Sunday, January 31, 2016

January 21, 2016 - Green Valley AZ

We had a fun filled couple of days in Green Valley with Jack and Alice.  The are summer-time Shelter Bay residents and Steve has worked on a couple of their boats over the years.  We were also dock "neighbors' for many years on "A" dock in Shelter Bay.  This was a very fun stop since we got to enjoy their company and hospitality as well as go out off road "Jeeping" in the desert.  We arrived mid-afternoon so the kids got in some home school.  We had dinner with Jack and Alice and chatted well into the evening.    Our initial plan was to leave first thing the following morning but an offer to go into the desert with two extremely capable friends in their Jeeps persuaded us to spend another day in Green Valley.  Ralph and Russ know the area like the back of their hands.  It was not only to be off road fun but also very informative as these two guys spend a lot of time exploring the desert and spend even more time investigating the history.

This is a fake tank.  It is used by the military for training exercises for the fighter
pilots.  Unfortunately for us the planes were not flying today.  We have heard that they
will come down and do very close fly-by's to entertain visitors to these "targets"
riding along.   Deer in sight
We visited an old abandoned ranch that was once occupied  by a few now famous
artists.  This art is over the doorway in the kitchen.  It depicts a cowboy dreaming
about the food he's going to enjoy from the cook.

Another piece of artwork on the walls of the old ranch.

This swimming pool was built around 1920, way out in the desert at
a small development.  The minors probably needed a good bath after
working hard in the mines all day (or more).
We stopped at an old "stamp press" where they would take the ore they mined,
and pulverize it with big metal plates.  Pretty amazing considering that this
was built in the early 1900's.
Lunch break at Ruby Lake
Hanging out at Ruby Lake.
The grave sites for the Buffalo Soldiers that served in the military.
Russ and Ralph found this Arastra.  It was used to determine how much precious metal
existed in a mine.  If you had enough silver or gold coming out of this you could perhaps start
a mining company, gather investors, and maybe even make some money.
Up a steep hill.  Steve says difficult on a dirt bike!  The jeeps made it easily.
Close-up of the Arastra.  They would take raw ore, and then grind it up in here with
a big grinding stone (not here anymore), powered by a mule/donkey/people and crush it
into powder.  Then the precious metal was extracted and weighed.  The more gold or silver
 per ton of ore,the better.
Somebody has staked a new mining claim
The US and Mexico border.  Not so difficult to get over
Russ and Ralph know where there is a "cache" of food and water for Mexican's trying
to sneak across the border.  They took us there.  There is a religious group that supplies this for Mexican
people who cross so that they do not starve.  
Gallons of fresh water, and a bucket full of non-perishable food for people trying
to get across our border.
  Cindy, Steve, Kevin, Russ, and Ralph.  And their Jeeps.
Jack and Alice's dog, Cruiser, really wants to hang out with Zappa, our cat.
Jack, Alice, Cruiser, Kathy, and Steve in Green Valley in front of Jack and Alice's
wonderful home.  They are very wonderful hosts!

Saturday, January 23, 2016

January 19, 2016 - Desert Hot Springs CA

Our last few days in the USA included lots of driving but then fun filled!  Day after day it rained and poured!  Being higher up in the RV though, the spray from trucks was below us so the driving was not unbearable.  The RV is much nicer to drive now than when we brought it home last year.  It is now smooth and tracking straight.  It's a pleasure to drive compared to our experience last year coming home from Mexico.

After leaving Eureka, we were able to make it to Patterson Hot Springs.  As we arrived the front brake was sticking again so not only could everyone hear us (loud squealing), they could also smell our hot brakes as we drove by.  As we approached our site in the RV park there was an older man on the ground in cardiac arrest with people administering CPR.  The aid cars arrived a few minutes later.  We sure hope he is OK.  After we parked and Steve lowered and adjusted the leveling jacks, he noticed that one of the straps holding up the fuel tank had fallen to the ground.  Thank goodness the leveling jacks kept it from falling while driving.  Oh what fun our Spasimo is!  Steve fixed it while the kids got to swim in a nice heated pool for a bit before the day was over. 

In the morning, Martin Luther King observed, we drove to Desert Hot Springs near Palm Springs.    Steve worked on RV projects while the kids went for a swim in the pool.  

Large wind farm and then solar farm just west of the town.
Zappa still enjoying fuzzy blankets and not so hot weather.

We had plans for a short day to do some shopping and make some calls about RV consignment in AZ since once we reach our boat we really have no further need for an RV.  We are going to try to get it sold while we are out boating for the next 7 months.  Steve also called the RV repair shop to hopefully get some resolution on new tires we had to purchase in WA after just purchasing new tires in AZ last year on our way north.  We are still working on that issue.  We played on a large pool table (people there said it is the largest in the world and in the Guinness book of world records), showered, and played some shuffle board before leaving at around 11am.  It was nice not to get up early and have to spend the entire day driving. 

Cindy taking aim on the world's largest pool table, or so we were told.
Playing shuffleboard before we leaf in the morning.  What
a change in the weather.  Washington, Oregon, and half of
California were nothing but rain, rain, rain,  Now sun and warmth!

Sunday, January 17, 2016

January 16, 2016 - Eureka CA

We drove from Eugene OR to Eureka in one day, leaving at 7am before sunrise.  Once again, we drove in rain much of the day for this leg of our trip.  It has been wet, wet, wet!  Not sure we ever turned off our wipers in nearly 700 miles of driving.  The trip was beautiful and Spasimo, the RV, survived another day.  We did make a chore list of RV items to work on so that we can make it to our destination in San Carlos Mexico.

Rainy drive going west toward the coast on Hwy 38
Oregon Cranberry bogs were beautiful.
The Oregon coast.   Rugged and beautiful.
Driving through the Redwood forest, northern CA.
Trees of Mystery.  Billboards for hours prior to passing by.
We did  not stop but they do make it look inviting!
We heed these signs and keep our speed down!
While in Eureka and Steve was working on wiring a project car, the kids and I spent much time in the RV with home school because it poured rain for much of the time.  We did borrow a car and got to explore a little bit.
Kevin at Sequoia Park in Eureka. 
Cindy and Kevin starting the typing tutor software program.  Typing made fun!
The only day (daytime) without rain, Saturday, we went up to Mad River Beach to check out the surf and walk and play a little.  Not many people were out and the sun sure felt good.

Steve worked three solid days wiring his friends car, and had fun.....................

We were a little worried about this bridge, but we fit!
A tight squeeze leaving John and Judy's place in Eureka./

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

January 12, 2016 - Get Ready, Get Set, ...........................

We are finally on our way.  Steve completed all his jobs and we got the house ready.  Thank goodness our mail house scanned a piece of mail from the Department of Licensing.  I then asked Steve if his Driver's license expires on his birthday in April this year.  Low and behold it does, so he went to Anacortes and renewed his drivers license, last week  He now has a temporary, and the new permanent licence will be sent to the mail house in Seattle.  They can then forward it to Arizona where we will be stopping at a friends place (WA state DOL will not mail a driver's license out of state).  The expiring license would not have been good when we arrived back in the US later this year and Steve could not drive anywhere/anything until he go back to Washington to renew it.  Phew!

Our RV ready to be driven for the first time since we brought it here.
New roof vents and repairs since the tree branch went through the roof!

Beautiful Skagit Bay the other morning.......

We did take the RV on a test drive hitting about 60 mph and tested everything before bringing SPASIMO (our name for the RV which means "breaking" in Greek) to our home to load and get ready to leave.  OK, so when we were leaving on the 11th after many hours of preparation, the house locked up, food, kids, and cat on the RV, we went into town for a few last minute stops.  Kathy walked to to the USPS, and Steve went to pick up one last order with electrical connectors for the boat.  When Steve returned to pickup Kathy she immediately noticed an awful burning smell.  Steve knew the smell as hot brakes.  Steve quickly got out his new dandy thermal imaging camera and saw the front driver side brake was HOT (several hundred degrees hotter than normal).  We immediately drove back home to diagnose the situation.

Coming back home was good in many respects.  We were tired, we did not get to a few chores completed before we left.  They are now done and we are more rested for the first day of driving.  We feel a bit better about leaving, and we remember a few items that we forgot before.  Kevin embraces the RV as a home, Cindy prefers the house or the boat.

We left early this morning and drove all the way to Eugene OR where we are staying in an RV park.  It was a  very rainy drive.  We made several stops along the way to check the brakes.  The driver's side is still hotter than the other 3, but it seems fine on the highway.  It did get quite hot though in stop-and-go Seattle traffic.  Steve is going to look at that brake again in Eureka California where we will be stopping at one of Steve's customer's tomorrow to help him work on the wiring harness installation of a project car he has.

A wonderful rainy drive.  It never stopped, in 350 miles of driving.
We met Kathy's Aunt Vickie in Lake Oswego for lunch.  We had a great visit, although it was too short, and did not include her son Bryce, daughter Krystine, or husband Dave.

Aunt Vickie, Kevin, Kathy and Cindy in Lake Oswego, OR.
Not long after arriving in the RV park in Eugene, just as the kids were settling in for a bit of home/RV school time, Cindy saw a huge flash of light outside, and the lights in the RV flickered briefly.  Then there was quite a bit of white smoke rising up over the top of some buildings a few hundred yards away.  We decided to go look and discovered that a pickup truck had run right into a telephone pole and some of the wires were dangling from the top of the pole.  Shortly after we got there the fire trucks, police, and aid cars began to arrive.

Ooops.  Hopefully nobody was hurt.  

We hope the rest of the night is calm, although we are right next to some train tracks and the office person that checked us into the park told Kathy the trains can be a bit "active" at night.  There are also a few barking dogs close by.

Tomorrow we will leave early in the morning to make the long drive to Eureka.  We will be driving along the Oregon and California coast.  Last time we saw this coastline we were on-board our boat Adagio, a year and a half ago.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

January 5, 2016 - On your marks, get set.........Oooopppps!

Happy New Year!

01-07-2016 Update:
Yesterday we went to the passport office in Seattle and they are now making our new passports.  Kathy and the kids will need to head back to Seattle tomorrow to pickup our new passports.  Phew, that's taken care of.

01-05-2016 blog entry:
We wanted to let everyone know we still have not left La Conner.  We are getting closer but there are still a few things to do.  When looking at our passports (which are valid for 10 years) I noticed that they expire in April this year.  This is not good since it is very likely we will still be in Mexican waters when they expire.  Also, a lot of countries will not even let you enter their country if your passport expires in less than 6 months.  We've heard Mexico is one of these countries.  So, we are going to Seattle tomorrow to try to get the renewal process completed.  The normal renewal takes about 6 weeks; not acceptable, The expedited process via mail takes 2-3 weeks; also not acceptable.  If you go to Seattle in person you can get it done in one day, if you meet all of their requirements.  We meet those requirements with one possible exception.  They want proof that you are leaving the country very soon.  Since we are traveling by RV, on our own time schedule, we don't have proof (airline tickets) of the exact date and time that we leave the country.  We have decided to bring our San Carlos Marina papers proving that our boat is in Mexico, and the Mexican RV and boat insurance paperwork for 2016, and of course proof of ownership of the boat, with us in hopes it will serve as proof that we are leaving soon.  If they don't accept that, well I guess we will leave a bit later than planned.

Steve has been working on the RV, wrapping up his work commitments, plus we still have house preparations to do.  That was a short description that only hints at the huge amount of effort required to leave your home, and country for 6 months or more.  We don't want to bore you all with the details because it could fill at least a few paragraphs...

The kids will start home school on Thursday.  Cannot say they are excited about it but life is an adventure.  They think they have a strict teacher for 2016 ;-)

Next update when we leave in the RV!

Christmas Day 2015. First Christmas at home in several years.
Our mantle - notice the Lego presents and Santa house.
Yes, Steve has a "boat" stocking (Bayliner 45).  We made these stockings
years ago at Kathy's parents house in Idaho where we have spent Christmas's.  
Kids chose Cake for Christmas Desert.  Kevin helped make it
The pure joy after receiving an Xbox-One from Grandparents
Kevin skiing at Mt Baker.  A beautiful winter day with nice light snow.
Mt. Baker at the time had the most snow of any resort in North America!
Cindy skiing at Mt Baker.  It was cold that day.