Friday, March 23, 2012

We're ready to go once again.

Since Moms funeral, we’ve been planning our next big trip. This will be our longest trip ever. The plan is to leave about April 10 and return home in mid-December. Maybe. Right now the plan is to travel to Virginia to visit with Jennifer and Alex and their families then head west to Colorado to visit with Suzanne and her family. After that the general plan is to drift slowly towards Oregon then south to Northern California, then through Nevada to New Mexico in time for the annual Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque in October. After that???? There is chatter about the girls all coming to our house for Christmas. If so, we’ll be home, of course. If not? Why head home?

I’ve played with several routes from Virginia to Colorado. The Great Plains can have some really nasty weather during the Spring and Summer months. Ferocious thunder storms, hail and tornados; all good things to avoid. My research showed that TX had the greatest number of tornadoes, followed by OK then KS. At this point, the best, or least worst, route from Virginia to Longmont, CO seems to be through Iowa and Nebraska although the weather can be pretty bad there as well.
In 2009, we were in far north North Dakota when a wicked storm passed about 25 miles to the south. Minot, ND, further south still, had softball sized hail. TV reports said any vehicle caught outside simply got destroyed. We would like to avoid that. Later in the same trip, after going through Sturgis, SD and seeing Sturgis 69, the biggest motorcycle event in the known universe, we wound up near Rapid City,SD. A huge storm passed about ten miles to the north of where we were.
So, as we usually do, we’ll keep on top of the weather and reroute ourselves, or seek covered shelter, as best we can. Failing that I’ll just call the insurance company.

Things at home are about wrapped up except for a few routine, hopefully, doctors visits for Carol and Gopher. Got the Lazy Daze back from the shop yesterday. Had the fuel filter changed but the big item was the sporadic operation of the cruise control. Jerry from the garage called, and said they would have to put the big, expensive electronic analyzer on the Ford computer system to track down the problem. This procedure costs $105/hour!!! so he needed my permission in advance. Three hours later it was determined the problem was a $25 gizmo tied to the brake system. $25 for parts, $315 to figure out what part. Last week I paid a plumber $62/hour to repair a water leak. I missed my calling; should have been a plumber or mechanic. Oh well. Jerry is a good mechanic and always gives the camper a through pre-trip checkout including taking it for a drive. I suppose I would rather pay him then someone out who knows where that I don’t know. Plus since he knows that Carol can no longer drive I just have to drive the camper to the shop, Jerry brings me home then picks me up when it’s all ready to go.

This is a picture of the Anniversary Pond that Carol and I hand dug and built in August, 1999 as a 33rd anniversary present to each other. Forty six years coming up in August. As we travel, we collect rocks and driftwood and such things, to use as decorations around the pond. Just the other day, we were looking at some really pretty pond rocks and wishing we could remember where they came from.

And this is Gopher the Aussie girl. She turned eight this past January. Gopher came our way slightly used, in 2005. It’s a strange story about Gopher. Before Carol had her stroke in 2006, Gopher was strictly my dog. I trained her, I walked her, etc. Carol had the two wiener dog brothers; Balou and Bagera. When Carol got home from the hospital, Gopher, in some dog way, sensed something had changed. She abandoned me and became Carols self-appointed protector, even “protecting” Carol from me. She does that to me to this day. When Carol and Gopher are together, which is almost always, I advise people to keep some distance between themselves and Carol or else Gopher will place herself between what, in her dog mind, is a threat to Carol and stare hard at them. Her meaning is clear, “that’s close enough, thank you”. When company visits at home, Gopher must be put out back. When camping, I tie her up or keep her on a short leash. When Carol isn’t around, she’s a completely different dog. Everyone’s friend . Especially if you're willing to play a game of stick.

So in a about two weeks, the three of us will be heading out for a very long time by our standards. The beginning mileage on the camper is 71,308. That’s since April 25, 2008. I’m guessing we’ll put another 10,000 miles on before this trip is over. Let's see. 10,000 miles divided by 9 mpg times $4/gallon equals. YIKES. I don't want to know. :-)