Off of the Grid

Travel Stories

On the road again

Well, we have done it again. Even though Winnie is not yet comfortably habitable, we have taken off to try and find nicer (ie. warmer) climates in which to do some more work. LOL – I still have to shake my head over my we will be done in a month! We also hope to hang out with family for the holidays. This brings us to Monterey, Ca where my mom and sister live. Unlike our usual journey’s, we didn’t do a lot of playing on the trip down. We decided to head to the coast since we wanted to avoid any snow driving in Winnie if we could possibly avoid it. Weather forecasts were showing snow levels dropping over the Siskiyous so that reinforced our decision. Coast it was! We did have some fun. We stopped by the Evergreen Aviation Museum in McMinnville, OR which is the location of the Spruce Goose. We managed to hit it just right on our way to the coast and got to spend a nice hour there before they closed. The Spruce Goose is HUGE and AMAZING! I highly recommend you check it out if you are in the area. They also have a space museum and a theater which we didn’t have time to see but for $5.00 per ticket, it didn’t break the budget and we felt it was well worth it.

I am happy to say that Winnie is driving really, really well. She is super spry and zooms right along. There doesn’t seem to be a problem with wind resistance due to our increased cab-over. We experienced side winds as well as front-on while driving and she did really well. I think her gas mileage has gotten worse but that could also be because Daniel had her cranked up to 70mph all the time. We will have to take her out on a more sedate journey where we travel our usual 60mph and see. The tag axle is pretty funny. We still don’t have enough weight in the rig to make these touch the ground all the time. Seeing them spin while we drive is funny.

We have been in Monterey now for about a week. We have been parked in front of my mother’s house where we parked for a few weeks before without a problem. Since my mother’s house is also undergoing some construction, there isn’t space for us to sleep inside, so we have been camping out in the rig. I can officially say the cab-over is AWESOME! There is so much space up there! I can stretch and my arms or legs don’t touch the roof. For some reason having all the additional space overhead makes things seem somehow wider. Even though we didn’t change Winnie’s width at all, I feel like we have another foot there as well. It’s amazing! We don’t have any ceiling, front or back wall insulation up yet so it’s cold. We make a big nest bed in the cab-over with every blanket we own and then snuggle down for sleep. It’s kind of like camping … but in a big hollow wooden box.  LOL!

We need to get more windows installed. Right now, there are only windows on the front of the rig. It looks like a mobile MRI truck instead of an RV. I joked with Daniel that we will be getting stopped by every border patrol car from here to AZ if we don’t get some stripes or paint on it soon. Right now, it looks like a great vehicle in which to smuggle some illegal aliens. LOL! But in all seriousness – we do need to do something with all that white. I keep thinking local graffiti artist is going to see all that blank canvas and just go to town. While I am not sure I would have a huge problem with that, I would like to have some say in what is being painted on the white. I think I am going to just buy some RV stripes for now from Amazon and put them on. Something to break-up the pristine arctic white.

Interesting developments; When we broke down the rig, we removed the RVIA sticker. OOPS! Without this sticker, we have been refused entry into State run RV parks. We now no longer have this sticker/seal thing and have to figure out how to get one. <Head-Desk> Keep tuned in to see how that goes. I am not going to bother with it until all our interior work is complete. There isn’t a reason to do this before then since I am sure many of the items which would potentially cause us to fail the inspection are things that will be taken care of as we finish the details.

Also fun in-an-ironic-killmenow-kind-of-way is the news that Daniel was laid-off. He is not one to sit on his hands but this is something we weren’t anticipating in any way. I can’t complain about his company laying him off. They just didn’t have enough work for the number of employees. The owner of the company treated Daniel very well and was a delight to work for. No complaints. We are just sorry it didn’t last. As I said, Daniel doesn’t sit around when he receives news like this and he is already waiting for an offer for a full-time position. Xander and I are going to hang out in the RV for several months this time while Daniel goes and gets everything setup. No longer running across the country – we are going sit tight, and wait until all the wrinkles get worked out as always happens with a new job. Then, once things have settled down a bit, Xan, the puppies and I will head out. Should make for a much more stable move than what we have typically done before. It means however, that much of the finishing work on the interior of the RV will fall to me alone. Intimidating. Do-able but intimidating. Daniel will focus on the wiring, plumbing and finishing the interior of the ceiling and walls. Then, I will get to work on the rest. If we can get some of the cupboards and cabinets up before he goes that would be huge but I am not counting on it.

The Adventure Continues!


Playing on the CA Coast :-)


We had a wonderful time visiting my mother in Monterey. Lots of time at the beach of course and lots of wonderful time visiting. My sister also lives in Monterey and Xan worships her! Just mention that we are going to see Auntie Janie and he will start to squeal, hop around with a big smile on his face and say, “When? Really?! When?” A day with Auntie Janie means kayaking in the bay, or fishing on the wharf just like the real fisherman. No wonder he gets so excited. LOL!



We had a great week in Monterey. For our journey to Spokane, WA we are taking the 101/1. Going over the Golden Gate bridge is always fun. It’s so pretty all lit up at night! We decided to boondock for most of the trip up to Washington. There are many places to stop by the side of the road, especially on Hwy 1/101. The trip itself went really well. We allotted four days to get to Spokane. Highlights of our trip include stopping for several hours at Seaglass Beach. We had a lot of fun playing in tide pools.

Going through the Redwoods are always a must when heading up the California Coast. We stopped and explored a bit. As always, the Redwoods are awesome, impressive, humbling, otherworldly and so much more than can ever be captured by word or film.

Going up the coast is like driving down memory lane. I spent 20+ years in Washington State raising my first two kids. I have done this trip between California and Washington so many times, it’s beyond count. My daughter and I used to make speed runs from Bothell, WA to mom’s house. We would do it in a day. Did you know you can get from WA to the Central Coast in about 21 hours as long as you only stop for gas? I wouldn’t advise it, but it can be done and I used to do it often. I love taking Highway 199 between Grant’s Pass & Crescent City. It takes forever, and the road is super windy but I love driving into the Redwoods this way. We found some fellow RVers at a rest stop stranded right on the Oregon border. They had a flat tire and there was zero signal for them to use to call for help. Fortunately they were Good Sam members and after taking down their information, I was able to call for help. They are new to fulltiming it and I reassured them to always ask for help from a fellow RVer if they need it. We have all been there so generally we will go out of our way for each other.

We drove down the gorge between Oregon and Washington on Hwy 84. It’s a beautiful drive. The landscape goes from gorgeous and green to desert dry.  The river runs with barges, boats, parasailing, and dams – I counted at least four. We stopped to hike by Multnomah Falls and to play in the river beneath. We went to visit the Washington State version of Stonehenge; a WWI and WWII memorial for the young men of the community who served and died in the wars. It’s a special place that I used to visit at least once a year.

We arrived at our friends house in-time for dinner. Now comes the hard part. The remodel must begin. We have had a great journey thus far and we look forward to many adventures in the future. This time in our brand new remade home! Look out for updates on how the remodel is doing. I can’t wait to post!


I know, I know. I need to be better about writing. What is the best balance between posting and not posting? Do we allow for ‘Life’ at all?  LOL!

Ok, I am just going to quickly bring you all up to speed. Tulsa, OK was actually a really cool place. I was surprised thinking it was going to be much hotter, that it would be run down and ugly, and that it wouldn’t be very green. Boy was I surprised. Tulsa is lovely! They certainly have a ton of things for families to do. There are a dozen free splash pads all over the city. Xander and I checked out three of them before the Usborne convention started. There are tons of trails! Turkey Mountain looked amazing for the hiking trails and views. We drove by it a couple of times but never did manage to get a hike in. They have dog parks. One in particular was amazing! Biscuit Acres; which happens to be right next to a neat playground and decent splash pad. Don’t go on a Tuesday though. They appear to be closed one day a week during mid week which is weird AND they don’t allow kids in the park under 12. I just checked the site and it appears they are stationing a police officer there to issue $500 citations to parents of younger kids who are in the park. Not sure what happened in this park to produce this law but there ya go. For the dogs, this was a great park! Biscuit Acres Dog Park Webpage While in Tulsa, we parked at the Warrior RV Park. Small, only about 30 spaces and not tons of amenities. They do have restrooms that are decently clean (wear flipflops in the shower kind of clean), showers and laundry. No playground, pool, or hot tub. They do have a store. What they also have is a wonderful grassy area full of lightening bugs! It was so cool to go out at night and stand still in the grass and watch the lights dancing around us. This park is relatively close to the highway with amenities like a grocery store, gas station, hiking trails, big shopping area, etc. And it was affordable. We stayed a week and paid $175. This park came recommended and we would stay here again. It was close enough to everything that we were trying to get to which made it simple.

Now about the Fun Stuff! OMG! BOOKS! I am an Usborne Books & More representative. I am fairly new in the business but LOVE it! This is my first time attending convention but I already can’t wait to go next year. The books are amazing! As a homeschooler and just someone who appreciates a good book, these cannot be beat. They are colorful, interesting, interactive, pull-downable, durable and kids WANT to be using them. So – obviously I love these books and I love the effect they have on kids. If you want to check out for yourself, just check out my website Paula’s Usborne Books & More Store.  At convention, we got to see the new releases and got a bunch! AAHHH!! SO COOL! One of the presenters said that other people (people that are not Usborne Books & More representatives) might not love the books as much as we do. I disagree – they just haven’t been introduced to the books yet.  🙂  I have a couple favorites to share and then I will stop talking about the books and will get back to fulltiming in the rig (and yes, I have special bookshelves built into the RV to hold my collection…Xander’s collection…our collection.).

0020410_ludwig_the_space_dog_300 This book is going to be a favorite read for ANYONE. If they are old enough to perch the 3-D glasses on their nose, they are ready for this book. The entire book is 3-D. I highly recommend you make sure you have several pairs of 3-D glasses. You can usually find them at dollar stores, or from Amazon. Or you can just let me know and I can order you a couple pairs. This makes sure that all children AND parents reading the book can fully experience this cool adventure where Ludwig takes off on an inter-dimensional adventure with a Penguin. LOL! I love it!



Another fun new title is
Hip & Hop, You can do Anything!‘  This book is so different than all our other books, for a second I thought it had been placed on the new releases table by accident. Akala, the author, is a successful rap musician and has founded a musical theater production company called Hip-Hop Shakespeare Company, dedicated to helping children reach their full potential. Read this inspiring book with a beat and you can’t go wrong. Its inspiration message helps kids to realize they can achieve anything as long as they don’t give up. I can’t wait to have this book on my bookshelf!

I am a homeschooler so I am always on the lookout for more books that I can use to teach difficult subjects to my son. Usborne Books & More has outdone itself with these new releases. I am just going to list them since there are so many I recommend for educational purposes.

  • This is not another Math Book – anything that can make Math fun and interactive, I am in! We love Math and Science in our family but we have lots of friends who hate trying to teach Math concepts. This is child led and provides many activities to facilitate learning and enrich the learning experience. This is a follow-up to ‘This is not a Math Book.’ Also in the series is ‘This is not a Science Book.’
  • The Color Pop-Up Dinosaurs and Color Pop-Up Animals activity books are awesome! The children get to create their own 3-d book! Once you have colored in all the pages and made your animals, imagine the stories your child will create as they read through the book THEY MADE using their imagination! This is great learning tool for Pre-K, and K-2.
  • I think that children learn so much by gardening. They get tuned in to the whole natural cycle. Failing having space for a garden of your own, Usborne has produced some amazing reference fun books about food. ‘100 Things to Know about Food‘, ‘It All Starts with a Seed – How Food Grows‘, ‘See Inside Where Food Comes From‘, and ‘Why We Need Bee’s‘. Previous releases include gardening manuals with step-by-step instructions on how to create a container vegetable garden, or garden outside. Very cool!
  • The Academy series of books is AMAZING! And Usborne Books & More has come out with another one that is going to make my son squeal with excitement! ‘Scientist Academy‘ is the latest addition. It goes through the different types of scientists, and provides activities focused around the featured types of scientists. At the end of the book, the child graduates with a certificate and is an official scientist. LOVE! Xander already calls himself a scientist so this will be a major hit when it arrives at our door.

I could go on – there are some seriously cool books! While I was at convention, Daniel and Xander had fun checking out all the Route-66 memorabilia in Tulsa. We all had fun and got some new books for our trouble. YAY!

From Tulsa, we were westward bound. I was not sure our VW Eurovan would make it over the passes further North. We decided we would play it safe and head West from Tulsa on I-40. This would take us across some of the hottest places in the US right now, but it’s a fairly straight run – not tons of elevation gains like if we went on another Interstate.


Our journey started fairly simply. We planned stops every 5 1/2 hours or so. That meant we would go from Oklahoma, into Texas and stop for a night. As we headed out on the Interstate I was following Daniel. There were some strong winds buffeting us around a bit as we drove. Imagine my surprise as the patch of filon we used to fix the roof came flying off the top of the rig, over Princess our Eurovan and into the tall grass on the side of the road. I honked at Daniel but he couldn’t hear with the blowing of the wind. We had to have that filon so I pulled over and backed up in the breakdown lane till I was across from it in the grass. Daniel used a super tar type of glue to adhere it to the rig. Having been in the heat, that tar was goopy and wet. Ugh. Fortunately the Universe provides. In Tulsa, before leaving, I was driving to pick something up at the hotel I had been staying at for the convention and a big piece of plastic got wrapped around my tire. In the parking lot of the hotel, I had to crawl under the right front wheel and get it off. This plastic was huge! Must have been wrapped around an appliance or something. IMG_8559I certainly didn’t see it on the road so don’t know where it came from but I shoved it in the back of the van and didn’t think about it till I was on the side of the road trying to figure out what I could possibly put this goopy piece of filon on/in. It turned out to be just what I needed. I rolled up the filon, getting covered in the goo in the process and then wrapped this huge piece of thick plastic around it. I used an extension cord as a rope and wrapped it around the plastic to hold it in place. Once done, I manhandled it into the van and took off to go find Daniel in the rig. I caught up to him and we stopped in a place called Hydro, OK at a closed auto shop to try and reattach this to the roof. The filon was remarkably intact after it’s flight, only missing a corner. The goo was sticky but was obviously not enough to hold it in place, especially in the heat we were experiencing. Thanks to Xan, we had a new box of self tapping screws – he had asked for his own box of screws so he could make something, he just hadn’t had time to make something yet. Thank heavens we had those screws! It pays to have a kid who is still connected to the Universal wisdom. Daniel screwed the filon in place and reinforced it however he could and we took off, once again on the road.



Check out this inspired version of ‘Oklahoma’ Daniel came up with while he was working with the goo. LOL! Daniel Singing Oklahoma



We stopped outside of Amarillo in a place called Oasis RV Resort. Reasonable rates, nice clean bathrooms and nice staff. They also have a half buried RV that they say was someone who tried to leave without paying! LOL!

Our journey across Texas and into New Mexico was fairly straightforward. We stayed at a place called Grants, NM called the Bar ‘S’ RV Park. We got there really late so I can’t say a lot about this park as far as recommendations. I can say we met some awesome people at this park. Some more homeschoolers with two wonderful kids. They were immediately best buddies with Xander and the dogs and came right in the rig. LOL! The bathrooms were nice and clean. Not any ammenities other than the restrooms/showers and the store. However, Daniel and Xan got me some really neat turquoise earrings there! Great rates! We ended up needing a tire fixed and found a nice local guy at Milan Tire Shop (no website but here is his info: I-40 Horizon Blvd, Milan, NM 87021  (505) 903-0478) who filled up the air on the Eurovan and fixed the RV tire. We hit the road after the tires were inflated and headed for Kingman, AZ. We actually made fairly decent time to AZ but due to the late start we ended up once more getting there after dark.

We had reservations at ‘Blake Ranch RV Park & Horse Motel‘. This place seemed really cool. No playground or swimming pool but super clean and nice. They have a horseshoes area, a rec hall, a nice store, 2-fenced dog runs, big restrooms/showers, nicely equipt laundry room (I did all our laundry there) and the machines weren’t crazy expensive. Only $1.50 for wash and $1 for the dryers. There is a koi pond in front of the store and nice grassy area with tons of feeders so the area is full of singing birds. There were other kids there when were there so Xan had some playmates. They ran around and had a great time. We ended up staying here for another day. We were so tired because of the late starts and stresses of arriving way late, the idea of getting up and out again by 11:00am was too much. We paid for another day and it was worth it! We relaxed for a day, Xander played, I got laundry done and we just took it easy. We found an amazing Mexican Restaurant, Oysters Mexican and Seafood. If you can go, GO! We had had enough of roadside food and our cooler was not doing well keeping food cold in the 100+ heat we were experiencing. We wanted real, not fast or chain-based food. We found Oysters. The environment was lovely and classic old Mexican with wonderful black & white pictures of famous Mexican musicians, artists and actors. Of course there were some Frieda prints – which I loved! Dark stained wood, tables and cubbys and wonderfully put together. The food was amazing! They are spicing their red chili sauce differently than I have ever tasted and it was sooooo good! YUM! Xander was happy with his quesadilla and Daniel with his choice of food. The waitress was friendly and helpful, and we left with full tummies and happy hearts. Arizona is where we plan on living once we get all the rig work done – back to Tucson! We had to stop at a rest-stop before leaving AZ and have a bit of fun with the sunset. Farewell AZ! We will be there soon!

The next day we hit the road much better rested and relaxed. We planned on making this long drive from Kingman, AZ to Monterey, CA in one day. It meant we didn’t have a lot of time to play around. We needed to be on the road early! It’s us. We weren’t on the road early. But we were out by 11am which I guess is just what I need to settle myself to. We made fairly good time heading out.

OMG – California. Going across the Mohave is always fun…NOT! No A/C in either vehicle meant we were all hot.



We like to stop in Mohave to get gas. I am not sure why, maybe the novelty of it? As we were driving across the expanse, and the fact that I recognize many parts if it, I am reminded of how many times we have actually crossed on I-40. I know we have stopped in Mohave at least 3 times at the same gas station around the same time of day. It’s always windy which is probably why they put up such a huge windfarm. Daniel always giggles about seeing Scaled Composites when we go through. He is giddy about the fact they built the first privately funded manned spacecraft to fly outside the Earths atmosphere. One of these days we will have to see if they give tours at all and visit. Once we got closer to Bakersfield, we started hitting the traffic. And more sun.


The rest of the trip was uneventful. We got to the Monterey late at night. My mom had the porch light on for us and was waiting up. It was so nice to be in the cool pacific air. After our hot day of driving, needing to put on a light jacket was mind blowing. We quickly got things put away and gratefully went to sleep. I will end this post for now, and update you in a day or two with our trip North to WA. Enjoy!

Austin Bound!

Hi All, when last we visited, Daniel, Xan and I were frantically trying to get out of Kansas and away from the storms. We made it successfully into Texas and had stopped in exhaustion at a rest stop off the side of the road. We woke-up refreshed only to find out that we had stopped at what is most probably the most disgusting rest stop in the entire state of Texas. There was more garbage than earth visible and looked like we had parked next to a landfill. ACK! We also discovered that we had a low front tire in the rig. The Adventures-Never-Stop when you live in a moving house!

I have become very ‘Zen’ about life when such things happen. Turns out we are always OK; help is just around the corner. Sure enough, we discovered we were only 4 miles away from Canadian, Texas. It was Memorial Day Weekend and I was concerned that everything would be closed, but kept the faith that the Universe always provides. It might challenge you as it does so, but it always provides.

We rapidly discovered that the town of Canadian cut their air pressure lines for some reason a couple years ago. There is not an air hose in the entire town unless it is in a tire or an automotive shop. Weird! Every little town has its idiosyncrasies though and you just have to roll with them. Since it was Sunday of Memorial Weekend, everything was of course – closed. Having exhausted our ability to find a place where we could put air in our tire, we decided to get some breakfast and call roadside assistance when we were done. We were starving and quickly found a place to eat. Close to the entrance of town, Canadian Restaurant was selected. A nice place, right on 2nd, locally owned and operated. They were kind enough to serve us a nice home-cooked breakfast even though they were switching over to lunch. After a delicious breakfast, I was talking to the owner while we were cashing out. I explained what happened and what we were looking for. She said, “Well, let me call my brother-in-law. He has a shop here, he should be able to help you.” Sure enough, he met us at his shop which was only a block away (visible from Canadian Restaurant). Canadian Auto Repair is the name of his business. I could have sworn I got a business card but for the life of me, I can’t find it and can’t remember this wonderful gentleman’s name. Suffice it to say, he was our hero for interrupting his holiday, opening up his shop and filling our tire so we could get on the road. See?! The universe always provides.  🙂 And if you are ever in Canadian, Texas, swing by and have a meal at Canadian Restaurant. Need your vehicle worked on? Call Canadian Auto Repair and let them know we said “Hi!”.

The rest of our drive down to Austin was thankfully event free.


Beautiful weather and smooth driving.

We ended up getting to Austin pretty late. That just seems to be the way we roll. We discovered the RV park where we had reservations only had 2 toilets/showers for 164 slots and we were about as far away from the restrooms as you could possibly be. Obviously that was not going to work so we spent our first night in the Austin area camped out at the closest rest stop with all the semi’s. There was a nice breeze blowing, so even though we didn’t have power, we had a nice night of sleep.

The next day we explored our options for staying a week. We ended up staying at the KOA Leander campground. It was just the treat we needed. They put us close to the restrooms, there was a sea-water pool and hot-tub, nice laundry rooms, restrooms, playground, outdoor meeting area, fire pit and a great dog run! We drove up, parked and relaxed. We got to visit with our adult kids, visit our niece and her family, and best of all – got to steal our granddaughter for several days!

I didn’t get a picture of Meg (our daughter) but did of Sean.


96bdfdd4-2064-49e2-927c-96d7dd3be5e4  Love the wild curly hair. LOL!

Turns out that tire that was low back in Canadian, needed to be replaced after all. Two new tires later (thank you Meghan!) we were on the road, this time headed to Tulsa, OK so I could attend the Usborne Books & More convention. Did I mention I am a rep? I LOVE BOOKS!  More about that on our Tulsa, OK post.

There’s no place like Kansas…

Sometimes I think my life is a book that is being written by some balding guy in a dark smokey room somewhere. Events happen and I look back and see how perhaps if I looked at things just a bit more distantly, I would see the foreshadowing. Every good book has foreshadowing.

A few days before we left Ogallala, NE we introduced the movie, ‘The Wizard of Oz’ to Xander. It took us two days to watch it – I always forget how long it is. Anyway, Xander loved it! FORESHADOWING! We decided to head South first before heading North. I am an Usborne Books & More representative and am attending the convention this year in Tulsa, OK. I had planned on flying in but we were already halfway there. Why not just drive down, camp out and then head North? I called my friend who will be hosting us while we do this crazy remodel and she was cool with the delay so we made the decision. South we go! It saved the cost of a last minute airline ticket and my hotel costs. Plus, since we had time to kill before the convention, we could visit our adult kids in Austin! SCORE!

Our day of departure was a bit soggy. The rain had come back. Nothing serious, but annoying when you are trying to pack things up. I think it is part of that rule book.

  • 1 – If you wash your car, it will rain.
  • 2 – If you go camping, you will put your tent up in the rain.
  • 3 – When you break down your tent, it will rain.

etc, etc, etc…

I was trying to do laundry before our check-out time so had gotten up at what I consider the crack of dawn (around 8) and run out to get started. We only had two loads so I wasn’t worried about it, the park has two machines. Well, the machines were much smaller than I was anticipating so my two loads became four. Of course the last load I washed were the sheets, so I was chomping at the bit for the dryer to complete so we could leave. Daniel ended up getting distracted be the extra time he had and started fidgeting. Never a good thing. Here I was, pushing for us to get on the road and Daniel hadn’t made the cab ready to move and was, in my eyes at least – fidgeting. My brain was exploding. “Let’s Go!” I kept saying. Then he got frustrated because of course what he was doing was important and necessary, it just wasn’t what I wanted him to be doing. Xander had been told to go get in his seat so many times, he was just tuning us out and playing so that drove me crazy. Needless to say, it was not a smooth departure. Finally, we waived good-bye to our new friends and got on the road. I think it was something like 1.

All was well. I had our route planned out, our reservations made and new exactly where we were going. Between puppy potty stops and kid movement stops we were making no time. I was just hoping to get to our RV park before dark at that point. We were leaving Oakley, KS when I noticed Daniel had pulled over in the rig. “I felt something ‘POP'” he said, “We need to find someplace to stop so I can check it out. Is there an open autoparts store around here?”


Here we were, driving in rural Kansas on Memorial Weekend and it’s after 6. My response was something like, “Uuuuhhh, no.” DUH! There was a campground sign I had noticed a mile or so back and after verifying that at least there were a few auto shops in town, we limped to the RV Park I had found and paid for the night. Our friend the Internet said that some of the shops would be open the next day so we crossed our fingers and got settled.

The woman who took my call when I asked if they had space for us was a very matter-of-fact people. Didn’t sound like she took any nonsense. I was as specific as I could be in answering her questions. “Do you have RV spaces?” I asked?

“We are a campground aren’t we?” was her reply.

“Not all campgrounds accept, RV’s but I am happy to hear that you do! Do you have space for a 28′ Minnie Winnie for tonight?” I asked?

“How many toads?” she asked, RV lingo for are you towing anything.

“None.” was my reply. We don’t, we aren’t towing anything. RV’s with a tow need a longer slip or sometimes a pull-through spot. We get into more places because we are small and don’t need a pull-through. We can back in if needed.

When we got to the park, she saw the van and said dryly, “I thought you said ‘No Toads!’.”

“We don’t. I drive the van.”

“So that’s 2 vehicles then!”

“Uhhh, ya.”

She went on to explain the particulars of the park, of which there were many. This looks like a lot of fun to stay a while – no really! I am being serious! The store has over 700 DVD’s you can borrow for free and was well stocked. There is a big dog park, a great view of green grassy fields and pretty impressive sky, a hot tub, horse-shoes, a pizza place, a pub, and more features I am forgetting. One of the important things she informed me about was the following, “If at any time, we are experiencing a storm and you don’t feel safe, go to the Men’s Room. If you have dogs that you are bringing with you, you go into the Women’s Room.”


We went over to the pub for dinner. Jack’s Pub serves just about everything and it’s all made on-site from scratch. The prices are super reasonable and the food was great! Nice staff and Jack himself stopped by to see how things were. They import blue crap and fresh caught fish from the Atlantic. Jack prepares the fish and ships it to Denver to specific restaurants. There is escargot from a specialty farm in France, and you can have a burger that is angus, Kobe beef, elk or buffalo! Of course they also have basic stuff as well – all handmade onsite. Pretty cool! The waitress was telling us about how they had a tornado warning the night before. “It was pretty exciting!” she said. “We all had to go to the shelter.”

We had a wonderful dinner and left for the rig in high spirits. We felt like if nothing else, we had an awesome place to spend some time if the repairs to Winnie were intensive. The town looked large enough that we would be able to find the parts we needed and a service place. We got Xanman ready for bed as the storm started and went through our regular routine. The wind started really picking up and were prepped to enjoy a nice storm.

By the time the wind really started, I was in my nightgown and in bed with Xander. The RV was rocking so violently I looked at Daniel and asked him if our rig was heavy enough to stay upright. Right after I asked that, we noticed that the people in the RV next to us were heading for the bathrooms. Then the hail started. Daniel had pulled up the radar on his phone and stated flatly, “We need to get out of here.” Then the hail started.

I have NEVER heard such hail, and I’m from Colorado where hail damage is a normal part of living there. It sounded like we were being shot at. A barrage of unrelenting shots hitting the RV from all angles. Xander’s hands were covering his ears and he looked at me wondering if he should be really scared. I was getting out of bed and pulling him down to me. Daniel was getting the dogs hooked up. We were yelling at each other because there was no other way to be heard in the noise. We grabbed whatever jackets were close and opened the door. The dogs did not want to leave the rig and had to be pushed out the door. I pulled Xan as close to my body as I could and lifted a hand to protect my face, shielding his with my body and coat, pushing the dogs in front of me. Instantly we were drenched with the rain pouring down, hail battering at every exposed part of the body. We ran. We made it safely to the women’s room, the rest of the park’s patrons safely ensconced in the men’s room. We went to the deepest part of the bathroom and huddled taking a moment to gather our thoughts and wonder what was next. We were soaking wet, dripping onto the tile floor. Turns out I did a pretty good job of protecting Xander, only his pants and shoes were wet. His head and body were dry – ‘Mommy Shield to the Rescue!’ We found chairs and pulled them close. It wasn’t until we had been sitting a while that the shivers started and the processing began. Daniel was glued to his phone watching as the storm intensified. “It’s tornadic.” he said quietly. We stayed gathered together, the pups at our feet and listened to the storm. After a while, the sound seemed to calm. Daniel announced he would go ‘next-door’ to the men’s room and see what was up with the other campers. He came back shortly saying we needed to stay put. The tornado warning was still in effect. He made a quick and reckless run to the RV to fetch a blanket. The rain was not as heavy he reported. More like a normal storm would be. We stripped the little guy and turned him into boy burrito. I snuggled into my coat and tried to squeeze as much as the water out of my nightgown. Xander and I had long since taken off our shoes. They were so full of water, they squished with every movement. I got paper towels and wiped off the pups and dried them as well as I was able. Then went to work on drying the floor some. We had puddles everywhere from when we ran in. Then we waited. Daniel giving periodic updates from his phone, Xander and I telling stories and talking. Anything to keep him feeling as safe and secure as possible under the circumstances. I joked with him that he would have some major street cred with is friends after this storm, and a pretty awesome story to tell. But mostly, we snuggled. We were ready to head back to the rig when we were informed another two storm cells were headed our way so we should sit tight. OK.

At 3:00am, we finally went back out to the RV. We discovered a nice waterfall in the center dripping on our brand new floor. Daniels ceiling patch held but water was coming in from somewhere on the roof. Honestly I was not surprised. That hail was so incredible, I was expecting the entire roof to be Swiss cheese. We found buckets to put under the leaks for the rest of the morning (Well, at least where the leaks were dripping), wiped up the water off the floor, got dry clothes on and went to sleep. Check out time was at 11 after all.

The next dawned with a dramatic overcast sky. Just enough sun peeking through to give drama to the clouds. The wind was still blowing but nothing like the night before. We walked around Winnie and Princess to inspect any damage. Princess appeared to be OK but now has these weird spots where somehow the paint was lifted off. You can see the paint kinda sagging below these spots and then nothing (no paint) in the center. Winnie’s damage assessment would have to wait until we could find a ladder and get to the roof. One of the owners told Daniel that all the paint had been stripped from the back exterior wall of Jack’s Pub. Said it looked like it had been sand blasted….

We took off and got the parts we thought we needed for the engine and were directed to a mechanic that everyone raved about. We drove to his shop only to discover that the shop was closed for the weekend because of the holiday. We were told there was a shop that is always open, holiday or not but it was about 10 miles away. We had no choice – we went.

Turns out the shop was in Grainfield, KS. A nice little town that likes to keep things simple. There is one bank, appropriately named ‘Bank’, a small market, a post office, a VFW hall, a few shops (all closed of course) and Jack’s Auto Repair and Tow/NAPA Auto. Jack told us he could fit us in later that day so honestly, I napped in the van. Daniel and Xan were probably doing the same in the rig. We were exhausted. When it was time for the repair, I went into the shop to ask if they had a restroom I could use. “Nope, out here in the country, we go outside.” said the woman behind the counter dryly. Sleep exhaustion had me looking at her stupidly trying to make sense of her words.

Her co-worker seeing my face busted out laughing, “She’s only kidding, it’s back here.” He went off still chuckling and shaking his head while I stared after him not sure if I should move or not.

“Do I follow?” I asked?

She was not done teasing me, as she responded, “No.” Then seeing my face try to process this answer, started laughing herself. “Yes! Yes! Come-on back here. You go through that door and it’s on the right.” She all but pushed me towards the room, which at that point I wasn’t sure I wanted to use. I was too tired for humor and would probably burst out into tears if there was another practical joke in store for me. Turns out all was good. It was just a restroom.

We never sit around when we have time to spend in a place. You won’t see us hanging out in waiting rooms, or twiddling our thumbs on a bench. We took off to explore. We found a wonderful festival going on. The annual BBQ & Pulled Pork contest. There was music, food vendors you could vote for, a kiddie train to ride, photo ops, bag toss games set up and even horseshoes. This park also boasted one of the best equipt playgrounds I have seen. This was awesome! The train was free so once Xander found out, he happily hopped on and settled himself to ride as long as the driver would let him. This train was hysterical! The driver simply kept driving following the instructions of the kids or any parent who walked by. Kids were draped everywhere. Sitting on the edges, in-between the cars, hopping on and off as whim dictated. Dirty smiling faces from melting snow cones looked happily at one another and the world around them. It was awesome! “SPIN! SPIN!” the kids were cry – the driver would head over to the basketball court where they players would just move aside, no questions asked while the train gently spun to the squeals of delighted children. Through the park, in-between the trees, around the playground went the train stopping and starting at the direction of the kids. “Stop! I dropped my shoe!” was one cry and the driver obligingly stopped so the little girl could hop off to get her flip-flop and then hop back on. Xander was in heaven.

Daniel walking around in his kilt made quite the impression. You can imagine not many residents in this small town have seen a man wearing a Utilikilt. Of course I had to get him a t-shirt boasting this years theme for the event. “I like Pig Butts!” with of course a pig bottom filling the body of the shirt.

Jack was able to get the rig fixed-up by the end of the day. He also checked our tire inflation and installed a new tire stem for one of the duallys that was slowly loosing air. His prices were beyond reasonable and the town and people were great! He even let Daniel borrow a ladder so he could check out the hail damage on the roof. Some history: when we first bought the rig, there was a rack up there. We took it off when we remodeled the first time which left screw holes in the sections of the roof that we didn’t replace. We put flashing tape over those holes to keep the roof water safe. That tape has lasted through 6 Tucson summers and monsoons, and 2 years of storms in Colorado Springs. The hail chewed through it like cotton candy. Just shredded it. Hence the waterfall inside. Daniel went up there with more tape. Not much else we can do at this point. We are headed North to replace the roof so anything more extensive is just a waste. Hopefully we won’t run into any more tornadoes.

We got on the road late – after 5 and our sole goal was to get the heck out of Kansas and into Texas. Of course we ran into more storms. In Liberal, KS we had to stop and wait for the storms ahead of us to clear. The wind was getting strong enough that it wasn’t really safe to drive the rig. Nothing like the night before but better safe than sorry! We got some dinner and hung out until Daniel gave that all clear according to radar. We headed out of town and after a few miles noticed an emergency vehicle ahead with it’s lights flashing. Wondering what was up we approached slowly. Mind you, it’s pitch black outside. Late at night and overcast with thick storm clouds. We didn’t really have that far to go but keep having to pull over because of wind and storm activity ahead of us. This short drive was taking forever! Lightening was flashing all around us in the distance and we just wanted to be out of Kansas already and to our stop. The camp was already paid for – we just needed to get to it. Turns out the emergency vehicle was there empty. Our side of the highway was covered in water with no way to see how deep. We had to wait for clear spots in on-coming traffic to go around. Finally, about an hour from our destination for the night, we had to stop. We were so tired. Fortunately Texas has 9 million ‘rest’ stops. They don’t have any amenities but they are spaces for you to pull over and at least get some rest.

Pull over we did. We walked the dogs, and went to bed.

Needless to say Kansas was exciting. They say peak tornado season is from May to July. Of course we had to cross during peak season! Note to self, stay away from tornado alley! I am including some of the pictures from Daniel’s iphone with the storm alerts. Pretty intense! Headed to bed for now but will continue our journey later! Take care!