Sunday, September 28, 2008


We are in the Phoenix area, visiting our daugher and son-in-law. Saturday was 103ยบ, with similar temps predicted for the next week... hot, hot, hot. The single a/c in our new 5th wheel seems to be up to the task of keeping us comfortable, though.

We'll likely be down for a couple weeks here; plan to spend some time visiting our daugher's school, time around the pool, and just enjoying our daughter and son-in-law. I'm thinking outdoor activities, like bike riding and walking are going to be best done first thing in the morning.

Molly isn't so sure about this place: gravel as landscaping isn't her style... she misses being able to lounge in the grass. While there's no grass to be had in the RV park we're in, the daily rental sites have small trees... in time they may provide some shade. As RVs get wider due to slideouts, these small bits of greenery in the gravel may prove to be a limiting factor. Plenty of length (room for our truck in front of the 5th wheel and their car behind), but we just barely fit between the trees.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

We've been traveling about with our new 5th wheel. After some time back at the dealer to take care of our shakedown items (nothing major), the remnants of Hurricane Ike hit the SW Missouri area - we got hammered with rain and wind! Rocked and rolled us all night - the horizontal rain blew in through the furnace vent and we got some water inside. No damage, but it was a pretty sleepless night.

From there, it was up to Lake of the Ozarks. Beautiful area, lots of water. We looked around, considering future potential homebase. The plan from there was originally to head south to Arkansas, but changed... we decided to take a bit of a detour - off to Arizona via Iowa. Going to visit family. We are happy with the 5th wheel and comfortable doing some distance.

At Lake of the Ozarks, we stayed in the State Park - skinny roads made for some interesting maneuvering. It was "roughing it" for us: electric only; no water/sewer/cable. We couldn't get satellite TV because of the thick forest and the cell phone coverage (and our wireless broadband) was non-existant. From there we went to Basswood RV Resort outside Platte City, MO. ALL the amenities, including a pool, nice store, cabins, and fresh made pizza - delivered right to your RV. Yeah, that's more like it!

After a couple days there, we are now in the Sioux City, Iowa area, visiting my dear ol' Mother. Even though we sent her photos of the 5th wheel, she seems to think we are living in a pop-up camper (must be the idea of the slideouts). There is some discussion that I may have been switched at birth... and there is a Gypsy family out there with a kid who doesn't like to wander about. ;-) OK, that's my theory, and it would explain a lot. Anyone else ever visit home and think "I must be adopted."

We'll spend a couple days here... that may be as much as my poor tongue can take (bite, bite, bite). Then we're off to the desert southwest to visit our sweet daughter and son-in-law.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Hurricane Ike...

4 days ago, it looked like Hurricane Ike was heading for our area. With each passing day, the weather weasels moved the prediction further north in the Gulf. Now, we are just hours from Ike making landfall near Galveston Island. It is a HUGE strong Category 2 storm; winds are currently 110 mph, which will cause a great deal of damage. But the real situation here is going to be the storm surge. There are predictions of the surge running in excess of 20 feet in the Galveston Bay area. This is sure to create major havoc with the oil industry, driving fuel prices even higher. Galveston Island is already flooding (7:30 pm local time). Sadly, the worst of the surge is going to hit very near the time of high tide. This is going to be ugly.

Also, with the size of this storm, the affected area along the coast is going to stretch close to 300 miles from the eye.

We are now at a point where we can pretty safely say the Tropical Tip has dodged the bullet on this one. There is some surge predicted, 3-6 feet. We talked to neighbors today who said the water is already high (around noon today). It's not likely that it will top our seawall, but the beach on South Padre Island is seeing very large waves that are topping the sea wall in the Isla Blanca Park area.

We left Branson this morning and are back at the RV dealer in Ozark, MO, getting some minor shakedown stuff taken care of. Our experience with NuWa and this dealer have been very positive. We area going to stay here for a day or two... the lot is paved and sloped. Heavy rain is predicted for this area... yes, the remnants of Ike will come over this area on Sunday, bringing 8-12" of rain. The campground we were staying at in Branson was just a bit too close to the water for our comfort - the RV dealer's lot should be a good place to be until this rain spell passes. In the meantime, we have hookups, our satellite TV, and wireless broadband... even if we don't get out for a day or two, we're pretty self contained.

Our thoughts go out to those on the Texas and Louisiana Gulf Coast... it's going to be a long, nasty night for those in the path of Ike.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Deja Vu All Over Again...

We've been keeping an eye on Hurricane Ike... it's now in the Gulf and heading towards the Texas Gulf Coast. Two days ago, it had its sites on our area; now the predictions are that it will go in somewhere just north of Corpus Christi. Looking at the size of this one, it's going to affect several hundred miles of the Texas coast and inland.

We are back in a holding pattern, waiting to see what happens with this storm. We're hoping we can stay in this area for a while, but will head for home if/when necessary.

While the hurricane is still a couple days off and the exact area of landfall is not certain, one this is a certainty: this is an ugly situation and it going to affect a lot of people.

Our best wishes to all along the Texas Gulf Coast.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Having Fun in Branson

We are settling in with the new 5th wheel... the living is comfortable...

The drive down from Ozark is only about 30 miles, lots of hills. It was the first time the truck felt like it really had to work. At the campground, it only took about 3 hours and 247 maneuvers to get it backed into the site. Yeah, I'm kidding... more like 2 hours and 45 minutes and 238 manueuvers. Once in the site, we took our time getting set up; we understand the RV part, it's just the 5th wheel thing that's new to us.

Once set up, Joan went to work rearranging all the things I arranged the past few days..

I have to admit, she does a much better job of packing and making things fit. And Molly the cat is getting comfortable with her new rolling home, too. Here she is checking out the basement compartment...

Branson has been interesting. We're not big country music fans, but we did get tickets for a show at the American Bandstand Theatre with Paul Revere and the Raiders and Bill Medley (of the Righteous Brothers). Not sure what I expected, but the concert was outstanding... Paul Revere and the Raiders (not sure if any of the Raiders besides Paul are originals) were tight and entertaining. They played a lot of their hits and sounded great. And Bill Medley put on a great show... when he sang "You've Lost that Lovin' Feeling," it gave me chills. During one blues song, he showed the CD it was on, then handed it to Joan (we were sitting in the front row). Turned out to be a very fun evening.

We've been riding our bikes, eating good, and enjoying our time here.

Oh, and some views inside, showing that everything has been put away...

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Branson Bound

We made a "recon" trip to Branson today. Still raining, so we took the time to look over campgrounds in the area (and there are a bunch)... important criteria for us: not muddy, preferably paved sites, reasonably level. We plan to spend a week or so there to shake down the coach; maybe see a couple shows, and see the sights. Branson is in the hills, so many of the campgrounds are heavily wooded with twisty roads... we're looking more for wide open - room for our slideouts and a clear shot at the southern sky to get satellite TV. We've narrowed our picks down to three. Sure glad we went there without the RV at first; some of the campgrounds we drove through were enough of a challenge to get through with just the truck.

When we came back to the RV dealer late afternoon, one of the guys ran me through the procedures for hooking and unhooking the 5th wheel to the truck. I practiced it a few times... I will use a checklist - seems that there is more to remember than setting up a motorhome.

We've checked out most of the systems in the new 5th wheel, except dumping the holding tanks. There is a dump here at the dealership, so I asked if we could use it. The RV sales manager said, "Let me get one of our guys to do that for you." He took the cap off... and blue treated sewage spilled out! Yeah, that's not good. They think it is just an adjustment on the cable, and no big deal. We'll see when they check it all out first thing in the morning. Better to find out before we leave here rather than when we get to a campground.

We'll see what they find out in the morning.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Time to build an Ark?

Look, Ma - no leaks! I'm running out of synonyms for rain... it poured today. The local weather folks called it between 3 and 6 inches locally. We did our walkthrough this morning with Fernando... he looks young, but is very competent; answered all our questions without missing a beat. With all the rain, we decided to spend another night or two at the dealer... we still need to go through the hookup/setup procedure, but I think we'd all like to do it without getting drenched. I told Robert that we should be outta here by mid-October at the latest. ;-)

We made a run to Camping World and Bass Pro Shop in Springfield today. At the recommendation of folks here, we ate at Lambert's yesterday - yes, the food was good, plenty of it, and we caught rolls. Today we had lunch at Hemingway's at Bass Pro Shop (seems that most of them we visit have Islamorada Fish Company)... they had an amazing buffet: lots of entres, including chicken, roast beef, turkey, catfish, ham, pasta... and less than $9 pp. Great ambiance. An unexpected dining delight!

Back at the LS, we have gone through the downloaded checklist, run all the systems (except dumping the holding tanks)... even have most of our stuff put away. Now we are just getting accustomed to where all that stuff is. After days of running, hours of carrying, and weeks of waiting, we are trying out all the furniture, watching the crispy digital TV (oh, I still have to find a good place to put our satellite receiver and get it wired). The lights are low, the fireplace is glowing (don't need the heat right now, but I'm enjoying the look of it much more than I would have thought), and we feel like real people again.

Yeah... nice.

Making the switch...

Tuesday, September 2nd. We rolled into the dealership just before noon. They were ready for us and had us pull the toy hauler up door-to-door with our new 5th wheel. The sky was looking gray, the forecast was for heavy rain for the next few days (the remnants of Hurricane Gustav caught up with us); we decided to get our stuff moved from the toy hauler to the Nu-Wa before doing anything else. The folks at Campbell Ford were very accommodating. We took a few minutes to walk around and in the new coach, then went to work. While we were moving stuff, the service folks went to work installing the hitch in our truck.

It was surprising how much stuff the toy hauler could hold; by 2:30 we had emptied the trailer and had our stuff in the 5th wheel... not put away, just in. As I was carrying the last container in, it started sprinkling.

We took a break to have lunch, then went to work putting everything away. It was well into the evening before we had the new coach livable... the basement compartments are full, but we actually have some extra drawers, shelves, and closet space. Maybe we need to buy more stuff? Maybe not.

The new coach is gorgeous: nice glossy gel-coat exterior, oak cabinets, Corian® countertops, leather recliners... certainly a step up from the spartan accommodations in the toy hauler.

It will be a while before we know where everything is... Joan put me in charge of clothes while she arranged the kitchen. I put all the big stuff in the basement storage. We may need to make a chart so we can find things later.

And what about Molly? Thanks for asking - she was not a happy girl when we locked her in the bathroom while we moved things. When she could see that she had a new place for food, potty, and lots of sleeping options, her attitude changed... "Yeah, this is more like it."

The rain is supposed to hang around for days; there was a flash flood warning for this and all the surrounding counties last night. We plan to spend a couple nights here at the dealership while we learn all the ins and outs of this new coach. Maybe by then the rain will stop and I'll be able to post some better images.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Almost there...

A couple days later, and we are nearing our Missouri destination (where we will pick up the new 5th wheel). Our weather has been lovely, but Hurricane Gustav has had an impact along our route - motels and campgrounds have been full with the folks evacuating the Gulf Coast.

Seems that the hurricane preparations in New Orleans and the rest of Louisiana have paid off - Gustav came ashore SW of New Orleans, but with a bit less punch than first feared. The mass evacuations kept a lot of people out of harm's way. In another day, we'll get a look at what the storm damage is. The weather weasels seemed to be salivating over this one, with the hopes of a "scoop" on the havoc... hopefully, they will continue to be disappointed.

At this point, it still isn't a done deal, but the hurricane has lost a lot of power as it moves further inland.