Thursday, April 30, 2009

The RV is gone?

Ha! nah... Dennis has driven off to top off the propane tanks. I assume he'll be back. The dog got excited but calmed down after he realized I was still here.

I am now going to have some coffee. Maybe try some of that Red Bull that everyone seems to know about-- the time is truly short. Its all about final cooking, gathering, packing, and I've already gotten to the yelling-at-the-husband part.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Wish you were here

At, upload your own photo to create a postcard, type in a message, pay $1.50 per card, and the card is printed, stamped and mailed for you. Found this tip in Budget Travel magazine.

For taking pictures

Photoshop Elements is loaded into my Mac now with hopes that the software is as good as the reviews. More ready for travel blog photos! As a lousy photographer, I need cheater's help. Yea, uh, you like pictures of feet and headless individuals? Some may consider that 'artsy'... Boy, I can butcher a simple shot.

Maybe I'm thinking of other things when I take pictures? I do have focus problems. [bada bing]

Monday, April 27, 2009

We are different, in a good way

The difference between the way the caveman and I camp: 
Husband, after seeing the list, "Why do we need placemats? Can't we just use paper towels?"

Keeping up with the "clean" before you leave

As with any travel preparation, one must juggle keeping the house and kitchen clean while you prepare to take half of it with you, and leave the place in welcoming tidiness for the return. Don't people eat and live in their home while they get ready for a trip?

In an RV, there's not much keeping you from taking things you 'might' need, rather than as it is when traveling out of a suitcase.

Likewise, packing clothes. What is the secret to not having any laundry to do, not wearing anything you need to take, while being able pack everything clean?

Getting to Mass, keeping up with prayers

As Catholics, we are bound to attend Mass on Sundays and holy days. This adds some excitement to the trip as we will have to get up early on a Sunday in a strange town, dress nicely, and make it to Mass on time.

Thank goodness for [see the my link list] which lists parishes throughout the country along with addresses, phone numbers and schedules. Being pretty conservative, we prefer not to suffer through happy-clappy liturgy and heretical, or even trite, homilies. So picking out a parish becomes an art as you read descriptions of parishes, looking for 'code words' that hint at the tenor of a parish. When I investigate the many possibilities in an area, I look for words like "Adoration", "Benediction", "Novenas", "Vespers", and the best word of all "Latin". I have found that pastors promoting these kinds of activities are the most seriously mindful of Catholic practices. I am not looking for "centering prayer" or "labyrinth" or "folk Mass" for instance.

Added to the wonderful opportunity of attending the Mystery of the Mass, is the way getting into a local parish flavors a community that speeding through a town does not provide. In my youth traveling with my mother, we had much more interesting adventures as we searched for and attended parishes. The experience of the locals and the towns is richer.

The daily need to pray is also a concern as we whip through hitching up the RV at day's end in a new park and making dinner, as well as dismantling and securing the RV for departure. Not only will I bring my rosary and a prayer book, but there are online resources to use. Friends use CDs to listen to on the road too, which is a great idea to keep the mind occupied.

The day looms closer

The day of departure looms. Will I get it all done in time? I'm still working on the itinerary details and identifying the local attractions and little stops. There's the important identification of suitable campgrounds at right spots. The prevailing wisdom says to travel about 250 miles a day in an RV  so I'm piecing together the stops and mileage. As we go, of course, we can always cancel reservations and make new ones as needed I guess. Also, apparently RV parks are more available for drop-in the further West you travel. On the East coast, reservations are needed at the less available and fewer campgrounds and RV parks.

Besides the itinerary, there's the clothing and food to identify and pack. All clothes have to be laundered and clean for packing. The kitchen will need appliances [small crock pot, coffeemaker, and such] and pans, as well as the food to create meals. This entails some menu-planning and cooking food ahead of time like quiche, meatloaf and other easily heated-up  foods. Obviously, grocery stops will replenish perishables like milk and fresh produce. This has to be balanced against the very small freezer and limited cupboard space, and the overall concern of total weight. 

Little details like buying enough cat food and stopping the paper delivery for the house are peppering my consciousness.

Many of the details are the same as for any vacation but there are added tasks particular to RV travel.

Right now, its all about fast thinking, making lists, hard work, and maybe a bit of panic. When this part is over and the RV is all packed, then we can enjoy the happy feeling of the trip.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Intolerant Marine watching the house

While we are gone, a large ex-Marine who did his stint in Iraq will be house-sitting our place and feeding the cat. 

The cat will miss us terribly. She is very sweet but pretends not to notice us too much. You know how cats are. But when we return from a jaunt, she runs to greet us and is hungry-looking. Her plate of food is barely touched and neighbors tell me they can't really get her to eat. Her best friend is the dog. She takes orders from him [as well as a cat can]. Being on this long trip, she will need somebody here full-time to keep her company.

Many RVers take cats along. I just can't face a litter box in a small RV nor the tons of cat hair that she sheds. This kitty is the sheddingest cat I have ever had, having had cats all my life. Fuhgeddabowdit.

I hope this tough Marine does okay with the cat.

On having a blog at all

I haven't had this blog for more than a month. I love to write, I've imagined having a blog for many years but never made the time. One thought frequently chasing me was always the concern that I would have writer's block and be at a loss for words.

Actually, there are so many ideas running through my head, I can't possibly keep up. Like a toilet. My mind runs like a toilet, I'm tellin ya.

Just wanted you to know...I'm holding myself back. If I didn't, I'd be at the computer all day and my husband would never get fed. There in front of the computer would be found a mute, congealed mass, pitifully reaching up from the chair, typing with the one finger left mobile.

Playing it safe for now.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Looking for ideas on stops and sights, traveling east to west

What can you recommend? I am especially interested in Catholic churches, history, and sights.

I got this from my son John's friend. Thanks Tony!

It is definitely worth going north and hitting Utah.  There’s a reason they call it God’s country.  I spent 5 months out there and went on a trip every weekend.  Here is a list of the best places I went:

Zion National Park, UT – you drive into the park in the valley and climb up the cliffs.  Great scenery, hiking, and camping.

Brice Canyon , UT – you arrive in this park above the canyons.  Really cool looking.  I would have liked it even more if there wasn't 2 ½ feet of snow when I was there.

Moab, UT – Crazy rock formations, cool hiking.  I went there three times.  Get gas before trying to cross UT on your way to or from Moab.  That’s where we (John’s fault) ran out of gas in the middle of the desert. 

Slide Rock State Park, UT – great place to camp near Moab.  Also really cool mountain biking.  You camp in the middle of rock formations or on top of them.  It is rolling hills of stone (slide rock).  You can bike all over the place if you like physical exertion.

The Painted Dessert and Petrified Forest, AZ – these are close to each other.  The first is cool to drive through.  It is just crazy looking desert right out of a painting.  The petrified forest is not a forest (I was confused/disappointed at first).  It is a desert with a lot of rocks that used to be trees.  It is amazing how many rock/trees you can look at before you get bored.  There is also an Adobe house built out of rock/trees.  It didn’t have a door so you wouldn’t go inside so you have to climb in the window. 

Sedona, AZ – really cool yuppie/hippie town in AZ.  Cool Indian cliff village near the town that you can tour.  I think they were Hopi Indians.

Farmington, NM – Really cool pine tree (?) desert.  Don’t get drunk and wonder off.  You’ll never find the car.  Probably just cool because I went there with John and we had a fun camping trip.

Death Valley, NV – Really cool salt flats, 120 degrees Fahrenheit, and my Dad almost died.  The last part was only cool because he didn’t.  Do not drink Tequila after hiking three miles straight out into the dessert.  Wait until you get back to the hotel alive and drink a whole liter before going to diner in Vegas.  We did both.

Las Vegas, NV – duh.  The greatest city to visit in the world.  I heard Gomorrah was pretty sweet, but never got a chance to visit.  You can stay entertained without gambling a dollar or going to a single strip club for about a week.  There is something really cool to see at every casino on the strip.  Also, you can get free eats if you play lots of black jack and get a players card.  We only had to lose $300 one morning to get a sweat avocado cheeseburger breakfast.  We also got lots of free Jack Daniels while sitting at the blackjack table for those 30 minutes.  That took the sting out of “paying” $300 for breakfast.

Salt Lake City – the temple, town square, and conference center are all really cool.  The conference center has a park on the roof complete with a stream and a water fall that goes over the side of the building.  The Mormon Tabernacle Choir is amazing if you get a chance to see them.

Provo – Lots of young Mormons.  Only reason to go there would be to see more mountains and BYU.  It gets an honorable mention because I lived there.  I never spent a weekend there.  Lots of good Mexican food and a really good Brazilian restaurant.

Grand Canyon (North Face) – Don’t go there in the winter, it’s closed and buried in snow.  It is also a bad mistake to make because it is a really long drive around the canyon to the South Face.  We drove all night to get the North Face and had to press on.  Oops.

Grand Canyon (South Face) – the most amazing views you will ever see.  You won’t believe it’s real.  They have coyotes, so don’t leave your food out.  We didn’t have anything left the next morning.

Get a National Parks pass.  It will pay for itself when you go to Brice Canyon and Zion National Park.  All the other national parks will be free admission after that.  There is even more to see in Wyoming and Idaho but it was too cold to venture that far north when I lived out there.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Can the RV teach you detachment?

Because of the tiny space in an RV, many RVers state that you will be surprised at how little you need.

Most of us live with too much stuff from packed kitchens, garages, tons of clothes, gadgets, and such.

Get in the RV with some food and just enough clothes for your jaunt. See how unnecessary 'stuff' really is! Free yourself for a time. When you return to your domicile, you'll view your possessions differntly.

We don't own 'stuff'. 'Stuff' owns us.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

AAA is great

Hoo boy was I tired and headachey! Yesterday I spent about two and a half hours at the AAA office getting advice for the upcoming trip. This guy, Randy, was really helpful. Randy has parents who RVed so he had a bit of insight from the stints in his youth. Randy also has been to some of the areas which we plan to visit.

We worked over the proposed itinerary which I brought along. Randy made some really good suggestions which will change our route a bit. He suggested a more scenic route in the Las Vegas area, and recommended our stop in Atlanta at the beginning of the trip rather than at the end. This allows us to skip the uncertain trek across Texas. He suggested some areas of which I was unaware, while adding ideas to stops we were already planning. I got my money's worth for this visit! Then Randy loaded me up with guides and maps.

We will be crossing Birmingham. Should we stop at EWTN?

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Ready the HOUND!!

Griffin got his nails trimmed today in preparation for the trip. I also made an appointment for his torture, I mean, full grooming session next week. This coincides with my own grooming date for a haircut.

Dennis cut out wood to screw in a shelf under the sink. This allows for storage of tall things while not taking up all the space.

Hubby Dennis has carved out some shelves to optimize space on the stove-top [what we already had was too small] and over the sink [the chain allows the shelf to fold down for travel].

Monday, April 20, 2009

Planning the itinerary

Tomorrow I have an appointment at AAA for additional help on the itinerary. I have a loose itinerary, but I'm looking for ideas on the exact route and timing. On our way back for instance, not sure we want to drag ourselves over the emptiness of west Texas for days. Nor am I secure in picking the more southern route along the Mexican border...don't they have gangs or something? I imagine the raided stagecoach scenario in the middle of nowhere, aiming the gun out the window at the whooping attackers, while hubby guns the engine.

"Did you ever hear tell of Sweet Betsy from Pike..."

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Post-RV trip clean up and planning the next

Today was spent mostly washing all the loose rugs, reviewing Dennis' work of newly built shelves, folding and storing newly washed sheets and towels, gathering and putting everything in its RV place. We will get the RV out of the driveway and back to its storage lot to await the next trip.

I'm rushing around to get everything in order as I must join my choir tonight to sing Holy Thursday Mass. Dinner might be rather odd tonight too...will I get done in time? This weekend is the Triduum - the three holiest and most grace-filled days of the entire liturgical year. I'll be busy singing every day through Easter Sunday.

I made contact with an internet buddy today for information on the TLM in Knoxville TN. To think we will be on our second day of our trip and enjoy the graces of the old Mass! And meet this internet buddy who is the pres of the Latin Mass Society there.

The anticipation of the trip grows.

Why RV?

If you love to camp, you will love RVing. I tent-camped years ago and loved the experience of fresh air, stars at night, cooking outside, campfire tending, sleeping in stillness. Now the mere thought of sleeping on the ground makes me...ache.

I used to view RVers with contempt as I camped. Sheesh! I mean, you come all this way out here to stay in your RV and watch TV? I saw RVers missing out on 80 percent of the camping experience. Today, older and stiffer, I enjoy the convenience and comfort.

Are you a germophobe? Okay, do you look forward to filthy gas station bathrooms? How about that sticky toilet paper that has followed you out to the parking lot on the sole of your shoe? In an RV, you get your own germs and control the cleanliness of your own bathroom. And you can always have soap and a towel!

Picky about food? Okay, do you enjoy chancey food that may have been microwaved, over-processed plasticated mystery of non-life origin? Do you crave food with actual nutrients, freshness, or even, *gasp* fiber? In an RV, you can control the food. Organic nut? Alcoholic? or you just want to know what's in it and from whence it comes? In an RV, you don't have to hunt for a restaurant or wonder what the menu options are going to be. And you can clean your own silverware to your satisfaction. Add real butter to the potatoes.

Have a pet? Have you looked at the kennel bill lately? Noticed how the kennel cost more than your entire vacation? Ever felt guilty about leaving the dog in a cage while you are selfishly enjoying yourself for days? Many RVers take their pets along. Our dog LOVES the RV. Its a car but it also has a bed and FOOD! Heaven! You meet the friendly fellow travelers when walking the dog. And a bark or two inside an RV can deter any possible snoopers too.

We have found RVers to be friendly and honest, easy talkers, adventurous and interesting. Nice campgrounds attract nice people.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Are RVers church-goers?

Nope. I haven't seen much evidence of this. Let me know if YOU are!

We generally get up and go on Sunday mornings by ourselves, leaving behind the fellow campers who are assiduously fixing breakfast, walking their dogs, or quietly breaking down camp before a departure.

In my travels around the world, getting out to Mass has been a great way to discover a town and the environment. Searching for the church, we are driving around seeing the town and the people. The same applies as we RV - we aren't just at camp, we are all over the place.

Catholics HAVE to go to Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation. If we miss, we have to go to confession before approaching Holy Communion again. So unless there really is no available parish for miles, there is no excuse. And I'm glad for that!

Working out the storage and space organization

The cabinet over the couch will hold pantry items in some sort of sliding box - not sure what kind yet.

In the cabinet over the stove, Dennis put his quickly built wood shelf.
On the door are plastic pockets found at the Container Store for quick access to eating utensils.

One of the kitchen cabinets - I added short wire shelves for stacking.

Yup. We are pretty much in the middle of nowhere!

The dog [code name White Fang] wondering why he can't get any rest in the 'wild'.

The early spring view out of the back window. Through the bare trees there's a mountain range.

Known as a Class C

Here's our Winnebago Outlook, a "Class C" as it has a bed over the cab. Additionally, there's a couch and a dinette both which fold down to beds. We sleep in the back on the queen-sized bed.

Like any RV of this class, there's the kitchen with stove and oven, a small refrigerator, and cabinets. Also there's the bathroom and shower too.

As the economy fluctuates, we imagine living in this full-time if our situation worsens. Well, there's no library or pool table, but the RV has all the necessities!

We haven't taken a really long trip in this vehicle - we can only guess that we will have the room we need.

Thinking about the trip

My husband and I are preparing gradually. Last week we took the RV out for the first camping trip of the season. The weather was rainy and cold creating the best situation for staying in and organizing the RV.

Considerations for optimizing storage, what to bring, and how to manage food are being thought through. Right now my husband, Dennis, is making a wooden platform with his tools out in the garage to put over the stove burners. We need to make every inch of the tiny counter space available! I spent time thinking through the placement of hooks. Hooks. Everywhere. Inside cabinets, on the bathroom wall, inside the wardrobe, at the doorway for a jacket, the dog leash, or my rosary.

I have been working through the itinerary of a trip to Phoenix, AZ, identifying towns, destinations, campgrounds, attractions. Details such as mileage between stops really matters for instance. We have learned that 250 miles a day is the optimal distance to drive in an RV. There are stops to make! Things to see! And ultimately, each day ends with a campground where we will hook up water and electricity each night, and fix food, walk the dog, look around. Getting to the campground before the rush allows a pick of the lots rather than just getting the last available!

Its a start

I'm creating this blog as a journal for our upcoming RV trip.