Saturday, October 15, 2011

On The Road Again, 24

Good Morning America!

Let’s go back to the east coast for a moment before we leap into Yellowstone. 

In Maryland, after Eli’s Big Day, we helped him pack some of his things into our already crammed RV and into his black Honda with Maryland plates.  Eli is leaving Maryland and he will be going to his new job in The Netherlands at the end of October, where his girlfriend Lisa is already enrolled in school!  Hooray for Lisa and Eli!!  Getting the overloaded RV and Eli’s car back to Oregon is the goal so the four of us (Jolynn, Ken, Eli and I) headed west on I-90.  Ken, Eli and I shared the driving of the Honda and Jolynn, of course, drove the RV. 

It was a grueling ride on I-90, pushing the limit with exhaustion and patience.  Jolynn topped the charts with a 13 hour day of driving that bordered on insanity but we were behind schedule and we had to make up lost time in order to meet Christy at the airport on Tuesday in Wyoming.  In Chicago we had a little incident that forever will be referred to as “remember Chicago”.  I was driving the Honda and I was trying to closely follow Jolynn, Ken & Eli in the RV on the 10 lane freeway through the city.  Suddenly, the RV took an exit from the fast lane and I tried to follow, crossing lanes of traffic, going 65 miles/hour.  We ended up in Chinatown doing U-turns and then we were back on the freeway going back east; we crossed over the same toll bridge 3 times (at $3.50/vehicle) and at some point as we went through the tollbooth, I lost the Empire State building on wheels.  Separately, we both got off at seedy exits that sent a vein of fear through our already rapidly beating hearts.  Ken, sitting in the passenger seat of the RV, could hear my screaming voice in Jolynn’s cell phone without the speaker on…I was terrified and I was lost!  Twenty long minutes later, we met up at a service plaza just north of Chicago, re-grouped, had lunch and calmed down.  We hadn’t had that much excitement since Jolynn was flailing her arms around on Manchester Blvd in San Elijo.

Eli & Ken zipped ahead of us in an effort to get to the airport in Cody while Jolynn and I tried to keep up.  The wind was the top weather story and Jolynn had to really work hard to keep the big rig in her lane.  After being blown nearly off the highway, we pulled into a KOA campground somewhere in South Dakota.  Jolynn saw the “closed for the season” sign but she didn’t tell me about it and we proceeded to camp there.  Luckily, the electric and water were still working and we left a check in the mailbox.

South Dakota now tops my “Never Go Back” list.  In the deserted campground while Jolynn was unplugging the coach, I took the three sweet dogs for their morning walk in what seemed like a perfectly beautiful, leaf-covered place to walk.  In a hurry to get on the road, I quickly loaded up the dogs and we got back on the road.  A few hours later when we stopped for gas, the dogs were reluctant to get out of the RV but I insisted because I only had a few minutes to walk them while Jolynn was pumping diesel.  When all 3 dogs refused to walk, I looked closely at their paws and saw that their paws, their bellies, their chests and their tails were covered in thorns! They must have picked up the stickers at the morning’s reststop but none of them even whimpered.  These particular stickers were not your normal annoying burrs.  These little suckers were stickers from hell!  They were round with the sharpest, the very sharpest, needle thorns that we’ve ever experienced.  It took both of us and a pair of scissors to get them all out.  The dogs were yelping, we were yelping….the thorns were painful!  Meanwhile, the screen door on the RV was left innocently open while we de-thorned each dog at the gas station.  When we pulled out the last evil little thorn, we noticed that there was a pack of biting flies inside the RV.  Ugh.  I get shivers just remembering the experience.  Not only were there way too many flies in our home on wheels, but the there was a swarm of flies on the windshield trying to get in to bite us.  It was like being in a black and white segment of The Twilight Zone.  I started batting the flies, using a few cuss words, and that scared Bear – he’s a fragile little guy.  He climbed under Jolynn’s legs next to the brake and gas pedals while she was barreling down the highway and he curled up directly on the button that makes the big truck horn sound off.  I’m trying to swat killer flies, the extremely loud horn is deafening our ears and we are zooming down South Dakota highway.  I tried to coax the little guy out from under the steering wheel but he wouldn’t budge.  Jolynn had to pull over and we took a few minutes on the side of the road to cuddle our dogs and ourselves .  It’s been a long 5 weeks………..

Wyoming was desolate and barren and windy.  Somewhere in the vast nothingness of Wyoming, a wind gust blew the fridge roof cover off, pulled the screws right out of the roof.  Great.  Now if it rains, water will destroy the fridge.  While we worried about that possibility, I used my phone to research the upcoming mountain passes that go into Cody, Wyoming.    The pass we were headed for was written about on an RV site as being treacherous and the author said something like “if you take this pass, expect to do a swan dive over the edge into the canyon below”.    We changed courses.  Like pioneers, we found a bypass through the mountains that ended up at the northeast entrance to Yellowstone.

At the gate to the northeast entrance, a friendly female ranger greeted us with “Are you Jolynn?”.  Ken and Eli had made it to Cody to pick up Christy and he left us a note at the gate.  Cell phone reception was not happening.  Yellowstone was an oasis of beauty and peace.  The rest of the day was spent driving around the park, pulling off when we wanted to and basking in the magnificence of it all.  The many pictures that I will send you  immediately after posting this blog will share only a glimpse of our travel in this astounding park.

Just as we arrived and started to hook up at the RV park in Gardner, Montana (right outside the North entrance), Ken, Christy and Eli knocked on our door.  We shared our sightseeing stories over a bottle of Oregon Pinot and they told us about seeing a dead bear in the back of a ranger’s truck.  In the morning (Thursday) we all headed out for our big day of sightseeing together in the incredible Yellowstone country.  Jolynn dodged bison on the road, driving the big rig around all the curves, rivers, waterfalls and geysers.  Christy drove the Honda and we took turns jumping in and out of the RV and the Honda.  At the Old Faithful geyser and lodge, we fired up the propane stove in the RV and had lunch in the parking lot.  We had a fabulous day in the park together and we landed in West Yellowstone at the Grizzley RV Park on our last night, telling stories and laughing about our fear of bears.  We were laughing about our fear of bears but actually, we were a little scared, especially when we went to the restroom in the camp and read about “recent” bear activity in the campground.  In the morning, we learned that a bear does, indeed, hang out at this very site and still chuckling about it, we promptly packed up and left Yellowstone.

Idaho is almost home.  Somewhere east of Pocatello Jolynn pulled into an RV dealership and bought a new cover for the fridge.  While we camped out in the parking lot of the dealership for several hours, making lunch and enjoying the sunshine, Ken and Jolynn climbed up on the roof and installed the new cover over the fridge.  This might actually be the very last repair on this trip.

Will we make it home without any more RV issues?  How soon will we make another cross country trip in a 36’ RV?  Will the three dogs ever trust us again?

I can’t say I’ll keep you posted because this is my last blog.

We will not miss the ants, the flies, the stickers, the flood, the smoke coming from the dashboard, the wind whipping parcels off the roof, the weirdos in reststops and the hours and hours at the steering wheel.

We already MISS all of the wonderful, wonderful people we visited on our mega-trip!  We will miss the beautiful, unusual landscapes.  We will miss Ken’s oatmeal breakfasts.  We will miss Christy’s dinners.  We will miss Eli’s playfulness with the dogs on the sofa of the RV.  We will miss the adventure of it all.  I will miss posting this blog.  

Thank you for all of your great, funny, caring feedback and thank you for sharing this amazingly wonderful, sometimes frustrating, thoroughly enlightening trip with us!!
Toto, there really is no place home!  OREEGone (as my Erie friends say), here we come! 

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

On the Road 23

On the run and on the way home, through Yellowstone.

No time to write but lots to say.

I'll forward some pictures and I hope to have the time to write tonight.

There's no place like home....I took my ruby red shoes out of the overstuffed closet and I'm ready to click them and come back to Oregon!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

On The Road 22


What a day of celebration and at the end of the day, we call him Dr. Moore!  Yes, Eli sailed through his defense yesterday with elegance, maturity and extreme intelligence.  Sitting in the audience, we felt the presence of all of our family members who couldn’t be there and Eli’s emotional conclusion was proof that he felt that presence too. There was not a dry eye in the packed room when the acknowledgements came up on the screen and a big picture of our entire family (including our dogs) came up and Eli pointed out every person, acknowledging them separately.  A big beautiful picture of Lisa came up on the screen with pictures of her dogs and cat, as well.  Our handsome Dr. Moore left out no one.  He was gracious and sweet.   Bursting with pride, we left the room while he stayed back with his professors to be grilled and poked for the next 3 hours. 

While Eli was answering to a panel of professors, we all had a warm, delightful afternoon on the boardwalk on Solomon’s Island.  The magnificent bay with sailboats and seagulls lulled all of us into a relaxing, restful place while we waited for Eli to emerge.  When he walked up to our little group of lawn chairs and coolers that spread out in front of the big RV, he was beaming with confidence! Our tears dried on our cheeks in the sunny Maryland air while we congratulated and hugged him to pieces. 

We said goodbye to Lisa’s wonderful parents and headed to Eli’s party on the lawn where everyone on the island knows the newly appointed Dr. Moore.  The PhD parties are held at the water’s edge of the sprawling University of Maryland campus.  Ken played volleyball on the sand court and we all chatted with the bright young students who mulled around  in relaxed academia.  The moon shining on the bay while Jolynn played the drums and Eli and his roommate played their guitars was the perfect ending to the perfect day.  Perfect.

Today is Saturday and I’m rushing to finish writing so that we can meet up Eli and Lisa and help pack up his things as he prepares to leave Solomon’s.  I’ll send you some random pictures, including pictures of our dogs getting a bath.  Maryland is well known for ticks so we are being especially vigilant.  No ticks and no ants…that’s our policy and we’re sticking to it.

The adventure of returning to Oregon begins today and who knows where this road will lead us.  We have yet to figure out a route and we, of course, have a few little issues with the RV to figure out.  Every perfect day has to have an RV issue and this morning’s warm, sunny air promises to be yet another perfect day.  Rest assured that I’ll keep you posted.
Congratulations Dr. Moore and congratulations to Dr. Moore’s parents!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

On The Road Again 21

THE most challenging driving situation we’ve had so far was yesterday, driving from Northampton through Hartford, through NYC, through Baltimore and through Washington DC!  Yikes!  Jolynn did a great job with the detours, the construction, the skinny little narrow lanes, the serious traffic jams, the potholes and the extremely fast-moving vehicles around us on I-95 South.  Whew!  We made it through the big East Coast cities and found Ken, waiting patiently, at a metro station east of DC.  Jolynn pulled into the metro station and we almost got a whopping ticket because we were in a bus lane but she backed us out of the situation.  Navigating that metro station parking lot was almost as bad as traveling down I-95 but it all worked out well.  We then drove south for an hour toward our campsite, stopping only to get groceries.  St. Mary’s campground borders on a lake and a marina and it’s a windy, dark road at night.  Setting up camp, we noticed that the air was warm and almost a little muggy and we took a few minutes to enjoy the Big Dipper and Seven Sisters in the sky.  Having Ken with us in the RV is really delightful and we all worked together to get dinner on the table.  Ken figured out how to make the stereo work and we enjoyed Kenny G with our delicious dinner and before we knew it, 1am was upon us. 

Waking up at 10:45am is highly unusual and it felt good to rest.  We are camped out at a beautiful little site here in Maryland (I’ll send you pictures) and we spent the day relaxing, making calls, chatting and taking care of some business issues.  Behind the RV is a sweet little creek where Rosie and Bear thoroughly enjoyed swimming.  In a few minutes we will unhook and unplug and head toward Solomon’s Island where we will have dinner with Eli, his girlfriend Lisa and Lisa’s parents.  We are all very excited for Eli’s HUGE Ph.D. event tomorrow morning!  YES!  I will definitely keep you posted!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

On The Road Again 20

On this chilly New England evening on the 4th of October I am sitting in the RV with the laptop on my lap.  I must admit, I’m not feeling terribly witty or motivated to write tonight.  I think I can manage one little paragraph.  We had a GREAT couple of days with our Hannah Monet on the Smith Campus these past few days.  We had some really good meals; we laughed with Hannah and her friends;  the dogs ran in green pastures and swam in the campus lake; I did Hannah’s laundry and helped her re-organize her room and we had some good conversations with our 21 year old, amazingly centered, passionate, kind, intelligent and beautiful Hannah.  And I’m sad tonight after saying goodbye to my daughter and that’s why I don’t feel like writing.  But I’ll send some pictures.

Tomorrow morning we pull out of this RV park in the Northampton area and head South to Washington DC where we will pick up Ken and  begin the celebration of Eli’s Ph.D.! 

I look forward to keeping you posted.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

On The Road Again 19

Nearly 400 hits on the craigslist ad for Frye-Cake’s garage sale.  Promptly at dawn, the games began as the cars started parking every which way around the “Corner Nook” as Kathy calls her house.  Kathy’s house and yard are as cute as can be with antiques everywhere and it’s hard to know what’s for sale and what is normal d├ęcor for the Frye household.  But we had prepared for this mega garage sale and hundreds of little items were tagged and cleaned up.  The pouring rain didn’t stop the constant flow of curious buyers.  Almost every person commented on the ad in the paper and lots of people wanted to know who the stranded Oregonians were and Kathy was happy to point us out.  We cooked Smith’s hotdogs on the grill and gave tours of our RV while friends and family stopped by during the day.  The rain and wind persisted but we had a good time and we made nearly $400!

While we were in Fairview, Pennsylvania Jolynn not only had the gaskets around the air conditioners fixed but she, herself, caulked the windshield as well.  All weekend the rain soaked the manicured lawn around the Corner Nook but the water didn’t get through the new gaskets and the moisture didn’t penetrate Jolynn’s impeccable  caulking job…the RV is dry!

I just need to revel for a moment……  The RV is dry inside.  There’s no smoke coming out of the dashboard.  We are not stranded next to the bird lagoon on Manchester Boulevard in San Diego.  Stinky smells are not coming from our coach.  The stairs open when we want to get out of the RV. Not a single ant is marching inside the RV.  Ahhhhhhh……..this feels good.

Leaving  Pennsylvania,  my sweet sister Debi and our dear friends is hard, really hard.  Arriving in Northampton where Hannah is in her 4th year at college is simply wonderful.  We met Hannah in a parking lot and Jolynn, the 3 dogs and I jumped into her car and she took us to one of her favorite places to hang out on campus, a Smith dormitory house. Inside the big quiet house, Hannah unleashed the dogs and they ran around the house with excitement and joy.  We are all happy to see our Hannah Monet.  After a nice visit with Hannah’s friends at the house, we prepared to leave and that’s when  Cocoa Bear quietly went into the laundry room and grabbed a pair of underwear that belonged to an unknown resident of the house.  He ran through the kitchen and through the living room with the underwear in his mouth and as we tried to stop him, he dodged us and kept running with the underwear hanging from his mouth.  Girls were squealing and laughing and that only egged him on. The little brown poodle just ran faster with those panties dangling from his mouth. Totally embarrassed, we finally caught him, leashed up the dogs and left campus. 

After driving 15 miles to the campground in Hannah’s car with Jolynn driving the RV behind me, we arrived at a very private, wooded campground called White Birch.  Lovely little site.  But the manager wasn’t where he was supposed to be when we pulled in so we made a big tour through the campground with our large headlights in the very dark setting, trying to find our appointed site.  After driving around the entire campground, I found the manager but I could barely hear his directions because 3 dogs were barking in my ears.  Eventually we pulled into our wooded site and I put the dogs in the RV so they would not further disturb our neighbors while Jolynn hooked up the electric and water.  I had Hannah’s car so I’m not terribly familiar with it and when I tried to lock it, the alarm went off.  The sound of a car alarm in a serene little campground at ten o’clock at night is not a good way to endear yourself to your camping neighbors.  Northampton, we are HERE! 

       Our trip thus far has been full of heroes and stars and I want to acknowledge them.  Mighty Mouse…hats off to you again!   HandyMan Moore, you are amazing and we totally appreciate you!  Not only are you getting our mail at two different locations and faithfully calling me with the mundane details of bills and deadlines but your handyman work at the rentals is of the utmost importance and we appreciate you greatly!  GREATLY!  Brother in law Gary – your help and positive attitude with the isolator was perfect and we appreciate you too and I totally love your wife!  Jolynn’s family, you are all awesome and your patience , kindness and support is wonderful.  Mary, your help with the lawn mowing and watering at home is so great!  Dan in Erie – you are the man!  Thank you so very, very much for lending us your huge dry shop so Jolynn could caulk the windshield.  You are awesome! Debi, thanks for the food from your garden and I love you, my sister!  Diane & KJ,  you always feed us and take such good care of us and we love you dearly. Denise & Lyle, thanks for making us a priority in your lives, hugs to you.   And Frye-cakes and V, you are wonderful!  Your generosity and friendship goes beyond words.  We miss you Pennsylvania.  Thank you to everyone for your support, kind comments and great feedback!  We are so very lucky to have ALL of you in our lives!

                                      Jolynn, you are amazing.  You are totally amazing…….

 Tomorrow’s a new day.  A day with Hannah on her beautiful campus in this cool New England air with the leaves just starting to turn.  The joy of it all.  What will tomorrow bring?  Will Bear find more ways to embarrass us?  Will we run out of propane while we are running the heater tonight in this beautiful campground in New England?

 Don’t worry, I’ll keep you posted.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

On The Road Again 18

Thursday Morning on the Fern Deck

KJ and Diane threw one heckofa dinner party last night!  Diane’s daughter Lexa was there with her husband Dan and their ADORABLE baby Emma, Lyle and Denise came and of course Frye-cakes.  (V, we missed you!)  As I write this from the Frye-cake deck that is brimming with antiques, doo-dads, ferns and dogs, last night’s wine is still editing my thoughts. 

I have a confession.  I haven’t been entirely honest with you.  When I said that the RV had a little problem, what I really should have said is that the RV had a BIG problem.  Remember  Dent Ohio?  The last night we were at my sister’s house, there was a huge storm and it drenched the area and the inside of our RV.  The trickling stream that we were parked next to turned into a raging creek the next morning.  Walking to the kitchen in the RV, our socks became soaking wet.  Yup, we had a bucket full of leaks!  UGH!  Neither Jolynn nor I really wanted to elaborate on yet another RV problem so I kinda omitted it but SOME people (you know who you are, Erie friends) have encouraged me to come clean on this subject.  The visit to the RV dealer on Peach Street in Erie, PA yesterday resulted in new gaskets around the ceiling air conditioners and today Jolynn will seal some other troubling spots on the roof.  The optimist in me says that this has got to be the very last problem with the RV but…….who knows……  One thing is for sure, I will not lie to you anymore.  I’ve cleared my conscience and I’ll continue to let you in on every single little ugly RV repair issue from this point on.  Kathy’s dryer is drying the soaked items from the flood, the fans are spinning in the RV to dry out the carpet and Jolynn is getting her rubber shoes on so she work on the roof today before it rains. 

And it will rain.  How do I know? Because Frye-cakes has planned a giant yard sale for Saturday and as luck would have it, the forecast is calling for scattered showers.  This is not just any garage sale.  Kathy (aka Frye-cakes) has written the following ad and it’s in the newspaper that is laying here beside me:

“EVERYTHING GOES…..OR THEY DON'T!  Help me help my friends leave.  They arrived here a week ago in an RV from Oregon, with many breakdowns, along the way.  Now, before I have one (breakdown), I have offered to have a garage sale with all proceeds benefiting their departure.  Collectables, junk, vintage items, good stuff, antiques.  Come help out these 2 broke girls, and be a part of their wild cross country adventure.  This is an annual sale.  Let’s get their wheels rolling again.”

That’s my best friend Frye-cakes.  She’s a trip.  She has a good heart and we have a long history of friendship,  tears and laughter and I love her to pieces.  Her basement FULL of stuff should help us out quite a bit as we try to steady the RV and all of it’s many issues on this long and windy road. 

Where will the road take us today and will we make enough money to be able to afford to leave Fairview?  I’ll keep you posted.
P.S.  Before I could get this blog posted this morning, we got a phone call from a woman who loved Kathy’s ad and who wants to come and buy something just to be supportive.  Kathy is scheming up ideas.   She wants to charge admission for viewings of our RV and she is going to sell hot dogs and drinks.  We’re having a garage sale carnival on Saturday in the rain in Fairview Pennsylvania with our 3 dogs and her 2 dogs, the RV parked in front of her house and a basement full of antiques and junk!  Oooo la la! Don't ya wish you were here?