Contented & Foggy (lazy) morning in Pacifica

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Currently, the coach is backed in (in the front row) facing the Pacific ocean.  The sounds of waves lapping are clearly audible from inside the coach.  The temp is a chilly 55 degrees and as is the norm for SF, there is a heavy fog over the ocean this morning – adding to the mystic of the area and the happiness I’m feeling being here again. 

We enjoyed dinner at Paisanos Trattoria in Pacifica last night with our daughter and beau. The restaurant was an easy walk to and from the coach.  Great food (highly recommend the gnocchi), awesome company and a beautiful night, all in all.   ImageImage

Today, we’re off to see our daughter’s new place and help her get settled in.

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I’m an excellent driver

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So it finally happened – yesterday it was my turn to try to drive the RV! On a warm, sunny day on a fairly deserted flat, straight stretch of CA Hwy 46, I gathered together enough courage to volunteer to “give it a try”. At first I thought Dan was going to just faint from the shock of my revelation; but after a few moments with his mouth agape, he conceded, smiled and pulled to the side of the road and handed over the controls on Eagle to me! Oh boy – what the heck was I thinking by wanting a turn at this!

Actually, it wasn’t too bad, once I got the feel for the massive thing. You drive these much differently than a car, your mirrors are your primary vision points in something this large, along with the backup camera and the left-hand tire track lane on the road. For those not in the know, there is no park on this baby – it’s either in drive, reverse, or neutral. Choices are limited! So now, I too, just like Dustin Hoffman’s character Raymond in the movie The Rain Man, can now proclaim “I’m an excellent Driver!”. Of course, unlike the mythical Raymond, I only drove for about 15-20 miles and was lapped by everyone and everything larger than a Moped. They say that it’s about the journey, not the destination, which was a good thing, because had it been up to me to get us to the Wine Country RV Resort, we’d still be en-route to last night’s destination today!

This experience was much better than my motorcycle riding class adventure from awhile back, in which Dan and our neighbor Tom, along with two very patient driving instructors tried (in vain) to teach me the skills I needed to drive my very own motorcycle. To save time, I’ll just say that after 2-1/2 days in both the classroom and on the driving course, I DID pass the class and the instructor smiled as he gave me my certificate along with a hug, during which time, he whispered,” Carol, you’re not really going to drive a motorcycle, are you?” I swear that had I tried to trade out that certificate for a motorcycle license, the certificate would have bounced like a “hot check” and I’d probably still be doing jail time for trying!

The Wine Country RV Park is VERY nice, and as has become the norm, I work, while the “big guy” chases his golf ball around a local golf course to pass the time. This morning, I multi-tasked and did laundry while working (have I mentioned how amazing it is to have enough washers and dryers that you can do an entire week’s worth of laundry in the same time as it takes to do one load at home?) Dan’s “after he got home” chores were to fix the printer and to (because he volunteered) put away the clothes that I had drug to the laundry room, washed, dried, folded, hung and drug back to the “castle”. As I type, both those tasks remain incomplete. For the love of Pete, who do you report this behavior to? There must be some government oversight agency responsible for monitoring all the things retired people do not get done!

In spite of all that, I’m excited that tomorrow will end with our (youngest) smiling daughter’s face making her first visit to what she has deemed “The Boy Band Bus” and with us settling in for a couple weeks in the land of The Golden Gate Bridge (painted red, I have no idea why) and home of sour dough bread!

Oops “Only 13 minutes until Judge Wapner’s court………………I’m an excellent driver” – Until next time!

LPG Leak Detector? What’s that?

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So yesterday we made the trek from Phoenix to LA. Remind me again, why did we plan that for the last day of a 3-day weekend? We must have been temporarily insane! We putted along at somewhere between stop and go for about 15 miles outside of Palm Springs, thinking there must be some sort of horrible calamity involving dozens of vehicles and long-haul trucks, or at least a lane closure. Has anyone ever heard of the Premier Factory Outlet Mall at Carbonza? Well, they must have had a Memorial Day Sale-a-Thon on already lower-than-retail prices, because if there was one car parked in the parking lot, there were 10,000, not to mention along the streets leading to and from the mall, and in every nook and cranny surrounding the mall that could hold a vehicle. I am not exaggerating here. We went on to figure out that the entire delay and traffic jam was being caused by satiated shoppers leaving the mall with all their loot! The merge lane getting them back on to the freeway was at least a half mile long, and it looked like the opening lap of a Nascar race funneling into Turn 1. “Carol! Look at that! They are 3-wide heading into the single file outside merge lane!”. Needless to say, we were happy we were in the middle lane.

By now you may be asking yourself, what does all of the previous paragraph have to do with the title of this blog? Well, I’m about to tell ya. As we were inching our way along I-10 towards the shopping mecca of the Southwest, a terrible shrieking noise sprang forth from somewhere behind us, and, for a brief moment, we thought a nuclear blast warning had gone off somewhere outside of our RV. We were picturing cars being blown off the freeway as a huge hot wind from the explosion blows across the California desert and a tall plume of nuclear-fallout mushroom-shaped smoke rises from ground zero as bodies start evaporating. As it turns out, it was the LPG Leak Detector alarm inside our RV, sounding off loud and proud! Carol sprang into action, locating the detector and immediately shut it down. We then started wondering about what set it off, and whether ground zero was really going to be our RV. Same basic results, different ground zero.

After a few harrowing minutes of rifling through three binders of owner manuals, Carol found the LPG Leak Detector manual and started trying to cut through all the BS warnings and find out if we were really going to blow up! The manual stated that we should open all the doors and windows and immediately leave the vehicle until it was determined where the leak was and if it could be corrected. Really not a possibility in a sea of traffic and pissed-off drivers. So, we kept rolling down the road, hoping and praying that un-natural disaster could be avoided. By the time Carol found the manual, we were able to reset the alarm without it immediately going into shriek-mode again, so we became fairly confident (although still semi-worried about blowing up) that we could at least limp our way into the next truck stop/RV repair facility. As we moved on down the road, and the traffic jam eventually cleared up after passing the shopping frenzy turnoff, we gained more confidence that it wasn’t going to come back on and we were going to live so we decided to head on in to our stop for the night. And, we turned on the Generator and switched the refrigerator from LP to AC. I think that did the trick.

We are in the East Shore RV Park in San Dimas, CA. It is named that because it borders the Eastern shore of the Puddingstone Reservoir, a man-made lake that looks to be fairly small, but well-used, with swimming areas that we can see from the bluffs where we are parked, and a few kayakers dot the shorelines and even some motor boats cut across the lake from time to time. It looks to be a fairly popular spot with the locals, as we see other campers here that look like they brought some of their more prized possessions right along with them from their homes in the flatlands. Really, though, it’s a nice, quiet park, that is very well maintained, and the views of the lake and the sunset last night are fantastic. Just what we needed after the trip through the desert from Phoenix.

Sunset over Puddingstone Reservoir from our campsite.

Sunset over Puddingstone Reservoir from our campsite.

We are planning on staying here tonight, and then moving on up to Paso Robles wine country, where we think we will spend a couple of nights and then Friday on into Pacifica (just south of SF between SF and Half Moon Bay on the Pacific). We’re looking forward to that time, and especially spending some time with Michelle before she embarks on her new teaching job.

AZ from A to Z

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So we’re starting to wrap up our AZ visit now, we will be heading out Monday, Memorial Day (should have thought that through a little better) with all the other holiday traffic for the West Coast.  Our standard drive mantra has been that we never leave before 9 am (let all those traffic jockeys get to work first) and we try to be off the road before the 5:00 rush starts – even if that means we stage ourselves in a parking until the afternoon traffic rush clears.  

We’ve had a marvelous time here and got to see many friends and family, but have also not been able to connect with others that we wanted to spend time with, but we’re simply out of time and out of the ability to eat any more Mexican food!  Arizona Mexican food is something that we “pine for” all the while, when we are not here, because there’s nothing like it out there (that we’ve been able to find yet).  However, after a brief, but extensive feeding frenzy with lots of Mexican at every venue, we are now “pining” to be away from it again!  

Our replacement slide out cover was delivered this week and yesterday Bob and Dan spent about half a day trying to install it on the coach. Even a call on the “bat-line” to Fleetwood could not solve how to secure the spring for removing the old and replacing the new slide out cover on the coach.  After lots of cussing and frustration, I got the approval to find a professional to handle the installation of the new awning.  Well, it’s the Friday before Memorial Day, and almost everyone has already started fleeing the city for their coveted vacation weekend trips to the cool country (Flagstaff, Payson, Showlow, etc.).  So the first three mobile guys can’t help (until Tuesday, which will be too late for us) so with my fingers crossed I dial up Bulls-eye RV Repair and plead my case for why this guy should suspend his weekend departure plans and stop over to help us out with the awning installation.  The first promising sign was when I explained that we have tried in vain to locate the hole in the roller, to which he laughed and said “that’s a dream!, they like to say that in all the literature, but that hole doesn’t exist”. Already I like this guy, he’s no nonsense, tells me that if I can hang on for an hour or so, he’ll call me back.  We do, he does and it was a little like the cavalry riding in to save the pioneers when his truck turned onto our street.  The guy doesn’t mess around, he walks over to the “work zone”, tells us to move our chintzy folding ladders because he prefers a ladder that will not collapse, and he and his partner go straight to work drilling the necessary hole in the roller to lock the spring, pull out the old and replace with the new cocver.  The whole process takes less than 15 minutes and we gladly fork over the fee for his time.  

We received a full-price offer on our house yesterday, and we are still hammering out the details for how this little development is going to impact our whirlwind trip, but we know that we’ll be making an unscheduled return visit to what was the home front to pack up, clear out and put into storage, our belongings in the next few weeks.  

Anyway to our local friends and family – Thanks for showing us a great time!  For those we did not get a chance to see on this trip, you’ll be bumped to the front of the line on our next trip! 

Editor’s note:  Dan here.  Oh My Gawd I was so worried about having to drive the rest of the way with our slide out topper falpping in the wind (especially after Bob and my futile attempt a replacing it).  These guys from Bullseye RV were a life-saver.  I am now on cruise control, until the next calamity.

I got the whole RV polished while we stopped here in Phoenix, a few feet or a section every day.  I ended up using this product called RV Speed Detailer, which I believe is the same type of cleaning and polishing solution as what Terry had recommended, although not the same product.  We got ours at Camping World, and it worked fine.  We’ll see how it holds up, but it’s great for just overall cleanup and polishing work.  The maintenance of this rig is pretty much never-ending, I’m finding out.  Always something to repair, replace, upgrade or clean.  Carol has been doing everything on the inside, and me on the outside, and that’s working out pretty good – at least we haven’t gotten in each other’s way too much and we’re still talking – tersely at times, but talking just the same.

I’ve got to give credit where credit is due – say what you want about golf everywhere else, the bargains in golfing are in Phoenix!  I’ve played some great courses while here (and while I lived here), but I think the nicest so far has been Wi-Ko-Pa on the Fort McDowell Indian Reservation.  Although we played the Cholla, which Bob said is the more “target” type of course than Saguaro, it was really enjoyable, and the scenery was magnificent!  Something about the desert and the mountains that is just breath-takingly beautiful.  Besides Wi-Ko-Pa, I played the Links at the AZ Biltmore, Scottsdale Silverado, and today we’re heading out to the Legends at Arrowhead Ranch.  I’m going to try to get a final day in tomorrow, as well, but I’m not sure where yet.  All in all, a great golf stop!

I’m looking forward to this next leg of our trip, and getting into some cooler weather, although, knowing the way SF can be, I’m sure it won’t be too long before I’m wishing I was somewhere warmer.  So wishy-washy…but that’s retirement so far.  Palm Springs on  Monday night, then maybe one more night or if we feel like it, maybe take an extra day of so getting up the coast to SF.  Maybe tour Hearst Castle again, or who knows what?  Until next time, Adios Amigos!

It’s a Dry Heat!

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Yes, we made it, we finally made it! We have ARRIVED here in Phoenix to spend a little quality time (not driving) with friends and family!

This leg of the adventure began in Gallup, where we left the USA RV Park (did I mention how very nice that place was?) in the morning.   The temperature was 29 degrees when we woke up. Holy Moly!  I’m digging out wool sock and jeans while trying to locate the heater and an extra sweater.  I had thought we were going to the desert, but I must have somehow gotten that wrong.  The only think I’m missing is a parka!  We brought the slides in and jacks up early so we could (in theory) get out of town before the wind got going for the day. I was also motivated by leaving the cold there as quickly as possible too!

We’re off, but hey – wait – what’s that incessant beeping noise? The answer, the leveling system has a problem. We both visually confirm that the jacks are up, but the system won’t recognize that they are up. Lucky for us that we just read up on some of the various owners manuals (we have three three-inch binders that house them all) yesterday to help pass the time, and to learn something about our rolling home.  Yes!  we covered this system!. So we know that there are only three possible problems and we’ve cleared two of them off the list already. So we know we need hydraulic fluid; but of course we don’t have any with us. So we beep, beep, beep our way to our new favorite place on the planet – the truck stop! We need to get gas, so I’m sent on the task securing hydraulic fluid. Only one problem – maybe I’m the last person on the planet who didn’t know that there is no such thing!  EVERYTHING refers to needing hydraulic fluid, however since there is no such thing as that, somehow I should just know that what I’m looking for is automatic transmission fluid (ATF to professionals) to fill the hydraulic cylinder! No wonder I got a D- in Auto Mechanics class. It makes absolutely no sense; why is it not call the automatic transmission fluid cylinder?

Next problem – where does one add ATF to the hydraulic system in a coach?  Don’t know, us neither.

Gotta send another  HUGE shout out to our buddy, Terry (AKA Muffin) from the ACA rally, because one the things he gave us before we left him was a “bat-line” phone number directly the Fleetwood’s Service Department!!!!  Thank you, thank you, thank you, Terry!!!!  So a very nice woman helps us out with instructions on how to find the hydraulic filler-upper!  She is very explicit, Dan (because I’m not doing it) needs to stick his little pinky finger (her words, not mine) into the spout and if that finger isn’t covered with hydraulic – (um, I really mean ATF) fluid when he pulls it out; then we’re low and we may even need more than the one quart that I had already purchased.  So, in order to get to the engine compartment (which is where this ATF sucker lives), we unsaddle the bikes from our back ladder, add the fluid, re-stow the bikes without locking them, and “hit the road” for Phoenix.

The ride is less windy than the previous days, and we stop for quickie lunch in “standin’ on a corner in Winslow, Arizona” and make the turn for I-17 South shortly thereafter.  For those who don’t know there is  very long steep grade  of 6% between Flagstaff and Phoenix as one descends from the forest to the desert floor.  By this time the wind is no longer a factor in our commute and Dan’s more than a little giddy since he’s no longer “white knuckling” the steering wheel; so he decides it’s time to call a friend (or two).  The only problem with these little “chats” is that annoying steep grade and the urgent need for him to apply the “jake” brake while steering AND holding his cell phone.  He’s just one hand short of being able to handle all of these things at once (and I’m breathing heavily into a brown paper bag at this point thinking about the end of the Thelma and Louise move), so after much pointing and general flailing on my part, I end up taking over the calls with both Bob and Charlie while Dan works to slows this 32,000 pound beast down to make the curves and avoid the runaway truck ramp!

Steep Grade Sign

Steep Grade Sign

Let's mix it up!

Let’s mix it up!

As if we don't have enough to deal with - Elk too???

As if we don’t have enough to deal with – Elk too???

By the time we reach the dessert, my wool socks have evaporated and I’m looking for shorts and shade!.  We easily navigate into the RV park we’ve booked and are quickly met by “the boys” on the welcoming committee.  It’s our first night in Phoenix, what are we going to do? We’re going to Carlos O’Brien’s for serious real Mexican food, that’s what we’re doing.  More friends drop in at the restaurant and we had a great time catching up everyone.

Tuesday is mostly uneventful for me as I head back into the office (someplace I’ve not been in a very long time) and Dan spends the day decompressing with friends before picking me up in the afternoon.  My Dad drops over on Wednesday to see the coach and to complain that it’s just too big…but we still take him out for lunch before I have to go into the office for a second day (what’s becoming of me here?) and Dan’s catches his first round of golf with his other Bob friend, Bob Yen.  Thursday’s looking hopeful as I work remotely for the first time since arrived and we do so much needed errands in the afternoon.  Friday calls me back to the office again, and I’m now double checking the calendar to see how soon we can leave so I can stay in the coach for work.  Dan and Charlie spend the afternoon at Fry’s Electronics; which is very similar to a trip to Disneyland for a 7-year old.

And now it’s Saturday!  I’m happy to report that the water pump has been replaced, the coach has been hand washed by Dan himself and the replacement canopy will be here next week.  All in all, things may be looking up for us; well except for Dan’s bike, which was stolen sometime between Wednesday night and Thursday morning.  It was OBVIOUSLY taken by a very macho man because he took the time to take my bike off and put it on the ground and then the purported villain removed Dan’s bike and stole it instead! I’m sure we were an easy mark, because as the reader will recall, we were so anxious to leave Gallup, that we did NOT lock the bikes before departure.  Only today, I find that others here at the RV Park (even those who had their bikes locked) have had bikes stolen this week.  I’ve been sleeping with one eye open since the theft and I’m keeping a very close watch on my now locked at the front door bike until we leave.

Much to do and see while we’re here, so until we’re back on the road, I’ll be out and about (in this balmy 105 degree sunny locale)!  Catch you on the flip side…

Editor’s note:  OK, Dan here.  Pretty much of what Carol has stated above is true.  Ah, to be back in Phoenix!  Where men are men and there’s a club that proves it on every corner.  Not that I’ve ever been in one (more than twice in the same day).  Bob (and his neighbor, Tim) had offered to let us stay in the cul-de-sac in front of their houses, but we stuck with our original reservation at the Royal Palms RV Resort, where bikes are stolen and the nearest intersection has been under construction for a year and a half.  Never the brightest, we are….

One good thing about the RV park is that they have a swimming pool and a spa.  We have been in twice already, and it’s located perfectly so that we can do laundry, take a dip, and read the paper, all in an hour’s work!  I’ve been out to play golf once with my golf buddy Bob Yen – we played Silverado Golf Club in Scottsdale, and had a great afternoon.  He’s trying to line up a couple of tee times at Wi-Ko-Pa, which is supposed to be a really nice course.  We’ll see.  I’m not playing as much golf as I’d like to, but then again, it IS 105 degrees, and no matter what they say, a dry heat is STILL HOT!!

 

 

Blink and you’ll miss Arkansas

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We’ve begun the hard work of blazing a trail to the Southwest for the next few days! We swore to each other on Beale Street, that we would be “on the road” by 9 am this morning

(Note to self: do not make rash decisions after drinking a Hurricane on Beale Street-ever!).

So as the reader has been previously warned “The Richie Factor” was in full effect on that first morning and we pulled out of the park about quarter after ten.

The first mishap of the day, after a near perfect wrap up in the park was when Dan checked the mirror to find that we were driving down Elvis Presley Blvd with one of our “basement” doors standing wide open in morning traffic.   We quickly steered into the center lane and when traffic cleared a little, I jumped out and closed the door! WT#!

We both had walked all the way around the coach before we ever moved from our “slip” that morning, so how could we have missed something as big as that???? After the basement door was once again secured and I was back on board (I must admit that I was a little nervous –just for a moment, while running back for the door) and after we were navigating for the interstate, we re-hashed what had gone wrong and we finally reasoned that the door must have been closed (fooling us both), but not properly latched so when we exited Graceland the bump brought the door open.  How we did not lose anything was just a miracle! (Add to checklist – double check and LOCK your basement doors!)

Most of the drive across the great state of Arkansas was pretty much uneventful with the exception of road construction (everywhere) AND the fact that Dan learned how to use the air horn feature on the coach. The first time he found the button and used it, I screamed! The sixth time that day that he just randomly blew the horn, I screamed (still again)! Oh well, at least he’s awake and not “Clark Griswold-ing” us down the road!

Just past Little Rock, we ran across a pretty big swath of land on both sides of the interstate that was impacted by the recent tornado in this area. Neither of us have ever seen such devastation in such a small area. Everything that once lived, was now completely uprooted, and everything that was built, be it brick and mortar or manufactured even the vehicles was totally destroyed. What a horrible thing for these folks to have endured! Our thoughts are with all of them and we were proud of how things were already “righting themselves” in the area such a short time after such a disaster.

The second night end in Lake Eufaula, Oklahoma. While we were checking in at the campground, I stumbled onto a “geographical oddity” that all of Dan’s biker friends have been hoping for! While they all thought we were out to find the world’s largest ball of twine (which we are still looking for, guys, so don’t lose hope!); we actually stumbled onto Oklahoma’s Largest ball of rubber bands (a work still in progress)!!! So if you happen to be in the area and have an extra be sure to drop by and add to the KOA’s growing collection.

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Reminds Dan of his early VNB days, whatever that ,means!

The second casualty of the trip happened here when our coffee maker died! In case you’re wondering about the first casualty – let’s just say it involved someone (not me) leaving the really nice all-in-one remote control on the sofa and someone (not Dan’s) knee finding it while opening curtains…(let’s just not talk about that one, okay?).. Anyway, necessity dictates that we being an immediate search for a Costco “on the way” has begun. (And it’s looking doubtful until we reach Phoenix right now which has us both suddenly going “caffeine-free” which I’m sure is going to make for an interesting ride out West!

The following night we made Amarillo (…just not by morning), but we arrived there none the less. This KOA was a lot less appealing than the previous night’s stop, but Dan was wiped out from pushing the coach through massive winds for the last two days. Because of these crazy heavy and endless winds, we are both just starting to automatically lean left every time we leave the coach. (If we see you in Phoenix, please be sure to give us a push back to center until we right ourselves.) The wind was blowing so hard that we opted to leave our slides in, at least for the afternoon, hoping that the wind may die down after dusk. Dan enjoyed (watching) some golf which came with a well-deserved nap and after we had dinner out we opened the slide in bedroom and climbed in for an early night’s turn-in. By 5am the wind was again blowing so hard that we had to bring the slide back in to save it and us from the howling wind gusts. .We managed to grab a little more shut-eye after everything was closed up and we were both more than ready to put this stop behind us after a brief “snooze” nap. We were on the road by 7:30 (sans coffee) hoping for somewhere (anywhere) with less wind.

They call the wind Mariah (which must be Spanish for bi-au-tch) because today was yet another brutal day for us! Wind gusts all day between 20 and 40 mph Dan (along with all the truckers out) wrestled keeping the coach between the lines at any speed that would allow him to do that, so after 9 hours on the road, we FINALLY just arrived at the Good Sam USA RV Park in Gallup, NM. (Note to Self: One should always allow more time than the GPS predicts when setting destinations!)

We had one unexpected stop en-route due to the canvas awning above one of our slides “shredding” while we drove down the road. Thankfully the TA truck stop sells duct tape and about 30 minutes later we had most of the canvas wrapped in that quality-“end of the world”-does-everything silver tape (reference 1999-2000 End of the World predictions) and we were able to limp on down through “Mariah’s” on-going anger toward tonight’s stop.

The USA RV Park in Gallup, NM is VERY NICE and we are both VERY tired. I was successful at getting some pre-work done for next week during the day today and Dan only felt his boyish need to sound the air horn t(o scare the “sh!ti” out of me) twice on today’s journey. Once, when he decided to give it a blow, I was on the phone with our youngest daughter and after I explained her father’s new obsession, I found that she was laughing uncontrollably that we could not continue our conversation.

Tonight, Toad is the vehicle of choice and I’m the chauffeur looking for a quick dinner at a local restaurant and then we’re headed back to the coach to wait out Mariah’s temper tantrum. We are hoping for a fairly easy day into home tomorrow, but after what we have seen so far, we’re going to prepare for the worse when we take out in the morning.

Including a shot of our newly acquired hula girl, (Thanks Jules & Mike) who now adorns our dash and will be bringing us some good luck on the rest of the trip!

We’re naming her Mariah – not very Hawaiian, but apropos at the moment.

Editor’s note:  Dan here.  OMG if I never see another wind/dust storm, it will be too soon!  I’m so tired of fighting the wheel every mile of the way.  And now we’ve got the slide “toppers” in various stages of disarray – the big one torn, the one over the bedroom questionable.  Too bad we had two on the windward side, and only one on the leeward – that means we need to replace two instead of only one.  Again, it’s only money…so they tell me.  It seems like what happened we that we were doing around 60-65, and with the wind hitting us at 30-40, it hit us like a 100 mph wind billowing the toppers open and after it tore it was just a cloth flapping in the wind.  There must be a better way, or maybe there’s something we don’t know about yet.  In any case, duct tape is our friend at the moment.

I really don’t have much to add to what Carol said above, maybe just add that the tornado devastation had us both going “OMG, did you just see that?”  It was truly scary, and my heart goes out to those poor souls affected by it.

I am looking forward to getting to Phoenix and spending some time in one place.  This pack up and move every morning sucks.

 

Hello Graceland!

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Another pretty easy drive for us into Memphis on Wednesday. We had decided to stay at the Graceland RV Park, which is ever so conveniently located adjacent to the “everything-Elvis-you-could-ever-want-to-buy” shopping plaza and directly across the street from the “King’s” previous home.

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Graceland

The front desk girl gave us the “hard-sell” on taking a FREE ride in a pink Cadillac over to Marlowe’s, a local BBQ joint that she claimed had been featured on The Food Network’s Diners, Dives and Drive Ins. And guess what – – we were so lucky that tonight only (think she saw tourists coming?) there was an Elvis impersonator performing. What else could we do, we called ordered up our lift to see Elvis, face to face.

The (truly pink stretch variety) limo arrived about 10 minutes early, which I thought was odd, but what the heck – we hopped in the car and it was there that met our new friends, Ange and John! Dan noticed “straight-away” that these folks were not from the area. Ange confessed that they are from Australia and they are here on a six-month RV US Adventure. They flew over to Charlotte and purchased a coach and headed out about 4 months ago. They shared that they are eastbound on their adventure having already seen the west coast. Well a massive meal, a few bottles of wine were enjoyed by the four of us. Ange even shared a dance or two with “Elvis” and she earned one of the King’s much coveted scarves at the end of the show. We had a GREAT time getting to know them and shared some great stories all evening. We wish them all the best in their future travels!

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John & Ange                                           and                  Elvis!!!  [insert girls screaming here]

We decided on an early visit to the King’s home (if you can call 9am early – reference the wine bottle count above) to avoid the crowds – but apparently the other Elvis seekers also had the same idea, because things where “hopping” when we finally arrived at Graceland.

I found the house remarkably ordinary in size and shape, however the fact that the place has been left in the 70s style and because of the unique decorating taste applied, it was worth the visit (once). The tour includes only the first floor and the basement. The entire 2nd floor is off limits to everyone, including the on-site tour guides (maybe Elvis IS alive and he’s hiding up there, who knows?). While waiting to catch a glimpse of one of the rooms on the first level, Dan inquired with the guide about how visitors tour the property. She replied that between-1800 to 2000 people make the “pilgrimage” each and every day! The cost of the tickets range from $37 to $72 per person, so if you do the math, you realize that Elvis is certainly alive, just based on the revenue stream he’s still currently making.

Later we “popped over” to Beale Street for lunch and our Gibson Guitar Factory tour. Gotta say that this was the best $10 each I think we’ve spent so far on the entire trip! It was fascinating to see how they build these beautiful guitars! They are super strict on security – all smart phones off and stowed, all camera and video equipment in black bags and the promise of swift boot out the door for anyone who attempts to touch any of the forbidden items during the tour. I’m actually looking forward to seeing the acoustic guitar plant in Montana later this summer, now.

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As promised, following our Gibson tour, we headed back to the coach for it was time for me to do some of my own “revenue generation”.

Nighttime took us back over to Beale Street to check out the night life. Our first stop was at The Peabody Hotel (however we missed the duck show!). We had a drink in the Peabody lobby, and it was worth the steep price – one of those where the piano is playing somewhere in the background and the ambiance alone is worth the price of admission! Afterwards, we checked out the band at BB Kings place for a while and then wandered between the music venues and enjoyed the street show acrobats before retiring back home. We were a little disappointed we didn’t see BB at his place, but the food was good and there was some people watching taking place. All in all, a good time.

Editor’s note. OK, once again, Dan here. Not really much to add to what Carol’s done above. I loved the Gibson Guitar Factory Tour. Drooling the whole way through. The craftsmanship is pretty amazing. Most of the work is done strictly by hand by Master Luthiers. Watching them paint the Red Guitars made me want one bad. I guess because it takes about 3 weeks to hand-make a guitar is why they start out at about $2500 for a Les Paul. Just a little (about $2,000 worth) out of my price range – not only that, but if I could play better, maybe then I could justify it – at my present talent level, it would be an extreme waste of money.

It rained when we were in Memphis, during the night, and I spent at least an hour or two in the middle of the night wondering about our leaking roof. In Marion, it had rained really hard and we had some wetness come into the bedroom (not what you’re thinking, Charlie) where we had our roof patched, but when I got up to check it tonight, it was dry. It must be something that only happens in a hard rain. Whew! Here’s hoping for drier weather.