Friday, September 25, 2015

Family Time

A death and funeral are sad, somber events. But they also provide family time that is both comforting and good. We have two family dinners in the past week. The first time, we didn't take any pictures, but this week John took quite a few. (I forgot my phone that day.)

Our niece Tina invited us and her mother--John's sister Cindy--to dinner Wednesday. Tina is quite a gardener and a very creative person. She grows lots of flowers.

And also vegetables.

Notice the scarecrow in this garden plot.

And the large pumpkin in this area.


The other day, I told her I had never really seen potato plants. So while we were there, she harvested some she had grown.

You can see evidence of her creativity in this photo. Cindy is standing by a flower bed. In the background, you can see several structures that look like windows--being used as focal points in her back yard. Closer to the patio, she also displayed some old windows from the farmhouse where her husband grew up. 

Here are some more beautiful flowers in her garden.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Not-so-Good Life on the Road

Most of the time, our life as full-time RVers has gone smoothly. But not always. Recently, we have faced a number of problems. Last month, I blogged about our refrigerator door lock failing. We have to clamp and tape the doors closed when we travel.

The next issue was a broken light fixture above the kitchen counter. The attachment at the ceiling broke and we have had to remove the glass shade to prevent it from breaking. Since the one light swings freely when the RV is moving, we put it up on top of the dining room table slide when we are on the road.

These are inconvenient issues. But recently, as we headed north out of Hurricane, Utah, we discovered that the curb-side front hydraulic landing gear was slowly descending as we drove down the road. We learned about it when I heard a new metallic noise as we drove down the road. That time, it had come down all the way and was bouncing on the highway. Not good. Below are pictures of it when we first found the problem and another time when it had come only part way down all the way.

A week ago, we drove 80 miles from Golden  to Wellington, Colorado, and John had to pull off the road every 10 minutes so I could get out and retract the leg. This was on very busy I-70 and I-25. Obviously, we can't live with this.

We did a lot of calling before we could even get a mobile RV tech to come out. Every repair facility we talked to was booked for over a month. We don't want to be here another month before they diagnose the problem and then fix it.

Finally, this week, the RV Doctor came to our RV site.

Scott called Lippert Components, who manufactured the hydraulic system, to guide him through a pressure test to find out if the seal had failed. Some RVers would probably tackle this task themselves. But look at what is inside. It wasn't anything John wanted to try.

Scott ran the test and Lippert said we need a new leg.

The good news is, he is having the part sent overnight (or almost, it will be here Tuesday.) And he can install it right here in the RV park! Maybe we really can move the RV in a week.

In addition to these problems, my computer started acting up and freezing. Thankfully, there is a Best Buy store and the Geek Squad in Fort Collins. I took it in Thursday and was able to pick it up yesterday. Since this is the computer's third visit to the Geeks since I bought it in August last year, I am really glad I paid for Geek support.

I am writing this blog on the repaired computer and everything seems to be working fine. Hopefully, we are now headed uphill after this valley of problems. As soon as the funeral is completed in a week, we look forward to smooth roads and travel back to Arizona.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Why Are We Here?

Last month, on August 17, we left Colorado and went into Utah to explore many of the geological wonders of the state. We were then headed to Arizona for the winter. So why did we pass this sign 24 days later?

Unfortunately, our brother-in-law died in Fort Collins and we wanted to return to Colorado to support John's sister Cindy. And John will be officiating at the funeral later this month. It has been a very sad and difficult time for all of the family and we are grateful we can come to support them and be with them in this time of grief.

Since we were in the southwest corner of Utah, our trek took us through Richfield and Green River in that state, then to Grand Junction in western Colorado and Golden before driving to Wellington, just north of Fort Collins.

It was a hurried trip, and a sad one, and we didn't have time to explore any of the route. It had been years since we had driven on I-70 through the Colorado mountains. It was a beautiful trip, however. All of these photos were taken with my iPhone through the windshield that had lots of bugs. First we went through Glenwood Canyon.

Then it was up, up, up and over Vail Pass, glimpsing the Vail Ski Resort as we drove by.

The Colorado mountains are always beautiful.

We saw a few areas where the trees are beginning to turn in the fall weather.

Then we drove through the Eisenhower Tunnel, which goes through, not over, one of the mountains. We were above timeberline was we approached the tunnel entrance.

As we emerged on the east side of the tunnel, we were even higher than as we drove over Vail Pass.

From there, it was all down hill. We are at 5400 feet for the next two weeks.

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Helpful Folks

We didn't have a good start to this day. We were no more than 2 miles from Utah's Sand Hollow State Park, where we had spent the past two nights, when we realized the right (or passenger side or curb side) front hydraulic landing gear was inching its way to the ground. Two travels ago, I had hear a new metallic sound and realized that landing gear was dragging on the ground. Not good!!

Then, the next time we towed the trailer, nothing happened.

Today, we stopped several times in the first 5 miles of our trip to again raise that leg.

We finally pulled to the side of the road in Hurricane and called CoachNet. After giving our location and explaining the problem, they promised a technician would call us. We had called them for help once before and were able to talk to a technician within just a few minutes. This time, it was 20 or 30 minutes later when a Hurricane police officer stopped to see if we had a problem. After learning of our issue, he told us there was a large RV dealer about 3 miles in the opposite direction. He helped us find a place to turn around (not easy with a 36-ft trailer in tow) and helped us find Nielson's RV. We turned in and went inside.

Dennis, a technician in their service department, came out to see what the problem was.

He tightened all the hydraulic lines, had us run the front landing gear up and down a few times to purge the air from the line, and finally pronounced the problem fixed. We asked what we owed and he said, "nothing." Amazing.

We then drove 160 miles north to Richfield with no problems. I did keep looking in the rear view mirror to be sure the leg was staying up. Something I will be doing for several days' travel. But, for now at least, it appears the problem is fixed. Thanks to a helpful policeman and a knowledgeable RV technician. We are so grateful for people like them. Thank you, officer. Thank you, Dennis.

Saturday, September 05, 2015

Caring for Cairns

Anyone who does much hiking, especially in slick rock country, knows what a cairn it. It is a stack of stones that marks a trail. At least, that is usually the case. When we were in Green River, we saw numerous cairns along the main street in front of our RV park. We finally asked if the woman at the front desk if she knew anything about them. She said some man from the community builds them and comes every few days to rearrange them. What fun. Look at what he displayed earlier this week.

That is a lot of work. And when there is a wind storm, like we had one day while we were there, some of the cairns fall apart and the stones scatter around the base. It was fun to see what he had built for the public to see.

Friday, September 04, 2015

Interesting Museum in a Sad Town

We are slowly making our way toward Arizona, waiting for the temperatures to cool down a little. For some reason, we decided to spend 3 nights in Green River, Utah--I guess because the name of the town was familiar. The John Wesley Powell Museum was right across the street. We had both heard about his trip down the Green and Colorado Rivers to explore the area and we have twice been on Lake Powell, so we were eager to check out the museum.

The 20-minute film showed how dangerous the trip was in wooden boats. Most of the narration came from diaries and writings of the people who survived the trip. This panel on the front of the museum shows a boat going through some of the rapids.

The group started with four boats. One was lost early in the trip, as well as many of their supplies. Looking at this replica of the lost boat, No Name, I can hardly imagine going across a quiet lake in it, much less an unknown fast-flowing river.

We weren't aware that Powell had made two trips down the rivers, in 1869 and 1872. On his second trip, he often rode on a chair like this, strapped to the boat. Can you imagine?

This sculpture in the museum gives an idea of how the explorers faced and overcame numerous challenges.

Powell was an amazing man. With almost no formal education, he learned geology on his own and was a college professor in that field  at Illinois Wesleyan University.  He fought in the Civil War, losing an arm during the battle at Shiloh.   During his time in the American west, he became an expert in Native Americans of the region and in their languages. He published several books in that field.

There had been earlier expeditions to explore the river and this unknown part of the American west. Powell was the first person to complete the entire trip from Flaming Gorge in Wyoming clear through the Grand Canyon in Arizona. In addition, some of the Mountain Men had attempted to navigate parts of the river in bull boats, like this.

I enjoyed listening to this Mountain Man, who told the stories of these other river runners.

We were glad to find this museum in Green River. Other than the Tamarisk Restaurant, where we had an outstanding breakfast, there wasn't much to do there. Like I said in the title, it is a sad town. Obviously, it was a major stopping point in years past. Whether I-70 and the fast travel it provided caused a decrease in travelers stopping or what, we saw lots of abandoned motels, gas stations and other businesses. This shows on of the creative uses of an old gas station.

This bank went out of business years ago. At one time, it was used as a souvenir shop. Today it is one of many abandoned buildings in town.

This house has obviously seen better days.

A motel and cafe that are still in business had neat old Route 66-type signs.

It has been many years since this truck has driven down the road.