Leaving Civilization for the High Desert

On Tuesday morning July 23 we headed north up Hwy 84 into Idaho.  Now this is where we really see High Desert!  So rugged there are no rest areas for hours and what few they had are now being used for highway construction crews to park equipment and paving products.  You drive for miles without seeing anything but small rocks and sage brush then all of a sudden you see green fields of corn, potatoes and beets.  Using irrigation from the Snake River these people are able to turn the area near Heyburn and Burley into profitable land thereby building dairies and cheese factories and businesses to support it all.  We made a quick stop in Heyburn at a Pilot truck stop.  What a mess it was around the edges from the trash and wind.  We were ready to leave quickly as the girls had to tip toe through the stickers!!  So we proceeded into Boise, ID with a quick stop planned for Home Depot.  We could pull alongside the building for shade and out of the way while we went inside to get supplies for our next project.  Then we drove on to Camping World on the west side of town.

new lamp

Here we were able to pick up new lube plate, water pressure regulator and order new wall lamp.  The one we have has broken twice from motion stress and the Leader has repaired two times, now it is being replaced with different style.

old lamp

Another Chinese product to recycle!  And shame on Keystone as it is not a cheap fix!

Thankfully we decided to bypass Boise for the night and drive in to Caldwell.  Here is where we found maybe the First Place winner in our RV park search. The folks at Ambassador RV Park have done it right.  Wide paved drives, graveled parking areas 80 ft long, concrete patios with grass lawns,50 amps, and a wonderful fenced Bark Park with green grass and graveled areas.  They have 180 spots and some full timers but the layout is well done and very clean.  Laundry even had air-conditioning and TV.

lounge area

The club house was beautiful and had a full kitchen making it ideal for groups traveling together. We will be back here for sure.

Quechee Gorge Near Woodstock, VT

This is not the Woodstock of 1960s music festival fame.  That one is in New York.  We are so near to this small town that all our travels pass either through or on the north side of their river. We also stopped at Quechee Gorge which is known as Vermont’s Grand Canyon and it is 165 feet deep.  Went back the next morning to get a better shot of the fall color but hard to do since it is so deep and narrow, but here it is!  We asked the store owner there about the impact of the storms last September from Hurricane Irene.  They said the level in the river rose 60 feet in 3 hours.  Now that is a lot of water in this area.  The damage to covered bridges, farms, roads and buildings is evidenced everywhere and we where able to get some shots of the Taftsville Covered Bridge which is still closed.

On Thursday we drove 35 miles through the Killington Ski area into Rutland to verify whether we could park the rig closer for us to work there next week.  After driving north, south, east and west we could not find anything without a long daily commute, so returned to our campground and made other arrangements.  We will relocate within this park, stay here then drive to Rutland, and stay in hotels for 3 nights, leaving our trip out of here on Oct 5 an easy retrace back into Portland, ME.  Not sure why there is a problem with RVs in Rutland but not even room to boondock in their Walmart parking lot.

Wandering over to Vermont

On Wednesday, Sept. 26 we left Portland heading to Rutland, VT.  Our research showed few campgrounds in that part of Vermont so we made the decision to stop in White River Junction/Quechee, VT at the Pine Valley KOA.  This campground is owned by a former CEO of Baja Boats and his wife and they run a nice efficient park.  A clean, well maintained and quiet place to stay next few days!  We set up then drove 4 miles to one of our favorite places for a late lunch.  The place is called Firestones and serves the best flatbread pizza using fresh, local ingredients.  It is baked in a large old brick oven and has a great flavor.  After lunch we drove 10 miles into Woodstock which is touted as one of the prettiest small towns in America.  It was first settled in 1768.  Although the Revolution slowed settlement, Woodstock developed rapidly once the war ended in 1783.  Waterfalls in the Ottauquechee River which runs through the town, provided water power to operate mills.  Factories made scythes and axes, carding machines, and woolens.  There was a machine shop and gunsmith shop.  Manufacturers also produced furniture, wooden wares, window sashes and blinds.  Carriages, horse harnesses, saddles, luggage trunks and leather goods were also manufactured.  By 1859, the population was 3,041.  (Interestingly enough the pop. in 2010 was 3,048)  The Woodstock Railroad opened to White River Junction on September 29, 1875, carrying freight and tourists.  Laurance and Mary French Rockefeller built the Woodstock Inn in 1892 and also had the village’s power lines buried underground.  The economy is now largely driven by tourism. Woodstock has the 20th highest per-capita income of Vermont towns as reported by the United States Census, and a high percentage of homes owned by non-residents.  The town’s central square, called the Green, is bordered by restored late Georgian, Federal Style, and Greek Revival houses.  The cost of real estate in the district adjoining the Green is among the highest in the state.  The seasonal presence of wealthy second-home owners from cities such as Boston (less than 3 hours away) and New York has contributed to the town’s economic vitality and livelihood, while at the same time diminished its accessibility to native Vermonters.  To protect their beautiful ridgeline views, the town adopted an ordinance creating a Scenic Ridgeline District in order to protect the aesthetics and the views of the town. It was updated in 2007.  In 2011, North and South Park Street and one block of Elm Street won an award for great streetscape by the American Planning Association’s Great Places in America program.  It is really neat to see.  While there we went to the local grocery and picked up ice and few items and they carry Shurfine products just like stores back home!

First weekend in Donnelly

Buddy Tom has a boat so Pack Leader and Buddy decided to fish on Saturday and Sunday.  Seems as if Cabelas has placed some fish in the lakes up here with tags for prizes!  Top prize is $1mil and they were in pursuit of this tag which had to be found by July 9, 2012.  By Sunday evening they had caught 5 nice trout but no tags.  Oh well, everyone will enjoy their trout dinner and the guys enjoyed the fishing trip.

On the trip up here we traveled some rough roads and in the process 2 of our pantry doors popped open and discharged a few items onto the floor behind the slide.  We noted the problem and retrieved the items, but missed a small clamp so when we opened the slide the clamp was crushed and damaged the vinyl floor.  A very careful repair was made and can hardly see it.  But now we must prepare some guards to attach to the handles each time we prepare for departure.  Always something to challenge our ingenuity!  Guess we will use some of the infamous little bungee cords from Walmart!

Monday was quiet day as the guys were tired from all their fishing.  Rested in the morning and plotted the relocation of a large storage shed behind Tom & Katherine’s unit.  It has been there about 10 years but seriously impedes the easy turning required of their new Cameo 5th wheel when landing next to the big deck.   So after much walking and talking, we decided to go into McCall and purchase some round timbers to serve as rollers.  And we drove up to Ponderosa State Park to get a shot from the prime overlook of the entire Payette Lake area.  What a beautiful place!

While in McCall we went into Ridley’s Supermarket for a few groceries.  Then back home to begin the moving task.  With the use of a John Deere lawn tractor and the timbers, the 10×12 shed now resides about 30 ft away and in better spot.  As we finished a wonderful rain shower came over and quickly turned into a small hailstorm but cooled us off.  After that we were all too tired to cook so drove into McCall for dinner at Chapalas Mexican.  Service was slow and disorganized but food was perfect.  They are a chain here in Idaho and this was an unusual event as their food is always good.  Must be recovering from the busy 4th weekend crowds!

New chairs and doors

Before we set out again we needed to make a few changes.  First thing we did was move the heavy Keystone recliners into the house and replace them with some great Stressless recliners in Chocolate leather.  Ordered the medium and small and they fit within the slide area just perfect.  Much lighter to move each stop and actually provides some extra seating with the separate ottomans. See our improved seating here!

Now we just have to find time to sit down and relax!

The second thing we did was order two cabinet doors and matching hardware from Keystone then added them to the cabinets to provide better access to the lower kitchen sink area and upper side pantry area.  Makes a roadside stopover for lunch easy and looks like they were always here. Check them out! 


Taking time for more updates

While in Tyler last month I sprayed a stemware rack from Bed Bath and Beyond with oil finished bronze paint and let it dry outside.  Now we finally got to hang it where we planned.  Works well and our acrylic stems are finally out of the cabinet and more accessible. We just added a small bungee cord to the exit side towards the sink and it secures them for travel.  Not in the way of anything!  A small jar of bungee cords from Walmart has 20 of them and good for every purpose.  Even used them to secure the coffeemaker to the small rail near the end of the counter.  And several help secure the PVC section we use to support the sewer hose each trip.  Good purchase!

Remember the pantry door that would not open fully due to the fancy trim blocks Keystone added to the top of each slide?  Well, we finally decided to tackle this issue.  We carefully removed all the blocks and the back pieces of oak.  Then we  inverted and positioned each block onto the corner area using Liquid Nails. Without the back pieces each one then lays flat allowing the doors to open fully. Simple fix and looks good! Here is how it looks after we did our work.

A place to hang clothing overnight was a problem in the master bedroom.  We thought about this one for several months.  Then the solution appeared right under the 19″ wall mounted TV.  We purchased a 3″x24″ piece of poplar from Home Depot, routed the edges, sanded and stained it. Then we mounted 3 oiled bronze double hooks on the board and then attached it to the wall. Bingo! we can hang our stuff every night and looks good.

Sweet Dreams

After sleeping in our 5er since October on many trips, we determined the OEM mattress was not cutting it. So today on a rainy Saturday that all changed. This morning we drove back into Tyler and as soon as we finished lunch with our kids and grands, Daughter and I set out on a search for better night’s rest.  At the second stop we found the perfect combination of queen size, comfort and price – Rufino Plush by Corsicana Bedding.   It’s made in America, actually a local Texas company, and has a 10 year warranty.  In 1974, they moved into a 24,000 square foot facility in Corsicana. And as the economy changed, they expanded their services to include production for retail furniture and bedding stores. By the end of 1978, the demand for their mattresses and box springs was booming. So they changed their name to Corsicana Bedding, Inc. to reflect the growth and focus in this amazing industry.  They continued to grow through the mid 1980’s. In 1987, they expanded the sales area from Continue reading

Dogs in – Bugs out

After many months of looking for any option that would protect the screen door from 2 Basenjis on guard and keep bugs out and allow breezes in, we finally solved the problem. We bought a 30 inch white screen door guard from Home Depot.  By turning it sideways and some careful measuring, Handy Hubby was able to cut it with tin snips and a hack saw then use the remaining parts to effectively install a nice looking grid with screws on the lower part of the entry door. The first picture shows a closeup of the installation from the inside and the second picture shows the completed project from the outside.  Looks nice and the girls approve every time other dogs pass by and do not tear the door off. Seems like this would be a good market for someone to address as I know we are not the only RV owners with dogs who look out the door. But there sure was nothing we could find that was durable and fit our door.  Some used part of a baby gate – too narrow for our door and some used plexiglass – no breeze.

Storing doggie stuff

As anyone who travels with dogs knows, they are as bad as kids with all their stuff. Since our girls like to eat we had to find a storage area for their food and treats.  Under the kitchen counter on the dining room side was another infamous Keystone odd shaped cabinet. Deep and tall and useless!  So we measured then cut a very odd shaped shelf, stained it and installed with the small decorative bronze screws from Home Depot going outside to inside through thin walls into the support strips. Now we have a place for lots of dog food and for storing all kinds of canned and bottled drinks. Continue reading

Tackling the bath storage next

We noticed very soon that many RV owners had a problem with hanging towels in the bathroom. Ours was an easy fix.  We simply added a 3×14 inch poplar board stained to match the woodwork and placed 2 bronze double hooks from Home Depot on it. We placed this 6 in. down from the ceiling on the short wall beside the bath door and above the heat vent. Bingo – towels hang out of the way, within reach of the shower and dry easily before the next use. Continue reading