Octagonal Bank of New Zealand banker's desk carved from Australian red cedar, Dunedin, circa 1883.

Octagonal Bank of New Zealand banker's desk carved from Australian red cedar, Dunedin, circa 1883.
Octagonal Bank of New Zealand banker's desk carved from Australian red cedar, Dunedin, circa 1883.

Monday, October 31, 2011

First day of ... -- October 30, 2011

Fallon, NV
Back to school, bungy jumping, starting life in a fifth wheel: The first day of anything is exciting and scary. Today was our first day of work for amazon.com. We acted like enthusiastic kids getting ready do something new and exciting.

I got up at 4:15 a.m. to get ready for job start time of 6:30 a.m. Showered, ate breakfast, packed lunches, drove to work (which took 25 minutes). The road from our RV Park to Fernley is a very wide four-lane highway (U.S. 50) with a center turn lane. Speed limit is 60-65 mph most of the way!

At Amazon.com, the new hires were split into two groups; we were in the red group. Skills testing was our first activity, after which we moved to another room to complete our I-9 paperwork and show our I.D.s to HR personnel.  For the next three hours, we had safety training and learned all kinds of warehouse information dealing with pallet carts, safe lifting, conveyor belt gate safety, tripping hazards, different kinds of carts, etc. We then had a tour of the fulfillment center.

Lunch was on our own which we brought as per instructions.
After lunch, we had over two hours of HR information presented to us.

We found out we will be working day shift in the receiving department. We will find out our specific jobs on Wednesday. Apparently no work kampers will be "pickers," so we're pretty disappointed. But, as they told us today, things can change in an instant. 

The weather was absolutely gorgeous again today. The forecast is for an abrupt change to colder and stormier weather this week. Tomorrow night into Tuesday the temperature is supposed to drop sharply with highs only in the high 40s or low 50s. Overnight temperatures could be around 24. 

Must - get - insulation - for - our - water - hose! We do not want our water system to freeze. 

Does anyone out there know how to use a convection oven? Can I cook squash in it? I tried tonight, but the squash turned brown and stayed hard. I ended up steaming it.

So far no major mishaps with the RV. As part of our learning curve, we had the grey water back up into the shower because we didn't know our holding tank was full. Gauges in the unit show how full the tanks are getting, but we hadn't checked the gauges frequently enough. Now we look at them every couple of days.

We thought we would use the restrooms and showers at the RV park. How silly of us. Why would we want to go outside and freeze our behinds off when we can stay in our 5er and be warm and cozy? Not to mention that to use the park's shower we'd have to schlepp our shampoo, towels, etc., back and forth.

I am waiting to hear back on a job opportunity in Reno from January to mid-April. Tomorrow we plan to apply for summer jobs (end of April to early November) at Yellowstone in 2012. 

Bob is kicked back in a recliner reading "One Second After," by William Forstchen. Such an interesting book. The book is fiction, takes place in the near future, and deals with EMP (electromagnetic pulse) bombs. The book examines what would happen to our country if all electronics didn't work. Quite a page turner.

Speaking of books, some are calling my name, so I'm off to read. G'night all.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Fallon, Nevada - October 29, 2011

Fallon, NV: This morning we set up my computer. Thank goodness we figured out how to do it. Normally, my son Michael would have helped us with it. We keep learning. That's a good thing.

Our truck performed beautifully during our long trip south over the past two days, no problems towing the 33' 5er. Overall, we are very happy with our truck, our 5er and my extra "scout" vehicle. Even though we end up driving separately between destinations, it is worth it to have me go ahead and report back to Bob about any obstacles he may encounter. 

All my worries about not being able to fit our belongings into the 5er were unfounded. Our choices about what to bring and the amount of things to bring were close to right on. There is even room to spare!

Personal items are going up, so it's more like home every day. Our koa honu clock hangs above the entry door. The barometer/thermometer/humidity meter hangs next to the door.

Oh, I was going to mention, I have never in my entire life seen a barometer go up to 31.5 (which means "fair"). It is about as high as a barometer can measure. Yet, here in Fallon, that's where it is. So far, we have had sunny skies. Temperature today was supposed to go to 68, but our outdoor thermometer only made it to 62...still, pretty good for the end of October.  

Around 1:00 p.m., we headed out on a drive to explore the town of Fallon. I like it! The skies are very clear and we can see 360 degrees worth of mountains in the distance. In Fallon, just six miles from our RV park, are a Wal-Mart Supercenter, Walgreens, CVS Pharmacy, lots of restaurants and gas stations. 

Bob noticed diesel fuel is cheaper here than anywhere else we've traveled: $3.85/gallon; the most expensive was $4.25/gallon in Washington state.

Bob wanted to drive out to see NAS (Naval Air Station) Fallon, home of the "Top Gun" school. It's a few miles from town. We looked, drove by and continued on. 

We drove around some back roads and through old town Fallon. Woo hoo! There's a movie theater, and it's playing Real Steel...got to get Bob there to see the movie.

On the way back to our place, we stopped at Lattin Farms. They were having a Fall Festival and Crafts Fair. The place was packed with families going on the corn train, through the corn maze, making scarecrows, picking out pumpkins. I was more interested in the produce stand. 

Bob napped in the car while I went in and bought a local melon (which is like a crenshaw), squash, turnips, sweet peppers (seeds were imported from Romania years ago...you fry them in a pan to make them sweeter), and homemade pumpkin nut bread. They also had organic tomatoes and heirloom tomatoes. When we use up the tomatoes we bought at Wal-Mart, I will go back and buy those. Yum.

Yesterday when we were driving to our RV park, I saw a hand-painted sign that said, "Free range, organic eggs for sale." I kind of remembered where it was, so we headed that way and found the house. They have 30 chickens that run in their large backyard. I bought their last dozen eggs of the day. 

When we got back to our "home," the groceries were put away and we unpacked a few more boxes. Now it's time for me to cook dinner. Then we have to head to bed as our orientation day is tomorrow at amazon.com...6:30 a.m.

Travel Bug out.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Autumn freedom and sunny skies -- Sunday, Oct. 23 to Friday, Oct. 28, 2011

Wilsonville, Oregon to Fallon, NV:

A break had to be taken from writing to attend to all our business for the launch of our new life. Here is a continuation of our preparations and travel...WARNING: This is a long blog as it encompasses five days!

Sunday, Oct. 23, Wilsonville (continued): Our friends did not get back to us about dinner Sunday night so I called and emailed them. When we finally connected, we found out our hostess was very sick and dinner was not an option. Mom had made spaghetti and invited us to eat at her house. My son, Michael, was invited as he was helping Bob at the 5er. 

In the afternoon, Mom offered to give me a ride back to the RV. Jo, our good family friend, called Mom and I asked Jo to come see the 5er when Mom dropped me off. They spent a few minutes looking it over. Mom took Jo home.

Mom went out of her way to make salad, garlic bread and even bought some Riesling wine to go with the spaghetti. The dinner was a hit and we ate almost all of what she had made. We helped her clean up and thanked her profusely, then headed back to the trailer.

Monday, Oct. 24, Tigard/Wilsonville, OR: This morning we had to meet the trucker who was delivering our shipping container. The storage unit did not open until 9:30 am and we had not signed up for our unit yet. Trucker arrived at 8:15 a.m. so we had to have him wait until we got our unit. Trucker dropped off the container and we had three days to unload it. With Bob's son, Randall's, help we had it unloaded in half a day. 

Originally we thought we would need a 5' x 10' storage space. When we had the unit 1/2 filled, Bob said he thought we could save some money by moving everything to a 5' x 5' space. This caused some tension as it meant moving everything to a smaller unit then if it didn't fit we'd have to move it all back. Amazingly, with some high stacking, re-arranging and pushing and shoving, it all fit in a 5' x 5' unit. 

We had a combination lock to put on the unit; however that didn't seem secure enough to me, so I bought a heavy duty lock for the second lock hole and put it on. More tension as Bob felt the combination lock was good enough and we didn't need to spend money on a more secure lock. Not only that, but now I cannot find the keys! I know I put them on my key chain but I wasn't sure they were totally secure. Now they're not there. We have been so tired that I could have taken them off for some reason. After a thorough search of the RV Park in Wilsonville, a complete emptying of my purse, and searching the floor of my car, they are nowhere to be found.

Unloading the container: about 1/3 of our belongings ended up in storage. For the next 1/3 of our belongings, we packed the pickup and made two trips to our 5er to drop off the stuff going with us. Our last bit of unpacking was to take a queen bed to Mom's house and some boxes of stuff for other family members. 

When we got to Mom's house, one of our four boxes that we shipped from Hawaii via US Postal Service Priority Mail was there. We wondered what happened to the other three boxes!? The afternoon was spent unpacking belongings and finding storage/stowage for them in the 5er.

We borrowed one of Mom's cars as we planned to drive it to Seattle to pick up my car from the dock on Tuesday. After driving about eight miles down the freeway to our RV Park, Mom's car hissed and steamed for about five minutes. So much for driving her car to Seattle. We parked it in the visitor parking at the RV park to deal with on Wednesday.

Monday evening, our friends Curt and Lexi visited us to see the unit. They drove us to Oswego Grill in Wilsonville where we enjoyed Happy Hour in the bar. What a lovely place! The bar is decorated like a private club...very swanky. The Happy Hour menu was varied with excellent food and service. We also had some local beer. Such a nice evening. Curt and Lexi filled us in on all our mutual friends. More unpacking followed.

The fall colors in the northwest are spectacular right now. If only my camera was working I could have captured some beautiful maples, gingko bilobas, sweetgums--red, orange, yellow, brown, green, peach. So pleasing to the eyes and spirit!

Tuesday, Oct. 25, Wilsonville, OR to Seattle, WA and back: My car was ready for pickup at the dock in Seattle. Road warrior day...we spent about 7-1/2 hours just driving. First thing in the morning we had fog down to the ground. As we headed north on I-5 the fog burned off leaving us with a beautiful day to drive. 

Mt. Hood, Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Rainier were all visible. With the added splash of fall colors in the foreground, we had a visually pleasant driving day. As we were driving back from Seattle we had 360 degree vistas with mountains, hills, rivers. The Pacific Northwest is one of the most beautiful areas and my favorite seasons are spring and fall. 

Talked to Mom on the phone; the other three USPS boxes that we shipped Priority Mail (and paid a hefty premium for) had not made it. Again, we wondered where the heck our other three boxes were.

A nice relaxing evening after our day of driving. Dinner tonight was at Claude & Penny's house in Beaverton. We started out with crudites and Riesling wine. Claude BBQ'd chicken, cooked rice and helped with salad. Penny made broccoli and finished the salad. Had a great time getting to know them as they are new friends. Did I mention they had a hot tub and we were road warriors. The hot, bubbling water felt soooo good. They have two cats, so I got my kitty fix while we were there too. For dessert, we had chocolate peanut butter ice cream.

Wednesday, Oct. 26, Wilsonville, OR: Today is our run-around-and-take-care-of-chores day; launch is tomorrow morning. Today started at 8:30 am, here's a quick look:
  1. Fill Mom's car's radiator with water and drive it back to her house. Bob thought it might be a bad radiator cap.
  2. Pick up Mom to go to DMV with us.
  3. Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to test Susan's car (required to get auto registration). Done in record time: 10 minutes. Car passed with flying colors.
  4. DMV: Register Susan's car, get OR license plates. Done.
  5. DMV: Bob and Susan to get Oregon driver's licenses. This had to be done in stages as we did not know we needed both our Social Security card AND our passports. (We had left our passports back in the 5er.) So we did everything we could while we were there (and it was not crowded) including both of us taking and passing Oregon's written driver's test without studying first. Got passports later and finished up...temporary driver's licenses were obtained.
  6. Take Mom's old queen-sized bed to the dump in Woodburn. Quite an experience because the frame was on top of the mattress and box spring. We did not have enough rope to stabilize everything, so the frame, which was unwieldy to being with, had an arm that kept flopping out over the side of the truck bed. We stayed in the right lane, but when cars came on the on-ramps to the right, we had to make sure the frame was not going to hit their vehicle. We ended up getting off the freeway and finishing the drive on back country roads.
  7. Eat lunch.
  8. Shop at Walmart for some RV/truck items we decided would be useful after living in the rig for four nights: space heater, lug wrench for tires on Bob's truck, more chocks for the tires
  9. Go to our insurance agent to confirm everything is insured. Add storage unit insurance so we can save $9 per month on storage unit cost. I was so tired I fell asleep sitting at the desk in the insurance agent's office. I hope I didn't snore!
  10. Napa Auto Parts store to buy new radiator cap for Mom's Pontiac.
  11. Go to UPS Store to collect mail that had been forwarded from Hawaii. (Note: This is regular mail, NOT our US Postal Service Priority Mail boxes. And it is the UPS Store, NOT the post office!)
  12. Shop for cotter pin at Ace Hardware.
  13. Take insurance certificate to storage unit to avoid $9/month fee.
  14. Go to bank: put a few things in safety deposit box; open account for Susan.
  15. Pick up Mom to take her to dinner at Claim Jumper. Michael (my son), Randall (Bob's son) and Marissa (Randall's girlfriend) joined us for dinner. 
  16. After dinner Michael took Mom home.
  17. Randall and Marissa toured our 5er. 
  18. Unpacked some more. 
  19. Bed around 11 p.m. (We need to sleep so we can stay awake driving.)
Mike, Mom, Bob, Susan, Randall, Marissa at Claim Jumper.

Three Priority Mail boxes shipped via US Postal Service STILL not delivered at Mom's. Stress mode. We're supposed to leave Wilsonville at 11 a.m. tomorrow!!! Where are those blankety-blank boxes??

Thursday, Oct. 27, Wilsonville, OR to Weed, CA: Seven a.m. wake-up call (alternately known as an alarm clock). We finished unpacking our boxes from the shipping container. Bob made a run to Target and Ace hardware to find a garden hose to use for flushing our black water tank (the yucky one). The morning was spent getting the 5er ready to roll down the freeway. Check-out time from the RV Park: 11:00 a.m.

Our one hang-up is the three USPS Priority Mail boxes shipped from Hawaii A WEEK AGO, still not delivered to Mom's. 

It's 10:45 a.m., here's our plan: Bob will get the RV all buttoned up for moving and head on down the road. He heads out a little after 11:00 a.m., I will "catch up with him down the road." 

In the meantime, I will take my car to Mom's and wait for the boxes to be delivered. I get to Mom's a little after 11:00 a.m. and wait until about 11:45 a.m. thinking maybe the boxes would come. (Our first box that arrived Monday was delivered about 11:00 a.m.) At 11:45 a.m., STILL NO BOXES!!!

New plan: Go to the King City Post Office to track down three missing boxes. (Note: Bob lost receipt with tracking number.) King City Post Office says I will have to go to the Tigard Main Post Office (about 5-10 minutes away depending on traffic lights). Fill up car with gas, get filthy car washed, go to Tigard Post Office, wait in line for clerk. Clerk tells me she can't help me without tracking number. I ask her if she can look up records with shipping address, she says, "No, can't do anything without tracking number." 

I explain the situation to her again, that we paid over $300 to ship four boxes, one arrived, but three didn't. We were leaving town immediately and needed our boxes. I wasn't leaving her window until she went and looked for the boxes. She went into the warehouse and looked around for about five minutes and said the boxes weren't there. She looked like a deer in the headlights because the line behind me was now out the door. 

When asked what else I could do to find the boxes because I needed to leave town, she told me I could call the supervisor and gave me the number. I went back to Mom's with stories playing in my head that the boxes were either at a cargo warehouse at the Portland airport or had broken up in transit and we'd never see them again. Mom offered to cook some soup for lunch while I called the "supervisor."

When I explained the situation to the supervisor, he said he needed the tracking number. I told him we didn't have it. At first he tried to tell me he couldn't help me. Next, I told him when we shipped, where we shipped from, how we shipped, and when the boxes were supposed to arrive, that we paid an exorbitant amount for Priority Mail and one box was delivered Monday, but the other three boxes hadn't been delivered.

Finally, he said, "Hold on while I go look for them." He wasn't gone long. He found the boxes. Apparently they were too big or too heavy to bring into the building so they were sitting on the back loading dock. I asked him if I could come down in 1/2 hour to pick them up and could someone help me load them into my car. He said he would load them onto a dolly and put them in my car. 

After eating my soup, whole grain roll and saying good-bye to Mom, I headed down to the Tigard Post Office, waited in a ten-minute line, waited for the supervisor to get the boxes. When he loaded them into my car, he said, "These should have been delivered a long time ago." Duh, ya think?

When I looked at the tracking label it showed the boxes had all been mailed from Kapolei, HI on Thursday morning when we dropped them off and had arrived in Portland the same Thursday night around 7:00 p.m. Three of the boxes were still sitting on the back dock of the post office a week later. So much for Priority Mail and so ends my rant against the post office.

On to more pleasant topics.

Freedom! I hit the road, made two last stops in Wilsonville:
1) Search Pheasant Ridge RV Park for our lost storage unit keys. Spent about ten minutes searching all the places I had walked and the grass around our unit. No luck. My keys hadn't been turned in to lost & found either. Left my phone number and a description of the keys with receptionist at the RV Park.
2) Pick up mail from the UPS Store (not to be confused with the U.S. Postal Service!--OK, just one more dig) and continued south on I-5. 

I was now about three hours behind Bob.

Oh, the memories from 30 years of living in Oregon. Going past the Charbonneau District exit brought back great memories of our 11 years living on the Willamette River. Passing by the iris, tulip and dahlia fields reminded me of all the Volkswalks I participated in. Each highway going east or west off I-5 led my mind to waterfall hikes, camping expeditions with the kids, transporting Michael back and forth to Klamath Falls when he was a tot, visiting Michael at University of Oregon as a young adult, or coastal get-aways, not to mention trips to California.

The drive south on I-5 was so idyllic and bucolic: lush green grass fields, stands of oak trees, red-tailed hawks sitting on fence posts, cows, sheep, goats; hills and mountains in the distance. Farther south, the highway passes through mountains. 

Keeping in contact with Bob, I knew how far ahead he was. I told him he had to wait for me at one of our favorite stops: Rice Hill. We had a date with each other for some Umpqua ice cream at K-R Drive In. He ended up waiting about 2-1/2 hours.  

For me, it was dinner time when I arrived, so I also ordered a burger and tater tots. Our family has been stopping at K-R Drive in for about 25 years. See link for Sunset Magazine's short review:  http://www.sunset.com/travel/wests-best-road-food-00418000072448/page5.html

After dinner we booked it south on I-5 toward Yreka. Our goal was to spend the night in the Wal-Mart parking lot. (I know, I know, what kind of goal is spending the night in a Wal-Mart parking lot?) I am the scout vehicle, so I went ahead to check it out. 

Wal-Mart parking lot in Yreka was a bust. The store is under construction and the parking lot was not easily accessible. Plus there were construction trailers and construction equipment in the parking lot. The lights in the parking were as bright as stadium lights. Ix-nay on the Wal-Mart parking lot. 

Next option: Check out the Weed Rest Area. Travel Bug scout on a mission. 

First sign things might not go well at the rest area: A freeway hazard sign saying I-5 south was closed just south of Weed. Yikes! Then I heard the news (second sign things might not go well): I-5 south closed due to a critical injury shooting involving a police officer. A major investigation was underway. Apparently there was a high-speed police chase of a criminal down I-5 earlier in the day which had originated in Oregon and ended south of Weed in the Soda Creek area.

When I got to the rest area, the whole thing was PACKED with semi-trucks waiting for the freeway to open. Apparently they didn't want to take the long detour. 

I walked the rest area to see if there were any RV spots among the semis. There was a spot way in the back of the rest area for RVs but the truckers had blocked all access to it. The car parking area was empty except for my car when I pulled in and there was plenty of room for Bob to put our rig. So that's what we did, we parked our rig in the car park area. 

I called Mom to see how her day went. She told me she had a good day--she took her Pontiac for an oil change. They found the problem with her car. Apparently whoever last tightened the hose to the radiator made it so tight that a slice developed in the hose which let the water escape. They replaced her hose for $42. 

We went to bed around 9:30 p.m. and figured we'd get up early and drive. 

Friday, Oct. 28, Weed, CA to Fallon, NV: Little did I know that "early" would end up being 4:30 a.m. Travel Bug is not a morning person.

Off we went in the pitch black. The freeway must have re-opened because a lot of trucks were gone. We took I-5 south to Hwy 89 toward Burney. Almost no cars on the road at that hour; Bob was so happy. There were lots of hills which meant he had to drive slowly. Not many cars had to slow down because of him. There was only one passing lane in our first 40 miles or so on Hwy. 89.

Looking back on the early morning hours, it would have been nice to stop and look at the stars. We were in the middle of nowhere on a crystal clear night with no city lights. The sight would have been awesome. As it was, just looking through the windshield at the stars was pretty.

The sun finally came up a little after 7:00 a.m. By the time we got to a rest area, both of us were ready for a nap. I joined Bob in his truck and we put the seats back and slept for about 15 minutes.

Onward to Reno, Fernley (where we grocery shopped at Wal-Mart SuperCenter and scoped out amazon.com warehouse which was right across the street) and, finally, Fallon. Got checked into our RV site. 

I put away the groceries while Bob put down the stabilizers, unhitched the truck, hooked up all the utilities. Well, almost all the utilities. You see, the cable to hook up for TV was about 5' too short. (World Series final game on tonight!) Luckily, we had some extra cable in the 5er. He took that out and attached it...still about 2' too short. Sooooo...we had to hook the truck back up, pull up the stabilizers and move the 5er 2' forward. Note to selves: Check to make sure all cords, cables, and hoses reach BEFORE you unhook and stabilize the 5er!

So far, we love being full-time RV'ers! No matter where we travel our home is with us. We sleep in our own bed every night. 

Tomorrow is a rest day. We will clean up the RV, finish unpacking the three errant boxes which I picked up yesterday, and hook up my computer so I can get to my pictures! We also plan to drive around Fallon to get a feel for our home for the next two months. 

Sunday morning at 6:30 a.m. we start work at amazon.com.

Wow, I feel like I just wrote a magazine article or short book!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Pride of Ownership--Sunday, October 23, 2011

Wilsonville, OR: Flight from Honolulu to Portland was fine, a little bumpy, nothing to be concerned with. We spent Friday night at Mom's house.

In the morning, Bob called me into the bedroom; he said he had something funny he wanted me to see. I walked in and looked around but didn't see anything.

A little back story is needed here to get the full impact. At the Honolulu airport when we checked our bags, one of my bags was over by 5 lbs, and one of his bags was under by 15 lbs, so I moved books and some of my other things into his bag. Everything weighed in fine, so we checked the bags.

So back to the funny thing. Bob asked me how the jeans looked that he was wearing. I told him they looked good. He said, "They're your jeans." They fit him perfectly, except they were about 3" too long in the legs. We laughed and laughed. When my brother came over and we told him the story, he said, "So Bob can say, 'I know how to get into your jeans.'" We all laughed some more.

We had a good day. Our main objective on Saturday was to learn how things in our trailer worked and how to hook up the trailer to the "fifth wheel hitch." Wes, who was a wealth of education at Camping World in Wood Village, OR, spent 2-1/2 hours going over everything from the water hookup to the propane stove, to how to work the slide-outs and, of course, how to hook up to the sewer.

When Wes finished orientation, we had a list of things to purchase from Camping World's store. That being complete (for the moment), we met with Tim in Finance who had us sign our final papers for the trailer sale and gave us our keys. Woo hoo!

From Wood Village we drove to Wilsonville and paid for a spot at Pheasant Ridge RV Park for four nights. Talk about pride of ownership...when we were driving down the freeway our truck and trailer looked so great. I was driving my Mom's car and Bob was driving "the rig."

It was Bob's first time pulling a 33' trailer. For him it was harrowing on the freeway on a Saturday afternoon with people driving 65-70 mph and he was driving 45-55 mph. I was ahead of him and watched people coming on on-ramps and passing him like crazy. Kind of scary. When we got to the RV park and he got out of his pickup, he said, "I need a hug." Awwww. My heart melted.

At the RV park, we had a little incident unhooking the trailer from the 5th wheel hitch. At Camping World they showed us how to hook up the trailer to the hitch, but not how to unhook it. We thought we knew what we were doing, NOT! We put down our front stabilizers like we had been taught, but Bob thought he had to loosen a handle on the hitch. He tugged and tried to turn it...that's when something broke and went flying. We tried to find a piece of it to figure out what broke, but didn't see anything.

At that point, we extended the trailer on its supports and the trailer lifted out of the 5th wheel hitch. We were then able to move the pickup truck away from the trailer. Later, we found a piece of a cotter pin in the bed of the pickup. He will replace the cotter pin before we head out again.

We hooked up the electricity, the water and the sewer line. Once all that was done, it was time to unpack what we had brought with us on the plane. (Mind you, this doesn't include all the stuff in our cargo container or the four boxes we mailed last minute from Honolulu to my Mom's house.) Bob filled up his two dresser drawers in about one minute. I worry where the stuff coming in our container is going to go. We'll find out tomorrow when we try to fit it all in. I see more trips to Goodwill in our future or perhaps more "gifts" to relatives. LOL.

Mom's house was our next destination where we met up with my sister, brother, sister-in-law, mom and son. My sister informed us she met a nice gentleman at a single's dance in Portland and he asked her out the next day. They hit it off famously. He even bought her a couple of gifts. She couldn't wait to share one of the gifts with us.

First, we all had to gather in a circle in Mom's living room. Then she pulled out a stuffed monkey and threw it on the floor. The crazy thing rolled around the floor laughing hysterically which, of course, caused all of us to laugh hysterically. This new boyfriend has a sense of humor! The gift was called an LOL Rollover: it also comes in dog, cat or pig. My sister also made chocolate chip oatmeal cookies for us. Yum!

My brother, Frank, and his wife, Gina, said we couldn't go to dinner yet because they had gifts for us. Gina made scarves for us to wear in Fallon, NV when the temperature is 17 degrees F. She also gave us soap in a crocheted bag that we can hang in our shower. And then, she gave us a blanket with a beautiful border she had crocheted around it. Very thoughtful gifts from her for our upcoming cold climate experience.

For dinner, we went to Country Buffet and had all we could eat and then some. After dinner we invited the family down to see our "new home." A tour a was conducted and they "oohed" and "aahed" appropriately.

Last night we slept very comfortably in our unit.

Bob and I came back to Mom's house and she fed us apples and tuna sandwiches.

Michael, my son, is working with Bob today at the rig trying to figure out how to hook up the TV...something about putting in a digital box between our cable and the TV.

Tonight we are supposed to go over to our friends' home, but for some reason they haven't given us a time. It's 2:00 pm and we're still not sure if we're going!?

Got to go. I've said enough for today. Mom would like to use her computer at some point (since I'm visiting her while Bob and Michael work on the TV at the RV park).

Travel Bug out.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

And so it begins...Saturday, October 22, 2011

King City, Oregon--"Our" home in Hawaii is no longer ours. I finished all the final housecleaning Thursday night and we moved out. We spent Thursday night at Best Western Plaza Hotel at the Honolulu airport. Bob worked at Beachside Roofing Friday morning and by afternoon we were airborne to Portland.

My son, Michael, picked us up at the Portland airport at 11:00 p.m. Now it is 2:05 a.m. Pacific time, but my body thinks it's 11:05 p.m. Hawaii time. I'm such a night owl!

Today at 11:00 a.m. we go to Camping World to pick up our trailer and get orientation on how everything works. We should record the info. I don't know if we can remember everything or take enough notes. We've never had an RV before and we're going somewhere really cold where the water and sewer lines freeze in winter. What have we gotten ourselves into?

Luckily, we're both adventurer types and hopefully we'll get this all figured out quickly. I'm still worried that all the stuff we brought to put into the trailer isn't going to fit or we won't balance the load correctly.  We'll find out Monday when we unpack our cargo container that shipped from Hawaii.

Still so much to do: pick up my Escape from the dock in Seattle, get oil change, go to DEQ and DMV, then register my car in Oregon, unload container, put stuff in storage unit or trailer or give to family, practice driving truck pulling trailer, visit friends, finish setting up our UPS Store mailbox and mail forwarding service, talk to our insurance agent to make sure all our vehicles are covered, weigh truck/trailer with all belongings to make sure we're not overloaded, open bank account in Oregon, and I'm sure there's chores I'm forgetting.

Tonight, my family is getting together for dinner at Country Buffet Restaurant. My brother, sister-in-law, sister, mom and son will be there.

Good night and wish us luck.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Cleaning, Outback and Real Steel - Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2011

Window washing today...don't know how many of you know, but in a former marriage my husband and I were professional window washers. I got about half the windows of our house done inside and outside, plus I power washed all the screens. On our back, heavy-duty security screen, I had to get out the red dirt. I mixed Simple Green with water, got a stiff brush, hosed off the screen, then scrubbed it with the brush which had been dipped in Simple Green solution. The screen is back to being white...almost looks new.

As soon as I got done with the windows and screens, a downpour started. Rain was coming off our roof like a waterfall, splashing up on my nice clean windows. Arggggh! All I have to do is get my car washed or wash the windows and BOOM, rain! I may have to re-wash some windows tomorrow and hope it doesn't rain again.

This evening, I had a wonderful time. The ladies I worked with at Beachside Roofing invited me to Outback Steakhouse for dinner, then to go see Real Steel. What a wonderful time. These are some classy ladies. I got an orchid lei and a gift of a koa wood clock with honu (sea turtles) on it for our tripMy co-worker, who had shared an office with me, gave me a pillow she made with pictures of Bob and I and our three kitties on it. What a sweet gift. We will put it on our couch in the 5th wheel. 

After dinner we went to see Real Steel. All of us thoroughly enjoyed it. Who would have thought four women would enjoy a movie about fighting robots?!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Odds and ends of moving - Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2011

Kapolei, Hawaii--Oh the stories I can tell about getting ready to move...

1. After we sold our bedroom set, the only place we had to sleep was on the floor. Luckily, we had three air mattresses; that way if one had a leak we could use another. Little did we know, all three of our air mattresses had leaks. By morning we were lying on our hard laminate flooring. We moved the least leaky air mattress into the one room that had carpeting, so we had a tiny bit of padding when the air mattress went flat. 

I mentioned our plight to one of my former co-workers who now works with Bob. She told me they had two self-inflating, queen-sized air mattresses with no leaks and they would be happy to loan them to us. I told her we really only needed one. She brought it to work with her last Thursday and gave it to Bob. We have been happily sleeping on a full air mattress since then. Bless you, DK!

2. Today, Bob came and picked me up from home so we could go to the title company to sign closing documents. When we finished, we went to lunch, then headed home. While we had been out signing our documents, the buyers came to our house for final inspection at 1:00 pm. (It was pre-arranged.)

When we got home around 2:50 pm, the buyers were still there--it had been two hours--so we parked down the street and waited for them to leave. Bob dropped me off, I went in through the front door, then Bob left to go back to work. I went into the house and checked around to see what had happened to a large packing box that I had left sitting on the kitchen counter. I stepped through the door to the garage, found the box, then tried to go back into the house. LOCKED! 

In all the time we lived here, the only time we locked the door from the house into the garage was if the button accidentally got turned to lock the door. We always had a key hidden in the garage in case we got locked out. However, because we were cleaning everything out and getting all the keys together for the buyers, the key was no longer in the garage. I knew Bob had gone into Honolulu for meetings, so he couldn't come back and let me in.

Aha! I had an epiphany. The realtor's lock box was still on our gate. I pressed the button to open the automatic garage door and the door got stuck halfway up. Sometimes the screws/bolts on the door get loose and the door gets stuck. I retightened all the screws and finally got the garage door to open. At our document signing today, our realtor told us the code to get into the box. I was able to retrieve the key and get in the front door. Whew! I was afraid I'd be locked out until nightfall.

3. Just when you think you had everything packed, more stuff appears. We shipped our container last week and thought we might have one last box to mail via USPS. Well, we are now planning to mail at least three boxes, maybe four. There were some last minute items we wanted to take on the 5th wheel, like our Dirt Devil dustbuster, bucket, stuff from my car (everything that wasn't factory installed had to be removed from the car), books we decided to keep at the last minute (after the moving sale), and so on. It is really hard to get rid of your stuff! I have a feeling we'll be giving more things to Goodwill while we're on our trip. I think we way over-packed for the trailer. We may have to put some of our stuff in my Escape and some in Bob's truck.

4. At closing today, our realtor dropped a small bombshell on us. We had been operating on the knowledge that closing would be Friday, Oct. 21 and we would move out that day, go to the airport and fly to Portland. Today, after we signed our documents, the realtor told us we need to be out of the house by Thursday. So now I have one less day to clean the house top to bottom and finish up any last minute gardening/pond cleaning. Our realtor swears he told us we had to be out by Thursday. Neither Bob nor I remember him telling us that. Oh well, another hurdle to leap. 

5.  We took our remaining two cats to the Humane Society last night. Sniffles and sobs. We got Rama into her carrier relatively easily, although she hates it and immediately started howling.
Oreo was another story entirely. (An aside, I felt so bad for Oreo. He had been a feral cat who adopted us and after 1-1/2 years trusted me and loved getting brushed and petted. Sometimes he would sit on my lap.) I had him in my hands for a short moment, then he turned wild. We had closed the doors to the bedrooms and bathrooms so he couldn't go hide in them. Bob and I then tried to catch him. Bob had a bath towel at the ready so we wouldn't get shredded. 

Oreo ran down the hall and, finding all the doors closed, ran back at Bob who had the towel blocking the exit from the hall. Bob said Oreo leapt up the wall and over him and the towel. Then Oreo crouched in a corner behind the TV. He was so scared, he piddled in the corner. Then he gave one last Herculean effort. He raced to the cat door into the garage. I had put the lock behind the cat door so he couldn't escape into the garage, but forgot to block it with a chair or box. Oreo hit the cat door full speed and slammed into the locked cat door. I was afraid he broke his neck. He didn't, but it did stun him and we were able to catch him and put him in the carrier.

It was a sad night at the Alton house. I cried all the way into town (45 minutes).

Good night all. Travel Bug out.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Gardening and partying - Friday, October 14, 2011

Oahu--Today I went out to work in the garden. After pulling a few weeds, it started raining. I went back into the house to watch a DVR'd show. By the time the show was over, the sun was out. I got quite a few weeds out, pruned some flowers off my hibiscus and sprayed carpenter bee nests in one of my hibiscus trunks.

Bob came home from work to watch the UH Warriors football game. I continued gardening, then came in to get ready for the party.

The party was just wonderful. About 35 people were there. The Marathon Maniacs are such good people and we appreciated all they did for us. 

We were each given five gorgeous leis; so pretty and fragrant. Bob gave a speech letting everyone know what we're up to. It was great for me to meet some of his running friends whom I had never met.

After dinner  Bob and I headed to Anna Miller's Restaurant for dessert--peach pie for Bob; hot fudge sundae for Susan. Yummy!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

"Tying up loose ends" day & upcoming parties - October 12, 2011

Honolulu, HI: You probably have days like this from time to time...loose ends lying around just needing to be tied up. Today was that day for me.

1. In order to go to work for amazon.com, a copy of your diploma or school transcript is required. With all the packing and moving of our possessions, I could NOT find my high school diploma anywhere. (I'm hoping it's in storage at Mom's house.) Amazon needed the diploma by last Friday. I had requested it from my high school last week and thought they were taking care of it. Wrong. Apparently my email request went to someone who didn't do anything with it, even though they said they did. 

Last Friday, I called the school and left a voice mail asking about the status of faxing my transcript to amazon.com. I got a lovely lady on the phone Monday morning letting me know she didn't know what happened to the original email. She gave me the correct number of the person who could help me. Amazon.com got a copy of the transcript today.

2. Shipping my car from Hawaii to Seattle requires either a title showing ownership, a lien release form from my lender, or a letter from the lender stating it's okay for the car to travel across the ocean. My car was paid off October 4, but I didn't have enough time to receive the title in the mail by today. A week ago last Friday, I called Ford Credit and asked for a letter or proof that the car is mine with no more lien. The lady I spoke to said she could have a fax to me within one to two days. My car is scheduled to ship TODAY. This paper is required for the car to be put on the ship. The fax never came. Six people later at Ford Credit, the lien release was FINALLY faxed this morning. I was sweating bullets thinking my car would not get on this sailing. We did get the car on the sailing today however.

3. Drug test for amazon.com employment. Both Bob and I got tested today. It took over an hour wait to get into the clinic they referred us to. It was a total zoo.

4. The biggest loose end we have to tie up is giving our beloved kitties away. No one has responded to my ads on craigslist. I already gave my love-a-cat, Captain, to the Humane Society. Next week, I will hand over the remaining two, Rama and Oreo, to the Humane Society. This is truly heartbreaking. Actually, one lady did respond to the craigslist ad, but I would not hand my cat over to her. She was scary...enough said.

Wow, we have amazing friends. This Friday night, Bob's Marathon Maniac group is having a big farewell party (20 people) for us at Sam Snead's Tavern. On Saturday night, Bob's four closest friends from the running group are taking us to Souvaly's, our favorite Thai restaurant. On Sunday morning, we are going with our friends for brunch at the Officer's Club on Kaneohe Marine Corps Base. Next Tuesday I am going for happy hour and a movie with my friends from work. This is all so bittersweet saying goodbye to our Hawaii ohana (family). Thank you so much for your kindness. We're looking forward to spending time with you before we go.

I got to thinking about where we're going. In Hawaii it's usually about 87 degrees. We're headed to Fallon, NV in winter where the temperature is around 17 degrees--that's a 70 degree temperature difference! Wow, we're gonna be chilly!


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

5th Wheels (5ers) and winterizing -- October 12, 2011

It dawned on me that many people don't know what a "5th wheel" (5er) is. I'm not completely sure myself. 

The way I understand it is, the 5th wheel is an attachment in the bed of the pickup truck or a flatbed trailer into which the trailer hitch is attached. It is different from a regular trailer which is towed behind the pickup truck. 

A 5th wheel hitch takes more of the weight of the trailer up onto the back of the pickup, which is why pickups towing 5th wheel trailers usually have heavier duty leaf springs. Plus a 5th wheel hitch makes turning corners and backing up the trailer easier. We are about to find out how it all works.

Our first destination, Fallon, NV, is up around 4,000' in the mountains east of Reno. From what we've read, the temperature in winter averages around 17 degrees. This will make camping in our 5th wheel a challenge. On the message forum on RV-Dreams.com, I posed a question about whether the trailer's water line will freeze. The answer is that, yes, the water line most likely will freeze as will the spigot at the campsite. The people who answered my post in the forum said it is best to fill the trailer's water tank, then put away the hose. They also advised us not to leave the sewer hose attached as it will freeze too. We have some learnin' to do!

The full-time RV'ers are full of knowledge having already experienced lots of this before us. One lady said it is best to keep lots of bottled water in the RV and to put "pillows" or something up around the air vents in the ceiling to keep cold air out and warm air in. I have a feeling when we finish in Fallon, we will head farther south to somewhere a bit warmer.

On the RV forums we also learned that a lot of RVers like to have two vehicles. We are shipping my Ford Escape to the mainland. What that means is, when we travel from one destination to another, both Bob and I will be driving: Bob in the truck towing the 5er and me in the Escape. That way when we reach our destination, if we work two different jobs, we will each have a vehicle to get to work. Also, if we want to go exploring, we can take the Escape which navigates narrow roads easier than a Ford F350 extended cab.

On a side note, our house is so empty. Bob says it looks like a dance hall. In the living room/dining room area we have a TV, desk chair, shower stool (used as a footstool), cat scratching post and the dining room table with six chairs; otherwise, it's a big, wide open space. Our voices echo. The cats now have an unobstructed play area. Their marble rolls like crazy, unimpeded by rugs or furniture.

My biggest challenge this week is trying  to get Ford Credit to send me a letter stating my car is paid off and they are no longer the lien holders. I started this process over a week ago when I paid off the loan and was told at that time a letter would be faxed in one to two days. It has been, as I said, over a week and still no fax. 

Matson won't ship my car today without that letter. Ford Credit is in Florida. They have promised me they will fax the letter when they get to work first thing this morning. That means by the time Bob gets to work in Hawaii, the fax should be there. If it's not, I'll be on the phone to Ford again first thing when I get up. I have already talked to five different people at Ford about this. Very frustrating!

It's late, so good night all.

Travel Bug out.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Life is a Big Adventure - October 10, 2011

Quite a bit has happened in our lives since we last "talked."

Bob and I were both laid off our jobs
within four days of each other (from two different companies) at the end of June. Lay offs for both of us were due to "elimination of position due to budget cuts."

At that point we had a couple of options as to how we wanted to live our lives: 1) stay in Hawaii, rent an apartment, and get new jobs (security) or 2) move to the mainland, buy a 5th wheel and truck, travel the mainland and work our way across the country for a few years (adventure). We chose the latter.

Bob went back to work temporarily for his former company (the one before the one he was laid off from) after an eight-month absence. He is now a project manager at a greatly reduced rate of pay (his choice), but it's way MORE than unemployment was paying him. 

I've been offered three jobs, one of which I would have LOVED at The Plaza Club in downtown Honolulu, but I couldn't accept it as we made our decision right at that time to go to the mainland.

At the end of September we used Hawaiian Air Miles and flew to Portland where we stayed with my mom for two weeks. During that time, we bought a sapphire blue, 2000 Ford F350, 7.3 liter, extended-cab pickup truck and a 2003 33' 5th wheel trailer. Our truck is currently getting the 5th wheel installed to tow the trailer.

Finding the 5th wheel was the most fun. We went to the Fall RV show at the Portland, OR Expo Center and RV dealerships all over the Portland/Vancouver area, criss-crossing the town a few times. We liked a number of the 5th wheels we saw and most were in very good condition. On our way back to Tigard, Oregon from Sandy, Oregon, I saw a Camping World in Wood Village which had a lot of 5th wheels and RVs on the lot. I was already in the left-hand turn lane to get on the freeway, but decided the units looked good enough for a detour. People were nice enough to let me cross two lanes of traffic to go to Camping World. I think the 5th wheel was calling my name. 

Camping World had a whole row of 5th wheels. We liked the 33' Presidential Holiday Rambler, BUT there were still two more 5th wheels on the other side of town in Hillsboro that we wanted to see; one we were going back for a second look (33' Jayco Eagle) and one we hadn't seen--a 38' something or other. 

The next day we were up early to go to Hillsboro and re-look at the Jayco Eagle and a couple of other rigs at Curtis. Then we went to Hillsboro Camping World to check out the 38' rig. To me, the 38' rig was just too big for our first 5th wheel...the thing was sooooo long! I couldn't imagine towing it. It also was the most different of all the 5th wheels we'd seen. The living room was in the front, up a couple of steps, over the 5th wheel and was open to the kitchen and living room below. To its credit, there was a fireplace in the living room. The bedroom was in the back, with a second exterior door that went right into the bedroom! I thought that was kind of weird. 

We narrowed our choice to the 33' Jayco Eagle and the 33' Presidential Holiday Rambler. In the end, we decided on the Holiday Rambler and drove all the way back across town to seal the deal. Now we needed a pickup truck to pull it. 

Here's our story about how we got our used pickup truck: Bob saw an ad on craigslist for a blue, 2000, Ford F350, 7.3 liter at a small dealership in Portland. We had been having a hard time finding that particular truck with a 7.3 liter engine. We went to the lot and searched for the truck...no truck. The salesperson who helped us didn't know anything about it. (He was new, only at the lot three days.) 

We got into our car and started to pull away from the curb. Coming onto the small side street we were leaving, was a beautiful sapphire blue Ford F350 extended cab pickup truck and it pulled into the lot we had just left. We re-parked the car and marched right back into the dealership to ask if that was the truck advertised on craigslist. Sure enough, it was. If we had left two minutes sooner we would have missed "our" truck. Apparently they had it out for detailing which was why it looked so shiny and beautiful.

We got back together with our salesperson, examined the truck, took it for a test drive and called a friend of ours who lived about 1/4 mile away to take a look at it for us. (He is a pretty good mechanic and takes pickups and airplanes apart and rebuilds them.) He told us the truck had been used pretty heavily. To me, that meant it had been broken in. LOL. He had us take it to a transmission shop for a pull test, which the truck passed. We bought it on the spot.

Back  home in Hawaii, we went to Defcon 1. A lot needed to be done to get ourselves moved.

This past week our Matson shipping container was in front of our home from Tuesday to Thursday and we loaded it with belongings which will either go in our storage unit, go with us in the 5th wheel or go to family members.

Once the Matson container was taken to the dock, I spent two days getting all our remaining possessions ready for a two-day moving sale. I had already sold most of our furniture on craigslist so we had to rent six 8' tables to put our smaller stuff on. What a chore! On Friday night, I got two hours sleep and on Saturday night I didn't sleep at all. (Although we did take about a three-hour nap on Saturday afternoon.)

We sold Bob's Honda Ridgeline about a month ago to pay off the Honda loan. This Wednesday my car is being shipped to Seattle. My car is also paid off.

Bob's last day at work will most likely be Oct. 21 which is when our house is expected to close. We will fly to Portland around Oct. 21, pick up our truck and trailer, put our container contents in storage, load our 5th wheel, go to Seattle to get my car, then we will both drive to Fallon, NV (about an hour southeast of Reno) to our campsite.

Both of us have jobs from Oct. 30 to Dec. 23 at amazon.com's warehouse in Fernley, NV for the Christmas season.
We're going to be "elves," fulfilling people's Christmas wishes (orders). We will work four 10-hour days with some overtime and could walk up to ten miles a day! Look for leaner, meaner versions of us by December 23. LOL.

After that job, we will most likely go to Las Vegas and spend Christmas/New Year's with Bob's family. We may stay in Vegas for tax season and Bob can do taxes and I can work for a temp agency doing admin work. In the summer, we think it would be awesome to work at Yellowstone National Park, a place we both love.

So it looks like we're on our way to our life's new adventure! I am so excited!