Friday, June 24, 2016

What a City!

We have spent a few days in Buena Vista, a small town maybe 50 to 75 miles west of I-25. Though we have been here before, this is the first time we have really explored the area and have been pleasantly surprised to find what a great little tourist town it is. The biggest draw is the Arkansas River. Fishing, rafting and kayaking are all popular.

There is a great trail from downtown to the river with good views of both the surrounding mountains and the white water park that has been constructed here.

The White Water Park was built to allow everyone from beginning to advanced kayakers to practice their skills. This sign explains a little bit about the park.

After our walk along the river trail yesterday, we had good breakfast burritos for lunch (brunch?) from this food trailer.

Some homes are being built right above the river. They are modern versions of the Victorian homes found in the historic part of town. One street there is cobblestone.

At one point we walked down to the river's edge and spotted this sign. It really shows the silver mining history of Buena Vista.

This sculpture or art work is located near the river.

The streets are decorated with nice trash can holders and flowers.

Barbara, this mural is just for you.

Monday, June 20, 2016

A Lot of Fun, Too

Our two weeks here at Chatfield State Park has been very busy and very stressful. But we've had a lot of fun, too. One evening we boated on the lake here with Eric, Liz and John. We had lots of time to talk and they had a cake to celebrate my birthday the previous week.

We really enjoy our stays at Chatfield every year. We saw deer right near our campsite one day. Many mornings hot air ballons are launched in the park. One day we watched one balloon come down right next to a group or boy scout campers and another right on the road at the edge of the campground.

The 55th reunion of the South High School class of 1961 was held Saturday night. We had a good time at the dinner talking to Beverly and Bill Totten, Don Morgan and Kitty Bowman Hadji. Kitty lived across the street during my high school years but this was our first quality visit in years.

Chatfield has a model air plane field. During our first weekend here there was a "Warriors Over Denver" event. Only planes painted with military paint schemes and insignia could take part. Most were made to look like World War II planes with both American and Japanese insignia.

Grandson John has competed in two swim meets during our visit. We were able to attend both. His smile shows how happy he was after a great time in one of his free style events the first weekend. At the second meet I got this shot of him diving in at the beginning of the 50 free (I think) event and one of him in the water, so far ahead of the other swimmers. He was several lengths ahead of 2nd place and made another really good time.

For Father's Day yesterday, Liz prepared a great meal and they brought it to our campsite where Eric and John cooked the steaks. Kylie was wearing her new sunglasses. Aren't they cool?

Our last night we attended grandson John's Boy Scout Court of Honor.  He received three merit badges and moved from the rank of Scout from Webelo.  Each time a scout moves to a higher rank, he receives a pin and his parent--either mom or day--also recieves a pin.  John put the pin in his dad Eric's ribbon.  His sister Kylie was there to see it.  Mom Liz was out of town.  We are so proud of the work John is doing in Boy Scouts.

We worked hard during our stay at Chatfield but we also had a lot of fun.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Our real trouble began June 4 when the front hydraulic legs wouldn't hold up the trailer. This is how we looked until June 13 when we traded in the Mobile Suites for the Airstream. That red truck in front of our truck and RV is Eric's/

Once we knew what we were moving into, we started packing boxes to ship back to Arizona

and bagging the stuff that would go into the Airmstream. That would make it quicker when we moved to the new RV.

These two photos give an good comparison of the size different between the Mobile Suites and the Airstream.

Here are some interior shots of the space we were moving out of.

And these show where we are now.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Whew! Downsizing is Exhausting

We began RVing in 1988, first borrowing a tent trailer, then buying our own Coleman pop-up. We traveled to the east coast and to British Columbia with that RV. We enjoyed it for probably 9 years before moving up to our first 5th wheel, a 1997 Komfort with no slides. (Our son Eric is still using that tent trailer.) We took the Kombort on many great trips, including one to the east coast. Eventually, about 5 or 6 years later, we decided we wanted at least one slide. We traded it for a 2003 Montana. Enjoying that one, we drove and rode the Alaska Marine Highway to Alaska, returning entirely on land. We also drove it to the Canadian Maritime Provinces.

In 2008 after volunteer assignments in Oregon, we were headed south into California when the front legs no longer worked. We were not able to take it off our truck until it was in the garage for repairs. While it was being fixed we checked out the dealers lot and bought a 2009 10th Anniversary Montana with 2 slides. We traveled extensively in that trailer including another trip to Alaska, after which we returned all the way to the lower 48 on the Marine Highway.

In early 2012 the front landing gear on that trailer failed. When we finally got it onto the truck, we had both front legs replaced under our extended service plan. By the end of the year, when we decided to look for another 5th wheel with 3 slides, we decided to go with a DRV Mobile Suites. We ordered it on line, using lots of advice from the Suites Owners forum and 3 different DRV dealers. After deciding which dealer to buy from, we waited for it to be built the way we wanted then picked it up in Chanute, Kansas, in 2013.

The Mobile Suites is constructed with more quality interiors, more style and upgrades than the Montanas. And it had a Lippert Level-up system that was a dream to use. Put down the front legs, removed the tow vehicle, push a button and it leveled itself automatically. That is done with hydraulic landing legs. Last September we began having serious problems with the hydraulic system ... more serious than the electric legs in either Montana. We had one front leg replaced last September after it wouldn't stay up. We had to keep stopping the truck every 10 miles as we drove on I-70 and I-25 in Colorado. This May, the system again failed: first it came down while we were parked with the RV still on the truck. Then the front end of the 5th wheel got lower and lower while we were parked.

We traveled from Arizona to Oklahoma to have the closest DRV dealer examine it and, we hoped, repair the problem. When we arrived at the dealership we were told our trailer wouldn't even be examined for 7 days, even though we had been led to believe he would immediately work on it when we arrived. Seven days later he spent 2 1/2 hours testing the legs and declared it OK. He then suggested, if we intended to keep the unit, we have the legs replaced and recommended a shop in Indiana. We left the dealership and drove directly to Amarillo. While in Amarillo the trailer legs again failed. We contacted the shop in Indiana and found that the earliest appointment was at least a month out.

We drove to Colorado without disconnecting our 5th wheel. It's difficult to get fuel, to shop for food and to visit when you have to drive a one-ton dual wheel truck and a 36 foot 5th wheel everywhere.

That was enough! No more 5th wheels for us. The living space and storage space in that type of RV is great. We have lived full-time in our last 2 for a total of 7 years. But we are no longer full-timers and we decided to downsize and look on our travels more like camping.

We arrived at Chatfield State Park near Denver on June 7. Since we couldn't take the 5th wheel off our truck, our son loaned us his pickup so we could get around without taking the trailer everywhere. The next day we went looking for a travel trailer. At Windish RV in Lakewood, we looked at several Airstreams as well as a Jayco and Grand Design unit. The latter 2 had slides so there was more living space. But they felt cheap inside compared to the Mobile Suites and Airstream. So that day, we made our choice and said we would get back to them. We then drove to Stevenson Chevrolet in Lakewood. We didn't need a 1-ton dually to pull the Airstream which, fulling loaded, weighs 10,000 pounds less then the Mobile Suites. Once we made a choice there, we returned to Windish and made a down payment on the trailer. Then back to Stevenson and made a down payment there.

Not done yet, we returned to Chatfield and spent the evening with our son Eric and his family on their boat, including another celebration of my recent birthday.

Thursday it was time to begin downsizing our stuff. When we lived in the Suites full-time, we had everything we owned (except for a small storage unit of stuff) in the RV. In late 2014 we bought a small house in Arizona and took what we needed for the house out of the trailer. We traveled in 2015, then returned to Arizona. But we still had way more than we needed for our travels. We have been sorting clothes and boxing up what we want shipped back to Arizona, keeping on what we absolutely need. The 5th wheel has a large basement storage area that we will miss. The idea is the put a cover on the bed of the truck and use that to store those items.

Friday we were out by 9 to finish the paperwork and pay for the truck. Then we returned to Windish to look again at the Airstream storage. Back to Chatfield to sort, throw stuff away and give Eric and Liz what we think they can use.

Saturday there was more sorting and packing. In the evening we attended my 55th high school reunion. Sunday was a chance to relax little. Monday we took the Mobile Suites to Windish and picked up the Airstream. Since the refrigerator wasn't cold in the new trailer, we left all our food in the old RV until the next day. But it took a while to move everything else into the new RV. We had boxed and bagged a lot of it before we got there, but it still had to be carted from one unit to the other. We used the old truck to move it. Back at Chatfield, we began trying to find a place for everything.

Tuesday it was time to trade the old truck for the new one. That didn't take long at all. The biggest task was to have all the new electronics in a 2016 Chevy explained. We still have to read about it so we remember, but all the upgrades are amazing! Then we drove to Windish to pick up our food.

Wednesday we had appointments with our dermatologist and returned Eric's truck. We made a trip to Goodwill, ordered a bed cover for the truck, ran some errands and started changing our insurance to the new vehicles.

We are exhausted. It is an effort to mentally take in all the changes. We try not to get lost when we get up during the night, looking for the bathroom. Every time we want something we stop, look around and try to remember where it might be. Sometimes it takes checking several cabinets before we find it.

Finally, Thursday, we had a full day at our site in the state park. We did laundry and continued working on putting things away. By dinner time, we finally were rid of boxes and piles on every surface. Whew.

I'll post pictures of all this in my next blog.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Change and Being Busy

We bought a new trailer and a new truck to pull it. Doing all of than in just over a week is somewhat overwhelming and very, very busy. Here is a photo of our new Airstream Flying Cloud 28 and new Chevrolet 2500HD crew cab truck.

I will be posting a reflection on the experience in a few days, but right now all I have the energy, focus and time to do is figure out what we need to do tomorrow.

Friday, June 10, 2016

A Life Preserver

We haven't drowned in the jello but it sure has been an intense week. We moved our ailing RV up to Chatfield State Park in the Denver area. We were nervous the whole time, checking to be sure the front landing leg hadn't fallen. Thankfully, nothing went wrong. That was was on Tuesday.

We had planned to take the trailer to Indiana for repairs. But we really didn't feel up to driving 1,000 miles with the RV hooked up to the truck. That would mean taking it to gas stations and grocery stores as well as RV parks. We first had a new leg installed last September. Since that repair failed, we were afraid we would never trust the hydraulics in this rig again.

On Wednesday, looking for a life preserver, we went shopping for a new RV. Our purchase means we are downsizing, since the new RV is much smaller than the Mobile Suites we have been in since 2013. We spent the first year we owned it as full-timers. That means we had everything we owned in the trailer. Then we bought our small house in Arizona and moved a lot of stuff into the house. But everything we didn't need there was still in the 5th wheel. Now we have to deal with that stuff. We have downsized from an 1800 square foot house to a 5th wheel and now to a smaller RV.

But we are living in a real mess right now. We are surrounded by boxes and bags of things we will move to the new RV and boxing up the things we won't move. We will have our son Eric ship those boxes to us after we return to Arizona. Buying the RV, signing the papers, sorting through everything. All of that has been busy and stressful.

What did we purchase? If anyone would know, the Lone Ranger would. You will have to wait till my next blog post to find out.

Sunday, June 05, 2016

Jello vs Concrete

RVers talk a lot about their plans being made in jello--they can be changed whenever we want or need to do so. That's all well and good, but personally I prefer plans made in concrete. I like to plan our travels months ahead, make reservations where and when necessary, and then carry out those plans. Not this summer.

We had reservations that covered most of the time from May 3 when we left our casita in Gold Canyon, AZ, through June 26 and four nights in September as we started back south to Arizona. As you have read here, the problems with our hydraulic leveling system have made drastic changes in our plans. So far we have been unable to make it to two of our reservations. We have made plans to travel to Indiana to have repairs made in early July, so I have cancelled two of our July reservations.

Since my last blog post we have had even more problems with the level-up system. The front of the RV started drifting down fairly quickly. Now, we are staying hooked up to the truck, using it to hold up the front end of the Mobile Suites. We'll see how everything goes. Taking the RV with us everywhere is rather a pain (to say the least).

Stay tuned to find out if we will drown in this jello or find some firm footing for our plans. Will we go to Indiana for repairs or buy a new RV? We don't know yet.

Some parts of jello are really quite pleasant. This weekend we are near Canon City to visit John's sister and brother and their families. We discovered that John's great nephew is being married tomorrow and they asked John to bless the marriage. What an honor to be asked to be part of their lives.

Wednesday, June 01, 2016

It Was About Time

Yesterday we finally were free to leave Elk City, Oklahoma, and resume our summer travels. I considered that a pretty good present on my birthday! On May 8 we left Homolovi Ruins State Park in Winslow, Arizona. Yesterday was the first time since then we were free to travel wherever we wanted. Good deal.

We had been sitting in Elk City for a week, waiting for Slade at Rolling Retreats, a major Mobile Suites dealer, to check out our front landing gear. Early during our 12 day stay at the Flying J in Winslow, the passenger side front leg slipped down while the trailer was hooked up to the truck. Since that had happened last September, we wanted him to determine what was going on. He spent a couple of hours testing to see if there was a leak in the hydraulic system that operates the legs and found nothing. So that wasn't repaired. He did find another loose brake caliper and replaced that. He also suggested a company in Indiana that rebuilds seals on landing gear legs. We will be contacting that business, hoping they can ship two rebuilt legs to us in Colorado.

Getting things fixed is just a matter of finding a mechanic who knows how to fix it and has the time to do it, then finding the right parts. It is the time spent finding the right person, waiting for them to find the time to do the work, and getting the correct parts shipped in.

We have been living in a 5th wheel part time and full time since 1997. Breakdowns are just an unavoidable and unfortunate part of living on the road, pulling your home down the highways. This is the longest we have ever been unable to travel, but we have tried to make the best of our time, exploring the areas where we were sitting.
We left Rolling Retreats about noon and headed west. We are in Amarillo now. We are still a little tentative--with the leg staying up as we travel. But until it fails, it doesn't need fixing, I guess.

Amarillo is along the old Route 66. At our RV park we saw this old truck, memorabilia of times way past.