Saturday, December 29, 2007

First day in the desert

We have arrived. Finally arrived at our destination. After years of planning and months of traveling. To a patch of rock and hardened soil in the Arizona desert. Quartzite.

Camped along the northern border of short term camping on federal BLM land. Across a groove in the land created by flash floods one see nothing man-made in sight. Just scrub brush, scraggly trees, flitting birds, butterflies. Hills in the distance, also carved by precious rushing water. Peaceful, lush, beautiful in an alien way. Alien to recent inhabitants of the Pacific NW. No hint of ocean, tho it covered this region eons ago. No tall evergreens. Nothing at all to the casual observer.

We hope to observe more closely.

Tomorrow we will tow our home south to the Imperial Dam LTVA, just north of Yuma. To meet our email pals, Gene and Joyce Shea, with whom we hope to travel on to San Carlos, Sonora, Mexico. Before then we will join Escapees who have also plunged into this full-time adventure this year. And attend the Rock and Gem show, as well as the RV show in mid-January.

We know to expect the unexpected.


Sunday, December 23, 2007

Preparing to live in the boonies

We’re getting ready for our first “boondocking” adventure…spending the month of January in the SW AZ desert without regular utilities or Costco nearby. [Shudder]

Well, actually, our first two weeks we’ll spend 15 miles from Yuma, AZ, at Imperial Dam Long Term Visitor Area. So we’re working into this slowly. Then two weeks at the big Quartzite gathering, among fellow Escapee fulltimers.

Which means laying in a month of food and other supplies, to avoid long trips to town later in the month. Takes some planning, particularly given limited storage. We expect to share our living room with cases of bottled water. They better behave when we entertain.

Thinking about battery capacity, techniques to reduce the fresh to waste water cycle, cooking cleanly. Stuff they didn’t teach us in college.

The adventure continues.


Friday, December 21, 2007

The Road to Hell Was Paved Without Urination

We took a vote. Our trip from the Bakersfield area to Desert Hot Springs CA was the worst day of our fulltiming adventure so far. Worse than several torrential rains in Oregon, worse than boondocking next to an all night filling station in Eugene OR, worse than the army of boisterous banana slugs.

Allow me to explain.

We departed on our 242 mile journey with a half tank of fuel. Which should have lasted almost the entire trip. We figured to fill up after a while and take a break.

Started looking for fuel after an hour on the road. Then we climbed several mountains along I5 and the fuel gauge slipped down quickly.

We looked for diesel fuel along I5 and I210 for 74 miles. Took exits that yielded nothing. And you don’t just go anywhere with a 50’ long 12’ tall vehicle.

Coupled with these events was Bruce’s EEE…Extreme Excretory Emergency. “Gotta go, but can’t stop.” Which impeded rational thinking somewhat.

We finally took an exit in Arcadia, CA, searched in vain and came to rest at the entrance to the Santa Anita Racetrack. Can’t go no further without risking a breakdown in city traffic, maybe in an intersection! Bruce resolved his EEE. Whew! We waited over an hour for 5 gallons of petrol from the Ford emergency road service - blessed are they.

On to a truck stop Ontario, CA. After fueling up, we try for some lunch. Park in the trucking lot, since we can’t fit in the car lot. The lot gate ticket machine runs out of tickets and wouldn’t open. 18 wheelers lining up behind us. Stuck again. Bruce finds the manager, who says, “You can’t park in there.” No kidding. After another long wait at the broken ticket machine, we drive thru the lot and leave.

Now we’re 2 hours behind schedule on our 242 mi trip and arrive in SoCal traffic at the beginning of the rush hour(s). Bumper to bumper for 60 miles in the rain and failing light. Pass the last of the walnuts please.

Arrive at Sam’s Family Spa and Resort in the dark. Uh oh, the electrical service keeps going out. This can be fixed.

Time for dinner – all the restaurants are closed. Get out the spaghetti.

Next day, we see this beautiful park and setting. All is well again.


Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Shafter, CA

Today we reached Shafter, CA, at this campground.
Don’t judge a park by its web site. Near a highway, train tracks, and local airport. Gee, we're part of a transportation hub! Maybe I can get a job as a truck driver. Might as well make use of this towing experience.

So we’ll stay till our mail arrives. Snow and other bad stuff in parts east have likely hampered delivery. At least we outran another storm, tho yesterday Fresno (and us) had a record setting rain day.

Bakersfield, CA, 14 miles south, boasts high levels of growth now. Also the worst ozone levels in the nation, likely from that growth and the petro industry. We will drive straight thru to the CA desert once we can leave.


Thursday, December 13, 2007

On the list for the Sierra SKP

Today we applied for a lot at this SKP 55+ RV park. Then drove to the nearby casino for the lunch buffet with the senior discount.

Geezers at last.

Prospects dim for a trip to Yosemite tomorrow. The recording says they require chains throughout the park. I’m not crawling under that truck with chains for any scenery.


Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Like this SKP park a lot (Get it? "Lot" Hee hee. Great RV humor)

We really like this Escapee RV park. Beautiful setting and lots (snicker), wonderful facilities, and a very friendly coop community. Tomorrow we intend to place our names on the waiting list for a site here. The four to five year wait suits us fine as new full timers. If we change our minds, we get a full refund on our deposit. No worries.

We plan to drive into Yosemite National Park on Friday, up to the western entrance where you don’t need snow tires, as least as of today. Expect some pictures.


Friday, December 7, 2007

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Rain at the SKP Park of the Sierras

Good news
This Escapees park on the southern border of Yosemite National Park is quite beautiful. Large attractive sites, well maintained by the community, inexpensive, on a lovely hillside in the desert. We can see this as a winter homesite. They have a four – five year waiting list…understandable given the amenities.

It holds more attraction than the prior one in southern Oregon. We already have a summer place in the WA Cascades. Oregon is not far enough south to have nice winter weather. And this Park of the Sierras setting is far nicer. Note we’ve only spent one day hear so far. We’ve not seen the two closest towns yet – Coarsegold and Oakhurst. And another Escapees park lies north of Yuma. We hope to see it soon.

Bad news
More rain. It follows us around. Average rain accumulation is three inches here in December, yet the weather report predicts one inch today and tomorrow, 24 hours after our arrival. Coincidence? You decide.


Monday, December 3, 2007

Sacramento the Serene

California, here we are
Came by truck, not by car.
Hmmmhmmm bloom in the Spring.

At last, we arrive in Sacramento, to a new region of the country. Till now we have traveled in Cascadia, i.e. Pacific NW climate. Today we reached the land of palm trees and 68 degree December days. Arrived to read of the disasterous wind and rain storms in our former WA home. Even down to areas of Oregon we had visited within the last week...and fled from the approaching storm. For all the work of this mobile life, we see the advantages of moving out of harm's way.

Tomorrow we go for another day of repairs. Then we can move freely about the land.

Don't say it!


Saturday, December 1, 2007

Garberville yes? Garberville no.

The alert reader, newly roused from sleep by a noise in the hall, will remember that we aspired to return to Garberville to complete a reprise of our motorcycle journey those many years ago. And so we did…for less than a day.

Excitement filled the truck as we cruised into Garberville. Well, actually we parked on the exit ramp for town and walked to the post office for our latest general delivey mail. But we glimpsed our goal nonetheless. We drove on 6 miles south to a campground, intending to return to town and visit the Big Trees on the morrow.

That night, Jenna, ever alert to metrological conditions like all Heilemanns, learned of an approaching wind and rain storm. (“Motorists driving high profile vehicles may wish to postpone travel until after these winds have passed.”) Ummm…that could be us.

The following morning, the forecast had not changed. While we sat on the edge of the predicted storm, who knows where it would actually strike. Maybe driving our high profile vehicle into 60mph rain?

Prudence prevailed. We bid a wistful farewell to the redwoods after only viewing the Grandfather Tree ("That's just what the previous owner called it.") across the street from our campground.

We consoled ourselves by stopping at a nice park at Blue Lake, half way to Sacramento. Hopefully we can stay here for a rest day before resuming our quest to repair our trailer. That is, barring an earthquake striking Lake County California.


PS We are just the latest travellers to marvel at the diversity of highway 101 from the Oregon border down thru the redwoods. When we drove east onto highway 20, we had braked through 30mph tight cliffside turns, dodged looming redwoods along narrow lanes, chugged up and rocketed down 6% grades, and cruised down four land divided highway. Though Willits, home of Seabiscuit. 101 has it all!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Another trip to a dealer

The reader starting at the most recent post is advised to ignore the first two sentences of Wednesday, November 21, 2007, i.e. We have just completed the latest repairs on our home, i.e. the BR slideout. Hopefully this one will take.

It did not take. Thus we return to our familiar routine of visiting yet another dealer service center, this one in Sacramento, once again to work on our BR slideout. (To save you more reading, the last dealer, in Eugene OR, took two runs at it. Some improvement, but still a problem.) Look for our forthcoming book, Tour of Excel Dealers on the West Coast.

We lost contact with the world for three days in Brookings OR at Harris Beach State Park. No web, no phone. This old park sits smack along the ocean, with mondo big rocks along the shoreline. Big waves crashing about them too. Denby running higgly piggly on the beach…he takes off when his pads hit sand.

But just north of the park, running day and night, is a saw mill. Crashing, beeping, trucks roaring. We couldn’t leave the BR windows open at night ‘cause of the noise. Just south of town is a pulp mill too. Ever smell the odor from a pulp mill? Yeah, you got it. Too bad. We successfully retrieved our many letters and packages from the post office and UPS. Works well so far.

Then, after a wonderful drive down the coast, we have spent an evening and full day in Eureka CA, our first stop in the Golden State. Nice liberal town, kinda like our prior hometown Olympia, WA. Many Victorian houses throughout the city. SUNSHINE! We like it. A food coop with three stores in such a small area! #1 cash crop in Humboldt County – marijuana. Kinda sets the tone here, we thinks.

But we must move on to Garberville, on schedule for repairs in Sacramento on December 4.


Saturday, November 24, 2007

Our first Escapees park

Indeed we arrived at Timber Valley RV Park , our first Escapees park, on Thanksgiving. And were made welcome that night at a Thanksgiving potluck.

This is a very nice community, with nice clean facilities and large spaces at inexpensive rates Taking up the Coop spirit, we pitched in to help with Xmas decorations. We donated some CDs and an espresso machine. But with sub-freezing weather for five nights now, we resume our journey southward tomorrow.

On to Brookings OR to get our mail, then south to Garberville. With any luck we’ll see 60 degree days in a week or so! We may even visit another Escapees park on the way through California.

California here we come (through).

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Free again?

We have just completed the latest repairs on our home, i.e. the BR slideout. Hopefully this one will take. (Still need to fix, maybe replace the microwave oven, but that’s minor.)

If so, we are finally free to head south tomorrow on our own schedule. Well, first we must go back to the coast to Brookings OR to pick up our mail and other packages we sent there in the naïve expectation of reaching that burg directly from Reedsport.

No worries tho. We then motor down the coast, stopping for some number of days at the Redwood forests before turning inland to Sacramento CA and points south.

The Redwoods, specifically Garberville, holds some sentimental meaning to us, as the reader may recall from an earlier post. (No? Read on.) We rode down the coast on our Goldwing motorcycle six years ago, when we still had good spines. Reached Garberville and spent three days there among the giants before turning north back to Montesano WA. This current trip more or less retraces that route till Garberville. Then we move on to unexplored territory.

From Eugene, we will stop at an Escapee park for Thanksgiving and a few days afterwards, so we arrive at the Brookings state park after the weeked.

Glad tiding to all. Even the turkey, who fulfills his destiny.


Monday, November 19, 2007

Eugene? Eugene!

Back in Eugene. Again again.

Why? Because we like it here? No. We've not really seen Eugene, unless you count a chiropractor, a trailer court, and the back of a shed next to a 24 hour fuel depot (I didn't want to publish that picture, hoping to forget it.) Running back and forth to stores and repairs. And back and forth to Olympia for the funeral. So, no, we've not seen Eugene.

We returned again again because the newly installed satellite dish failed. Therefore we're also giving the RV dealer one more shot at fixing the slideout. Hmmmmm.

Now the alert reader may recall that we sent several packages to the post office in Brookings, our former next stop. (Actually the alert reader would be delusional, because I didn't write that in this blog.) So we must return to the coast and pick up where we left after a few more days here.

In the mean time, OR weather forcast includes rain and rain, along with freezing temps. A lot like Olympia, which we left two months and again three weeks ago. Whereas Quartzite, AZ - sunny and 75.

No pictures. You know what water looks like.

Sunday, November 18, 2007


Too much rain. Days long rain. Wind and rain.

STOP already!!!!!!

Sure, there's an upside. I ripped our 194 CDs to my hard drive, so we can get them out of here. No consolation.

We leave tomorrow for another state park, in Brookings, OR.

Weather forcast - rain.


Friday, November 16, 2007

In Thrall again

Who says we don’t lead a normal life? We just subscribed to Netflix again, getting movies via General Delivery and download. And getting six other packages from Amazon and others at the post office at our next destination. And a DHL delivery right to our trailer (he didn’t drive a diesel truck tho.). Check the picture, since I wanted proof for my doubting reader.

That DHL package contained a new hard drive for Jenna’s laptop. Meaning hours of work for Bruce to install Win XP, upgrade to Vista, and install and upgrade all the programs on the old buzzing hard drive. Heck, what else does he have to do in the pouring rain (again). In addition to ripping the 250 or so CDs to his own hard drive so we can get rid of all those jewel cases of music. Poor guy (me). Still better than the best day workin’, you bethca.

But what for the title of this entry? We made an appointment with a new trailer repair place, this time in Sacramento, CA. Cause the last dealer in Eugene OR couldn’t fix the BR slide correctly. Meaning another appointment three weeks out. Meaning more waiting in a rainy OR coast CG or two. If not for this appointment, we’d probably flee from the coast and drive inland to the CA desert along our route to AZ.


Monday, November 12, 2007

Blowin’ in the wind

See that nice picture from yesterday? Forget it. Big wind started at 6am and blew for 11 hours. Gusts to 60mph, occasional heavy rain thru constant showers. Good thing we fixed our leaky windows prior to this storm. 97 mph gust in Bellingham, not so far from our summer home in Concrete. We were cozy and warm throughout…typing, cooking, catching up on business.

Jenna’s computer hard drive has been buzzing for months now. I convinced Dell today to replace the hard drive. DHL will deliver a new one to our RV in a few days. Now this I hafta see, and maybe take a picture. Do they deliver pizza too? Maybe we can drive our diesel trucks together around the parking lot

I continue to correspond with our Mexican bound friend Gene (and Joyce) Shea (Hi Gene!) as we plan our trip South of the Border. I continue to contain my excitement…barely.

What will tomorrow bring?


Friday, November 9, 2007


We have returned to the Pacific coast, at Winchester Bay, south of Reedsport, OR. At a beautiful county park between the ocean and the marina. We passed it by at first, mistaking it for a private resort! Some Rvers in Astoria told us about this place.

We paid for a full week. And later extended it a few more days, so we could leave on a Monday for a new park, rather than arrive on a Friday again.

Aaah, to park for a while, just hang out. Well, we still have plenty more stuff to go thru, paring down. Plus install the several items we bought at Camping World yesterday. Honestly, we only went there for one thing.

Still, we're here for a while. Till we decide to leave, actually.


Thursday, November 8, 2007

Free at Last!

Finally we have gone thru all our obligations for repairs and other business that keeps us here in Eugene and elsewhere. Finally we can begin the life of retired full-time Rvers, with no obligations and schedules. Finally!!

Tomorrow we return to the OR coast, starting with a county park in Reedsport that someone told us about. Tho it remains a mystery right now as I can't find mention of it on the Lane County web site..oh well. Then on to Harris Beach State Park and further south to the Redwoods.

We have since heard from another person traveling to Mexico after Quartzite. Looks likely that we will cross the border one way or another. Ole!


Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Hurry up and ….

Still in Eugene, after returning from a week in Oly, partly waiting for the leaking windows to arrive. The RV dealer fixed most of our trailer. But not the most significant problem of the BR slide binding when we open it. He will try tomorrow afternoon, which means another full day here waiting.

Humbug to anyone who thinks that we sit around the campfire at night after a day relaxing in the lounge chair or by the pool. Except for last week's respite in Olympia, we’ve been packing up and moving almost every day for the past two weeks. Hopefully we’ll soon finish our fixups and spend time on something other than the trailer.

Today is the first day we’re using our automated satellite dish on the roof for internet service. Push a button…YES!


Monday, November 5, 2007

Commerce redux

OK, so maybe not so bad. One day after I whine about trying to order my whiz bang ladder, I find it by chance in Fred Meyers. After numerous calls to hardware stores in two states along our route, I might point out…but I won’t. Life is good again. Doesn’t take much, does it?

I spent much time in the past few days making arrangements for my mother’s funeral. And additional processes wrapping up her financial and other affairs. Do you know that Social security takes back the entire month’s check when you die?!? Do they think that the family gets a refund on that month’s rent and food and medical care?

Son: My mother died this month, so I don’t expect to pay for the electricity she used for her iron lung and the DVD player.

Utility rep: Well certainly, Mr. Brod. And we’ll call the nursing home for you and make sure they don’t charge you either. Have a nice day...under the circumstances.

Who makes up these rules anyway? Remember that one earns a retirement pension. It’s not a welfare program.

I blame W. First the Iraq War, now this.


Sunday, November 4, 2007

Commerce OTR

Ahh, the full-timers life. Trying to get goods by mail when you don't know where you're going, let alone how long you'll stay there.

I want to buy a particular ladder to reach the top of the slides for cleaning. As well as particular Coleman camping chairs. If you want to judge a fulltimer, look at his chairs. Can't find either in stores. Can find them on .

But how do we take delivery? We don't know where we're going, other than we've never gone this way before. So how long will we stay whereever we're going when we don't know if we'll like it, whereever it is? Nor where to send whatever we want.

Last time I sent out an item, I spent hours on the phone with numerous people at Dell computers, trying to get them to send a package to a shipping store in Tillamook, OR. Only to have the store send it back because I didn't arrive earlier than I said I would. So that Dell could send it back to Tillamook where we had already left. So Tillamook could send it to Newport. Sighhh.

Maybe I could mount a stool on the roof in front of each slideout, so I could sit down when I climb up onto the roof.


Saturday, November 3, 2007

Hitch itch

Two days ago, the RV dealer called. New windows for our trailer did not arrive as planned. Hopefully in a few days. Thus they expect to finish the work on Tues, 11/6, a four day delay.

Plus we've not heard from the satellite dish on the roof installer, who did not finished the installation prior to our departure. So we don't know if we must plan to stay in Eugene for another day upon our return.

Gettin' hitch itch already. Wanna hit the road again. We had waited a month for this RV repair, waiting to get going and live the life without an itinerary.



Wednesday, October 31, 2007


Sad news. Ten minutes after we visit the Excel dealer to confirm repairs on our trailer the next day, Bruce learns that Lillian, his 91 year old mother, has died in the Alz Dementia facility where she had lived for over a year. We go back into the RV dealer, tell them to keep our trailer for a week or so, then next day hit the 220 mile interstate highway for Olympia.

We stay with friend Aymalee while arranging the funeral and other details. Good to see our Oly friends again even under such circumstances. Only six weeks have passed since last seeing them, tho we have not lived there for four months.

After even this short time living in several new places since June, it’s kinda funny to drive around a completely familiar area, remembering events as we pass by this place and that. This is the feeling of home. When will we know it again?

Then again, Jenna and I have lived in nine houses in eight locations in four states during our 28 years together. Some would say we could never call somewhere home.

I lived in five locations in Irvington NJ by age 18. Six residences in four years of college. More moves after that before Jenna at age 30. (Jenna has lived similarly, including two years in Norway.)

Home? I only know my own life.


Saturday, October 27, 2007

MX quizá?

Excitement! We received an email from our post on about traveling to Mexico after Quartzite. A couple from Bozeman MT plans to go to San Carolos, Sonora, MX after Q.

Counting old pesos, thinking tacos and Dos Equis.

We wrote back. :>

Thursday, October 25, 2007

First post - four months in

We’ve been OTR for six weeks now, since September 14, 2007. How many times have I written the first entry into this blog, yet failed to put it to screen and posted. Too many chores. Too many things to buy for our new life. Too many things to shed from our old one. Too many broken gizmos, leaking seals, unexpected work.

Too much rain! We moved from Olympia to our WA RV site at Lake Tyee outside of Concrete in mid July. With far too much stuff to fit in our 33’ trailer. Strewn about in plastic containers on the side of the trailer. Then the rain started. Two weeks of rain. In July! After the rain finally subsided, the mosquitoes emerged. Maybe they were outside all along, but we were huddled inside, trying to stay dry.

For two months, Bruce was still working as an IT trainer for Western State Hospital. Searching daily for an Internet connection after many hours trying to get a signal with our new satellite dish. He haunted the local library most days, using their Wifi connection. And worked two days per week in at the Hospital in Lakewood, 150 miles away.

Jenna toiled away at the trailer, winnowing down our belongings to a manageable number. Many trips to Salvation Army and containers of clothing to the Hospital clothing bank.

It’s not like we didn’t know this was coming. We spent 2 ½ years thinking and preparing for this Full Time life. We bought a nice used Class C motorhome and spent the summer in it. Once we made the decision to move ahead, Jenna became an RV savant, memorizing a database of trailers as she studied layouts and quality and colors and …. Bruce took a crash course in tow vehicles, with weight rating, payload, wheelbase, and engines.

We corresponded with other RVers via websites like and . Learned about septic systems, travel planning, boondocking, and equipment.

We even acquired a travel dog, our latest Corgi, named Denby.

We research that decision too, ‘cause you don’t casually invite another being into your 300 square foot living space.

Sadly we gave away our beloved Moxie cat, whose need to excrete we could not tolerate in that small space.

We were prepared and expectant. Took delivery on a big one ton truck in December 06.

And sold Bruce’s beloved red Celica convertible to a coworker who offered to buy it months before.

Ordered our new home in April 07 to pick up in July.

Then the unexpected. We put our house on the market on June 1, figuring we’d try to sell it ourselves for one month.
Bruce created a website and listed it on Craigs list. In the midst of a down market, we sold in 10 days. The owners wanted possession in three weeks!! Uh oh.

Month of June = frantic. Every day - selling, culling, and cleaning. Bargaining, negotiating, cajoling. And still too much remaining. But by the end of the month, we had sold our house and much in it on Craig’s list.

July 1, we said goodbye to stixnbrix living, after nine houses in three states in 27 years. Off to pick up our 33’ Excel fifth wheel trailer in Lewiston ID, then on to the Life On Wheels conference in nearby Moscow ID. A four day conference dedicated to fulltimers, with a “preconference” for newbies like us.

Then back to Olympia to pick up our remaining belongings and on to the deluge in Concrete.

So Bruce finished his work responsibilities on September 12, and we hit the road two days later. At last!

Since then, we spent a few days in Olympia visiting friends and Bruce’s mother. Then five weeks along the Oregon coast in three beautiful state parks:

  1. Fort Stevens outside of Astoria

  2. Cape Lookout near Tillamook

  3. South Beach by Newport - our current location
Beautiful places all. But the rain has followed us, reminding us of the reason we left the NW winter. (70 mph winds and thunder one week ago.)

We’ve waited for three weeks now to take our trailer to Eugene, OR for a long list of minor (and not so minor) repairs. And an automatic Internet satellite dish on the roof, as Bruce has abandoned the idea of setting up a manual dish on a frequent basis – don’t ask.

We made one improvement ourselves. Our new TV failed. We sent it back to the RV manufacturer. And decided we don't need a TV anyway. Goodbye tube...Hello more storage space.

Once free of these final constraints, we can begin the Full Time life in earnest – traveling with no schedule or itinerary. Other than driving far enough south and east from the winter rain. We plan to arrive in Quartzsite, AZ in mid-January for an annual RV extravaganza. Till then and prior – a mystery. Ain’t that life after all?