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.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Important Questions

“Let go those things holding you to the mundane for without them only then can you truly soar!” - Anon

Why is it every novelty shop, gift shop or pharmacy store has quotes such as this posted up on wood, canvas, metal, paper and yes I even saw a rubber stamp. In East Wenatchee Washington where we used to live there was a Hobby Lobby with an entire section devoted to these inspirational(?) quotes. They were so pervasive as to begin spreading into other sections like some sort of blight. Our last stop, Leavenworth, had at least 4 shops seemingly devoted to every manner of display – I even saw toilet paper printed with them (come to think of it, perhaps the best use yet.)

Why is it only the redneck shops or the country style gas stations have the really accurate and useful quotes? Such valuable advise as “No finger pulling allowed.” “Please keep your horse outside.” “Cuss all you want but absolutely no spitting.” I saw one several years ago in Wisconsin, “Here cutting the cheese is an avocation.” Yep, I too looked up avocation in the dictionary.

Why all these questions? It all boils down to where we have been lately. Our first stop, Republic Washington is a prime example. This is a definite western mining town tracing its roots back to the late 1800's. The main street consists of small stores and shops, most in the original buildings. The people are friendly, outgoing and the ones we met were willing to help at the drop of a hat. What is missing, and we did check, was the novelty shops, gift shops and otherwise with those silly quote signs. In fact, there was a complete lack of the “tourist candy” opting instead of presenting an honest small town. Our first look convinced us the Lake Curlew/Republic area is a place we wanted to stay a while and explore.

We pulled in to what has to be the most immaculate RV Park we've ever been in.

Immaculate not just in cleanliness but the grounds. If I hadn't seen a lawnmower in use I would swear the owners were out there with a comb and scissors. Until this stop I had never seen a bathroom that actually sparkled; amazing. Okay, it wasn't all fancy; there wasn't a workout room, swimming pool, pickle ball court or any number of amenities to make it a resort. This was simply put, the cleanest, best groomed and quietest RV park we have come across and I hope the pictures fairly represent it.

With the good comes the bad – sort of. No cell service. We had to go into town (about 4 miles) to the Republic Brewery to actually get cell service so we took advantage of a tasting flight of their award winning concoctions. My favorite? A homemade non alcoholic ginger ale, followed by a root beer that actually included the roots and spices! It was also the place we spotted a truly useful display: 

Another award winner in the area is the Scott Brothers Coffee. Odd having a coffee roaster in north central Washington but there you have it and their brew is oh so good. In the process we got the full history and a thumbnail lesson in the art of roasting to bring out the best in the beans.

We reluctantly left Winchester RV continuing our trip to the east via Bayview Idaho (a Navy base in the Idaho panhandle ?) and set down in Ronan Montana. This really small town on the way from Missoula to Kallispell was our central location for checking off two bucket list items; the National Bison Range and the Miracle of America Museum. I believe the pictures will say it best:

The gate guard.

We shall not pass until he is good and ready to let us pass.
Probably the most oddly arranged and a real eclectic collection of stuff resides at the Miracle of America Museum in Polson Montana. I've left out the gun collections, various shops and trades, the area 51 exhibit and the aircraft. Check them out on the Internet, then GO THERE. You won't be disappointed.

FMCA coach number 7490

That's it, we're now in what has become a tradition for us, a stop at Heald Haven, about 10 miles south of Salmon Idaho. This year I'm breaking down and buying a fishing license since we'll be in Idaho for the next month and there are far too many streams, rivers and lakes to visit and not get a line wet. Who knows, I may turn fishing into catching this time.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

The Things We Do

[Photos are of drawings located in the main lodge Thousand Trails Leavenworth. Sorry for the light glare]

I now know the hardest part of transitioning from working full time to RV'ing full time is coming to grips with all of the time available. You've probably heard the phrase “as fun as watching paint dry” or “busy watching grass grow” and it pretty much covers what hanging out in a n RV park is like during week days. Oh sure, you can do all the outdoorsy things and all that but lets face it, its just another method to fight boredom. But, not all is lost for in large RV parks or campgrounds there are the weekends.

Last weekend we were at an RV park in the middle of a forest that is popular with folks who normally reside in an urban environment. They come to the park to “commune” with nature via their ATV's, jet skis, dirt bikes and what all motorized toys they might have. Friday morning came around and Chris and I made sure the patio was set up, got the portable cooler out with munchies readily available and got comfortable for the show that was just about to begin. The night before we caught the previews with the early arrivals and we were not about to miss a single minute of the upcoming main attraction - weekenders.

The show opened with the obligatory honking of the horn at the main gate; sure to speed everyone along that much faster [NOT!]. How busy the park is can quickly be judged by how far the horn sound is from the main gate and this weekend it was rather slow with only a minor 6 RV traffic jam out into the road (diesel truck by the sound of the horn). Hearing the horns, we knew it was time to put the popcorn in the microwave and to grab a cold beverage. No real rush even considering the horns but they do serve as a 5 minute warning for the next act in a play that will run all day and into the evening.

First up, a Chevy Traverse, you know, the one with the little stick figure family on the back window, towing a 24ft trailer so new it still had the dealer stickers on the front door, the safety chains were still shiny and there was not a mark on the hitch. Oh what a fine show we were in for!

With the kid's faces plastered to the back windows, the wife's face buried in a map of the park and the husband's hands at the 10-2, position (with white knuckles I'm sure) the rig proceeded into the park at a slow and stately pace of 5 mph (the top speed for the park). It didn't them take too long to find the “perfect” spot. The one between two well established rigs whose occupants were also out enjoying the show.

The driver carefully sized up the space and eased by in preparation for backing his trailer into the site. (It should be noted the family stayed inside the van.) The man stopped his vehicle and commenced to back in – OOPS, sort of forgot he had an additional 30 feet of trailer behind him. He sets up again, this time allowing ample space for the van AND trailer to back in. OOPS, when backing the towed item will tend to go the OPPOSITE direction of the towing vehicle. Guess the dealer did not explain this and of course the guy had not practiced before coming out. I went inside for additional beverages because I just knew this was going to be a looong evolution.

After the 4th attempt the family exited the van and looked to be taking off to the pool. Don't blame them, the language being used was definitely not for young ears or even old sailors for that matter. It was during this exodus one of the experienced RV'ers offered to assist (I'm sure it was more to save the vegetation between sites) and 14 minutes (yep, I timed it) after approach the trailer was backed into its site. The owner had received some very valuable training in how to tow and back a trailer and I personally learned several new cuss words.

We continued to improve our vocabulary during the day watching all sorts of rigs and combinations but probably the most fun still resided with the first one because the show didn't stop with the parking of the trailer. From the looks of the man and the paper he was holding he had a check list which he was able to clear the first item. Then came the unhooking of the hitch (more new words), the hooking up of the water to the tank flush system, (old words but I'm sure there is no anatomical way it would work) and the final sewer connection (note to self, ALWAYS check connections twice before opening ANY valve).

I'll give the guy credit, he cleaned up his mistakes, listened raptly to the suggestions of his neighbors and by the time his family returned had managed to have his weekend home ready to be occupied. (Well, maybe not so much, I did hear mention there was no food and of a drive to the nearest grocery; about 6 miles from the park.) The guy stuck with it and will probably enjoy the weekend making memories with the whole family.

We've all been there at one point or another and frankly I believe watching the new comers on a weekend is our reward for sticking with it.

Next up, Republic, Washington. A small western mining town that has (so far) avoided becoming one of those green bean, eco friendly, yuppy, new age stop overs for fugitives from the urban jungle.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Decisions, Decisions

We haven't posted up on the blog for the past 3 weeks for good reason. Since our arrival back at our home base Chris and I have been readying our house for sale, disposing of unneeded/unwanted property and shuttling around the town. All of this during the severe hot spell Central Washington endured with temperatures rivaling Arizona.

Our arrival in the Wenatchee area kicked off with a major brush fire which took 28 homes and burned a respectable amount of acreage. The crews from over most of the state and some from Oregon came together to prevent what was a large brush fire turning into a huge forest fire. That was just the first few days at the end of June.

The month of July has so far been hot days with brisk winds combining to make for several Red Flag warnings and unfortunately with some lightening, created the 25,000+ acre fire complex in Douglas County. These fires consumed scrub, sagebrush, and wheat – both standing and stubble. Fire crews; once again from all over, came together and have corralled the fire, allowing the local crews to monitor and fight any flare-ups. I seriously can not say enough about the local volunteers who battled the fires to a standstill without loss of life or serious injury.

Natural disasters aside, on July 16th we finally had the Realtor walk-thru, signed the papers and officially put our house on the market. All of our hard work paid off when, after her inspection, the agent decided to raise the asking price. To say we had a jaw dropping moment is an understatement. Hopefully we'll have a quick sale.

Currently we are decompressing and taking the week off at a couple of RV parks in the area that we have enjoyed in the past. Each day we end up going through the storage bays in the motorhome rearranging, shifting and taking stock – anything to allow us to relax a bit and use up some of the nervous energy for on July 21st we'll finally be hitting the road for good.

I mentioned decisions in the title because we are now living exclusively out of the motorhome and, while still a “homeowner”, we are in all respects full time RV'ers. This opens up so many opportunities for the what, where and when. Yes, that seems to be such a nice place to be but try it sometime. Pick a few random dates; these will be dates you absolutely have to be somewhere. Now figure out what to do to fill in the time constructively, travel to your first “date” and otherwise keep yourself engaged in something. So far we've managed to work out we have to be in Preston, Idaho for a family reunion by August 7th. Fear not, neither Chris or I are ones to post countless pictures of our relatives though I will probably end up posting at least one picture of one relative doing something really stupid. Otherwise you are safe from a deluge of pictures of strangers.

Along the way some spots that have caught our interest are the Kettle Falls in Washington. Not sure why but it has. Another is the National Bison Refuge in Montana and the Miracle of America museum. Hey, the pictures were intriguing.

Following our stop in Preston we have just two other dates and places to be this year. September 1st is our first volunteer hosting gig at Flaming Gorge's Red Canyon Visitor Center and then November 1st for our first camp hosting gig at Sunset Bay State Park outside of Coos Bay, Oregon. Anything after is still open but I imagine we'll be heading somewhere south.

What to expect? We certainly don't know. We haven't decided.