Thursday, June 28, 2018

Hanging Up the Keys

This is the hardest blog I've ever written.  Hanging up the keys, isn't easy but you know when it's time.  Bill turns 82 in about a month, and I'm in my 70's.  We've enjoyed the past 10 years exploring all 49 states in our RV.  We actually have been to Hawaii a couple of times but until they finish the bridge, the coach won't make that. 

We started out the summer the 1st of April with the Schoolcraft's and Morey's heading to Betty's RV Park in Louisiana followed by the Montana Rally in Hot Springs.  Bill had a hospital stay in Georgia and Jacksonville before we went to Jenna and Garrett's wedding in Savannah.

He wasn't allowed to drive so I headed the truck west.  Bill said he felt fine so we attended the Escapade in Sedalia, Missouri.  He was still having trouble with afib so we headed back to see his doctor in Casa Grande, Arizona.  Once the doctor saw him we left again on Father's Day.    

We were having a problem with the living room slide coming out an inch or so.  Our Montana has been trouble free and we've really used it.  Even the trip to Alaska had no problems.  When we were in Raton we had a slow leak in a trailer tire.  I've heard of so many people that have had tire problems but we've been lucky and had none.  The incident at the tire shop where the owner hit a truck while taking it into the garage upset us, but we realize accidents happen.  That morning, I was ready to say that's enough let's go home to Arizona.  We had reservations in Colorado Springs and decided to go up there, and then decide what we are going to do.  The campground was 50 years old and I was so surprised that we had no trouble leveling.  Bill said the trailer felt very heavy going up the steep curvy hill into the site.  

Ron Lichtenberg called Keystone and told them we were having a problem with our slide.  Keystone set up a service ticket for us and gave Ron names and numbers of dealers that could help us out. Now that's a friend that really goes out of the way.  I called the dealers and they were all booked with the upcoming holiday weekend.  I then tried the mobile techs and they were all busy.  One tech said they had a slide bracket that would hold the slide in.  We drove across town and picked it up.  He was surprised that it was a Montana that had the problem, he said it's common in other brands, but not with a Montana.  I had no idea a slide bracket was made for this problem.

We talked with Harry and Carlena and told them we were headed to Arizona in the morning.  They tried to talk us into hanging in there until the Montana Central Plains Rally.  We did find out that Bill must have hit the brake controller when getting into the truck after registering at the campground.  Okay, now we don't have any issues with the slide or the brake.  Do you ever get the feeling someone's trying to tell you something?  

We had the last site at the campground and only had 30 amp service which doesn't allow us to use both AC's.  It was over 100 degrees but livable with the one AC.  Harry and Carlena were so convincing telling us we could enjoy the rally and say our goodbyes to all of our friends that would be there.  As we are about to the point of saying okay we'll go the other 600 miles, the electric goes out.  Okay, we hear you!  I think the man upstairs is telling us something.  It turned out to be low voltage and came back on.

We went for a walk and came back and found the AC not working.  That does it, we're heading south in the morning, even though we paid for another night.

The following morning I pulled the cover off the thermostat and the AC started working.  It didn't matter, Bill and I both knew it was time.  Nick Russell had told me that he and Terrie said they also weren't having any fun anymore when they decided to hang up the keys and they knew when it was over.

We had said we would hang up the keys next year and this would be our last summer on the road, but we both feel now is the time.  

The one thing we will miss is all the friends that we've made with this lifestyle.  We're hoping these friends will be traveling through Casa Grande and stop for a visit.  Bill says the doors always open.  

I told Bill even though there is no doubt in my mind this is the right decision, it is a hard one.  Kind of like when you have a pet that you've had for a long time, and you have to have it put down.  

I never imagined when we started this how much fun we'd have.  We've seen some unusual places that I never in my wildest dreams expected to see.  I wish I had started blogging sooner so I would have records of the earlier years.  The biggest thing we will miss is all the friends.

Today I had a call from Torrie at Keystone asking me if the dealers she recommended were able to help us.  It's a nationwide problem.  At least Keystone follows up with their customers. It's not that dealers are slow, there just aren't any people working at technical jobs.  Try and hire someone to paint your house.  I was told last fall it would be 90 days before they would come by. 

There's a local dealer that will get the slide repaired in  3 weeks.  We need to find someone to do the bottom panel where the tire shop owner dinged it.  After that we will put it up for sale.  Hopefully, it will be bought by someone that enjoys it as much as we have.  

We're up in the air about selling the truck.  Other than the issues with the AC which were finally fixed it's been trouble free.  I'd love to see someone buy the truck and trailer together.  We've added everything possible to the trailer over the years for our enjoyment.  We plan to price it for a quick sale as it's going to be painful enough knowing we are parting company.  The truck has a v-gate, auxiliary fuel tank, air bags, exhaust brake and equipped for pulling.  It's hard to find a diesel truck without 4 wheel drive and it's much easier to get into and out of. 

Even though we won't be traveling with the fiver, we'll still be traveling.  Yesterday we booked a land tour to England, Scotland and Wales which leaves in two months.  We've visited 51 foreign countries and are looking forward to adding two more.  Wish we would be seeing some of our RV friends friends on the trip.

Turtle Safely...........

Monday, June 25, 2018

A Bang Up Day

Raton, New Mexico
Raton KOA

Six miles is as far as we went today.  So much happened in that six miles and not all of it was good.  

Yesterday Bill and I decided to drive down to the entrance to visit the NRA museum.  When we entered the truck I heard the tire monitors going off.  I checked the monitor and it said the drivers side rear trailer tire was underinflated.  Bill checked the tire and found that it was at 75 psi.  Of course this was yesterday, Sunday.  We went into town and fueled up the truck.

Now we are telling ourselves that it was good that we left he monitor on and it went off and we had the entire day to decide what to do.  The elevation here is 7,100 feet and I don't mind telling you we are struggling with it.  

I looked for our road service card and the only one I could find was expired. I finally called and found out that I had renewed but I have no idea what I did with the card.  All I need was the number from the expired card.  We didn't want the tire changed until we're ready to leave so I called about 8 am today.  The tech arrived less than 30 minutes later and changed the tire.  We decided we wanted to buy new tires so we followed the tech back to the shop.  

All they had in this town was two tires in our size.  Not what we wanted, but it would do in a pinch.  Bill pulled the rig into the parking lot and I went inside to see where they wanted it.  Of course, Monday, is the busiest day of the week.  The owner said just leave it there until they had a bay open.  

The place was packed.  The owner came over to get the keys and said he'd put the fiver in the shop.  The garages were on the side of the building.  He came in and said he nicked it getting into the garage but he would pay for the repairs.  We went outside to see the nick.  At first we couldn't figure out what he hit as there was a piece of a broken taillight caught in the side.  It seems when he went past the vehicles parked in the front, he didn't go wide enough and caught the back end of a 4x4 Ford truck.

He said he was sorry and they'd fix the basement so we could get the door open and closed.  

We were parked back by the house in front of the semi trailer.  The white truck is the one he hit.

This picture shows the back of the white truck he hit and where the coach needed to be backed into.  

Lewis lent us a car and we went to get some lunch.   Bill and I sat there discussing whether we'd just turn around and go back to Casa Grande or keep going.  It didn't help that the lunch was pretty bad.  Carlena and Harry assured us we didn't want to come back to Arizona now.   

When they changed the tire, look what was inside it.  I do believe I will return this to Discount Tire when we get back to Casa Grande.

It was 4:30 by the time we left the garage and decided it was too late to go to Colorado Springs today.  There was a KOA three blocks away and that's where we are tonight.

We've driven this fifth wheel 90,000 miles and never put a ding on it.  

Glad to have this day behind us.

Turtle Safely........ 

Saturday, June 23, 2018

The Public is Welcome

Raton, New Mexico
NRA Whittington Center

Today was a travel day and you couldn't have asked for a more beautiful day.  We stopped at Cline Corners Truck Stop since it's a little famous that it's been around since 1934.  Actually, I had some old cheap route 66 road sign earrings I bought years ago in Oatman that I lost in Paris and was hoping I could find a replacement.  FYI they also have a nice looking overnight campground.

In the past we visited Fort Union so we didn't stop today.

We started looking for exit 446 from I 25 which is south of Raton about 8 miles.  There isn't a lot of signage but at the exit we drove 4 miles west on highway 64.  Anybody been here before?

The entrance is very impressive.  The entrance has all the state flags lining the driveway.

Bill drove the rig to the western RV park which has 72 sites.  We stayed in this one last time.  The east park also has 45 full hook up sites.  Did I mention that they are all pull thrus?  The rate is the same whether you are a NRA member or not.  $32 for 30 amp and $35 for 50 amp.  The sites are huge but not perfectly level in some sites.  They also have primitive campsites for those who do not want hook ups. Yes, it is open to the public.  

This guy decided to check out our site for us.  I took this photo through the living room window.

The center has 33,300 acres of which 10% is developed and the elevation ranges from 6,300 to 8,100 feet.  It reminds me of our trip to Alaska last year.  
These are the competitor housing.  There is housing for youth and different cabins. There are 17 separate shooting ranges.  If you like to hunt they offer 5 day all inclusive hunts.  They do rent firearms if you want to rent any.  There is so much going on here, police training, self defense programs and youth firearm training.

There are a lot of signs warning you about bears.

I could practically touch this one it was so close.

Bill avoided running over this creature.

Besides enjoying a different kind of RV park, there is also history here.  Imagine camping in the same area as those on the Santa Fe Trail.

"The Scout--Charlton Heston as the Scout Providing Everlasting Vigilance Over the Santa Fe Trail And Sacrifices Made Along the Way"

The buildings in this photo are at the entrance of the center.

Here's a picture of the front gate and the buildings that house a free museum, gift shop and a library.  We'll tour them tomorrow.  

If you love the wide open spaces, you'll love NRA Whittington Center.  If you pick a park by pools and spas you won't want to stop here.

I forgot to mention  yesterday when we drove to Tinkertown we also drove the musical highway on old route 66 returning to our RV park.  Bill drove over the rumble strip at precisely 45 mph and we could hear America the Beautiful.  

Turtle Safely.........

Friday, June 22, 2018

Don't Pass This Place Up!

Tijeras, New Mexico
Leisure Mountain 

It's been a very long time since we've enjoyed a place as much as we did today.  How do I explain what this place is?  Well for starters it was featured on quite a few TV shows.  It's also listed on Trip Advisor as "12 One of Kind Places Not to Be Missed."

I picked up a brochure about this place at a welcome center.  Bill is an excellent  wood carver and appreciates any form of art.  I thought this place looked a lot like the National Museum of Wood Carving in Custer, South Dakota, but the two can not be compared.  This was so much fun!  It is incredible and can't be duplicated.

Now, know before you go, the parking area is very small and down over a steep driveway.  If you are in a RV you'll need to park along highway 14 and walk in.  If we ever return we will not take the long bed truck into the parking area.

Now you're wondering where we went today, aren't you.  If I said Tinkertown, what would you visualize?  Well it is called Tinkertown and it's definitely for all ages.  I didn't see one tinkertoy in the whole place.  

It's no secret I love a bargain.  For example this RV park is also a Passport America park and it is $17.50 a night for 50 amp full hook ups, pull thru and WIFI.  I loved the admission sign--$3.75 for adults and $3.25 for Geezers.  I knew this was going to be fun.  When Bill paid for the admission we were given a quarter so we could play one of the machines.

Even before we entered the museum we found the building interesting.  There are over 50,000 bottles in the walls.

Since there was a large group ahead of us, we opted to look around on the outside before we went into the museum.

There was an area off to the back that looked interesting.

The archway has a sign on the opposite side that says "Live Life As the Pursuit of Happiness".

Naturally, Bill was impressed with this old wagon complete with a cowboy.

Even the walkways were interesting as there were license plates used to join sections of the wood.

This medicine show wagon was built by Ross Ward on a Studebaker wagon frame as a puppet theater in 1994. 

I loved all the signs everywhere.

Family members are still adding more bottles today.

This is still outside the museum.  I love the use of the bottles and the old red wagon.

Shall we enter the museum now?

We used our quarter to play the first mechanical that we came to.  I had no idea there would be more.

We then walked down narrow walkways that had rows and rows of carved villages and scenes that were either moving or you pushed a button to see them light up and move.

Ross Ward said "I did all this while you were watching TV".


The detail is amazing.

You can tell by this photo the rooms are narrow and packed with stuff.

There was so much to see in each little village.

Even the ceilings were covered as we entered the circus section.

The old west and the circus were definitely something Ross loved.

This circus scene had moving tigers, trapezes moving, spinning girl with knife throwing, elephants and dog acts all moving.  It's just something a photo can't convey.  

  Here's some of Ross's talent.

Tinkertown is someplace everyone would enjoy.  I'm sure we probably missed a lot as there was so much to see.  

Tomorrow we head north on I 25 to Raton.  I wonder if the elevation will be any higher than today.

Turtle Safely..........