Tag Archives: RVs

Happy Trails, Part 49

PORTLAND, Ore. — Our retirement journey has brought us to where our lives together began nearly 47 years ago.

It was a rocky landing, though. It had nothing to do with my wife and me, or our relationship per se.

It had to do with an RV park where had reserved space.

We had intended to stay at an RV location in Vancouver, Wash., across the mighty Columbia River from Portland, where I was born and where I spent the first 34 years of my life.

I called ahead from Eugene, where we spent the previous night. We made the reservation. The young woman told us all she had left were “back-in” sites. Fine. Let’s reserve it, I said. She told me the space was “tight, but no one has any trouble” backing in.

All righty. We arrived at the RV park. We paid for our reservation. e drove our truck and our RV to the site. Tight fit? Uh, yeah. It was. It was so damn tight, we couldn’t get the RV/truck assembly positioned correctly to back it in. The spaces were packed like sardines.

I am not yet an expert at backing in our fifth wheel, but I am not a complete novice/dunderhead, either. I couldn’t get it to fit. A young man who works part time at the RV park took the wheel of our pickup. He couldn’t get it right, either. He had to leave to pick up his girlfriend.

My wife and I looked at each other. Then she spoke words of wisdom: Did we want to stay there or try to find another location … somewhere? We went to the office and read the riot act to the young lady, the one who told me “no one has any trouble” maneuvering their RV into these back-in sites.

The lady made an offer. “We can reserve a spot for you at a sister site in Portland, Oregon.” She called ahead. They had pull-through sites available. We could get in for the cost of our stay at the Vancouver RV park.

Deal! Done! Let’s do it.

So, we did. The Portland site was just a few minutes away.

The lesson? It came from my wife: Never again are we going to reserve a back-in site at a private RV park. State parks are OK. We’ve discovered that the Texas state park system, for example, has ample space for back-in sites.

The journey now can continue.

‘Texting’ becomes second nature … more or less!

I am going to brag just a little.

I’ve been quite dismissive and downright derisive of many aspects of “social media” over the years. Texting is one of those aspects that has drawn my most serious level of scorn. Some members of my family have heard me declare that I cannot say the word “text” in its verb form without adding a certain level of derision in my voice.

Indeed, I pepper this blog with such references when I use the term in that form.

Why the boast? Well, it’s that I am getting fairly proficient these days at texting. I once imposed a six-word limit on messages sent via this medium. I must confess here and now that I routinely go beyond that limit, but not by much.

I do, though, find that I’ve achieved a certain comfort level in communicating in that fashion when I have something of importance I want to say to someone. For instance, I sent a message to a gentleman informing him that my wife and I will be taking our fifth wheel RV on an extended trip soon. This fellow pulls it out of its parking slot in the garage where we store our RV. I needed 12 whole words to convey the message.

Also, I want to stipulate that I will never, not ever, converse with someone using this medium. At my advancing age, I find myself still relying on more conventional methods of conversation, such as picking up the telephone and calling someone. I also have been known to go to someone’s place of employment or even their home to converse with them, face to face. I do know individuals who like to “chat” with someone using their texting device.

No conversational ‘texting’ will be done, promise

I suppose this is my way of acknowledging that I am advancing farther into the 21st century, along with my sons, my daughter-in-law and my grandkids. I hear jokes all the time about how smart others’ pre-school grandkids know more about modern technology than their elders do. My wife and I are rapidly approaching the realm of those who have such technological wunderkinds in their family; little Emma — our 4-year-old granddaughter — is showing the faint first signs of being able to solve technology problems for us when they occur.

As long as I stay within my comfort zone, though, I’ll be all right. I plan to cling tightly to it as I text friends and family members.

Here’s the deal, though: That comfort zone seems to be expanding.

Who knew?

Happy Trails, Part 43

MESA VERDE NATIONAL PARK, Colo. — Oh, how I love parks. National parks, state parks, municipal parks. You name ’em. I love ’em.

We’ve spent a good bit of travel time visiting and staying at public parks. They’re quite friendly to us recreational vehicle users. What’s more, the National Park Service has this wonderful perk it extends to us older folks. It’s called a “Senior Pass.” It gets us into national parks for free — for the rest of our lives.

Texas’s state parks system also allows us free entry, but it’s not a lifetime pass. We have to renew it annually. It’s worth it for us, given that (a) state park overnight RV lodging is cheap and (b) the state parks in Texas generally are places of beauty.

We ventured to Mesa Verde National Park, which is about 40 miles west of Durango. It features 1,000-year-old — and older — cliff dwellings carved out of canyon walls high up in the mountains. It’s about a 20-mile drive from the park entrance to where one can see the dwellings. It’s a winding, highly scenic excursion along the way.

If I had one gripe about our national parks, it’s that they aren’t exactly pet friendly. We found this out on another trip to Guadalupe Mountains National Park in Texas and at Carlsbad Caverns National Park in New Mexico.

We had to sneak Toby the Puppy along with us to Mesa Verde’s exhibits. He wasn’t allowed to walk along any trails, but since we didn’t see “trails” as I understand the meaning of the word, we took him with us along paved walkways toward the exhibits; then we would pick up him and pack him through some of the dwelling exhibits.

Shhh! Don’t rat me out … please.

Our travels are going to take us to many more of these federal parks. I believe we’ve been to 17 national parks already in our 46 years of life together. One of my unofficial bucket-list objectives is to see all of them before I’m no longer able to travel long distances.

So … the adventure continues.

Happy Trails, Part 42

SILVERTON, Colo. — Our retirement trail took us to what I believe is one of the most picturesque towns I’ve ever seen.

Silverton sits in a valley surrounded by peaks of the San Juan Mountains. It’s perched 9,318 feet above sea level.

They run a narrow-gauge train between Silverton and Durango. We chose to drive it ourselves along one of the most spectacular stretches of U.S highway I’ve ever seen in my entire life.

It’s U.S. 550. It tops out between Durango and Silverton at a pass that measures 10,640 feet above sea level. And, yes, the aspen are starting to turn into that spectacular yellow one sees on those Rocky Mountain postcards.

I want to mention this visit because it kind of surprised us when we arrived at this town. We hadn’t planned on making it a destination during our day on the road. It turned out to be.

It’s a small burg, to be sure. It looks rustic in the extreme. City Hall was built in 1908. It’s single street is lined with a series of gift shops, coffee houses, joints that serve craft beer, barbeque restaurants.

Interestingly, I didn’t see any, um, head shops or places that sell marijuana. They made “recreational marijuana” legal in Colorado a year ago. Actually, on our most recent visits to Colorado, I haven’t discovered a huge cannabis influence in people’s daily lives. Then again, I might not be looking in the right places to find it.

Silverton, though, has emerged as one of those post-retirement discoveries we have made on our journey across North America. The only other town I can compare to it might be Deadwood, S.D., which we saw not quite a year ago on our way home from Mount Rushmore.

I am willing to bet the farm that we’ll have many more of these discoveries in the years to come.


Four new tires … check

This is the latest in an occasional series of blog posts commenting on upcoming retirement.

We shelled out a few bucks today getting our pickup more road-worthy for some big adventures we’ve got coming up.

You’ll be apprised of them in due course.

For now, I want to report that the big ol’ Dodge Ram 3/4-ton pickup we nicknamed Big Jake is good to go.

We slapped four new tires on the rig today, getting the big guy ready to haul our fifth wheel to points hither and yon. It’s one of those things we will need to do as we prepare for this next big life adventure that awaits us.

I have told you about our changing life. The full-time retirement gig is approaching at an accelerated pace. We aren’t there just yet, but we are on our way.

Big Jake has been a good truck for us. He’s been dependable, strong, sturdy and durable. I say this at some risk of jinxing us, but we’ve had more difficulty with the fifth wheel than with the truck. Our RV has been reliable, too. We did blow out some wheel bearings while motoring down Interstate 40 between Albuquerque and Santa Rosa, N.M. We sat on the side of the freeway while the wheels was being repaired. There have been a few other minor mishaps along the way with the RV.

The truck? Big Jake is a beastly vehicle, man.

Now he’s got four new “shoes” in the form of tires on which to hit the road. The tread is deep and my hope is that it will remain that way for many miles to come.

The open road awaits.

We discovered service with a smile


This is the latest in an occasional series of blog posts commenting on upcoming retirement.

LUSK, Wyo. — I could get used to the service we’ve gotten at a one-woman business that passes for an RV park in the middle of nowhere.

We hauled our fifth wheel from Piedmont, S.D., through some incredibly picturesque country in western South Dakota, including the town of Deadwood, which if you haven’t seen it, you need to cast your gaze on the charming community tucked in the middle of the Black Hills.

We came out of the forestland and headed onto the prairie.

Then we arrived in Lusk, looking for an RV park we had located in our directory of RV campsites. We found it.

We were greeted by a woman named Linda, who waved us onto her lot. She guided us to our full-hookup site, helped us hook up our water, helped with our sewer line hookup.

Linda even provided us with a new washer we could use to prevent leakage from our water outlet on the side of the fifth wheel.

All the while, this charming business owner was cracking jokes, quips and one-liners. We laughed out loud with her.

We don’t expect this kind of welcome wherever we go. But in this the owner of this business in the middle of the Wyoming plains made us glad we found it — and Linda.

Back home safe; no errors


This is the latest in an occasional series of blog posts commenting on upcoming retirement.

I am happy to report that my wife and are now measuring — partially at least — the success of our fifth wheel trips by the absence of rookie errors.

We’re still fairly new in this RV traveling experience, but we’re finding it easier as we undergo the growing pains associated with this new lifestyle.

We have just concluded an eight-day jaunt through much of north and central Texas. We spent Christmas evening with our son, daughter-in-law and grandkids in Allen; and, oh yeah, we had those hideous tornadoes to contend with the next night.

We got through it all, had a wonderful time, saw “Star Wars” with our son, played with our granddaughter who’s starting to refer to us as something that sounds vaguely like “Ma-Maw” and “Pa-Paw.”

But, hey, Emma is not yet 3, so that’ll likely change. We’ll settle on whatever she wants to call us . . . just as long as she calls, you know?

Then it was off to San Marcos, which is roughly halfway between San Antonio and Austin, where we visited with one of our nieces, her husband, their two daughters and my wife’s brother,  all of whom live in or right near Austin.

After three nights there, we headed toward home and spent another night at San Angelo State Park. We cooled our jets, got a good night’s sleep and rolled onto the Texas Tundra, where we discovered someone had plowed the snow off our street — and into a large pile right in front of our home.

We’re learning out way through this RV business. It’s getting easier each time out, although we’ve learned not to take anything for granted.

I’m not sure when we’ll become experts at it. Frankly, I like being forced to think about ensuring we don’t cut corners too tightly, or making sure we put the wastewater cap back before we shove off.

But we’ve already begun thinking about the next excursion.

And, of course, the next big adventure.