Old Diary, Travel

Two Travel Days

December 12Hitting the road again is always an exciting time. For ME. I’ve been this way since youth and I love it.  I’m a wandering soul — no denying it.  Saturday dawned DRY and a little less windy than it had been of late — a good day to head South!  With meds in hand we raised jacks, retracted slides, stowed our satellite antenna and hot footed it for warmer climes.

We have until January 3 to cover about 1400 miles so it’s not like we’re in any hurry.  That said, we never do long trips at this time of year — the reduced daylight hours are a challenge for the first couple days out of Milwaukee.  The thing is, I have done so many trips covering the first 500-600 miles from Milwaukee that I usually just try to get through it and I’m not much for stopping off and seeing things.  How many times do I want to see the same places? But there is the idea of fewer driving hours…  forcing me to think short.  So Saturday our destination is Effingham, IL — about 330 miles from Milwaukee.


The only problem with that theory — and what you  just read was a theory when I wrote it in the wee hours of Saturday morning.  But 7 hours later, half way to Effingham I changed my mind. I love being retired and being ABLE to change my mind. We changed our route and ended up about 100 miles beyond Effingham.

You see…. it’s like this….

The more I thought about how many miles in the next three days were going to be two lane the less I wanted to do them.  I have a real love/hate relationship with two lanes. When relaxed I love to drive back roads — but if I get it in my head that I’m ‘pushed’ — even if there’s no good reason for feeling that way — then a two lane road is the last thing I want to see.  Saturday mid-day I just wasn’t buying ‘relaxed.’

The change took us to Marion IL.  We had planned on staying with Uncle Wally.  But as we went past the Walmart in Effingham and Peggy commented on how many cars were parked in the lot at 2 p.m. I finally thought about the one thing that completely eluded me.  Do you think that there might be a lot of cars parked in the Walmart lot in Walmart the second last Saturday before Christmas?  Duh….

Talk about freaking out!   I never even thought about Christmas shoppers! After a couple hours of nerves we pulled into Marion and found that the lot wast as full as Effingham had been, and we located ourselves at the South end of the parking lot — near the Goodwill store as noted in our AllStays Walmart parking app.  It was a nice quiet night.  We left Milwaukee at 7:30 and pulled into Marion about 5 p.m.  A full day.

Walmart parking is something I haven’t spoken much about.  We haven’t spent a night in a Walmart lot since May.  On our return trip from Oregon on I-94 we spent 4 nights with Uncle Wally — So, we will have camped at Wally World a total of 5 nights in 2015.  This isn’t something we’re big on.  I’d much rather stay at a park and there are usually options to choose from;  but sometimes the spirit moves us…

There is a bit of protocol when using Walmart.  Many of their locations are OK with RV’ers parking overnight (meaning a SINGLE overnight) as long as you buy a little something at the store, as long as you don’t drop your jacks or extend your slides.  The best resource is from Allstays.com.  There are also locations that do not allow overnight stays — sometimes as a store policy and sometimes as a city or municipal regulation. We are careful about not  pushing the ‘concept’ of overnight.  Making yourself at home — leveling, extending, barbecuing in the parking lot, etc. are — simply put — just being rude and poor guests.  We have seen RV’ers do all of the no-no’s — leaving indents in the asphalt from their jacks, extending slides into traffic lanes — you name it.  In terms of ruining things for other RV’ers I think it’s just polite to have as little impact upon a commercial lot as possible.  We are there by their kindness.  They don’t have to allow us to overnight there — nor do they have to allow semi’s — and some Walmarts host truckers overnight too.  Being a good guest ought to be common sense, but common sense isn’t so common it would seem.  It’s private property.  Behave there as you would want guest to your own home to behave.

In the end, we put on about 450 miles Saturday.  More than I like.  But sometimes I do things like that.  Arriving at a Walmart early in the day feels dump to me.  And what’s the sense of staying lo-key when you cold be doing something — like getting in a few extra miles.  If we are in a park / RV resort there are things to do and we take advantage of the resources.  We like parks.  We aren’t huge about RV resorts but we visit them too from time to time.  And when Uncle Wally has his welcome mat out we pull in late (for us), grab a quick bite of dinner, watch a little TV or do a little blogging, and then hit the sack.  Our bed is usable with both slides retracted.  I can put up the DISH antenna if I want without jacks or slides.  Or we can use the air channels — as we did Saturday night — we ended up watching Mary Poppins and I forgot how much animation there was in that movie — it was a nice refresher.

December 13From Marion we headed out at 7:30.  We had time for coffee muffins (bought the day before in Milwaukee in anticipation of a quick-bite-breakfast).  We made it through Memphis before the church crowd were turned loose on the city and I pumped 73 gallons of diesel at $1.95 — for the first sub $2.00/gallon fill up in years. I had been planning on another night with Uncle Wally, then three nights at Pickensville AL COE and 3 nights at Service AL COE before pulling into Fort Pickens N.P. at Gulf Shores FL.  But the more I thought about it, and having gotten that extra 100 miles under our belt we decided to return to Grenada Lake where we spent a month last year, then to hit Service AL, and Fort Pickens.  That took out an extra stop (set up and take down and movement), we get to spend more time in fewer places and it just felt better.

Also, when I went online to check on availability at Fort Pickens I discovered that whereas 2-3 weeks ago there were oodles and oodles of open sites (50+) as of last night they were down to 4 long enough for us.  I hadn’t been planning on reservations but decided that safer is better than sorry.

We’d had so much nice weather in Milwaukee that we needed a little fog to just to even us out.  Most of Saturday was spent in the fog — literally and figuratively.  Sunday was overcast and windy — much of it a headwind.  But when I get it in my head to get something done…

It’s funny how you forget little things; parts of your routine when you do them regularly, embarrassing or startling moments when you forget them.  For example, there is the matter of our over-the-door awning.  It’s a Carefree of Colorado unit and for whatever reason when the wind is right the vertical arms vibrate harmonically with the windspeed.  The noise they make can be quite frightening if you don’t know what it is.  We have encountered this before and simply wrapping a piece of velcro around both the upright and the bracket on the outer-wall of the coach stops the vibration completely.  But only when you remember to do it.  If you extend the awning and forget to wrap it — zowey!  What a noise!

I’m sure we all have our regular routines — and sometimes we forget this or that portion of the routine.  We used to go through a checklist — now I think we lost the checklist.  Such is life.  That awning straps were the only thing we know we forgot.  I wonder what we’ll discover tomorrow?

Ok — that’s enough for two days.  Thanks for stopping by, and I’ll talk with you tomorrow.

Old Diary

Suddenly Quieter

I thought I owned a noisy car.  Really I did.  cr-vBut it turns out the car (a 2004 Honda CR-V) has been getting the blame for something that’s not it’s fault.  We just put on those new tires purchased from Walmart and all I can say is:  WoW!

Suddenly we can hold a conversation at conversational tones!  It’s so nice.  And the ride is better, much better!


I think the old ones were MORE than ready to be replaced…. I don’t usually let them get this bad but these got away from me.

When we bought the car new it had Bridgestones on it.  When those wore out I bought Uniroyals — something I’ve never done before and will never do again.  I’ve been mostly a Goodyear guy, with some Michelins thrown in for good measure and I intended to replace the Uniroyals with Goodyear until Walmart.com screwed up and sent the wrong size.  The local Walmart store did not have the same Goodyear model available to them and we ended up with Michelin Defenders.  They are touring tires, instead of standard issue ‘passenger’ tires.  I don’t expect to get the rated 90,000 miles from them but if they keep riding this way I’ll be happy no matter how many miles I get.

When Mark the Service Manager called to say our tires had arrived we hustled right on down to pick them up.  It was a laid back Saturday morning and neither of us had ‘plans’ for the day anyway.  After the screw up with the website tires Mark wanted to make sure we were happy and they got us in and out in record time and they did everything by the book — which I know ‘cuz I watched! 🙂

Sort of wanting to see how well they handled we headed South from North Bend and ended up in Bandon.  I thought we’d check out the Bandon Marsh National Wildlife Refuge — but when we got down there I hadn’t programmed my iPhone to the observation deck and we followed Google Maps directions instead and never did find what we were looking for.  But we were both hungry by that time and instead we headed off to the Bandon Fish Market for a bite of lunch.

IMG_7656TripAdvisor.com rates Bandon Fish Market as the #3 resto in town and it was a real good stop! Fish as fresh as the ocean, not greasy, chips as good as any I’ve eaten, a nice dilly tartar sauce and a river view.   The place was hopping,  we had to fight for a table ( not literally ), and with counter staff taking orders as fast as they could the food kept popping out of the tiny kitchen like popcorn.  Ours arrived quickly and hot and we enjoyed every bite.


Cute VW in the parking lot.

Across from Bandon Fish Market is a company that makes jellied candies from cranberries.  First time I heard that I wrinkled up my nose.  But when I tried them they were not bad at all, and the samples were just enough sweet to take the place of a dessert we didn’t have room for!

IMG_7659IMG_7662After lunch all we wanted to do was head back to the house. And we did.

<—See that sweetie on the left?  She looks so cute in her new ‘do.’  We both got clipped on Wednesday when we drove to North Bend on the aborted tire installation trip.  This is one of the best haircuts she’s gotten in a long time.  So many times the cutter refuses to listen to what she wants and she ends up with too short sides and too long back.  This one got it just right!  She’s just as beautiful as when we got married!  Peg had to get one of me, in front of the little harbor there in Bandon.  I expected more boats to be moored there, but marinas up and down the coast have a lot of empty moorages this year and there isn’t as much vehicle traffic on the roads — say the long time residents and Forest Service staff.  I’ll take quieter, believe me.

I had another call last night about an OHV accident.  This time it was a volunteer wanting to know how far his responsibility extended.  It seems a camper came knock, knock, knocking at his door to report that the campers ‘buddy’ was out on the dunes and had rolled his OHV, and his neck was injured.  The host told the camper to call 911 (seeing as the camper knew where the accident was) and the camper refused.  It dawns on me that is not the kind of ‘buddy’ I want to have.  You’d think you’d want your buddy to get help, not end up laying out there on the dunes waiting for no one….


Old Diary

Peter and Peggy in the Land Beyond Walmart

I’m chuckling!

no walmartSo many RV bloggers spend so much time talking about their stops at Walmart, and their overnights at ‘Wallyworld’,  and going to visit Uncle Wally that it’s nice to know we’ll be 40+ miles from the NEAREST Walmart!

I don’t mind — we never visited Walmart very much before going mobile.  We HAVE done so since — big parking lots are a definite attraction when you’re 50+ feet long and looking to pull off the highway.  But I have always preferred dealing with smaller businesses, mom & pop shops when possible. I’m eager to find out what the small businesses here are like, getting to know some shop owners, and trying to fit in a little.

Florence really is ‘big, small town America.’   I say big because we do have a Fred Meyer and a Safeway.  We have a True Value too.  There’s a natural food co-op of some sort — we haven’t been there yet.  And at least 6 gas stations and 2 car washes.  But there are no Kohls, or Walmarts, Targets, or JCPenneys.  Moving from Milwaukee (population 594,000) to Florence (population 8484) is going to be interesting.  Three years after getting married we lived in Swanton OH, population at the time about 3200 and we hated it.  We spent all our time driving the 20+ miles to Toledo because Swanton never had what we wanted/needed.  I don’t expect that will happen nearly as often here.

To be truthful, we are actually going to be closer to Dunes City, OR than to Florence.  Our Volunteer Coordinator lied to us.  He always said that there were two positions, one located out of Lakeside and domiciled in Eel Creek Campground, and ours — located out of “Florence”  — an no mention of what campground — in fact he said several times that the difference between the two was that while the other position was domiciled in a campground that our site here would be next to the Forest Service Warehouse and we would be on a site all by ourselves — and that was part of what attracted us to this location.  We enjoyed our time Camp Hosting — but we wanted to be away from campers if we could.

I’m sure the slight misrepresentations will be worked out.  I’m a little concerned that the Verizon signal is as weak as it seems to be up there in our new more-permanent home but we’ll be here long enough that we could easily afford to buy cable and/or internet service via the universal interface on our site.  We’ll sort all of that out as soon as we get the job sorted.

We didn’t get much done yesterday.  After looking forward for months to the Trip, to our daughter’s visit, to seeing Peg’s brother – the silence after dropping Kathryn at the airport was deafening.   And we were both emotionally exhausted.  To say we did little yesterday would be exaggerating.  About all we did was to stop off at the grocery for some Sour Cream, and stop on the way back into the park at the ‘warehouse’ to take another look at our future home.

Our Site in Siuslaw National Forest
The Highway, US 101, runs about 300 feet beyond the hill in the background.  And this little warehouse serves as a tool and vehicle storage for the park service, and for law enforcement (they keep their quads there).  The clearing is about 5 acres of land and we’ll be the only people living there.  Our Site in Siuslaw National Forest The Clearing gets some reasonable amount of sunlight during the day.  These were taking early in the morning, on our way from the airport and I don’t think the sun had gotten very far above the mountains to the East.

As you can see we have a large propane tank, there are water, electric, telephone, and dump hookups.  We also have a shed to store things in, and …. I don’t know what to call it… a sort of porch?  or something.  Not sure what that ‘deck’s’ purpose is but it will give us a place to sit up off the wood chips.  And a picnic table.  to enjoy the warm summer evenings. 🙂Our Site in Siuslaw National Forest

Seriously though,  I think it will be quite comfortable at least for 6 months — after that we’ll figure out if we’re staying here or what we’re doing.  We have no plans beyond our six months because we may just hang around here longer.

I think I mentioned that the Volunteer Coordinator who hired us had done this job for a year and a half.  The Camp Host (Cammie) who helped us get settled in has been here for 3 years (in Driftwood II campground). The Forest Service is very different than, say, the Oregon Park System which changes personnel typically at 3 months, and some of the Corps of Engineers locations that want a straight 6 month commitment.

Our site is actually closest to Dunes City.  That’s a tiny burg (population of 1200 people) and it’s about 10 miles South of Florence.  Which means that trips to the grocery, or hardware, will be much more thought out than they were in Cudahy.  Dunes City also has a median home population 50% higher than Oregon in general so they aren’t peons living here.  It might be ‘rural’ by nature, but it may not be ‘rural’ by culture.

Peg and Kathryn were both struck by the easy-going judgment free attitude they saw in the area.  No one was looked strangely at, no matter what they were wearing, no matter what their hair looked like, etc.  We have not seen much racial diversity — I have to say that.  Some First Nation peoples, and obvious Asian tourist, but a lot of the population looks to be caucasian. There IS ethnic diversity.  Scandanavians, Brits, Irish, Southern Mediterranean, Slavic, Poles, Aussies and Hispanics.  The median age here is 57, ten years older than Oregon in general.

Florence will be the LEAST diverse area we have ever lived in.


City-Data.com details on Florence OR

That’s ok, but it will seem strange after living in Milwaukee with a huge Black and Hispanic population.  My roots are Polish, Peg’s are Irish/German and Milwaukee has a strong population of all three — in fact in 1900 some 75% of all business done in Milwaukee was done in GERMAN.    I guess I’m kind of surprised that there is as LITTLE racial diversity as there turns out to be.

Well, that’s it for me for this morning. Thanks for stopping by and I’ll talk with you tomorrow.

Old Diary

The 50 Dollar Baked Potato

Last evening we didn’t know what to prepare for dinner.  The first thing that popped out of Peggy’s mouth was, “Why not baked potatoes?”  only to be followed a few moments later by, “Oh, we don’t have a microwave [oven].”  Then she made a face.

We’d eaten a large lunch, weren’t all that hungry to begin with, and ended up having whole wheat pancakes instead.

The word “Microwave” hung in the air.

This morning it was still hanging there.

Mid morning Peg said to me, “Should we buy a microwave?”

I merely asked, “Do you want one?”  I have steadfastly resisted buying more stuff while we wait for the house to sell, if for no other reason than, what do we do with it when the house is sold?   An hour and several Google searches later we knew we could buy one, if we really wanted, for about 50 clams, samolians, or smackers.  But again…. DID WE WANT ONE?

We hopped in the car, drove 5 1/2 miles to Home Depot.  Along the way we saw a friend of ours walking her boarder’s dog to which she has claimed ownership (long story there involving family, young love and skittles).  Home Depot had countertop models for anywhere from $50 to $400.

Nah… for 400 smackeroos I don’t NEED a temporary microwave.

We drove 1/2 a mile further and pulled into the Walmart parking lot.  We got out, I reached for my phone and …. no phone.  Where’s the darned phone?  (expletives deleted).  Wife calls my phone — no ringing in the car, in the ears or anywhere.  Where have we been?

Back to Home Depot — check out parking spot there…. did I lose it on the way out of the car, or getting back in?  NO!

Back into car.  Drive back 5 miles to corner where we saw old woman and little dog.  AHHHHHH.  Sigh of relief.  There is phone, laying on ground, next to curb whimpering, “where’s my owner, where’s my owner?”  I pick up phone and pat it sympathetically, mumbling words of encouragement and consolation.  Wife stops frowning.

Drive back that same 5 miles to Walmart.  Inside to look for microwaves.  No brand we like, no price we like, but we find a small makeup mirror for Journey that we have been wanting.  Cost: $4.00 plus tax.

Hop into car again.  Drive 1/2 mile to Lowe’s.  Look for microwave.  Not much to choose from, nothing for as good a price as Home Depot.  Pursuit of microwave has now become merely an excuse to get exercise out in the cold.

Drive additional 7 miles to Menards in Hales Corners.  No satisfactory option available there. We decide if we find a microwave with the same features and the same or better price as at the Home Depot at any other store we’ll buy it.

Drive additional 5 miles to Home Depot in Hales Corners.  They have the same microwave we saw at the first stop.  But alas only in black, not in white.  First store has stock in White.  Salesman offers to let us pay for it in his store and pick up in Franklin.  Agreed.  Except, automated cash register won’t handle that tranaction — microwave is a clearance item.  Can’t pay and hold in another store.


By this time we’re hungry. Stop at favorite Thai restaurant:  Singha Thai for quick lunch. While eating lunch decide, if we head out of town early, we won’t get much use from said microwave.  Will wait to see if we have to return to Cudahy next fall.  If so will purchase microwave THEN!

So, now, I still can’t bake a potato in a microwave, but we had a $25.00 lunch, drove about 35 miles before we got home, and didn’t spend $50.00 for a microwave.  I’m not sure what we accomplished this morning other than having a good time, and driving in the rain.

Retirement sure is interesting.


Old Diary

The Six Sisters Dauphin Aren’t Rude At All

The Sisters Dauphin greet you as you enter Dauphin Island (AL).  They are a pleasant, and (to me) unexpected welcome to a small resort community just offshore in the Gulf of Mexico.  As I sat working on this image in the wee hours of the morning I got to thinking about greeters… the human kind.

Walmart has greeters.  Sometimes I see them at Target and Home Depot.  But wouldn’t it be interesting if greetings were a part of normal american life?  I say that as a typical american; one who sometimes jumps straight for the jugular when encountering others.

In France it’s expected that you’ll open any encounter with Bonjour. It’s quite rude not to do so. It’s only one among many reasons americans are disliked when traveling abroad.  We’re just plain rude.

I can’t begin to count the times I have heard, and have done this myself.  You walk into a store.  You are greeted by a smiling employee and the first words out of your/my mouth are:  “Where do you keep….” as if whomever is being spoken to is nothing more than an information machine. I’m ashamed every time I catch myself doing it;  but next time in the door I do it all over again.

The problem with being goal oriented is that you are…. duh… goal oriented.  People get in the way. Especially if you aren’t naturally gregarious.  (author raises hand sheepishly)
2013011812352098I sometimes wonder what life is like in a family with siblings. I had no siblings.  Most of my parents friends had only one or two children, and as I was growing up I spent a lot of time with adults. Some of my friends had multiple siblings — the family down the block had 8 kids in the family but interestingly enough when I played with the boy my age in that family he always wanted to play at my house. When I was a scout I don’t know if I learned any manners or not.  I don’t remember much about my interactions at that age — though to tell you the truth I don’t know how many guys pay attention to things like that.

New-Season-3-Promo-the-big-bang-theory-7445896-1500-2051I have been aware for a long time that I am socially obtuse.  I tend to miss social signals and plod on through not altogether unlike the nerds on Big Bang Theory.

A few years after we were married I had a job at Furnas Electric.  I was a “sales correspondent” — meaning that I expedited production and deliveries for customers and distributors.  One day I was expediting a particularly problematic production delay and walking through the factory lost in thoughts about how I might pull off the impossible.  One of my co-workers came up and asked if anything was wrong because I looked sad.  To tell the truth, I wasn’t sad at all — I was just focussed on what I was doing and it never dawned on me to smile at someone just because they were walking past… I was in another world.  As I say, I can be pretty socially obtuse.


And yet when I was working; when I had clients or models in the studio we (client/model and myself) always had a good time.  We laughed, we joked, we told each other stories — always a good thing to keep the mood light when you’ve got a nekkid woman right in front of you.  I’m not unpleasant to be around — but I have to turn on my social skills for that to happen. I can shoot my camera instinctively but I have to think about being friendly.

It’s just not an unconscious, habitual thing for me. It’s also not something I react naturally to.  There are times when being greeted isn’t a welcoming feeling at all. Don’t you ever have times when you don’t want to be noticed — when you just want to go about your business and get done what you want to get done?  At the time we drove past the six Dauphin sisters I never thought of them as “greeters.” They were just six houses dockside.  They were just six old houses, six skinny houses, six semi-dilapidated houses.  Nothing special, nothing noteworthy.  But the truth is that anything can be noteworthy — even six plain little shacks.

Old Diary

Bing, Bang, Bong Recreation Area

What a gorgeous day!  Mid 50’s in the middle of November — I’ll not shake my patutie at that, for sure.

We got off to a slow start today.  Peggy was making up for a couple nights of poor sleep; I was getting caught up on RV blogs that I follow.  After a leisurely breakfast — cheese omelets — we headed South to the Richard Bong Recreation Area — or State Park — depending on who you talk to and which sign you read.

We’ve never explored this park very much but when we visited early this year to buy our State Parks vehicle permit we did so at Bong and were very well impressed.  Today was a good chance to explore a little.  I was very surprised at what a nice park has come from an abandoned military base.  And they have nice campsites — though not many with electric, and not many that our short (32′) Journeywill fit into when we are towing the CR-V. Continue reading