Monthly Archives: October 2010

Who’s been busy?

It’s great to be here and Jim’s especially thrilled he’s back in tennis-land.  We’ve been all over the place in the last couple of weeks, a little above our normal pace.  It’ll be nice to stop awhile in Mesa Arizona.

We’ve traveled 4,000 miles in October.  Most of the miles, thankfully were via American Airlines.  We drove from Washington state’s Long Beach peninsula to Boise to Ketchum/Sun Valley to Mesa, flew to Charlotte then drove to Lynchburg to Charlotte and flew back to Mesa.  Can you believe we still feel a little inertia?  We’re ready to settle down long enough to play some tennis and collect ourselves.

Early last week we left sunny and cool Ketchum (Sun Valley) Idaho  for our long drive to Mesa.  We broke the 980 mile drive into a long day and a shorter day by stopping in southeast Las Vegas the first night.  The former Holiday Travel Park (and decades before that, the Holiday Inn Travel Park) is a pretty nice place to stop over or stay awhile.

The Las Vegas RV Resort (their current name) is located ten blocks from I-515, so it was easy enough to get outta there Monday morning.  Getting there from the north wasn’t so pretty — we followed the gps routing and ran five miles of very busy four-lane city streets with poorly timed traffic signals and lots of construction lane narrowing.  Take I-515 to Flamingo or Boulder Rds if you go.

Our route from Idaho could have been, like last year, through Salt Lake City or through Nevada.  A lot of the Utah drive was fantastic, especially the southern parts.  We spent a lot of time in Utah earlier this year and wanted something new.

We had over-nighted in all the western states except Nevada, so decided to see new things this time.  Bob had given us great advice on roadside stopping places north of Las Vegas but we had our mileage hats on, it was Sunday, and we decided to clear Las Vegas before we stopped.

The bridge stands high above Hoover Dam

The plan worked great — we left Las Vegas around 09:00 a.m. on a Monday morning and had very little traffic until one mile past the Hoover Dam.  Construction on the new bridge bypass highway caused us a traffic delay of 1.2 hours.  Had we waited another few days to travel this route the new bypass would have been open.

But then we might not have driven across Hoover Dam and seen it and the new bridge high above it.  Pretty neat, and next time we’ll probably try the new bridge.

We neared Phoenix a few hours later.  Monday evening we parked in TowerPoint Resort within earshot of the gorgeous tennis park (all five courts newly resurfaced, new lights, new vinyl-coated fencing, and a great ramada overlooking it all.)  Wednesday morning last week we hitched a ride to the Phoenix airport (thanks, John!) and flew to Charlotte.

Our first task was to shop for wedding clothes — in our storage boxes.  We carried our storage inventory (on our Mac) and hustled Thursday morning to the storage unit.  The mission was planned long in advance and we had done our homework.  We knew a document we needed was in a certain numbered box.  We knew where the clothes would be (that’s especially simple, there’s only one clothes wardrobe and one clothing tote).

We are delighted the document was in its appointed box and we were able to find clothes for attending the wedding and attendant functions.  Coolest though was to test, for the first time in three years, our ordering of the boxes in our little storage unit.  The space is five feet (5′) by seven feet (7′) and nine feet tall.  We arranged 35 boxes according to the weight and the likelihood of accessing their contents.

The dreaded scenario is a hunt for something in a bottom box anywhere, particularly in the back corner of the stack.  Sometimes an adjacent storage unit is empty.  Especially sweet is when the one across the hall is empty — we just open that door and stack a few boxes in there so we’re not working in the corridor.

Imagine stacking 20 boxes in the corridor while we dig for something at the bottom of the stack?  Moving all those boxes and totes would require some hard labor and an hour or two.  And really great stacking in the hallway, all the time hoping the guy doesn’t need that storage unit behind your temporary stack.

The past week’s travel to North Carolina and Virginia marks the first time in three years we’ve abandoned our silver home on wheels.  Thanks to Bob and Faith for loaning us a suitcase, our carry-on stays in the storage unit since there’s really no place to stash it with us unless we strapped it onto the truck.

We felt strange and sad locking up the trailer last week to go to the airport.  Never mind the nagging questions like: did you turn off the water heater? did you stop the newspaper? did you empty the washing machine? did you kennel the dog? what if the sump pump fails and the basement floods? Oh, never mind, those are from the old house.

Our questions now would be: are the roof vents on automatic so they’ll close in even of rain? are the windows latched except for the one to allow ventilation? is the water off? There, that’s simpler.  And we hit all the marks on our list.  But we still hated leaving our home for the first time.  We left a set of keys with the park office and gave our neighbors our personal card so they could call us if the house burned down.

Everything turned out fine.

Hal and Debbie wonder at St Paul's Episcopal in Lynchburg

Three nights ago we flew American Airlines from Charlotte to Phoenix after attending the wedding of Jim’s nephew.  We flew from Mesa to Charlotte, drove to Lynchburg for the day and back to Charlotte again.  The wedding, a fabulous social event, was in Lynchburg Virginia.  Jim’s mom, brother, and two of three sisters also attended.  It was really nice to see family and friends.

Even for full-timers, there’s no place like home, wherever you park it.  We’re glad to be back in our own digs.

Jim and Debbie
locate us here
visit our website
©2007-2010 Dreamstreamr

Sun Valley Jazz Jamboree is the greatest

We’re in paradise.  Almost like 75 degrees, the air is cool and dry and the sun shines all day in Sun Valley.  Averill Harriman probably paid a lot, a long time ago, for assembly of words just like these.  No exaggeration, this week has been super for us in every respect, really.

Our RV parking is a large level ski resort asphalt parking lot with no utilities.  The lot is in Ketchum, at the River Run Resort.  We use the resort’s super-nice showers and have dancing lessons there.  Much of each day finds us at Sun Valley Lodge or Sun Valley Inn or one of the other resort lodges.

Sun Valley Company does everything first class, from what we can see.  The craftsmanship evident in the buildings and campus is stunning.  Woodwork, tile, marble, stonework, all are beautifully done everywhere we look.  Money doesn’t necessarily obtain first class results, but Sun Valley Company seems to do it right.

And so it is with the Sun Valley Jazz Jamboree, a first-class act.  I know, I know, everyone has their favorite Jazz Festival whether in Mystic or Chandler or Pismo or Medford or Sun Valley or somewhere else.  We don’t need comparisons, this one is the greatest for us.

Two hundred twenty-four musicians perform daily from 09:30 a.m. until 11:00 p.m. in eleven venues throughout Ketchum and Sun Valley.  Twenty dance lesson sessions occur between Friday and Saturday, of which we attended seven.  We’re currently expert in Balboa (pure), Swing, Lindy Hop, Foxtrot, and ChaCha.  Not really, but we are getting the hang of Swing, after eight or nine years of trying.

And the music — we’ve attended over one dozen sets of great jazz bands from all over North America.  We listened to sets by Cornet Chop Suey, Blue Street Jazz Band, Midiri Brothers, Tom Rigney, Brady McKay, Titan Hot Seven, Bill Allred’s Classic Jazz Band, Meshiya Lake & the Little Big Horns, Dixieland Express, and several others.

The last set of the jazz fest, for us, was one of the best with Jeff Barnhart, Bob Draga, and Danny Coots.  Today provided us with several great sets, though.  We heard Titan Hot Seven (also with Barnhart and Coots and with Flip Oakes‘ tremendous trumpet and cool cornet.)  Professors Lite entertained us with their wacky humor and great music in the Sun Valley Inn dining room.  And Midnight Serenaders played a swinging set at Warm Springs Lodge just north of town.

Seven hours of dance lessons, fifteen or twenty hours of hot jazz, and we’re pumped up.  And we’ve filled the truck with gas and provisions for our 1,000 mile trip to Mesa AZ.  Today has been our mildest day yet with partly sunny skies and warm temperatures through most of the evening.

The weather has been as great as we could have wished for.  Low temperatures have been in the thirties, highs in the sixties, and bright sunshine every day.  We’ve had a little rain, mostly at night when we’re in bed.  Our solar panels have completely restored our batteries daily.

All around us, it seemed, the other RVs ran their generators every day.  Our generator sat smugly under the rear of our trailer, ready for action if only we would pull it out from its shelter.  We didn’t need the generator at all.  We hit float voltage every day pretty early, so the batteries get polished nicely afterward.  The furnace ran a few times nightly to keep our home above 45 degrees, and we still had plenty of battery each morning.

We volunteered over 30 hours between us this year and 24 hours last year.  Volunteering is a great way to meet a lot of other people from all over North America and provide much needed help operating the jazz fest.  The payback for volunteering is pretty sweet — the directors comp our passes and parking for the entire week.  And we received a pretty nice luncheon with ALL the hundreds of volunteers.

Friends told us about this event last year and we signed on through the Airstream club, WBCCI.  Region 10, a northwest U.S. and southwest Canada region of WBCCI, sponsors an Airstream rally in connection with this jazz fest.  Sixteen Airstreams parked in a pair of facing rows creating a pretty cool spectacle.  We attracted a lot of looks and questions from people walking through on their way to River Run lodge to hear music.  We’re glad Region 10 continues to sponsor the rally so more folks can hear about it like we did.

Our plan, when we arrived, was to call this our last SVJJ for a couple of years.  The plan, however, failed to consider how exciting and entertaining all the hot jazz is for us.  Call it a benefit of full-timing — we can spend a week almost anywhere on the continent, right?  We’re coming back next year — just can’t help it, gotta do this swing thing again.  Listen to the music from any of the groups listed above and we’re sure you’ll understand.

Gotta go for now — big driving day tomorrow.  Getting up early and heading south.

See you down the road!

Jim and Debbie
locate us here
visit our website

©2007-2010 Dreamstreamr

Another advantage to full-timing

We played cards until late last night, eating fresh-baked cookies (thanks, Jen) and relaxing with Bob and Faith.  Bob’s and Faith’s house in Boise, Idaho, was a nice stay for us the past week.  We parked our rig by their driveway in front of their motor home, had 15 amp electric service, and enjoyed staying the week with them.

The weather has been cool, mostly sunny, and wonderful for working outdoors or indoors. We arrived Sunday afternoon from Emigrant Springs, 26 miles south of Pendleton OR, where we had one more delightful campfire in a nice old state park.  Emigrant Springs is one exception to our rule against staying in a park close to the interstate.  The campground is really really nice and too bad about the traffic out there — we have great trees and nice comfort stations with hot showers and it’s so pretty.

Earlier this year we posted here about our “top ten” advantages of full-timing.  We fully intended, well before now, to expound upon the same.  Finally, we’re talking about full-timing advantages again.

Our house-on-wheels allows us to park anywhere we want, for as long as we can, to do as we will.  This week we have spent time with good friends in a nice mid-western city with very nice weather.  Bob and Faith have been full-timing three years and lost their renter this year.  So we want to help prep their house for sale.

We’ve had fun working with Bob and Faith on their house, mostly some small repairs and painting.  Debbie painted a bunch of  closets and a stairwell.  Jim repaired, scraped, primed, and painted siding, soffitt, and fascia on the second story and did a little trim work inside.  And we all worked on taking down an old cedar plank fence along the back yard’s perimeter.

You might, or not, like doing painting and house repairs for more than a week.  We spent 3 weeks last month working with NOMADS at Ocean Park Retreat in southwestern Washington state, and this week getting our fix on home maintenance.  Sorta reminds us of watching other people’s children, pets, or houses to inoculate you against catching any must-have desires.

We totally don’t miss owning our house (see Time Magazine’s Sep 6 2010 article on re-examining home ownership) for multiple reasons.  Our house was a really nice house in a fantastic location, walking distance to our church and dozens of restaurants and  bars and jobs.  A 3,000sf house, with its upkeep requirements, might be just the thing for a couple of retireds lacking much else to do.

Who has not much else to do?  Perhaps we could maintain our house in a few weeks annually and spend the rest of the year going where we want when we want doing what we want.  Or the house might just suck us in, require lots of time to get it really fixed up the way we want.  After all, we have time now.

Ah, but we don’t want to paint and repair on our own house.  We don’t want to spend a couple of days on spring cleaning.  We don’t want to spend weeks getting rid of stuff we never should have accumulated in the first place.  We don’t want to ceaselessly (it seemed) trim the shrubs and beds.  We don’t want to pay the insurance and taxes and utilities on five or ten times the space we really live in.

We really do enjoy painting and repairing for a few days with friends.  Invite us over, give us parking, utilities, meals and beer, and we’ll work with or for you.  The tasks don’t daunt us because we can’t see the big picture.  We only know the tasks we might tackle this week, and we aren’t burdened by knowing how much there is to do.

Helping friends is less like work for us, perhaps because we approach it as a short-time gig.  This is a chance for us to visit Boise, visit with Bob and Faith, and help them a little.  Okay, you’re thinking, this is their fun but is it attractive to others?  How is this an advantage of full-timing?

The advantage in full-timing, for us,  is the flexibility it affords us.  Wanna go on a caravan next year or the year after?  Okay, sign up anytime and plan on it.  Wanna stay in Arizona this winter and play tennis?  Okay, plan on it.  Wanna change your mind and not go on caravan in 2011, and instead hang out in the Carolinas all summer?  We can do it.

Don’t need to find anyone to rent or watch the house.  Know where we’re going to live, and almost always can find a place to park our house.   Can make changes pretty rapidly when needs so indicate.

2010 represents a pretty flexible and varied year for the dreamstreamrs.  We spent 3 months in Florida, a few weeks in North Carolina, a couple of weeks traveling west to join a caravan, six weeks on the caravan, a month in Wyoming for the Airstream club annual rally, another two weeks in Montana, three weeks in Canada to visit Deb’s daughter, five weeks in Washington state including three weeks in Ocean Park for a NOMADS project, and a week in Boise with Bob and Faith.

And that’s just the first three quarters of 2010, we have lots of fun still to come.  Were we still home owners we might not spend twenty-eight of the first thirty-six weeks away from the house enjoying a tremendous variety of activities in a great range of locations from Florida’s Atlantic coast to British Columbia’s and Washington state’s Pacific coasts.

Full-timing allows us to not only visit but to stay in places for weeks at a time exploring eateries from Stern’s book, Road Food.  National parks, monuments, and historic sites are often near our routes and we try to catch them.  Sometimes we get to swing by and visit with friends along the road.  Sometimes we make new friends, too.

Our house goes with us, and our basement and attic and Jim’s shop (such as it is, the truck’s tailgate is Jim’s shop).  So we have our stuff with us wherever we go, and don’t worry about how the house fairs in our absence.  No issues renting it for a season while we travel.  No deferred maintenance while we go away.  We’re always away and we’re always at home.  It feels great.  Let’s go another season, eh?

See you down the road!

Jim and Debbie
locate us here
visit our website

©2007-2010 Dreamstreamr

Long Beach peninsula to Columbia River Gorge

Six volunteers can paint a 10 X 20 woodshed in a couple hours

Our first work project with NOMADS ended Thursday afternoon at Ocean Park Retreat Center.  The day before, we completed painting the 10′ X 20′ woodshed and started splitting wood to fill it.  Our team finished filling it yesterday, cleaned up a couple cubic yards of bark, cleaned our breakroom, then started preparing for our first trip in three weeks.

The team split and stacked a huge pile of firewood to fill the shed

Building the shed was an intrigue for Jim — he hadn’t built anything like this in a few decades.  It worked out fine, for a barn.  Jim made a few notes as the building progressed and looks forward to another opportunity to regain some of his long-ago skills as a carpenter.  Deb learned to operate the front-end loader, hauling un-split wood from behind the shed to the hydraulic splitter in front.  She developed a great feel for the tractor.  Now she wants one.

The salt air made quick work of highlighting every bare spot of steel or iron and created extra resistance for hinges on everything.  Prepping for travels east from Pacific coast we lubed hinges on trailer and truck cover, and they don’t complain with each opening.  We cleaned trailer and truck, emptied the floor mats — a clean truck makes the world brighter for these travelers.  The trailer was showing a few mold spots on the inside glass so we cleaned the windows inside and out and lubed the latches — much smoother now.

Deb watches a Union Pacific train hurtling east along Columbia River

Last night we parked along the Columbia River east of Hood River, after a 200 mile drive from Ocean Park.  The campground is Memaloose State Park, accessed via the eastbound I-84 rest stop west of The Dalles and near MM76.  We took a walk after supper and found the old quarry below and west of the campground.  The quarry probably served both the railroad, over one hundred years ago, and the road builders half that long ago.

great campsite along the river

Memaloose SP campground is really nice, well-arranged and landscaped.  The campground is thirty or forty feet above the Columbia River, several hundred feet from the railroad tracks and 1/2 mile from the interstate highway.  There are many shaded and some sunny campsites, and our choice of sites with or without electricity.

a beautiful morning looking over the Columbia River

We’re in the bonus season for state and national parks rates.  Washington and Oregon (and maybe other states?) discount the camping fees after September.  Our stay last night was only $15 for site with water hook-up in a campground with nice showers and comfort stations, paved rv parking, and nice fire ring and picnic table.  And oh, what a view!  This morning everything is calm and we have wall-to-wall blue skies again.

Last night, and until after midnight, we had fierce winds from the west.   We parked almost broadside to the wind so the trailer rocked a little.  The truck helps steady the trailer — we left it hitched to the trailer since our stay was only one night.  No utilities, no stabilizers, no unhitching –this morning we raised the front jack, connected the 7-way plug, walked around the trailer three times for our pre-flight safety checks, and drove off.

Pendleton, here we come!

See you down the road!

Jim and Debbie
locate us here
visit our website

©2007-2010 Dreamstreamr