No, wait – I wrote that headline the last time I posted and that was one year ago! One update in 2013 and that was it. So, what happened?
As I apologized last year: “I haven’t a good excuse – busy, lazy, or all of the above.” Consider this my Groundhog Day so we will try going through this again. Forget 2013 ever existed and we’ll move on.
[If you REALLY want to know about our 2013 travels you can go back through my Facebook postings or chat when we meet. I can fill you in on the RV storm damages in Wyoming, touring Presidential Libraries, staying in Mark Twain’s hometown on the Mississippi, visiting buffalo on an island in the Great Salt Lake, attending multiple rallies, having a beautiful 90-minute hot air balloon ride during the ABQ Balloon Fiesta, and having a Thanksgiving buffet dinner across the border in Mexico in October. We won’t bother with the myriad of health-related issues. As I often say, “You know you are getting old when someone asks, “How are you?” and you stop and tell them over the next hour.”]
WINTER TRAVELS BEGIN
We started our 2014 winter travels on January 2 and took three days to reach Indio, California where we are currently attending the Western Area rally of the Family Motor Coach Association (FMCA).
Our first night on the road we stopped at the Wasco Elks Lodge. This is a familiar lodge for us, located about 4.5 hours driving time from our home in Cool, CA. It is conveniently north of Bakersfield, between I-5 and CA Hwy. 99, the two north/south routes that take us from Northern California to Southern California. This trip we came south on I-5. Last trip our return trip was via Hwy. 99.
We arrived about 5 pm, paid our $15 donation to the bartender, who recognized me from our stop there back in November, and then we were quickly invited to the Lodge’s Family Friday Night dinner. For $8 the menu included salad, meatloaf, mashed potatoes, gravy, green beans & carrots, and ice cream. I have started a new-to-me “plant-based nutrition program” [more on that in a future post], so they kindly packaged my meatloaf to go for Luke’s breakfast.
We shared a table and an extra hour of conversation with a couple in their mid-80s who had RVed for more than 40 years and had just “hung up their keys” two years ago. He was also a founding officer of the Wasco Elks. They shared their favorite traveling tales and stories of attending gatherings in Quartzsite for more than 20 years. There was a gleam in their eyes as they each shared one of their adventures. After dinner we invited them in to see our front kitchen 40’ Itasca Horizon motorhome, a floor plan they had never seen. As they were leaving they were talking about taking their car to Quartzsite and staying in a motel for one more time. We said we would look for them.
On Saturday we had a short drive over the Tehachapi Mountains to Boron, CA (home of the Borax 20 Mule Team Museum) where we were joined by our friends Barbara and Tom Westerfield and other members of the Golden Spikes Chapter of FMCA for an overnight stop at Arabian RV Oasis and dinner out at Domingo’s Mexican Food. The Golden Spikes Chapter is all about trains and being in Domingo’s is like a kid being in a candy store for train enthusiasts. There is even a working model train that circles above the dining tables. The restaurant is also a shrine to all of the NASA Astronauts who have landed their space shuttles at nearby Edwards AFB. The crews are always treated to dinner at Domingo’s after they land and the place is full of space flight memorabilia.
In the past the Golden Spikes have traveled together back down the mountain to the Palm Springs area to a “staging area” in La Quinta where the full club gathers the night before their assigned check-in time. Then the next day they line-up to caravan into the nearby Date Festival Fairgrounds. This year, however, the group just decided to drive individually and meet at the designated rendezvous – the empty parking lot of a former Sam’s Club. By Sunday night most of the units had arrived and on Monday morning we were given a numeric identifier that would allow us to proceed into the rally staging area to be parked together as a group. We were “4 of 18” so our job was to follow “3 of 18” and not lose “5 of 18”. Despite hitting almost every red light signal en route, we managed to arrive safely and not lose anyone. We were settled into our home for the week, Brown Lot, Street 2, by 11 a.m. on Monday.
The Westerfields, aka “3 of 18”, lined up on the next aisle over from us and our job was to follow them.
SUNDAY NIGHT MENTORING
While others re-connected with their Golden Spike Chapter friends, we were invited by our local Desert Hot Spring friends, MerrieAnn and Jeff Martin to come for dinner and to meet their daughter and son-in-law, Kristine and Ken Gula, who were in the midst of buying their first big RV -- a 38’ 5th Wheel. I think the invite started out with “H E L P”,
I first met MerrieAnn online in a Monaco discussion forum when she was looking for RV driving lessons. I suggested the RV Driving School and our friendship continued online until we were able to visit them in-person at their winter destination, the Sands RV and Golf Resort. They have become wonderful travel and golfing buddies that we now see them once or twice a year either in Desert Hot Springs in the winter or in Hoodsport, WA in the summer. They have since sold their RV and the park model and have a beautiful home in the Mission Lakes Country Club golf community,
They were familiar with our travel experiences and my online mentoring of new RVers, so we were invited to listen to Kristine and Ken’s questions and to offer resources to get them going. As most RVers know, everyone has their own traveling mode, and the Gulas will initially be using their 5th Wheel as a work site home away from home in the Pacific Northwest. They are computer literate and on their way to learning all they can about RVs. RVers know this will only be the beginning of their adventures. They were scheduled for their pre-delivery inspection (PDI) walk-through today and had already learned about DOT tire dates and got the dealer to replace their 10-year old tires before signing the papers. Hopefully, they will join the Escapees and seek out the excellent forum groups to help them find their way. We wish them well.
Next: The FMCA Rally is Underway