Motorhome dead …

We left Dale Hollow on Thursday July 1st and headed to Lexington Kentucky Camping World. We had made arrangements ahead of time to buy and install a new Sleep Number bed there because it’s priced at $300 below the price at the Sleep Number store. Further, if we ordered it from Sleep Number direct online, there would be no way to get rid of our old mattress.

Alex at Camping World of Georgetown (north side of Lexington) was great. He had the boxes ready and waiting for us. He and I pulled our old mattress out of the coach and got it into his dumpster and he and another young fella brought the two large boxes into the coach for us. Then it was our job to figure out how it went together.

Not a lot of room to work – See how Kathy’s a little flustered?

It had been raining all the way up to Lex from Dale Hollow and was still raining hard at Camping World. We just parked in the lot, fired up the diesel generator, turned both a/c units on high, and dug into the instructions. It took us about two hours to get everything hooked up and inflated since we had to read the instructions and we didn’t have much room to unpack things in the confines of the coach. But now that we are “experienced professionals” we can install yours in likely less than an hour!

Our plan was to move the coach down the street to Cracker Barrel where there is RV parking. We’d have our dinner there, spend the night, have a good breakfast before heading on up to Ohio.

As we pulled down the Camping World driveway to head around the corner to Cracker Barrel, the coach lurched and slammed to an immediate stop. It was as if we hit a brick wall! But I was able to put it in neutral and re-start the coach. It idled fine and we were able to make it the two blocks to Cracker Barrel.

In the Cracker Barrel parking lot for the night w/ all the other RV’ers

HAH! The best made plans ….

We went on into CB for a Comfort Food dinner as we were feeling kind of nervous about what was to come in the morning.

We stayed the night comfortably although I was thinking all sorts of terrible things about transmission (expensive) and engine (super expensive) problems that could be diagnosed.

I needed to do some research on what the problem was and try to figure out what the next step should be in the morning. I went to my favorite source of information for all things technical related to RV’s. It’s www.irv2.com. irv2.com is an owners forum that has a whole host of sub-forums that are specifically focused on; brands and types of RV’s, areas of interest (i.e. appliances, heating/cooling, solar, body/paint, technology, drive trains, engine types/brands, and transmissions)

I decided that this seemed to be a transmission problem because the shifter panel (It’s an Allison 3000 electronic transmission) showed a flashing “X” instead of “D” or “N”.

Within the Allison transmission sub-forum I found where an owner had posted that the transmission needs a good clean 12.6 volts to the TCU (Transmission Control Unit (Computer)) in order to operate. When the coach would shudder to a halt, all the warning lights on the dash would light up like a Christmas tree. They blink erratically along with the warning buzzers and chimes sounding erratically. It acted like a dead battery problem although I was always able to restart the engine.

Thanks again to irv2, I found the Allison diagnostic routine and trouble codes published online. The procedure produced a Code 35 which told me that the TCU had a “power interuption”. This further confirmed my suspicion that the problem was most likely a loose or corroded connection somewhere between the battery box and the TCU.

In the morning I made a couple phone calls and talked with Freightliner in Lexington and they told me that there was an Allison dealer just up the road about 4 miles from where we were parked at Cracker Barrel. I called them (Clarke Power Services), talked with Steve in their Service Department and told him we’d try to limp up to see him.

Turned out we couldn’t make it more than just out of the Cracker Barrel parking lot and just started to turn the corner into State Route 60 when we crapped out again.

I called our Escapees RV Club Roadside Assistance Service and they sent out Roberts Heavy Duty Towing to take us down the road to Clarke Power Service.

Although we had to wait a couple hours for the tow truck to arrive, the time spent wasn’t a total loss. We used this time to move some things we’d need over the next week or so from the coach into the car. We had to copmpletely empty the fridge and freezer into our cooler and cold bags. We had to pack a few clothes, all our meds, important papers, cell phone chargers. Being that we didn’t really KNOW how long we would be homeless made the “take with” list a little difficult to determine. We used the rest of the time, walking back into Cracker Barrel for breakfast!

CB’s yummy Breakfast Scramble with ham, bacon, & taters

We had a pleasant surpise while we were eating breakfast. The waitress came up to our table (as we were finishing eating) to tell us that our meals were paid for. Turns out, when Kathy went to the ladies room earlier, another customer commented on her Glacier National Park shirt. The lady said they used to live out that way. As they talked, Kathy told her about the mechanical problems we were having and that we’re waiting on the tow truck. They told the waitress that they wanted to pay our bill and then they left so we didn’t get an opportunity to thank them so we’re doing it here – Thank You so much!

WOW – Fast Service!

Steve from Clarke Power Services emailed me this morning to let me know the coach is fixed. The technician found a junction box mounted along the frame that had worked loose and the wires inside were corroded and loose as well. He repaired the junction and placed the wiring into a new box and tested. All is well in the world.

We’ll head on down to pick it up and get it back here to Ohio. My hip replacement surgery is scheduled for July 22nd and the doc says it’ll be a couple weeks long recovery until I’ll be able to drive the coach at which time we will be heading west to Oregon to join our Escapees RV Club friends for a 10 day long rally along the Oregon coast.

So long for now, thanks for reading and riding along. Take care,

Herb & Kathy

We’d really appreciate it if you would do us the favor of helping us continue to publish this RV / Travel / Workamping blog. Do you purchase any products from Amazon? If you do, it would be great if you’d use the link in the sidebar or one of the links below to get to Amazon … after that you can change your search. By making your Amazon purchases from our site, we will receive from Amazon a small percentage of your purchase and it doesn’t cost you any more. We’d really appreciate your help. Thank you, Herb & Kathy

A Cabela’s Overnighter

(Continuing on our way to camp hosting at Dale Hollow Lake Resort State Park)

Although we wanted to try another Harvest Hosts location tonight, there weren’t any close enough to our route. We were deliberately taking local and state routes and staying off the internet. The trip, although a little longer, was far more beautiful winding our way on down into Kentucky’s horse country. The huge horse farms with their rolling green pastures were contained by what seemed to be endless black board fencing. The roads along the way are peppered with trees filled with lots of white and pink blossoms (crabapple / pear / dogwood)? It was a great escape from the boredom of the interstate although I’ll admit it did take a lot more concentration and energy to drive this route due to the hills and curves coupled with the traffic entering and exiting the roadway.

We could’ve stayed at any number of commercial RV parks, but we decided to opt for the Cabela’s right off I-75 on the east side of Lexington. Here’s the route we took today.

Our travel route to Cabela’s today

We used one of our favorite RV apps ALLSTAYS.com. The reviews from other RV’ers indicated it’s pretty quiet and safe with 24 hour security.

Our spot right around the corner from the front door

Usually there are 5or 6 spots available for RV’s, but about three of them are taken up by large shipping containers, presumably filled with new fixtures for some planned store remodeling. We grabbed the spot closest to the store entrance. There is also a dump station here with fresh water as well, but it’s out of order right now. We’re OK, we have a 70 gallon fresh water tank that I filled up when we left Ohio.

We went on inside, gave the lady at the service desk our card, and told them we were parked outside for the night and thanked them for letting us stay.

We each took a little nap this afternoon. We opened the windows that were not in direct sunlight, turned on the ceiling (exhaust) fans and soon fell asleep for an hour or so. The fans brought in fresh cool air and the whirr of the fans drowned out any parking lot sounds. It was nice.

Late afternoon came and we unhooked the car and went for a little drive around the area. Boy was that a mistake!!! As I should have realized, Cabela’s is in a developed area filled with lots of shopping, office complexes, and apartments and subdivisions. Those are places we don’t like to go to – especially during RUSH HOUR!

We did stop at Lowes to get a couple small springs for a fixit project I’ve got, then finally found our way back to peace and quiet at Cabela’s. We made our dinner of tossed salad with mushrooms, blueberries, salami, cheddar cheese, and hard-boiled egg. Kathy added crab meat to her salad.

Look what we found!

Freddy’s Steakburgers and Frozen Custard

After supper and a walk around the large Cabela’s parking lot, Kathy found this Freddy’s store at the outside perimeter of the lot. We agreed we would go there after our walk to get a little treat!

They call it “Concrete” – I call it a “Flurry” or “Blizzard” (Oreo Mint flavor)

Tomorrow will find us moving further south and arriving at Dale Hollow Lake State Park, our home for the next 3 months. We’ll leave the coach there and drive the car back up to Ohio to visit the doctor for a follow-up to my shoulder rotator cuff surgery. Hopefully he’ll tell me all is good and I can start physical therapy. There’s a hospital in Burkesville – about 30 minutes from the campground, where I can get started and hopefully soon after finish up on my own at the campground.

That’s all for now. I’ll follow up with another post once we get settled at Dale Hollow and have the opportunity to take a look around.

Stay safe …

Herb & Kathy

We’d really appreciate it if you would do us the favor of helping us continue to publish this RV / Travel / Workamping blog. Do you purchase any products from Amazon? If you do, it would be great if you’d use the link in the sidebar or one of the links below to get to Amazon … after that you can change your search. By making your Amazon purchases from our site, we will receive from Amazon a small percentage of your purchase and it doesn’t cost you any more. We’d really appreciate your help. Thank you, Herb & Kathy

Our First Harvest Hosts Overnighter

We left friends and family in My Gilead about 9:00 this morning and slowly meandered our way down U.S. Route 42.  We deliberately took the U.S. Route instead of the interstate.  After all, we’re retired and not in any hurry, right?

Our first travel day in a year!

We stopped at the T/A Truck stop near London to fill our diesel since we have a discount card that saves us a good chunk in the Big Truck lanes at T/A, Loves, Pilot, Petro, and a few others.  Besides, in the truck lanes the nozzle is at least twice the diameter of those in the car lanes and we can fill this 94 gallon tank in a jiffy.

With our TSD Logistics card we save sometimes as much as 60 vents a gallon.  Today the pump price was $3.17 and we paid $2.70 … That’s a good price for diesel — we saw other stations on the way down that were as high as $3.35/gallon for diesel.

Our net price was $2.77 / gallon
Receipt shows pump price of $3.199 / gallon

If you drive a diesel motorhome or pull a trailer with a diesel truck, you can find out more about TSD Logistics and their RV diesel savings program by reading my earlier post covering the subject. We’ve saved hundreds over the last couple of years.

After fueling up we stopped and grabbed a late breakfast at Bob Evans, then rolled on down the road to Valley Vineyards at Morrow, Ohio just north of Cincinnati.

I had left a phone message for them before we left this morning and owner Rodney called me back when he opened shop and welcomed us to come on down.

We’ve got a nice spot parked alongside a green grassy field and a small stream.

Rodney retired from General Electric a few years ago, then got a call to manage worldwide operations for PayPal.  He did that until a little over a year ago when he bought the winery.

Rodney tells me he knows a lot about wine from the bottle to the lips, but admits he knows very little about what it takes to get it in the bottle, so he’s fortunate to have hired talented staff to help him with that end of the business!

They have indoor seating along with a large patio, a large buffet on weekends as well as LIVE music. The kitchen has a pretty varied menu, and of course LOTS of wine.

Harvest Hosts offer their farm, museum, distillery, brewery, or golf course to HH members to park for the night, learn about their operation and their way of life, and of course take advantage of whatever the host might have for sale. Although there is no charge to stay at a Harvest Hosts operation, it’s certainly appreciated by the host if we eat, drink, or otherwise help in the commerce of the operation.

If you’re an RV’er, we recommend Harvest Hosts property owners as providing a wonderful alternative to the typical campground or RV park. You might give it a try!

Thanks for riding along, and once again if you’d like to follow along with all our travel posts, just sign up with your email address to receive regular updates.

By the way, we’re on our way to Burkesville, Kentucky for 3 months to volunteer as Camp Hosts at Dale Hollow Lake State Park – then after July 4th we’ll be changing directions!

Take Care, stay safe, and be good to those you care about

Herb & Kathy

We’d really appreciate it if you would do us the favor of helping us continue to publish this RV / Travel / Workamping blog. Do you purchase any products from Amazon? If you do, it would be great if you’d use the link in the sidebar or one of the links below to get to Amazon … after that you can change your search. By making your Amazon purchases from our site, we will receive from Amazon a small percentage of your purchase and it doesn’t cost you any more. We’d really appreciate your help. Thank you, Herb & Kathy

Our Covid Thanksgiving

With having had so much question and anxiety this year over what the future would bring, Kathy and I now have so much to be thankful for.

Although this will certainly be a different sort of Thanksgiving than any we’ve ever seen before, we will celebrate the fact that there is some light at the end of the tunnel. Things WILL get better for all of us as we move forward.

As I’ve shared with you in previous posts, we remain in Ohio until early spring 2021.

Kathy and I are blessed to have a safe place to hang our hats since March of 2020. Our daughter and son-in-law welcomed us back “home” where we can live on our own in the bunkhouse, just a hundred feet or so from the main house.

Panoramic view of the bunkhouse

Although we had been sharing the dinner table with them on a daily basis, recently our son-in-law’s work location has had a half dozen or so positive Covid cases. He works in the physical therapy department at a local nursing home.

So as a result, the last week or so has found them eating dinner on their own. So it’s been a more lonely time for Kathy and me. We miss the daily interaction.

We just took a small turkey breast out of the freezer, Kathy will make her yummy Greeny-Beanie Casserole and of course we’ll have the usual mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy along with my homemade apple pie for desert.

Hopefully Stu and Sara will feel comfortable enough to come on up to the bunkhouse and join us in our celebration of all that we have to be thankful for. Thankfully, Stu has tested negative several times over the last 10 days or so. But nonetheless we’ll keep our distance as best we can.

Speaking of being thankful – we’re blessed to be retired and not have to go to a workplace where we might have to be in close contact with others on a daily basis. Kathy is able to stay home and I am working part-time driving a county bus delivering local folks to medical appointments and such.

Herb at work

We give thanks that the election is finally over. The count is done and we have a President-Elect who will take office on January 20th. A lot of changes are forthcoming for which we are very thankful.

We’re thankful for our (mostly) good health. Sure, at this age we do have some aches and pains that we didn’t have just a few years ago, but we’re really in pretty good shape for the shape we’re in. Nothing medically major in the foreseeable future and we’ll try to keep it that way.

We’re thankful that a vaccine is nearly here, and we look forward to being able to get back on the road, seeing more of this beautiful country, renewing old friendships along the way, and making more new friends as we travel.

We hope for you, that although your Thanksgiving will very likely be different from years past, you will be safe in your celebration so that you and your loved ones can celebrate for years to come.

We’d love to hear from you. What are your plans for Thanksgiving? Where are you? How will you celebrate? You can leave your comments in the comments section below or if you’re reading this from the Facebook link, feel free to respond there if you like.

As always, we appreciate your reading and leaving comments and we wish only the best to you and yours.

Until next time,

We’d really appreciate it if you would do us the favor of helping us continue to publish this RV / Travel / Workamping blog. Do you purchase any products from Amazon? If you do, it would be great if you’d use the link in the sidebar or one of the links below to get to Amazon … after that you can change your search. By making your Amazon purchases from our site, we will receive from Amazon a small percentage of your purchase and it doesn’t cost you any more. We’d really appreciate your help. Thank you, Herb & Kathy

Off The Road During Covid

Well, it’s November 2020 and we continue to lay low in Ohio during this Covid 19 pandemic.

You might remember that we sold the house in Ohio and hit the road full-time in September of 2016 and up until a few months ago, we had no thoughts of stopping our travel and volunteering lifestyle anytime soon.

In early 2020 we had just finished our 2 week February trip to Mexico with the Escapees RV Club Chapter 8 and then made it back to our RV lot in Casa Grande, Arizona. We stayed there at the park for just a few days before rolling out and heading east through New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, Alabama and on into central Florida for a couple weeks where we enjoyed hooking up with our good friends from our school days along with a stop to visit my sister in Jacksonville.

Our intention was to head north out of Florida by the end of March to fulfill our commitment to serve as campground hosts at a beautiful little campground nestled in the forest near Waynesville, North Carolina. We were scheduled to be there for April, May, and June through the July 4th weekend. Then we would come back to Ohio for July and August to spend time with family and in September we would head up into Michigan (including the U.P.) and take all of late September and all of October to travel down through Wisconsin, Iowa, Missouri, and on to our RV lot in Arizona by November 1st. We would be visiting friends along the way. It was a good plan. But it was just a plan ….

And then the Covid pandemic seemed to really “hit” and become a reality to us while we were in Florida. Frankly, we got a little nervous about what the future was to bring. There was talk of closures to include restaurants, gas stations, campgrounds, state borders, and even highway rest areas! Little was really KNOWN about what was to come and it seemed that every state was making up its own rules as the days passed. It seemed we couldn’t count on anything anymore.

Would we be able to make it to North Carolina? SHOULD we proceed to fulfill our commitment to serve as hosts at all? What about the dangers of coming in contact with so many strangers traveling from all over the country? How safe would Kathy be working in the office? How safe would I be cleaning the bathrooms? Or should we just hunker down and stay in Florida until this all “blows over”? But how long might that be? And would we even be able to find a spot to rent given that there were so many state parks and campgrounds that were closing?

There was so much unknown … we decided the best thing to do was cancel out on our 3 month working stint in North Carolina and just head right on up to Ohio while keeping our heads down. Along the way we spent evenings either in highway rest areas, local village Elks Lodge parking lots, or anywhere we might find a parking lot where we could park and spend the night without having to be in a situation where we would have to interact with others. We are fully self-contained with plenty of onboard water and ample solar-powered electricity so a night or even a couple weeks without hookups was not a problem for us.

You might remember that when we started our new lifestyle that we had sold our Ohio home to our daughter and son-in-law. But years before we had finished off what had been a 2nd floor workshop above the garage. Our intent was to provide a private apartment for a guest visit, to add value to the property, or possibly provide for rental income. We never had any idea that WE would be the guests!

But we’re blessed that Sara and Stu welcomed us back to the area and it’s great that although we are “close” physically, we’re not TOO close. As it’s turned out, we prepare and share dinner over here in the bunkhouse for the four of us and then we have the rest of the evening to ourselves!

Panoramic view of the inside of the bunkhouse

Well, here it is November. We’ve been here seven months now. The beauty of fall in Ohio is pretty much gone. The red and gold leaves that drenched the roadsides with glorious bright color have fallen and winter is starting to settle in. Since the Covid situation hasn’t improved any (we’re now in the 3rd wave), our earlier logic used to get us to stay low still commands that we not travel and come in contact with a lot of other people.

The coach is in heated storage for the winter – and it’s just a 1/4 mile away!

I’ve taken a part-time job (about 30 hours/week) driving a small bus for the local Morrow County Transit Service. We transport folks to local shopping and medical appointments. All drivers and riders are required to wear masks and the vehicles are disinfected daily to protect us all.

Kathy’s been keeping busy preparing dinners for the four of us along with helping out Sara by keeping her home as well as ours clean and all the laundry done.

I have to admit, we have had some level of “hitch-itch” while here and we’ve taken just a handful of short camping trips with only our closest friends that we feel comfortable being around. And even at that we’ve avoided any hand shakes, hugging, or even sitting in close proximity to each other in an effort to do our part in keeping the spread of Covid at bay.

We’ve also had the opportunity to visit my sister Betsy and Brother-In-Law Bob at their new home in Owosso Michigan.

Another real pleasant surprise was the opportunity to meet up with one of my old bosses. Ken and his wife Jan were traveling through Ohio from Michigan and stopped to spend a couple days in our area! I worked for Ken from about 1980 to 1990 (I think). We by chance connected on Facebook and Kathy and I ran over to the KOA just a few minutes from our home and spent the afternoon with them and their Great Dane “Magnum”. It was great to see them again after so many years.

We’ve decided that we’ll stay the winter. Although we miss all our friends at Rover’s Roost RV Park in Casa Grande, Arizona this year, we will look forward to seeing them next winter – when hopefully things will be much better. Just today on the news Pfizer has announced that one of their vaccine products is showing a 90% success rate in 45,000 study participants.

Along with Eli Lilly and other manufacturers working on a vaccine, and new leadership in Washington making the fight against Covid a priority, maybe we will be able to resume in spring of ’21 our life of RV travel and volunteering. We certainly hope so.

Speaking of 2021, here’s our tentative plan and more details will follow in future posts as the date gets closer.

We are going to be campground hosts at Dale Hollow Lake State Resort Park in Burkesville, KY for April, May, and June through the July 4th weekend.

Then we’ll head on up to Baldwin, Michigan to spend a couple days at Pere Marquette Oaks Resort so we can spend some time visiting with great friends we made when we worked there as host couple during the summers of 2017 and 2018.

By mid-July we will hook up with Matt and Sherry who are fellow full-time RV’ers that we first met in Livingston Texas. We’ve since worked with them in South Dakota and met up with them in other areas of the country. This time we are planning our own little caravan (of two rigs) to motor across the Mackinac Bridge and over into Canada via Sault St. Marie.

Matt and Sherry

Assuming the Canadian border is open by then, we’ll all head SLOWLY west through the provinces of Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and on into British Columbia with arrival in Vancouver BC by September 1st. Matt and Sherry will “peel off” at Creston BC (just north of Idaho) so they can zip on down to visit their son at Missoula, Montana.

Kathy and I hope to take a couple ferries across from Vancouver area to Port Angeles Washington where we’ll get on Route 101 down the Pacific coast on through Oregon and into northern California.

At some point, we’ll work our way over toward Reno, Nevada and then on down (and around) Las Vegas and back to Rover’s Roost by November 1st, 2021.

That’s it for now .. we wanted to bring you up to date on what little is going on in our lives and our plans for the future.

We wish you well and happiness – we’re doin’ fine and still enjoying life – even as it is.

What about you? How are you handling the situation we find ourselves in? What are you doing to occupy your time if you’re quarantined? Are you still able to work either from home or at your work location? If you’re working away from home what are you doing to stay safe?

That’s the main thing – stay safe by staying home if you can. Use a mask if you go out in public while maintaining the 6′ distance from others and then wash your hands as soon as you get home. Use hand sanitizer as soon as you get back in the car so you are not transferring anything from your hands to your steering wheel and ultimately back to your face.

We’d really appreciate it if you would do us the favor of helping us continue to publish this RV / Travel / Workamping blog. Do you purchase any products from Amazon? If you do, it would be great if you’d use the link in the sidebar or one of the links below to get to Amazon … after that you can change your search. By making your Amazon purchases from our site, we will receive from Amazon a small percentage of your purchase and it doesn’t cost you any more. We’d really appreciate your help. Thank you, Herb & Kathy

Day 43 of Isolation for Full Time RV’ers

It’s another day living with the Covid-19 Corona virus issue and we’re dealing with it although missing our previously taken-for-granted freedoms.

But we’re finding that working to stay as safe as we reasonably can, it’s not as bad as it first sounded a couple months ago.

As of early May Ohio is now starting to “open up” as Governor Mike Dewine has modified his previous “Stay At Home” order to “Stay Safe Ohio” still encouraging all of us to maintain social distancing and to use face coverings whenever we are out in public. Kathy and I plan on continuing to basically shelter in place and only travel out for the necessary and always take the appropriate precautions. Our hope is that we will all be able to get out more freely by the end of summer – but that remains to be seen.

We consider ourselves fortunate that we have a place to stay safe that allows us to still have the freedom to go outside and enjoy our surroundings. There are so many others that live in a small apartment or condo and really have nowhere to go out and stretch a bit. If we had stayed at our RV park in Arizona – or any other park for that matter, we would be confined to our motorhome or our patio area.

As it is, we are “parked” in the Bunkhouse above the garage at the home of our daughter Sara and husband Stu. We sold them our home when we hit the road in 2016. We had finished off the storage room on top of the garage making it into a small apartment a few years ago as a guest room since the main house was an open floor plan with just one bedroom. Little did we know at the time that WE might end up being the guests!

The “Indian Mound Lodge” – our previous home built in the early ’60’s sits on 6+ acres of woods
Inside the lodge looking through the kitchen into the living room

During the time the governors stay at home order was in place, we only made a trip to the grocery about once a week … and I have to admit that I also made a few trips to Menards or Lowes to get supplies for the projects I’ve been working on here at the bunkhouse. I’ve always kept my distance from other shoppers and used the mask during my visit and hand sanitizer when I got back in the car.

The Bunkhouse above the garage. The big silver tarp covers Sara’s therapy pool

The projects around the house here have been my savior – they’ve allowed me to keep from going crazy with boredom.

The “Bunkhouse” apartment above the garage (panoramic image)

I’ve done some painting (yellow) of a couple walls in the living area along with the bathroom and spent considerable time (I’m not a carpenter) installing new kitchen cupboards/counter top/sink and shelving for the kitchenette. And of course hung some things on the walls to make it feel a little more “homey”.

The newly completed kitchenette awaits the arrival of an electric range

And Kathy has been wonderful at keeping busy helping Sara with spring cleaning of the house and they also worked together helping a friend of Sara’s to make masks for others.

Sara and Kathy working on cutting material for masks in the porch
Sara at work

Sara just went back to work yesterday. She had taken a layoff from her job driving a mini-bus for the local county transportation service. Once the stay at home order was in place the bus runs to doctors appointments and shopping trips dropped off drastically and so the bus service reduced their driver pool from 18 drivers down to only five. But that’s ok – it gave Sara the long awaited opportunity to spend time outside working on the beds planting and transplanting .. something she really enjoys doing.

In addition to working on the bunkhouse, I had asked Stu to make a list of things I could be doing while he is at work. Stu works in Physical Therapy at a nearby nursing/rehab facility. He came up with a list (on a yellow legal pad) of about 15+ items! Since it’s early spring a lot of what I/we have been up to has been outside as long as the weather is above 40 degrees or so.

Kathy, Sara and I trimming, collecting and burning brush
Bringing another load of firewood to the splitter

Our son David, his wife Lisa and son Garret live just about a mile down the road. David works from home and hasn’t had to do any traveling since this whole thing started. They’ve dealt with the stay-at-home order fine as they live on 8+ acres, have a few animals to take care of and Lisa always keeps a very well stocked pantry and freezer so they’ve not had to go out hardly at all. Garret doing his 6th grade school work at home via computer. He’s also been working on some life skill lessons. Papa worked with him on making some Squirrel Picnic Tables that he’s selling on Facebook and he’ll be working with David and me next week learning how to wire lights and switches in their barn.

Garret at the radial arm saw cutting material for the squirrel picnic tables

The other day I decided to show Sara that I trust her explicitly and allowed her to cut my “hair”.

Although we miss the opportunity to eat out at some of our favorite restaurants, we’re also learning some new recipes and enjoying dinners together with Stu and Sara.

Jumbo pasta shells stuffed with Ricotta/Mozzarella cheese and spinach – Yummy!

Tomorrow is Mother’s Day – I know it’ll be another great day.

Stay safe.

We’d really appreciate it if you would do us the favor of helping us continue to publish this RV / Travel / Workamping blog. Do you purchase any products from Amazon? If you do, it would be great if you’d use the link in the sidebar or one of the links below to get to Amazon … after that you can change your search. By making your Amazon purchases from our site, we will receive from Amazon a small percentage of your purchase and it doesn’t cost you any more. We’d really appreciate your help. Thank you, Herb & Kathy

Mexico Day 4 – More Zoo & Wine

This might be getting a bit repetitive, but it’s not getting old for us! This is so wonderful being able to get such a close-up interaction with the zoo animals and their caregivers.

Today we spent time with the Yellow Parrots, Pumas, Spider Monkeys, and Macaws. We helped to feed them and helped to clean their habitat — things that the keepers do every day. We also gave them enrichment toys – things that help to keep them curious and stimulated – not just bored & locked in a cage.

See the cart that Arturo (picture above) is pulling along the trail as we walk from exhibit to exhibit? They use carts (usually pulled by bicycles) to move tools and supplies around the zoo as they need them. In the states we would have the luxury of being supplied with motorized carts/trucks of some sort.

One of the groundskeepers emptying the trash receptacles in the morning

Arturo got one of the staff here at the zoo to take our wheel off and get the flat tire fixed and reinstalled. Service on-the-spot and only $300 pesos ($15 US) – Hooray!

Our flat tire got fixed by one of the staff

Later in the day we got to share some time with a new (3 month old) lion cub “Carlotta”. She’s very playful so she had to be watched very closely by both Stephanie and Antonio (keepers) because the wooden fence isn’t that tall and she can jump easily and quickly.

Keeper Carlos talked to us about the 4 different types of reptiles and introduced us to a few of the residents of the habitat he manages. Some were so uncomfortable they left the room or refused to come in to begin with, but most of us stayed and enjoyed Carlos’ informative presentation.

Late afternoon we all carpooled to L.A. Cetto Winery. We got a great tour of the operation led by our tour guide Adrian. He shared with us that this winery was started in 1928 here in Guadalupe Valley and it is the largest winery in all of Mexico. They manage and harvest about 3000 acres, having about 250 seasonal employees in the fields. The grapes are all hand picked and they produce over 1 million cases of wine annually. The (2) rooms of stainless steel fermenting tanks hold over 3 million liters of wine at a time. After fermentation the wine is transferred to the oak barrels where it stays for just a few and up to 65 years!

After the tour we all went up to the outdoor patio for the wine tasting and Tapas made by our own crew. Our caravan leader Ed Dennis graduated in culinary art from a Paris school years ago so he asked for volunteers from our group that could help him prepare our afternoon feast – It was fabulous!

There’s more to come …. we’re all heading out to a local Mexican restaurant tonight and tomorrow morning we will all say goodbye to our new friends at Zoologico Parque del Nino Guadalupe Valley and head further south on the Baja Penninsula to La Jolla Beach Campground.

C’Mon Along!

We’d really appreciate it if you would do us the favor of helping us continue to publish this RV / Travel / Workamping blog. Do you purchase any products from Amazon? If you do, it would be great if you’d use the link in the sidebar or one of the links below to get to Amazon … after that you can change your search. By making your Amazon purchases from our site, we will receive from Amazon a small percentage of your purchase and it doesn’t cost you any more. We’d really appreciate your help. Thank you, Herb & Kathy

Mexico Day Three

Day three (Saturday February 15th) started out another beautiful sunny wonderful day in paradise. After breakfast in the coach – Kathy with her oatmeal and me with my scrambled eggs with mushrooms, onion, and a little potato mixed in – we headed on over with the others to the pavilion in the center of the zoo. Here we met with zoo biologists and keepers where we divided into four groups of 12 and then headed out for our “up close and personal” tours of the Zoologico Parque del Nino Guadalupe.

Our tour group leaders (biologists, keepers, veterinarian, director)

This zoo was started dozens of years ago by the owner of the Jersey Dairy Company. He and his family created, managed, and funded the zoo. In recent times, this man passed away and as a result just this year the zoo no longer gets any funding from him or his family. The zoo is now a not-for-profit organization and relies on admission prices and donations to stay afloat. It became very clear to us during our tours that the employees of the zoo (11 employees total) are working here because of their love for the animals. This .. in many ways is their family.

The Escapees RV Club Chapter 8 “Mexican Connection” came here last year and again this year to not only be entertained but also to help out both physically and financially through our admission fees and our auction that will be held here later this week.

Antonio – Our tour guide for the day – 32 year old Zoo Biologist

Remember, you can click on any of the thumbnails below to see a larger image.

Antonio led us on a very informative tour and it became clear very quickly that he and his co-workers care very much for the animals. Nearly all of the animals here arrived from the government. Many have been confiscated at ports of entry or have owned by individuals as family pets and then have been abandoned or given up when they became too big and no longer manageable (or affordable) to keep as pets.

The government has no means to care for them so they come here to Zoologico Parque del Nino Guadalupe. Although the government gives them to the zoo to take care of for an undetermined time (during investigation and litigation) they do not give the zoo any funds to care for the animals. In some cases, the zoo may take care of these animals for years but the government can always come back and take them away.

Other animals are given to the zoo as gifts – which was the case with the 40+ peacocks that they have. These were a gift from a priest.

One of three swimming pools

The “Zoo” is much more than a place to see animals. The Guadalupe Valley is generally an area of very poor families. When the zoo was started, the owners wanted it to be a place where local families could come and learn, play, eat, and enjoy family time together.

In fact, up until very recently all it cost for admission for a whole family was a Jersey Dairy Milk bottle cap. The children could provide a day of fun for the whole family just by saving their bottle cap from their milk at school and presenting it at the front gate to the zoo.

There are three swimming pools, a pond with paddle boats and lots of shaded picnic tables. Families are encouraged to bring their picnic baskets and enjoy the day together.

After our tour of the zoo we had the rest of the day to ourselves. Some went into town right away while others took care of chores at home. We evidently picked up a nail or screw as we got close to the zoo on Friday because by the time we pulled in to our parking spot our “toad” had a flat tire.

Bummer

But not to worry – I’m sure there’s a tire shop in town somewhere and we don’t need to drive anywhere anytime soon – there are others here that we can carpool with to any of the local attractions.

Although Guadalupe Valley is very poor, it is rich with vineyards and wineries. But these vineyards and wineries are not owned by local people nor do they employ local people. You’d think that the local economy would be lifted by these wineries, but they are owned and operated by companies from Tijuana or Mexico City and they bring in their employees from out of the area. Go figure.

We finished off the day with a visit to Baron Balche’ Winery where we had a tour, a wine tasting, and dinner. What a wonderful cap to a fantastic day!

Be sure to click on the thumbnail pictures above so you can see more of the detail. You can see in one of the pictures the rough rock walls encompassing the cellars.

Each of the large stainless steel tanks hold 7500 liters of wine – there were about 40 of these huge tanks. There were HUNDREDS of White Oak barrels. The barrels come from French Oak or American White Oak and there are two sizes of barrels – either 300 or 600 liters.

There is NO heat or A/C in the cellars – they are literally dug out of a whole in the ground. It’s a constant 55 degrees and very humid – water drips down the walls so they have fans blowing to keep the air moving so mildew doesn’t form.

It’s been another busy educational, fun, and rewarding day. Now off to bed because “Tomorrow’s Another Day”

Thanks for riding along – we hope you can make it with us to Day 4!

We’d really appreciate it if you would do us the favor of helping us continue to publish this RV / Travel / Workamping blog. Do you purchase any products from Amazon? If you do, it would be great if you’d use the link in the sidebar or one of the links below to get to Amazon … after that you can change your search. By making your Amazon purchases from our site, we will receive from Amazon a small percentage of your purchase and it doesn’t cost you any more. We’d really appreciate your help. Thank you, Herb & Kathy

Mexico Day Two

We (Group 1) left Potrero Park at 7:30 a.m. Our group is the Parking Group so we need to head out before any of the other groups so we can be in place at the next location far enough ahead so we can be set up and ready to Park all the other rigs coming in behind us. There are 3 other groups consisting of 5 or 6 rigs each.

Since we all have our FMM cards already, we COULD have been swept right through the border crossing. But Kathy and I weren’t so lucky.

The official stopped us, checked our registrations, looked in a couple cabinets, and then greeted us with “Happy Valentine’s Day”

We moved on through the gates and all 6 rigs in Group One stayed in touch on our CB radios as we traveled the next 50 or so miles down to Zoologico Parque del Nino in Guadalupe Baja California Mexico.

Once we arrived, our fearless Group One (parking group) leaders Jim and Connie gave us our instructions along with our bright orange safety vests and flags. We we’re now official parking team members!

Our official uniforms

We then spent the next couple hours greeting and parking rigs as each subsequent group rolled in.

We we’re the first rig in so we got the prime spot in the corner closest to the wolves and the lion!

Right up front closest to the action

After we got all the rigs parked, we all wandered over to Ed & Kassandra’s (Our Trip Leaders) rig to pick up our new Baja jackets and get an update on the schedule for the coming days. Ed talked a little about the history of the Baja Jacket and his design for the logo embroidered onto the front.

Right after the afternoon meeting we moved on into the zoo where we were gifted with a beautiful Valentines Dinner prepared by the park owners daughter who is also a recently graduated chef! The meal was a delicious dish of Mexican Lasagna with green salad and refried beans served with fresh sangria or a unique cucumber/lemon drink and topped off with Red Velvet cupcakes.

And another special treat of the night was a gift from Malcolm Russ – one of our own who, as it turns out is a retired professional musician and vocalist who has played in national orchestras as well as smaller venues all over the country. He took requests, while also giving us some great love songs to bring the evening to a close.

Day three brings us a personal guided tour of the zoo with a close-up look at the animals with led by one of the two zoo biologists.

Stand by for more!

We’d really appreciate it if you would do us the favor of helping us continue to publish this RV / Travel / Workamping blog. Do you purchase any products from Amazon? If you do, it would be great if you’d use the link in the sidebar or one of the links below to get to Amazon … after that you can change your search. By making your Amazon purchases from our site, we will receive from Amazon a small percentage of your purchase and it doesn’t cost you any more. We’d really appreciate your help. Thank you, Herb & Kathy

Mexico Day One

Our first day in Mexico was without our RV’s. Our caravan of 27 rigs has been divided into four smaller groups to make the trip(s) more manageable.

Kathy and I are the second rig in Group 2. Today the mission for each group is to drive our cars 20 minutes to the border crossing of Tecate. We carpooled and parked our cars in a public lot ($5 U.S.) and walked across. We stayed in our smaller groups of 8-10 people as we toured the town.

Our walk across the border after getting our FMM cards

Each group’s mission was to check in with Mexican authorities and get our FMM cards, exchange our dollars for pesos, enjoy breakfast at an open air cafe, visit Tecate Brewery (free beer), visit a Wonderful bakery, and anything else we wanted as long as we were back to Potrero Bark by 3pm or so.

I needed to buy a cheap cell phone for Mexico as my service provider does not include Mexico coverage. A couple of folks in our group found a pharmacy to get some much needed aids (drugs) to help with their ailments.

Along the way some of us felt the need to get some ice cream too! I should’ve got a picture of that .. sorry.

The Mexican people are very friendly and smile and wave. A smile back with a “Hola” or “Buenos Dias” goes a long way way toward making new friends in a strange country.

One funny experience we had was our interaction with the border crossing official. After he reviews and processes your passport and FMM card (and collects your $31), he then graciously offers to sell you either honey or hot sauce and he’s sure to tell you the hot sauce is “good on your eggs in the morning!”

Back to Potrero Park for an afternoon info meeting, Happy Hour, dump our tanks in preparation for tomorrow mornings trip across the border, and finish off the night with a nice campfire.

More tomorrow as we drive south and enter the “Zoologico Parque del Nino Jersey” (zoo) at Guadalupe which will be our home for the next few days.

We’d really appreciate it if you would do us the favor of helping us continue to publish this RV / Travel / Workamping blog. Do you purchase any products from Amazon? If you do, it would be great if you’d use the link in the sidebar or one of the links below to get to Amazon … after that you can change your search. By making your Amazon purchases from our site, we will receive from Amazon a small percentage of your purchase and it doesn’t cost you any more. We’d really appreciate your help. Thank you, Herb & Kathy
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