Monday, March 31, 2008

The First days

Thursday, March 27, 10:00 AM We left our driveway at exactly 10:00 AM and proceeded to the stoplight at Highway 41 and Seltice. Linda looked at me and said, “We don’t have the big map set!” I was sure we had them but instead of getting on the freeway we drove to the Sonic and I checked behind the back seat of the truck. They were there, and we once again started our adventure.

Our first stop was Missoula, Montana, where we topped off with diesel. The average price of diesel for the trip was $3.99 per gallon and we felt that stopping and filling at a half tank would give me a chance to move about and we wouldn’t faint at the coast of a full tank. I wonder how many station attendants have to rush out and revive people who allow their tank to go below half and fill up only to see the price gage go over the $100 mark and causing them to faint.

On the drive down we had snow prior to Missoula, wind after that and raging wind around Butte. The camper and truck handled well, but there was quite a bit of wind sway caused by the different hurricane force winds we hit. About the only stop we made that was longer then the time it took to top the tank, was in Dillon, Montana where we went to the Patagonia Outlet Store. We got there at about 5:40 PM and they closed at 6:00 PM, but that gave us enough time to explore. Linda bought a shirt for $3.00 and that was the extent of our purchases. It would be a great place to buy a coat, but we are coat rich at this point in time. It was a good break and we hit the road refreshed.

Driving through Ogden, UT we hit road construction and it continued off an on through Salt Lake. We ended our day at the Cabella’s in Lehi, our rig was one of four travelers using their RV lot. We slept till about 5:30 AM and hit the road. We looped down through Brice Canyon National Park and entered Escalante from the south. This was a little different route from our previous year, yes; we missed our turn and ended up discovering our mistake at Beaver, UT. It wasn’t a big mistake, probably only set us back 45 minutes. The views were wonderful and we got to experience an area we had never driven through, things always work out.

We stopped at the Grand Staircase-escalante National Monument Visitors Center in Escalante. Linda talked to the lady at the desk and got us registered to camp at the unimproved camp area on the Hole In The Rock road. We used the restrooms and were on our way. Within about fifteen minutes wee had checked out the camp area and I decided that I didn’t want to stay there. It wasn’t bad, I had a vision of some thing else, and cows were not in that vision.

At my insistence we ignored the recommendation of the visitor center lady and drove out the Hole In The Rock road heading for Harris Wash, about 16 mile out. Six miles later I ate my words and we disconnected the Jeep, turned around and headed out. The road was rough, not real bad, but just enough that I didn’t want to shake up the new camper. Linda drove the Jeep ahead and I followed. We used the radios to keep in contact. She got on the highway and drove to Calf Creek campground and found a very nice spot. I followed and when we got in radio range she let me know where she was and I slowly arrived. It was a nice spot!

We set up camp and claimed this as our spot for the week. We made that decision based upon the fact that we had already explored North out the Burr Trail road, so Deer Creek campground was a choice but not the best one. Our goal is to explore the region out the Hole In The Rock road and this would put us close to that area. That evening we made a great dinner of macaroni and cheese in the Dutch oven.

I also had my first accident of the trip and in our new camper. We had finished dinner and I had scraped the DO as best I could. I put water in it and boiled it for a while and then I took the DO off the stove and was going to carry it out side and do the final clean-up in the campfire pit. Well I spilled it on the rug, but worse then that, on my right foot. It hurt like hell and made a mess of the rug. The camper was not affected. I took the rug down to Calf Creek, about fifty feet away, and stood in the ice cold water while I rinsed the rug. I was so mad at my self! After that I came back and Linda had cleaned up everything from dinner. I put ointment on the food, finished cleaning the DO and we went to bed. The burn was slight on most of my toes; I have a blister on the piggy that stayed home toe. We socked it and I slept great.

Morning came and Linda got on her bike and road for two hours. Our neighbors thought she was crazy, but she road and waved as everyone departed for the various hikes of the area. We cleaned up and had breakfast, and then we packed our lunch for the day and headed out. We figured because of my foot, we would explore some of the drives we had read about. We drove to Escalente and filled with gas, $3.37 for Jeep gas. Then we drove out the road to explore the Hells Backbone road. With in about two miles we came to a fork in the road and, since we had left all our thousand maps and guides at camp, we took the right fork. It was a great gravel road that led us up a valley into a pass. We drove until we were forced to turn back due to snow. At the top we discovered that we were on the road to Posey Lake. Linda later discovered that if we could have kept going we would have eventually circled around and dropped into Boulder, UT.

When the snow turned us back, so we drove down to a off shoot road that led to a canyon hike called, Box Canyon. We hiked up the canyon for a little over two miles. Our hike included some short climbs up and around pour-over’s. These scrambles were not hard but proved to be a good test of our climb assessment skills. We had lunch in the sun and took in as much as we possibly could. Our skin hasn’t been in the direct sun since Mexico and we really loved this brief time. Our hike back was uneventful once in the Jeep we drove to town and went to the store where we bought some food supplies and of course some cookies.

Back at the camper we made soup and salad, had dinner and then got ready for bed. When I awoke in the morning Linda was out for her run. I made coffee and caught up the blog.

When Linda returned we decided to drive the Hole In The Rock road to Harris wash and do a day hike there. The drive in was real cool. We drove through stream bottoms and up and over slick rock. The Jeep loved it, and so did I. At the trail head we took a little detour, a faults trail, but soon we were heading down Harris Wash. It was a wide stream bottom and the trail, created by cows, wove back and for the across the water. I kept track of the weather real close. The guide book said that this area was impassable if you were caught in a rain storm.

The Jeep is a good old boy, but I didn’t want to put him through a mess and possibly get him stuck. We hiked about two mile down stream before the wind picked up. Looking back over our shoulder, we noticed rain clouds with what looked like showers moving in fast. We cut the hike short and beat feet back to Mr. Jeep. As we arrived to our launch point a few drops of rain hit and we were off. The wind was a howling but no real rain developed. We made it back to the Hole In The Rock road and at that point we turned left instead of right and drove about two miles to the area they call Devils Garden. Now this is a cool place.

We hiked around a bit but the wind and clouds made it a bit cold. We packed up and drove back, but we pledged that we would be back to explore Devils Garden again. In the Jeep we remembered that we had left the awning out on the camper so we put “the peddle to the metal” and flew back. We arrived to our little home at Calf Creek and found that everything was just as we left it. I put the awning up and with in a half hour the wind picked up to a force so strong it shook the camper. We were warm and sleepy inside, with not a care in the world.

Getting Ready to Roll

It is hard to decide where to start when blogging a trip like this. I feel I should start at the beginning, the time just after the purchase of the camper finally came together, the camper walk through. This series of events set the tone for launching our trip, but now that I am immersed in our adventure it seems very trivial and unimportant.

I met Joel at RnR RV on Tuesday, March 25th. Joel was a pleasant guy, retired but forced back to work because he had his back crushed and it used up all his savings. I learned all this and much more as I rode around the huge service lot while learning about the new SnowRiver, looking for my truck and just waiting for the camper heating to be repaired.

The techs from RnR were hard at work diagnosing the heater problem when Joel started the run through. We walked around the camper as he pointed out all the boxes and items that would be of interest. We did a quick set-up of the rear awning and he accidentally pointed out the touch pad light switch by putting his hand on it. When I told him it was one of the special features of the TC he got pretty excited. I said there were a bunch of new features and as we went through the camper I explained what Al, from SnowRiver, had showed Linda and I at the RV show. This should have been a clue as to how the walk through would progress, but I am a little slow you know.

The techs were working inside, so Joel said we could go get the truck and get it ready to load the camper. We were walking in the direction of one of the big open bay doors; two techs had just entered and had hit the closing device on the door. As Joel walked toward the door, it lowered. I could see what was going to happen, and called out several times for Joel to stop. Joel is 64 and retired remember, his hearing aid must have been turned down so he didn’t stop. The head and door hit 5’ 6” at about the same time, maybe the door first. There was a thud and Joel leached backwards. He took the hit well, but I could tell by his eyes watering that it hurt.

We searched the huge parking lot for about ten minutes and then finally found my truck. I told Joel about the Dave Smith search incident, (see previous posts) and he was impressed with all the gear I got from that deal. I think Joel is a fifth wheel guy, so getting a free Hidden Hitch got him excited.

Finding the truck at the far end of the service area, we drove it to the bay where the TC was being repaired. I mentioned to Joel that we had been talking about a full tank of fuel in the deal and he said that we would have that taken car of and when we parked a kid jumped in and took the truck away. The techs were done, a wire on a switch in the heater had come loose and it mad it so the unit wouldn’t start. We then got to continue the interior walk through, Joel explaining some items, me explaining others. When I think back about it was rather humorous how I know more about the new features then Joel did.

We looked over everything inside and Joel explained what he could. There was one switch that he said “I’ve tried everything to figure this one out but haven’t been successful.” I should have caught the foreshadowing.

The truck arrived and I got it loaded. Joel was impressed with my backing, I was just lucky. I offered Joel a ride back to the service office and he jumped in. As I put my foot on the break to shift, we heard a sound like the mechanical engagement of something. I looked a Joel and mentioned that this model has a feature that if you leave your slide out, it would automatically bring it in before you drive away. This eliminates the rookey mistake of driving down the road with your slide out. Joel was once again impressed. I should have caught the foreshadowing, or at least put two and two together.

We drove to the office and Joel took my picture with the new camper. He said RnR will produce a calendar with my picture on it and send it to me. I drove home where Linda and I started the process of getting to know the new SnowRiver, and the job of packing all our camping items.

We worked till about 10:00 PM marching in and out of the camper loading items into their little homes. At the end of this day we both were exhausted, sleep came fast and hard.

Next morning I said good bye to Linda and jumped into the truck heading for work. I started the engine and hit the break to shift into drive and all hell broke loose. As soon as my food touched the break there was a ratcheting sound so loud that I thought I would wake the neighbors. It came from the slide mechanism door. I opened it up and sure enough the slide was trying to pull in, but it was already in. I jumped into the camper and tried pulling fuses. It didn’t stop. I then went to the battery box and disconnected the battery and that stopped it. Linda and I were in a panic. We leave tomorrow morning on our week long trip and this is not good.

As soon as I got to work I called RnR and got scheduled to go in at 1:00 PM. During the morning wait to go in and get it repaired, I wrote messages to the owner of SnowRiver and to Paul, a person who owns the same model SR, and asked them what the switch was for that Joel could not figure out. The replied and explained that the switch was an override switch for the auto slide feature. I should have guessed. It disables the system so that the slide won’t automatically retract if you step on the break. That knowledge would have helped avoid disconnecting the battery. The owner of SR, Bob, was concerned about the slide problem and said that he had experienced the symptoms I was experiencing before and told me to have RnR call him as soon as I arrived there.

At 1:00 PM I arrive at RnR and at 2:30 PM I left RnR. They had to disable the auto slide feature, Bob is sending a new “box” down and we will get it repaired when I return from our vacation. They said we should have no further problems, with that said we resumed packing and got ready to travel to Utah the next morning.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Salesmen, Do We Really Need Them?

Yesterday I posted about being very frustrated about a deal we were trying to make on a new camper.

We were having some problems with what the sales man had emailed me as their offer, and what they were saying over the phone when I called to accept the offer. This is what the salesman said in his final email, which I received before I called him to accept. "Dean, I apologize, I made a typo in my reply to your offer. We do have a deal at MSLP $#####.00, we will give you $#####.00 for you trade-in. We will also remove the solar panels from your trade and install them on your Prestige for no extra charge. Again, I apologize for my mistake and appreciate your quick response. M** M****" This was the deal I had made exactly, via my previous email. When I called to accept he said it was not the deal he was able to make and blamed everything on a "Internet kids typo".

It wasn't the best experience at that time. I had some very long conversations with the salesman about trust and integrity and how in this time and age an email is considered a valid document and it was their responsibility to know what they were saying in their communications.

Yesterday they called two times and finally apologized and accepted that it was their mistake, they they were wrong, they met our deal and gave us a bit more. We then accepted the deal. Linda and I were walking away, at that point, based on lost trust with the dealership. When they called and accepted blame and gave us the original deal we had via email, we felt a little better.

There is so much that goes into a decision like the one we just made. Linda and I base so much on trust and honesty that when something gos wrong we have to weigh our principals against the action.

This purchase was a want purchase, not a need purchase. We truly enjoyed our Northern Lite. We wanted the room provided by the slide and of course the rest of the SN was way cool also. If we had walked away from this dealership, it would had made it harder for us to buy a new SR and have it serviced after the purchase. We know we made the right choice on the product, we are hoping that the dealership will be there if something were to go wrong. With that said, we hope to pick up our new Snow River on Tuesday! We leave for Escalate, UT on Thursday and will be there a week.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Communication Break Down

Ever had everything going in your direction and then boom it all changed. It is a emotional drain when the carpet is pulled out from under you and suddenly you are left shaking mad, totally confused and all your trust gone. That was yesterday afternoon for me and today I still feel drained.

I posted that we were dealing with a new super nice camper. Why? I don't know, it has everything and is bigger, more spacious and we both really want it. So we get to the numbers game and by email I make an offer, they counter, I offer, they except, and then I call to set up the time we could get together and sign the papers and it all changes. "No, our computer kid made a typo." All their blame went on the computer kid, and they even tried to put some of it on me! Man I was mad. I called the deal off and last night I was miserable. I'm thinking of blogging our email exchanges with the RV place so that I can refer people to this area if they want to know what happened, at lease my side of the story.

It was and expensive endeavor, and you really get emotionally attached to everything in the transaction. I though that by using email I would have back-up of everything said and it would take the emotion out of the deal, but that didn't work. I guess I'll be getting a call from the salesman in a few minutes, I left it with "If you have a better offer, call me in the morning." I'm sure I will walk away from this one.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Catching Ya Up!

Have not posted in a while so here is where we are with our upcoming trip and our lives in general. Two weekends ago I received a call from a former ASNIC President, Josh Gittel. Josh is at the U of I and at the same time is getting a crew together for his summer job of home security system installation. He forms a team of twenty hungry college students and then trains them to install home systems that have been sold by a team of hungry college student sale man types.

The reason Josh called me was that he and I were talking about his summer job and I mentioned that we had home security system installed in our house. It is an old one, over 20 years old, and Josh said that it would make a super training site for his installation team.

Well, at the time I said that if he ever wanted to do training at our house he could, but I didn't want to have to pay for an on going service. The on going service is the way his company makes their profit. The installation is nothing in the big picture. So Josh said that if we allowed him to install and train at our house, our system would be free, and he would set it to be a local alarm system only. This means that the system sets off a bunch of alarms in the house, and calls 911 only. It does not go though their security system and their company will not be monitoring the alarm. I have talked with our neighbor and he will be my main man if the system goes off while we are out. He has the reset on the alarm. So if it goes off and he is around then we are ok.

The installation took place last weekend and now we are up and running. I haven't accidentally set the thing off yet so I have that to look forward to.

Several posts back I wrote about us looking at a new camper, a Snow River, at the RV show in Spokane. Now, we don't need a new camper, it is a want thing. The new camper has everything Linda wants in a camper, more room (it has a slide), good storage space and a great interior. It has everything I want in a camper on the technical side, great power system, well thought out water and waist storage system, great electrical systems and a flat screen TV (grin). At the show we did some dealing but walked away. As I said before they didn't set the hook.

Over the past two weeks we have been dealing with a sales man on the same camper. I have specifically made all correspondence go on via email, so that I have proof of what has been said and so that I don't have to travel over to Spokane all the time. I used the old "gas is to expensive" line and so I have put myself in a position where he can't play on my emotions.

At this point it has been and ok process. I have a deadline of tomorrow for them to except our offer. If they don't, we load up and go on our vacation in the Northern Lite. Since this is a want and not a need, we can wait a long time if necessary. I'll post about the experience in the next week or so.

Our spring break trip is coming up and we will be traveling and posting when ever possible. It will probably work the same as last year where we post once in the town of Escalate, but if I can't do that it will be when I get home. I am in contact with students to watch our house so I imagine there might be our first home security system test while were away.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Yes, She Kicked Booty

I made reference to Linda being gone Friday and Saturday in my prevous post. She and Tia, her training friend, had driven down to Lewiston ID on Friday night. Saturday Linda competed in the 2008 Tri-State Outfitters DUATHLON. This is the fourth spring duathlon that she has competed in at Hells Gate State Park. She also competes in the Fall event held at the same location.

She placed 51st out of 142 total participants. Her time was 1 :11:12.32 for the 2 mile run, 12 mile ride, 2 mile run. She was the 7th woman to cross the line and there were 50 women in the race. The six women who came in before here were all younger. She finished 1st of the women in her age group 45-49. I think she did great! Did I tell you that she had to stop and check to see if her tire was going flat? Yep, she thought she was getting a flat so she stopped, checked it and then started again. I figure that is about another minute off her time if she didn't have to stop. My little animal.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

How I Spent My Saturday

Linda was out of town, I'll post about that later, so I took the day to get the camper loaded on to the new truck. Everything went smoothly, but is sure takes a long time the first time you put it on for the season. You have to put the bed protectors in place, then lock in the torklift tie downs, install the hitch extension, and get the truck moved into a position for loading. Then lift the camper and remove all the winter supports. Backing the truck in under the camper takes a while and when you get that complete you carefully lower the camper into place. Once that is complete you tie it to the truck with you spring loads. The last thing I did was hook the power to the camper from the truck.

With all this complete I carefully pulled out and went over to the near by school where it was level. I finish the tightening of all the tie downs but then noticed that I was way to close to the back tail lights with the camper. So I took the tie downs off and lowered the camper legs and moved the truck the correct distance forward. This process is not hard, but you have to repeat so many little steps that it took quite a while.

With the camper on, I drove to the lake as my test drive. I took the picture and the went to the tire shop and had them put 30 lbs. of air in my airbags and 80 lbs. in my tires.

It was a good project for a cold wet Saturday. We can start loading it up for our spring break trip, by the way the truck handles great with the camper on it!

Saturday, March 01, 2008

This One's For Alex

Of all the scenes in Monty Pythons The Holy Grail, this one cracked me up the most. I always thought it was such a comment on government, social structure, and religion all rolled into a tight vignettte. When Bush came into office I pictured him ridding in and speaking to the poor lower class in the same manner. Except he wouldn't have understood what they were saying and at one point in the conversation probably figured they were talking about cars because the word he heard started with Auto...