a dozen followers comment that I have not been doing my job of keeping up the blog. Well… no I haven’t.  Been busy, but that’s a lousy excuse.  The big reason is I don’t have much in the way of photos, just don’t think about taking a photo when I’m out doing things.  So will try again for this winter to keep it up.

For starters, I had a wonderful time in September with the Lazy Daze group, got entertained everyday by the ukulele folks, that now play at most of the gatherings. Mighty fine entertainment. Good to see old friends and make some new ones.  The buck seen thru the railing…was begging for apples, but I was sad to see several feed the wildlife. Not a good thing to do. I had to walk away, even tho I tried to stop them. Just cause they eat your apples off of your trees at home, does not mean you should give them apples. Too frustrating to witness.   PLEASE DON’T FEED THE WILDLIFE!!!

Back on the Chimacum front… I was so darn busy getting the VA claim paperwork in, that not much else was being done. Got it all turned in on October 1st and truly thought I could just sit back and wait for the results. NOT!  Spent all of October, trying to get one more evaluation that the American Legion team wanted me to pursue. No results.  So on the 8th of November, I headed south.  Somewhere between Reno and Hwy 58 on Highway 395, the calls started coming in. I do not answer the phone when I’m driving, I pull over when I can to see what’s up.  Well, the non-VA examiners that started this process in 2015 was calling to tell me I had an appointment in Bremerton within 2 days. There was no way in hell I could make that appointment, find a place to park my rig, get some cat sitters, fly back up in that timeline. Absolutely nuts.  Well…their little threat, if I did not show up for that appointment, I would lose my rights to file a claim with the VA.  Stress factor climbed quickly.  Disregard I was trying to stay ahead of a winter storm, nothing was open on Hwy 395 after November 1st (I forgot that). Egads!

So what’s this girl to do… I had to contact my team at American Legion in Seattle, to help on this.  Dozens of phone calls, tons of time sitting on hold, frustrated, I just wanted to keep moving down the road. Finally some results. Guess what, they have a place in Phoenix (Scottsdale actually) for me to do the examine. They told me I had to do this in less than 2 weeks. Now I knew this was workable, just give me a date! That was more phone calls…As it turns out, its not until the 5th of December. Egads!  So all my plans got shuffled around, some delayed, some canceled, other goodies added…typical, isn’t it?

By the time I got close to my destination, I knew I could not go on. I was one exhausted puppy… a complete zombie the first day, semi human the next and I realized I just couldn’t wrap my brain going anyway for awhile. So I parked.

It has been nice, if not downright refreshing to have all this alone time. Nothing I had to do, no responsibilities, just kick back and enjoy my boys, listen to good music. Life is good, really good.

 

Work continues

The above images show some of the damage to my car windshield from using the Protect-A-Tow.  The window is spotless clean after they fixed 4 major chips.  What you now see is a bunch of white spots.  Those are the obvious dings, to run your hand over the windshield one would feel a mass of pitted glass.   I should have replaced the whole windshield and I may still do so.  Am trying to find a more safe and suitable solution to protect my car when towing. Or towing will cease and desist.

I can’t remember what I wrote last, so this may be a repeat.  I have replaced my Dometic freezer door and added a fan to the back of the unit.  It is night and day different from the previous life with this freezer.  I have in fact, for the first time, been able to turn the level of cold down to 2.  Major improvement.

I had gaskets replaced around the bottom of my side door. Am still looking to find the foam-like gasket that surrounds the frame of the screen door.  I had a luxury item done – had someone else wash and wax my rig – pure unadulterated delight!!!  And a few other little tidbits to maintain my rig.

In between working on the rig, the bikes – I’ve made trips to Seattle – learning the lay of the land without wanting to.  I have a short trip coming up – which I am looking forward to then and only then I hope I can slow down, relax before I head south for the winter.

 

Mini Update

No images to share, but wanted to give a brief update. I have been hibernating due to the heat. We, who are from the north, find the heat intolerable.  Nonetheless, I have been busy.  It took me awhile to unload my rig. Had to delivery all of Irene’s stuff back to her and all the stuff of my friend Cheri that I brought down for her.

I went up to Alaska with one bike and came back with two bikes. The new-to-me bike had to get into Ben’s Bikes in Sequim for a major overhaul.  Just got that back. My platform bike rack holder that secures the bikes on its platform, literally rubbed the paint off of both bikes. On my older bike, it rubbed the casing off of the brake wire, but the brake is still intact.  Not at all sure how I will overcome that situation, but will eventually figure it out.

Sitting around a table a while back relating my story… I learned I just joined the ranks of all the other crazy stuff RVer’s get into. A ton of laughter of the shared stories.  I still said I don’t want to repeat what I did…

Today, I went to Eric’s RV in Sequim to be evaluated on adding an awning to the driver’s side of my rig to shade my refrigerator vent.  Well, Eric suggested we evaluate the fridge first and what needs to be done will be cheaper then putting an awning up and it is finally addressing the problem I have had from day one with this RV. Wow!  So I need to replace the freezer door. Dometic – if you need to replace the gaskets then the whole door needs to be replaced. Most ridiculous thing… but we are also going to add a fan on the external side.  I should have a much better working fridge by the middle of this week. Once all done, I do not need to shade the vent. If I was camping in 90-100ºF weather, then they suggest shade. I will move before that happens..

So we had a beautiful cooling yesterday & today – gots lots of cleaning done.  Next set of cooler days, I will start reloading my rig.  Got things to do, places to go. Have a great day!