Sunday, June 30, 2013

From Calif. to KC

We stayed in Fresno until the graduations, birthdays and Clayton Family Reunion were over. We then left for Kansas City traveling Hwy 99 south to Bakersfield then east on Hwy 58 to Boron. We always like to stay at the Arabian. This time of year it is only $12. We checked in pulled out slides and left for Domingo's, one of our favorite Mexican restaurants. This time I had their Avocado Shrimp Salad and it was outstanding. When I drove our new 2012 Jeep Liberty, I noticed it was very, very hard to brake. I pushed as hard as I could and it barely stopped. I had Tom drive the few blocks back to Arabian and noticed the Jeep stopped though Tom was pushing very hard, almost as if the power brakes did not work. I texted our mechanic, Daniel, that worked on setting up the US Gear Brake Assist and he called right back. Apparently, when checking settings in the system, the check valve was replaced backwards. Tom pulled it out, reinserted it in the right direction and the brakes work perfectly.

We left the next morning early for Kingman, AZ. That was a longer drive that we usually take in one day, but we wanted to spend a couple of days in Tucumcari to visit friends. As it was an easy drive for Tom we kept on all the way to Winslow, AZ.  We checked into the Elks, had a drink at the bar, fixed a quick dinner, and went to bed. 


The next day we did some geocaching at a couple of the local attractions, the “Standing on the Corner of Winslow Arizona” statue and the beautiful La Posada Hotel.

After a half day of caching and touring Winslow we made the short 189 mile drive to Grants and stayed at a funny little RV park, Blue Spruce RV Park. It was a Passport America and we paid $14.45 plus tax for a full hookup pull through.  The 80+ year old hostess was friendly and  helpful.  It wasn’t much to look at but we would stay here again just to talk to the quirky hostess.

On Tuesday we left Grants and drove to Tucumcari, NM. We checked in at the Elks and then checked out our first geocache we placed in Tucumcari, “Home Away From Home”. We placed it last year after we were stuck in this charming town for almost 3 weeks last fall after blowing the  head gasket, damaging the head, the piston and injector. While there we placed another cache at the Tucumcari Farm Equipment Store, “Buzzard Watch” . We met Stella and Jim Watson and they have become Facebook friends. We stopped in a couple of times to visit and to check on our cache.  While we were at the Tucumcari Farm Equipment store we were under a Tornado Watch, then a Tornado Warning. We were watching the storm closely when Stella’s phone started ringing and my phone sounded an alarm.  Stella said this was the first time the city had issued an automatic phone alert for the “take cover” warning. As the store did not afford as much safety as the Elks Lodge, we drove the half mile away from the storm back to the Elks. These severe thunder storms can rain over 6 inches in one neighborhood and nothing in only a few blocks away. We got only sprinkles at the Elks.

We drove into Logan to check on our other cache, “Windy Break on Hwy 54”, and to visit our friends, Richard and Frances. They are doing a lot of remodeling of their garage into a music studio for Frances.  Richard had just bought an older RV and we may just find them down the road one of these days.  We went back to Tucumcari and Richard and Frances joined us for dinner at Pizza Hut Bistro. Good food and wonderful company. 

We left Tucumcari for Liberal, KS, and stayed at the Fair Grounds. $15 for 50 amp, and one of cleanest, best planned RV parking for an inexpensive overnight stop.


We were on our way to Wichita, KS, when we came across this.  We sure hope these guys got this under control before the truck was lost.


We were the guests of Leroy and Anne Willis even though they were on their way to the FMCA rally in Gillette, WY. 


While in Wichita we met our former pastor, Larry Kinser, for dinner at Cracker Barrel. We do not have Cracker Barrels on the West Coast, so I was happy to have my favorite Catfish Sandwich again. We had a fun evening catching up with Larry, hearing about Militia's business, Lacey’s family and the possibility of the Kinsers’ joining the RV’ing community in a couple of years,

It was then on to Kansas City and the Blue Lake Campground.  We have stayed here for several years and the setup is perfect.  Jennifer and Jamie arrived later that evening after driving 2 1/2 days from Fresno. That is a grueling drive. Jenny had Technical Committee meeting the next day and we attended it with her.  The days go very fast at the SkillsUSA Competition: Tuesday is contestant orientation, Wednesday is the elimination competition where Secondary and Post Secondary Gold medal winners from each state is judged by 5 teams of judges and a receptionists. 12 Secondary and 8 Post Secondary contestants are advanced to the Thursday Judging. The Gold, Silver, and Bronze winners are chosen on Thursday and the Awards Ceremony is held on Friday. We went to the Opening Ceremony on Wednesday night where the CEO of Caterpillar Inc. gave an inspiring speech and the Keynote speaker was Mike Rowe, creator and executive producer of Discovery Channel’s Emmy-nominated series “Dirty Jobs with Mike Rowe”. We were entertained, educated and encouraged by Mike’s talk on our education system’s Profoundly Disconnected. Check out his website. Seeing all these red coated winners from throughout the US was exciting.


We had the same excitement at Friday’s awards night when all the winners are announced. Tom and I were privileged to hang the medals on the Job Interview Winners.

Today we slept in and then drove down to Westport, a trendy upscale part of Kansas City. We walked, shopped a little and had lunch at Pot Belly. It was good. I probably should mention we ate at Gate’s BBQ in KC, several receptions hosted by SkillsUSA for the Education Committees of which we are members. 

It has been a very busy 2 weeks so we will move on tomorrow, first to Omaha, Sioux City, and parts West as we will be spending time on the Washington Coast before attending our Golden Spike Rally in Garibaldi, OR, in mid-August. We hope to slow down and smell the roses and get some caches.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Why Did We Stay in Fresno–The Bad Side

We have been under a black cloud of repairs for about 6 months and hopefully we are at the end of these repairs.  To keep things organized (and to help us remember the details) I am putting our repairs in topical order rather than chronological order. 

RV Repairs

First off the body repairs on the RV, DA PAD. The blowout on the outer dual tire literally ripped the side of the rig off, damaged the air bag and did some minor structural damage behind the wheel.



IMG_20130509_111533_854Refrigerator would not cool while plugged into electricity. Dometic was called and after technician, Daniel, had tested a lot of electrical wiring, Dometic said we should replace the computer card. Computer card replaced, electric cooling not fixed. Dometic called again, suggested heaters be replaced. Heaters replaced, electric cooling not fixed.  Dometic called again, suggested a new cooling element. Cooling element replaced after 12 hours with 1-3 techs muscling the refrigerator out, laying it face down on the floor, and replacing the entire back of the refrigerator. Electric cooling not fixed.

Final solution: A replacement refrigerator with our paying the difference between the old Dometic which was not longer manufactured or available and the new Dometic Elite 2_2.


Toilet Fix

We have one of those “push the button” flushing toilets, Dometic Aria II, that decided to not flush. It started with the click, click, click and progressed to growl, growl, growl. The slider part was replace and it worked perfectly. We were scheduled to go to the WARE, Western Area Rally for Escapees, in Lodi and planned to travel on to Napa to visit with our cousins. While in Lodi we had no toilet problems, and while in Napa for a couple of days we had no problems either. That is until the third day. We detected a leak, a odiferous leak, we returned to Fresno.  This was an easy fix with a sealer between the toilet flushing mechanism.

Hot Water Heater and Water Pump

While not related both these appliances quit and had to be replaced.

Front Air Conditioner

As if all the rest of the repairs were not enough, the summer heat in Fresno was just too much for our front air conditioner and the compressor went out.  The fix… a new air conditioner.

Jeep Repairs

The problems with the Jeep probably began when we were at the FMCA Rally in Indianapolis; the Jeep died while waiting for a signal to turn green and would not start. We called our friend, Quentin, and by the time he arrived the Jeep started. We did not have another problem until we were back in Fresno. It seemed this only happened when the weather was hot, the air conditioner was on and we had made several stops and starts during the day. The first time we were towed the Jeep died, we waited 5-10 minutes, the Jeep started, we drove several miles, and the Jeep died again. This happened 3 times within an hour and we had the Jeep towed in to Sunnyside Auto Repair. Because the problem could only be diagnosed when it was occurring, we picked up the Jeep and drove it to Harbor Freight.where it died, would not start and was towed again. Over the course of about 4 weeks, 3 rebuilt computer cards were replaced. To make a very long, long story shorter, we were towed 5 times. For a while it looked like the final card was working. Then our 3 month old battery had a dead cell and was replaced. Again, Jeep would not start, alternator was replaced, crank shaft sensor was replaced. Jeep worked for the hottest day of the year, 110 degrees, then the next day it wouldn’t start. We were scheduled to leave Fresno in a week. We bought a new Jeep.

We hope this is the last blog detailing the worst sequence of repairs in our married life. We did have to laugh when our friends, The Kings, who are experiencing a couple of RV’ing mechanical problems, said if their problems did not stop they were changing their name to Westerfield.

So now we will be On the Road Again, Caching Places that We’ve Never Been IN A NEW JEEP.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Why, why, why did we stay in Fresno for 2 months?

Well, the answer to that question is complicated. We wondered ourselves when the thermometer topped 110 degrees on June 8th. There were many reasons: granddaughter, Julie’s, graduation from Fresno State, granddaughter, Jamie’s, graduation from Clovis East High School, Mother’s Day, Mom’s 92nd birthday and knee replacement surgery, daughter, Jenny’s, Julie’s and Jamie’s birthdays, and fireworks.  That’s just a lot of family celebrations and we wouldn’t have missed it for the world.

Right now we are in Winslow Arizona on our way to SkillsUSA in Kansas City.  This is my first blog in a long time so I will try to catch up on our news a little at a time in the next couple of blogs.  I wanted to start with the good news first… our special family events.

Forgive me if I brag a little, Julie graduated Cum Laude, had the most original mortar board, and is now employed as a Design Specialist for the newspaper, The Fresno Bee.



We celebrated Julie’s graduation in the most amazing way; in the Club at Grizzlies Stadium where our son, Jason, is the Executive Chef, and daughter, Jenny shoots the fireworks.

Jamie is also an amazing young lady; in addition to riding her motorcycle (crotch rocket), training horses, has a summer job welding for ProSigns, she is also enrolled at Fresno State College for the fall. In her spare time she shoots fireworks shows with Jennifer. We just don’t know what she will end up doing with her life; maybe an Astronaut?


And speaking of amazing, that’s my Mom who at 92 had her second knee replacement surgery. The Physical Therapists all said they had never seen a patient at that age do so well. The day of the surgery she could bend her knee at 90 degrees, straighten her leg to just short of straight, walked over 30 feet, and never had any pain medication stronger than Tylenol, and now just one month later, Mom is again driving.

We had the chance to spend time with the 2 grand boys, Logan and Ryan. Ryan graduated from Pre-School, Logan was Student of the Month, and both played baseball. So we went to lots of games.



Our last big event of our stay was our Clayton Family Reunion last Saturday. Tom's Mom was one of 11 living children and the family reunion is held in Fresno each year.  Sometimes there are over 100 in attendance. This year because of the heat there were only about 45; small but still a great time to get all the cousins together.

So what with birthdays, graduations, a family reunion and other family get togethers, we really enjoyed that part of our time in Fresno.  Next time we will go into the details of our stay in Camp Central Valley RV in Fresno.

P1120699To borrow an ending picture from one of our favorite blogs, Travels with Emma, by Judy Bell, this is the end of this blog.