Monday, February 28, 2011

Still Stuck in San Francisco

Greasy Sonja in Her Stroller, En Route to the Kennel

Let's see, the last time I wrote was on Friday, and I expected to be able to pick up the Guppy at the garage and head down the highway to Santa Cruz, where I wanted to spend the weekend, meet some friends I've known online for many years, and pick up some General Delivery mail.


I tried to leave...AGAIN...and the engine still wasn't running right. In low gear or going up hills, it would stall, just like it did the day before when I tried to leave. So it was back to the shop. They decided to bring in a diagnostician from their other garage on Saturday morning. They'd spoken to him and he suspected that the new engine was defective and would have to be replaced. Plus, my carburetor apparently is about shot as well, so they think the whole mechanism will work better if it's replaced, too.

I was really pissed that they would try to send me out of the garage with a vehicle that wasn't working correctly. I asked the manager what his plans were for getting me a place to stay until they get this right. He was noncommittal. He did say perhaps they could pay half of my hotel, or give me some credit on the carburetor replacement (I've already fully paid for the engine replacement, and I won't have to pay for that again).

He also--and I can barely believe this--suggested that one option would be for them to put the Guppy out on the street so I could sleep in it. I think this is about the most irresponsible thing I could imagine a garage owner suggesting--especially considering that Friday night, the coldest weather San Francisco has had all winter was forecast. They were expecting snow, and Buzz wanted to put me on the street rather than commit to taking care of my expenses that are necessitated by the garage's failure to get this job done. Sheesh!

I went back to the hotel down the street from the garage for one night. On Saturday morning, the garage confirmed that they'd be replacing the engine again, and that a replacement would be available on Monday, so I'm looking at getting out of San Francisco this coming Wednesday at the soonest. I decided to move to a cheaper hotel, since Buzz hasn't said how much he's going to help me with my delay costs. I found a guest house, which is really a rooming house for foreign students. It's barely adequate, but more about that below.

I also decided to get Sonja into a kennel or vet's office that does boarding, since it was going to be another five days or so before I could leave town. Saturday morning I was at the garage and was just going to start making kennel plans when I went into the RV to check on Sonja, and she was gone! The driver's side cab window was wide open--even though Buzz and Ian, the technician who had worked on my car all week, knew the cat was in there and that the windows needed to stay shut. (I had vents open on the top of the RV so Sonja had some ventilation.)

I was devastated! The garage keeps its big doors open all day so cars can get in and out, and I figured Sonja had escaped the garage and was a goner. I went to the guest house in tears, and then began doing the footwork to try to get my cat back. I stopped at a pet food store down the street from where I was staying and asked for appropriate ideas and phone numbers, and the guy got me in touch with Animal Control and the SPCA. He also suggested making a poster, so I headed back to the guest house to do that on my computer. Just when I'd emailed the poster to the garage so they could print out some copies and get them posted, I got a call from Buzz. Sonja was in the garage! She'd hidden in a cupboard full of big greasy old auto parts, under a workbench. She was filthy and scared and wouldn't come out.

So I ran...literally ran, with my fake knee and my arthritis and all the garage and got down on the greasy floor and wrecked my clothes and comforted my kitty. I could not get her out from there myself, because of my arthritis--no way I'd be able to get squeezed into the cupboard, grab Sonja, and then back out again. So Buzz had to do it.

I got Sonja back into the RV and then started calling kennels from the Yellow Pages. It was late afternoon by now, and I could only find one place open--the fanciest, most costly place in town, called "Feline Wishes & Caviar Dreams." This place is gorgeous--so much nicer than the place I'm staying, and almost as costly. I got Sonja settled there and then headed back to the guest house.

That night, I discovered that the so-called bed on which I'm supposed to sleep is actually just a folded out futon-style couch. And it's not even a real futon mattress on it! It's just a metal frame that has some stuffing attached to it, and there are these seams where there's no stuffing at all, so I could feel the metal frame as I was laying there. Horrible! I ended up moving the bedding to the floor and sleeping on a hardwood floor with no mattress at all. Me, a 55-year-old woman with arthritis. Sheesh!

So, once again, I was faced with a choice. Should I move to another cheap place? The only ones I could find were hostels that were down in the touristy part of town, near Union Square or Fisherman's Terminal, and I wasn't sure this would be any better. At least at the guest house, I had my own room and decent Internet, and I'd already found a few A.A. meeting places within walking distance. Or should I move back to a more expensive hotel? I decided that perhaps the best thing to try first was to get an air mattress, so I bought one yesterday.

I still did not sleep well even with the air mattress on top of the lousy bed, because the bed is so uneven that I felt like I was falling out, so I put the air mattress on the floor and slept there. Finally, early this morning, it occurred to me to put the air mattress diagonally on the bed so I wouldn't be so affected by the dips and crests, and this worked. I slept in until 8:45 a.m., when the landlady woke me up to tell me that I couldn't have any breakfast this morning because they were starting to remodel the kitchen, where a cold breakfast is usually available from 7 to 10 a.m.

It's Monday, and I have spent most of today working my eBay business. I got a bunch of things that I'd sold packed up and mailed out. I've photographed the next batch of scarves and I will start listing them. I want to get a bunch of work done today, and then tomorrow happens to be the monthly free day at the Museum of Modern Art, so I'm going to take the bus there.

I should call the garage and ask them whether they're gotten the replacement engine today. I don't even want to talk to them anymore, but I am sticking with this AAA garage because of AAA's promise to resolve any disputes.

I did take a nice long walk down Geary to Japantown today, and I saw some beautiful murals on a public building along the way. The one pictured here is made out of one-inch tiles, and it's simply gorgeous. It must have been designed using a photograph of this lovely face.

I've been getting some great support from family and friends, as well as from my online tribes (Babble, Yahoo VanDwellers, my online AA home group, and so on). People have been incredibly nice to me here in San Francisco. I still feel that, if you have to break down someplace, this is a very interesting and fun place to hang out, but it sure as heck is costing me and it's often been frustrating, scary, and stressful.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Hello from Haight-Ashbury

Rodin, The Thinker
Legion of Honor Museum, San Francisco

Yes, by George, I am still in San Francisco. The Guppy got its new engine and I was ready to take off yesterday in the late afternoon. However, the engine stalled out three times within a few miles of the garage, so I finally just had them tow me back and I spent one more night with my friend Joni. Today they have discovered that there was a part that sent the flow of gasoline into the carb (if I understand this correctly) that needed to be replaced. The garage is doing this at their expense and they will also carefully check out the vacuum hoses and whatever else may have contributed to the engine quitting on me and then I can be on my way...again.

The Sharon Art Studio in Golden Gate Park

I have some General Delivery mail to pick up in Santa Cruz and I may not get there before the Post Office closes today, so now my plan is to spend the weekend in Santa Cruz. This will give me a chance to meet Mikey and Stacy Thurber in person some time over the weekend (finally!), then I can pick up my mail on Monday morning and continue on my way. It means I will spend a shorter time at some of the other Central California Coast locations that I'd picked out.

Lemon Trees

I had picked out places to stay for the first six weeks out on my trip, but in actuality I have only spent one night where I intended. I'm going to try to keep some of the really terrific reservations that I've made ahead of time, such as my two weeks in Palm Springs at a couple of Coast to Coast resorts, but after that I'm just going to play it by ear. It's too frustrating to be constantly making, changing, and canceling reservations.

Tulips in February!

So I've spent an additional couple of days here in San Francisco. The garage's initial prediction of when they'd be done with the motor was Wednesday noon. Now it's Friday at about 1:30 pm and I am still here, using the Internet at the world famous Red Victorian Bed, Breakfast & Peace Arts Cafe, which is on Haight, just a few blocks from the garage. These past two days, I've been able to see more of San Francisco, get to another A.A. meeting, and enjoy more of Joni's hospitality and companionship. It's really been nice, but I am ready to go! I wanted to be camping on beaches this week.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Down and Out in San Francisco--Well, Sort Of...

Almond Croissant, The Coffee Roastery, San Francisco

Tuesday, February 22, 2011~San Francisco, California

I haven't written for a couple of days because I've been very busy in San Francisco. This wasn't my plan. On Sunday, I was heading into San Francisco and was planning to spend just one night at an RV park in Pacifica. But when I was just short of arriving at my destination, The Guppy began to make a high keening noise and then it overheated. I pulled over to the side of the freeway and let the engine cool off, then put water in the radiator. No dice, the vehicle would not start. So then I had to call AAA to get towed back into San Francisco to a garage.

By the time we dropped off The Guppy, it was dark and I was really tired and disappointed. I found a hotel near the garage and stayed there one night. The next morning, I found out that my RV needed a new engine and that it would take a couple of days for the work to be done (as well as it costing so much that I will have doubled my investment in The Guppy, not that I'll ever be able to resell it for that much).

Lucky for me, I have a childhood friend, Joni, who lives here in San Francisco and she took me in. My kitty, Sonja, is still living in the RV, in the garage. I figured she would be better off there, because she has her food, water, litter box, and the environs that she's become familiar with over the past week.

Joni is semi-retired and does a lot of interesting volunteer work. I was fortunate to arrive at a time when she was in town and not terribly busy, and she's been the most wonderful host, showing me the city and helping me find my way around with maps and bus routes and so on. This morning, Joni and I walked to The Roastery for coffee, where they serve a very respectable almond croissant--excellent pastry, a little short on the almond paste filling. Then Joni headed off to get her hair cut (doesn't she look great?), while I went to an A.A. meeting at The Dry Dock.

Afterward, I spent most of the day walking around the city. I walked all the way up Fillmore to Haight, then headed towards Golden Gate Park, shopping at thrift stores and vintage shops all the way. I found a lot of great inventory to sell on eBay, about a dozen designer silk neckties and about 10 designer silk scarves. I'm also going to sell some scarves for Joni, who doesn't have to dress up so much now that she doesn't go to an office every day. If I get all these things sold, it will add up to, hmm, maybe five percent of the cost of a new engine...

It's disappointing to be delayed on my trip and to have such a huge expense to cover, but I'm really trying to make the best of the situation. And, really, if you have to get stuck somewhere with your vehicle in the shop, San Francisco is a beautiful place for that to happen. Today it was sunny and I must have walked five miles. I could have taken buses, but I really enjoyed the sights along my walk, especially the beautiful USF campus, where I stopped for an afternoon cuppa Joe.

Joni and I had a fabulous seafood meal at Scoma's down at the Fisherman's Terminal, and we are planning to go to an art museum tomorrow morning before my Dolphin is ready for me to move on. I hope to be at New Brighton State Beach in Santa Cruz before dark tomorrow night. K84thihyg myytshi8eht crosweiud--whoops, that was supposed to read, "Keeping my fingers crossed," but, you know, I really can't type very well when I cross my fingers...

Gotta share these fun pictures of a "recreational vehicle" that I saw along my travels, the One-Log House in Garberville that I stopped at on my way to San Francisco. This log was hollowed out in the 1940s and was trucked around to be displayed to people on a semi truck for a while, but then came to rest (at several places previous to its current location) due to lack of funds to keep moving it. It looked like a delightful place to live, kind of like being a chipmunk or something.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

The eBay Part of This Trip Is Working!

Signed Robert Eickholt Paperweight
Current bid on eBay $19.99 plus $8 shipping

Sunday, February 20, 2011 ~ Cloverdale, CA

Yesterday was a long day of driving. It was pretty uneventful except for how gorgeous it was to drive from Trinidad to Cloverdale, a town in Sonoma County that's about 105 miles north of San Francisco. I stuck to Hwy 101 most of the time, except for occasionally getting off for fuel or a rest, and I was amazed at what I saw. I moved from the deep dark Redwood forests to the lighter, slightly warmer vineyards of Mendocino and Sonoma Counties. How many climates and geographies does California have, anyway?! It's amazing!

Last night I stayed at the Russian River Thousand Trails resort which is part of one of my timeshare campground memberships. Just $10 per night for a place that has hookups, showers, Internet, etc. Can't beat it!

I haven't spent a lot of time working my eBay business yet on this trip, because I've been learning the ropes of living in a motorhome. But what I've done has been paying off. The paperweight shown above is something I found at a thrift shop for a few dollars, and it's worth at least $50 to most collectors. But I'll be happy with whatever I get, since I made such a great frugal find!

Vintage Vera Neumann Silk Blouse
Sold yesterday for $24.99

By the way, if you're interested in checking out any of my eBay offerings, you can find my stuff at And thank you, Cafe Nitro in Cloverdale, for letting me use your Internet today!

Friday, February 18, 2011

A Vitamin D Day on the North California Coast

Wow, what a perfect day this has been. I spent last night at The Emerald Forest, a cabin and RV resort in Trinidad, California. It was such a great set-up that I decided to stay another night. I have electricity (and thus have heat!), an excellent Internet connection, a laundromat, store, etc., all right here. So the plan for today was to write up eBay auctions for that batch of scarves I photographed a few days ago.

But I decided to go for a walk first, and who knew I'd end up spending four hours in the tiny town (pop. 311) of Trinidad? It's a wonderfully hip place, like a micro-Eugene, but on a bay. It has the perfect mix of deep, dark forests and bright sunny beaches. I visited a bunch of fun places, including the beach, the post office, an organic coffee shop, a gift shop, the grocery store, and the city's museum.

At the gift shop, I found a great little book, Spanish Slanguage, that teaches Spanish in a completely visual way, which helps me a lot! For example, the word "nieto," which means grandson, is shown with a picture of a knee, the word yet, and a picture of a toe. Knee-yet-toe. Despite the difficulties I've had learning new languages, I could get this! And I find this really exciting, because one of the few New Years resolutions I made for 2011 was to learn a little Spanish.

At the coffee shop, I had a day old organic vegan carrot muffin and a cuppa Joe while reading this week's North Coast Journal, where I learned that the biggest issue in Trinidad right now is getting a skate park built for the kids. It's kind of controversial because this used to be more of a retirement town and now there are families here with loud, annoying kids bugging the near-deads...whoops, I mean the seniors. (I can make jokes about this, since I am one.) A few weeks ago there was a fundraiser for the skate park and it got a little noisy when the Humboldt Spin Collective shot off some fire cannons to accompany the fire poi twirling and the acrobats who were performing up in the aerial rigging. Oldsters objected on the grounds that they didn't move to Trinidad "to hear that on a Saturday night."

Now, personally, had I been in Trinidad that night, I would've gone out to see where the fun was and joined right in, but I guess I'm not a typical senior citizen.

The beach here is great, and today was sunny and probably in the 60s or so. There's a beautiful little bay that has an interesting history of being a Native American village and later a whaling station in the 1920s. I struggled a little getting down to the beach on the very steep log stairs. The last few are a killer! I stood on the step that was sixth from the bottom and spent a long time surveying the fifth step before finally taking it and falling on my butt, where I stayed for the next half hour, watching the tide come in. Going back up, I thought, "Who needs a gym and a stair stepper?" I walked up as quickly as I could and it definitely got my heart rate up.

I watched some crab boats at work, and I thought about buying some local crab, but at $27 per pound, I passed and bought ingredients for my signature Tofu Goddammit dish. I made sure to drop my change into the collection jar for the skate park.

I was about to walk back out to the resort, but saw that the museum was open and decided to stop in and use the rest room. My timing was perfect! Ron Johnson, a local anthropology professor, was giving a talk and tour on a temporary exhibit on local Native American brush dance costumes and jewelry, which was fascinating and beautiful. Yurok Indians were living here in 1775 when Captains Bodega and Heceta first arrived, and the village was occupied until 1916. There are still many Yuroks around here, of course--the Lucky 7 Casino where I stayed a few nights ago, up north of Crescent City, is right by their tribal headquarters--but this particular village died out.

So now it's nearly 5 pm and I am back in The Guppy, ready to start my eBay listings. (Look at the size of that stump in the photo!) I've gone over my travel plans for the next few days, and I'll be in Ukiah tomorrow night, San Francisco on Sunday night, and then on a State Beach near Santa Cruz for three nights starting on Monday. I have friends to look up in San Francisco and Santa Cruz, so I'd better get in touch with them and let them know I'm on my way.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Escaping the Snow

Lighthouse in Crescent City, California

It turned out to be a really good idea that I stayed an extra night at the 7 Feathers Casino Resort's RV park. I used the time to get a little more organized before moving on. I spent several hours staying warm and cozy in the RV park's laundry room, getting a new batch of scarves ready to sell on eBay. I also did laundry and used the pool and hot tub again.

My second night out, however, was really, really cold. My propane heater still doesn't work (although my friend Dan says maybe the igniter just needs to be taken out and cleaned, so I will try that) and I had to sleep in multiple layers of clothes under lots of blankets. So when I woke up in the morning, I was really ready to head to California!

I went into Canyonville to pick up a space heater for nights when I'm hooked up to electricity. Both the guy at the hardware store and the folks at the natural foods store told me I would really, really enjoy driving Highway 199 to Crescent City, because the area is so beautiful, especially in the Smith River park areas. They were really nice people, but I think they underestimated the fear an inexperienced motorhome driver might experience while negotiating those hairpin turns in the driving snow. I was too busy being careful to enjoy the view very much. But, truthfully, I wasn't terrified--the snow was sticking to the road only a little bit at the various summits and passes, and the road was completely clear at lower elevations.

Driving down into Crescent City was kind of like a deliverance, though. The sun was shining a little bit and the ocean was so beautiful. I checked out the town a little bit and saw lots of expensive RV parks near the water. I decided to go north to the Lucky 7 Casino where they offered free RV parking. No hook-ups, but it was warmer here, so I knew I could handle it. I had some difficult moments getting my lights working--I still don't understand which switches do what--but eventually got that sorted out by trial and error. I also bought batteries for my Coleman lantern so I'll still have light even if I get totally confused with the house lights again.

To get free parking, I had to be a customer of the casino, so I played bingo at the Lucky 7 last night. I had no luck at all, but I met some very nice local folks. I told the cashier that I was fairly inexperienced at these complicated casino bingo games, and would she please seat me near some players who would help me out. So I played alongside Buster, a very nice and somewhat quirky guy who lines his part of the table with his lucky trolls before he plays.

I'm not sure I'll be able to keep up this bingo habit. So far I have not won a cent at the casinos. I haven't lost much, either, because I never risk much. But I do get tempted by oddball things, such as a slot machine I saw the other night that was called "Dolphin Treasure." My mind immediately went to, "Well, I have a Dolphin, and I bet I'd win on that one!" Yeah, right.

This morning, I headed south on Highway 101 and found out that I had not managed to escape the snow, after all! But again, it wasn't as bad as some driving situations I've been through in the past. Right now, I'm in Oreck, about midway between Crescent City and Eureka, at the really pleasant Palm Motel and Cafe, where the 80+ year old proprietor, Martha Peals, still makes homemade pies every day. Jerry, a friendly guy who lived in Eugene for many years, handles the front of the cafe and invited me to use the wifi here. I stopped in for breakfast, but I'm definitely taking a piece of Martha's pie with me for later in the day!

The post office is right across the highway, so I'm going to get some stuff mailed out while I'm here. I've sold four scarves on eBay so far during my travels, which is really good considering I haven't worked very hard on my eBay business for the past few weeks while getting ready to leave. I'll get them mailed out as quickly from the road as I would have had I remained in Eugene.

My next task while I'm online is to see if there's an affordable place with hookups where I could stay tonight. After several cold nights, I'd like a warm one, preferably with wifi so I can get that next batch of scarves listed on eBay. I have a couple of campground memberships, so I should be able to find something.

Sonja seems to be adjusting. She still doesn't enjoy traveling, but she's beginning to understand that this is her lot in life for the time being.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

My First 36 Hours As a Full-Time RVer

The Guppy at Pacific Yurts in Cottage Grove, OR

My cat Sonja and I slept in my 1982 Toyota Dolphin for the first time the night before last. We were parked on the street in front of my neighbor Chris' house in Eugene. I couldn't get the pilot light started on the propane heater, but I have a down comforter and I was warm enough. I did get the stove to work, and using that took the chill off the air a little, too.

Yesterday morning, I went back into the house I'd been renting to clean the fridge and bathroom, and had a farewell breakfast with Chris at the Monroe Cafe, and then we were off! Kitty in the cabover, me in the driver's seat.

First stop was my friend Jean's house to return some tapes and leave my mom's costume jewelry with her. (Jean knows jewelry! She's going to remake some of it into brooches for my sister and me, and she says some of it might be salable, too.)

Then we headed down the highway, looking for adventure, and got it, in spades. The next stop was the very first rest stop that we came to on I-5. By that time, a few things had shifted and flown around in the back of the Guppy, so I stopped to survey the situation. No major damage, but Sonja must have been surprised and upset when I started driving, because she had peed the bed. Fortunately, only the top layer, a duvet cover protecting my down comforter, got wet, so I stripped it.

Then Sonja managed to escape the RV--my worst nightmare! My very first rest stop and the cat is gone! However, the rest stop had lots of big trucks and was very scary, so Sonja stayed under my rig and I was able to grab her. She spent the next hour or so caged in her stroller. Later I let her out and she rode in the cabover again.

As I was leaving Eugene, the wind picked up a lot. I felt unsafe on I-5 and used the less busy and less exposed-to-the-wind Highway 99 whenever I could. That's how I happened across Pacific Yurts just south of Cottage Grove, which is a lovely place to stop if you ever happen to be in the neighborhood. They've got several demo yurts set up in a beautiful park-like setting with picnic tables. I wandered through the gorgeous yurts and found myself coveting them, since life in the motorhome was already a little complicated.

The next stop was actually a series of stops at the thrift stores that dot Highway 99 throughout Roseburg, Oregon. I found several scarves and nice pieces of vintage yardage and had coffee at The Daily Grind.

Then we headed to 7 Feathers Casino in Canyonville, where I had reservations at the RV park. It's a lovely place! Right on a creek, which the Tribe has made viable for salmon again. All brand-new facilities, including an indoor pool, hot tub, and gym, and of course the casino with lots of food and entertainment choices. I took myself out for a terrific Valentines Day date--buffet and bingo!

Last night, I posted on FaceBook how completely satisfied I was. Then I went to bed, where I quickly discovered that the top layer of bedding was wet again. Of course, I suspected Sonja first, but the liquid was odorless. I felt the Indian bedspread I had hanging above me like a kid's fort, and it was wet, too. There was a leak associated somehow with the vent that's over the bed. But it was the middle of the night and I didn't feel like investigating it, so I moved my bedding to the spare bed and tarped off my mattress so it wouldn't get wet.

Sleeping on my extra bed is not pleasant. (Any of you who were thinking of coming to visit me along my travels, please take note!) It's basically a small bench with some foam cushions on top. Fine for a nap if you drift off while reading, but not really a place to get a lot of shut-eye, except maybe if you're small and flexible, neither of which describes me. But I did manage to get some sleep, and then woke up to a light dusting of snow on the ground this morning.

Today I looked at weather reports online and talked to some of my neighbors in the RV park, and I decided to alter my itinerary. I had planned to head straight down I-5 towards Sacramento and do a little camping in the Sierra Nevada foothills before heading to the Coast. But there may be a lot more snow in the Siskiyous and up in the Sierra Nevadas, and I'm not on this trip to spend time in the GD snow. So I'm going to take Highway 199 from Grants Pass, Oregon, to Crescent City, California. It will be wet and cold on the northern California coast, but at least it shouldn't be snowy. Highway 199 might be somewhat treacherous (part of it is hairpin turns), so I am staying at least one extra night here at 7 Feathers while I size up the weather situation.

So today I have figured out the cabover leak and done laundry. The leak appeared to come from a screw hole that was missing a screw. I didn't have a screw of the right size, nor was I sure that just replacing it would solve the problem, so I duct-taped the heck out of it. And, just to be certain, I also covered the entire vent with plastic (I'm an artist, so I travel with drop cloths). Have tie-dye duct tape, will travel!

I still cannot get my heater to work and will have this checked out somewhere along the way. Other than that, things are going okay again now. I'm going to use this unexpected down time to get some scarves listed on eBay. The laundry room is warm and has lots of light and an ironing board and a table where I can take photos. I'm also going to take full advantage of the swimming pool and so on. Heck, maybe I'll decide to stay another night! By the time I got my AAA and Players Club discounts, it's pretty inexpensive to stay here. I have reservations for a State Beach in Santa Cruz on the 21st, so there's no hurry.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Closer to Leaving

Nearly all packed and ready to go

My 21 loyal blog readers are probably thinking, "Yeah, right, she keeps saying she's going to leave, but she is still in Eugene." I hardly believe myself anymore! But this long process of refurbishing a 28-year-old motorhome appears finally to be coming to an end. The new springs are installed. My rig now sits up about 4 inches higher on the right and about 2.5 inches higher on the left. It should handle better, too.

Now there are still a couple of issues. One, I found out that getting a propane tank that sits on its side in a special compartment of the moho is a special order--not like the $40 propane tanks you can get for your barbecue. So it's $175. But, hey, after all I've spent so far, as I told Gordy the mechanic, "What is another $175 between friends?" So, with that decision made, it's not really an issue anymore.

Second, they cannot seem to get both the headlights and the turn signals to work at the same time. So when I am driving at night, I'll have to use hand signals--which, of course, no one will be able to see in the dark, anyway. During the day, I will need to drive without using my headlights. So it's just a matter of making some adjustments. I don't plan to do much night driving, anyway. I'm 55 years old, and I've begun to notice that my eyesight isn't what it used to be at night, so I've already cut back a lot on driving after dark.

Gordy says the problem is that, with a motorhome, especially one like mine that has been upgraded by a former owner who was an electrician, there are just lots and lots of wires. Gordy could follow each one from beginning to end and figure out where the problem is, but it could take several hours of labor. So I will live with this problem for a while. Perhaps when I'm in Minnesota this summer, I can get my smart nephew Bill who is studying electrical engineering to take an afternoon to ferret out this problem. I think his labor rates are probably better than Gordy's and I'm sure he could always use some money.

So, let's see, it's Tuesday afternoon, I'm at Allan Brother's Beanery in Eugene using the Internet, and I could possibly be on the road by this weekend, if all goes well between now and then. At the latest, I will be out of here on my drop-dead departure date of Monday, February 14th. So I'm knocking out the tasks on my to-do list. At this point, most of the items on the list have to do with leaving the house squeaky-clean when I turn the keys back over to the landlord so I get my entire deposit back.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

A Spring Is Sprung...

I remember an old song/poem from my childhood...

Spring has sprung
The grass is riz
I wonder where
The flowers is?

While it is lovely and springlike in Eugene, Oregon, that isn't the kind of spring I'm dealing with so much right now. My mechanic, Gordy, did a tune-up and fixed the throttle problem yesterday. I'd asked him to look The Guppy over and let me know if he thought any repairs were indicated. He told me there's a suspension problem--a spring is flattened out on one side--and he recommended replacing both rear axle springs with heavier duty springs. He said this will help on making safe turns. So I said, okay, go ahead and replace them.

Now I'm probably going to get The Guppy back from Gordy no sooner than Wednesday, and it still has to go back to Eric the woodworker for a few final details. So, I will make it out of town by my February 14th drop-dead date, but it will be a tighter squeeze than I'd hoped. My hope had been to get The Guppy out on a test camping trip before I actually hit the road. But, oh, is what happens when you have other plans. Wow, I'm full of quotes today!

Back to, yes, it is a lovely, warm, almost-like-spring day here today, and I decided that since my exodus from Eugene is delayed slightly again, I would get out and play today. I have three big boxes of stuff in the back of my car that need to be donated at a thrift store...but who says it has to be a thrift store in Eugene? So I took the beautiful back roads...Fox Hollow and the Lorane Highway...and ended up in Cottage Grove, where I'm enjoying coffee, an almond croissant, and free Internet at the Fleur De Lis Patisserie & Cafe (

Some of my readers know that I have become a regular at Sweet Life Patisserie ( in my neighborhood in Eugene. Ever since I decided several months ago to become a full-time RVer, I've wondered about whether I should have some purpose in my travels. You know, some people write a book about their adventures, or make some sort of appearances along the way. I think perhaps my purpose could be the pursuit of the perfect almond croissant. Based on my experience here today in Cottage Grove, it seems like a good idea to stop at every place I see along my travels that calls itself a patisserie.

I'd like to take a photograph of today's croissant, but I already ate it. It was probably the most moist almond croissant I've ever had, with more of the yummy almond paste in it than most bakers use. It was also really flat--so flat that I did not recognize it as a croissant and thought it was some type of danish. So I'd say that today, taste and moistness made up for the weird presentation.

The Sweet Life almond croissant, by contrast, has a high, light, flaky pastry and less of the gooey filling. I think the perfect almond croissant probably falls somewhere between the flat-but-flavorful Fleur De Lis offering and the more sophisticated but less tasty Sweet Life pastry. I'd give them each a 4 on a scale of 1 to 5.

I thought of another possible purpose I could fulfill while on the road. In going through my possessions and getting rid of 90% of them, I ran across a nice little silver band that was my wedding ring from my first marriage. I've been wearing it on my pinky since I found it, and I'm thinking of wearing it until I find something to trade it for. Perhaps I can be like the guy who "traded up" from a paperclip all the way to owning a house. Not that I want a house, but I'd jump at the chance to own a late-model RoadTrek!

Well, I guess that all remains to be the meantime, I'm going to go find the local thrift shop and donate my stuff and head back to Eugene.