MoHo upgrade and Saving the blog

Home in Rocky Point, Oregon.  Clear and sunny and 37 Degrees F

New Dinette_054 It is a bit amazing to me that after almost six years traveling in the MoHo, we would finally realize that the beautiful leather sofabed was just not to our liking.  When we first bought the rig, it looked oh so luxurious.  We learned how to make down the comfy queen size bed on the first day, and never have used it in the entire six years we have traveled in the rig. 

The sofa was pretty comfortable, or so it seemed, but with use we discovered that the pedestal table was a pain to set up every time we opened the slide, and that our little wooden tables, nice as they are, were susceptible to doggy coffee spills, and didn’t work all that well for computing.  We also discovered that the seat was much too wide for either of us on the ends, and the only really comfortable place to sit was in the middle…for one. 

Looks comfy, but a bit awkward for two to eat, play cards, have company, and the view is the wrong direction Three people lining up on a sofa doesn’t make for good conversation, either, so we would bring in the folding chairs for company.  It all worked just fine until we saw more and more rigs with those big curved dinettes, including Mo’s brother’s Winnebago, and we finally decided to bite the bullet and try to get one.  Calling around, we first discovered that our slide was just two inches too narrow for the standard curved booth, and we also worried about the desire to maybe make out a bed for one reason or another.  The $5,000 price tag helped to nix the idea as well.

Mo started cruising the internet, and found a really nice little FlexSteel dinette booth, with sides that made into a single bed if needed.  A call to Countryside Interiors in Junction City confirmed the unit would fit, and they would install it.  There were some measurements taken, the valance covers were too long, but that was an easy fix according to Steve, the owner of Countryside.  After seven weeks, our unit arrived and we headed over the mountain to spend the night in Eugene before the big installation day.

yes, there was cat hair behind the sofa With a four hour installation time estimated, I have to say they did a great job in just under five hours.  Josh was incredibly professional, doing good solid clean work, and paid attention to all the little details that would make the unit perfect.  Countryside Interiors was a great place to have the work done, and we appreciated the good service.

I do have to include a bit of a rub, however.  When we ordered the dinette, we were told they would sell our sofa on consignment so we could recoup some of the expense of the new one.  Our sofa was in excellent condition, and the bed as I said, had never been used.  But when the whole job was said and done, and I requested information on the consignment, we were told the sofa was no good, that they couldn’t sell it, that it was basically worthless, and she asked me kindly, “Would you like a donation slip for Habitat for Humanity?”

Josh Fishy, fishy, fishy!!  Their used furniture room was full of units not as nice as ours, and while we were waiting for the installation to be completed, a dealer came in to look at their used inventory.  I did ask if I could trade in the sofa on one of their nice Euro Chairs (a recliner on my wish list) and she said again, “No, we don’t do trades”.  I did plan to buy that chair from them eventually, but the more I think about it, I do think they have enough of our money.  The price was reasonable but definitely a high price for a piece of furniture, but maybe their profit margin for something like FlexSteel isn’t very good and they need to make more money selling the used pieces.  Either way, I will not go back to buy my recliner from them. 

As long as you know about the consignment part, it is a great place to have work done.  They were on time, professional, and very careful and thorough.  Don’t hesitate to use them for upgrades, just don’t expect any trade in for your current stuff, unless it has never been used at all.  That was her excuse, at least.  We had sat on the sofa and there was a rub (not scratch, just a dirt spot) on the arm next to the slide wall.  Enough of that.

New Dinette_058The dinette is absolutely perfect for us.  We were able to use our existing table, although it is about 2 inches more narrow than I would like, but the wood is so nice we hated to give it up.  The best part is that the chairs are incredibly comfortable, and wide enough for four people to sit for a meal, and with the wall end arms, perfect for lounging for joint television viewing.  Even more perfect, when we are sitting at the table, we now have a view directly outside, rather than staring at the kitchen wall in front of us from the sofa.  I can type on the computer and we can play dominos again and play a hand of cards without craning our necks sideways and trying to keep our hands hidden.  The bed flips out with just a touch and is also really comfortable.  There are even two nice drawers in the base of the seats.  Somehow, it seems that we have much more room inside the rig, even when the slide is closed.  (Notice that all these photos of the new dinette are with the closed slide)

On to the next subject: Saving the Blog. 

dinner for four at the cottage in the MoHo I do reasonably regular backups of the blog, so that if something happened to the google/blogger servers, I would have a hard copy of the code that I could then use to import into another platform if is wanted.  The photos are also linked, even though blog photos are actually stored on the google server as well.  Hopefully Google won’t die.  But things change, life changes.  Sometimes technology changes.  At the moment I am trying to convert VHS video to DVD and then trying to figure out how to edit the footage.  (Still no progress on that one, but I am working on it)

New Dinette_050Who is to say that sometime in the future there would be another tech change that would make our blogs completely obsolete? Or inaccessible?  We all work so hard on them, and for me it is my journal, the record of my life that is becoming more and more important as the memory card of my brain fills up and overloads.  Voila!  Blog2Print.  Others have talked about doing this, and it has been on the list for a bit of time now, but I couldn’t decide exactly how to go about it.  Of course it isn’t cheap, so I originally thought that maybe I would just do a book on the Alaska Trip, or the Covered Bridges of Oregon, but then I would miss all the rest.

New Dinette_053  Instead, I decided to do a year at a time, starting with the most recent completed year, 2012.  The book arrived yesterday, and I have to say that I really love it.  I chose to let Blog2print arrange photos at the medium size rather than trying to keep everything exactly as I had it on the blog.  After browsing the entire 277 pages of text and photos, I am completely happy with the book.  My middle daughter, Deanna, is the one who kept saying, “Mom, you need to get all this in a book”!”  OK, Deanna, the book is done! My next book will be 2013 when it is completed, and then I’ll have to save up to do a year at a time back to the beginning.  Sure is a lot easier to read than my own handwritten journals. 

One last note here.  My new friend John Parsons asked me to put a FaceBook post that I wrote awhile back on the blog.  He said he wanted to be able to find it again, and that is really hard to do with FaceBook!  Everything there just rolls by so quickly, and I can NEVER find old stuff in there.  So, John, here you go.


Me - i rode that bike everywhere I remember chocolate colored water thick with sticks and rocks hurtling down the wash behind our house during the monsoon floods.      Leaping with a thrill from huge boulder to huge boulder they used as fill to try to stem the flow, which for me was a magic wilderness of danger and roaring water.      I remember the soft bellies of horny toads when you caught them, the sharp prick of stickers in your feet from goatheads…who ever wore shoes?          the smell of dust when the first drops of rain hit after all those dry months.      How incredibly green the San Gabriel Mountains looked in April with the tall candles of yucca backlit against a setting sun. The muted happy sound of kids voices on the playground as I lay on my back watching sky so blue it looked very nearly black.      The milky way and pungent pines of Mt. Baldy on a summer night of camping.      I remember the sweet sad feeling of yearning when the winds blew and the smog vanished leaving behind air that was so sharp and clear that you could actually see the sparkles floating around it in…dreaming of a magic place to live where the air was like that all the time. climbing to the top of the hill in Sierra Madre Canyon, among the prickly pear and agave and morning glory and old live oaks to the digger pine that was high enough to let me see Catalina.      I remember how golden a warm apricot tastes when picked from your hiding place in the tree, and how bitter a surprise an unripe olive can be. …Childhood in LA in the 50’s…. …..Warm as an apricot and bitter as an uncured olive.


September 4 If a Tree Falls In the Woods…

Delta Campground on the Mackenzie River Overcast and 58 degrees F

Mackenzie Pass (5)Mackenzie Pass (4)and if no one is there, does it make a sound?  According to our camp host at Delta Campground, it not only makes a sound but it shakes the ground like a large earthquake.  Lucky for us, this happened in site 28, and we are camped in site 21.  Of course, lucky for us as well, it happened last May, although even more lucky for the campers in site 27 when this giant ancient cedar went down.

I guess that is one of the wonders of an old growth forest, technically more the 200 years old, but this one has trees up to 1000 years old tucked away.  It is amazing to see what an old growth Douglas-fir forest actually looks like, since almost all of our forests in the west have been cut or burned over in the last couple of hundred years. 

So, how did we end up on the Mackenzie River on the west side of the Cascades when our travels were taking us east to the John Day country?  Two words:  Junction City.  Fellow RV’rs who come west are probably familiar with this RV sale and repair location in Oregon.  For us, Guaranty RV in Junction City is where Mo found the first baby MoHo back in 2005.  A sweet little used 2001 21 foot Dynamax Starflyte, the baby MoHo served us well, and hooked us on the Dynamax brand.great old bridge across Delta Creek

We have had our “new” MoHo for nearly six years now, and she has served us exceptionally well.  However, there are just a couple of little things that after six years we have decided to change.  For one, the mattress was one of those cheap things with old springs that would sag to the plywood foundation with a little weight.  We added a memory foam topper, but it still sagged and was the source of many a 2am Advil run for me.

Delta Campground space 21

New mattress on the agenda!  I had researched online a bit, and came up with a specially made mattress for about 800 bucks, including shipping.  Seemed a bit spendy, but cost was irrelevant when it came to my back.

Delta Creek

Second thing that we finally decided to change was our lovely leather FlexSteel sofa that makes out into a queen sized air bed.  Beautiful sofa.  We never once made out the bed.  When we first got the MoHo it looked so nice and classy.  And it is comfortable enough, but really just for one person who wants to stretch out and watch tv.  The seat is curved in a way that makes the middle the only easy place to sit, and of course when company comes we bring in the folding chairs.  Our driving and passenger seat don’t swivel.Day 3 John Day_005DSC_0005

We have some nice little folding tables that we bring out for meals, but the configuration isn’t really optimum.  Solution?  Let’s get one of those big u-shaped dinette units that we see in some of the newer rigs!  So again, a little research led me to Countryside RV Interiors in Junction City.  They didn’t have those big FlexSteel units, but would gladly build us a very nice U shaped dinette for about 5,000.  Yeah, that is dollars!

Day 3 John Day_009DSC_0009Hmmm, maybe not.  We looked around a bit more, and Mo found this great looking dinette from Flexsteel that still makes down into a bed in case we might need one for whatever reason.  The leather matches our existing driving and passenger seats, and there are drawers for a bit of storage as well.  We took the MoHo over to Junction City for consultation, measurements, and we ordered the nifty FlexSteel unit, scheduled to arrive in October sometime.  Just a little over half what the custom made unit would have cost us.

Steve and Terri at Countryside Interiors are great, they have a good inventory, and can order anything and install it for you.  They pointed us to American Mattress in Eugene to find a mattress.  They actually make mattresses there, and have an entire showroom for testing.  The salesman tried to point me to different kinds of foam, but I know they will break down and I wanted a real coil mattress.  Finally I found a firm one and knew that it what I needed, no sagging coils, no bending on the sides, but cushy enough on the top for old bones.  That’s it, I said. the sword ferns are hugw

Ok then, give us a couple of weeks and we can cut it down to fit.  Our mattress is one of those 3/4 full things that has an angle cut off on the end.  Perfect for the tight space, but a bit weird to replace. Long story short, that is why we traveled to John Day via Eugene and Junction City.  I now have a new mattress and it feels great!!!  Finally. And the cost was just over $400, less than half the price of the mattress replacement I found online.  Good job American Mattress!

following the trail guideOf course, if we were going to be in Eugene, we would have to get back over the Cascades to go east.  I thought we had traveled up the Mackenzie Highway in the past, so planned that route and found the Delta Campground on the internet at the Willamette National Forest website.  It looked like it would be a good stop and it was.

We landed at 3:30 in the afternoon, under cloudy skies.  There wasn’t one single camper in the entire campground of 37 sites and the camp host was nowhere to be found.  We wandered through trying to decide, you know how it is with too many choices.  Site 21 appeared, with a nice big tree between us and the road, a pull through site, and closer to the picnic table than most.  We just pulled in and didn’t bother looking at the rest.  Turned out great, because it was one of the best sites.650 year old Douglas-firs throughout the grove

After settling in, we walked back two sites to the head of the short interpretive trail through the forest.  With three wooden bridges crossing Delta Creek, and a meandering path among the old giants, it was a beautiful, gentle walk.  I don’t think I have ever seen Douglas-firs this huge and the one old hemlock that was 1,000 years old is definitely the biggest I have ever seen.  These trees aren’t as big around as some of the redwoods, but they are more than 200 feet tall.  Just amazing. This collage is four photos of the same tree, bottom to the top

Day 1 Home to the MacKenzie River

A tree that doesn’t look quite as impressive, but just as old are the western yews, source of the cancer drug Taxol, and almost completely endangered by the illegal harvesting of their bark.  People would strip the bark all the way around, killing the trees, instead of taking only small amounts and saving the tree.  These trees only grow in old growth forests, and thankfully a synthetic has been developed so the remaining trees are safe.  At least as long as the old growth is safe.campsite 21 in Delta Campground

We heated up navy bean soup from home and had a nice campfire before settling into the dark forest for the evening.  The camp host showed up as we were sitting by the fire to regale us with stories of the campground, the area, and the big tree that fell in space 28 last spring.  He was a nice guy, very talkative, and never said a word about Abby being off leash while we sat around the fire. 

Yay, a better swimming hole for AbbyWe ended the outdoor part of the evening with a nice swim for Abby just down a short walk from our picnic table.  The night was absolutely silent and completely dark except for a few winking stars that showed up sometime during the night as the clouds lifted.tree hugger

Day 1 July 6 Crossing Oregon

Alaska Day 1 and Day 2No matter what the destination, you have to cross familiar territory in the beginning.  It was that way for us this morning as we completed the final check of all the lists, hooked up the Tracker, and drove down Easy Street toward Alaska.  The morning was incredibly brilliant, clear blue skies reflected on the still surface of the wildlife refuge bordering Rocky Point Road. The temperature read a balmy 62*, the warmest morning yet since some time last year.

Making notes, writing down the mileage, plugging in the details to my favorite little iPhone app that we use to keep track of our trip expenses, I barely had time to get settled before the freezer door flew open food started sliding out onto the floor.  UhOh.  Our clip on the freezer latch broke off some time last year, but the suction usually keeps it tightly closed. With the cost of food in Alaska, I had that baby crammed full, too full.  After some rearranging the latch held tight again.  Guess we will have to replace that one.  A couple of years ago we had to replace the one on the refrigerator door as well.  Cheap little plastic thingys, that sure don’t seem to hold up well considering the cost and quality of the big Dometic fridge.

Oregon day 1

We stopped as usual at one of our favorite little diners for the traditional departure breakfast at the Diamond Lake junction.  I have written about this one before, the huge Bigfoot breakfast that we share, and then have enough leftovers to share again.  The road was easy, the pavement smooth, the route so familiar, but I enjoyed every minute of the driving time.  Mo, on the other hand, wasn’t sure that she liked being the passenger with Jeremy thinking that he needed to get on her lap, claws and all, and she was wearing shorts.  Silly driving things that make the trip fun and familiar.  We are used to our routines, as are our animals.  I guess that is why we love to travel so much.  We travel well together, and enjoy the changing pace and getting outside the lovely simple box of our everyday life.

Oregon day 1-1Once beyond Madras, the high plateau of central Oregon becomes dry and barren.  This is the southern edge of the Columbia Basalt Plateau, and the soils are thin, some as little as 4 inches over the hard rock, and the precipitation is low.  I don’t know why, but this part of Oregon seems more desolate and barren to me than even the dry deserts of Arizona, or the open sage land of eastern Oregon. 

Oregon day 1-9In the midst of this barren landscape is the small pioneer town of Shaniko.  We decided with the temperatures climbing into the 90’s, it might be time for a Shaniko ice cream cone.  Mo waited in the cool rig while I walked around the tiny town taking some photos before I bought of couple of chocolate cones from some very sweet ladies in the well known tourist stop. Perfect lunch.

It wasn’t long before we dropped down the long canyon to Biggs and the Columbia River.  The thermometer read 101 when we hit I-84. Another glitch: what in the heck was that awful smell??  With the heat, it seemed to get worse and worse, and we couldn’t identify it.  I panicked thinking that maybe the new batteries were heating up, but Mo was pretty sure we had something dead in the guts of the rig somewhere and the heat was making it worse.  Ah yes, rigs and mice.  That seems to be a fairly common topic among RV’rs.  Opening the Fantastic fan and putting it on high seemed to help a bit, and while the smell still isn’t gone, it seems to be getting better.  Yeah, that mouse will eventually dry out completely.  Ugh.  The mouse traps are still set and nothing is in them. 

Oregon day 1-21The temperatures were way too high to think about boondocking as planned, we definitely needed the air conditioner.  Instead we traveled east toward LePage Park, the COE campground where we often overnight on our way through this area.  Without reservations we still got a great spot with a view of the John Day River for only ten bucks with our Golden Age Pass, including electric and water.  Perfect and it was only 4:30 or so.

Within ten minutes we were settled in and Abby was in the water for a swim.  We decided there was plenty of time for an evening kayak and within a few more minutes we were at the launch site with the kayaks in the water.  The winds were up a bit, but we decided that with the winds going upstream we could manage the current coming down.  The mighty Columbia River was under the interstate bridge to our left and the John Day River to our right.  We paddled upriver with the wind for a time until the waves and wind got too big to manage before we turned around and with the wind and the current, we had some nice quiet time in the doldrums, not moving at all while we relaxed on the river.

Oregon day 1-31Suddenly we saw a fire flare up on the opposite bank, and I pulled the phone out of the dry bag to call 911.  Cell reception on the river was great, and 911 answered immediately.  They were unconcerned, saying that the fire had been burning for a couple of days and they were letting it go.  OK.  Fire in the west, on the grasslands along the river is probably a good thing, a natural cleansing of the land.  Camped safely on the other side of the river with winds blowing away from us, no one seemed to troubled.

Oregon day 1-37We paddled back downriver toward the bridges and went far enough to technically say that we paddled in the Columbia before we headed back inland.  The Columbia is a big, strong, powerful river, and neither one of us wanted to tackle it on a hot afternoon with the famous high winds blowing hard. 

Back in camp we got out the new Weber Q100, to try it out with a couple of pork chops and a beer.  By the time we settled in to sleep, the evening breezes were strong and cool enough to make sleeping just right. 

The end of the beginning, our first day out.  Perfect.Oregon day 1-45

A link to the rest of the photos at Picasa is here.

Tomorrow: A short drive to Toppenish

A gorgeous day on I-5 (and a few minor glitches)

Lodi to Bakersfield (3) Gotta thank everyone for all the encouragement yesterday, both on Facebook and as comments on my blog post about the break-in.  I was even surprised at how comforting it felt to have people noticing and sending along good thoughts.  A couple of folks mentioned our good attitude toward it all, but again, as we looked around last night at how unscathed we were, it was impossible to not have a pretty good attitude.

This morning, even though there were huge clouds all around the San Joaquin Valley, we saw promises of brilliant sunlight peeking through.  Although we didn’t get up till 6:30 or so, I had been lying awake since four, watching the perigee full moon through the sky visible below the back bedroom shade.  All sorts of scenarios went through my mind, still trying to figure out just how they managed to do some of the weird things they did.  So yeah, that good attitude held up fine with the lights on, but in the dark of night, not so much.

Lodi to Bakersfield (8) We got up, neither one of us much in the mood for breakfast, and checked out the weather on the internet.  Didn’t look real good for us no matter which route we follow, so we just decided that driving down the open country of I-5 on the west side of the valley was more agreeable than bumping along on my least favorite road, Highway 99, even though 99 would have been a shorter route.  Our latest plan was to amble toward Bakersfield and then check again about the passes, and probably camp somewhere this side of Castaic and the Flying J on the interstate. 

Of course, with so many little things missing, we also decided that a shopping trip to Camping World, south of Bakersfield on 99 was a good plan, and we still hadn’t completely let go of our wish to travel via 58 to Tehachapi and our friends.  Speaking of friends, Loree is at this very moment sitting in Tehachapi, and her photos of the snow there looked a bit daunting.  Either way, a night of boondocking was on the agenda.

Lodi to Bakersfield (10) The drive south on I-5 was actually breathtaking.  With all the storms, there isn’t a bit of smog or pollution in the air, and the wild cloudy skies with brilliant sun breaks only intensified the spring green of the annual grass rangeland of the western perimeter of the Great Valley. I said to Mo, “I have to get some real photos, not windshield shots, this is just too gorgeous>.”  She replied, “Well, I can’t pull over here in the middle of nowhere, but I’ll keep watching.”  In less than 2 miles, we saw a sign indicating a “vista point”.  Perfect!  The exit wound up a high hill right next to the interstate with an amazing 360 degree view of the entire valley north, east, and south, and the coast range rising to the west.  In addition, we found ourselves looking down on the California Aqueduct just below us.

Lodi to Bakersfield (11) A true engineering marvel, whether you love it or hate it, and stretched out to the horizon parallel to Interstate 5, it was all that made California what it is, especially Southern California.  With my 3G connection and 5 bars on the I-phone, I managed to learn more about the aqueduct that I even knew growing up in California when it was being built.  In a nutshell, the magnificent snow melt of the Sierras flows down the Feather River to Oroville Dam, west to the Delta of San Francisco Bay, then south through a mind-boggling array of pipes, tunnels, pumps, over mountains, through mountains and ending up supplying the outrageous water needs of the bread basket of the world in the San Joaquin Valley and the entire metropolitan area of Los Angeles.  I even read that the water Rick and so many others are drinking while supping at Palm Springs restaurants comes from the gorgeous Feather River high in the Sierras. 

Lodi to Bakersfield (20)  Once again on the road, the pavement was smooth enough for me to knit, and the storms coming and going made for great entertainment.  A bit after noon, we thought lunch might be nice and stopped at a quiet rest area with thoughts of starting up the generator and cooking some grilled cheese sandwiches.  Mo said, “Probably would be a good idea to start up the generator anyway, since it’s been sitting awhile”.  UhOh.  Good thing we did.  She started easily and then ground right down to a stop and wouldn’t start again.  Mo checked under the rig for any sign of what might be the problem, but no luck.  She did say that the intruders were messing around in the generator bay, and who knows what they actually did.  The sound felt like it wasn’t getting gas.  Maybe something is cut or gone, but either way it wasn’t something she could figure out so we called Camping World.  Wouldn’t you know, they are booked up until Friday!  We don’t have our battery charge indicator, and certainly aren’t comfortable boondocking without the generator, so Camping World gave us the number of Pacific Power in Bakersfield, and thank goodness they said to come on in.

Lodi to Bakersfield (24) It was another hour and a half in to the shop, and lo and behold, it was a shop dedicated specifically to generators, with Onan on the window signs.  We pulled around to the back bay as directed by a crusty old guy who wasn’t the least bit talkative.  He pulled off the cover to the generator, harumphed a bit about how Dynamax didn’t make it easy to work on, and made some mumblings about us having it in storage too long and the carburetor was probably just glazed up.

Lodi to Bakersfield (27) Mo told him about our vandals, and he crawled under to find the fuel line to the generator was cut.  Seems as though the robbers couldn’t manage to siphon the gas directly from the gas tank, so evidently thought they could get it out of the generator gas line.  Must not have worked, but they weren’t completely awful people because they actually plugged up the cut hose with a piece of pipe so all the gas wouldn’t run out on the floor and cause an explosion.   Our fixer man re-connected the hose, pushed the starter, and the generator roared to life.  Perfect.  Only after all this, did the guy actually start to talk a little bit and laughed with us about the good outcome.   I told him I was part of the RV blogging world and would put in a good word for Pacific Power  on Buck Owens Boulevard in Bakersfield.  Great service where we least expected it.

Lodi to Bakersfield (30) Back on Highway 99, we traveled just a few miles south to camping world to check out some goodies, and found another voltage meter to replace the one that was stolen.  By this time is was after 4pm and we were definitely ready to settle in for the evening.  Looking at the snow ringing the entire valley, we finally decided that we would take our chances traveling 58 directly east to the desert tomorrow morning.  A quick search on Streets and Trips yielded an RV park not too far out of town along our route and within an hour we were parked and settled in, just in time for the huge thunderstorm to hit. 

Lodi to Bakersfield (31) You wonder why I am so amazed at our good luck?  I have had other times in my life where something that looks like a streak of really bad luck is combined with amazing good luck that gets me through it all by the skin of my teeth.  This has been one of those streaks for sure, a time when I know someone is watching over me.  As we left Pacific Power this afternoon, Mo turned to me and said, “How likely would it be for us to just randomly decide to use the generator in the middle of the afternoon?”  How likely that we would be within a few miles of an Onan specialist.  How likely that the vandals didn’t let all the gas drain out after cutting the fuel line, and how likely that the whole thing didn’t just blow up completely.  How likely that we would decide to travel highway 58 and then hear that there were heavy snows and landslides on I-5 and it was closed down anyway!

Yup, so far, this has been one heck of a lucky trip.