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:

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 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

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

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