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Saturday, January 30, 2010

Wonderful Saturday

Today was a really great day. This morning we went to another RV show that was at a nearby stadium. They had a huge selection of trailers. We found one by Carriage that we just loved-until we saw the price tag. At $130K, I don't think that will be in our future for quite some time, especially since we'd need a Freightliner to tow it! It was fun to look anyway, and the kids never seem to get tired of looking at other "new houses".

After that our plan was to go to some trail heads with a picnic lunch and go on a hike. That plan was foiled for two reasons: first, there was no parking whatsoever available near the trails, and second, both kids fell asleep on the way. So instead, we drove back home, put the monitor in the truck, and opened the doors (so it wouldn't get hot) while Jeremy and I sat outside in our lawn chairs, under the awning, chatting and working on our computers. It was so nice! One of those times where we literally said it was hard to believe we're not on vacation. It feels like we're cheating somehow.

Once the kids woke up we played outside most of the day. I love having nice weather like this-low 70s, not too hot and not too cold, and a gorgeous sunny day.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


Woohoo! We did actually make it to Phoenix. They were able to squeeze us into the shop on Saturday morning and get the springs for the suspension fixed, and it didn't cost nearly as much as we were originally afraid of, so that was good. We also feel like we dodged another bullet there because if we had driven much more with that, it was likely to be a far more extensive and expensive repair, if we didn't break the axle in the middle of driving.

The kids did really great on the drive over and we got to go to the RV show in Quartzsite, Arizona on the way. That was a fun stop. The highlight was definitely seeing these Mountain Masters trucks. It completely cured me of my class A envy. We saw a truck that was like a limo on the inside-huge, gorgeous, a 17" fold down DVD player, could fit 4 car seats across the backseat, about a million cupholders, and legroom galore. It even had heated/cooled seats and inmotion satellite TV. Tows a 5th wheel and probably, with some ingenuity, could also have a small car on the bed in front of the 5th wheel. The one we saw was over $100K, but now we know what we'd want if we had $250,000 to spend on an RV. One of those trucks and one of the $100K 2 bedroom Mobile Suites 5th wheels. Hey, we can dream, can't we?

Sunday evening we got into Phoenix and went over to my friend Jen's house. She has a boy, Spencer, the same age as Ian and another little boy who just turned 1. We were going to go bowling but the kids were having a great time in the playroom, so we just stayed there and ordered pizza. She and her husband are great people and we really enjoyed visiting with them. They're pretty busy people, but I'm hoping that we'll be able to get together several times over the next few weeks.

Yesterday we spent the day around the campground, just enjoying the beautiful (70 degrees!) weather. The kids rode bikes, drew with chalk, and learned to play croquet. Today we took a pile of meters & medicines from my Walgreens shopping over to Project CURE, who will be taking a lot of it to Haiti and sending some to other places in need of medical supplies. Then this afternoon we went to the Arizona Science Center. It's under a major construction project so there weren't too many exhibits, but the ones they had were very good quality and we all had a fun time.

The only thing we're not liking here is the internet connection. We're considering buying an external antenna since this is a very frequent problem. Hopefully that would help.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Bakersfield, the black hole

I feel like the last few weeks could have been a drama called "Escape from Bakersfield". It seems like we just cannot get out of here for anything. Brake controller troubles, waiting on the repair guy, kids sick, parents sick, lousy weather....it has just gone on and on.

We had been having trouble with the trailer brakes, so we put in a new brake controller in the truck. It indicated there was an intermittent short in the trailer wiring (which we had already guessed). So we took it to Camping World today to have them take a look. Good news: in about 10 minutes, the tech has the brake wire fixed. Bad news: while underneath, he noticed a few broken leaf springs in the suspension, which explained why the trailer had started bouncing on and rubbing the tires, and was close to breaking the propane pipe to the fridge. Good news: repair will cost less than we originally thought when we heard "suspension", "alignment", "tires", and a few other scary words. Bad news: can't be fixed until tomorrow.

So we're spending the night here in the Camping World parking lot. They have an electrical box out here for just such an occasion, so we'll be comfortable and I suppose we can count the free night of camping when we get our bill. Maybe, just maybe, we'll be able to escape the hold Bakersfield has on us. So far today, we made negative 8 miles of progress toward Phoenix. So even if we just stay put tomorrow we're doing better than today.

At least it's warm and it's mostly stopped raining.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Cabin Fever

Is in high gear around here. Between being sick for several days and having lousy weather, we've spent the better part of the last week inside. You may have seen this gigantic storm hitting the southwestern corner of the US. I guess in some ways it's only fair, since when we got here this was the one little bit of the country that wasn't below freezing and dealing with snow. At any rate, we're not in the worst of the weather. It's rained a lot, but nowhere near flooding. The worst is the winds-crazy steady winds of at least 20mph and gusts up to 60 they say. Glad we are in a big heavy 16000lb trailer, but even then it's rocking quite a bit.

The biggest challenge is that we're nestled in the San Joaquin Valley and there's no way to get out of here without going through snow right now. Tehachapi, 45 minutes east (and uphill) has 9" of snow. Flagstaff, AZ (where we were thinking of going!) is expecting 7 FEET of snow by the end of the day. South of here you have the grapevine pass on I-5 which is closing due to snow and 40mph winds. Can't really go west-just teeny weeny roads that go up through the other mountains. North of here we could avoid mountains, but it's colder and since we're trying to go to Phoenix next going west or north doesn't help a bit.

I'm beginning to wonder if we'll ever get out of Bakersfield. I mean, it's not a bad place, and it's one of our favorite RV parks. But Ian flips out when we go out in the wind and when it's raining we can't play outside, and there's only one museum here (been there 5 times now) and one mall (walked through; took us less than 10 minutes). I'm itching to get back to a more metro area, but who knows if the weather will clear for this weekend. We'd rather spend another week here in the wind than get stuck in some snowy mountain pass.

At least we'd still get donuts and oranges.

And now, here's a message from Ian:


Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Spoke too soon

Clearly, I spoke too soon about being on the mend. Yesterday Jeremy and I both were as sick as we've ever been since we've been married. It was awful. We couldn't keep anything down, had high fevers, and could barely even stand. Of course, the kids were feeling mostly recovered and lost interest in movies after about 7 minutes, so the day was pretty brutal. Thankfully, we woke up feeling significantly better today-still not back to normal, but definitely able to cope with the day.

Here's hoping that we can get out of here this weekend and get off to a fresh start in Phoenix.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

On the mend

The last few days have been kind of long and rough around here. Thursday night, both kids were up back and forth for a few hours and then Ian started getting sick, and was up for a few more hours. Friday we were pretty exhausted and the kids were not feeling great, so we decided to not drive on to Arizona. We signed up for another week at this campground. Partly so we didn't have to drive with sick kids, partly so we didn't have to pack and move when we're exhausted, and partly so we could keep enjoying the fresh oranges and donuts. :)

Yesterday we thought they were doing better, so we went back to the Kern County museum. We've been there a few times now. The kids museum part is kind of small and wimpy, but they have all these old buildings set up like a little town from 100 years ago, and you can tour some of the houses. It's actually pretty neat and gives you a good idea of what life was like in Bakersfield during the oil booms. There's also a big exhibit on the oil discoveries around here, and we only found the biggest part of the exhibit on our 4th visit. There's a little boat/drilling simulator thing that Ian was pretty scared of (it bangs and shakes pretty loudly), and when I tried to take him on it he flipped out and we used the emergency stop button. Turns out that if you finish it, the door on the other side of the room opens to a whole other part of the building with all kinds of neat things. After that we explored a bit and did find a bypass door so Ian could see the rest.

Still having internet woes, but here's one shot of Jeremy and Rinnah I was able to upload.

From For ILP Blog

Just when we thought they were getting better, Rinnah was up getting sick several times last night, so only Jeremy and Ian got to go to church this morning. Makes me glad we decided to stay. I hope that by Friday, everybody's good to go and we can hit the road again. In the meantime, this is sure a nice place to stay.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

This is the life

Today was wonderful. This is how we imagined our January days when we dreamed of our RV life. We got up this morning, walked over to the camp office for some free donuts, then came back home. We opened up some windows since it was already nice out (today's high was 75) and the kids played happily inside for a little while. Then we went out and spent the bulk of the morning exploring the campground, riding bikes, drawing with sidewalk chalk, and playing at the playground. The kids had a ball. For a snack, we sat at the picnic table outside the house and ate oranges picked fresh from the tree next to our house.

From For ILP Blog

In the afternoon, the kids didn't take naps, but still played happily. Ian is learning his letters (he can spell DOG and IAN on his alphabet toy) and Rinnah is trying to learn them too! We played grocery store together and had some relaxing time. When Jeremy was done with work, we piled the kids in the truck and went into town to visit the local museum. Rinnah slept for most of the visit, but Ian really enjoyed it.

After we came home and had dinner there was some screaming since they were pretty tired, but nothing like we've had recently. Now, it's 8:15 and they're both in bed.

Days like today make me so thankful we get to travel like this! It really felt like we were on vacation. I'm so glad we had a refreshing day today to regain some of our sanity back. Here's hoping tomorrow will be just as good!

Monday, January 11, 2010

When's the weekend?

I know we just had one technically, but it sure didn't feel like it. It's been a long week with the kids-they're just not sleeping well, mostly from being sick. Jeremy and I aren't very sick, just sick enough to feel run-down which doesn't mix well with being up for hours every night. It was a very long weekend with little sleep and lots of screaming tantrums. I'm so glad we didn't try to drive anywhere-we were way to exhausted to add that to the mix.

I think we're finally on the upswing. Rinnah seemed back to her old self today, and I'm hoping that Ian will be tomorrow. I really want to be able to take them to Bakersfield's only museum before we leave on Friday.

We did have a few bright moments, and this campground has some awesome places to take pictures. The weather has been nice too, getting progressively warmer. Today it got to 70 and tomorrow is supposed to be 74! Between the free donuts and oranges and gorgeous weather, it feels a bit like we're on vacation.

Here are some pictures from the weekend:

From Bakersfield, CA

From Bakersfield, CA

From Bakersfield, CA

From Bakersfield, CA

From Bakersfield, CA

From Bakersfield, CA

From Bakersfield, CA

From For ILP Blog

Friday, January 8, 2010

Staying put

We thought about a lot of places we could go this weekend, but we checked the weather forecast and it looks like we're already in the warmest little corner of the country. Plus, with all of us being a tad under the weather, we've barely even seen Bakersfield. We really like the park we're at too-we're getting hooked on these oranges and the free donuts are a nice perk. We're also right next to the laundry room, with a sidewalk right from our picnic table.

So we decided we're happy where we're at and too tired to pack up and move again yet anyway. We'll be here another week. Hopefully the kids will recover and we'll get a chance to see the museum.

Today we just did some laundry and took it easy, trying to get all of us some rest. It was warmer today too, in the high 50s, so we were able to spend some time outside. We also walked down the street to a fruit stand, which is really one of those fabulous places with all varieties of fruit, dried fruits, nuts, licorice, olives, etc. and samples of everything. It was all delicious! We ended up bringing home some dark chocolate covered almonds for me and some chocolate covered blueberries for Jeremy, but I hope we'll be back before we leave.

Thursday, January 7, 2010


Is there such a thing for us? I'm not sure. At any rate, today felt like more of a "normal" day than we've had in a few weeks. Both kids (and parents) have colds, so we can't do the museums right now. So this morning we did some exploring around the rv park, enjoyed the free oranges and donuts, and then went into town, about 8 miles away. We ended up going to Walgreens (gotta go to work & get paid, LOL) and Target, and found a Chuck E Cheese, some cheap diesel, an Albertsons, and a few other interesting places.

The afternoon didn't go so well. Stuffy-headed, overtired children made for a miserable naptime battle. The afternoon was redeemed by a photo shoot. Ian was so excited to have his picture taken by this old west town front thing they have on the outside of their party hall. He has never been so cooperative for me. If he starts acting like this more often, it will be a whole lot easier to practice!

From For ILP Blog

We're trying to decide where to go next. We looked at the national weather and so many of you are freezing! We'd like to stay somewhere that's above 50F, but it's only this itty-bitty corner in the southwest right now. We may stay put here for another week and hope for warmer weather to go to the Grand Canyon. I never thought I'd be waiting for Arizona to warm up!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010


We made it to Bakersfield today. This morning I took the kids to run some errands, mostly picking up some new space heaters and a new office chair for Jeremy. This afternoon we packed up and drove for a little over an hour. We debated going further, since it would be helpful for some of our possible scenarios, but decided to stay here since there was more to do in Bakersfield and it would be easier for Jeremy to work. I'm glad we did. This is a wonderful park. It's so fantastic to be in a real RV park again! There's plenty of space between sites, lots of room to park the truck, a big area next to our site for the kids to ride their bikes, laundry right next door, and there are orange trees between the sites that we can pick oranges from! The oranges are sweet and wonderful. They even have free donuts in the morning. We feel like we're living it up now after being in a small urban park for so long.

Still trying to decide what's next. Grand Canyon? San Diego? LA? Phoenix? So many possibilities!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

We really did leave

We finally managed to get out of Sunnyvale today. It felt like we'd spent the last week trying. I think two months was too long for us-we were WAY too settled in and it took us forever to get everything packed up, and we were pretty rusty on the routine for getting the trailer on the road and parking when we arrived. It was worth it to have the time with Jeremy's parents, but we probably will keep our stays shorter from now on.

We made it as far as Tulare, CA, which is a little past Fresno. We're a little over an hour out of Bakersfield. The kids did fantastic on the drive-we left about 1:20 and drove 4 hours straight to get here. But the last 45 minutes were pretty squirrely and I think that would have been a long extra hour tonight to Bakersfield. Tomorrow Jeremy will work and we'll drive the hour whenever it works out between Jeremy's job and the checkout time at the campground. Then we can rest for a bit before leaving on Friday to head for the Grand Canyon.

It was nice to be on the road today. I'd almost forgotten that wonderful, adventurous, free feeling we get when we've got our whole house with us and we can go anywhere we would like. It's so much fun!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Trying again tomorrow

I think we'll be ready to leave tomorrow. It feels like it's been dragging on forever, since it was Saturday we were all geared up to pack and we're still here a few days later. We got the truck fixed today and Jeremy took the kids over to his parents' house for naps, so I spent the afternoon getting things organized and packed. We went over there for dinner, so now the plan is to get the kids out of the house as soon as possible in the morning, before they have time to tear everything apart. Then we come back for a quick lunch and hit the road so the kids can nap in the truck. We'd love to make it to Bakersfield tomorrow, but that's 5 hours according to google, so probably 5.5-6 hours of actual driving with the truck since we have to drive slower. That doesn't include stops and we'll be leaving after lunch, so it's quite possible we'll be stopping a little sooner for the night and finish up the drive on Wednesday.

We've had a great visit with Jeremy's parents and Granny Gunn. I am so thankful that the kids have had a chance to really get to know them, and they to get to know the kids, more than we could ever have gotten with a week here or there. Since we've been here, Rinnah's vocabulary has exploded, Ian has started learning his letters, and they've both grown and learned new things. I'm so happy that his parents could watch all that unfold.

Here's a shot from tonight, Ian playing a game with Grandmother before we said goodbye.

From For ILP Blog

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Date night

Clearly, this did not go as we had planned.

We had this great idea that we'd take the kids over to Jeremy's parents house on Saturday afternoon, spend the afternoon cleaning and packing, then go out to a nice dinner just the two of us and have our very first ever night without the kids. Then we'd pick them up first thing Sunday morning and hit the road to Bakersfield. Sounds great, right?

Well, no sooner had we dropped of the kids but the engine on our truck started to overheat. We'd only driven 3 miles on flat ground at city speeds, so this was obviously worrisome when we considered towing the 16,000lb trailer behind. We had the truck towed to a mechanic and found out just how lucky we were. The engine was overheating because it only had 1/3 the oil it should have, which then built up enough pressure to pop off the coolant hose and spew coolant everywhere. There are a myriad of other things that could have happened, some resulting in our engine needing to be replaced, so we are quite thankful and pleased with this outcome. Honestly, if we were going to have a breakdown, this was pretty much ideal circumstances. No kids in the car, no big rush to go anywhere, an option for a backup vehicle (Jeremy's parents graciously loaned us a car), no trailer with us, and we were paid up at the RV park until next Friday so we didn't even have to leave. The mechanic was great and we'll pay less than we were expecting. The only bad thing is that he also found a very frayed belt which probably would have busted on the drive to Bakersfield. Good that he found it, but bad that we can't get a new one until tomorrow (Monday). So we're hanging out in Sunnyvale a few extra days. Our latest plan is to leave on Tuesday afternoon, but we'll see.

As for our date night, steak turned into In & Out burger, and we spent most of the time apart (Jeremy at the mechanic & me cleaning). We were thankful that the kids were being taken care of, but for different reasons than we originally planned. It's okay though-I'm so glad we're getting the truck in good shape before we hit the road. It's a long way to Bakersfield.

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