The CoolRVers were actually a couple of retirees, Judy and Luke Rinehimer and their rescue German Shepherd dog, Miss Shady Lady. We were "extended-time" travelers for many years with a homebase in Cool, California for 40 years. Luke passed away in May 2019 and I continued to RV. Many followed along with our travels throughout North America in our 40' "rolling condo" and our later downsized Class C motorhome, enjoying the RV lifestyle. Your comments are always welcomed.

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Saturday, October 22, 2011

Surprise En Route to Surprise

We told the Boomers that the best way to enjoy the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta was to “come early, stay late, and see it all” and they certainly took our advice.  While the Fiesta ended Sunday morning, most of the Boomers stayed over until the Monday, 12:00 noon check out time.  As we prepped the motorhome for travel, we had a chance to give most everyone a farewell {{{ BOOMER HUG }}}. 

While the RVs scattered in all directions, our destination was just 16 miles away – Kirtland Air Force Base FamCamp.  We needed a couple of days to “re-boot” and my body was already warning me that sleep was a priority.  Actually, what I didn’t realize at the time was that the combination of stressing my voice (despite my buying a microphone system for use during Happy Hour announcements), a scratchy sore throat, a hacking cough and a sinus infection would put be down for at least a week.  A later trip to an Urgent Care would confirm I had bronchitis.  An antibiotic and codine cough syrup would provide some relief, but two weeks later I’m still not back to normal.


We decided it was still too early to head home to California so we set our sights on Surprise, Arizona on the west IMAG0661side of the Phoenix area.  We have friends who live in the RV and golf community called Happy Trails and called to see if they knew of any private lots we could rent for a week without having to pay the high prices of the local realtor listings.  Turns out their rental lot was available before their tenant arrives for the season starting Nov. 1, so we took them up on the offer to stay next door to them. 



We planned to make it a two-day drive with an overnight stop-over at Meteor Crater RV Park near Winslow, AZ.  I was still feeling miserable and for the first time in our travels, I moved from the co-pilot’s chair and curled up on the sofa while Luke drove.

We’re not sure where on I-40 we were exactly, but somewhere east of Winslow we heard a new noise.  Luke yelled back to me to check it out.  At first it sounded like it was either under our front sink or in the slide mechanism.  Did we have mice???  We also had the 12-volt ceiling fan on and it can make a noise if it is not level.  I flipped it off and the noise quit.  Hmmm, must have been the problem so I headed back to the couch. – NOT!

We reached our RV park and when Luke opened the front outside storage bay he realized what the real problem was – we had picked IMG_7867up a 28” piece of metal that had pierced through the floor of the compartment and it was still there!  We had a hole in the floor that measured 7” x 4”.





The culprit…. The results.


The bay was full of styrofoam insulation, our Weber BBQ handle and igniter were broken, bottles of juice and cleaning fluid had been pierced, and everything was a mess. 

Luke said he never heard the motorhome hit anything while he was driving – just the noise we heard when the rod was probably dragging on the road after it had already penetrated the bay.  It was purely coincidence that the noise stopped when I flipped off the fan and by that time the metal had worked its way inside. 

In retrospect, we were VERY LUCKY that the rod did not strike the windshield, puncture a tire, holding tank, propane tank, etc.  Whew….


As mentioned above, I was diagnosed with bronchitis and spent most of my time in Surprise recuperating.  We did, however, sneak outside one evening for a neighborhood pizza party with our hosts, Bonnie and Ken Martin (below on left).  We also got a lunch date in with the Martins at Zen’s Cafe, a local restaurant.IMAG0660IMAG0658 





We also had a “surprise” visit from SKP Boomers Gloria and Charlie Goss who also have a lot in Happy Trails.  We had emailed to see where they were in their travels and they were right there in the neighborhood.  We also enjoyed a breakfast date at Nick’s Diner on our departure day.


Luke likes the Freightliner Service Center in Tolleson, AZ near Phoenix.  We needed to have a filter changed so he called RV Service Writer Kirk Ault and booked a Friday morning appointment.

Like most RV service centers, we were provided free hook-ups so we arrived the night before and were ready when the tech arrived at 7:00 a.m.  The parking area at Freightliner is always interesting.  IMG_7888

This center also repairs and certifies emergency vehicles. Check out our neighbor.


In addition to changing the diesel engine filter, Luke asked the techs to do an undercarriage inspection to look for any hidden damages from our 12,000 mile trip to Alaska and back.  They found that the bushings on our Road King shocks were cracked.  These were installed by Henderson’s Lineup in Grants Pass, Oregon, so we’ll see if the warranty covers the repair. 


IMAG0663Our dog Star cannot stay in the motorhome when it goes into the service bay so after a breakfast stop we were off to the dog park at the Avondale Friendship Park.  There wasn’t much action, but Star did get a little socializing time in.



We wrapped up our visit to the Phoenix area by having dinner with our Albuquerque hot air balloon pilot, Mike and his wife/crew chief “T” Liberti.  They live in nearby Gilbert and we try to see them off the launch field whenever we are in the Phoenix area.  Friday night we met them at D'Arcy McGee’s Irish Pub in the Tempe Marketplace.  We always enjoy our time with them and our conversations included not only ballooning, but also RVing with their new travel trailer.



Friday, October 14, 2011

Balloons & Boomers–Part 3: Boomers CARE

Our Escapees RV Club is the parent club of the Boomers we hang out with in our various RV travels.  Boomer membership is not based on age, but rather represents a “state-of-mind”.  We are active RVers that prefer to get out and do “stuff” rather than sit-around.  The group we host at the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta are “do-ers” and we’ve been documenting their efforts throughout our blog write-ups.
But we all know there is going to be a time when health or age issues are going to force us off the road.  Some of us have family or contingent plans for the day when we have to “hang up the keys” but there are others where short-term or long-term care is going to be needed.  That’s where the Escapee CARE Center comes into play.
CARE stands for Continuing Assistance for Retired Escapees and members of the various sub-groups (known as Birds of a Feather – BoF) recognize what a valuable facility this is.
Escapees CARE Center is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit (tax-exempt) corporation formed in 1992 and is under the guidance of a volunteer board of directors.
CARE answers the question, "What happens to full-time RVers when they cannot take care of their own or their spouse's needs following an illness, injury, surgery, or the progression of a long-term health situation?"
Whenever Boomers gather in large number, you can bet there is a call for donations to CARE.  For the past three years, Boomers attending the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta rally have conducted a “CARE Auction”.  Two years ago the Boomers, under the efforts of Vicky and Terry Webb, raised $865 with 30 units attending the rally.  Last year the Auction Team (Sally Schindel, Sue Pace, Steve Ritchie and others) upped that donation goal for 30 rigs and we donated $1100 to CARE on behalf of the ABQ Boomers.
2010 Auction Action

This year we had a total of 46 RVs at our Albuquerque rally so we had set a modest goal of $1500.  Well, when it was all said and done, we nearly doubled our donationn goal with checks totally $2,876 sent to CARE!!!
Once again Vicky and Terry Webb put together an outstanding Auction Team:  Jan and Chuck Moore, Beth Miller, Joy Melton, and Ann and Mick Meilicke.  They called for items – “no junk” – and the attendees responded with outstanding items for bidding.

Initially, we planned a combination Potluck and CARE Auction for Tuesday during Fiesta week.  We announced the date and asked the Boomers to invite their Pilots and fellow crew members.  A few extra guests always generates a few extra bidders. Winking smile 
IMG_7683Unfortunately, Tuesday’s weather was threatening so we decided on a 3:00 p.m. “go or no-go” deadline.  A look at the weather radar told us an early evening activity would likely get rained-out.  BUT, there was a “window of opportunity” so we TRIED to muster the troops and have an early auction-only event. 
IMG_7686Boomers are hearty folks and we have had numerous gatherings temporarily interrupted by rain and/or thundershowers but the umbrellas were handy. Auctioneers Terry Webb and Chuck Moore kept the bidding action going…


Since almost all of the group was staying through Sunday, we decided to re-schedule the CARE Auction for Sunday afternoon.  No potluck, but snacks and wine would keep the troops “lubed” and the bidding resumed under sunny skies!

Auctioneers Chuck Moore and Terry Webb kept the bid action lively.  The “Vanna Whites”, Jan Moore and Beth Miller, circulated the auction items, and Ann Meilicke and Joy Melton kept a running tab on the computer. 

Mick Meilicke displays the afghan made by his wife Ann.  The separate raffle generated about another $100.   Marcia Jones drew the winning ticket. (Sorry, missed who won it.)

IMG_7852A cake and birthday wishes were sung for four Boomers, Terry Webb, Andy Hitzel, Bill Dominek, and Chris Christiansen, who celebrated birthdays during Fiesta Week.

IMG_1947For the past two years, Boomer and artist Judie St. Croix (on right) has donated metal balloon sculptures for the ABQ CARE Auction.  Last year, Bonnie Munday, shows off her prize balloon.
This year, Judie created two balloons and Craig and Liz Del Rosario won the bidding war for the first one during the rain-shortened Tuesday auction.  Not to be outdone, Sharon and Don Del Rosario (Don is Craig’s dad) bid for the second balloon on Sunday. 

sculpturesThe Del Rosarios show off the results of their bidding. (Photo borrowed from Sharon’s Blog: Gypsy and the Mariner’s RV Adventure.)

Judie St. Croix is not only an accomplished artist, she is also a successful dumpster diver. 
When this year’s Auction clean-up crew dumped our trash can, they inadvertently tossed a very special rock that we used in the bottom 001of the can.  (The winds always kick-up during Fiesta and we were using found rocks in the bottom of the plastic garbage can to keep it in place.)  Last year Boomer Bonnie Munday (pictured above with Judie) had painted a replica of Mike Liberti’s hot air balloon, “Morningstar” on a local rock and the 2010 ABQ Boomers had all signed it as a gift to us. So, when the garbage went out, so did our Balloon Rock.  Seeing my panic, Judie literally jumped in to rescue our “rock”!  

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Balloons & Boomers – Part 2: Up, Up, and Away

This was our fourth year hosting the Boomers RV Club at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta and our greatest joy is watching our “first-timers” making their maiden voyages in a hot air balloon.

While we couldn’t see everyone's first flights, we did hear about them during our Happy Hour de-briefs and reading about them on Facebook and through the blogs.  Boomer Sharon Del Rosario put together a listing of blogs if you’d like to go read some of the postings from Oct. 1-10:

Connie Carno & Art Sauerstrom -- www.mytripjournal.com/WhatsOverTheHill

Sharon & Don Del Rosario – www.shadonrv.blogspot.com 

Bill & Shelly Dominek – www.yogiboobooadventure.blogspot.com/

Andy & Diane Hitzel –www.thehitzels.blogspot.com

George & Bonnie Keefe – www.busterstravelsgeo-bon.blogspot.com

Ann & Mick Meilicke – www.mickann.wordpress.com

Chuck & Jan Moore – www.cjmoorenews.blogspot.com

Judy & Luke Rinehimer – www.coolrvers.blogspot.com 

Jim & Nancy Tidball – www.runningdownourdream.blogspot.com

First Flight @ 87

The greatest first flight had to be that of Howard Pelton, our former neighbor, who is now 87-years-young.  When 100_1547we recently re-united with Howard and his wife Janet in Wenatchee, WA and they learned we were hosting the club at Fiesta, you could just see Howard’s eyes light up.  I think his quote went something like this:

“You know, I flew bombers over Germany during World War II when I was 20, I was one of the first helicopter pilots, but you know what, I’ve never been in a hot air balloon!”

We told him we still had room with our group and he immediately jumped at the opportunity.  The Peltons, long-time members of the Escapees RV Club,, stilll RV in their 38’ Dutch Star and within a day or two I had received the confirmation that they would be in Albuquerque. 

We saved the spot next to us,  talked to our Pilot Mike Liberti and plans were made to give Howard his flight.


Janet was just as happy watching the action from the field and in the chase truck.





Here are shots of others that I was able to catch on their first flights:

IMG_7507Arlene Fetterman flew with Mike Liberti (See Hubby Al’s flight below)




Nancy Tidball (in red jacket) flew with Daniel Liberti










IMG_7596Luke, left, flew with his old Berwick High School and Air Force pal Al Fetterman, in the rear, on his first flight








Views from my flight with Art Sauerstrom during his first flight



paddy-logoIMG_1905For the past three years we had assisted with a special shape balloon known as Annie the Ladybug.  This year Annie stayed in New York so Chris Liberti agreed to fly “Paddy”, the Irish Shamrock. 

The shot of Paddy above is actually its publicity photo.  With the winds blowing (and a later rain-out), Paddy never got off the ground this year.  It’s not like we didn’t try.  This shot was taken just before Paddy’s crown line was pulled, collapsing the huge “envelope”.

Following are shots of four crews combining their efforts to get Paddy inflated.  We came close twice, but the winds won.  Getting the air out and the balloon re-packed was also a workout.





Dawn Patrol…




Landing in a local neighborhood






Luke noticed the “moon” jumping over the “cow” during an evening “Glow”



IMG_7808Baby Bee celebrates flying solo while Lilly and Joey, below, launch while kissing after “renewing their vows”










Help, my motorhome is being eaten by an alien!

Alien Eating Moore's Motohome