Saturday, June 28, 2008

Home again

Well, the Great RV Road Trip of '08 is officially over. We pulled into the driveway around 2:30 or so this afternoon. Yesterday we drove from Needles to Chowchilla, a distance of around 420 miles. That put us within 3 hours of home. We stayed at a very nice RV "resort" called The Lakes. It's only a couple of years old and had great amenities, including an off-leash pet area, which to me is a huge plus.

I walked in to find a sparkling clean house. My neighbor and her daughter had the key to the house while we were gone and worked their magic on the place. She let me in on it earlier this week so I wouldn't be too freaked out (and also so that I could warn Emily that her room would be clean instead of covered in wall-to-wall stuff). I didn't know whether to cry because she was so sweet, or to cry from embarrassment at her seeing how filthy my house was. Either way, it was the sweetest thing to do. Her daughter told me this afternoon that it was my birthday present. Great present, huh? And really, she did much more than just clean: she used her magic and luck with finding other people's cast-off items to find me a great area rug for the living room, plus some throw rugs for the front and back doors. Plus she put wastebaskets in all the kids' rooms. Her hard work made coming home feel a lot more peaceful.

So with the time I've had, I've managed to wash and fold 2 loads of laundry. A 3rd is in the dryer and a 4th in the wash. I think there are at least 2 more to wash as well. Between clothes, towels, and bedding from the RV, there's a lot to do. Tomorrow we will sweep, vacuum, dust, and polish the RV (and clean the bathroom/shower) so we can put it away all fresh and clean. It's a little after 10 now and I'm really ready for bed. I'll check on the laundry and then head there.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Catching up

Sorry for the break in posting. Connectivity on the road hasn't always been great, then there's also the issue of fatigue, plus sharing the laptop with others. To update, after we left Arkansas, we spent Tuesday night in a KOA just past Clinton, OK. Not a bad little place. From there we headed to Albuquerque, NM. That was our longest drive day up to that point, around 450 miles. The RV park there, American RV Park, was one of the nicest we've been to. Unfortunately, there were thunderstorms in and around the area, so no swimming for the kids that night. Had a little blast from the past while flipping channels there... saw a news anchor who used to anchor the local news back in Cape Girardeau, Dianne Anderson.

Yesterday we drove all the way from Albuquerque to Needles, CA, around 520 miles or so. That's our record. We hadn't made reservations for our last couple of nights, so Brian figured he'd see how far we could go and decided Needles was a good spot to shoot for. No difficulties in making it, although we did stop a little later than we had been. We did make a sight-seeing stop at the Meteor Crater just east of Flagstaff. Brian and the boys wanted to see it. The rest of us hung out in the RV. When we arrived in Needles, it was HOT, over 100 degrees. We got set up as quickly as possible and then Brian and the younger kids hit the pool while I worked on laundry. We were getting pretty low on some things, so I did one load of necessities. That took almost an hour and a half. It was nearly 9pm by the time I had it folded and put away. By that point, we decided dinner wasn't going to happen, so it was one of those "snack-your-hunger-away" evenings.

Not sure how far we will drive today. Brian wants to stop at a Camping World and see if he can get our roof A/C looked at. The front unit doesn't seem to cool as well as the back. The length of that stop will probably determine how far we get today. Even without that stop, it would be about 575 miles from here to home, which would be a pretty long drive. Traffic is bound to be worse here in CA than it was anywhere else, so I think it wouldn't be realistic to expect anything like that. But we should be able to get far enough along that our tomorrow's drive could be a short one.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

West on I-40

Greetings from westbound interstate 40 in Arkansas! We just left the KOA campground in Morrilton few moments ago and are bound for Clinton, OK today. We left much earlier today (7am) than most, trying to avoid the hotter parts of the day.

The kids (well, us too) have really enjoyed this trip. At one point, Joel asked if we could just not go home, but spend our time driving around visiting relatives. Huntsville was definitely everyone's favorite leg of the journey, even the dogs. They were quite happy to be at Aunt Pam's. Rory was a little overwhelmed at first, but settled right in. When we get home and I can hook up the camera, I will post some pictures of Rockwell so you can see how big he is. Poor guy is getting old (for a Dane, anyhow) and is so heavy his joints are paining him. But he put up a brave front for us and showed us his playful side.

We celebrated my birthday Sunday by going to Olive Garden with Pam & Kirk and their oldest son, Dustin. Service was slow, but the food was good. Then we just hung out for the rest of the day. Oh, except for a trip to the commissary. Pam went with me to get groceries to stock up the RV for this week.

Noah fulfilled his wish of getting an electric guitar this week. We had told him that one of Pam's boys would probably be able to give him good advice on one. Sure enough, Drew (Pam's #3 son) took him out to look at guitars and amps on Saturday. The ones Drew felt were good choices were a tad under $300 for the set. Turned out that he had 3 guitars himself, plus an amp he didn't need, so he offered to sell them to Noah for $100. We are splitting the cost with him, so he is covering $50 of it.

4 more days, and we should be back at the old homestead. Truth be told, I haven't missed it much at all. Doesn't say much about my love for California, does it?

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Happy in Huntsville

Had a great day yesterday, even if it did seem a little long at times. My sleep is all messed up because I still have a cough that wakes me up at night. I found myself falling asleep several times yesterday, even while playing Rock Band! You know you're tired when you put yourself to sleep playing guitar on Rock Band.

Brian was able to get the RV situation straightened out. Apparently someone double-booked several spaces at the RV park. At any rate, we are in our original assigned spot and will be staying for free this weekend.

We spent a lot of time playing Guitar Hero and Rock Band yesterday. Actually, I haven't even tried Guitar Hero yet; I have only done drums, bass, and guitar on Rock Band. I am a total novice and have to play on Easy, but with practice, maybe I could make it to Medium. I won't hold my breath.

I had brought a bunch of sheet music with me, thinking Pam and Kirk and I could do some stuff together, but I have no voice. This cough has left me quite hoarse. I am totally disgusted.

In the evening, we went to a new shopping/dining district in Huntsville called Bridge Street Town Centre. It appears to be quite the happening place. Ashton Kutcher has a restaurant there called "Ketchup." Everyone was hungry while we were there, but the wait at most restaurants was 90 minutes and up. We were able to get immediate seating at Red Robin, and while it wasn't anyone's first choice, the food and service were good.

The dogs have settled in quite nicely to hanging out at Aunt Pam's during the day. It is good to see them all get along. Pam did board their bulldog Toby at the vet's while we are here, though. She says he is very possessive and would probably start a fight. It's a shame; I was looking forward to seeing him.

Not sure what today will bring. I am sure there will be more Rock Band and Guitar Hero, but at some point, I know we have some movies to watch together as well. We'll probably do some laundry today and/or tomorrow, too. The nice thing about being with family is not feeling like every moment has to be scheduled. Just hanging out in the same place is good.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Sweet Home Alabama

Arrived in Huntsville a little after 5 pm yesterday. The drive from Missouri was straightforward and uncomplicated... just the way I like 'em. However, once we arrived at Redstone Arsenal, everything changed. It took a few minutes to get on base (my brother-in-law met us at the Visitor's Center so that he could take Brian to get a rental car once we were set up at our RV spot). Once we located the small RV area on the main part of post, we discovered a fifth-wheel parked in the spot that Brian had been told would be ours, and no one there. Being after 5pm, there was no-one answering the phone number for Outdoor Rec (the group that oversees the RV park). There was one empty spot left, so we pulled in there and hooked up. Brian left with Kirk and the girls to go to the airport and get a rental van. Some time later, another Class A motorhome pulled up... I happened to be sitting outside the rig with the dogs. The owners of that rig were confused as to why we were parked in the spot reserved for *them*. I explained the situation and told them I was waiting for Brian to get back with the rental car. These folks were very nice, but also fairly insistent that this was their spot and they wanted to park there. They wondered if perhaps our reservation was for the "other" RV spot on base, located out near the river. I told them it shouldn't have been; that wasn't the area we had requested.

In the meantime, Brian called and I told him of the situation. This was not a happy time. He did locate the other RV area, but the site number we had been assigned was occupied there, as well. It took him a little while to find his way out of the woods there and get back to the main RV site, but while he was doing that, the folks occupying our spot arrived. They said they were supposed to have been in a different spot, but it was occupied when they got there; they called Outdoor Rec, who told them to take our spot.

Long story short, we unhooked and pulled out and drove over to the church behind my sister's house to boondock for the night. I don't even know what time it was when we finally arrived. Much later than it should have been, that's for sure. Brian has plans to get back over to the Arsenal today and get some satisfaction. The folks in our spot were only staying one night, so hopefully we will be able to get in there before someone else comes along and takes it. Our credit card had already been charged for a 4-night stay, so there will have to be some refunding done at any rate.

Anyhow, once we made it to my sister's, we had a good time saying hi and seeing the dogs and kids (3 of her 4 boys were there... they are all grown and out of the house now). I can't wait to take some pictures of Rory and my sister's dog, Rockwell. He is a Great Dane as well, but has 5 years, a few inches and MUCHO pounds on Rory. He is massive. But for all that size, he is just a big lover. He spent much of the night giving me kisses and hugs (a hug involves placing his head next to mine and then leaning into me.... we were having a contest as to which one of us could lean the most).

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Git 'r done

It's our last day in MO and we will be busy trying to do everything we can before heading out to Alabama tomorrow. That will include a big group lunch at Lambert's this afternoon. Not really sure what the rest of that "everything" will include; could just be hanging out and playing with the family.

The kids have really enjoyed being with their cousins this week. One of my nieces has kids that are the same age (within a few months) of my oldest 3. This makes for lots of fun for all of mine. They've played pool, ping pong, and washers. Last night, my nieces both came back to the RV with us and the kids and went swimming in the RV park pool. Then two of the kids spent the night in the RV with us last night. They'll be heading to lunch with us today along with their brothers and mom.

Time to hit the ground running!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Back where it all started

We arrived in Cape Girardeau yesterday afternoon around 2:30. This is the city in which Brian and I both went to college and where we lived the first 3 years of our marriage (he was still finishing nursing school then). The kids were uber excited to get to Grandma Betty's and Uncle Larry's houses (conveniently located side-by-side). The boys spent much time at my brother's house playing ping pong and learning how to shoot pool. Emily and I spent most of our time at my mom's, just reminiscing. Rory and Campbell were introduced to one of my niece's dogs, a little Miniature Pinscher named Zeke. In true big dog fashion, Rory was terrified of him. Now that is something I'd love to have on video.

No hard and fast schedule planned for today. The only sure thing is a good ol' dinner off the grill tonight... I believe Larry will be barbecuing ribs and pork steaks. At some point, everyone will want to come out to the RV to see it. I'm sure we'll also work on getting in some game time. Since there is a fishing pond here at the RV park, that might also be a possibility for some fun time today or tomorrow.

The kids are all asking to go to Lambert's to eat at some point as well. Perhaps we'll make that tomorrow's lunch. Meanwhile, it's time for me to get started with my day. I'm going to shower and get dressed and head over to the homestead while everyone else sleeps in.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Family gatherings

I am slowly getting over whatever it was that was taking me down. I stayed in the RV last night while Brian and the kids/dogs went back to his sister's house. Joel also stayed behind at his own initiative "to take care of" me. I dozed off and on and didn't get out of bed for good until 10am this morning. Still have a bit of a cough, but other than that, I can't complain. Brian and the kids are guzzling Airborne to try to keep from getting it, but I'm not sure if Brian started soon enough.

The dogs got to go up to the nursing home with Brian and the kids to visit Brian's mom today. Rory was quite the lady. The day room has a large glassed-in bird cage there (and birds are Rory's favorite thing to watch). She sat and calmly watched them; Campbell was the one who wanted to break through the glass. No manners. Tsk, tsk.

We were able to see lots of Brian's family today; ones we hadn't seen in a really long time and some we'd never seen. The 3 younger kids had a blast meeting cousins their own age and hanging out in the back yard with them. They played junk ball, top toss (a homemade version), and washers.

We did get a phone call from the RV park that the winds were picking up and we needed to head back to put our awning down. Didn't get there in time to save one of the support arms which snapped. We did manage to get the awning retracted and everything back the way it should be; we just won't be able to use it again until we get that arm replaced. Seems like it would be a straightforward enough repair... We'll be 2 hours from the factory when we are in AL, so maybe we can call them and set up an appointment to have it fixed while we're there.

We'll visit Brian's mom one last time in the morning, then return the rental van and head down to Cape Girardeau.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

First Missouri stop

We made it to St. Charles, MO last night. I started getting Emily's sore throat late last night and today feel like a train hit me. Drinking lots of water, and sucking on lemon drops and Halls cough drops.

We visited Brian's mom earlier today at the nursing home, then took our laundry over to Brian's sister's house to get it worked on. I fell asleep on the couch. While I was asleep, Brian went to the grocery store and bought fixins for a hamburger/hot dog grill here at the RV. Both his sister's family and his brother's family came. They had planned for his mom to come, but weren't able to find a transportation service to get her here. The one that they had originally contracted with had mechanical issues at the last minute and couldn't do it.

Brian, Emily, and his sister are up at the nursing home now visiting his mom again. They took her some of the food from the cookout. Tomorrow they have another transportation agency that is picking their mom up from the nursing home and taking her to her brother's house, where all of her brothers/sisters and their kids will be gathering for a get-together.

I myself am ready to hit the hay, even though it's only 8:30 here.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Just as we get used to the routine of life on the road....

Real life steps in and smacks you upside the head. After we left Ogallala yesterday morning (6:30 am MST), I was online looking for a van to rent while we were in Omaha having the RV checked out. After I finished that up, I hopped over to my Google Reader to see what was new in the blogworld. I never expected to encounter what I did... a short post from our former preacher, Jim White, alerting us to the death of the 13yo son of friends from our church there. He was one of the 4 scouts killed in the tornado that decimated the Boy Scout camp in Iowa on Wednesday night. The youth minister from church, Franklin Wood, wrote a very touching tribute to Sam last night.

The news made for a somewhat more subdued trip. Friends had planned a cookout and had invited others from church to come to visit us. I wasn't sure whether we should continue it, but we decided it could be a good thing to help lighten the mood a little. We did spend some time talking about Sam and sharing stories about him. Tonight is a memorial service at church and we are so torn. It brings up memories from 3 years ago, just a week or so after we moved to CA, when one of the teens from church was murdered. We were so far off and felt so helpless. Well, now we are here, and feeling just as helpless. We want to stay for the service, but are stuck on a schedule.

Please pray for the Thomsens: Larry, Sharon, Lindsay, and Sara.

Today we will head to the St. Louis area. We have to return the rental van and then drive by our friends' house, as the 3 younger kids all wanted to spend the night there last night.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Day 3: From Wyoming to Nebraska

What an interesting day yesterday! Lots of wind, which made for some intense moments, especially on one stretch of interstate that was down to 1 lane and was a descent with many curves. Makes me very glad we aren't returning by this route. Took us a little while to get situated once we arrived in Rock Springs, and we wound up eating dinner at 9:30 at night. It was also rainy and even SNOWY. We had flurries this morning for the first hour or so of the trip as well. We were at a KOA last night.... not any place I'd like to stay at for any length of time. Their "pet walk" area was just a fenced-in plot of red dirt. Which meant mud because of the rain. UGH.

We are nearing Cheyenne, WY now and will be stopping for lunch there. Then it will be on to Ogallala for the evening. We should arrive there well before dark. This is a good thing, because we will need to leave early tomorrow in order to arrive in Omaha before noon. We have to take the RV to a local service place to have it looked at. The lights on our instrument panel aren't working for some reason. We tried replacing a fuse, but that didn't help. We'll spend the night in a KOA outside Omaha (Gretna) and then head on to Missouri on Friday morning.

Emily seems to be feeling better. She actually got out of bed today and has spent the better part of the trip up front with us. She and Rory are reclined on the couch together now.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

On the road

Greetings from Elko, NV! We left home yesterday morning a little after 6:30 and arrived here around 10 hours later. That included a couple of potty stops for the dogs and a refueling stop, during which we also ate lunch. (Speaking of refueling... gas has dropped 16 cents a gallon from the Fairfield, CA area; last price we saw was $4.o9. I'm wondering how far east one has to go to see it rising again.)

It has been a fairly easy trip so far, save for one spot in CA where I truly thought we were rushing to our deaths. Since I had only slept 3 hours the night before, I thought I'd try lying down on the bed in the back and seeing if I could catch a little rest there. This was on a stretch between Auburn, CA and Reno, NV. For starters, California roads are some of the worst in the world. Very rough and bumpy. I felt like I was on a trampoline with someone else doing all the jumping. But that wasn't the worst part. I could feel the RV heading down some big inclines and it felt like we were on a runaway train. Rory was lying down next to me and I held on to her and prayed out loud: "Dear God in Heaven, we're all gonna die!" and "Save me, sweet baby Jesus in the manger!" After what seemed like forever, things settled down and I came up front and asked Brian if it was as scary up here as it was in back and he looked at me like I had 2 heads. Apparently, I was having sleep-deprivation hallucinations or something. He said it hadn't been bad at all. So how fast were we going down the inclines? I asked him. 50 or 55, he said. My jaw dropped. I could have sworn it was more like 80. Note to self. Don't ride in the back when going through mountainous areas. It will conjure up images of death, destruction, and very bad things.

Anyhow, the rest of the trip was much easier. The roads in NV are as smooth as buttah (but with out all the fat). Once we got here and set up camp, I cooked dinner. (French Country Chicken.... a make-ahead dinner I made at Dream Dinners a couple of weeks ago.) Then Brian took Halke and Noah swimming. Joel stayed here and helped me wash/dry dishes. We took the dogs outside for a bit and played some catch, then came in to watch some tv. I was asleep by 8:30 or so.

The dogs were ready to go out at 5:30 this morning... yawn. They've both had breakfast now and are lying around. Everyone else is still asleep as well. Not sure when we'll get on the road today. Our goal for tonight is Rock Springs, WY. According to Google Maps, that's 410 miles. Brian is in charge of dinner tonight.... steaks on the grill.

One low spot of the trip is that Emily is sick. She seems to have come down with the same virus she had a few weeks ago ... kinda like a bad cold with a sore throat. She spent the entire trip yesterday sleeping; all except the last hour or so. Then she was back in bed after dinner. Hopefully she'll feel better soon.

Will write more later today or tomorrow!

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Is this how a hamster feels?

I was just answering an email to a friend, telling her what was/is/will be going on around here and realized perhaps I could use it to make updating here a bit easier. Perhaps after seeing it you will be more likely to forgive my protracted absence from posting:

We are leaving for a 3-week trip on Monday and I am stressing bigtime over all I have to do between now and then. Brian will be working in Sacramento on Sat. and Sun., so I will be packing the RV all by my lonesome (well, with the kids, but that doesn't help in the "remembering" dept.). Today, Emily has to be at school at 10 for her last final, Halle and Noah have ortho appts at 10:30, and I have a hair appt at noon. (Have to pick up Emily and get her and other kids back here between ortho and hair appt.) Then Em has to be back up at the school for graduation by 4:30 (choir is singing), and Brian and I have to be there at 5:30 (directing traffic).

I have to drive to Sacramento and back tomorrow morning to pick up a replacement iPod from the Apple Store there, so I can get it loaded up with music to take with me on the trip. Emily has some place to be from 1-3 tomorrow, then we have Celebrate Recovery at church... I am supposed to be there by 5:30 for worship team practice. Plus, the 3 younger kids are going to a birthday party (we'll drop them on the way and pick them up on the way home). No present bought for that yet: Can you say "GameStop gift certificate?" I knew you could.

Noah has a baseball game at 8 am on Saturday. If they win, he will have another at 1, followed by his team party at 4 at the base bowling alley. Emily has a birthday party to attend that evening; thankfully, it is just a few blocks away at the conference center here on base.... Evidently it is a big sweet 16 bash.

Somewhere in all that, I have to shop for groceries for the trip and get the RV loaded up with that stuff. Brian is going to pick up the RV from our storage unit today and plans on washing it this afternoon, then parking it in the "famcamp" (base RV park) so it will be ready for me to load up. It will be all hooked up to water/electric/sewer, so the fridge will be getting cold and ready for the perishables to go into it.

This is pretty much the way my life has been going lately... Running from one thing to another. Is it any wonder I haven't stopped to write a blog post???
There you have it: just a glimpse at the insanity that is my life lately.

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