Tag Archives: RV travel

Found: the end of the world!

NEEDLES, Calif. — Bum Phillips, the late, great football coach, once told a magazine interviewer that his hometown of Orange, Texas, “wasn’t the end of the world, but if you get up on your tippy toes, you can see it from there.”

Well, Coach Phillips, I believe I have found the end of the world. It is here … in Needles, Calif.

This is the latest stop for Toby the Puppy and me as we trudge our way westward and northward. It’s an overnighter, then we head for the central part of the state, where we intend to gaze skyward at some tall timber at Sequoia National Park.

There really is nothing to see here. The highway west from Needles is among the more desolate stretches of roadway in these United States. The next day’s travel will be — without a doubt — the least scenic leg of this journey. I’ll be looking at mountains, but they will be far, far away.

Family members await in Sacramento, then in Santa Cruz, then on to Eureka, Calif., before heading into Oregon.

Toby the Puppy and I have enjoyed plenty of scenic splendor so far. The Grand Canyon is as gorgeous as it gets anywhere on Planet Earth. The drive into and away from Gallup, N.M., presented plenty of eye-popping visuals as well.

A saving grace about our stop in Needles has been the courtesy extended by the campground hosts where we are spending the night. Indeed, we aren’t strangers to this particular site, as my bride and I came here at least three times before while pulling an RV. It’s all changed, of course.

For now, though, I am enjoying the company of my pooch, who — to my total non-surprise — has proved himself to be the King of Road Warriors. His stamina is astounding, not to mention his ability to “hold it” for as long as he does.

The road ahead awaits my puppy and me, even if much of the next leg will be oh, so lonely.


Journey takes dramatic turn

My bride and I have been on a marvelous journey since we both retired from our full-time jobs more than a decade ago. The end of my career came suddenly; my bride chose to end her working life on her own.

We have been “living the dream” ever since. Well, this week our journey into retirement took a startling and dramatic new turn.

Our recreational vehicle travel time came to an end. We sold our RV after hauling it on a two-week excursion to the Pacific Coast. We visited friends and family along the way. We had a blast. We were comfortable in our downsized travel trailer.

But … a couple of issues emerged along the way. The trailer wasn’t working quite the way it was supposed to work. What did we decide while on the road? We decided (a) we are too old to deal with these niggling issues that keep cropping up and (b) that neither of us was skilled enough to repair these problems on our own.

We decided before we arrived at our California destination that the trip on which we had embarked would be our final one in an RV.

We’ll keep traveling. The difference will be that we intend to stay in hotels along the way, or at RV parks that offer cabins, or with friends and family scattered across this great land.

We’re taking a philosophical approach to this decision. We owned three RVs: two fifth wheels and a travel trailer. We took all of them to both ocean coasts, along the Gulf Coast, to the Great Lakes, throughout the Great Plains, over the Rockies, the Sierra Nevada, the Cascade Range, the Appalachains and we saw the western half of Canada.

We had a great run. We saw many places and had countless joyous experiences. It is now time to do something else. We have decided to take another leap of faith.

Where will our journey take us? That remains to be determined. However, we are confident we’ll know it when we get there.

We are still living the dream.


Service arrives without warning

SANTA CRUZ, Calif — Now, that’s what I call serious public service … so here comes the explanation.

My wife and I were motoring away from an RV park on the Santa Cruz harbor. We took a couple of turns and headed north on Californian Highway 1; then we turned onto California 17, a stretch of highway between Santa Cruz and Los Gatos that makes the locals grind their teeth … or so I have been told over the years.

Suddenly, we decided we needed to pull over and take care of an issue regarding our travel trailer. We found a wide spot on the shoulder of the highway, pulled over, turned on our emergency flashers. My wife jumped out to tend to the business that needed tending.

While we were stopped, a California Highway Patrol officer pulled in behind us. No lights were flashing. No outward display that he was on an emergency call. He just sat there.

My bride finished her work. She came back to the truck. I turned the emergency flashing lights off and headed onto the northbound highway.

Then I noticed the CHP officer patrol cruiser already in traffic, running interference for us. He flashed his headlights to let me know it was safe to merge into traffic,

Is this a big deal? No, it isn’t. However, it speaks to the kind of public service many of us often take for granted. Rogue police officers get plenty of criticism for when they mess up; too often their misbehavior results in tragedy.

It occurred to me that perhaps this officer noticed we were from out of state and wanted to demonstrate some extra hospitality to visitors — even if they come from Texas.

Those who perform routine and random acts of kindness, such as what the CHP officer showed my wife and me do not get any kind of recognition.

That is why I want to take particular note of what we experienced on a California highway.

To that officer, whoever you are … thank you.


Journey goes on

Our retirement journey has taken a new turn, with a new vehicle towing a new recreational vehicle.

You know already that we traded in our 29-foot fifth wheel for a 21-foot travel trailer. We’ve taken our new trailer out on a couple of short jaunts. We hauled it behind our big ol’ pickup, Big Jake, the 2011 3/4-ton Dodge diesel beast.

We bid so long to Big Jake today and took possession of our new — and a good bit smaller — truck. It’s a Ford Ranger. We’re toying with what to name it. I am increasingly stuck on Kemo Sabe. Whatever.

The new truck is a beaut. It’s brand new. Ford built the 2022 vehicle per our specs. Just for my wife and me. It’s big enough to haul our travel trailer.

Our journey, though, has changed, but mostly because of outside influences. The price of gas makes long-term travel too expensive for us. So, we’re re-evaluating how we intend to use our new truck and our new RV. Best guess? We’ll stay mostly close to home. Indeed, Texas is big enough for us to be able to visit state parks hither and yon.

Now, does this mean that extended travel is out forever? Hardly. We’ll wait a little while, see where fuel prices go. If they come back to Earth, well, we just might hit the long and winding road to points farther away.

Toby the Puppy, moreover, will have to get used to new travel digs. We remain confident that he will adjust just fine.


Happy Trails, Part 188: Success at the end of an RV outing


By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Retirement has allowed me to count my blessings, which I do every day and occasionally boast when I score even the mildest of victories.

Here comes the boast.

My wife and I returned today from a 10-day sojourn through Far West Texas. It started in Abilene, where we caught up with a good friend and her husband; we moved on to Monahans and then to the Davis Mountains. We headed back northeast toward Princeton; we spent a night in Mason and then at Meridian State Park.

We arrived in front of our house around noon today. We emptied our RV, had a bite of lunch and then took our fifth wheel back to the storage lot where it “sleeps” between outings.

Then came the moment of triumph.

We rolled onto the parking lot, wheeled the RV around to line it up with our covered stall … and then backed it straight into the storage space — on the first pass! There was no back and forth, no second, third or fourth attempt to line it up.

Is that a big deal? Yeah! It is! It’s a big deal because I have not yet mastered the backup technique required at times when we haul our fifth wheel on an outing. Indeed, we had a back-in site at Davis Mountains State Park. It was awkwardly configured, so I had a bit of a struggle backing it into the site; but we got it parked.

I know that none of this rises to the level of monumental achievement. Except that in the grand scheme of the retirement journey on which my wife and I embarked, it does look significant from my standpoint.

We have had to learn a few lessons hauling our fifth wheel hither and yon. We have made some mistakes; a couple of them have been a bit costly.

Thus, when I score a “win” simply by being able to back our fifth wheel into a spot on a single pass I consider it worth a bit of self-congratulation.

I am hoping for more victories along our journey.

Oh, the Internet!

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

I am receiving a real-time lesson on how dependent I have become to the Internet.

Our RV campsite is in the middle of the Davis Mountains of Far West Texas. Cell phone reception is gone, pfftt … nothing, man! That doesn’t bother me so much.

What drives me batty is my (lack of ) Internet connection. The Texas Parks & Wildlife Department, which runs the magnificent state park where we are holed up, has Wi-Fi service, but it’s lousy. I cannot sign onto the TP&W site. I can, however, sign onto Word Press, which is the platform that contains this entry. When I am finished I will post it to Word Press, but not onto the other social media platforms I use to distribute this blog.

Therefore, this entry will go to relatively few folks who normally would read these words.

I am expressing a frustration.

We’re able to go into town, where the cell service is a zillion times better. Thus, so is the Internet service.

I’ll just have to wait until our next foray into Fort Davis to reconnect with what we used to refer to in Vietnam as “The World.”

Bear with me. Please.

Happy Trails, Part 187: Yep, they were tough

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

ABILENE, Texas — Our retirement journey brought us to a community that is proud as the dickens of its cowboy/Wild West heritage.

Show the city shows it off with a museum called Frontier Texas. We visited it and came away with a keen appreciation of just how tough the folks were who settled in this region. Not only that, we came away understanding a little better the nature of the Native Americans who were here long before the Anglos arrived.

What did we learn? Let’s see …

We learned about a woman who married four or five times after each of her husbands met untimely and gruesome deaths at the hands of outlaws and of Native Americans. I found myself wondering: Why did she keep seeking love when she had encountered such tragedy? Oh, and her daughter and granddaughter died prematurely and violently, too!

Then there were the bison that were hunted to near extinction by “buffalo hunters,” which is how the museum identified them. “Buffalo killers” would have been a much more apt description.

There is a brief reference to the Battle of Palo Duro Canyon between the Army and the Comanche warriors. The museum mentions that the Army captured 1,400 Comanche horses and then “slaughtered” them. It doesn’t tell you that the soldiers stampeded the animals off the canyon rim.

I have long resisted trying to imagine whether I could live in that era. We cannot control the time we come into this world. I was born in 1949 and I am glad I entered the world at that time. Had I been born, say, in 1849, well, I would have coped with life in that time.

Still, as I look back at the folks who lived in this part of Texas and coped with life and death, I come away amazed and astonished at the grit and courage they exhibited.

It’s just yet another discovery we have made on our journey through retirement. I am quite certain there are many more to find in this big ol’ world.

Happy Trails, Part 182 : COVID shortens our leash

Our retirement journey has been reduced, narrowed, diminished a bit. We aren’t calling a halt to our recreational vehicle travel. We’ve just been placed on a dramatically shortened leash.

Damn you, coronavirus pandemic!

We had intended to spend a good bit of our summer months tooling around several states with our fifth wheel hooked up to our pickup.

Then the pandemic arrived in all its viciousness. It forced state parks to shut down. It has shuttered businesses that cater to folks like my wife and me.

I want to stipulate that we love the home we purchased in Collin County, Texas. We enjoy spending time working in the yard, arranging storage space to make it more usable for two retired folks.

We also enjoy greatly our RV and getting out of Dodge for a spell.

Except that this summer our travel will be restricted. Neither of us wants to push our luck visiting places that might become COVID-19 “hot spots” while we’re in the area.

Our plans now as summer approaches include a number of Texas state park visits. We’ll be spending some time shortly in Atlanta, Texas, at the state park in the northeast corner of Texas. Our new home puts us in close proximity to a number of state parks.

We had sought to get into a few of them closer to the house. We couldn’t get in; it turns out a lot of other Texans have the same idea and those parks were booked to the max.

We found some space at Atlanta State Park, so off we will go.

Retirement remains a whole lot of fun. We are hoping for an end to the health crisis that has limited our time with our precious granddaughter.

It also keeps us on a short leash. The open road awaits. It’s just not as lengthy as we prefer it to be.

Cabin fever is overpowering

I am making an admission with this blog post. It is that the coronavirus pandemic has afflicted me with a serious case of cabin fever.

The image with this post is of the fifth wheel my wife and I own, along with the pickup. The picture was snapped a year ago while we were parked for a couple of nights at San Angelo State Park.

But … here’s the deal: Texas has closed all its state parks. That means we cannot take our recreational vehicle for a trip to any of them. Nothing is open. The Parks & Wildlife Department shut ’em all down. It’s only temporary.

However, you have to understand something about my wife and me. We are ardent supporters of our state park system. We purchase a state park pass each year to waive our entrance fee into any of the parks throughout our state.

We can’t use it. TP&W has extended the park pass for two months past its expiration date, and we’re grateful for that.

In the meantime we’re stuck at home. That RV is parked about three miles away. Our truck is in our driveway. We don’t even drive the truck much, given that Gov. Greg Abbott and the city of Princeton have closed practically all outdoor activities, most businesses.

Cabin fever is the pits, man. Although it’s surely not nearly as perilous as the fever associated with COVID-19. Accordingly, I am grateful that our family has been spared the disease, although we hear from family members that they’re going stir crazy, too. We feel their pain.

The stay at home directive has shut down anything we can do with the RV. A private RV park is out of the question as well, as nothing in any community we would want to visit is open to visitors.

Do you get my drift? We are ready for the “social distancing” we’re all observing will have the desired effect and will reduce the infection rate sufficiently to allow Gov. Abbott and other officials to give us the “all clear.”

When we hear it, we’re likely to hit the road open as soon as is humanly possible.

Cabin fever is the pits.

Times — and customs — are changing as we fight disease

We made a command decision this morning in our house: We decided to postpone indefinitely our first RV trip of the season.

There you have it. We watched the news this morning and were inundated once more with the torrent of information and advice about how to cope with the coronavirus pandemic. One bit of advice hit us squarely in the face: Do your part.

So, we heard that advice and decided to do our part by staying off the road, away from gasoline service stations, away from convenience stores, away from fast-food joints. We’re staying home for the foreseeable future. How long that lasts is damn near anyone’s best guess.

We also have decided we can spend this foreseeable future doing household projects, embark on some tasks that need doing. Sort pictures and get ’em put away; we will start slapping some paint on the walls; our garage needs to be straightened out; the yard is emerging from its winter dormancy and it needs our tender loving care.

We also want to wave at our neighbors, wish them well, extend a kindness or three when it presents itself. Heck, we might just volunteer to deliver a random of act of kindness.

Thus, our lives are changing in real time. So are some of our customs.

The question of the day: Will we continue to practice good neighborliness as the coronavirus threat dissipates? I hope we do.

Thus, I truly believe as surely as I’m sitting here that I will continue to do my part.