Archive for September, 2010


Sunday, September 26th, 2010
Crossing Iowa was our next task with only 2 things we wanted to do in Iowa, see Paul’s sister and visiting Winnebago Factory.  Leaving Stockton around 10 am we headed west. As we were crossing into Iowa Paul remembered there was one more thing we should see and it was only off the hwy by a couple of miles.  Yep, we experienced the Field of Dreams!  It looks just like the movie and we were there on a Thursday early afternoon and people just kept showing up bringing their mitts, bats and balls.  It was kind of erie but a great spot for lunch.

Field of Dreams


If you build it, they will come



Cheering fan


We were back on the road and headed to our next stop, Forest City, Iowa, the home of Winnebago Manufacturing.  About an hour from Forest City we heard this loud noise.  Loud noises are not fun when you are driving nearly 50 feet of vehicle down the highway and you are sure it is you!  Well this time it was us.  Looking out my window on the passenger side I can see our fender waving in the wind.  Not a good thing.  Paul found the next exit, put on the flashers and slowly moved over and onto the ramp.  We get parked in the truck stop and get out to access the damage.  The fender just came loose and bent back.  It appears the fenders on our home are glued on and the glue is not holding!!!!  Well Paul got out his screws and screwed the bent fender in place and off we go!  Next stop was to Forest City where our home was built.  

 The Winnebago factory is like a city of its own, complete with a RV park for free.  Friday morning we were up early and took the tour of the factory.  Winnebago’s are built less individually than the other plants we toured.  Here they are on an assembly line and many are built each day.  The tour was fascinating, even though they are an assembly line each person is doing multiple tasks and they work in small teams as the vehicles move down the line.  Several different models are on each line depending on what is being built.  One girl was applying the caulking to the compartments on the outside and she was so fast and precise.  

As soon as the tour was over Paul visited customer service to see what we could do about our fenders coming loose.  They didn’t offer any warranty as the vehicle is over 5 years old but he did tell us how to fix the problem including a new fender for about $700!  Great, they may be hearing from me as I still think they deserve at least one email request for help!!!  Especially since the other fender seems loose too!  They were very nice in customer service and if we had more time I am sure we could have gotten some help.  We did buy several other little items and then it was off to Sioux City where another of Paul’s sisters lives. 

Saturday, Paul’s sister Susan and her two teenagers came to the State Park where we are staying for only $11 a night including electricity and we are the only ones there!  Very private and pretty.  The kids left around 5 for jobs and we went out to a community theater for a great play!  The Great American Trailer Park Musical.  We couldn’t believe it.  The 3 of us laughed our asses off!!!  A trailer park, cheating spouses, husbands on death row, strippers, crazy boyfriends and a song about road kill!  Perfect!  It was trashy and oh so entertaining! 

We learned something today in Iowa.  We had kept seeing the fuel prices with premium being 10 cents cheaper than regular and figured it was an error.  Nope, premium is cheaper because you are in Iowa and ethanol is made here!  We still are not sure why that makes premium cheaper than regular but our house got the good stuff this morning!  

Today we will be the first of 3 long days of driving to get to Albuquerque, NM by Wednesday.  Over the last 4 months we have done a lot of traveling and Paul got to see all of his family, Dad, all 8 of his siblings, all 6 uncles and their wives and a bunch of cousins.  That is pretty good considering they are all spread out on the east coast, Iowa  

Today we will be the first of 3 long days of driving to get to Albuquerque, NM by Wednesday.  Over the last 4 months we have done a lot of traveling and Paul got to see all of his family, Dad, all 8 of his siblings, all 6 uncles and their wives and a bunch of cousins.  That is pretty good considering they are all spread out on the east coast, Iowa and Colorado.

3 Days in Stockton Illinois

Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010
Getting to meet new people and making new friends is probably my favorite part of this new lifestyle.  Last year while living in Mesa Arizona we had the greatest neighbors.  Steven and Joan (pronounced Joann!) Sullivan lived across the street from us.  They are permanent owners at Val Vista Village and live in Stockton Illinois during the summer.  Well that is until this summer!

We planned to stop and visit them and their farm on our way back to the West Coast and just spent 3 days with them enjoying northwest Illinois.  The landscape here is dry corn fields as far as you can see with the occasional soybean field.  The corn is dry because they leave it until late fall as it is feed corn and is picked dry if possible. 

Steven is a farmer of feed corn.  Well at least he was until this year!  He is retiring, sold the farm equipment, leased the five hundred acres to another farmer, sold the condo, rented the farm house and now they live in the METAL SHED!!!  They have a cabover camper that is there home inside the shed complete with an office area,  living room area, kitchen area, a patio area and a Pickleball Court!  It is so cool.  Actually this is their home until they get to Arizona next month where they stay for the winter.  When it gets too hot in Mesa they will decide if they are returning to Stockton or hitting the road like us!

Stockton is a small little town with some great neighboring towns.  We did a lot of driving seeing the country.  I spent several hours in a touristy town called Galena while Paul stayed at the farm doing guy stuff.  We visited a ski resort and had to sit at the bar while the most amazing storm passed through.  The water was coming off the roof so fast and the wind was blowing so hard it looked like we were in an aquarium and the bubbles floating on the top of the water.  We also had the most amazing Bloody Mary!!!  Tried to get the recipe but it was a bit of this, a splash of that….. 

On the steps or the winery

We also stopped in a local winery, Rocky Waters Winery.  Not my favorite but of course you always find one that is great.  The view there was amazing.  We went to the Mississippi River Museum which was also an aquarium so I really enjoyed this one until the snake exhibit!  They had this exhibit of seahorses and that was so much fun to stand and watch them swim and then attach to a plant.  We also found some locks on the Mississippi River – great for Paul!  They were moving 15 barges with coal through and of course he wanted to watch the whole thing!  It was raining and cold so Joan and I sat in the car.  The guys must have felt guilty (yeah right!) because we got to leave before they finished moving the barges.

We stopped it the town of Savanna where they have a beautiful Dutch Windmill and a pizza joint with the most wonderful taco’s that could easily compete with those we have had in Mexico! On our way home from dinner the sun was setting and after all the rain that day the sky was pretty clear but when the sun went down the whole sky was purple and red.  It was impossible to photograph so I just watched and enjoyed – some things you just have to be there.

Chicago, Illinois

Monday, September 20th, 2010

Leaving Elkhart Indiana the route to our next stop took us right through Chicago.  We had decided that this trip we weren’t going to visit the Windy City as we had friends and family to visit and there just isn’t time for everything.  I did however locate a Costco and I needed a shopping fix!  This Costco was located right off the interstate but it was right near the heart of Chicago!  We exit the highway and are met with these streets that had two lanes but it should have been one, people wizing by like we were a convertible and could stop on a dime!  Then we have to make a right turn to get to Costco and it isn’t just a simple right, it is a right that turns back on itself!  You don’t make sharp turns in a 36′ RV towing a car behind!  It was very tricky.  Then we get into the parking lot and it looks like the lot at Costco in Almaden Plaza.  By the time we found an out of the way place to park our 50′  of vehicle Paul was ready for a cocktail not shopping!

I went into Costco and had a very nice time looking for things we had to have and enjoying all the free samples.  After shopping and getting ready to venture back out onto the streets to seek out the interstate I got another shocker!  In Chicago the sales tax is 9.75% for merchandise including alcohol, 2.25% on food items and for alcohol there is city tax and county tax for another almost 10%!  My $26 dollar of tequilla had about 12% tax or over $4 in taxes!  I think in Chicago it would be cheaper to drink in the bars!  I was very happy I didn’t pick up the bottles of Vodka, Gin and Bourbon.  California ain’t all that bad!

Elkhart Indiana

Sunday, September 19th, 2010

Trailer Capitol, RV Hall of Fame, Amish Country, small towns, friendly people, apple festivals, roadside stands, pit chicken & potatoes and some beautiful country homes can all be found here in Elkhart Indiana.   We have bought squash, apple butter, popcorn and salsa from a roadside fruitstand, tasted some great apple cider, followed a horsedrawn buggie, dodged bicycles on country roads and watched a 5th wheel trailer being built all within 15 miles of our campground here in Elkhart.  

We went to Carriage Trailers to take their factory tour and were met by the most friendly young lady who couldn’t be 30 years old but she knew everything about the factory, the assembly line and RV’s.

The beginnings of a 5th wheel home on wheels

walls and cabinets


Then we went to Newmar and saw how motorhomes are being built.  The tours are free but you want to buy a new one after because they are putting such cool features in them that you think you just might need to have.

This is how a motorhome starts out

wall and cabinets

lots of wires

All done

At both factories, people on the tours were there to see how the units were being built –  Me!  I don’t really care how it is built, it just needs to have plenty of counter space in the kitchen and a good bathroom!!

We got to do another musuem- The RV Museum.  Wow, the first RV’s were barely a tent in a trailer on wheels!

Just a bed on wheels

Thats class!

Indiana has been fun but now it is time to move Westward! 

From 55 miles per hour on the interstate-Ohio

Fort Niagara

Tuesday, September 14th, 2010

We are staying right on Lake Ontario where there are a couple cute little villages and an old fort from the revolutionary war.  Fort Niagara could not be in a more beautiful place – that is in September, I think January would be another story!  Paul loves these places, me I go for the beautiful location.

A view from one of the structures onto Lake Ontario

A French Castle structure

I did learn something while we were here and that is what rifling is!  Apparently there is a difference between a rifle and a musket.  Muskets are not very accurate but you can shoot them way more quickly than a rifle and that is why they used them during the wars!  A rifle has some fancy barrel and takes longer to load.  I learned this from the tour guide and Paul – Paul knew the answer before the others!

We didn’t just see tourist attractions in our 4 days here in Niagara Falls.  We went to a local Peach Festival where the local Kiwana’s made Peach shortcake and the high school basketball team had a dunking tank along with a full carnival and a really loud rock band.  We are not sure why they have a Peach Festival because we did not see any peach orchards but everyone knew about it and there were droves of people. 

We move on to Indiana tomorrow!

Welland Canal

Monday, September 13th, 2010

Life is about compromise and when you live in less than 400 sq. ft with a spouse you do a lot more compromising than any other time.  This is why I spent a whole day, over 8 hours visiting the Welland Canal; a canal that is only 7 miles long and takes a ship 11 hours to get through!  The canal takes ships from Lake Ontario up a mountain to Lake Erie.  There are 8 locks and we got to watch 4 of them in action!!!  And now you get to watch a ship being lifted in only as long as it takes you to run through my photos!!!

Lock #7

This boat was in the lock and waiting to be lifted when we arrived.  We watched, ate lunch, we watched some more and finally it was at the level of the next stage of the river and could be released to move on up the river to lock #8 and then into Lake Erie.

The men who come and watch the locks in action

After that boat exited the lock I thought we would be leaving and moving to another section of the locks or better yet, off to see some Canadian Winery’s.  Nope,  Paul says ” there is a big boat waiting to come into the lock.  We need to watch!’  So we did.  Duke and I took a walk; read a newspaper and all the while Paul stood on the bleachers with the others and waited!  It took at least an hour to get this next boat into the lock, tied down, and raised.

All you can see of the ship when it enters the lock

And now

Even more

At lock #7 level

It was pretty cool seeing a ship this large raise up but really, it took probably 20 minutes to raise it but over an hour for the whole process.  Don’t worry we did this again at lock #4.

Lock #4,5 & 6 are two way locks – really exciting for all the guys that were watching.  We watched another boat at lock #4 raise but I won’t bore you with those pictures!

After checking out lock #1 and 2 we were able to get on to some real site seeing that I was interested in.  We drove along the shoreline of Lake Ontario in Canada looking at winery’s (they were closed by the time we got there!) and a couple harbor towns.  Very pretty and not too touristy this time of year.

Lake Ontario

Sort of a sunset over Lake Ontario

a nickel carousel ride!

Paul a captain's helper?

Walking along the dock at this harbor a captain was trying to dock his boat.  He had two helpers on the boat but neither of them seemed to know what to do.  There was a terrible current so Paul and this other guy saw there distress and offered to help!

Niagara Falls

Sunday, September 12th, 2010

Amazing, thrilling, Awesome, beautiful, mind boggling – all fit the description of Niagara Falls but without being here you really cannot know the magnitude of these falls.  We stayed in a wonderful State Park about 15 miles from the falls on Lake Ontario, near the mouth of the Niagara River.   I think we walked 20 miles in 3 days exploring the falls and along the gorge.  This is my 4th trip to Niagara Falls and every time I am just as impressed as the first time almost 30 years ago.

This trip we chose to explore the gorge and surrounding area some as well as walking the falls.  Saturday morning we walked down about 200 feet on these stairs that were hand built and in need of lots of repairs but the view from the bottom was amazing.  We got within 20 feet of the river at the bottom of the falls – going up was not easy!

View from within the gorge

The Cable Car that takes a little ride over the top of the Whirlpool!

This is the view looking across the gorge above where we walked down.  I was ready to ride the cable car but Paul was totally against it.  Below in the water is one of the jet boats that take a ride up the gorge to this point where the rapids are too intense to navigate. 

Next stop was the falls on the American side.  What spectacular views; you can walk out on a platform between the American Falls and Bridal Veil or choose to put on a pair of disposable water sandals, poncho and ride a elevator down a shaft more than 200 feet to the base of the falls and then walk up close and personal with the force of the falls from within 10 feet all on some scaffolding type walkways that are erected each year after the ice has melted!  All for only $11.00!


Looking over the American Falls

On the scaffolding tour!

I was drenched!

horseshoe Falls

Rainbow over Horseshoe Falls

The boys looking at the falls

American Falls at night!

Horseshoe Falls at night

And wait till you see what we get to do tomorrow!  Welland Canal

Closing a Chapter

Friday, September 10th, 2010

This summer has been another turning point for Paul and I.  We thought we had our house sold when our renters moved out on June 15th; a nice tidy sale to someone who knew the renters and wanted the house really badly.  They were not able to sell their house so on July 5th our house went onto the MLS and we got an offer within 2 weeks!  We were excited although the price was a little lower than we wanted but everything else seemed good.

On July 27th we entered into contract with a family and expected to close by Aug. 27th.  After all was said and done we finally closed today!!! We are no longer homeowners and are officially fulltime RVer’s and loving it so much.  We spent the last 3 months in Old Forge New York enjoying the beauty and getting to know Paul’s sister Judy and her family.  Now we are currently sitting on Lake Ontario and seeing another great wonder, Niagara Falls.

Lake Ontario - September 10, 2010

                                                                                         Life is good

Cascade Lake and Falls

Wednesday, September 8th, 2010

Another beautiful day, another wonderful lake is where we went on a hike today.  This hike is 4 mile loop around the lake and they have some wonderful falls if you take a half mile detour off the trail.  The problem is the half mile detour is not marked and is very hidden so we missed it!!! However we did find the swamp that is right in the middle of the trail with no way around.  The swamp comes at about 2.5 miles and just before you get to the lake so of course you are not turning around! 

Only the beginning!


Yep, I found the swamp, almost a complete submersion


Almost lost Duke!


Hopefully that was all of it!


It seemed like the swamp was never going to end but it did and we finally found the lake which was pristine.  No one was there except for a few hikers relaxing in the sun and enjoying the peacefulness – until we arrived!!! 

Cascake Lake, Adirondacks, NY


Washing the mud off


Fellow hikers


We never did see the detour for the falls so if we ever do this trail again we will ignore the arrows and go backwards because the lake is only about 1.5 miles in and you can stop at the swamp and turn back, retracing your steps, have a great hike to the lake and miss out on the mud play!!!


Tuesday, September 7th, 2010

That is the one thing we both miss from living in our home, it is getting to work on new projects and improving our home.  This week we did a little remodeling and I am so excited! 

Our new table top


Last year while we were in Morgan Hill working at the  RV dealership Paul built us the cabinets for extra storage along the wall behind our dining room table but he didn’t have time or the equipment to make a table top so for the past year we have had the old top nailed to the top of the cabinets.  It looked awful and there was a big step down from the table to the cabinet top and the old table had cup holes where you are to store you drink when you travel!  We had this beautiful bamboo top made here by a local cabinet maker.  It is so beautiful and matches the maple cabinetry so well.  It feels more like a dining room table and less RV like!!!