Monday, August 24, 2009

Epiphany City…or Maybe Just a Bitch Fest

Jill's Journal: We’re going on day #11 now since Rob left to pick up the fifth wheel. Even though I’m not the one on the road with the hours of silence and nothing to do but think, I’ve still had a few minor epiphanies (or maybe complaints?!) here.

*I love being a parent, but doing it all alone day in and day out is not the easiest thing in the world. Worse still is that Rob was gone in Vegas for a week of poker in July and will leave again in early September for another eight or nine consecutive days. That makes more than a month of “gone time” in a span of 2 1/2 months. It’s going to wear on me at some point. The very fact that I’m writing this down may prove it already is! I’m so looking forward to our family being on the road together.

*Here’s a very personal one: A year ago, I was at a wonderful weight. Thin and feeling fabulous about my body. But I’ve gained close to 20 pounds since then and no matter how hard I’ve tried, it doesn’t want to come off. Some major things have happened during that time – I stopped breastfeeding, I went on birth control for the first time in several years, and yes, I’m getting older. All that combined means inevitable weight gain. I’ve clearly known this for a while, but this week brought a realization as I’ve felt some serious sadness about an old family friend who had part of a lung removed in a second fight with cancer. I realized after she is gone, no one is going to remember that she was always a little plump. People will remember her warm, welcoming spirit instead. So here’s my epiphany: I can continue to fight my weight and be miserable or I can embrace myself the way I am and be happy. I choose happiness. I don’t have the time right now to battle weight. And, I want to be the kind of Mom who bakes cookies with her kids and enjoys the moment; not the kind who eats like a bird and makes her children weight-conscious at way too young of an age. We eat healthy and should enjoy some of the good stuff too. So, a couple of days ago, I finally bit the bullet and purchased some new clothes that actually fit. Yes, they’re two sizes bigger than my fabulous post-baby body. But this body of mine has given birth to three amazing children and I’m grateful for it. This is me. Today I will be purging my skinny clothes. Seeing them in my closet just makes me sad, so there’s no point in keeping them. I’m closer in size to where I was before children and that’s okay. I embrace me! This positive attitude is right in line with what we hope to teach our girls through the grand RV adventure.

*And the final epiphany of the week: I cannot wait to homeschool. Driving 4 1/2 miles one way through heavy traffic twice a day (and past nine other schools until we get to the one we were assigned) is killing me! I know people do it every day and I used to too; in fact, I used to commute 90 minutes each way in the brutal Southern California traffic daily. However, I long for the simple things these days. Having to get three kids out the door at the crack of daylight and fight traffic under a time clock (since three tardies in a school year is considered truancy) in order to get one child to kindergarten causes me great stress! We’re only two weeks in and I’m miserable. I thrive on routine and schedule, but this is not the good kind! Thank heaven Erika is loving kindergarten. That makes it all worth it, but I still cannot wait to homeschool!

Day 8 | a little late...

So I'm posting this on Monday from my notes, just like I'll be doing for Sunday's blog. My goal was to drive while I wasn't sleeping and sleep while I could. I've done that reasonably well.

I stayed in Northridge on Friday, having driven up after work to see my Grandmother and whoever else was around. It took longer than I thought it would, with LA traffic and all, but overall not a bad trip. I stopped at Camping World in San Bernadino (what a pit), and strangely became a rockstar there... The techs were coming out to check out the rig - never seen anyone gooseneck it before, never seen a fiver that came over the top of the rig - both things I was extremely happy to do with our rig. Then I talked with a guy that had looked at Glendale's before and went with a juiced up something or other instead (weight issue for his 250 I think). He did talk to me about Banks and how much better it was than stock. I can't imagine what this truck would be like with a full Banks setup on it. I'd probably be able to eat Ferarri's for lunch at that point - if I went the whole route. But, do I want to do that. I'd probably like to put a better air system on it (Banks or K&N), maybe juice the chip a little, but I've always thought that the factory did stuff the safe way - the don't-break-it way. Why mess with that? I'll be out of warranty for the powertrain soon though, so, who knows... Its just money right? ;)

Friday night I slept in the rig. Not entirely by choice - I guess that'll teach me to make a joke about towing around my house. "Great, I won't have to make a bed... doh!" Oh well, looking at the positive it was a good way to break everything in and force myself to get a good night ssleep in a comfortable bed. No TV to distract, so all ended well.

I started Saturday morning a little late - about an hour behind what I wanted, but that's really not too bad. I had a stop to make in Phoenix to see a long-time friend and I wanted to spend a little time, but I also wanted to put some distance on. My plan was to make Flagstaff that night up the 17. I did that and then some... More on that later.


Kevin and Bean on the World Famous KROQ - it was great listening to an old friend. it was better when I turned it on and heard a song from the past... "I'll give you candy, give you pearls, I'll give you anything you want - hundred dollar bills..." Ah, my youth! They were funny and it was a good reminder of my time in LA.

Truck - Man what a rig. I still hate the freeways in CA for what they do to me. I think it'll take me a week to sort out the damage that all the bouncing does, but its only for awhile and then I'm out into the regular freeway world. I think they should make the guys that make the decisions ride in a truck like mine to see how it feels. I've been watching how much work it is to drive a rig this big. I'm not sure if those guys in 350s see the same kind of stuff I see, or if the motorhomes that aren't mansions see it worse than I do (the mansions have wheels and wheels and wheels... so they aren't affected as much on that platform). Its especially hard and busy in the slow lanes that have been around for awhile and have a bit of a groove in them. Low spots and valleys just want to grab the wheel and make the truck go in their own direction. Its a constant fight to keep it in-line. AND speaking of that - why is it that the slow lanes, with the biggest trucks, the most cargo, and the highest volume of dollars to pass over it are always the most neglected, hideous stretch of road in the area? I know that its a circle (heavy stuff rips up roads, more travel rips roads, spot fix so that we don't inconvenience anyone, then they get bad, blah blah blah) but I can't imagine what that costs anyone in terms of real dollars at the grocery store, in driver fees, in maintenance. Back to the truck - I'm still happy with it. So far I've seen the temp needle crawl twice - once over Cajelco Pass and once in the mountains up to Flag. It moved about a quarter of an inch, so not too bad, and you know me - I wasn't going easy in either spot. I've been happy that thus far on the trip I'm averageing about 8 MPG towing. I expect it to get better through the flats, but we'll see - I'll do a full write up on the truck when I get back. Should be interesting.

Phoenix... WOW is all I can say. What a difference 10 years makes. There were malls and houses and schools arther out than I thought possible. The freeways are all connecting so well that I didn't even have to go anywhere close to downtown to get up North. Places that I knew are no longer what they were, so it'll be fun to spend a little time there on our trip. Now, all that new stuff looked just like all the new stuff when we were there did - that hasn't changed, but PHX is PHX, they do know how to plan and execute growth.

Two last things - In-n-out and Quartzsite. I'm sad to see my beloved in-n-out go, but I know I'll see it again sometime soon. It really is a good burger, and one of my goals on the trip is to try to make one that's close. I plan on working on it A LOT! Quartzsite is a town I never understood before. It looked like this desolate, ugly, utter wasteland everytime I went through it. Now, knowing that it takes on an enitrely different persona in the winter, I now know what I'm seeing. Acres of parking, with power hookups - they look like drive-in movie boxes - and just weeds in the pavement. But that's now, in the summer, not wintertime when you travel to meet your oldest friends after being away on summer vacation. Its the same as school kids - they fill up with stories while they are out wandering the country in their full-time RV and then gather around the lunch table the same way we used to write that paper the first week of school - what I did on my summer vacation... Some things - never change, and that's probably a good thing.

Some day maybe we'll be part of that crowd, part of that scene. For now I'm content to leave the kids the stories, and to be the vessel that allows them to have stories to tell :)

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Day 7 | Really, 7 days? I can't keep up.

So, day 7 of my trip, and I'm starting to burn out a little. Its nice that I'm taking my time but the last day and next two are going to be long. I could be to Amarillo in the amount of time its cost me, but - it is what it is. Sometimes, there are things you just should do, so you do them - or, at least I do them. I know some others that wouldn't (no names of course).

Today was good. I got an oil change at a place I would never go back to and will go out of my way to de-recommend (EZ Lube). What a racket - everything is upsell, upsell, upsell. Promise, don't deliver (was told I'd get a discount over the phone, 6 apologies later, still no discount). Take you out of your car so that we can look busy, but not really do much. From what my in-laws tell me, they really are all about the racket - glad I spotted it early. If you have a choice, DON'T USE EZ LUBE. I hope that gets crawled by google, and someone learns from my experience. HOWEVER, its done (4 gallons of oil later) and I learned about the filter (EZ change). So, overall - done.

Facebook went well, I think. A lot of support, a little envy, but no negatives. People took it well and I didn't hear one "that's it, that's your big news...pashaw.." or "Weren't you talking about being on the road full-time? What happened to that..." WHEW. I'm not entirely ready to let that Tiger out of the bag quite yet. Soon, but I wanna ease into it, not make it a slam-dunk on those that don't yet know.

I got to spend some time with the in-laws. Went to dinner, which was nice. I always enjoy that because they are enjoying each other's company. Its a nice time. Dinner was good, and its a good sendoff - plus, I found goodies for the girls there - perfect little presents, all the same. :)

I torqued the wheels on the trailer tonight. Its nice to have that piece of equipment to be sure I'm doing things right. Yes, its expensive to make sure your lug nuts are doing what they are supposed to be doing (at 120 ft/lb), but peace of mind is good too. I don't think I've ever worried so much about the little stuff. Now I feel its good to wrry about this little stuff. Maybe its all the thinking on the trip :)

Tomorrow will be a tough day. I'm here until 1 because they have things to do and won't be back until then, but that's ok - it forces me to be responsible and do work. Always a good thing. I'm hopeful that I'll get out of here by 2 and be up in Northridge by 6, but Friday can be brutal out here (I'd rant about CA, but I'm too tired) - just glad I have an automatic. I'm not worried about driving the trailer so much, just the time it'll take. I'd love to stop by the old haunting grounds and see what that is like now (Sav-on, Chino Hills, CPSUP, Mission, etc.) but its just going to be too tough towing all this. It'll just have to wait until I can show it to everyone from the Van windows. :)

More tomorrow.


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Day 6 | Impressions from a first time RV driver

I bought the right truck. I totally bought the right truck. I'm also very glad with the way that I've come about this process, since if I'd flown in and bought the truck here, I'd have been very worried about every aspect of things. If anyone reading this is wondering about how to do what we did - and you have no experience with some aspects of things (never driven a trailer, never driven a big truck, etc.) then I recommend taking it one step at a time. I've done very well with all this, and while I've always felt like I could drive anything (and pretty much have driven a great deal of different autos), if I hadn't had 2000 miles of time in the truck getting it figured out, getting the new off the tires, getting the feeling of what the truck is capable of, I feel like I would have been lost. Anyway - practice, practice and practice some more. Take it one piece at a time. If I'd had the chance, I'd probably have driven the truck around with my 18' trailer for a couple of days before hooking up the fiver, but regardless - I did get to know the truck well before adding the fifth-wheel.

Anyhow - I know I bought the right truck because, as I said, picking up the unit was trial-by-fire. Two turns and you're out on the mail thoroughfare with no back-way or other outs. There is traffic, there are lights, there are HilLS, and its right out of the box! I fortunately timed it so that I ended up following a fedex truck out to the freeway, so I knew my stopping distances, acceleration didn't feel pushed so I could go slow with it, and I got to watch the line he drove so I could follow it.

The truck handled everything so well - I actually had to watch my speed so that I didn't exceed the speed limit (occasionally even uphill!). If you've never driven the 15 North of San Diego - its basically vertical grades up and down of 4-6% with almost no flat time. I never dropped under 50, and the guages never moved a tick. Putting the Ford in Tow/Haul mode makes such a difference since it knows now to downshift when you apply the brakes rather than just drift. I have the trailer set at 7.5 gain, and while I played with that when I left the dealership (moving it to 8.5, smoking the tires on my second ever stop :) ) it seems to like where its at right now. I'll probably play with it a bit when I get on the road.

ALSO - putting the trailer on the hitch moved the bed like an inch. It is lighter than I thought it would be, and there is definitely some stiffness still in the truck, but it is much better. Its not smooth yet, but I think some of that will go away when I get an air-hitch (fifth wheel hitch) after I get back. This will do fine for the trip home since a)I won't be going as fast, and b) it was cheap in comparrison ($500 for an adapter plus only waiting next day VS $4000 for an air-ride and waiting better than a week. Plus, it'll give me some time to do some research rather than just saying - yes, that's fine. The trip home tonight did bounce the drawers out of the front dresser, but that also could have been done on that emergency stop I had to do on the way to the freeway (which the truck handled well).

I had no trouble handling the truck and trailer, and by the time I'd done the 63 miles back to the house I'd bet I'd classify me as 'comfortable'. I was a little nervous about backing in. There is a pretty good drop going into the driveway, but it worked out. I put it in place first shot, which I didn't expect. Backing is easier than I thought probably because I've driven quite a few trailers, but never one this long. They really are right that it is easier than a full 45' behind the truck would have been. I never once felt out of touch with how it was going to react.

Anyhow - I parked it, stabilized it, and opened it up for the in-laws. I think they were surprised at how nice it really was. I like having it here so that I can play a little before running around again.

Tonight Johanne gets to show it off to the neighborhood :)

Day 5 1/2 | RV attained, lessons on picking up in the afternoon learned

Well, its dark, its late, and I spent the better part of my day just waiting around because they didn't do all the inspecting they probably should have. But it is attached to the truck, in the driveway and everything seems to work.

Let's start at the beginning for the day... I really don't like California anymore. I'm sure I could get used to it again, but wow - what a hassle. Traffic, is a nightmare. It is stop and go, ofr no reason other than that there are too many people to fit on roads that were designed and built just last year even. The freeway is worse (we stop-and-go'd around a corner on the freeway just because it was a corner - no accident, no stall, CORNER. sigh. Then, I needed diesel, so I got off the freeway where a station should be, but no diesel. drove down the street, no diesel... ugh. Took me what seemed like forever to get everything done and then get down to Norm's...

Then: Well, you'd think it was going to be easy - they knew I was coming two weeks out, they knew I was leaving with the RV that night, and they KNEW I was from far away and wasn't going to bring it back in for a due bill... sigh. We did some shopping - with the deal I got a $50 gift cert. Because I bought from them I get 10% off. This still brought the price down to HIGH retail, so I didn't buy anything more than I absolutely needed. She tried to upsell me on everything, and I'm sure her information is good and she just wanted me to be happy, but I can cut about 20% off those prices by waiting a couple of days, so I did. I used the cert to get: cheap sewer hose and connector, egg crate (I needed another $5 thing), RV shaped like the Glendale for the girls, a 15 to 30 adapter, and a 25' water hose (longer primary, then a 15' can be an extension). They gave me some nice 'getting started' books, including a Woodall's guide, an atlas, and a nice "one tank trips" book for the far west of the US... In addition (and because they matched Camping World's president price) I bought the 50 amp portable surge protector and lock (aside: The Glendale's wiring thus far seems to be behind the panel, and I can't easily get to it. I want to hard wire one in instead, but I'll have to wait to see if that's possible. I probably won't plug in until our first trip - not on the way home... AND if I did, it'll probably be to the Honda i2000 I plan to buy.) Anyhow, I also had to buy the gooseneck adapter you see, and they came close to CW's price, but I didn't have to go get it, lug it around, etc. so that was worth it to me. I'll call it a convenience fee. :) I'm excited to see what the girls do with the toy.

So we finish that deal, and i go out for the walkthrough - but wait, the GN adapter isn't put on yet. They are afraid to do it with the pinbox my trailer comes with, and 'have been trying to call me all day'. Anyhow - the decision is made to replace my pinbox 'for free' to a solid box from a past unit and then attach the GN to that. OK, sounds reasonable, but they had several ways to get ahold of me (including the email address Norm had emailed me at just days before...) well, no harm, no foul - just an annoyance, and a telling sign of things to come.

I get a silly guy that likes to joke for my technician in the walkthrough. He likes to talk, likes to kid, and jokes. I'm not really in the mood for it, but I go along with it for now. It turns out that I'll be glad i did, but we'll leave that for later. :) We went through all the systems in the coach, and find several odd things. It seems to me that they are used to having someone come in that just wants to know how the systems work, but don't go any further than that. I fine-tooth-combed the unit. Every light, every drawer, everything - and found several faults, INCLUDING one's I'd brought up the day before...sigh. We find about 10 things that are kinda minor, but still should be addresses if they are delivering a brand new coach. Then we did something I don't think they were used to... we went to the roof. You see, I know that there's a lot of stuff up there and I want to know about it - AND I knew that the unit has been sitting in the sun and elements for probably a year... So up we go, and he says that I'm supposed to check this stuff about every 6 months, and clearly they haven't - the sealant around things is supposed to be white - it isn't. It is supposed to be pretty smooth without pitting, it isn't. Nobody seems to have looked at that - and the fact is that they should have. My advice to anyone buying/looking. If the units spent anytime outdoors, get up on the roof and inspect it. Ask questions, complain if it doesn't look right and don't let them blow you off. Earlier I said I got lucky, and I did, because I think if I'd been up there with any other tech, they would have told me that's how it was supposed to look, and I might have been ok with that. Steve was honest, and took ownership of the process and the product. While that probably costs his employers in the short term, it probably is minor in comparison to what they gain in customer loyalty/repurchase/etc.

Steve even looked at one of the doors that seemed a little to largely gapped in the back, and while Kim (mgr) and I discussed that it did in fact seal, and that its just the way the coach is built, Steve at least was willing to write it down and take it to her, rather than just blow past it. That is something I can truly appreciate.

Anyhow- because of the roof fiasco I missed dinner (they should have probably offered to buy since my truck was hooked up by that point), and didn't get out of there until 8. BUT at least they were willing to stay and let me get out of there tonight, rather than have to burn 4 hours doing it tomorrow. I'll take it. Norm's RV is behind me, I've got my unit in the driveway, and things work fine now :)

More blogging on Day 6 after I mess around a bit with it. More photos too (now I need to open a flickr account... darnit!)

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Day 5 | Today's the day...

Well, today's the day I take delivery of the trailer. Its been a very long trip, but I know once I'm pulling it off the lot I'll feel a great sense of accomplishment. Right now its just something I want to get over with. Show me around, teach me about the systems and let me get this over with already :) I'm ready to start making my own schedules.

Last night was great for my ankles. I still can't believe that they got so big, but resting in a horizontal position for a full night of sleep brought them down to normal finally (well, almost). I'm hopefule that sleeping horizontal the rest of the trip will get the job done.

To do last night's blog:

Truck: So the thing has power. I'm finding that no matter what it can still pull, and that if it didn't have the limiter on it, it'd really move. We'll see how it acts under the trailer, but I have no doubts I'll find that hills won't be any problem for it, nor will slowing on those hills. I'll find out right away of course because Poway is in the middle of mountain central, so trial by fire it is!

One thing I have found interesting and annoying is the freeways in California and how they are made. Its very strange - not as bad as that run in MO, and NM had its moments, but all the freeways in CA have that grooved, poured structure. The truck runs fine on it slow, not bad at 55/60, ok at 80 - but at 72-77 its the worst ride of the world. I can't describe it as anything other than bone-jarring, teeth-clapping bounds, and unless you've been in it, you can't understand. I'm glad that trailering will limit me to 55, thought with the weight of the trailer than all might be moot at 72 anyhow. I hope to never deal with that again!

PINK - so theme of the trip right? Guess what was the first song on the station this morning. Crazy!

Economic Stimulus Package - It is working. There is no doubt as I've seen the proof. On my journey I must have passed 10 different brand new busses for difference municipalities. Shows that the money given to communities is going to help people - in other communities. Why a city would get ES money and then spend it to build a bis in another state rather than give it to their own people is beyond me, but clearly government at its finest. I'm sure that some bus building union has friends inside the circle of people that wrote the stimulus package and that they made sure that you got money for new busses, knowing that there are only 5 places in the US to build/buy/paint those busses. I mean, I guess its jobs no matter how you look at it, but giving Springfield, Missouri money so they can buy busses built in Downey, California (all locations, etc. made up with no fact behind them) shows that you're not out to help your own people, just to spend free money. Get 20 local, out-of-work people to work on the busses you already have in service and pay them that money...

Cost of Living - This is something that's become a very interesting focus of mine of late. K & A had been talking about CO for awhile until A came back from CA. One thing he specifically said was that the cost of living wasn't that much different. I can't say I agree. In looking at all the things I've had to deal with in CA I'm not planning on ever moving back, unless money no longer means anything to me. I was buying diesel on the trip out here pretty consistently at 2.70ish a gallon, even as close as kingman (@2.73), but when I came over the border it jumped to 3.69. Granted, Needles is a 'resort' town, but still. That's a pretty hefty jump. Then I went to the local fast food restaurant when drinks now run me 2.19. State tax is higher, vehicle registrations are higher (don't I know it), the cost of living in general is probably 30% higher (not taking into account, health factors in smog/pollution, traffic & time, lifestyle of people (I hadn't seen one bum until CA), or general overcrowdedness of the world out here. I'm sorry, but I'm going to have to say, no matter how much more you make in CA, the true cost of living is higher. Period.

and Finally... Yesterday I signed the final papers and did the preliminary walkthrough. I'm hopeful that they'll catch all the things that need to be caught and not be sloppy, but I'm trying to keep good notes about what I see and what they say. So far things have made sense, and all seems on the up and up, but I'm afraid a little about how much I have to learn and how expensive it can be if I don't get something right. I'm confident in my abilities, but there are sure a lot of systems to screw up :)

Monday, August 17, 2009

Day 4 | end of the trek West.

So after a good night's sleep (finally), I'm ready to head off to trailer world. I got an unexpected gift from the boss today when she took the day off for her birthday, freeing my day up and pushing my workday into the evening. whew.
To continue last night's blog... actually, to do last night's blog :)

First, the truck - I finally totally settled in, I'm driving it very comfortably now, as long as the road doesn't have an attitude grabbing it about. I'm happy to have that confidence in driving something so big, and having the tires act like they should helps too. I can still get them to be squiggy, I just have to make it happen now rather than making it keep from happening. :)

Red Highway - I forgot what red Highway looked like. For those of you that don't know, I'm not referring to that crash tape they make you watch in driver's ed, I'm talking about those parts of the southwest that use native rock to pave the highway. it always seems to compliment the surrounding area so much, and I just like the way it looks. If I remember correctly the color is derived from the rain rusting the iron in the soil, giving it that reddish appearance. you can see it in the plateaus of NM and AZ, possibly NV. Its just a neat highway to drive.

Empty Billboards - a few hours in this morning there were these little towns in NM that do all kinds of tourist-trappy Indian stuff, and before each of them is usually a ton of billboards proclaiming all their specials and why you should stop in - and I mean a ton. i think I counted 25 before this one place (there were three that I remember). Anyway, I wish I had my camera ready because a sign of the times could not have been more clear. At the last stretch, they were empty. Just the hulking 16' by 40' empty spaces, 25' apart from each other with nothing on them. Waiting, perhaps, for when the establishment either reopened or when they could finally afford it again. it wa bleak - if I go back that way I'll definitely stop to photograph it. it really spoke volumes about the times many people are living in...

Scrabble - I came up with an idea for a new game. Travel Scrabble, and we may play it at our next family get together. Standard scrabble rules and board, except - you can only use locations. Two letter, valid North American States are OK. Valid three letter country codes are ok, but any words longer must be somewhere that can be put in the phrase 'Last summer I went (to) (the)'. It'll be interesting to see how it plays :)

Classic Rock - I came to an interesting realization today. The reason our uncles and aunts listened to 'classic rock' when we were younger is because that's the musice they heard when they were in HS, and learning about music. I came to this realization as 97X (not the LA variety, but ALBQ or such) tagged itself as THE classic rock station, and then played Sunday, Bloody Sunday by U2. Man, I'm getting old, aren't I.

PINK is the official music of this trip. Right now, all I know is that she is getting PAID! I've heard her latest song at least 3 times a day, with it at its peak Friday night (13 times in 8 ours). Flipping radio stations is interestin, and hearing what's popular is fun. I like the song (which is probably good for my sanity) and the only reason I probably haven't heard it more is because Woodstock's anniversary was Saturday (and I listened to it on public Radio for awhile. aside - its always interesting to hear swear words on an FCC licensed station, even if it is public radio...). I also think that if you mentioned PINK in Oklahoma and the north of Texas it doesn't have the meaning of the songstress. I don't think i heard one pop station on that tretch of the trip, or the pink count might be 3 times what it is. :)

Finally - and maybe sadly for Jill - I'm finding out that I may need to live in the mountains. Driving through Flagstaff told me alot about my state of mind. I calmed down and felt I could truly take a deep breath for the first time in awhile. The town is a little screwy for sure, but I felt a little at home there. And the views - mountains and pine trees and small roads and little wood buildings... I wonder why it is that city people always take vacations into the mountains (or beach) and mountain/beach people always take vacations into other mountains/beach? Somthing to be said for that...

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Day 3 | Needles.

Finally settled into a hotel room. My ankles are the size of my knees from all that sitting and bouncing and no exercize at all. I'm going to enjoy sleeping in a bed tonight (Motel 6). I'd like to blog about everything and post my pictures, but I'm just too wiped out. I'm getting up early and will get working on things until checkout. Then the plan is to try to get down to Poway before 6 and Camping World by 7 To pick everything up I need. I'm hopeful it'll all work out. If not, then Plan B. Not sure what Plan B is yet, but I'll make it work.

Day 3 | How far today? Tucumcari to...

Good night's rest I must say considering the cicumstances. Woke up to a bit of rain in the cab - from the sprinklers, but nothing too bad. I must say I do like the rain-guard things on the windows. Its opened my eyes as to why people use them, and I'll put them on every truck I own from now on. They just have so many convinieces to them.

E-mail is stuck because of that monster report Gregg runs every night for the loader. I need to figure out some way to deal with all this huge archival email I get. Its going to be too cumbersome on the road. Figure maybe to pop those accounts only when I have a good connection or a solid power base where I can just let the thing sit and sit and sit. More to ponder about work...

Flying J is back to being OK in the realm of places to stop. The bathrooms are clean, the store well stocked. I just ran into a bad one earlier in the trip I guess. Maybe I'll give Love's another chance at love...?

I'm figuring that I'll make CA today, but just not the whole way. It'll depend on how far I push myself and how much work I feel I need to accomplish. I still have a list of things for that project, and I'd like to have it done on Monday so we'll see what that takes.

This morning routine is good. rather than what I used to do which was wake up, rub eyes, turn on car, go - taking a little time - an hour even - is worth the wasted road time because I'm more focused and more together out there. That's always a good thing.

OK - off West. Blog soon :)

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Day 2 | Tucumcari.

What a long day. After not a whole lot of sleep, but feeling ok I left MO and travelled, and for the most part it was a standard long drive trip, but I'm getting as far as I want as fast as I want, and I think I'm going to have to refigure it based on having to work Early Monday and have some things done on Sunday Night. So, with that, I may not make CA until Monday Eve/late Afternoon. We'll see, I'll plan more on it tomorrow.

I could have gone further tonight, but I needed to break a little, not just be a butt in the seat. I'm finding that its very helpful to take some time before and after - waking up, winding down. I'm going to do plenty of that on the way back - which will take quite some time I'm afraid. 55/65 everywhere is not going to be quick.
I had a bunch of notes on things I wanted to blog about. I'm hoping that I can read them... Tires - they are finally getting comfortable. There are still some times when things are a little splashy, but its getting better. I think by the time I put some weight on the back that they'll be splashed out. I want to post a bunch on this when I get back as I think this tire experience would be helpful to others, with what I've learned, what I've been told and why I picked what I did. Overall I'm happy with the Michelin's and can very much put up with the only two problems I've run across - they are noisy, as would any block tire be, and they were expensive, but I think I'll get what I paid for. More on all that later...

Joke: I saw a pile of cut wood (cords and cords of it) in front of a log home building place. Is that how they repossess?

I saw a Jack in the Box in Missouri, but didn't stop - now I can't find one. Kinda funny actually, I'm not sure why they chose that state to stop and why they only go North, but it is what it is. I just hadn't seen one in a long time.

I can't read he rest and its time to get some sleep. I'll blog more on all this tomorrow.

Day 2 | To the Rig - Pacific, MO to ?

I swear when I woke up this morning that I saw a bank of cameras in my head - like a tv station's control room - and some of them just would not come into focus... :) However, its now been about 30 minutes and all systems check out.

If I were doing this at all regularly I'd need a couple of things. 1) They did not build this bench seat for comfort. Foam Pad would be a very good thing, but I'll pass because I'm only doing this a couple of times (maybe even only one). 2) in the Fall, probably not an issue, but right now its just too hot not to have ventilation, and I'm not rolling the windows down while I sleep. I cracked them, but a nice 12v circ fan would be a huge benefit. I'll try to pick one up in one of the truck stops today. 3) I'll take the big pillow. Next time, take two. I'm too big a guy in too smal a space. Oh well, again, if i were doing it every day, that'd be something else.

I'm off to the West. I haven't had an Egg McMuffin in quite awhile, so I'll probably go grab one of those. Then call the kids and Jill. Should be a good day - I hope to make at least Albequerque today, but my goal is PHX. Maybe too aggressive ;)

Day 1 | To the Rig - Lex to Pacific, MO

Well, what a haul. After working all day, I gathered everything up, had dinner with the family, put the girls to bed, kissed the wife and headed West. I left Lexington at 9 and hit a good omen right away. The light at the end of the street which is never green turned green just for me as I approached... I took it as a sign, and have ben relaxed about the trip since.

The road construction was unexpected, but I just took it as what it was. It put me behind a good hour and a half - nothing like crawling out at 10MPH for like 30 miles. Once that passed I got on a good clip, but learned that at night now, not every exit has diesel and even if they do, it might be closed. I got into Indiana and almost didn't make it out. Stop at 1/4 tank. Period.

It took me about 200 miles to settle into the truck. It really is a beast and it really does ride tough. Hard to drink water in at full speed on a sectioned highway, impossible to text while moving :) The tires are getting a little easier to predict, but that could also be because I'm adjusting to the truck itself. During the road construction there were several spots there was just one lane with a concrete barrier. You MUST be paying attention in this rig. There is no autopilot, which is fine.

I'm stopped for the night and have a nice little office setup in here. The back seat is big enough to make a good seat desk, I've got the truck locked up, windows just cracked (and because of the window protectors noone can tell), and the inverter plugged in charging the computer.

Quick Sleep now, Tomorrow will be a long day.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Huge Strides

Jill's Journal: Ridiculous strides have been made and at lightning speed lately. Rob has been the driving force behind it all. He promises to fill in the blanks, but for now, a quick synopsis...

*We pulled the trigger and bought a fifth wheel! It's absolutely everything we had been looking for, with the grand exception that it's currently located about 2200 miles away in Poway, California. We absolutely cannot wait to get our hands on it.

*We bought a truck. A big truck. A really big truck meant to pull said fifth wheel. A Ford 550. See photo.

*Rob literally just left a few minutes ago in said truck to pick up said fifth wheel. Long journey for him and although I know he is more than completely capable, I still worry about him. Erika started kindergarten this week (another big step in our lives!), which means the girls and I are tied down here and couldn't go with him. I nearly pulled her out and started homeschooling a year early!

*And in other news, Rob told his mother and sister our plans. It did not go well, as we expected. It's the only negative blip in what so far has been (and will be!) an incredibly positive life experience for our whole little family.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

So much to talk about...

I have so many things to talk about, and no mind to do it. Tomorrow I promise, tomorrow.

Topics include:
  • How fast things move when you pull the trigger
  • Timelines change when things move fast
  • How to grab the only trailer in inventory, while trying to sneak that you're doing it
  • How many things have come about in the last several hours that might set aside the entire schedule.

More to come soon, but first, a little rest. :)