We are on the road again. Sort of. LOL! The problem with old rigs is that there is always something going wrong, even when you have almost replaced the entire thing. If we ever sell Winnie – she will be almost brand new!
It took us three days to get out of Tucson. We had so much to do! Registering the trailer, getting the trailer OK for travel, cleaning out our storage unit, taking things to the dump – it all was just time consuming and exhausting in the heat. Sweat dripping down my face, into my eyes – no fun. But we got it all done. Sunday night we headed out just to be able to get out of Tucson. We only went about 60 miles. There were flood warnings everywhere, microburts happening all around us with flashing lightening and deafening thunder. We found a safe place to hole up for the night and got some much needed rest, and showers! We stood on the deck of our hotel and watched the lightening show all around us. Really glad we didn’t try to drive in it as we were just too tired. As it turned out, that was a very good decision.
Monday, Labor Day – we headed out hoping to make it out of Arizona with a quick stop to the Impact Crater site. We went once before many years ago and were looking forward to it as an outing and chance to walk around. As we headed North on I-17 we lost the drive train on Winnie. I was following behind the rig on the phone to my sister when it flew off. We were very lucky that traffic was super light and no-one got hurt. The AZ highway guys came quickly and picked it up and gave us some protection from the racing vehicles on the highway. We were able to find a tow truck who could tow Winnie for a mere $175 per hour. I had meant to purchase Good Sam’s Roadside assistance before we left, but never got around to it. I just forgot. There was so much going on. So, $700 later, we were towed to a safe location until we could be towed to a shop the following morning. Everyone said, “Take it to Ford – if that is what the RV is based on. They are the best ones to fix a drive train.” Ya, not so much it turns out. Winnibego extended the drive train for our special Class C. Ford wouldn’t touch it. After some exploration, Daniel found a custom shop where they said they could fabricate one for a reasonable cost. Another $200 later in towing, the shop had the rig and had the materials needed in-house to make us a drive train.
We got Winnie back today and look forward to getting an early start tomorrow. Some good news. We were worried we had overloaded the rig, but turns out she is way under her load limit. Hopefully the next time you read an update, it will be from our final destination – Spokane, WA.
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.).
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. I 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.
HOT HOT HOT HOT 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!
I need to be better about posting our route information for those RVers following us.
From Ogallala, NE we took the following route through Nebraska to Austin, TX
- NE State Hwy 61 South out of Ogallala, NE to the Kansas border
- NE State Hwy 61 becomes KS State Hwy 161 and terminates on US 36. We took US-36 East to KS State Hwy 25 South.
- KS State Hwy 25 hits US-40 which we took East to Oakley which of course is where we had our RV break and then camped for the night and the tornado, etc., etc., etc.
- After our brief stint down I-70 East to get the RV repaired at Grainfield, KS we started heading South again on US-83.
- US-83 joins with US-160 and both continue South until US-160 deviates East. We continued on US-83 through Liberal to the OK boarder.
- In OK, US-83 joins with US-270 for a short time until US-270 heads due East. We continued on US-83 all the way through OK to TX.
- Texas is a bit more tricky. There are many FM roads that I don’t think I recorded. I can tell you we followed US-83/US-62 until we hit US-277. There were some FM roads here that got us over to US-183 which took us all the way to Georgetown and Leander which is the area where we camped.
There ya go! I will post details about our Texas trip tomorrow. For now, night and safe travel!