Because We Can - Fulltime RV'ing

Journal Archive 7/11 - 7/20 2010

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July 11 Sunday

Sunday, a day of rest


There are certainly a lot of fish around here. It being Sunday, and the words regarding making us fishers of men ringing in our ears, Linda had planned for us to have a unique Sunday worship experience this morning. We hadn't been to church since we left Reedsport, Oregon on our way north this spring, so it was fitting to do it now that we were in another fishing town.

Her plan was for us to board the Lu Lu Belle at 7:45, which would cast off at 8:00, then return at 9:00. During that time there would be a nondenominational church service, sponsored by First Baptist of Valdez, held on board. Sounded real cool, but that medication was still affecting me, and I slept right through the alarm, and didn't get up until 10:00, something that is unheard of for me. However, I think I must have been fighting something off, because I continued to rather lethargic all day.


We did go out in the evening, driving over once again to see if the bears were feeding by the hatchery, but as before, they weren't there. We did spend time watching the salmon try to negotiate the fish ladder that leads to the hatchery, as well as watching the fisherman catch a few. There was a young boy whom we saw catch his four fish in a matter of just a handful of casts, but other than him, most people were coming up empty on most casts.


Maybe we weren't paying attention the last time we were here, but it seemed like there were far more salmon fighting their way up the section of stream beside the hatchery than there was before. We could see their fins repeatedly breaking the surface as they followed their instincts.


This lady was prepared for any kind of weather with her plate of offerings that was supplemented with a great sense of humor, and resulted in a number of sales. Having been grazing all day, as we relaxed, doing nothing, food was the furthest thing from our mind, though I did hear Linda saying something about ice cream.


Some things are so common that after a while you look at them, say to yourself there's another -fill in the blank - and go on your way. It's hard to look at the sky and not see an eagle soaring somewhere overhead. So as we walked back to the Explorer, I asked Linda if she wanted me to take a photo of an eagle that was soaring overhead since we had taken so few pictures today. She said no, but when it perched in the tree near where the Explorer was parked, I just couldn't resist taking one little photo.


We'll end this short post with a photo that sums up why we are enjoying Valdez so much. Originally we had planned to leave tomorrow, but we've changed our minds and are going to drive up the canyon and visit several places as we slowly drive back down to town. We've already got Valdez down on our list of must return spots in Alaska, so it will be interesting to see how it compares to the sights during the remainder of our time in the state.

July 12 Monday

Up on the mountain top to visit a glacier


What a grand morning to be alive! A bright blue sky, sparkling sunshine and the gorgeous greenery that abounds around Valdez. The combination was mesmerizing, one that demanded we venture out and revel in its beauty. While we were certainly anxious to get going, I first needed to fix breakfast, so after scrambled eggs topped with beans and sour cream, Linda packed our lunch and we headed out. Our destination being Worthington Glacier, some thirty miles out of town, and up beyond Thompson pass.


There is so much to see in Valdez, and as the road passes through Keystone Canyon, waterfalls plunge down its sides. Linda found the two falls, Horsetail, and Bridal Veil, to be mis-named. This one is Horse Tail, but to her it more like a Bridal Veil. I'm not sure about the accuracy of the respective names, but the falls certainly was pretty in the morning sun. But then so was the cute girl who was standing in front of Horse Tail Falls.


Wonder of wonders, that same pretty young lady was standing in front of Bridal Veil Falls when I was ready to take its photo. Looking at these two falls I have to agree with Linda's observation as to their names. Maybe it was a tipsy miner that named them, or the appearance of bridal veils and horse tails were different back then.


Worthington is a mountain glacier, easily accessible from a viewing area below it, a short distance off the road to Valdez. After taking the appropriate photos from the viewing stand, we set out on the informal trail that lead towards the glacier. It has a sign warning that you travel beyond this point at your own risk. But I knew that with Linda leading the way we certainly weren't going to get into any risky situations.


Here is our fearless leader beginning the trek across the gravel left by the glacier as it retreated many years ago. It was a finer gravel than what we had encountered at places during our hike to Root Glacier a few days ago. This glacier was much smaller, and the size of the moraine was nothing like the one for Root.


Linda was really enjoying setting the pace, at least until the terrain started changing. It looks as if the white ice of the glacier is just over the rise, but nothing could be further from reality. The moraine is composed of haphazardly piled rows and hummocks of rock and gravel. The actual foot of the glacier is hidden from view, and is completely gravel covered.


As Linda moves closer to the actual foot of the glacier, the similarities between both Worthington and Root become more apparent. It is their size that differs.


When the goal is reached, and I stand with one foot on the glacier, and the other on the moraine, it is difficult to tell the difference unless you are in my shoes. There were people on the white icy upper portion of the glacier, but neither of us wanted to venture up the slope.


There were other people nearby, who were climbing up higher, but the glacial ice is not entirely covered with gravel, one mis-step and down you go. Don't know whether you call this a badge of honor or the butt of embarrassment, but it was the reason we turned around, found a nice table rock, and eat our lunch at the foot of the glacier.


I just wish that we could photograph the unbelievably intense blue color of the ice that was showing in this crevasse. Linda had a great view, and while it looks like she was close to the edge, there was no way Miss Safe and Sane was going to be near any edge higher than a stair step. Just like in the movies, the camera works its magic and the heroine appears to be in greater jeopardy than she actually is.


On the way back to Valdez we made several stops, including one at the pass. There was a trail leading up from the road, and by climbing it we got a spectacular view of the surrounding area. Bright green hills with a backdrop of snow capped mountains in one direction. A different mountain glacier in another direction. Down below the rivered ribboned through the valley. With very little imagination we could have been sitting high up in the Alps, the only thing missing being the sound of cowbells.


Taking a slight detour, we drove out to the fish hatchery in hopes that the bear would be visiting. Wasn't to be, but with the tide in, we got to see the salmon massing at the entrance to the creek. They have actually turned the water black with their bodies as thousands of them congregate at the diversion device.


As we followed the the walkway along the fish ladder Linda was excited to see this evidence that the bear had indeed been there. She later learned that the bear doesn't come out until around 11:00 at night, so guess what she has planned for me to do tonight. Drive her over to the hatchery at that time so she can get in her bear sighting.


I may have been yawning during much of the drive out to the hatchery, but when we got there it was easy to see that the bears were already in attendance. We watched for a while, then one person moved down for a closer shot, then a bunch of people moved down. There are probably a few things I am willing to do that many people aren't, but fooling around like this with a momma bear and her three cubs isn't one of them.


We had a great time watching them eat, but just where were they getting all the salmon? I know the obvious answer is from the water, but we weren't seeing them going out into it. Had they caught a number of fish before we arrived and were eating them. Didn't really matter, and after about 15 minutes it was time to leave, the bears still happily crunching away, and crowd inching closer. Linda had taken some video, while mine were all still shots. It was hard to believe it was bright enough at 11 pm, even with the thick cloud layer, that we didn't need any flash to get these photos.

In the morning we will be leaving Valdez, but will be taking some great memories with us. Once again Alaska exceeded our expectations, making it easy to understand why so many people make repeated trips up here. We know this won't be our last time either, because Linda is already making noises about what she wants to do when we return in a few years.

July 13 Tuesday

Back up the hill and turning towards Anchorage and the Kenai


The weather was following the pattern of the past few days, which meant that since yesterday was nice, today would be rainy. The clouds were as thick this morning as we have seen them while here, blocking out all the mountains except for the one small strip of green showing above the nearby trees in this image. It wasn't going to matter because we were going to be leaving today, but had we been staying there were museums we could have visited. Unfortunately for the museums, we have heard so many good things about the wonders of the Kenai that we were planning to head in that direction today.


We weren't the only ones leaving Valdez, as we followed this 5th wheel all the way from town up to the Worthington Glacier, where they turned off. We sure were glad we had driven up yesterday when the weather was great. In fact they were reporting yesterdays temperature was a new record. After the record lows and snows in Alamogordo, NM last winter it was nice to have a record in the opposite direction.

One interesting thing about the section of road that climbs from the river up to Thompson Pass is how narrow the inside lane is. It looks like they added a passing lane, but didn't widen the road. While one or two vehicles tried to stay within that narrow lane, everyone else, us included, just hung out over the white line. And the guardrail certainly bares testimony to the people who crowded too close to it, and road rash wasn't something we needed on the side of the coach.


Our slow pace allowed Linda to take a photo of something she had tried to capture on the drive to Valdez, but had missed. Down through the canyon the Pipeline is buried, but up beyond the pass it surfaces and runs not far from the road. Four feet in diameter, it is currently being used to transport approximately 600,000 barrels a day, down from the 1.2 million barrels at its peak.


It was only a little more than 100 miles to our stopping point for the day, Northern Lights RV Park in Glennallen. We had debated driving about 200 miles today, which would bring us to our next stop, Matanuska Glacier, but decided that we preferred to travel slowly. Two other factors played into this decision, the fact that rain was predicted for tomorrow and we wanted to stop and visit the glacier, but not in the rain. Also the Northern Lights RV park was supposed to have excellent Wi-fi and cell phone coverage, plus there was a good chance it would be open enough that we could finally switch our satellite, getting back online with the MotoSat.


There was good Verizon cell phone coverage, the dish was able to find the new satellite and the MotoSat tech rep was able to help us. But, there's always a but isn't there, we weren't able to get online because of not passing the cross pol test. Linda is good at most things and and very good a some things. Apparently this failed test was like waving a red flag in front of a bull, because it wasn't long be for she was manually aiming the dish with on screen controls and the cry went up, "It passed."

I make it seem easy with my few words, but she really worked hard to accomplish what she did. Once when talking to the MotoSat tech her computer started acting up and she seamlessly switched to mine. Did I ever pick a good one for a wife or what. Now if I could just be taught to do what she wants when she wants it done, her life would be perfect.

Speaking of perfect, not all was perfect on the Internet front, because even though the cross pol test was passed, and the registration completed, we still couldn't get online. We are not sure what the exact cause is, but it could be related to the small gap in the trees the satellite is pointing at to pick up the satellite. We looked at what Linda had done as another step towards getting back online, and maybe the next stop will allow us to complete the switch. Reading the DataStorm forum posts leads us to believe about half the people switching satellites have no problem and the other half have nothing but problems. Maybe the next time we switch we'll get lucky and fall into the first group.


Later, after we had enjoyed pork burritos, Linda settled in to get caught up with all the activity on Facebook when the power went out. Well not exactly all the power, just the power to the front of the coach. That generally means the GFI has tripped, and sure enough, it had. Problem was it wouldn't reset, and it wasn't the time or the place to be replacing it again, but with the frying sound it was making when we tried to reset it, it looks like it might be toast once again. Our two extension cords solved the problem. The plugs in the bedroom are not on the GFI circuit, so Linda was soon back in business with one cord going to her CPU and the other to her monitor.

She was now happy, and so was I, as I settled into the lounger with a book of Robert Service's poems in hand. They were about the rip roaring goldfields of the Yukon. Unfortunately all that excitement of the Klondike was too much for me and it plumb tuckered me out. So much so that soon I was busy sawing logs for use in those early mining endeavors. The sound of a fork striking a plate brought me back to the present, and when my eyes popped open, Linda was holding my of rhubarb pie and ice cream in front of me. Now that's what I call a great end to a day where things didn't always go the way we wanted.

July 14 Wednesday

Stopping halfway to Wasilla for sheep, goats and a glacier


We have been following the trials and tribulations of our good friends John and Judy who have begun their first two days of fulltiming with a visit to the Spartan factory service center for emergency repairs. The key here is trials and tribulations, for we were undergoing some of our own.

The front steps have decided to following their own path rather than the electrical signals sent from the switch that tells them how far to extend and retract. The GFI still has a mind of its own and to top it off, when we started to leave this morning, we forgot and left the MotoSat up. I sure hope John and Judy quickly determine what is causing their spate of problems and pass the solution on to us.


Today we drove the Glenn Highway, and between the intermittent showers and the sections of the road that were speckled with frost heaves, we moseyed along at about 45 mph. I was surprised that the only vehicles that passed us by were the occasional car or truck. One exception was a rental RV that chose one of the roughest sections of highway to pass us. We find the rental RVs are always the ones in a hurry.

We could see a major frost heave coming up, and I hit the brakes to slow down even more. It was at that moment that he decided to pass us. Unfortunately for him the frost heave was many times worse in the opposite direction and he was now out in that lane. We could see him trying to slow down, them wildly bouncing up and down. He stayed slightly ahead of us until the RV leveled out, then sped up again just in time to catch another badly heaved section while still on the other side of the road. Later, as he disappeared down the road, now in our lane, we could still see him wildly bouncing on occasion. And to think, people actually buy these rental vans and think they are getting a good deal.


Our pace may have been slow, but we still managed to arrive at our destination just a few minutes past noon. We had picked it for both its proximity to the Matansuka Glacier and the mountain goats and Dall Sheep that are supposed to live on the nearby slopes. We hadn't realized how different the terrain was from what we had been experiencing, and had been enjoying the barren slopes in various colors rising up beside the road. Linda's running commentary from the Milepost was a great help and gave us a better appreciation regarding what we were seeing.


Once we settled in our site at the Grand View Cafe and RV Park, it was time to look out the window and search for wildlife. Linda went up to the office and soon returned, saying she had seen some Dall sheep. Well if she could spot them, so could I, so out I went and it wasn't long before I was telling her I was watching a number of them grazing on the slope. At first she was skeptical, but a look through the binoculars confirmed there were actually ten sheep in two separate groups where I had been looking. We tried to take both video and still photos, but they were so far away that it was difficult to even find them.


It's not like we could really see anything. Here is the still photo I took of the mountainside shown in the previous photo. Those diffused white dots are the sheep. With a decent telephoto lens we might be able to show what they looked like, but even so, what we saw with our eyes was good enough, it's just that photos don't show what the eye, looking through binoculars, sees.


Linda wanted to drive to the nearby State Recreation area where there are some viewing stands for the glacier. The glacier can only be reached by going in a private park, and since we have already been to two glaciers, we weren't that interested in getting close up view of yet another glacier. That meant we were going on a hike along the edge of the moraine, i.e., a walk through the woods where large creatures might lurk. As you can see, Linda was prepared and we jingle jangled our way to the overlooks and back.


Linda got the views of the glacier she was looking for. All large furry creatures were scared off by all the noise, and we got some much needed exercise.


We discovered the trail was called a nature trail for good reason, as it had numerous wildflowers growing beside it. It also had more than its share of Bolete mushrooms. None were ones you would want to eat as the flies that lay their eggs on them were definitely present. The sheer size of some of them were awesome, and would make a meal if it wasn't the the fly larva burrowing in them.

It had been a good day, so much so that our GFi was once again working like it should and the front steps had deployed perfectly. The only fly in the ointment, other than those in the Boletes, was the fact that while we had a strong signal on our MotoSat, it just wouldn't work the way it was supposed to. As I listened to Linda rehearse what she was going to say to the MotoSat tech rep tomorrow if he gave her any grief, I could only marvel how the sweet innocent young Appalachian hill girl I had courted those many years ago has managed to acquire such a robust vocabulary. It was one of those, if we knew then what we know now, moments.

I was lobbying for a day of rest and Linda agreed that we could spend tomorrow doing a little hiking and wildlife spotting, but otherwise we would rest. Well, other than I should check out the steps, that is. We've driven on far more days during the past two months, today being our 60th day since crossing the border, than we normally do. However we will be spending a few days in Wasilla before heading down to the Kenai, so if she wants to keep going for a couple of more days it's fine with me. I've really got to admire the people who can do Alaska in six weeks, but also understand that they are considerably younger. Plus they probably need a vacation to recover from their vacation when they return home.

July 15 Thursday

A walk in the rain


It wasn't Sunday today, but it was going to be our day of rest anyway. Nothing planned for the day except some goat and sheep watching, and the possibility of a short hike. The forecast was calling for rain, not showers, but actual rain, the kind that makes noise on the roof of the coach.

As regular readers know, we are not people who eat out very often, but the info sheet we got when we checked in to the park had a section on a breakfast special at the cafe. And with this place being called the Grand View Cafe and RV Park, Linda decided that their food had to be good and so we were off to take take them up on that breakfast offer.


The food lived up to its billing, and we left with Linda saying we needed to do this more often. By the time we were back at the coach the rainy weather had moved in, and any sheep watching opportunities were lost in the fog and clouds that had descended, covering the tops of the mountains. We were also the only RV left in the park, after all, who would want to explore a glacier in this weather.


While we were not big on plans for the day, Linda did have one thing she wanted done, and that was to get online with our MotoSat. We had a clear view of the 127 satellite, and there were three lights showing on the modem, with the goal being to get five lights showing. I could hear Linda taking some deep breaths, then she dialed and without a wait she had a tech service rep on the phone.

I had been prepared to cover my ears when the momma grizzly cut loose, but all I heard was Linda start to say something, stop, then say yes, yes, yes. I was puzzled as this was not what either of us had expected. It turned out that she was talking a third tech service rep, Matt by name, and he really knew his stuff. It only took him a minute to determine the two earlier reps hadn't done what they were supposed to do, and he said he would call Hughesnet and get us switched over to satellite 127, something the other reps were supposed to do but hadn't.


Then, about five minutes later, he called back, again, something one of the earlier techs had said he would do but hadn't. Matt said if we waited for about an hour then registered, it should all work. He was right on, and the actual registration proved to be very easy. We had been trying to do this before without success because of the incompetence of the earlier reps we had dealt with. MotoSat should know that hiring their tech rep named Ryan was a mistake, and based on the level of ineptitude he displayed when working with us, he should be looking for another line of work with MotoSat showing him the door. Is it any wonder our economy is in the condition it is when company's are willing to employ people who treat customers the way he treated us. And that is just my opinion, don't you dare asking Linda what she thought of Ryan, I'm not sure my sensitive nature could withstand her comments.


Once we were online, we weren't as interested in doing things online as we had been when we couldn't get online, and hence we set out to walk to the overlook above the RV park. That allowed us to get a Dall Sheep view of the coach. It was a long way up to that point, a light rain kept falling, and no sheep appeared before us. We did enjoy the many wildflowers along the trail, and Linda got a kick out of what was at the very top, several piles of moose droppings, meaning we weren't the only ones who had been up here lately.


Back at the coach, I worked at correcting several problems with the HTML on some of the webpages, and Linda worked at burning off some of her excess energy by vacuuming the floor. In between this she also managed to cut my hair and cook a large pot of beans. seems like she had stocked up on energy to do battle with the MotoSat techs, then needed to find a way to burn it off when she hadn't had to use the nuclear option.


Linda's comment of the morning regarding eating out more often didn't collect any dust, as she suggested we visit the cafe again for dinner. There was an ulterior motive here, one that dealt with something we both had noted this morning. While looking at the menu during breakfast, we had read that they served both a Philly Cheese Steak sandwich and also a Reuben Sandwich. Both of those are dear to our hearts and welcomed by our taste buds and stomachs. We were surprised that the cafe was quite crowded, but overhearing the conversations around us, discovered a film crew was staying here for the night, hence all the people.


On the way back to the coach, with the rain coming down, we joked about the weather sure not co-operating with the film crew. But how little did we know, as we soon found out. About an hour later, the clouds began to thin, the sun burst through and a bright rainbow thrust its way heavenward. It was one of those times you can only shake your head and wonder how anything so beautiful can so suddenly appear. Alaska is proving to be a very special place indeed.

July 16 Friday

A drive in the rain


We didn't need to get an early start today, the drive being short, but even if we had needed that early start we wouldn't have gotten it. There was simply too much going on outside the coach that Linda had to watch, as the film crew was using the decent weather to do some campground and RV park shots.

It was great getting to watch them because it reaffirms the fact that what you see in the movies is not real. We watched the older male actor emerge from the tent, all excited about greeting the day. There was nothing in the tent, it having been placed there a few minutes before by some of the crew. We watched the "mother" and children rehearsing being "excited" about something right in front of our coach while some other scenes were being filmed at the end of the park.

We watched as they excitedly climbed aboard the Country Coach they were using, then drove off, the camera and sound man filming the action. They drove down past us and it was something to see the rear mud flap dragging. Looked like they hadn't gotten the coach aired all the way up. Then they were off to shoot somewhere else and the props people moved in and soon the tent was being taken down and the pile of logs was gone.


The day's drive was only going to be about 80 miles, but it was supposed to have awesome views. The road was narrow, little or no shoulders, constantly changing elevation, and very curvy. Fortunately there was very little traffic, so we could take our time and enjoy the views. Unfortunately the views frequently consisted of fleeting glimpses of greenery through the fog and mist. At times it would clear out some and I would be tempted to take my eyes of the road and look around. Just about then a curve or a frost heave would appear, and all eyes would return to the road.


There were pulloffs and one section of the road had been greatly improved through widening and straightening, but one thing I can never understand is why, when you finally get to drive on that nice section of the road, the weather decides to clear and make it easy. Then, down the road, and a short time after the improved section ends, the weather echoes the road and gets nasty again. Just another of those mysteries of Life I guess.

While Anchorage itself has very little to interst us, Wasilla and Palmer do. We want to get a tire for the Explorer, a new GFI and outlet box, plus the tubing to replace the leaky icemaker water line. As to whether we do some visiting in the area now, or after our time on the Kenai, we are unsure. It's probably one of those darned if you do and darned if you don't deals. If we don't do our visiting now because of the weather forecast calling for rain, it will rain worse when we come back. If we visit the sights around the area, and it rains, when we come back from the Kenai it will be bright sunshine here.

Knowing we have to get the tire, GFI and tubing, we opted to register for two nights, but will stay longer if the weather holds, or if the weather on the Kenai is forecasted to be even worse than the weather here. We lucked out in Linda's choice of RV parks, because we have a clear view of the sky and encountered no trouble getting on the Internet with the MotoSat.


When we were checking into Big Bear RV Park, the young lady at the desk also told us about a number of things to do in the area, including two that only happened on Friday. As luck would have it, today was Friday and Linda wanted to visit them. The weather was co-operating, we didn't have anything else to do like buy tires, GFI's or tubing, so why not play tourist for an afternoon.

With that, we headed out to the The West Coast and Alaska Tsunami Warning Center in nearby Palmer. We arrived in time to be part of the 2 PM tour, they give them at one, two and three on Fridays, and what a marvelous experience it was. Given by one of the staff people who are on duty, in our case a young lady who absolutely loved her job, it includes a presentation in the conference room about what they do, how they do it and the why, what, where and how of tsunami's. You also get to go into the operations area and see the operation of the stations where they monitor all activity regarding earthquakes and tsunami's. It was simply fascinating, and we would recommend it to anyone looking for something different to do on a Friday afternoon.

Our next stop was at the Friday Fling, aka, the farmers market, though there were hardly any farmers there, or they had long ago sold out and left. There were craft items galore and Linda got to do a great deal of looking. Then it was back to the RV park for a relaxing evening, one where Linda searched out the address of any store we might want to go to for our shopping. To show you how the past two months in the far north have affected her, she wasn't interested in shopping at Sam's Club. The biggest reason being it is down in Anchorage which is about 40 miles away, but also because we find we have adjusted our buying habits to the way things are up here.

I wonder how many people who make the trip up here are grumbling for one reason or another. Maybe it is narrow or short RV sites, the lack of 50 amp hookups or sewer connections. Maybe it is the rain, the bad condition of the roads, or the long distances. And then there is the poor selection of foods, especially away from the larger towns. Or maybe the light at night, the potholes in almost every gravel parking area, or the lack of wildlife along the road. I laugh when I read about people staying in an RV park in an area known for its fishing, then grumble because of the fishing boats parked at the sites, the smell of fish in the air, or horrors of horrors, the fact the park has a fish cleaning station.

Don't think we are perfect in finding everyting perfect, but while everything isn't exactly like we would prefer it to be, that doesn't make our experience any less enjoyable. Just think, we could have come into town and blew off what the nice lady at the counter was telling us about places to visit in the area, being wrapped up in our thoughts of needing a tire, etc, and missed out on one of those wonderful opportunities to make life, Life.

July 17 Saturday

Fixing things around the house.


What a difference a day can make, yesterday we drove through the rain, while this morning it is blue skies and sunshine. It looked like a great day for visiting some of the local attractions, which is exactly what Linda had planned. Attractions like tire stores, hardware stores, grocery stores and the like. Wasilla is the first place we have been to that resembles a typical town, with things like Walmart, Lowe's, Home Depot and the like. The list of things that need fixing has been brought up to date, and today's the day for taking care of them.


The first item was a new tire, which turned out to be not so easy, but in the end all was well. Linda had done some Internet searching, so we had a list of nearby tire stores to try, and off we headed to Johnson's Tire Service. Great location, new, clean looking building, and with a policy stating they would only sell new tires in sets of four if it wasn't a brand they carried that was on the vehicle.

I asked about buying two tires and again was told their policy was only to sell sets of four if you didn't have what they carried. It sounded to me that with a policy like that, they had more business than they could handle and didn't need any new customers, so we took them up on their offer and left. Our next stop was at a real world tire shop. One that was a little off the beaten track, had piles of old tires beside it, but was interested solving the customer's problem.

It took about twenty minutes, but we left with a used tire mounted on our rim for a very reasonable price. It was a Goodyear Eagle, had the same amount of tread on it the other three on the Explorer had remaining, but was actually a higher rated tire. Mounted and balanced, it cost us $45, which I thought was quite fair, and we'd happily to recommend Diversified Tire to anyone. We drove away with the thought in mind that they had treated us just as they would have liked to have been treated had they been in our shoes.

Home Depot

Our next stop was the nearby Home Depot, where we bought some tubing to replace the ice maker line. We'd had that line repaired several times, and with another split in the original tubing, it was time to just replace it ourselves. Everytime in the past the icemaker has leaked, we'd thought it was somewhere behind the refrigerator, meaning it had to be taken out to make the repair, yet each time the problem had been the more easily accessible water line from under the refrigerator to the solenoid valve in the outside access area.

We also bought a replacement GFI in case ours goes bad again, plus an extra deep surface mount box to replace the shallow one currently there. It's one of those cases were the one they used may have been large enough in theory, but in practice it wasn't, and if it goes bad again, the box is going to be replaced as well as the GFI, giving me as well as the wires, more room.


There was one other little thing that I wanted to fix, but exactly how to do it, or more exactly, what to do it with, had me puzzled. The sliding door on my side of the closet keeps jumping off the track because the little plastic stop holding the rollers on the top track has broken. I'd fixed it once with super glue, or so I'd thought, but it had split again, so something else was in order. After much looking, I settled on a little piece of metal that I think I can modify to work.


Back at the coach it was time to get to work, the first task being the water line. The existing water line was just under four feet long, so we were going to have enough tubing to replace that line again and again in the future if necessary, since it was sold in a 25 foot coil. It turned out to be a very simple job, and was quickly completed. Turned the water on, and when no leaks appeared, it looked good to go.


Why is nothing ever as easy as it appears? Later, when I was checking to see if the tray had filled, we heard that all to familiar groaning noise that means ice has built up around the icemaker and the freezer needs to be defrosted to free it up. We've done it so many times over the years that it is old hat, and with the aid of Linda's hair dryer, it wasn't long before everything was as it should be.

It took a while for the icemaker to cycle the first time, but soon it was churning out the cubes. We put a piece of plastic wrap over the cubes in the container, planning on throwing away the first few dumps to make sure everything was out of the new line.


Next it was time to swap the spare and the new, to us at least, tire we had bought this morning. If practice makes perfect I must be nearing perfection, and the job was quickly done. It helped that the area under the rear axle was level with just the right size of gravel to make placing the jack a snap. Quite a change from the uneven cobbles at Chitina where we'd put the spare on after our trip to Kennecott.


Linda had her own jobs list, and one of them was to replace the black ink cartridge in the printer. Sometimes these things don't work with the same ease as portrayed in the directions, but I never heard a peep out of her, and soon she was printing as before. The jury is still out about the Kodak printer saving us money on the ink cartridges, but based on the fact Kodak has no drivers for Linux, we will never buy another one. As might be expected, there is a very good reason HP dominates the printer market, their products just work, so it will be back to HP when this one gives up the ghost, or there are just too many good things about the newer printers to resist buying one. We do know that whenever that is, it will definitely be another wireless printer. Linda likes that feature the best, as it makes it so easy to pull out from the cabinet when she needs to access it.


One thing we couldn't fix was the steps. They have been giving us trouble for some time, and so I got under the coach to see what might be the problem. I disconnected all the electrical connections, cleaning and reinstalling them, but it didn't help. I then removed the motor and it worked just as it should. Also and the steps, which were now disconnected from the connecting arm, moved up and down with just a push of Linda's hand. That left the pivot plate as the problem, and a problem it was. It was bound so tight I couldn't force it to move.

Nothing in the way of tools I had could loosen the bolt that holds it in place. The neighbor even came over with some of his tools and even with using a cheater pipe on his pipe wrench, it wouldn't budge. For now I used a piece of wire like I had back in October when the motor went out, to hold the steps in place. Looks like a visit to the RV repair shop is on our agenda, though by using the plastic step we carry, we can make do for now. At approximately $500 for a replacement unit we will see if it can be repaired. Hopefully they know just how to get it working again.


Falling into the category of when it rains, it pours. While I was under the coach I noticed the generator cover seemed to be sagging a little. When we checked, we discovered the side we have had given us trouble before was coming loose again. I'd bought some hardware in Dawson to reinforce the brackets, but since it had seemed okay, I'd let it slide. By now it was too late to tackle that job, but it is going to have to be done before we leave.

Speaking of leaving, we are not going to be doing that for a few days longer. We had planned on extending our stay for one more day, leaving on Monday morning, but when Linda came back from the office she said she had made a command decision. Turns out they are having a covered dish dinner in the park on Tuesday evening, the guests bring a dish to share, and the park furnishes the meat. Once she heard the meat would be salmon and moose she signed us up through Tuesday night. It just goes to show you that even on a day where not much goes the way you'd hoped, some things still turn out far better than expected. Just remember, if it's one of those days where you shout, "nothing's gone right today", just stay up a little longer and something will happen to make you smile.

July 18 Sunday

Nothing doing


There are a number of different ways to approach RV travel. There are the weekenders, the vacationers, the extended travelers and the full timers. Each has a distinctive style, and each is different. Take today for example, the forecast was for rain throughout the day, and for once the weatherman was right, so we did what we would have done when we lived in our stucco house.

That meant a day of doing nothing. We simply stayed home, reading, surfing and cooking. For the vacationer it would have meant doing whatever was on the day's schedule, and that makes us glad that we finally had the courage some four and a half years ago to chuck the 9 to 5 rat race and join the ranks of those who travel at their own chosen speed.


The only thing we did today worth mentioning was done by Linda. She made some brownies, though the suggestion was implanted in her brain by me talking aloud about how good the smell of fresh baked bread would be on this day. That brought an immediate response from Linda questioning why would we want bread, did I want her to get fat, what were we going to do with it, and where would we keep it. My reply that I was thinking that it would smell great as it baked, seemed to in no way mollify the little woman.

It had to have planted some kind of seed because a little while later I noticed she was scanning our South Beach Cookbook collection, which was followed by the request for the Splenda, our sweetener for baking which is kept in the cabinet next to where I sit. The end result was a pan of chocolate Brownies topped with Ghiradelli Bittersweet Chocolate Chips.

The only other happening of consequences during the day was when the power went out. Not once, but twice. The first time was early in the morning, shortly after I got up. The lumber company in the back of the coach was busy at the time sawing wood so that may have contributed to the outage. Unfortunately my state of dress or undress, depending on ones point of view, precluded my going outside to check any error message on our surge protector. When it happened after dinner, I was able to dash outside, dodging the raindrops, and check the readout which showed it had been a low voltage situation. We are so glad we installed the surge protector, as it certainly does its job.

So, as I write this, the day is quickly receding into the history books, it being a prime example of the fact that as fulltimers we are not on an endless vacation. Rather we live our lives the same as anyone else, it's just that the location of what we call home varies as we see fit. Life is certainly good.

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