Summer 2018 Update #11 – CA to OR

How many of you do this kind of stuff?  We got home from the mountains on Tuesday evening, spent Wednesday getting haircuts, doing laundry, sorting through the mail, etc to get up Thursday morning and leave the house at 5 am to avoid the Los Angeles morning commute traffic to begin a drive (in the car this time) to Oregon.  Flights were too expensive so we decided to drive – crazy, I know!

Our niece was getting married on Friday in Bend, Oregon.  Since San Francisco is (sorta) on the way, we stopped on Thursday night to have dinner with kiddo #1, her hubby, and the grandbaby!

(I so wish I had taken a picture or 2!  I would probably have to crop it so much you wouldn’t be able to tell anything about her!)

We got up the next morning to finish our drive to Bend.  Arrived about 4:30 pm and all the festivities were at 6.  And we were worried we wouldn’t make it on time!

Sorry, no pictures of the wedding – respecting their privacy!

Our hotel in Bend was the Best Western Premier – I would NOT recommend this place.  The other 2 nights we stayed in a Holiday Inn Express and the BW was the same level as these.  The Holiday Inn Express even has a better breakfast!

  1.  What’s so premier about it that you charge $270 per night?  It was just like any other hotel we’ve stayed in.  Nothing special.
  2.  When you reserve with a fireplace and a view, you expect a fireplace and a view.  We “got to” change from a king room to a 2 queen room with a fireplace and “view”.
  3.  The view of the parking lot does not qualify as a view.  From our room the distant mountain tops were obscured by trees and cell phone tower!  Guess the 3rd floor isn’t high enough.  Maybe they should consider that when they market it as having a view.
  4. the fireplace was an electric wall heater with a computer screen in front of it.  It was a virtual fireplace!  You click a button on the remote to change the color of the “flames”.  Talk about a disappointment!
  5. After being moved, John lifted the toilet seat and it was obvious the rim and under the seat had not been cleaned.  Called for housekeeping to come and finish cleaning the bathroom.  Disgusting!!

Saturday morning we got up and began the drive home.  We stopped in Fresno for the night.

Now I know there are some who are wondering why we took the 99 instead of the 5.  We HATE the I5 through the central valley of California.  We avoid it at all costs!!  Limited services being one of the reasons, 2 lanes the entire way with too many trucks and crazy drivers trying to get around the trucks being another.  It only adds about 5 miles to your trip to Sacramento taking the 99.  Even when we go to San Francisco we take the 99. Worth it!!

Got up Sunday morning to drive home, stopping in Los Angeles to visit kiddo #2 – what we thought would be a “quick” lunch stop turned into 4 hours.  She was having computer issues and we worked on that for a chunk of the time.

Driving the car for this distance was so different than driving the motorhome.  We definitely made better time in the car but it was weird!

Our only pic of Bend.


  • driving distances:
    Thursday – about 435 miles
    Friday – about 475 miles
    Saturday – about 595 miles
    Sunday – about 280 miles

So now we are home for the rest of our summer vacation, unless we do an unplanned trip.  Who knows what will happen!

Summer 2018 Update #10 – AZ to CA

We left Sedona, AZ and made our way to Rock Creek Lake area in the Inyo National Forest in California, specifically staying at East Fork Campground.  This was about 700 miles from Sedona.

On the way, we stopped in Phoenix, AZ and purchased lunch to go at Jason’s Deli.  Another one of our favorites!  The nearest Jason’s to us in southern California is in Phoenix or Las Vegas.

We did 10 nights off the grid – no hookups and nearest cell reception was about 10 miles away.  It used to be about 20 miles, but the have added a tower, not that we ventured away often.

This is the view from our motorhome table.  I was eating breakfast and this was my view!  And the video doesn’t do the sound of rushing water, birds chirping, squirrels squirreling, chipmunks chipmunking any justice!  (what do you call the sounds the rodents make??  chirping??)  Thankfully, no bears in the campsite this year!


John went fishing just about every morning in the nearby lake, catching the lone fish in this video!  We read 4 novels between the 2 of us and completed 3 puzzles (our evening entertainment!)  We also took daily “hikes”.  It was so relaxing!

Here’s a short video of our camp site.  Enjoy!

Summer 2018 Update #9 – Sedona

After leaving Williams, AZ, we spent one night in Flagstaff (doing the fun thing called laundry!)  This is about a 35 mile driving day!  Wake up late, quick trip, relaxing afternoon doing laundry.  What more could you ask for???  The BBQ and “fire pit” were provided by the campground.  Figured we should use at least one of them!

Cocktail Hour!

The next morning we then ventured down to Sedona, AZ.   Another easy driving day of about 62 miles.  We took the recommended directions from the Rancho Sedona RV Park of staying on I17 instead of taking the more mountainous Hwy 89 which adds about 20 miles to the trip.

We got to go to one of our favorite places to eat – Picazzo’s!  They have some of the best Gluten-Free food we have ever eaten in a restaurant!  So sad that the Flagstaff restaurant closed.  We actually ate here 3 days in a row, we think they are that good!  2 lunches, one dinner.  Over the course of 3 days we ate the following gluten-free items:

  • Cheese bread
  • Natural Chopped Italian Salad
  • Crunchy Asian Chicken Salad
  • Sweet Potato Pie Pizza
  • Vortex Pizza
  • BBQ Chicken Pizza
  • Spicy Thai Peanut Fusilli
  • Bianca Bigoli
  • Chocolate Chip Cookie
  • New York Style Cheesecake
  • Hot Apple Crisp

This is beginning to sound like we are getting paid to write this – which we are NOT!  They are just that good!

We also took a drive to Jerome, AZ.  Only pictures:  a warning to stay out of someone’s property and the view from the town.


We also bought ourselves a couple of the Lyman Whitaker wind sculptures we saw at a Renee Taylor Gallery in town.  Can’t wait to post pictures of them installed in our yard!  They should arrive around the end of July!!

Summer 2018 Update #8 – Grand Canyon NP

We drove from Williams, AZ to the Grand Canyon National Park south entrance on 2 different days.  It is about 60 miles each way.

Day 1: We took the Desert View Drive east along the canyon.  It is about 22 miles from the main Grand Canyon Visitor Center.  Once you leave the Visitor Center area, there was minimal traffic.

We saw an elk along the road.  There were several idiots out of their cars and standing about 5 feet away from this wild animal trying to get a selfie.


The Desert View Watchtower gives an impressive 360 degree view of the eastern end of the canyon.  You can walk up several flights of stairs to the top of the watchtower.


We also stopped at the Tusayan Museum and Ruins.  It is believed this area was inhabited about 1200 AD.  It was a long hike to the river’s edge so I’m not sure how they  managed to survive here without an easy water source.  Gee, I wonder if the environment or climate was different??  The Museum took about 15 minutes to go through and the trail around the ruins took us about 20 minutes.



Day 2:  Helicopter (Papillon Heli Tours) ride over the Grand Canyon!  Happy Birthday Hubby!!



Summer 2018 Update #7 – UT to AZ

So we are now leaving Utah and heading to northern Arizona.  Today was about 300 miles.  This took us through the through the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and Glen Canyon National Recreation Area (Lake Powell).  Bryce Canyon National Park is at the very edge of this area.

Love the layers and hoodoos!


to AZ


side note: do you know the difference between a National Park and a National Monument?

The difference has to do with the reason for its development.  Parks are for “inspirational, educational, and recreational values” while a Monument is for “historic, prehistoric, or scientific interest”.



Summer 2018 Update #5 – Bryce Canyon NP, Utah

So now we have a noiseless carriage!

We take off and change our plans completely since wildfires are now in northern New Mexico (Ute Park fire) and southern Wyoming Badger Creek fire) with the potential of northern Colorado.   We headed south in Utah and spend 3 nights in Panguitch, Utah at the local KOA.  This was about a 240 mile driving day.


As we leave I70 and head south on Hwy 89, we witness something we have only seen in movies – real cowboys moving a herd of cattle!  I so wish we could have gotten a picture!  There were 4 men, 2 dogs, and a bunch of cattle.  All the men had ropes out, the dogs were on the edge of the herd, and the cattle were moving together in a northerly direction.  It was an incredible site!

We visited Bryce Canyon National Park one day – about 25 miles each way from Panguitch.  We decided to go directly to the southern most point and then stop along the way back toward the entrance.  We had a nice quiet lunch at one of the few remaining picnic areas.  The others were destroyed by a fire.

southern utah

Here are some pics of Bryce Canyon National Park.


Summer 2018 Update #4 WY to UT!

So now that we are back home for a week, I’ll work on our summer updates.

As you may recall in Summer Update #3, we made it to Rawlins, WY.  We got up the next morning with every intention of having a leisurely stroll to Laramie, WY and then the next day arriving in Estes Park, Colorado for an excursion into the Rocky Mountain National Park.  Well, sometimes life throws you a curve ball.

Our Winnie has an automatic leveling system which is an awesome feature.  When we are ready to leave, you push a button that allows you to retract the levelers.  Pretty straight forward.


I push the button; it feels like everything is going back to its appropriate place; we seem to be slightly unlevel; all good – EXCEPT the leveling alarms won’t turn off!

We call the Winnebago help line, and they basically say that since the leveling posts are up, there is nothing they can do to help.  Seek warranty service.  We are able to drive so they won’t send us help.  BUMMER!

We start calling on this wonderful Saturday morning to places in the Denver area.  No one is really helpful.  One place said if we could wait until the end of the month, he could see us.  Keep in mind this occurs on 9 June.

So now we are presented with a dilemma.  Do we go ahead with our trip and hope to find someone in Denver to help us or do we consider backtracking towards home?

We figure we should call RV places in Salt Lake City.  The first place we contact, Motor Sportsland, were very helpful.  The service person we talked to emailed us an error code information sheet and a troubleshooting guide.  He said if it didn’t help to stop by Monday morning.  So needless to say, we headed for Salt Lake City just in case.

Some of the clearing error code procedures left us a little nervous so we didn’t try those.  [they are loaded with “permanent damage” warnings!]  None of the troubleshooting things helped either.  We drove 5 hours with the alarms going off.  Talk about fun!!

Motor Sportsland was able to fix it in about 1/2 hour on Monday morning.  No more beeping!!

Here’s a sample of the noise.


Summer 2018 Update #3 – UT to WY

This travel day took us from Salt Lake City, Utah to Rawlins, WY.  Distance: 295 miles


The Dog decided it was his turn to drive when we stopped at a rest area!

IMG_4643  IMG_4645


After dropping of the RV at the Rawlins KOA, we took a “quick” trip (about 65 miles each way) to Independence Rock State Historic Site.


The story goes that if the migrants following the Oregon Trail reached this destination by the 4th of July, they would be fine crossing the rest of the mountain passes with very little snow.  Many pioneers carved their names in the giant rock but are now mostly eroded away.  A small section of the rock is protected by chain link fencing, but you can hardly see the names anymore.


John hiked to the top, heard a rattlesnake in a crevice and took the long way down.


We also stopped at Emigrant Gap outlook a few miles down the road.

On the drive, we saw many wild horses and antelope.  No pics of the horses but here’s one of an antelope.

IMG_1916 (1)


The last time we were here – almost 20 years ago – there wasn’t an official rest area at the location.  Barb was also drugged so nothing seemed familiar to her this visit. (reason: while we were in Maine on that trip, an emergency room trip ended with her being diagnosed with kidney stones in both kidneys.  One was 11 mm and the other was 9 mm – both too large to pass.  Once those things start bothering you, drugs are the only way to cope!)

It would be several weeks before doctors in Maine would be able to blast those things away, so we continued our vacation (2 kids and a tent-trailer) and followed the Oregon/California Trail most of the way.  Barb got the kidney stones blasted away about a week after we got home.

Summer 2018 Update #2 – NV to UT

We left Las Vegas, Nevada and made our way to Salt Lake City (SLC), Utah. We spent 5 nights at the Salt Lake City KOA.  This is our go-to “camping” place in SLC.   It is close to the Family History Library so Barb can do genealogy research.

The bus/train stop is at the corner and drops off downtown about 2 blocks from the library.  If you drive, the library is about 2 miles straight up North Temple Avenue.  Parking about a block away is $5/day (or your hubby drops you off and has a day alone!)

While in SLC, we ate at Ruth’s Diner for breakfast one morning.  Ruth’s started with an old train dining car.  Now the building and patio almost hide the original train car.  It was a beautiful morning the day we visited and were able to sit on the patio for breakfast.  The day warmed up to 95 F on this day so we enjoyed the mid 70’s temperature.

Ruth’s Diner has amazing breakfast food, especially the biscuits!  Barb had “Trevor’s Potato Burrito” and BISCUITS!!  John had sausage and eggs with hashbrowns and grapefruit – no biscuit for him (celiac disease and biscuits don’t do well together!)  Wish I had thought to take pictures – guess that’s what happens when you just enjoy your meal together.

One disappointment was that Jason’s Deli in SLC has permanently closed!!  It is one of our favorite sandwich shops AND they provide gluten-free products with care taken to prevent cross-contamination.  We had to make our own sandwiches one day for lunch.  So SAD!  If we had known this ahead of time, we would have purchased sandwiches in Las Vegas before we started driving to SLC.

distance traveled:  432 miles

gas prices:  $3.109/gallon in North Las Vegas, Nevada [Pilot Travel Center]
$3.029/gallon in Salt Lake City, Utah [Flying J Travel Center]


Summer 2018 Update #1 – CA to NV

So here we are – three weeks into our vacation and an attempt to update you.  This is an update of our first couple of days.  For those of you interested, I’ve included gas prices.

Day 1 –  We purchased our first tank of gas for Winne 2017!  Up to this point, all our quick weekend trips and running the generator “weekly” haven’t used the initial tank of gas up!

Hesperia, CA – we try our darnest to purchase gas at Pilot or Flying J.  Reasons:  John likes their coffee; we get a 5 cent per gallon discount by using their Good Sam Reward card (after a certain number of coffee purchases, you get one free too!);  they are the cheapest around; Flying J also has dedicated RV pumps.
Gas price $3.469 per gallon (with discount).

Las Vegas, CA –  We stay at the Oasis Las Vegas RV Resort.  It is close to the freeway and Las Vegas Strip.  Dinner was at the Bellagio Buffet.  We have always had great service here – especially if you sit at the bar.  Just ask and you usually can.   Here’s our grip with the Bellagio – they now charge $9 for parking!!  Like they don’t make enough on our dinner and gambling!
Pilot/Flying J in North Las Vegas the next morning:  Gas price $3.109 per gallon (with discount).

Here are a few pics of their lobby – they frequently change it up so every time we visit, it is something new.  We always love it!

Prep the House for Summer Vacation

So the last day of the school year is approaching (Barb has 3 more work days, John has 4) and we are taking off the very next day.  Here is a list of stuff we are doing this weekend/week to prep the house for our extended absence, this year it will be about 8 weeks.

All of this makes the beginning of our next school year easier because all the 2nd “spring” cleaning/end-of-summer stuff is complete!

This year Barb gets all the last day at home stuff to do.  Isn’t she the lucky one!?!

last day checklist


  1. An obvious one – wash the bed sheets on the last day at home.  You will only have slept on them one night when you get home.
  2. Another obvious – wash the bath and kitchen towels after showering the night before we leave.
  3. Do all the normal cleaning stuff, unfortunately it happens earlier in the week this last week.  You know the kind of stuff I’m talking about – vacuum, mop, dishes, dust, etc.
  4. Clean out the refrigerator – some of the stuff stays behind but most gets moved into the motorhome on the last day home.  Wipe the shelves too.  Put in a small amount of baking soda in a dish into frig.
  5. Wash the bedroom curtains during the last week.
  6. Deodorize the kitchen and bath drains on the last day home.   I usually do this monthly but always before a long trip.
    • Pour boiling water down the drain – usually a full pot worth.
    • Make another batch of boiling water, add some vinegar;  add baking soda just before pouring this one down the drain.
  7. Add vinegar to the toilet at the last minute before leaving to help decrease the formation of a hard water ring.
  8. Leave the washer door open after the last load is finished.
  9. Go around the house on the last day and unplug anything that can be.  We leave the frig and stove plugged in.  Just about everything else gets unplugged.
  10. Make sure every window has its extra lock in place.



  1. Usually last weekend home, John checks all the sprinklers.  Sometimes you just don’t know one head isn’t quite right.  He also modifies the watering duration for summer.
  2. Trim the iceplant along the front curb.  Because of the extra summer watering, this stuff grows like crazy.  It will easily be into the gutter when we return even when it is trimmed on the last weekend home.
  3. Last thing before leaving, turn off the main water valve for water going into house.


Is there anything you do special around the house to prep for an extended vacation??