Tuesday, September 7, 2010

MAN... Those Mountains are HIGH!

Well, the time had finally arrived. All the work, planning, organizing was done, so it was time to basically poop or get off the pot.

New Tires. New Mirrors. Truck checked out with oil change, new brake controller, and all the other things that are necessary to get on the move.

Everything we have done to this point was done with the intent of making a long trip in the Airstream. We now have a hard copy check-list to make sure everything is done properly (hook-up), and I wish it was possible to just turn it upside down to unhook it.

We have made several short weekend trips, practicing and trying to get comfortable with the equipment and all that goes with it. We still have a way to go to be proficient at everything, however, we have gotten REALLY good at Margarita consumption.

This trip was just Pat and I; no Maggie. It was difficult leaving her behind, but we felt it was the right thing to do.

We decided to avoid the freeway until we got past FT. WORTH. I swear, mile-for-mile, there is more construction on I-35 through Ft. Worth, than anywhere in the state.

We pulled out at 7AM in the morning headed toward Colorado Springs to visit Pat's son George and his family. It was going to be about a 900 mile trip, but we aimed to make it to Dumas, TX that evening--we were told they had a city park with free electric hookup for overnight parking. The price seemed right so we stayed there. The only thing we had to put up with was all the railroad tracks that went by within a block. The AC DROWNED that out.

We walked a couple of blocks to a fast food restaurant and fed our faces. IT WAS AT THIS POINT, we discovered the first major thing that we had forgotten. While we had the NEW flat screen TV and NEW HD antenna... NO COAXIAL CABLE!

So much for television that night.

Well, with an early start, we were on to Colorado.

We weren't to sure what to expect when we started climbing in New Mexico at Raton Pass. I'm sure Pat was much more nervous than I was, however, my attention was glued to the road. I was extremely happy to reach the top on the Pass, and I remember saying to myself as I looked at the traffic going the other way, Wow! That is going to be a Bitch to get up on the way back.

We made it to Colorado Springs without incident, and went directly to the RV park where we had reservations. We thought we had reserved a pull through space, which I was soooo ready to use, but no... NO pull through--just a crowded space that I had to back into.

Small ordeal but we got through it.

DID I fail to mention, it was 106 in Dallas the day we left and it was now about 80 degrees in Colorado?


We were even able to sleep at night with the AC off and the windows open.

We got to visit a few days with our kids and beautiful grandchildren. Since they had jobs and the kids were in school, we went sightseeing in the daytime. Everything was beautiful and overwhelming. We saw The Garden of the Gods, Manitiou Cliff Dwellings, and beautiful mountain ranges; as well as visted quaint little shopping areas.

Pat had a spiritual reading and I TOOK PICTURES.

Everything was great... then the rains came.

We had backed our Airstream into this space, and we were right up against a creek bed with soothing light flow of water that was actually nice to fall asleep listening to it.

RAIN...RAIN...RAIN....I was getting a little nervous because it was about to crest. We would look out the back window, look at each other, and say "this doesn't look good."

I went to the office and inquired, and was told by the little oriental woman, "Nothing to worry about."

We didn't wash away and all was well with the world.

We DID have a little ordeal with a spider bite, but I'm not getting into that. Two days of pain and itching!!!

We left for the trip home Wednesday, dreading the Raton Pass that we were going to have to climb. To make this story short (too late), we were white knuckled and tense.

The incline actually pulled us down to 40 mph, and that was on the FLOOR. It was smooth sailing after that. We spent the night at the Free Park again, and were on to Hillsboro, Thursday night.

We had a little trouble backing into the driveway when we got home--it was dark and everyone in town stopped to watch. I think they were actually driving around the block just to screw up traffic.

To sum it up: We had fun, and I just loved it. We will be doing a lot of this traveling when we retire. There is so much to see in Texas, we could have a lifetime of travel.

BIG BEND anyone?????????

So until later this is what HE SAID, see what SHE SAID..........

Monday, August 9, 2010


Friday, this is the busiest day of the week for me, and normally I methodically pack out my accounts for weekend business, However.....this is our weekend to go camping. We are in tune-up mode...for the upcoming vacation. We are still learning all we can about this process, and still make mistakes...however none have put us in harms way. We have laminated hard copies....HITCHING and UNHITCHING by the numbers. One would think that after you have followed the procedure number by number hitching the Airstream to the pick-up, that when you unhitch, you would start at the bottom and work to the top. WELL, somehow....it is confusing doing it that way. We remedied this with another laminated list to stop some of the confusion. And you thought this camping stuff was simple, WELL buying the RV AND TRUCK is the easy part. Then there are the check lists, know how manuals, maps, brochures, regulations,etc.........

Pat and I chose a park we haven't been to yet...one a little further away.... only criteria was it needed to be a Corp of Engineers Park, because, WE being old geezers, get a discount. The park was nice and hardly any crowds at all. We had reserved a PULL THROUGH space... HOWEVER, it had very little shade. The heat was terrible, so we stayed inside most of the day watching videos and sucking back MARGARITAS. I failed to mention that as we checked in at the gate, they handed us some literature that we stuck with our reservation and didn't bother to read. We parked, got set up.... noticed alot of little ants, then more ants, more ants, ANTS...ANTS..EVERYWHERE! If we had read the literature we would have known that they have an ANT PROBLEM.......Be sure to spray around your tires, your water and sewer lines and in general EVERYWHERE...Now these aren't fire ants that bite the crap out of you....these are just a nuisance. They got inside, we sprayed. they THRIVED!!!! You could feel them crawling on you..not a fun thing. We survived this.

I mentioned the park wasn't real full, but right across from us was this big rig with a toy hauler. This black guy....I only mention he is black because he was a black man, rolled off the back of his toy hauler with a tricked out four wheeler with a huge AMERICAN FLAG on the back, and I reached the conclusion that he was a VIETNAM VET. He had army stickers all over it and it was decked out with a killer sound system....on which he played 60's & 70's music all evening. I'm talking PETER, PAUL& MARY...BEACHBOYS....MONKEYS.....no SHAFT !!! I kept expecting to see a rifle and camouflage at any time ...but no just WAYNE NEWTON....

Well the week ended..we got back home, had a nice rain while gone....grass grew...no good neighbors mowed the lawn for me... so I guess I got to get that done sometime this week. We won't be doing anymore weekend getaways for awhile.. ..We are going to Colorado Springs, for our first long trip later this month...so I should have some good material for you...SO...if you don't hear from us for awhile...it could be because of several things....AND MOST OF THEM AREN'T GOOD.....SO until then HE SAID.....see what SHE SAID.......

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Camping with Papa

Pictured from left to right: Danni Sottile, Brynn Armstrong, Gabriel Bell, Ella Sottile, Bill Lovelace

Thursday, July 22, 2010

A TIRE is a TIRE is a TIRE or is it?

Well nothing new to talk about.. no near catastrophes...no week-end excursions...NOTHING!!!!
We are in the planning process of our first extended trip in the Airstream. It will be a trip to Colorado Springs to visit Pat's son Georgie, and just try our new found skills on the open road. SKILLS...HA.

We have been told by all the professionals, "other Airstream owners" the importance of FRESH tires. As hard as I try, I have a hard time wrapping my mind around the concept of FRESH tires. They say, when you go for tires be sure and tell them you want FRESH tires. Can you imagine going in your local Walmart tire center and having a conversation that goes like this. " Excuse me, I could use some help, I am looking for tires to put on my travel trailer, and by the way, they need to be fresh." The clerk says one moment please,trying his best to hold his composure so not to laugh in your face. He then goes to the backroom, has a good laugh with his buddies, gathers his composure and returns with..."Your in luck we just got this new shipment in yesterday and they were so fresh, the rubber burned us while unloading the truck." I used the Walmart name because in most PODUNK towns that is all you are left with. You hate to piss them off, because you might have to camp on their parking lot some night. The spare that came with our Airstream looked brand new, still had the little rubber thing.a.ma.gigs (trying not to say rubber tits) yet it was made in June 2000. NOT GOOD SAY ALL THE AIRSTREAM PEOPLE!!!! So we'll see what we end up with.

We haven't been able to camp the last couple of weeks because we have been baby sitting our sons two dogs and this weekend we have children and grandchildren coming in to visit. The plan is to chill down the Airstream and let the grandchildren spend the night inside doing their thing..television..videos..computers...just whatever. Someone will have to stay with them...LOOKING FOR VOLUNTEERS...Any Takers? I must tell you, there will be FOUR, three girls and one boy, all younger than teenagers...much younger. I bet that scared off any potential volunteers. Special note to my daughter 2Mara , Byrnn is being put on notice, last visit she lasted 15 MINUTES , then it was back to the house...this time if she backs out. she is banned for life from the Airstream. JUST KIDDING BYRNN, I LOVE YOU!! Until next time HE SAID, see what SHE SAID....

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

On the Road Again, an Original Piece.........

This camping is getting easier and easier...however there is sooooo much to learn and remember. We made a last minute decision to take a trip this 4th of July weekend. We thought we would have trouble finding a place, making a reservation at the last moment sounded impossible. However, Pat was able to book a space online and we had a great time.

We are going to be babysitting a couple of dogs for our son the next couple of weeks, so this weekend would be our only opportunity to camp in the month of July. Along with the trip, it gives us the opportunity to try out some more of our newly acquired camping skills, I USE THE TERM SKILLS LOOSELY, and other techniques. When we last blogged, we had yet to use the bathroom in the airstream. It is sad to say, we were walking a couple hundred yards to the bathrooms, instead of having to face the decision to carry around our own crap and actually have to hook up and dump it when leaving. For some reason, THAT JUST DIDN'T SEEM RIGHT !! Being a city boy, I just never took the time to even think about it, upon finishing my business in the bathroom. WELL... now you have to deal with it TWICE. That's enough about that.

The weather was rain, intermittent rain, with occasional sunshine. The really nice thing was the temp never got above 85. We were basically shut ins, leaving Pat time to sharpen her MARGARITAS skills. We rented videos and just chilled all weekend. Did I mention we have our new flat screen tv and antenna? We are really starting to bring this whole camping thing together.

To sum up our weekend quickly, we saw some fireworks in the distance, used our new toliet skills, watched television, drank margaritas, got wet and saw a lot of deer around the camp. For a holiday weekend there weren't very many people. PRETTY UNEVENTFUL, at least until we got home. Major screw up at this point.

We keep saying we are going to do a check list, but, well it hasn't happened yet. HOWEVER, I bet Pat will have one up and running in the next few days. I had to work most of the day Sunday because I shut work down early friday so we could hook up and get out of town early. We finally got into the driveway after holding traffic up both ways for several minutes. We went through all the motions to unhook the trailer, and being nearly through, Pat was in the trailer doing stuff to get off what she needed. WELL, we had put blocks underneath tires to level for the refrigerator, taken stabilizer bars off , unhocked chains and the electrical lines and I had put the front stabilizer arm down and was raising it,WHEN....the airstream rolled forward off the leveling blocks and came to a stop against the chainlink fence (thank god for that fence). I looked like Tom Cruise in RISKY BUSINESS...holding onto the bumper, trying to prevent the car from going into the lake. No damage was done, but it really did scare Pat. She was thrown around inside the airstream like a ragdoll.

SO MUCH TO REMEMBER, so until later, HE SAID, see what SHE SAID...

Saturday, June 19, 2010

WAIT ! Have I already done that?

You know the more I mess with the camper and realize I don't know how to do this, my normal response would be to back off and let Pat deal with it. I have a certain comfort zone and very rarely do I wander out of it. My comfort zone contains only things or topics that I know absolutely everything about and can not be addressed with I told you so! These topics are football, baseball and just basically sports in general. However, Soccer and Sports are generally not used in the same sentence. I welcome any response, especially with the USA having tied their first two games. TIES JUST SUCK!

Back to the Airstream. I decided to level the Airstream yesterday, a process to actually level the refrigerator so you won't ruin it. After work on Fridays ,Pat and I generally eat out, rewarding ourselves for getting through another work week, the reward being Mexican food. On the drive home I decided the leveling need to be done, NOW. This wouldn't be a bad idea normally, however it was 100 degrees out and Pat wasn't exactly dressed to be working in the heat. But Pat, the trooper that she is after announcing her displeasure said what the HELL, better than an argument.

We had to hook up and raise the support legs, drive forward, then put LEGO BLOCKS underneath the tires. Sounds silly but I think they are really Giant Lego Knockoffs. This process went well and lasted only about 30 minutes. It also gave me an opportunity to try out my new drill, bought solely for the purpose of raising the support legs. I must say it was a complete success. I started putting everything away and realized that I had put the hitch pen in backwards and made it almost impossible to remove, especially since it needed a key. Oh well, I tell myself this is all a learning cycle. Pat's response was well we need to put that on the check list. Okay.

Well I could on and on, however I don't want to lose what following I already have, so I'll stop and just say, I'll do better next time. I may try writing after a couple of Margaretta's . This is what He Said, see what She Said.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Television and Indoor Plumbing "Are they overrated?"

Well, having spent a week-end sitting in the shade when possible and constantly running back and forth to the park bathroom/shower, we have decided to set priorities. Entertainment and the convenience of running water, along with potty privileges came to the top of the list.

Pat and I both watch alot of television and often wonder how we ever survived before TEVO. This is the time of year on HBO for TRUE BLOOD. Also being the end of the season and the end of the series of SAVING GRACE ,we are totally bummed. OOPS!!! I digress .

Our Airstream is a Vintage model, a nice way of saying it is old. Technology has really done a number on our camper. The old antenna is so outdated and parts can't be found. I mean you can't even use the old coaxial, because any television made in this century can't hook to it.

Pat located and ordered a new antenna, and now comes the installation problems. I am intimidated by putting holes in the roof, not knowing if the old holes will line up. Once again we are at the mercy of someone who has experience doing this sort of thing. OUR CASH COW MARCHES ON!! Our way of justifying these expenses is to use up birthdays, anniversaries, and now we are working on Christmas. At least we are still working with special occasion's for 2010.

Pat has figured the water situation out. We have added regulaters to the water hoses. NOTICE, I SAID HOSES. We bought A 25 ft. hose to run the water line at the parks, but got home and it was too short, and Pat said we needed a few more feet, so she got a 10 ft. hose,which when connected was so taunt, you had to step over it to get into the back yard. WELL, I had to get another hose to get a little slack. Instead of taking the small one back and exchanging for another 25 ft., I just bought another 10 ft. Works great, just hope no one notices. I wonder sometime how we ever managed to live as long as we have.

Next comes the advice of the proper technique of finishing your business in the bathroom, Do you flush paper? Do you bag paper to dispose it instead of flushing? Do you buy special toliet paper that is biodegradable? Do you use chemicals in the tank or not? Originally, the idea of the getaway was for relaxation. WAY TO MUCH THINKING!! We are planning another lake trip next weekend, so I should have some good comic relief for you soon. Until then HE SAID, see what SHE SAID !!!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

First Time in the Airstream

This is my first post, and to begin with, my daughter, Tomara (who posted earlier today), is a great humorous creative writer, but she stole the "HE SAID, SHE SAID" and "MEN ARE FROM MARS AND WOMAN ARE FROM VENUS" lines from me!!

WELL, the first adventure out with the Airstream was indeed an adventure. We weren't totally prepared, but we said what the hell. Friends from the Airstream community happened to drop by, so we got a nice refresher course on hooking the Airstream to the truck, which I would say is very important in the effort of getting from the house to the campgrounds.

Pat and I had driven through the camp areas the week before, scouting. We looked at hook-ups primarily in the shade at Lake Whitney. We got there, managed to secure one of the spots we had seen the week before, parked, and unhitched without any problems.

The Airstream seemed level, so we turned on the fridge and within 24hrs it cooled down. At this point, we consulted the manual, and it said to turn fridge on the night before you leave. We used the ice cooler for the first day, and I had to make several ice runs. Also, we turned the AC on, and once again Pat referred to the manual. She told me the AC unit would cool the vehicle 20 degrees cooler than outside. You do the math, 100 degrees outside, again several hours later, say after the sun goes down, it is under 80. Well, that was nice, but when sleeping it must have dropped to say 60!!

Another problem we had was decideding not to use the Aistream's bathroom because we didn't want to have to deal with cleaning up on OUR MADIEN VOYAGE, plus we didn't know the proceedure. Luckily, the bathroom and shower on the campgrounds was within a couple 100 yds. No problem for me after dark, if you know what I mean.

We also had to deal with our lab Maggie, who sounded like she was dying, PANT, PANT, all day. She was miserable, but she got through it.

We decided to hitch up sat. night before dark and leave early. I MUST SAY THAT HOOK-UP WENT OFF WITHOUT A HITCH, no pun intended.

We did enjoy ourselves, but realized we need TELEVISION and BOOKS to survive in the wild.

ALL kidding aside, it was fun, and we are looking forward to next our adventure. We will try to be more prepared. He said, see what "she said"

Expect an Adventure

Hi, my name is Tomara, and my parents recently purchased the Airstream pictured above. This home on wheels is the key to seeing foreign lands and unlocking great adventures. My Dad, Bill, is ready to blog about it here; documenting his adventure for all of us. This blog is bound to be filled with humor, wit, and unbound wisdom.

Don't be too quick to believe everything you read though. My Dad is an honest man, but he has been known to "exaggerate". After you're done reading here, maybe you should go check out what my Step-Mom, Pat, is saying over on her blog. After all, they are traveling together.

I very much expect this to be a classic case of "he said, she said," and a prime example of Men are from Mars Women are from Venus.

It's going to be a great adventure, and I can't wait to see where their travels take them.