Saturday, September 27, 2008

Again We Wait

But this time we don't mind. On Tuesday we ordered a new trailer. We have been talking about it for a year. We bought a new truck last December so we could pull a new, larger and heavier 5th wheel. We planned to wait till 2009, but our recent repair problems, as well as the depressed state of RV sales, led us to do some shopping. We knew exactly the model Montana we wanted.

We looked while we were in Bend, Oregon, but they didn't offer us a price we thought was good enough. This week, we went shopping at Alpine RV in Morgan Hill, where our current repair work is being done. After an hour or so, we reached a deal that was really good, so we placed the order, and now we wait—till sometime next week when the brand new unit arrives from the factory. We are so excited! This is what it will look like on the outside.

Today was a really fun way to wait. We drove to Monterey, California. What a beautiful place! We ate a great lunch at the Old Fisherman's Grotto on Old Fisherman's Warf. John had fish and chips, I had a sourdough clam chowder bowl.

We enjoyed seeing the fishing boats,

the private sail boats

the pelicans

and the sea gulls.

As we arrived, some local people were distributing food and supplies to a group of homeless people. We don't know where these people spend the night, but they must know to expect food and help at the same place each morning.

It is harvest time in this part of California. We aren't seeing hay and wheat harvested as much as various vegetables. We aren't always sure what we see growing, but today we saw artichokes being harvested and probably tomatoes and peppers. It is so different from what we are used to. In the past week or so, we have also seen fields of cotton and romaine lettuce

Today we drove through a grove of eucalyptus trees and enjoyed the typical California landscape of brown grass and green trees. We also saw some cows—are they the happy cows that produce good cheese?

Sunday, September 21, 2008

This Is Getting Old

Saturday morning we left Redding feeling really good that our trailer had been repaired and everything was working correctly. When we started to unhitch and set up in Chowchilla, I pushed the button to raise the trailer off the truck and we heard strange noises. Guess what? The motor mount for the landing gear broke again! We decided to make an appointment with the Fresno Montana dealer, about 40 miles from here, for Monday. Their service department is closed on Saturdays. So instead we found a dealer in Morgan Hill, on Highway 101 near the coast, that could give us a Monday morning appointment.

Obviously, the motor mount wasn't the only problem. Hopefully,

tomorrow they will find the underlying problem and we can safely travel on our way. We have changed our plans. We will explore the California coast as we travel south, instead of visiting the National Parks along I-5.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Like Night and Day


        We are no longer sitting in Klamath Falls, waiting for someone to repair the landing gear on our RV.  Last Friday, we discovered it wasn't working and we called Mike's RV, a repair facility listed in the brochure at our RV park.  When we described what had happened, Mike said it was probably the gears that were stripped.  After we determined the manufacturer, Mike talked to a Keystone dealer in Colorado, who called Keystone in Indiana, leaving a voice mail.  By the end of the day, we learned the part was ordered and it would be shipped on Monday.  We had told Mike several times we would pay for overnight shipping.


        Since we were stuck in Klamath Falls, we found things to do and ways to explore the area till at least Tuesday.  If the parts were shipped overnight Monday, it should arrive Tuesday.  Right?  On Monday we learned it had been shipped that day, second day air.  It sounded like it should arrive Tuesday.  Mike said he expected it Tuesday or Wednesday.


        On Wednesday we talked to Mike and he said he had traced the package, which was shipped second day air, but UPS said it would be delivered Thursday.  We asked if he would bring it to the RV park and install it as soon as it arrived.  He assured us he would.


        At about 2:30 Thursday, when we had heard nothing from Mike, we decided to drive to his business and check on it.  We had been praying for days for God's help in solving this problem.  He answered our prayers when we drove out there.  We walked in the door and asked for Mike.  His wife, the receptionist, reported he was gone for the weekend on a hunting trip.  We were dumbfounded.  She said she thought our part had arrived that day.  When we asked who would install it if Mike wasn't there, she said, "Oh, the mechanic can do that.  But it will have to be today.  He doesn't work tomorrow."  Our response was, "We expect it to be done today."


        Right then the mechanic came back from lunch.  When we made it clear we had been waiting seven days to get the landing gear fixed, he agreed to come out and install the gears.  Less than an hour later, he was at our trailer.  But what he found was that the gears weren't the problem.  Mike had never come to check out the problem so he hadn't seen that the motor mount for the landing gear was broken.


        Tom, the mechanic, was the first person who really cared about our problem.  He couldn't really fix it, but he did jerry-rig a fix so we could drive to a proper repair facility.  We were so grateful when we were able to hook up the trailer before he left.  We had spent $235.63 in RV park charges, waiting for the part that wasn't needed. 


        All of this has been the night experience.  Friday we saw daylight.  While Tom was doing the temporary fix, I located Montana RV dealers in Redding and Sacrament, California.  As we drove out this morning, I called the dealer in Redding and they had the part we needed.


        We arrived at Cousin Gary's RV as 10:30 am.  By noon the landing gear and some other minor problems had been repaired and our extended warranty company had been contacted.  They covered the repair of the landing gear. 


        Seven days versus one and one-half hours.  And the people in Redding really care about serving their customers. 


        You can believe Mike will hear from us on Monday when he returns from hunting.  So will the local newspaper, Chamber of Commerce, and Better Business Bureau.


        We found a number of interesting and fun things to do in Klamath Falls.  But now we don't feel we can take time to hike in Lassen Volcanic National Park or visit Reno, Nevada, as we head south, after this one-week delay. 


        We thank God for leading us to visit Mike's at the right time Thursday and for leading us to Cousin Gary's in Redding.  Our prayers have been answered and there are good people out there, serving their customers.  We are blessed when we find them. 


Wednesday, September 17, 2008

We Haven't Twiddled Our Thumbs

We certainly haven't twiddled our thumbs while we wait in Klamath Falls for our trailer to be repaired. On Saturday we attended the Blues Festival in downtown Klamath Falls, on the shore of Lake Ewauna. We try to attend local festivals whenever we can, so we were delighted something was scheduled for that day. The entry fee was $15 per person, pretty high when you consider we aren't really fans of blues music. However, part of the proceeds benefit the local VFW and we thought that was worthwhile. We enjoyed watching the performers and we noticed that most of those attending looked like aging hippies or long-haired Viet Nam War vets.

On Sunday we attended the 10:30 am service at St. Paul's Episcopal Church here in town. The congregation was one of the friendliest we have met in a long time and we enjoyed the worship, the music and the sermon. In the evening we shared a glass of wine and good conversation with our neighbors in the RV park, Dave and Iris from Grand Junction, Colorado. When we are on the road, we often go many days without connecting to others. We are delighted when we encounter people we can enjoy.

Monday we drove to the Collier Logging Museum, about 20 miles north of Klamath Falls. We saw and learned a lot about logging in Oregon during our stay at Gnat Creek Hatchery near Astoria. All around us we saw the effects of the December 2007 blowdown and we started watching the TV program "Axe Man." All that helped us understand a lot of what we saw at the museum. They have so many pieces of old equipment for logging and road grading there.

Tuesday we biked 16 miles on the Oregon, California and Eastern bike trail. The old railroad right-of-way has been converted by the Oregon State Parks into a bike trail. It begins about one mile from our RV park.

This is the "tattle-tale" bridge (why is it called that?) where we started on the O C and E Woods Trail.

Here I am at Olene, the community where the paved trail ends.

We biked the 7+ miles of paved trail, then returned. It has been over two and one-half months since we last biked, so we were pretty tired when we got back to the RV. After lunch we did our shopping—groceries, fuel, liquor and cat food. We buy prescription cat food for PC, our diabetic cat. So I called the Klamath Falls Animal Clinic, who advertise in the brochure for our RV park, and found they carry PC's food. We went in with a copy of the prescription for the food and picked up two cases. That may get us back to our house in Colorado.

Today we were ready for some down time. In addition to all I have described, we have run 9 miles and weight trained two mornings since we discovered the RV landing gear wouldn't work. After our run today, we both wanted to sit around as much as possible. John worked on his carving; I printed pictures for the scrapbook and did the laundry. We also played some gin rummy.

The part for our RV still hasn't been delivered. The repair shop says the UPS tracking website reports it is enroute and due tomorrow. We certainly hope it arrives then. We would like to be on our way south.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

A Not-so-normal Travel Day

Friday was a normal travel day.  We woke up, did our Bible reading and prayers, spent an hour doing weight training.  Then we prepared the RV for travel.  I stowed the coffee pot and the glass tray for the microwave, hooked the closet doors and the sliding door to the bedroom.  John disconnected the water and electric.  I put the cats and the Trailer Life Directory and the map and water bottle in the truck.  I closed the slides.  The back struts were raised, and then it was time to extend the front landing gear to raise the trailer so it could be hitched to the truck. 


I pushed the button and it want "brr-brr-brr-clank, brr-brr-brr-clank."  "Stop," said John.   I stopped and he opened the storage compartment under the bedroom overhang, then said, "Try it again."  I did.  "Brr-brr-brr-clank."  "Stop."  This repeated several times.  Then we tried the hand crank—nothing worked.  John and I agreed it was probably a stripped gear.  So John took the cell phone and called one of the two trailer repair people listed in the campground folder. 


After describing what was going on, Mike said he would see if he could find the part.   We put the cats back in the trailer and waited.  Then we decided we would probably be here for a while.  We put down the rear stabilizers and opened the slides.  A couple of hours later, we visited Mike's shop.  He showed us another stabilizer gear assembly he was working on and explained that he doesn't like working with the Keystone dealers in Oregon (Montana is part of the Keystone company), so he had called a dealer in Colorado that he works with.  They hadn't called him back.


We returned to the trailer, called Keystone/Team Montana and determined that the landing gear was made by Lippert.  We called Mike with that information and asked him to call our extended warranty company for approval.  After several more phone calls and several hours, we learned the part had been ordered, but it wouldn't be shipped till Monday.  It should arrive Tuesday or Wednesday.


What a change in plans!  We had made reservations for three nights in Hat Creek, California, so we could explore Lassen Volcanic National Park.  We drove through the park four years ago and wanted to return so we could see more of its beauty.  I cancelled that reservation and we started looking at what there is to do here.


We like to plan our time.  And then we like to carry out those plans.  What that means is, we like to be in control of our lives.  And right now we aren't.  We must wait for the part and hope that is really the problem.  After all, Mike hasn't ever looked at our trailer.


All that said, by this morning we both realized that the only thing we are missing right now is mobility.  We have each other and our love, we have our home (a 2003 Montana 2850 RK), we have our two cats, we have internet access and good cell phone service and our truck is working fine. 


        After running three miles, we ran some errands.  We are parked in a water and electric site—no sewer. That's fine for two days, but not for a week.  We need to drain our tanks.  So we bought a portable waste tank and some more novels to read. 


Next we went to the Klamath Falls Blue Festival.  It is not our favorite music, but it was fun to see who attended and share in the local festival.  Part of the proceeds benefits the VFW.  Since our older son is serving in Iraq with the Marines right now, that is valuable.  When we returned to the RV park, our new neighbors turned out to be from Colorado, so we visited with them for a while.  Then we drained our tanks and relaxed for the evening.


Almost all communities have a lot of interesting sights and things to do if you really look.  Stay tuned for what we find here.


Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Oregon Sights

We have visited two wonderful sights in Oregon during the past week. Last Wednesday we hiked four and one-half miles along the Crooked River at Smith Rock State Park near Redmond. The park is renowned for the rock formations resulting from volcanic eruptions and erosion by the river.

We watched numerous people climbing the rock faces.

The rock walls are beautiful.

This formation is called Monkey Face.

Yesterday we visited Crater Lake National Park, further south in Oregon. I have wanted to visit the park for years and didn't want to leave the state without going there this year. We are so glad we made the visit. The lake is incredibly blue. Crater Lake is the deepest lake in the US as light passes through water, color is absorbed, first red, then orange, yellow and green. Only the deepest blue gets scattered back to the surface where we see it as the color of the water.

The 33-mile Rim Drive circles the lake, with many viewpoints of the water. We spent a good part of the day looking at the lake and reading more about the huge volcanic eruption that caused the collapse of 12,000 ft Mount Mazama 7,700 years ago. I took many photos, though without a helicopter I couldn't get the postcard view of the entire lake.

This is Wizard Island, a volcanic cone created by an eruption after Mount Mazama collapsed.

This is the Phantom Ship, a lava formation created very early and then revealed when Mount Mazama collapsed, leaving the large caldera called Crater Lake.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Deer and Frogs

We spent the last six days at the Crooked River Ranch RV Park in Terrebonne, OR, just north of Redmond. Arriving on Labor Day, the park wasn't crowded and everyone there was older and childless. It was so quiet and we had a great site. What we most enjoyed was the wildlife. Early each morning when we walked outside, cottontail rabbits bounded away in all directions. And a small herd of deer lived in the park. We could watch them eating mornings and evenings.

It seemed they grew more comfortable with the campers each day and this morning all seven were quite near our trailer. I was able to photograph them while I stood outside.

And through the rear window of the RV.

What a treat! We spent two months at the White River Wildlife Area and only once had a deer in our yard. On our morning runs, we saw deer tracks, but never the deer. Then we moved to a commercial park and saw them each day.

What we did see often at White River, in addition to the cows and the diggers, were small frogs. This is the best photo I got of them. It was sitting on John's chair next to the RV.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Shop Till You Drop

        Over three of the last four days we have shopped till we dropped.  You can tell we have been in the boonies for quite a while.  When we arrived here Monday afternoon, we asked where we could go grocery shopping.  When the woman on the front desk said they have a Super Wal-Mart here, our eyes lit up.  We haven't been in one for over four months.  Although we only needed some lettuce, as soon as we were set up, we headed out for Wal-Mart.  Fred Meyer, where we have been shopping in Oregon, is a general merchandise and grocery store, like Wal-Mart, but the prices aren't as good.  We ended up buying way more than lettuce.


        On Tuesday we drove to Bend, where we shopped the Mill District shopping area—a newly developed "life-style" mall with beautiful landscaping and a number of restaurants—both fast food and up-scale. I bought a pedometer at REI and we picked up a sandwich in a deli.  Then we were off to the factory outlet mall for new running shoes at the Nike store.


        Wednesday we hiked at Smith Rock State Park and never darkened the door of a store.  We made up for that yesterday, when we drove to the small tourist town of Sisters.  There the streets are loaded with art galleries, boutiques and t-shirt shops.  We didn't buy anything except gifts for our grandchildren.  However, it sure was good to window shop.  We have not come across real tourist havens in Oregon.  On the whole, that is good.  But we both enjoy shopping, even when we don't buy anything.  So Sisters as a real treat.  And the scenery on the drive there is great.  The Cascade Range is in view the whole way.  Beautiful!