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.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

RV Mattresses

When we first set out to replace our Class C with something larger I did a pretty thorough scanning of discussion forums and contacted most of the people we know who also had RV's to get an idea of what to look for, what to look out for and any other general hints to help narrow the field.  The advise we received and the clues we read saved us countless hours in online shopping, gallons of fuel so we could look over inventory and a great deal of just general stress of dealing with sales people who may know their job but didn't know us and what we liked.

"Set a budget, then shop."  "Look at the floor plans, find the layouts you like then shop." "Go for a used top of the line you think you'll like because the chances are good you'll find something better down the road."  These were some of the bits of advise and frankly they were all right on the mark for the most part.  What I cannot recall ever being mentioned and to this day remains one of the least commented upon aspects of the RV experience is the mattress.  After having our rig for the past year I can now see why.

A mattress is an individual preference item and until you've slept on it there simply is no way to judge if whether the one you have will be of the "Outstanding", "Okay" or the "Not another night" variety. In our case the stock mattress began its life with us as an "Okay" but after nearly a year of use it has quickly degraded to the final qualifier. What certainly didn't help was the size - a Short Queen. By the way, if anyone knows who came up with that design and designator please let me know, I have some crab pots that could really use their talents during an in-use performance survey. Seriously the short queen mattress, in my opinion, is simply the definition of a half-truth - the truth being it comes up woefully short measuring a paltry 60" x 75". My creaky back and stiff muscles may have lent a small bit of bias to this opinion and did I mention the past winter with my cold feet hanging over the end?

Enter our dilemma. Our existing mattress while still considered quite new was oddly enough showing its age with springs felt and in some places the hard board base of the bed. Okay, so now the weather has changed so I could fudge it a bit and not worry about cold feet for another 6 months but really?

I began looking around and what struck me almost immediately was slimness of the information available. I was coming to the conclusion if you didn't have a sleep number bed you might as well simply pile a couple more skins on the rocks.  That is, until I read about some of the new foam mattresses out there.

I may be dating myself a bit but when I hear foam mattress the first thing that comes to mind is a light brown, 4 inch thick thing that usually smelled like a wet dog and if you were real lucky could soften one mashed pea slipped under it. Not true anymore with the eco-friendly, gel-supported,multi-layered, firmness selectable creations available. These things are so sophisticated now they rival some of the high-end conventional mattresses with similar price marks and yet remain very customizable in size and shape. Yea, we bought one.

The Excursion came with a short queen yet the bedroom accommodates a full queen size bed (Hear that Fleetwood? A FULL queen fits, stop using that silly weird looking SHORT mattress!) Despite this apparent space constraint a tape measure confirmed we could actually fit a mattress that was just a bit narrower than a king and still have room to move around the bed. The model size is known as the Expanded Queen or the Olympic Queen measuring in at 66" x 80" (yo, Fleetwood, see, 5 inches longer and now no more cold feet or silly curvy cuts on the end.)

We bought ours through Mattress Insider and couldn't be more pleased. Ordering was simple, the prices VERY competitive including free shipping. Within a week we were sleeping on the new mattress and I've got to say its not an RV mattress - this is a regular mattress that just happens to be in an RV. I doubt we'll have to worry about the 100 day no risk trial and only time will tell if we'll touch the 15 year warranty.

Bottom line? Very pleased with Mattress Insider even more so with feet hanging over the end of the bed no more.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Down Time

One thing that has occurred to me is what do I do when there's not much I want to do. I have a book to read but don't really feel like reading. There's a neat hike to some scenic falls close by but I would rather not deal with the crazy drivers on the weekend, nor the crowds at the falls. I could also walk around the park but lets face it, its a short duration attraction at best. 

I decided to dig into the toy bag and grabbed my little quad-copter. There's a breeze coming off the river so flying is a bit bumpy and tricky but there is still a challenge and fun to be had just so long as I don't test it as a submarine. The X5C that I bought was cheap, has a camera and is so simple to fly even I can manage without killing someone - despite what my wife says are purposeful attempts.

I've got a lot more to learn to become proficient but I can see some instant advantages such as finding a camping spot without having to walk it or even better, letting the kids try their hand at it for just taking my trash down to the dumpster. What do they say about age and treachery versus youth? Yea, I'm bad.

To make the videos a bit more palatable I purchased one of the easiest video editors out there called VideoPad. Video Editor and so not only am I learning to not-crash, I'm learning how to hide my mistakes on the cutting room floor. So far, I'm not doing either well but hey, its all good enough.

Video shot over the last 2 days, music is the Benjy Davis Project, 214.

Thursday, April 16, 2015


Grandchildren are blessings, plain and simple. No, I'm not going to bore you with those "look at what xxx did, it was so cute" or heaven help me, post pictures of one of ours resulting in the unspoken solicitation of remarks on how adorable/cute/ugly/wonderful the child looks. Instead, I'm going to expand on the blessings aspect which really has nothing at all to do with the actual grandchild.

At some point I had offspring and had a hand in raising them. During that time I heard the "I hate you!" or "You never let me do anything!" or "Why do I have to clean up my mess?". There were those times when I had to enforce a necessary rule, invoke the wrath of the mother or exercise discipline and of course questioned on where I might have gone wrong to have deserved such toils and tribulations. Now that I'm the grandparent I've found that it is all hereditary - and in a way a method of paying it forward. I'm sure there is some quantum physics involved.

Grandchildren are the way, the truth, and the light in how a parent gets even for all of the torment their own children heaped upon them for years upon years. As grandparents it is our job, no, our solemn duty to train up the wee ones so they in turn can torment their own parents. This culminates in today's parents raising children who become parents themselves, having children turning today's' parents into grandparents and renewing this wonderful cycle. See, its quantum.

Did I mention we were visiting our grandchildren? I may post more after our tour of the toy store to find those really obnoxious noisy toys parents love so well. Or maybe not, there's still the ice-cream and other sugary delights to pick up.  Yes, grandchildren are a blessing.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

In search of...

No, not the Leonard Nimoy TV show but more of searching for inexpensive (read that free) camping spots locally that we can use when visiting friends and family instead of foisting ourselves on them in their driveways.

Unfortunately while central Washington is known for its outstanding state parks, BLM or other "wild" parks are simply not that prevalent hence the road trip on a semi-sunny Easter day. The goal, identify camping spots that are:

1) easy to get in and out of
2) have a decent or better road
3) are not near off road vehicle trails, shooting ranges or other noisy pursuits
4) are relatively near shopping and friends and family

While the 4 conditions are not all inclusive, they really help in filtering out the outlyers. Granted there are some great secluded sites that we found but the overgrown or pot-hole riddled roads getting into them simply are not worth the potential damage to the motorhome weighed against the monetary savings. A good example is a spot out on a spit of land near the Pot Holes Reservoir. The sage brush was right up to the edge of the road and when we got near the water, the willows and Russian olive trees were just waiting to strip our roof clean. It was a good fishing spot, just not a good motorhome camping spot.

There was a condition that I didn't mention that came into play when we found a spot out in the Dry Falls area. We had a wide road, not over grown and still had trees for shade. The road in was well graded gravel and the dust kick up was minimal. Unfortunately though, the ideal spot wasn't as it rested on a 4% grade making leveling a dicey affair at best. There was a level spot about 1/4 mile away but there were several 4 wheelers being unloaded when we were there - not a good sign.

Why not forest service areas? When we had the little Class C I would have been there without a second thought. Now with the new motorhome the first condition comes into play as I'm still not that proficient in really tight spaces due to a lack of confidence on my part. I'm sure this will improve as I gain more experience but right now fitting in a smaller camping spot for me is like making a square peg fit a round hole.

You may have noticed I haven't mentioned where we did find some spots such as out near Scooteney Reservoir (Bureau of Reclamation park $15/night), Jameson Lake, Banks Lake, Frenchman Hills and the Columbia Basin Wildlife refuges. Sorry, we'll keep those under our hats for a bit longer and perhaps share them round the campfire.

Safe travels y'all.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

A victim of CAD

Computer Aided Design - one of the bragging points of motorhome manufacturers on how efficiently they can utilize space. I mention this "selling point" because we have discovered we are now victims of CAD. Now I'm not saying CAD is a bad thing, just that sometimes what looked good on a computer monitor loses its luster when applied in the real world.  Such is the case with the battery installation in a Fleetwood Excursion.

 With 4, flooded cell, 6 volt coach batteries I decided to make the preventative maintenance a bit easier by installing Flow-Rite battery watering systems thus ensuring a quick method of topping off the cells and in general, taking care of them. All was well and good, from the spec sheets the Flow-Rite is a real easy installation (something critical for me, reference the vent cover posting) and can be well worth the costs. Unfortunately, as I mentioned, CAD reared its ugly head when I went to actually install the systems.

First a little personal history. When I was growing up one of the jobs available for us kids was moving irrigation pipe. These 3" diameter, 30 foot pipe sections were not really heavy but were quite cumbersome until you got practice. At the first of the year we could usually find various critters who used the pipes as quick, secure dens.  Now, put a brain dead teenager just learning the job, a bunny rabbit and an irrigation pipe together, all underneath a power line and you have the makings of a tragic accident just waiting to happen.

You guessed it, bunny runs into pipe. Teen, without thinking raises the pipe vertically to shake the bunny out. Pipe touches power line. Teen quickly learns electricity is not necessarily his friend by tossing him a good 10 feet away and giving him some nice burns.  The bunny escaped unscathed.  Of course, I didn't learn of the last bit until I regained consciousness in the emergency room. Since that day I've carried a significant amount of respect and wariness when it comes to working on anything electrical.  Now, enter the batteries whose placement was determined by CAD.

The first 2 were arranged for a classic installation and posed no problem at all. The third was even easier, set by itself with lots of room and all the cells simple to get to. Tucked all the way back and high in the battery compartment the 4th battery definitely made up for the ease of installation of the other 3. Having only a couple of inches clearance on top and with the heavy cables taking up that room it was a far cry from the nice, neat battery installations on sliding trays shown in so many motorhomes.

The end story?  Watering system for 3 batteries installed in approximately 20 minutes. 4th battery install was a good hour and half trembling hands and all. Fortunately, no arcs, sparks or severe cuss words.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Have you ever.... ?

During my career in the Coast Guard being transferred was simply a fact of life. Losing or involuntary thinning of household goods was also something we had come to expect, especially since we did 2 cross-country (Alaska to Massachusetts, Massachusetts to California) and 3 full coast transfers (California to Alaska, Alaska to Oregon, Oregon to Alaska). In one case, if it wasn't for our express shipment we would have been left with nothing for close on to 6 months. 

How not true is that the case now. Its been 18 years since I retired from the service which means 18 years without a regular thinning of the herd of possessions, clothing and the like.  As we finalize our preparations for selling the house we have to come learn what many couples are porobably already familiar with - a collection of stuff that is just that, stuff. Granted each discovery was a trip down memory lane but I swear, some of this stuff neither my wife or I can recall having, much placing in the back of a drawer (bell bottom jeans, really?).

So getting rid of the old, unused, unrecognized is the work of the day (actually month!) as we reduce, compress and consolidate to get down to what will fit in 300 square feet of home while still allowing us to go out in public without embarrassing us or grossing out others. Goodwill, YMCA and several local shelters will applaud our largess. We'll just neglect to tell them they are doing us a far bigger service then we with our paltry donations Lets face it, it is far cheaper than hiring another moving company to "involuntarily thin" our stuff.

Have you ever wondered - Does stuff seem to reproduce when no one is looking?