Friday, March 28, 2008

Matt's Big Breakfast

Dave and Paige are fans of a television show called "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives" on the Food network. Every restaurant that has been featured on the show is programmed in to Dave's Garmin GPS unit. Yesterday we had breakfast in downtown Phoenix at Matt's Big Breakfast . While the breakfast is big, the building is not. When we arrived there were quite a few people standing in line outside the door. It took a while for a table large enough for the five of us to open up. All of the food is fresh, free range, chemical free, etc. The restaurant does not have a freezer. The orange juice comes with pulp and seeds, the coffee is free trade. The very busy wait staff is friendly and used to the requests to take pictures of people stuffing their faces. A local news channel was there talking to supporters of the basketball teams that are in town. They didn't talk to us - we were too busy eating and laughing.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

10 things

So, Frank did an interesting blog entry of ten things that he has done and I probably haven't. He's right. I can't do the splits or backwards somersaults or been a master diver but I'll try for ten of my own.
1. Marched down Colby Avenue carrying a peace sign in 1968. I was at the lead and on the front page of the Herald.
2. Had my nose broken five times and only once on purpose (and it hurt the most).
3. Raised a blind calf.
4. Moved from Norfolk, VA to Charleston, SC in an old Charlie Chips truck.
5. Had two tool bags fall three decks on a ship and land on my head (I had my hard hat on - I'm alive to tell about it).
6. Rebuilt an Austin Mini Estate wagon and sold it for 3 times what I paid for it.
7. Rebuilt a 1968 Chevy pickup and hope to sell it for 1/3 of what I invested in it.
8. Won a state rec league softball championship in seven games.
9. Helped coach my daughter's cross country team (I can't run).
10. Played Santa for my son's photo club at a fund raiser for 3 years (Ho, Ho, Humbug).
11. Had the opportunity to be the father of two great kids.
12. Sold my house and and moved in to a Minnie Winnie and hit the road (to be continued).

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

View from the Top

Dave, Bill and I rode our motorcycles to the lookout point on South Mountain. Most roads in the Phoenix area are flat, straight and 45 mph so the trip to the mountains was unremarkable with the exception of the beautiful weather (high 80s and not a cloud in sight). The view from the top was obscured by a combination of smog, dust from the fields being worked and smoke from the remnants of the Southern Road fire (about 300 acres) that was recently contained.
No problems to report. I finally found the LP gas fill valve gasket that I need. Now if I should ever decide to cook something on my range top, it will be possible and I could run the heater if it got cold. Chances of either are slim to none.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Pace yourself

I guess this is real retirement. No where to be, no chores, no schedule. My rush to get down here is a distant memory. Days are spent avoiding sweating. Evenings are spent eating pupus and enjoying good company. Happy hour starts - whenever. I have a sandal tan on my feet and am learning to wear a hat whenever I step out into the sunshine. I am thinning the crop of oranges in the tree outside my door. I did laundry yesterday. The laundry room is adjacent to the pool. This should be a requirement for all public laundries. No better way to pass the time it takes to refresh one's wardrobe. I brought too many clothes. This may not be true when I reach colder climes.

Oh yeah - nothing broke today. I even ran the air conditioner for a few minutes to make sure it worked.

We will be having a seperation party this week. Two couples are headed north (one flying, one driving). Dave, Paige and I will be heading east on the 3rd for New Mexico. I should call Chris and Don and tell them I'm coming. Dave and Paige are staying in Las Cruces and drinking pistachio wine. I wonder if it turns your lips purple.

Saturday, March 22, 2008


My lovely, intelligent and all around good kid niece Ronnie tagged me with this meme thing and I must respond. I think its like a chain letter and I must respond or face dire circumstances. Luckily for most of my friends, they don't have blogs, so I don't have three folks to tag with this task, so it will die with me.

A-Available? Yes, but not looking.
B-Best friend: Most intimate: Carolyn, RV repairs and riding: Dave
C-Cake or Pie? Pie! Especially fresh homemade warm blackberry pie a la mode!
D-Drink of choice: Different drinks for different occasions: whole milk with my pie, diet Pepsi most times and Knob Creek bourbon when called for.
E-Essential thing used everyday: I'll stick to the inanimate - this laptop. It's how I know what is happening in my world and yours.
F-Favorite color: Bright. Yellow.
G-Gummi bears or worms: Cinnamon bears.
H-Hometown: Most of my life was spent in Bremerton, but home was Lake Stevens.
I-Indulgence: I indulge myself in whatever appeals to my inner child at the time.
J-January or February: January - new year, new opportunities.
K-Kids and names: Young adults Erica and Thom.
L-Life: Better all the time.
M-Marriage date: Yesterday's news.
N-Number of siblings: Five - 3 older sisters and 2 older brothers.
O-Oranges or apples: Oranges from the tree outside my RV door.
P-Phobias: Snakes.
Q-Quote: "He who hesitates is lost."
R-Reason to smile: See "K" and "B".
S-Season: Spring and the start of baseball, golf, riding weather.
T-Tag three people: It ends here with me.
U-Unknown fact about me: I doubt that there is anything that my friends and family don't know. Strangers don't need to know.
V-Vegetable you don't like: Since tomatoes are a fruit, spinach, Brussels sprouts.
W-Worst habit: Brutal honesty at times that causes pain.
X-X-rays you have had: Teeth, nose, neck.
Y-Your favorite food: Pulled pork covered in coleslaw.
Z-Zodiac: Aries - what that means in the bigger picture is beyond me.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Another bit o' trouble

More than one person has given me the advice that RV ownership is akin to boat ownership. The old joke about boat ownership being the same as throwing money in to a hole in the sea seems to apply. Buying a used anything is bound to include buying the previous owner's problems. Well my latest problem involves the awning on the Minnie. As I was rolling it up last night, one section of the aft arm jammed itself into the other part and applied too much pressure to the bracket mounted at the roof line. It is now apparent that this area has been leaking for some time because the added pressure on this section of rotted plywood roofing led to the failure of the connection. My roof now has an eight inch tear in the fiberglass and a few screws have pulled out. This gave the crowd of guys something to discuss and I think we've come up with a plan to sandwich some reinforcement plates over the offending section and allow the mounting of the awning to the motor home once again. Dave is a bit disappointed that we won't be making it strong enough to act as a tow point, but I'm certain he will ensure that the final product is adequate. Again, I am thankful for my friends.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Vulture Gold Mine

Went for a ride with Dave and Bill today to visit an old gold mine - Vulture Mine - northeast of here. Topped off with good barbecue at Memphis Barbecue in Buckeye.

Winter may be over down here, temps are supposed to be in the 80's all week.

Monday, March 17, 2008

The Mariners won!

It was a nice day at the ball park. The Ms took a 5 zip lead in to the bottom of the ninth. Eric O'Flaherty struggled with his control after giving up a single to lead off the inning, eventually walking in a run. Texas had the bases loaded, tying run at the plate but failed to take advantage of the situation. The Mariners won, 5 - 1.

Surprise Stadium is very nice, a top quality AAA size park. It was voted the best overall spring training ball park in the greater Phoenix area. Amazing that it sits unused the other 9 months of the year.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

The Great Flood of '08

Upon returning to my RV after bumming my morning cup of coffee from Dave & Paige, I noted a large puddle of water under the Minnie. I immediately went to the faucet to turn it off. One of my good Samaritan neighbors had already done so. Somehow the fresh water had gone directly to the holding tank, filled it, then overflowed out of the toilet. Yuck!! A panicked phone call brought Dave to the rescue with a small carpet cleaner/vacuum and towels. The last few hours have been spent cleaning and drying. The next few will be spent figuring out just how the tank got filled when I wasn't using it and why the tank level indicator doesn't work.

Update: Everything is much drier now. It appears that the toilet flush lever got stuck open.

Oh yeah, I tried turning on the bathroom fan just now - the fan blades shattered due to age and exposure to too much sun.

AND Paige found a single cup coffee maker for me.

Holed up

I'm all tucked in at Destiny RV Park in Goodyear, AZ. It's like old home week. Dave and Paige moved here from their park in Apache Junction, Dean and Sue live here as do Bill and Diana. In addition, Mike and Vickie and family came by for a visit on Friday and we all went to dinner.

I'm headed for my first spring training game on Monday ~ Ms vs. Rangers at Surprise Stadium. I'll miss the St. Patty's Day parade here at the park.

Most of yesterday was spent washing the mud and gunk off of the bike, then I took a ride in search of my coffee maker - still no luck. I'll go bum some java off Dave and Paige when they stir.

Friday, March 14, 2008


Let's try to add some photos!

High desert country in Joshua Tree N.P.

High Desert

Do you remember the movie “Tremors”? I think I found where it could have been filmed – Johnson Valley in the high desert of California, just south of Barstow on the 247. (Side note: Why do Californians put “thee” in front of every highway number?) Here the boulders push up through the earth’s crust like mushrooms from the forest floor. Remember our heroes pole vaulting between rock piles to elude the giant worm monsters? The housing in the area is similar to that in the movie also. It seemed any collection of trailers and rusted trucks, autos and other assorted rusted metal was deemed a ranch although I saw no evidence of ranching as I know it.

As I was driving through the town of Flamingo Heights, I was dismayed when I saw no flamingos. There ought to be a law. Twenty Nine Palms earned it’s name. When the first miners/settlers/etc. came to the area there were 29 desert fan palm trees around the oasis. By 1913 the natives had been driven away and by 1940 the oasis had been overused. The park service now pumps water to the site to make the oasis appear authentic.

I took the side trip through Joshua Tree National Park. Fifteen dollars well spent. March is the perfect time to visit – everything that can bloom is blooming. Everyone was excited to see the Joshua trees in bloom. I have to admit that I saw more Joshua trees outside the park than inside and they were in bloom, too. Joshua trees offer no shade, so the campgrounds are situated amongst the rock formations. They are primitive sites, but only cost $10 – $15. 294,000 acres of beauty.

I am due in Goodyear, AZ on Friday, so I decided to stop early and spend the night in Quartzite. I picked a campground that Woodall’s assured me had wireless internet service. The flat, unremarkable parking lot of a camp ground is packed. There is a Winnebago convention taking place. I had to back my trailer up for the first time and did not embarrass myself. I’ll pack up early and head for the Destiny Phoenix RV Resort. I imagine that it will cost more than the $23 I’m spending tonight, but from the website it looks impressive. I’ll post this a day late after I get there.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Ghost Town

Well, here I sit, sipping a MGD and trying to get my brain to slow down. This is so much like going to sea, when you stop moving your brain takes a while to realize it.

Yesterday was not the most fun I've ever had. I was too ambitious in my goal of driving from Salem to Stockton. I made it to Stockton, beyond even, but let's start at the beginning. I awoke early (normal) and hit the road at 6:30. I stopped for gas and the attendant (I was still in Oregon) broke my locking gas cap. The weather was nice and the drive to the outskirts of Sacramento uneventful. My second stop for gas caused more problems. The big dip in the driveway knocked the trailer off the hitch. The chains held and I stopped without causing much damage. A trucker helped me hook the trailer back on. Every bump caused me to look back for the trailer. It was dark when I got to the other side of town, looking for the KOA in Stockton. I saw the sign and took the exit. No more signs, hard to read street signs - crap. I stumbled around until I found my way back south on I5. Near Lathrop I saw a sign for a county park that had RV sites and found my way to a parking spot and climbed in to bed. I slept well. The stars and coyotes were plentiful.

Today I was determined to take it easy - or easier. On the road at 9 (better, huh?) and I keep an eye open for a Wal-Mart. Until I bought an RV I was not a Wal-Mart shopper. Anybody that will let me park overnight for free deserves some of my business. I bought a new ball for my hitch that did not have a 2" drop from the receiver. The trailer doesn't drag and I feel better. I stopped at Starbucks for coffee and in hopes of using the internet. Don't they make enough money off of their crappy coffee? Why do they charge $9.99 for internet access? It's free at most other coffee shops I've frequented. While I'm speaking of coffee, don't they make those single cup drip funnels anymore? Nobody in California knows of which I speak.

I'm just east of Barstow at a KOA that had good signs and free internet near the ghost town of Calico. The drive from Bakersfield left me yearning for the gentle breezes of Ellensburg. The hills surrounding Tehachapi are littered with wind power generators (can't call them windmills) with blades spinning like the props on a B47 at full song. I drove past 20 Mule Team Road, Edwards Air Force Base, Boron, Mojave and in to Barstow. After seeing the lush fields in central California with soil capable of growing just about anything, I am at a loss as to why anyone decided to settle this area. It's pretty, but very empty.

I'm going to head down Hiway 247 tomorrow, then decide if I want to explore Hiway 62 or just fly in to Phoenix on I10.

Monday, March 10, 2008

On my way!

I got my pay-off around 3 p.m., went to the credit union and bought a 6 month CD and hit the road. I had hoped to make it to Salem by 8, but a huge wreck on I-5 near Kalama, WA tied up traffic for over an hour. I am in Salem now, but an hour and a half behind schedule. Schedule? What am I talking about? I hope to be in Phoenix (Goodyear actually) on Friday. We are all getting together for breakfast on Saturday. Woo Hoo! I'm on my way!

Empty nest

The house is empty. Ross, Steve, Ken and I moved most of my belongings to a storage unit in Ellensburg on Saturday. I spent the next two nights sleeping on the floor. I took one last shower and washed a final load of clothes, emptied the fridge (crap I need ice) and loaded the bike in the trailer. I visited a gas station and put $111.50 worth of gas in the tank then invested $16 on a locking gas cap. It will keep the honest folks honest anyway. I still need propane and fresh water and I need to sit down and study the operator's manuals for the appliances.

My back is killing me, but I got a letter from my chiropractor letting me know that he had retired. What's up with that? I don't remember giving him permission.

I didn't get around to say good-bye to everyone, but it's just an extended vacation. I plan to be back up here in July. I'm just a mouse click or a cell call away

Any ideas on photo hosting sites?

Friday, March 7, 2008

The papers are signed!

As soon as I get the check and get it deposited in the credit union I'll be on the road.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Boxes, boxes, boxes

I hesitate to speak about the sale of my house or my plans until I have a check in hand. My house is full of boxes - empty and full. I have rented a storage unit and bought an enclosed trailer for the bike.

I had dinner on Friday with part of the Peurta Vallarta crowd that helped me thru my tough times. Many thanks to Steve, Michelle, Dave, DJ (not BJ!), Rob and Debi for including me and teaching me to drink Margaritas. I hope Old Dave takes advantage of your friendship, too.

If everything goes well, I'll be on the road on the 11th.