Sunday, April 29, 2007

On the Road Again - Westward bound (April 25-28)

Tuesday morning Chris & I went out and picked up the rest of the materials we needed to finish (stage 1) of the basement project. I also picked up a plug for my hot water heater and got that installed and the hot water tank filled and ready to go.

We put up some drywall and I finished off a small bit of framing that remained. I would have liked to have finished all the drywall to the point it was ready to “tape & mud” but a lot of what remained was fitting small pieces around doorways and I ran out of time.

Also during the morning, Linda called her Mom and talked to her in the hospital. She was feeling pretty good but Linda wanted to give her the rest of the day to be sure. Her sister Arliss called at 6 and told us that she (Linda’s Mom) had been released from hospital at noon and was now at home.

Chris’ neighbors were away and we had been parking the HHR in their driveway. Since it was threatening rain and we wanted to leave early Wednesday morning Linda came up with the idea of hooking up the car and pulling the motorhome ahead across the neighbor’s driveway (so we wouldn’t be blocking Chris & Tammye’s driveway). It was a good thing we did that because it poured rain overnight and I would have gotten soaked if I’d waited until morning.

We said our goodbye’s to Camdyn, Hunter & Tammye Tuesday evening.

Chris had a special SRT (SWAT) team demonstration Wednesday and was leaving at 6:30 – we were up at 6:00; had breakfast and once we had said good bye to him I did the last minute stuff – unplugging and final set-up for towing and we were on the road at 6:45 Central time.

We followed US30 west from Aurora – and after a couple of missed turns (with the difficulty of finding a “40 acre field” to turn around in since we can’t back up) we were westward bound. We crossed the Mississippi into Clinton Iowa at 9:45 and crossed the Missouri into Nebraska at Blair at 6:45 p.m. After overshooting and having to backtrack several miles (due to the fact that the camp book said “west of Ames” and the Fenton Lakes campground was EAST of Ames (Nebraska- not IOWA).

When we did find the location the road to the campground was NOT well marked and we had some close calls making wrong turns into areas were we had a real challenge avoiding dead-ends and finding a place to turn around). However, we finally got into the campsite and set up about 8:15. Long day but we covered close to 500 miles (800 km) much of it in driving rain.

Nice campground but as usual we found one close to train tracks and obviously a main line since Linda said there were trains blowing their whistles all night long) although I didn’t hear more than a couple of them-

Thursday morning we continued west. Mid-afternoon we had stopped in a rest area just west of North Platte after getting on I-80 at Kearney. While stopped, we both concluded at around the same time that I had gotten into my “let’s see how far we can go today” mode. Linda was looking at the tour books and saying “we’ll likely never come this way again – why aren’t we stopping to look around”. We had not talked about what we wanted to do and it was my idea to make a big push to get to Salt Lake City in 3 day. Anyhow, I won’t say that there weren’t a few “words” said but we realized that it was time to take a break and have some down-time so we startedlooking for somewhere to stop.

We found a nice campground north of Ogallala (Oga – la – la) and took the rest of Thursday and all day Friday to rest and do some sightseeing. Ogallala was the end of the cattle trails in the 1870’s and had a pretty wild reputation.

We saw their “Boot Hill” and an old mansion that was built in the 1880’a. Actually it wasn’t open for the season yet but we stopped to look around the grounds and one of the volunteers was there doing some work and let us in. Linda really enjoys looking around these old places. We also went to this little town called Keystone that boasts a little church built almost1000 years ago that is very unique. It was built jointly by Catholic and Protestant groups and feature pews with reversible pews (the backs are hinged and can be flipped over) so the Catholics could face the Catholic altar at one end and the Protestants could face the pulpit at the other end.

To-day (Saturday) we drove into Cheyenne and we are camped at the Terry Bison Ranch just off I-25 and just north of Colorado border. We plan to attend church services here in the morning and likely do a WALMART night tomorrow night before heading over the mountains on Monday. To-day we climbed about 2500 feet in a little under 100 miles but all just gradual climbs –no serious hills
God Bless
Charlie & Linda

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Days 4-7: A whole week “in port”. (**with pictures**)

Time flies. This post covers through Monday April 23 (Posted April 26 from Ogallala NE) (Revised to add pictures on April 28)

Sunday was a quiet relaxing day. We went with Chris, Tammye and the kids to services the Community Christian centre in Naperville. A very good lesson on how Jesus treated the situation with the woman who was brought to him because of being caught in the act of adultery. The theme was “What do you expect?” – and how Jesus responded to people in ways they didn’t expect. Her accusers were faced with “writing in the sand” and an unexpected statement “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone”. The woman expected condemnation and humiliation but Jesus gave the unexpected response. “If others haven’t condemned you, neither will I – Go and sin no more” (Have you ever noticed that he was the only one there that met his standard of no sin = first stone” but he choose not to cast it).

Sunday night Chris decided he wanted to install the bathroom stuff so we put in the vanity and the toilet, which met his objective of having a functioning “powder room” before we left.
(Actually this means there is one for each of them - since there is already a powder room on the first floor and 2 full bathrooms upstairs –main bath and “ensuite”.) – but I remember with a growing family you can never have too many bathrooms!!! (and it certainly is a little more private than the old “3 holer” shack out back that we had when I was growing up before indoor plumbing. (Yes Virginia - I am that old!!))

Monday we finished up some of the work in the basement but we ran out of material mid-morning and Chris decided that he needed some down time. He had worked a double the previous Monday and then had long days working with us in the mornings and working his regular 4-12 shift so he decided to crash for the afternoon.

So I packed up my tools and did other things to get ready to pull out Tuesday morning.

Monday evening Hunter had a flag football game which I went to watch. If you’ll pardon a grandfather’s pride – he was awesome. (He's the one in the blue shirt standing upright in the middle of the picture)

He ran for a touchdown on the first play and ran the extra point on another play. His team won 21-0 – although at this stage – it was their first game—there is a lot of luck involved since it is more like chaos on the field than any semblance of organized plays.

However, Monday evening Linda received a call that her mother had gone into the hospital Sunday night with chest chains. While it didn’t seem critical Linda was concerned enough that we decided to hold off for another day and remain in Aurora for Tuesday. More about that next post.

Going back and filling in the rest of our our week in Aurora.

Thursday was grandparent’s day at Hunter & Camdyn’s school. We were excited about that when we found out we would be here. It didn’t quite turn out the way we had imagined. For one thing it was only Grades 3,4, & 5 – which included Hunter’s class –but not Camdyn’s apparently the younger classes had their grandparent’s day earlier in the year.

We met Hunter on the way to the cafeteria and had lunch with him (and his classmates). There was only one other grandmother there for his class. We did get to see Camdyn for a couple of minutes as we were leaving the cafeteria she was there having her lunch. After lunch we went to Hunter’s “indoor recess” and watched him play aboard game with his friends. It was good to see him with his friends but we also had thought there might be more interaction with him and that he might have had some of his school projects to show off. However, I guess the main thing was that he knows his grandparents wanted to be there and to be a part of his day.

Thursday night I went with Hunter to his flag football practice. We were there early and Hunter and I raced the length of the football field (and he won!) – 9 year old vs. 62 year old out-of-shape grandpa wasn’t a real contest!!)

Hunter’s birthday is in February (10th) and Camdyn’s is in May (3rd). Last year we were here just after Hunter’s birthday and then back in April just before Camdyn’s so we had started a “tradition” of taking them out to eat for their birthdays. Friday night we took Camdyn to “Steak & Shake” and then to ToysRUs to get her a present - - as an early birthday celebration.

Last night (Saturday) it was Hunter’s turn – we had sent him a book and some money for his birthday so we didn’t have the shopping part to do. He wanted to go to “Chili’s” so we had Southwestern fare. He really likes the rib.

Anyhow – getting to continue the birthday meal tradition for this second year has been the highlight of our visit so far.

It has been fairly nice – sunny during the day – although it was near or below freezing until Thursday night. Yesterday was a great day – over 80 F (28C) and sunny all day. I decided it was likely safe to put water on board so we now are “officially” camping. (although I discovered something that I had forgotten – last fall the plastic drain plug on the hot water tank had broken off when I was removing it so I have to find a replacement before I can fill it and we can be fully self-sufficient with a shower on board.

Chris works 4 to 12 shift so we have been spending sometime with him in the mornings. It has been nice to sit on the deck in the sunshine and visit with him & Tammye over coffee. We have also continued to plug away at the basement project. All the drywall is installed on the bathroom walls (inside & out) and on the rest of the area we framed at Christmas. Chris & Linda started the mudding and taping on Thursday and we are hoping to have the wall behind the vanity and toilet ready for a coat of primer to-morrow morning so we can install the vanity and the toilet before we leave. I put the door on yesterday (Friday).

Saturday we did a little more on the project although I took some timein the afternoon to play catch with Hunter.

I was able to get my INTERNET connection working once in a while and note the following

My friend John Dobbs posts a YouTube tribute (click HERE) to the victims of the Virginia Tech tragedy.

Neva challenges Christians to “keep on keeping on” and to “walk the talk” each day in all they do rather than giving up and thinking they’ve done enough – it’s time for some one else to do the work. (click HERE)

God Bless

Charlie & Linda

Saturday, April 21, 2007

The HHRs and the BBB – Cruise 2007: Day 1-3 (April 16-18)

I’m actually playing catch-up. I’ll try to write a bit each day – actually this is Wednesday and we are parked on the street outside Chris’ house. I don’t have my usual “free” wireless Internet here this time. I’ll have to take my computer inside and see if I can pick up something there or else I’ll have to plug into Chris’ Internet but I don’t know when I’ll have time to do that so I may end up posting a bunch all at once.

Anyhow we are on the road again – actually we’ve finished Leg 1 – Sault Ste. Marie to Chicago. 800 km. (500 miles) in 12.5 hours – limited to 100 kph (or 60 mph) because of the tow car (the Chevrolet HHR). We plan to be here until next Tuesday (24th). At this point we have nospecific plans for our trip west to Vancouver. (I forgot to take a picture when we pulled out from the Sault so I'm using this one from April 25 taken just before we left heading west from Aurora)

Monday morning we were up early (6:30) doing last minute preparations. We got to Christies around 8:15. I started setting up the hitch myself and it turned out to be fairly straightforward (self-explanatory notes on the various pieces. We needed an adaptor for the wiring harness and Christie’s technician wired that in. He then checked what I had done showed me some details and we were off. It was still a little nerve-wracking to just take off with the HHR in tow – we were glad for the camera but it turned out that it stopped working once we were moving (what I discovered later is that the camera (wireless signal) is in the “shadow” of the BBB (Big beautiful beast or our motor home) and it needs something to “bounce” the signal from in order for the receiver to pick it up – As we drove it would fade in and out -- particularly it would come in view if we had a transport come up behind and pass – or if there was wire fence or along bridges where there were barriers along the edge. Overall it was comforting to have that happen since it confirmed that the car was still following along.

Speaking of the HHR – Linda and I were talking about it as we drove and she came up with “Happy Healthy Rover”, which I thought applied to us more than the car. For the car the Hitch Hiking Rider seems more appropriate. So we’ve decided that it’s the HHR’s and the BBB on the road. HHRs = Healthy Happy Rovers – us and the HHR (the car)

Tuesday Chris took the day off and we started working on the basement again (Click HERE and scroll down for the start of that story). Chris had put up some of the drywall and he is anxious to get the bathroom functioning. The first thing we needed to do was add a closet to the end. It took most of the day to get the materials and work out the framing but it got done. Wednesday (18th) we did a little more framing and finished putting up the drywall in the bathroom. It has been good to be here – seeing the kids and visiting with Chris and Tammye –and working with Chris on the basement project. I don’t like the taping and mudding part of drywall and Chris wants to g ive it a try so I’m giving him what little advice I can and letting him go at it.

I am using the INTERNET and email to keep up with things at home. The HOUNDS lost the 7th game Monday night after coming back from a 3-0 deficit to tie 3-3. Barb Hotchkiss had more surgery on Tuesday to clean out the incision. Hopefully that’s the last of it. Erin Hallam was back in isolation again. Our prayers are with them. We also learned on Sunday that Ross Hall has to have a series of tests on his heart this week. He has ongoing problems but he was concerned at the need for these in depth tests.

Well I’m going to close off on this post and start another for the second half of the week.

God Bless

Friday, April 13, 2007

The BBB is ready to launch (at last)

Well another 2 weeks have flown by. Thanks to Dee, Neva, Lisa and Bobby for coming by and commenting on my last post. Lisa -- we don't have Better Business Bureau soI hadn't thought how BBB could be confused with that. -- we have Chamber of Commerce CofC which could be equally confusing as an abbreviation for someofus with a restorationmovementbackground.

We just got our “BBB” out of the garage late this afternoon (Friday). and it is already partially packed thanks to Linda’s preparations (she had stuff piled all over the dining roomand bedroom). We expect to finish most of it tomorrow. We had hoped to be leaving for our trip on Sunday but that is no longer feasible. We have to go to Christie campers Monday morning to finish the “dinghy” hookup but, if we are all packed, we may leave directly from there.- we’ll see what God has in mind.

We have had winter again for the past week – snow and freezing temperatures and it appears another storm is coming in sothat could affect our travel as well. Good thing the people who are ”housesitting” for us are flexible in their plans.

This post is (more or less) an update on the things I mentioned in my last post.

Prayer requests –Erin Hallam remains in hospital and her status fluctuates from day-to-day.
Also Barb Hotchkiss –who had surgery in February - is still struggling with getting the incision healed up— today she called Linda and said that it has gotten worse again and they may have to completely re-open the incision. Finally please pray for our safety in traveling (and that the “beast” runs smoothly with no problems)

I continue to be tied up with my projects and haven’t had time to take any “virtual” trips. I hope that once we are on the road I will get a chance to catch up on what’s going on in “blogland”.

Update on the projects:
Job #1: My teaching: I gave the final exam yesterday. I have an assignment, a seminar and the final to grade and then I will have that wrapped up. Hopefully by next weekend. Top priority once we are on the road. I hope I can squeeze this in while we are at Chris’. The course development effort has been more or less on hold although I did have a meeting with the other instructor today. We have until the end of May to finalize the proposal so that shouldn’t be a problem – the wonders of email will allow me to participate while traveling. .

Job #2: The “dinghy” set-up: Getting our new HHR rigged for towing hasbeen delayed because we needed the both the "BBB" - the tow-er and the HHR (the tow- ee ) inorder to do that (no nickname for HHR yet – at least to match the HHR label – Linda has taken to calling it the “little beastie” so that may stick). As I mentioned – we have to take it and the BBB to Christie’s Monday to hook it up (and get trained on how to do it). I also have to set up the Brake Buddy. Maybe I’ll try that tomorrow.

Job #3; Preacher Evaluation: We completed our evaluation and finalized an offer to the Hillier’s – and they have accepted – starting July 1 – so this job is DONE!!! (of course when he gets here there will be lots of work to get things organized but that’s after our ”cruise”. Linda and I were pleasantly surprised and very honored last Sunday when the congregation presented us with an eagle “statuette” with the words “they shall mount up as wings of eagles” (Isaiah 40:31) written on it. This was in recognition for the work we had done in supporting the search committee.

Job #4 Preparing to launch the “BBB”. The repairs turned out to take way longer (and cost alotmore!!) than I had thought. They just finished the exhaust manifolds yesterday. In the meantime, the mechanic discovered that the lower ball joints were not the right ones and they had to be replaced. Now anyone who has followed our adventures for a while may remember the incident with the broken ball joint in San Antonio last spring (Click HERE). I now suspect that was the result of having the wrong part installed because I know that the people who replaced it in San Antonio just looked at it and replaced it with the same one that they removed. The mechanic at the garage here noticed there was play in the wheels and,upon checking he found out that the “bolt” part of the joint was too small. It took they a while to track down the correct part so that was the last thing that got done today. I don’t know if the wrong ones came from the factory or whether the previous owners had them replaced and someone put in the wrong parts – but I will be having a conversation with the dealer who sold me the vehicle. At least it is running quietly and smoothly now.

So I’m pretty well through the crunch of the last 6 weeks and hope to be back doing some “virtual” tours while we are on our “land cruise” over the next 2 months.