About Us

Chris and Dennis are traveling around the country seeing the sights and occasionally volunteering at select locations. We avoid the interstate as much as we can and tend to stop for squirrels and shiny objects. Ask us where we are going and we're apt to simply point and say "That away."

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Sunset Bay–Growing Pains

ShoreAcresOur new home is developing its own personality. We're not quite sure what may develop, but we have had a glimpse of what may unfold in the coming year.





As most readers of our blog know, our last motorhome was a 34 foot Excursion and I believe I mentioned how enjoyable driving it was – like participating in a Virginia Reel with an intricate yet smooth blending of moves resulting in a wonderful experience. Driving our new home, until this past week anyway, was quite frankly more like dancing with an inexperienced partner who is constantly stepping on your toes. The trip from Boise to Sunset Bay, with the exception of our short stop at Crystal Crane Hot Springs was grueling.

Enter Henderson's Line-Up in Grant's Pass Oregon. Over the last couple of years I have read and heard there is ONE place on the west coast to take your motorhome for suspension and steering and that is Henderson's. They literally wrote the book and as such are the industry leaders and teachers. Getting an appointment so quickly was pure luck.

During the first step Henderson's performs what they call the Road Performance Assessment which involves the technician taking your rig out for test drive while you ride along as a passenger. This was a first time experience for me as Chris doesn't drive the RV. (My new perspective pretty much explains the fingernail impressions in the armrests of her chair and I'm sure I made them just a bit deeper.) What our technician Eric found out was just what I had endured – pulling to the right, sway and porpoising on stops. What he found after we got back to the shop was a whole different matter.

You see, Henderson's also performs a pretty detailed inspection underneath the rig and in my case found the bell crank (there was no bell and I didn't see any crank for a bell even if one existed, weird) that was far from tight, allowing the steering wheels to wobble. While the wobble didn't cause the pull to the right it did contribute to the handling and would have eventually resulted in odd wear patterns. Another find was during the alignment check. Come to find out we had been sort of going down the road sideways with the rig wanting to make a very wide sweeping turn to the right. Problem found – or nearly so. Being nearly a full inch out of square contributed a great deal to the pull to the right but like Bob Barker used to say “That's not all!”. The loose bell crank I mentioned camoflaged another contributing factor that is really not that unusual; a tire that is not really round and lastly, for probably the first time in its short life our motorhome was weighed at all four corners and was found to be just a bit lopsided. Add it all together and we have a rig that would head for the shoulder of the road at any lapse of concentration on the part of the driver. Knowing my difficulties just walking and chewing gum at the same time makes this a very dangerous situation.

The cure for all this? A little cutting and welding to straighten the out of square alignment. Replacing the bell crank with Henderson's own designed heavier duty one and finally giving the tire a shave to make it really round and of course balancing both. Lastly, to assist in tracking straight down the road and to help in the event of a blow-out we had the Safe-T Plus steering control installed. This last piece is like a sideways shock absorber, keeping the steer wheels running straight and true.

All in all, a full day at the shop and a moderately expensive solution but it was all worth while. Our drive home proved the work well worth every penny. This ungainly toe-stomping dancer has been turned into a graceful grand lady who is a pleasure to turn a waltz with. I'm looking forward to many a dance with the grand dame.

I'll tell you about our campers next time round. Just think raccoons, dog food and really thin tent fabric.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Transitions - 2016

We haven't blogged for some time but I assure you there was a good reason.

Two years ago I wrote about transitioning from a work life to a retired life which also entailed moving from a traditional home to living full time in a motorhome. At the time I believed these would be the biggest changes we would be making for a good while. Boy was I wrong!

We started this adventure with our first motorhome purchase, a 23 foot Class C which almost immediately confirmed we needed more room, especially if we pursued our dream of doing this full time. One year later we upgraded to a 33 foot Class A and we were very comfortable with it. We figured we could be happy while fulfilling our dream.

Alas, it was not meant to be. Here we are, beginning our second year and we found we needed just a little bit more space – particularily true when the weather closed in, forcing us indoors for an extended period.

So, the search commenced and a long one it was. We had become very particular in our tastes and were very reluctant to compromise on what we wanted.

IMG_20161007_103703794[1]First was the kitchen area. A larger counter space for our cooking experiments was definitely called for. Whereas prepping in advance does have its advantages and makes sense, we had continually found ourselves needing just a bit more of something and not having the space on the counter to accomplish it.



IMG_20161007_103729190[1]Second was the “living room” area. In the past, having guests over consisted of breaking out another lawn chair and hoping it stayed warm as there was no room inside to accomodate more than the two of us comfortably. By having the room to put extra chairs on the inside we were no longer restricted to good weather and early evenings.



IMG_20161007_152111365[1]Third is a spacious bedroom where either of us could get around the bed without doing the sideways shuffle which also usually resulted in barked legs and stubbed toes – especially at night. We would have settled for an olympic queen like our old rig or even a queen sized bed if there was ample space for two people to occupy the area without resorting to contortions a circus performer would be proud of. In our case we were very fortunate and ended up with a king sized bed and LOADS of room – both in the closet and the surroundings.

Fourth was some ammenities such as a washer/dryer; either a combination or, most preferred, the stacked models. Here we scored our preference with a Whirlpool stacked washer and dryer.

We did have to compromise some but I believe we will actually appreciate more with what we ended up with than what we think we wanted. A central bathroom instead of the desired bath and a half. Having dealt with all the quirks of the vacu-flush system in our old rig, it should come as no shock just how much happier I am dealing with the simplistic traditional toilet and plumbing. Want something to go very wrong, very quickly? Just bring a closed system to a 6psi vacuum and add poop and toilet paper. I guarantee your imagination will only scratch the surface on what we have endured.

Another compromise and one I can easily rectify if needed is the propane range instead of an induction one. Sure, with all the fancy stuff we did get in this new-to-us motorhome, it would make sense to have the most fancy induction range we could manage. The stumbling block here was cost and predicted use. Normally we cook outdoors on our grill and depend on an Instant Pot pressure cooker for the rest. We do have an induction hot plate for those days when a quick fry up is all that is needed. So, all things considered it was far cheaper to keep the existing propane system and our familiar cooking tools.

When you add all the new stuff, the preferred stuff and the really nice to have stuff, well we couldn't stuff it into a mere 34 feet or, for that matter even 38 feet. So, without further adeu, allow us to introduce you to our Berkshire XL 40QL. Our single axle, 41 footer that we now call home.


The transition is ongoing. We have returned to Sunset Bay State Park in Oregon and mixed with our camp host duties we will be spending lots of time learning the systems and hopefully remembering where we stored our stuff.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Flaming Gorge 2016 – The Return

overlook1Nearly a year ago Chris and I came to this wonderful place as our very first experience as volunteers. We only spent a month the first time round but it was enough to enchant us with the desire to return; and so we have.
There are the familiar places, having not changed in the big scheme of things and other places where the change has been stunning. For example, the visitor center had a remodel planned and the various exhibits were just coming in when we left last year.

IMG_20160828_093939143IMG_20160828_093946942This year a seemingly whole new center welcomed us with all sorts of interesting displays reaching out to grab our attention.
IMG_20160827_131447627The kids had a great time sending messages to the fire lookout tower via carrier pigeon.
Sheep_greet1Of course not to be outdone, the local sheep just had to swing by to say hello after we had set up and there hasn't been a week go by without them paying us a visit. Between the sheep and the deer it is always a good idea to open the door slowly in the mornings so as to not scare them or ourselves. Let's face it, having an angry turkey gobble as a wake up call puts a whole new perspective on life.

This year the ranger has decided to give us a bit of variety and has shifted our jobs to encompass more of the recreation area. As I mentioned before, most weekends find us manning one of the boat launch area booths and its launching ramp. Since these are usually separated by at least a half mile our only means of communication is via walkie-talkie. I mention this only because Chris is a really fine judge of character and never fails to warn when the characters are enroute to the ramp.
IMG_20160825_082534530IMG_20160826_111547690What a stark contrast it can be! The professional guides quickly back their dories down their selected ramp lane with little to no correction. They get their boats launched, towed over to the waiting area, and then are off to the parking area. Time on the ramp, 5 minutes or less. The local fishermen may spend a little bit more time on the ramp but for the most part can rival the pros in backing and unloading.
Then come the rafters. Usually arriving around 10am and only on the sunny days these intrepid water enthusiasts will arrive with their rented rafts that are floated only after the requisite taking up of two or three ramp lanes, 20 minutes of unloading and absolutely no idea of just how cold the river is. A_launch3(That last part changes quickly and is usually accompanied with a high pitched squeal – regardless of the age or gender of the water tester.) The launching of the rafts reminds me of a holiday weekend with new RV'ers arriving at a campground. Thankfully, the ramp has benches for the spectators. (Sorry, I was just too busy un-clustering to take more pictures.)

Another job the ranger will be having us do in the coming weeks is collections. We'll be traveling the roughly 257 mile circumference of the reservoir visiting each launch and fee area to collect the iron rangers. We are definitely looking forward to seeing some the territory that is called Flaming Gorge.