Monday, September 4, 2017

Long Short Summer - Gearing Up for the Next Trip!

We've never had a summer as busy as this one.  Rob has honed his truck-driving skills even sharper than they already were.  
As soon as we arrived home the end of March, he was hauling potato seed from Idaho and Montana. 

We then moved the bus to Zillah (WA) for 2 months, while he working road construction. He came home on weekends, and sometimes Georgie and I would visit him for a few days.   We got new LEDs for the headlights!! Now we'll actually be able to see the road on our next trip. What a concept. 

Then it was on to Coulee City (WA) for a month while he hauled wheat and wheat seed. 

This was Georgie's favorite (and mine!) because we had private access to a walking trail and the lake!

It was during this time that I got started on my own little business, lifeROCKs! It's all about choosing healthy tools to aid in your wellness, and well, making your life ROCK!  You can check it out here and let me know what you think.  
Wheat season is a gorgeous time of year, but it's just about done.  Fall is coming way too fast.  Next Rob will start to haul potatoes starting on September 15, and that will run for about 6 weeks. The Harvest Party hosted by the Marlin Hutterian Brotherhood will mark the end of the working season for us and the beginning of our next trip!!! We are so exhausted and so excited, and can't wait to see you all on the road!

Monday, March 27, 2017

The 2017 Finale!

Once we left Brenda, we had intended to stay at Verde Valley Thousand Trails but it was "full" ( 75 sites were offline needing repair ) so we stayed on public land about two miles from the resort so we could still use the facility for water and trash. It actually worked out to our benefit.

I was finally motivated enough to start learning how to engrave leather. I really enjoyed playing around with the different tools. Eventually I want to engrave a belt that shows our journey.

After 10 days of dry camping near Cottonwood AZ we had visited most of the attractions we had hoped for and started prepping the coach for travel again.

The South Rim of the Grand Canyon was breath taking!

After spending a few hours at the rim, we headed north again, stopping at roadside shops and views periodically when parking space allowed pull through maneuvering.

Using our Ultimate Campgrounds app, we found this jewel of a spot called Lone Rock State Park just over the border in Utah. Situated on Lake Powell with beautiful soft sand beaches with just enough packed sand to park a large coach with confidence within 200 feet of the water.

Probably one of the top 2 places we visited this year. Lone Rock State Park was perfect!

We stayed 4 days. 3 days longer than we had intended because it was that good. 

Very interesting people live here. We had a great time just chatting and sailing and four wheeling around this awesome park.

When we finally tore ourselves away from heaven, it was a hard push north into the heart of Utah. 

Red Canyon/Bryce Canyon was stunningly gorgeous but as we made it farther up the scenic 12 , it became very clear that we lacked the needed horsepower for the extremely steep grades and our naturally aspirated Detroit 8V71 was in serious need of more oxygen as we approached the 10000 foot elevation mark. At some points, we were slowed to a one mile per hour crawl with smoke bellowing and fingers crossed but she made it up and over and through every scary, beautiful, treacherous and fantastic feature.

Once we were off the scenic 12, we found Torrey Utah. A nice place to park, a pizza joint and we unwound via pitchers of beer, dinner and a well earned nights sleep. The remainder of our trip home was familiar ground through Ely Nevada and north through Jackpot NV and on through the base of Idaho then meandering west into Oregon eventually. Once in Oregon it was time to hold the pedal down and finish what we started. After a total of over 4100 miles, we pulled into our little Eastern WA town and were joyously greeted by friends and family. All in all, with seven states completed, the first season was a huge success. The lessons learned were many. The character building hardships and challenges made us different people today. I can truly say, it's not what we saw on the trip but what the trip saw in us. Now it's time to buckle down, go back to work and prepare for the 2018 season of travel when we head through MT, ND, SD, NE, KS, OK, TX, WY, and CO!

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Bye Bye Brenda AZ

As much as we have thoroughly enjoyed our "extended stay" in Brenda AZ, the time to head for a new destination north had to be March. To be honest, we were way too comfortable here and as good as that may sound, comfort has not much in common with self improvement and adventure. I find myself lying around getting fat and complacent when things get too easy!

Our new Suzuki has proven to be an excellent exploration tool. We have not been gentle with it but we have fixed almost all the little things until it's just about perfect now minus all the mud and weed scratches but hey, that's what it's for! 
We also upgraded from 6 seven gallon aqua-tainers to 9 giving us 63 gallon capacity on water runs which are only a couple miles each way and the little Zuki handles the weight pretty well.
Our battery bank has also increased in size from five group 27 RV units to eight! In the winter, amount of time between sunset and when we actually go to bed is about 4 hours so if we didn't want to have to run the little Honda EU1000 for a couple evening hours to maintain our 95% to 100% capacity needed for overnight fridge and furnace operation, we needed a few hundred extra amp hours to make up for the slack time. This bank size is working flawlessly and we have no need to run any generator unless it's overcast all day.
 Our friend Dana had us over to enjoy the pool at his park and we were hooked.
We were even treated to a visit from Jess's Dad Paul and our Son Colton from Washington State for a couple days and they were kind enough to drive our trusty Volkswagon Jetta home after enjoying some sun and desert fun.
True to our word we did finally tear ourselves away from paradise and head north.
About 200 miles northeast, our new spot is a little more remote but so far has proven to be a great place to explore for the next few weeks. Stay tuned for more!

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Finding a lighter, more agile 4x4 tow car

Our stay near Lake Mead pointed out one weakness we had not anticipated in our trusty VW Jetta. We couldn't get our kayak down to the water without a lot of dragging and cursing. Four wheel drive and decent ground clearance were a must and we had neither. 
Our potential candidate would have to be able to carry our 12 foot 100 lb kayak on it's roof, adapt to our towing system, carry 42 gallons of freshwater and have a manual transmission. As an extra bonus, what we found was also half the weight of our soon to be decommissioned towed.

 After a lot of craigslist hunting and phone calls, we headed into Quartzsite to see if we could do some horse trading and creative funding to find this little gem. As you can see, George approved immediately. This 1988 Suzuki Samurai was almost a perfect match for what we needed. A two piece hard top model makes it even more suited for our needs since I would be reusing the roof racks from the VW to carry the Hobie.

The tailgated bed area was the perfect size for hauling water into camp as well as propane, prospecting tools and of course, George.
Even the paint scheme almost matches like the rich guys outfits we see in Quartzsite! We still have our little VW but we are sending it home with family soon where we will use it again for work commutes and town runs this summer. 
It has been a blast going through the Suzuki and fixing all the little things to make it perfect for us. We have already clocked quite a few trail miles on it while exploring old mines and washes. Stay tuned for more from the deserts of AZ!

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Arizona Alright part 2

After a few days at the beautiful Black Rock RV Park in Brenda AZ, it was time to move back out into the desert where the rent is a little more affordable. As with every move day, I went  through my checklist of all things GMC including topping off the engine oil, antifreeze and power steering oil. Inside, we tie everything down, tape everything closed and move everything that could fall down to a safer location. We also made sure to fill up with water, totes and all since we were heading for an area with no hookups.
On a tip from a friend, we had heard about some BLM land that was close to the little community of  Brenda so after a five minute trip and a little scouting, we decided on a nice private spot around 2 miles from the highway and the general store.
With spectacular views and zero neighbors, this new spot has proved to be one of my favorites.

With Quartzsite only 12 miles away and Brenda at 2 miles, we have everything we need to be comfortable for awhile out here. What we were in need of however was a different car that could be used to explore all these old trails and roads. The Jetta has been such a great car but it's ground clearance makes it useless on the trails. I'm thinking.....Samurai!

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Arizona Alright Part 1

We said "goodbye for now" to Laurie and Scott in Las Vegas and pointed the bus towards Kingman AZ to visit Jessicas Aunt Ethel and Uncle Joe.  
While the coach leaked oil on their pristine driveway Joe and Ethel took us out to a wonderful Italian place called The Garlic Clove for dinner. It was amazing! The next day we all jumped in the car and headed for Oatman to see the burros.
Nice little tourist town now with a ton of history and interesting buildings to explore.

The burros are all very nice and are very used to people feeding them so be warned, if you have a brown paper bag in your hand, they will follow you around.

We traveled along old Route 66 and even toured one of the last original gas stations that was the inspiration for Radiator Springs in the movie Cars.   
That afternoon we said our goodbyes and spurred the coach towards Lake Havasu City and beyond.

About 20 miles from Havasu, the left wiper arm lost it's stabilizer arm and it was pouring rain so we pulled into the first place that looked big enough to turn around.

As it turns out, it was a great place to fix the wiper and spend the night for free.

The next day we arrived in Brenda AZ thanks to a tip from our old friend Dana. He invited us to stay next to his place at Black Rock RV Park for a few days for New Years.

Dana showed us around the park and took us into Quartzsite for some shopping.

And of course, Gem World!