Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!

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094Chuck and I want to wish everyone a Joyous Christmas Season. We wish you peace and health and the closeness of family and friends!  Thanks you for all of the love and friendship we have been shown throughout the year.

For this Christmas, we have been blessed to have skyped with all three sons and their families and enjoyed Christmas Eve with Chuck’s mom, Joanne. I was also able to talk to my mom on the phone today. We joined some Boomer friends at Mittry Lake for Christmas potluck dinner this afternoon and had a wonderful time. 407953_514818545218994_646823223_n[1]

 

 

    

 

     Best wishes for a Happy 2013 everyone!

Friday, December 21, 2012

From Nappanee to Yuma PartII

As we end the day on Friday, we are in Yuma parked on friends Ron and Sharon’s place! It is so good to be done driving and be back in the Foothills.

Day 2 ended after 877.9 miles in Albuquerque, New Mexico. We literally showered and then fell into bed. 069our home for the short night was the Sandia Casino.  We woke up the next morning and it was 17 degrees outside! Yikes! Albuquerque’s elevation is 5,312 ft.

Day 3 started quickly. By 8:00 we were on the road, headed to Holbrook where we turned south to go through Payson on our way to Phoenix and then on to Yuma. The drive through the snow covered forest on the Mogollon Rim was lovely! Phoenix traffic was not. But we survived and hit Yuma around 6:30.  We drove 599.9 miles today.086

Our weather was clear after leaving Missouri. Cold as stated in Albuquerque, snow on the ground in northern New Mexico and northern Arizona but warm this afternoon in Phoenix where the temperature was 70. Other diesel prices on this trip were 3.89 in Tucumcari NM and 3.83 in Gallup, NM.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

From Nappanee to Yuma

036According to Streets and Trips our drive from Nappanee, Indiana to Yuma, Arizona is a 1998.1 mile journey. We started at 11:30 ET after the good folks at Newmar checked the final things off of the list.044

Traveling these days has some nice advantages. We have the laptop computer powered by a Verizon Air Card running through a Cradlepoint router for our internet service. My laptop is set to Streets and Trips and so we can easily gauge distances and highway routes. Zeroing in on travel flow at major Interstate exits and ramps is a real plus. The latest advantage for us has been using our Razr smart phone to navigate us through the cities. The Navigation Ap gives us turn by turn voice commands. And when we’re wondering what the weather is doing, we pull up Weather Underground on the Laptop and check the radar of the cities on our route. Also, the website Gas Buddy is excellent for finding the prices of fuel across the US.

So how has all that helped on this trip? When we left Indiana we knew that there was a storm front headed east. We chose to go south to Indianapolis and then southwest through St Louis and Oklahoma City using Streets and Trips mapping. The smart phone and Streets & Trips definitely helped us through Indianapolis and St. Louis traffic and Weather Underground showed us that it was just bands of scattered showers that we encountered in Indiana and Illinois. Watching the weather as we drove through Missouri in the dark also helped us decide that it would be wise to keep driving as long as we were alert because we were approaching the storm front coming from the west. We decided to call it a night in Lebanon, Mo. after 568 miles. BTW, Diesel Fuel in Indiana was $4.05 and $3.71 in Rolla, MO where we filled the MH Tanks. (An interesting side note. Ft. Leonard Wood is just south of here where Chuck did his Army Basic Training 41 years ago.) 015

The storm front hit us in Lebanon, Mo at about 4 A.M. this morning. The wind gusts rocked the MH a little and we pulled in the slides to protect the slide toppers. It was still quite windy when we got up and snow dusted the landscape. We chose to restock the pantry at Wal-Mart and wait for the wind gusts to lessen before we started driving again around 11 A.M. It was still windy and snowing until we got through Springfield. At the Oklahoma state line the sun came out and the winds died down.

So as the sun sets here in western Oklahoma, we’re thinking we’ll just keep driving and see how far we get tonight. The city lights are beginning to wink on at dusk. The roads are dry and smooth. Traffic isn’t too bad. Weather is clear, cool and no wind. We’re once more full fuel; this time $3.59 in Ok City. Happy Trails!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Staying with the Moores

023(Chuck) For the last 12 days we have been the houseguests of Eric and Cheri and family in the Northwest suburbs of Chicago. They have been very gracious to share their house with us and it was a good time to cement family bonds.DSC_0005 Pictured at right are Eric, Jan & Chuck, Ryan’s friend Carly, Ryan, Jessica w/Sparkle and Cheri.

(Jan) One of the great things about living with the our family for several weeks was being able to be there for Jess’s Choral Concert and Ryan’s Madrigal Performance. Although Jess’s first musical love is playing clarinet in the band, she has a lovely voice and chooses to be in Chorus as an extra curricular activity. Her Middle School Choral Concert was entertaining and very good. Their rendition of ‘The Unsung Hero’ brought tears to Grampa’s & Gramma’s eyes and was Jessica’s favorite. Jess is at top, left.

Ryan’s Madrigal was a play, a concert and dinner all rolled into one awesome performance. The dinner featured Wassail, a bread, cheese & relish tray, cheese soup, Cornish Game Hen, green beans, & ear of corn, and then cookies, brownies & cake all eaten with out utensils except for a spoon for the soup. Fun! The Madrigal Singers, in splendid period costume, sang 30 different selections in many languages including Latin; all of them a cappella. Ryan and the other nineteen Madrigal Singers auditioned for a position last May and started working on the Music in August. One of our favorites was their rendition of the William Tell Overture using their voices instead of musical instruments. Magical! They all did a wonderful job. Their candle lit rendition of Silent Night to close the program was utterly lovely. Ryan is pictured below, the fourth from the left.

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Being with our Illinois family was as close to being in one’s own home as you can get. We were able to have our ownEricDec2012 068 space in the lower level and still join the family after work & school in the early evening. On many evenings, Cheri graciously shared her beautiful kitchen and this mom/gramma got to cook dinner. I thoroughly enjoyed having a family to cook for again. Plus, for 12 days I got to enjoy the family’s dog Sparkle, a Bichon Frise. Eric was able to take this past Friday off from work and he and Chuck & I went to the new Hobbit movie, An Unexpected Journey. We loved getting to see this Middle Earth Adventure with Eric. Cheri’s parents joined us on the week-end so they could see Ryan’s Madrigal. It was wonderful for all of us to be together and we will have fond memories of the visiting and fun games of Whole Enchilada all 8 ofEricDec2012 070 us played.  Here’s Jess showing us that she loves us even after she won several games handily. We loved every minute of our stay and miss them already!

(Chuck) At this time we are in Nappannee and our home should hopefully be finished soon. It was out of the paint shop today and there is about a day and one half work to install all of the awnings and the exterior lights. We hope to be on the road Wednesday. It will be a furious three days drive to Yuma. Streets and Trips indicate 1998.1 miles, 3 days, 5 hours and 7 minutes. We usually try to avoid a mad dash like this, however, it seems to be in our future. Warm weather, Christmas with my mother and our Rose Bowl float schedule take priority.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Life on the road staying in Motels

(Jan) For five days, Chuck and I have stayed in motels. It was our only choice with our motor home in the Newmar shop. Our first stop was in Nappanee to check on the rig. Things are going well and proceeding as planned so we decided to head west to Iowa. We got into Carroll a little after 7 p.m. after 700 miles and 12 hours on the road. 057We were in time to have a wonderful visit with my mom. In the last month her health has not been the best and she has had some meds changes so we were very glad to find her in great spirits and feeling well. The following morning was spent at a couple of business appointments and putting up the Christmas decorations with mom in her room.

017From Friday afternoon through Sunday noon we were with Brent and Donna and grandkids Stephen, Katie, Michael, Anne, Libby and Maddie. We enjoyed their lively household and had a fun visit. We went to Libby’s First Reconciliation with her and Brent Saturday morning and Stephen’s Wrestling Tournament after that. It was the first wrestling meet for Grampa and I and it nearly wore us out just watching! On Sunday we all went to the Mongolian Buffet together. The extensive choices were delicious and we had a fun time trying new things.

Sunday afternoon Chuck headed down to check on the farm while Jan met her local girlfriends for a Holiday home tour in Carroll. After that Nancy, Betty, Becki, Edna & I enjoyed a co-op dinner at our friend Karen’s house in honor of her Birthday. 063

Linda and Richard joined us for a day of visiting Mom at St. Anthony’s on Monday and Tuesday. In the evening we headed down to Glen & Mary Ann’s for a delicious meal followed by visiting, cards and much laughter. We dearly missed Ron & Scarlet and are sending Big Hugs to them in California!

Tuesday evening we were delighted to be back ‘home’ here at Eric and Cheri’s house. Motels have their purpose but they are Not Quiet nor particularly comfortable or clean.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Life in a Sticks & Bricks!

(Jan) For the last week we have been house guests of Eric & Cheri and grandkids Ryan & Jessica.  They have generously opened up their home to us while our Motor Home is at Newmar having sidewall replacement and ‘are keeping us off of the street’! We arrived in time to celebrate Thanksgiving with them and were treated to a delicious feast.

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Above Jan, Jess, Ryan and girlfriend Carly putting together a puzzle before the feast, Jan, Cheri and Jess setting the table with my mom’s wedding china and Chuck & Eric working on computers. Later in the day we watched ‘Christmas Vacation’ together.

It’s been a wonderful week here. Lots of visiting, good food and laughter. Sunday we went to church together and then to Burnt Toast for Brunch. The Chicago Bears won their game so it was just about a perfect Sunday! During the week, as the family when off to work & school, Grampa & I explored the numerous retail offerings in the area and cooked the family’s evening meal. Thanks to Eric and Cheri & kids for their outstanding hospitality!

Tomorrow we’re off to Indiana to check on the rig and then on to Iowa to visit more family.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Nappanee Area & Craftsmen

Heritage Trail Sign(Jan) Last Saturday dawned bright and beautiful as we headed out in the Jeep to enjoy the Heritage Trail Driving Tour. With our CD narrating, that we had picked up at the Nappanee Chamber, we learned lots about the fascinating history of this north-central Indiana territory.  Our drive took us through the towns of Wakarusa, Elkhart, Bristol, Middlesbury, Shipshewana, 008Honeyville, Goshen and back to Nappanee. We had fun stop at the Wakarusa Drug Store, home of the Jumbo Jelly Bean and of course purchased a bag of these yummy treats. The drive along the St. Joseph River between Elkhart and Bristol was especially pretty as were the Amish farmsteads we passed. The highlight of our trip was going to the Menno-Hof Museum in Shipshewana. Raised is 6 days by the Amish community, the Museum structure was then finished inside and displays the history of the Anabaptists. Their history is traced from it’s roots in Switzerland in 1525 to present day beliefs and activities of the Mennonite and Amish Communities. (A third group of Anabaptists, the communal  Hutterites, reside mostly in the western U.S.) The film presentations and displays were excellent and helped us understand and appreciate these warm, generous people.

(Chuck)We are in Nappanee, Indiana staying at the Newmar factory camp sites. They allow owners to stay free of charge. There are about 30 Full Hook up sites near the service department and at least 20 50 amp sites about a block away. It is called Camp Newmar and we are thankful for their hospitality.

We have taken advantage of this time to check a few fixit projects off of our list. Our coach has many wonderful advantages but we feel we do not have adequate pantry storage. To solve that problem we turned to a local Amish craftsman who has experience serving the RV industry. At age 22 Gene Miller may be one of the younger cabinet makers in the area. He found an opportunity to purchase Irv Kaufman’s cabinet business in 2008 and has earned his way as an excellent woodworker. He calls his business Country Craftsman Woodworking LLC  We went to Gene and showed him our under sink area. It is a very deep cabinet; however it is difficult to access the rear portion. Gene built a sliding drawer which now allows us to store and access canned goods. Jan likes it and that means it is a good thing. We parked our rig on Gene’s doorstep for two nights and also had him rebuild our back TV with a newer flat screen. When we first made contact with Gene he was installing a ceiling trim in a Newmar coach. I had noticed this on his website and we had a chance to look at it in the coach. I really liked it and had him build one for us. It dresses up an otherwise plain interior ceiling.

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scan0002It was at this point that things really got out of hand. In this customer’s coach there were also two Euro Chairs. That was too much for Jan. She has wanted to replace our leather couch with those chairs for a long time. I found it necessary to say ‘Yes Dear’ and the couch went on Craig’s List and the Stressless Euro Chairs may arrive this week. For a final touch of insanity remodeling, we contacted a local Amish furniture craftsman to recover our two dining chairs. The fabric has been showing more wear lately and they will be upgraded soon at Kuhns Upholstery.

Today we stopped at Brian Hochstetler’s place near town and had him weld a broken slide stop. Brian had worked at Newmar’s welding assembly shop several years ago and he knew which transmission wires to unhook before welding. He is very conscientious and did an excellent job. If you need welding in Nappanee, Indiana I would recommend Hochstetler Welding. Brian also manufactures a line of children’s wagons, trikes and swing sets.

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Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Friends, Furniture, Fibula

011(Jan) Friends Bill and Gisela were heading south to Shipshewana so we joined them there for five fun days and did what good friends do; visited, shared dinners and had some friendly competitions over the Pegs and Jokers board. Since Chuck & I have been looking for some Euro chairs, we made several trips to the Elkhart/Mishawaka area together. We also had a special week-end seeing the RV Museum on Saturday and going to Mass at the Notre Dame Basilica and dinner at Amish Acres on Sunday.  The four of us then headed to Nappanee for five more days. More shopping, Mass at the Basilica again, a Notre Dame FB Game for Bill that finished in a 3 OT win and lunches at Olive Garden and Culvers for all of us. We had a wonderful time together.

006The dining room at Amish Acres where we enjoyed the Threshers Dinner 010RVs displayed  in the RV Museum in Elkhart, Indiana 002at Notre Dame

When we bought our MH nearly three years ago, two things on my wish list that didn’t come with this MH were an oven and chairs in the living room. Chuck installed a gas oven last fall and after looking at lots of different chairs this month, we were lucky to find the Euro chairs we wanted on sale in Mishawaka. We sold our sofa sleeper on Craig’s List and it will be going to a new home in this area tomorrow.

For me it is week 11 of my fractured fibula. I am now walking with a cane and wearing a sturdy laced-up, velcroed brace. There is still some ache/discomfort but my dearly beloved keeps reminding me that I am ‘healing’, not ‘healed’.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Amish Cooling Unit

056(Chuck) We have a Norcold 1200 refrigerator. It is a big RV fridge that seems to have an all too common failure where the heat is applied at the boiler tube. The metal tube cracks and the yellow rust inhibitor, ammonia gas and hydrogen gas all escape, resulting in a yellow substance at the back of the fridge. On a small percentage of failures the hydrogen gas can ignite and provide a source for ignition of the surrounding RV cabinet. Most RV fires are electrical, but when it happens from any source, it is a disaster. Several small manufacturers have been dealing with these failures. 020One replacement product that has a top reputation is known as the “Amish Cooling Unit”.

Several of our friends have purchased this cooling unit and all seem to have found good success. When our fridge died several weeks ago I knew what to do. I had researched this previously and found RV Cooling Unit Warehouse. http://rvcoolingunit.com David Force is the capable man who represents this company. He convinced me that proper installation was the most important part of any cooling unit. Since we were going to be in Nappanee, Indiana it was simple to travel 37 miles up the road to Shipshewana to have it installed. As it turns out we hit the mother lode. Our installer was JR Lambright who with his family, manufacturers the Amish Cooling Unit. I discovered that the improvements are far more than only 50% bigger boiler tubing. These units are redesigned to provide far better heat transfer and reliability.

For the instillation, JR & crew generously covered the surface areas inside to protect our rig. It took about three hours and it went smoothly. 033

 

 

This shows our old Norcold unit on the left and the new Amish Cooling Unit on the right. Note that the new unit does not have the tube and insulation around the boiler stack at this time.

It has been over two weeks since the installation and we found that we can run the temperature setting on 4 instead of the previous setting of 8. It stays cool and is doing a good job. The refrigerator is at 38 and the freezer 2 degrees. We are very happy with this improvement.

 

 

 

Here are some pictures of the manufacturing area.

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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Fort Wayne, Indiana

003(Jan) Fort Wayne sits at the confluence of the St. Joseph, St. Mary and Maumee Rivers in northeast Indiana. Under the direction of American Revolutionary War statesman General "Mad" Anthony Wayne, the United States Army built Fort Wayne near the Miami Indian village of Kekionga in 1794. Named in Wayne's honor, Fort Wayne established itself as a trading post for European settlers. Today Fort Wayne is Indiana’s second largest city with a population of 255,000.chuckJan[1]

We’re making our home this week at the very pleasant Johnny Appleseed campground. Although we are in the midst of the city, this CG has a very relaxed, isolated feeling. The yellow & orange leaves have been showering down, carpeting the ground all around the MH. We are so fortunate to be in the middle of this colorful event.

We met long time RV friends Jerry and Nancy here this past week-end. Both couples share a love of genealogy and spent a fun afternoon on Saturday at the Allen County 012Library in the Genealogy Center. It’s a world class facility and Chuck has been wanting to come here for a long time. We were not disappointed.

The four of us shared three full days of storytelling and reminiscing; several good meals at home and a trip to a Fort Wayne classic, Don Hall’s. Our late lunch there was good and filling so that evening we settled on a yummy Dairy Queen Blizzard to finish the day.

Fort Wayne has some terrific bike paths and the Old Fort to explore but due to my leg, we’ve had a less active lifestyle here. We will be here until Thursday when we will once again stay in Shipshewana for more RV work and more visiting with RV friends! 

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Fall Happenings

(Chuck) We have found ourselves in the Midwest this fall for the first time in years. It was good to spend time with our friends in the Manning, Iowa area. We boondocked at the farm where it was peaceful and quiet. The wind rustled the leaves and the birds chirped.

Lynn Phillips (Phillips Farms) does custom work for us, we also rent him some ground, and we have enjoyed the relationship for many years. It was good to ride in the his combine and experience the harvest again. The fall weather was glorious, and harvest seemed to go well. The corn and bean yield was decreased this year due to the lack of rainfall this summer; however we are indeed blessed to be a part of agriculture in this great nation.

071The combine heading into the corn rows. 062The combine dumping corn into the grain cart. The crew- Semi driver Paul, Combine operator Lynn and Grain Cart handler Kelly.
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(Jan) The photo below was taken about a mile south of our farm place after the harvest was completed.004(Chuck) Our plan was to move to Indiana for the remainder of the fall to continue genealogy work in the Wabash County area. Several of my ancestors called Wabash County home in the 1850’s and I have wanted to look for more information on them. Our good friends Jerry and Nancy have always told us that the Allen County Library in Fort Wayne is the place to be and now is the time to pursue it. They have even scheduled a chance to be with us for a few days and we look forward to spending time with them.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe have thought of having some cabinet work done on our rig and Nappanee, Indiana is the home of several top craftsmen who specialize in RV work. We have contacted Gene Miller to do the work for us. Gene took over the business of Irv Kaufman and we have great confidence in his work. We anticipate a roll-out drawer under our sink to give us some much needed pantry storage. Another improvement that we had wanted to make was the installation of a new cooling unit on our refrigerator. Several friends have installed what is known as an “Amish Cooling Unit” on their refrigerator and have been very happy with it. I have wanted to do this simply as a preventative measure for our Alaska trip next summer. I did not want to find ourselves without a fridge on that trip. One night two weeks ago the fridge beat me to the punch and as the “no code” flashed on the screen, I went out to look behind the grill on the outside of the rig and I found the yellow “sign of death”. The cooling unit had sprung a leak and it was time to speed up the plan. I will cover it in a blog soon.

At this time we are in Fort Wayne at the beautiful Johnny Appleseed Campground. We may be here a week.

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(Jan) Below are a couple of the pictures of friends and family and the good times we shared with them earlier this month.

 

008 Moores and Odendahls at Swan Lake Jan & sister Linda in back, brother Glen and in-laws Mary & Richard093 001Cousins Jerome & Dolores and Jan & Chuck
 
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