Posts Tagged With: RV travel

Road trip from Hades

Trip from Hades…

 

Lynda and I left St Cloud, Florida, a nice quiet little lake in Florida that had herons, cattle egrets, and Sand Hill Cranes galore.. Even had a couple of gators and their buddies the turtles that would hang out on the beach during the day and just sun. Very relaxing, but also eye opening. Lynda realized that she no longer had the attraction to Florida that it once held for her. For me, this was a huge deal as we almost bought property there sight unseen.

We finally agreed that we liked the idea of Colorado as home, we had discussed that as teenagers. Then, Lynda’s uncle, Dan, had met his hot new 77-year-old honey and they had bought a home together and he was selling his at a pretty good price. Lynda woke up one morning at 3 am and had an idea. (She at least waited until I woke up later on) and asked “Why don’t we buy Dan’s house”? and the decision was made. We called her uncle and made our proposal.

I flew back to San Diego to see my doc, and to pick up Lynda’s car to drive to Grand Junction.. woo HOO Chrysler Crossfires do haul buns and handle nicely.. I spent an extra day in Vegas to hang with our friends, Vicki and Brad. What a great time. I left Lynda’s car in Grand Junction, landed a job at the same time (being late to the interview due to my own scheduling snafu) then flew back to Orlando where Lynda picked me up and the next day? The Hades launch was made.

I had noticed a slight vibration in the rig that seemed to be increasing, just a bit each day. And that there was a lurch of sorts when we took off from a stop.. I just chalked it up to the truck weighing a ton (3 tons to be precise). And off we went. We traveled through Georgia and into Arkansas with little issue along the way, other than changing the route a couple of times, but all in all not a big deal. We stopped by her nephew’s place where they had just had a little kiddo and we wanted to see everyone and that was very pleasant.

We loaded up into “Koko” and off we went. The vibration getting more noticeable and I wasn’t feeling a hundred percent. We pulled out of a KOA in the middle of the night, not knowing the way out of the park, with my truck in tow. I rounded this rather sharp turn, and instead of saying “honey, I can’t see shit, spot me outside”, I just said screw it, “I got this” and CRUNCH. Stopped the rig Lynda hopped out the back and sure as shit, I had swiped one of the poles that were already tilted from other hits on the side of the curve. I had mashed the running board on my truck. 15,000 miles or so with some close calls and Walla, I had finally run out of luck.

I jumped out, tired and frustrated and had to work with a hammer to get the truck disconnected from the rv. Got it parted, and backed the truck up. Still runnable, just cosmetic damage. So decided I would keep it, have a new paint job and some bodywork and keep it for a while longer. I also noticed I was getting warmer as the evening progressed. Later as we were coming into Oklahoma, I came off an off ramp that had a serious left turn, and the guy in the outer lane to me, just didn’t budge an inch, so I had a choice, take out the truck or take the curb with the back wheel. I took the curb

Ever been in an RV when you run over a curb on the rear wheel? It rocks like nothing you have ever sat in.. I thought shit was going to fly out of every cabinet and cupboard… Lynda went “HOLY SHIT” and I said a lot worse… but just a curb.. We arrived at the RV site in Oklahoma City and I am seeing stars… funny stars, when Lynda leans over and says, “Honey, I think you are running a temperature. I kind of ignored it wondering what has spilled out over the curb dance we had done.

Lo and behold the shower filter I had haphazardly installed had snapped off. It had been installed on the water pressure valve that keeps the water pressure down in the shower. Small plastic spindle that screws into the shower handles that when you turn them allows water to flow through the showerhead. I looked at it and thought, “ok, I knew I half ass installed that, so penalty box time”. So I went out and got my new trusty toolbox muttering to myself the entire time, and Lynda says “Honey, why don’t you take a nap”? Again, ignored her, then finally said, “Hey, I gotta fix this if we are gonna shower”.

In the meantime, the inverter gave us an error message and was beeping out loud. At first I thought the system was just goofed up from one to many bounces so I reset all the breakers and checked what I knew to check and to no avail, the beeping continued. Lynda finally grabbed the inverter manual and I read up on that. Turns out that the reason it was beeping was that the batteries were at a minimum charge and were not accepting anymore. I.e.? Your batteries are toast. Which means if we get new ones it is a 700-dollar investment and we are about to park the rig for 2 years. Something else we both knew was coming, we were just hoping to get to Grand Junction. So, solution? Turn off the inverter and use the generator.

I turned back to the shower in a temperature-laden haze and looked at the piece of plastic still screwed into the shower faucet. The only way I could figure to get it out was to get a knife, tap it down until it got a bite, then turn it and screw the plastic piece out. If that didn’t work, I can just replace the entire faucet and call it good, but the plastic piece is only 5 bucks the handles and plumbing are more like 50 bucks or better.

I pulled out my trusty scuba knife and opened it up.. thought I heard the “snick” of the blade locking into place and I put the knifepoint down into the hole where the plastic piece was screwed in and brought my hand down on it forcefully. Not real hard, but enough to get a substantial bite into the plastic.

 

Snick

 

The blade folded and closed and my finger was in it. Blood shot across the shower and all I can think is “Shit, this might be bad, that is a REALLY sharp knife”.. and I quickly reopened the knife, which sent more blood shooting across the shower. F&*K F&*K F&*K and I am trying to find a towel, anything, and find a washcloth. In the meantime, Lynda has a business call in two minutes and she sees the little spurt of blood in the shower. Now she is a little frustrated with me as I ignored her in the first place.. remember the “nap” suggestion? So she is scrambling trying to patch my stupid finger up and take a call and I am standing there somewhere between a really good fever and being pissed that I just cut myself AND haven’t fixed a damn thing in days.

Magically Lynda gets a couple of band aids on my finger and I just toss the knife into my tool bag, look at her and say “Know what? Gonna go take that nap”. And off I go. She looks at me like “DUH” and goes and takes her call. Over the next three days I let the temperature go where it will and finally on the third day I take some ibuprofen to dampen down a splitting headache. Next day? Starting to feel better. We decide we can fix all this crap when we get into Grand Junction. So other than a mild hack and a temp that comes and goes, I don’t feel all that bad.. Normally I would be flat on my back with bronchitis, but Lynda has learned a few things in alternative medicine, and while I may be skeptical, this is the second time I have stayed on my feet and haven’t ended up with bronchitis or worse. She is on to something

We finally end up in Albuquerque, and visit my sister. We go out to our favorite Mexican restaurant called Sadie’s, and I order a Chile Relleno. GREAT food and safe for me cause I am not allergic to them! Woot woot says I… They bring the plates and we dig in, laughing about the trip from hades and then I notice a taste.. something I haven’t had for…. Years. Potatoes… mmmmmmm and I am allergic as hell to them. They cause asthma in my lungs. Son of a …. So I take Benadryl that night and wake up, no problems.. I am impressed! Woot woot says I, dodged that bullet. We bid my little sister adieu and head off to Grand Junction.

Now that vibration? Is getting really bad. We pull over in the middle of nowhere in New Mexico so I can look at nothing I truly understand. The first time I look at the U joints? They look ok, not loose, not goofy, so nothing makes sense. We go down the road another 10 miles and I say ok, I have to look again. This time? Oh shit, the U-joint is breaking up. One of the clasps that keeps the yoke in place are broken. I don’t think we will make it much further.

We agree to take the Toyota off the back and have me drive it and follow Lynda to Farmington, New Mexico, 77 miles away. The entire way we are both saying “Just a little further, just a little further”. We pull into Farmington and I Google truck repair. We find Bruckner’s Sales and Service for large trucks. We pull in and they say “Yep, we can work on your rig, no problem”. Later the shop manager comes up to us and says, yeah, you’re right, your U-joint is out, and so is the Yoke, and we are checking the driveline. Turns out the driveline is fine, but the U-joints and the Yoke need replacement. They tell us that they can order them and have them in the next day and have us on the road by 1 or 2. GREAT shop. We get a motel room and just relax.

The next day we get to the shop and they are doing a great job, quick and the labor was pretty cheap. The parts? Not so much. All things said and done the job was about 1300 dollars for the job. About what I figured it would be. And the reason it failed? No grease. I thought a shop in Washington had greased it for some reason when they changed the oil. Live and learn. We pulled into Grand Junction and my list of repair work is finally stabilized.. and my finger, thanks to the fingernail being in the way is still attached.

The road trip for a lifetime is winding down for now, and the house trip for a lifetime (or for at least two years) is winding up. Stay tuned, Lynda’s uncle has agreed to teach me how to remodel a house… Anyone know where I can find my scuba knife to pound a nail into a shingle?

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Categories: Adventure, Adventure Travel, Backpacking, Camping, Cancer, Downhill Skiing, Family, Hiking, Hot Tubbing!, Living Passionately, Love, Reconnection, Religious, RV Travel, Scuba, Ski, Spiritual, Thanksgiving | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A quote got me

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.

That is supposed to be a quote from Mark Twain, I cannot validate that, but I choose to believe that he did indeed write it. And with that, my post.

Lynda and I decided to follow that advice, although we had not received it directly from Mark Twain, but after getting the living hell scared out of both of us, a conversation filtered from my loving sister, Daonne, to Lynda. The conversation that Daonne and I had was a very serious one that blew in like a wind, foretelling of coming disaster and dark times. We were chatting after Lynda’s diagnosis, and Daonne simply said, “What will you do if you lose her”?

An honest question, as Lynda’s diagnosis back then was dire. And it had both of us trying to figure out what to do. We had many recommendations, such as reduce stress. Lynda was working 60 hour work weeks, with periodic 80 or 90 hour work weeks during her companies training sessions, about once a quarter. And her pay had just been cut by 30K a year. She came home in tears more often than I could count, even though she truly loved her job. Her health was paying the price. My job was pretty stress free, and the hours were stable, and the pay was excellent. I had a great boss, Cathy Young. Later I would discover she was a god send.

That question brought my world to a screeching halt. It had never once truly entered my mind that I could lose her. In that instant the darkest of time went through my mind. I stammered, I balked, but I caught myself and said that “I really don’t know”. “My life would be over, guess I would just mark time until my body caught up”. “Probably go ski patrol in Colorado, hike trails to get away, travel the world or at least the US”. Daonne kind of nodded and we let that errant line of thought go on its way. Much to my surprise, Daonne had a conversation with Lynda and passed on what I would do. Lynda approached me the next day and said that “If that is what you would do without me, why don’t we do it together instead”?

So after a teary eyed moment or three, we decided, then and there, it was time to hang up the American Dream and go live our own dream. Since that time we have sold our belongings, moved into a nice RV that we call “Koko” short for Kokopelli, the “trickster” in Native American lore.

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We have been traveling since June of last year, and no intention of stopping. We have hiked the Wyoming mountains with good friends,

2013 NOLS ELLE B

hiked the Wenatchee Mountains in Washington,

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hiked with my nephew in the Grand Tetons,

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and in Yellowstone National Park. We have spent time with friends in Bend, Oregon, and ended up here in Breckenridge Colorado for the ski season.

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We spent a month in Belize with family.

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and got to spend Spring Break with my family in Durango, And we ain’t done yet

Our tentative plans are to travel from here in Colorado to Key Largo, Florida, via Bangor Maine. In there somewhere, do some hiking, scuba diving, then return to Colorado for a family reunions, and head to South Dakota’s Black Hills for more backpacking and visit some friends during Sturgis. Stress? none, non-existent and Lynda’s health? She is a picture of health in every sense of the word, so that reduces my stress to a whopping “zero”.

We haven’t made final plans for returning to Colorado as we may choose to go to Utah instead, but we will see. And next year? Well, 2015 is our 10th anniversary. I would honestly like to RV up to Alaska during June/July/August, then return to the US to fly out to Africa for a photo safari with my wife, and if we can really stretch it somehow? Stop by Greece on the way for a week or so… So that American Dream? meh, underrated, ours is much much better in our eyes.

Funny what happens when you decide to go get lost.

You might just find a slice of paradise. I am simply thrilled to be sharing it with my soul mate. So Mr. Twain?

You were so right…

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails.

Explore. Dream. Discover.

Categories: Adventure, Adventure Travel, Backpacking, Camping, Downhill Skiing, Family, Hiking, Hot Tubbing!, Living Passionately, Love, Reconnection, Religious, RV Travel, Scuba, Ski, Spiritual, Thanksgiving | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Colorado… land of dreams…

It was the back to school dance of 1980. I (Lynda) was starting my sophomore year: Erick was starting his Junior year at Goddard High School in Roswell, NM. That was when it all started.  Erick had seen me during the school year but I was going steady (remember that term) with a friend of his named Frank. Frank and I broke up over the summer and I was a single girl… until that Back to School dance. Erick wasted no time. He immediately asked me to dance and we danced all night together. Yes, he asked for my phone number and with much excitement I gave it to him.

When he called the next week (he was genius) he said that he was taking his younger sister to the circus in town and would I like to go. How could mom say no to that? He was such a gentleman. He, of course, met my parents and promised to have me home right after the circus. He opened my door and did all the things that a young man is supposed to do. Oh, and he cleaned up so nice. I was so proud to take his arm and hold his hand and walk next to him. Little did I know that 22 years later when I took that hand again it would take our breath away. More on that later…

As we began to get more and more serious in our dating he gave me a Promise Ring. It had our names down each side and a tiny diamond at the top. We talked about where we would go after we graduated high school. I had moved to Roswell in the summer of 1979 between ninth and tenth grade. My freshman year, 1978, was spent in Colorado Springs; CO. Colorado was greener than anything I had ever seen at the time.

My parents moved there from Oceanside, CA where I went to seventh and eights grade.  Oceanside was ok but it was a rough time for me and I was thrilled to leave. Colorado was different. I had always lived in the desert, never where the scent of pines filled the air and there was snow.  And yes, I had to walk a quarter mile in the snow to wait for the school bus. We had 3 acres just outside of Colorado Springs and we could look out over the city lights at night and see the tram lights as they went up the side of Pikes Peak. Under a full moon the snow on the mountains would glisten and reflect the moonlight. Twinkling stars were everywhere.

We decided after graduation we would move to Colorado and buy an A-frame house and grow old together. We talked about living in Colorado; what it would be like and what we would do.

Well, he had difficulty with a certain vice-principle in school. It was clear that Mr. Lair was going to do everything he could to see that Erick didn’t graduate. Erick knew he couldn’t support me without an education so he went to speak to the recruiters. He would have liked to join the Air Force but poor vision and glasses deleted that option so instead he enlisted in the Marines. He knew I would talk him out of it so he didn’t tell me until right before he left for boot camp. I was angry. No, I was Livid! But there was nothing I could do but let him go and promise to be here when he came home.

He came home after graduation from boot camp. OMG did he looked good. He walked taller and straighter than I had ever seen anyone walk. He was no longer a high school kid, he had become not just a man; he had become a Marine. He was home for about 15 days and then he was gone again. He had become a Marine, but I was still just a high school girl whose worth is measured by whether she had a date to the prom. Long story short, I lasted through boot camp but I didn’t have what it took to wait for him to come home again. So our romance ended with a letter.

It was 10 years ago; November seventh, 2003 when I got the email that said, “Is this the same Lynda Smith?” When he later asked, “What are you doing?” my response was “leaving a bad job and a bad relationship” He said, “Why don’t you come up to Alaska?” and I did. We knew that we had unfinished business. He met me in the airport with twenty-two red and pink roses (one for each year we had been apart) and a fur coat – it was winter in Alaska.

When we saw each other we both started running. he was trying to video me but dropped the camera to his side as the microphone of the still rolling camera recorded “oh my God.” We embraced, in the middle of the isle until security asked us to move. We gathered our things, I donned the fur and we walked – or should I say floated – outside to the parking area. Just like in high school he opened my door, helped me in and as I shook off the cool night air, he appeared in the driver’s seat of the Land Cruiser.

As if there had never been a day missed, our hands met on the console and our fingers interlaced. The moment our fingers found each other, we both gasped for air. The feeling of our hands together took both our breath away. Apparently every handhold for 22 years was unconsciously compared to that handhold. It was as though our hands found home. Once we found our breath, we kissed again. It was a long, hard, welcome-home kiss.

Now thirty-two years later as I type this we are traveling in Koko (our home on wheels) to set up in Breckenridge, Colorado for the ski season. He just asked me “how do you like our A-Frame” my response… “I think I‘ll adjust.” No, Koko isn’t exactly an A-Frame, I think maybe she is better.

Colorado Rocky Mountain High

Colorado Rocky Mountain High

We will spend the majority of the winter here in Breckenridge with our Epic Ski Pass. The Epic gives us access to several ski resorts in Colorado but also 2 in California and four in Europe – should we choose to go there. The month of December we will fly down to Belize where we will SCUBA dive the Blue Hole, tour the Mayan ruins in Guatemala, go hiking, cave tubing, zip lining, you name it.

And then? In January back here to finish out the ski season before meandering our way to the Florida Keys for more SCUBA diving.  We couldn’t do that sort of thing if we had a traditional A-Frame. So yes, I think I will adjust to our “A-Frame”

This dream took 33 years to bring to fruition. Let’s create another one that is 32 years in the making. But this time, lets enjoy all those years together. I love you, Babe.

Categories: Adventure, Adventure Travel, Backpacking, Camping, Downhill Skiing, Hiking, Hot Tubbing!, Living Passionately, Love, Reconnection, RV Travel, Scuba, Ski | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Leaving San Diego

Funny how a road trip can change your perspective, your attitude, and your mindset.

Lynda and I truly enjoyed our 3 month excursion into Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Washington, Oregon, and back to San Diego. 8000 miles all in all. In that time we became aware of many lifestyle changes that fell into place as we boogied about the US.

The first? We slowed down. A lot. We found that when we don’t have a specific pushing reason to get up at the crack of dawn? We don’t. We snuggle for a couple of hours, and that truly is priceless. I can remember being up at 0430, stumbling for the coffee pot, hitting the shower, and bouncing out the door to fly down the road at 70mph+ so that I could get Lynda to work, then get myself parked in front of my laptop at work for another day at the grind.

I remember standing up one day and looking over the top of my cube and had this pressing thought. “If today were the last one I would ever have, if I knew that time was up at the end of the day, is this where I would want to be”? and the answer to that thought was an overwhelming

NO.

The thought that stimulated this was the remnants of an experience from Alaska while working for Chris Pecci a good friend, at Unocal. There was a very well liked Vice President out of Houston who was known for working hard, many hours a week, great person to work for and with, and was held in high regard by all. He had a massive heart attack at his desk. He was dead before he hit the floor. After his services, several executives at Unocal quit. They didn’t want their lives to end at a desk. Funny how the loss of a human life can sometimes save others.

The idea of being a “gopher” in a sea of cubes suddenly became revolting. The funny memory of all these heads popping up when there was a loud noise in the ocean of cubes was chucklacious, but, the humor suddenly escaped me. The pay was EXCELLENT, and the people, overall, were good folks to work with and to work for, but if someone had stepped up to me 10 years ago after a wild road trip across the US with my high school sweetheart and said “You, sir are going to spend the next 10 years of your life in a cube farm”, I would have smacked them in the head and told them they were stoned.

The scary part? They would have been spot on. Lynda and I became wrapped up in the idealistic life that we had been sold on by our environment, and that environment being our parents, Wall Street advertising, blame it on whatever you want, but we had purchased the “American Dream”.. Lock. Stock. and Barrel.

Now, honestly? Working with Lynda in our wood shop at our home on Fairburn Street was beyond fantastic, we enjoyed it. and we were wholly responsible for the dream we created. We built our own furniture, fixed up our home, enjoyed days of putzing in the yard, it was truly, the “American Dream” and we did cherish it. Then a serious kick in the ass came in from left field. Lynda had been diagnosed with stage IIIA breast cancer. and our world melted.

Doctors, Surgeons, questions.. above all, questions… what to do? The standard way or what? and we began our trek through the wonderful world of really scary shit. We rode the roller-coaster from hell. But buried in that roller coaster, we both turned our thoughts to our beginnings, our road trip in 2004 from Alaska to San Diego, via Key West… That was our happiest trip, our best of our best times, and how do we do that again? How do we reduce stress and re-learn how to focus on living and less on chasing the almighty dollar?

Finally, we had our answer.

Just do it. Scrape your cash together, toss out all that you are willing to cast off, point the boat of our lives to uncharted waters, give each other a huge kiss, and set sail. We bought our motor-home, donated our “stuff”, tossed our “stuff”, cried about our “stuff”, laughed about our “stuff”, but downsized our “stuff” to what we had when we met each other again… and in that, learn to live for the moment, to enjoy the now, and let life be, while we create memories that last for our lifetimes.

And so far? Can you remember the last time you got up and actually looked forward to your day? Truly enjoyed a long snuggle with your soul mate? Spent the day enjoying your surroundings? Made wild plans for the week, the month? the year? and knew that you could change them on a dime and it would be OK?

We want to share our journey with our friends of whom we truly miss. That was our other insight… We may not care for San Diego, but we truly miss our friends, all of them. We love sharing our stories, and listening to what their lives have going on in them… In that loss, our hearts can often ache for the warmth of their company… please remember that as we share our current story, you truly are missed.

The story is far from over, and the journey has just begun, and it begins with a fresh perspective, new ideals, goals. Easy? Easier than we expected, but not without concern.. If you follow the theory of the “law of attraction” essentially thoughts are reality generators, and in that, what you dream of, what you think of? You create. So in your day, spend some time thinking of what YOUR life should look like. How you would like it to be. Then make it so. It is NOT impossible, may not be EASY, but not impossible. Dream it. Do it.

Our dream? Travel the US, ski the mountains, scuba the oceans, but to SEE America on the road for the next decade or so. Meet new friends, and share our lives with everyone who is interested in our tale. As this goes along, you will find that we are fluid, things change, goals shift, and the wind blows.. but our course is set, our smiles are wide, and our love is deep. Please enjoy our crazy path, comment, laugh, share.. and please share yours… our friends life stories are wonderful to us as we hope ours is to you.

So, if nothing else, the take away from this current rant? For all our friends, and anyone who stumbles across this blog…

Life can be a short run thing. I have heard that since I was a teenager from my brother and it stuck with me.  I have been fortunate enough to have made it this far with only a few close calls. Many of my friends were not so fortunate. I cannot count how many lives seemed to end before they should have.

So before a “close call” becomes a permanent thing? Get passionate about your life’s dream, whatever it may be, and reach for that dream. Never give up, never surrender that vision, if you have buried it? Dig your dream up from the grave it is buried in, give it life’s breath, bring it back to the world of the living and set it free. See where that vision leads you, perhaps the road less traveled, maybe even the one you are on. But pursue it like a man on fire running for a lake.

Mark Twain

“Life is short, break the rules, forgive quickly, kiss slowly, love truly, laugh uncontrollably, and never regret anything that made you smile. Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails.

Explore

Dream

Discover”

~Mark Twain

Categories: Adventure, Adventure Travel, Backpacking, Camping, Downhill Skiing, Hiking, Hot Tubbing!, Living Passionately, Love, Reconnection, RV Travel, Scuba, Ski | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Romping through Colorado

Well, we left our rig behind in San Diego, so we could do an inexpensive (relatively speaking) trip to Aspen, which, buy the way, was GORGEOUS!  Lynda met people in the NAFA organization (National Association for Fixed Annuities) and made some headway in her latest endeavors….

In the meantime, yours truly was checking into ski boot parts.. seems my heels on my 2002 Tecnica Icons

2002 Tecnica Icons

2002 Tecnica Icons

are WAY over due for replacement. Last ski shop said they would not work with heels that worn.. So I could either try and find heel replacements, or new boots… Decisions Decisions..  But cost wise, new heels (if I could actually find them) would be the least expensive way to go… but! BUT! BUT! New boots have NEWER technology.. (as do the skis) and I am just itching to rent some out and see how they fit.. (or see how the new skis ski)… Ah well, life of a Ski Bum.

and Ski Bunny.

So, the research goes on… In the meantime, the snow in Aspen was wonderful, and it looks like it may be a GRAND ski season. the RV site we have picked out just ROCKS… hot tub, indoor pool, cable TV (which I could care a less about, BUT it may have cable internet) and that would be GREAT. So with 4 or 5 mountains to pick from, the ability to ski 5-6 days a week?

Priceless

Just hoping my body can keep up with my attitude…

Included are a few pics of the RV resort and other miscellaneous places along the way

Tiger Run RV Resort

Tiger Run RV Resort

Not a SNOW car!

Not a SNOW car!

SNOW!

SNOW!

Categories: Adventure, Adventure Travel, Backpacking, Camping, Downhill Skiing, Hiking, Hot Tubbing!, Living Passionately, Love, Reconnection, RV Travel, Scuba, Ski | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments

And we are off

Well, a few weeks into our road trip FOR a lifetime, and the fun we have had.. and some interesting learning curves… We started off by enjoying the Hudson family reunion in Grand Junction, Colorado,

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followed up by our start with Ouray, Colorado,

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Then on to Salt Lake City where we picked up my nephew, Garrett Taylor.. (Mike Taylor and Ellen Taylor, we cannot thank you enough for letting us have him for some quality time)…

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Then we descended on Yellowstone where we spent a 3 day 2 night back packing trip in Hell’s Roaring River area, and also did a few other spiffy hikes in and around Yellowstone.

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and of course, “Butt Pucker Creek” where we forded the river to get to the other side for our camp site.. wondered if any of us were going to go swimming with our packs… and on that note, we did learn that if you are going to cross a swift moving river, unclip your waist strap and your upper harness in case you have to release your pack. (Thank you forest service video BEFORE we went on our backcountry hike).

We had our own beach for the day.

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and after a nights rest, we hiked back to our truck… two nights, three days, and it was fun

After that we trekked on to the Tetons

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Found some nice day hikes around String Lake (thanks Danny) and found Hidden Falls trail… not so hidden as it was loaded with people. and we discovered that if you want to get away from the people, you are going to have to do a 20+ mile hike to do it. There are some GREAT trails there, but you are talking 4 day jaunts that we didn’t think we were up to.. Day hikes are nice, but busy with people.. I think we enjoyed Yellowstone more than the Tetons.

We sat around and discussed what we wanted to do and Garrett thought that Mt Rushmore would be cool, so off we went. We stopped by Devils Tower, Wyoming, and wow, incredible country side and the Tower itself was very impressive.

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The day hike (1.4 miles) around the Tower was very cool.

Now we are in Spearfish, South Dakota so I can catch up on some maintenance on the rig, and so Lynda can do some work. We found a park here in Spearfish managed by the city, and it is gorgeous.. cannot recommend it enough. On one side note, the Sturgis rally is about to kick off. and bikers are converging on every town near Sturgis.. should prove to be interesting.

Now, all the side notes to things learned. We replaced our tires in Salt Lake City and I discovered that they did not replace the stem core’s in the stems. and crap often gets loose inside the tire (dust and whatnot) that makes the core jam and leak… so if you get your tires replaced, plan on replacing stem cores.. not a big deal, just a learning curve

Next item. we are still scratching our heads. We pulled into a gas station, filled up and Lynda hit the ignition… nothing. nada. zip, zilcho… and we noticed the transmission shifter flashing odd numbers. Well, Lynda the logical one digs through the Allison Transmission manual and we discover that our oil in our transmission is too cold.. WTF? that makes zero sense… but that is the code that is flashing… So after a about a half hour of trying to start the rig, we gave it 15 minutes hit the ignition and WALLA! we have engine roaring… So I checked the oil level and it was low.. not critically so, but low just the same… so figured out how to add oil to the tranny and we were off again.

We pulled into Spearfish and I have figured that is the time to do minor maintenance stuff… so here we sit, having an absolute ball, and our nephew is enjoying the time… Never, let me repeat this, never in a gazillion years did I ever see this coming… Sometimes life smacks you between the eyes… and sometimes it hands you a dream…. As we have been handed both over the past decade, never did I think that it would be better than anything I could have imagined…..

 

Road trip FOR a lifetime…

Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bow lines, sail away from safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails.

Explore. Dream. Discover.

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Never… repeat.. NEVER a dull moment with the Carpenter Clan

Well, “Monday morning you sure look fine… Friday I got traveling on my mind” <sung badly and offkey>

Fleetwood Mac

Ah, have to love Fleetwood Mac.. and Monday of this week? What a day…

Originally I had posted that my employer, Websense, had agreed to let me work remotely, and in a PT basis where I could continue to draw my health insurance, and make a decent wage while traveling the US with my wife… It was a sweet deal.. Note the word “was”.

Monday we had a news release. Seems an investment company bought Websense for 1 billion dollars. All stock is frozen, and will be paid out at $24.75 a share, which is a GREAT deal for everyone (including me). AND they will take the company from being traded publicly to being a private company. Again, GREAT for Websense, as the requirements to be publicly traded are onerous… and I mean that. I have said many times over, if I were a CEO at a company I would NEVER go public..

sox

So what does that mean? Well, it means that Websense no longer has to meet SOX (Sarbanes Oxley) requirements. This was a law put in place due to the Enron and WordCom meltdowns.. to keep CEO’s and CFO’s from claiming that they didn’t know their accounting was skewed and avoid legal action… nor do they have to report to the SEC, and a number of other painful regulations that you have to meet.. It truly is costly in both time and money. and again, I would NEVER go public.

So what is the big deal? For Websense? a great way to focus on product development and delivery. For me? Remember that SOX thing? Yeah, that. I am a SOX IT auditor.. so no SOX?

No IT Auditor…

They may need a financial audit team so that should they every decide to sell the company they will be able to show an audit trail, but as far as my job? Well, as soon (or sooner) as the deal is inked, I will more than likely find myself gainfully UNemployed.

And truthfully? I am ok with that. This may allow us to spend our time focused on each other and unwinding from the stress over the past few years. When you ask what stress? Don’t ask, I can’t list it all here, but it has been a bit much. I feel I am in desperate need of some relaxing time. Some time with my wife and family and a chance to seriously unwind. Maybe some time with my toes in the water and ass in the sand.

Kauai

 

I cannot begin to thank Websense enough for the gig they gave me, or the support that I have received from them… seriously. great company to work for. For Lynda and me?

Happy trails.

happy trails

Categories: Adventure, Adventure Travel, Backpacking, Camping, Hiking, Love, Reconnection, RV Travel, Scuba | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Drop off the map.. and go where the winds of the heart blow

Well, 56 days, and we launch into our new lives. This new adventure is approaching fast, and as life does, it throws a curve just to get your attention. As you may remember, Lynda underwent surgery for her intestinal stricture. The doctor gave her a thumbs up, and a warning… “There will be ups and downs”. and off we went, full tilt boogie, back to her “normal diet” which includes some damn strange dishes… But fun all the same.

At least until the night before last. Her stomach locked up, and we were just about freaked. She was in considerable discomfort, and we pulled out all the stops as we had done before. Better living through pharmeceuticals, hot bath, and finally, a Vicodine.

Well, she slept through the night, and woke the next morning and all was well. But it spooked the hell out of both of us. She called the nurse at the surgeons office, who was a bit taken aback by Lynda’s rather brash and fowardness. But she passed the info on to the surgeon who doesn’t usually return calls. He returned this one.

Remember those “ups and downs” I warned you about? “Yes, this was one of those”.. We felt a bit foolish, and much relieved, and Lynda is back to going and blowing… Our plans are still on track for the road trip for a lifetime. and we are moving with purpose…

We have made some minor adjustments to our plans, as we are picking up my nephew, Garrett Taylor July 12 at the Salt Lake City airport and will have him join us for a month or so out on the road. We will meander through Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming before bringing him back to Salt Lake City so that he can return to Oklahoma City where he can get back to school and his friends. (This is an OLD picture of him, but what I have)

Kauai

During that time with us, we have some plans of hiking trails, maybe some rafting, will see how it spins out… and Garrett gets to pick some spots we will visit, as this is a collaborative adventure… hehe.

After we are through wearing his butt out, we are going back to the Wind River area in Wyoming for a NOLS backpacking trip. 6 days in the backcountry for an executive leadership course, followed up by going across the US to the east coast and down with the leaves. At that point, the idea is to setup in Colorado for the ski season, then return to San Diego for some work I have to do for Websense Inc.. (who just ROCKS) and return to Colorado when done.. My boss, Cathy Young, is working with me to set dates for the return work… Once complete, back to Colorado, ski our butts off, then head to Florida for some diving… after that?

Pick up my sister Daonne, my nephew (again provided he even wants to come along) and maybe my other sister Ellen for a week or so,  and go to Alaska via the west coast….. Stay tuned… Adventures are on the horizon, and coming up fast!

Ellen and Daonne

Categories: Adventure, Adventure Travel, Backpacking, Camping, Hiking, Love, Reconnection, RV Travel, Scuba | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

Websense Just Rocks

Well, my boss, Cathy Young, took my request up the chain of command here at Websense, Inc. and the CFO, Mike Newman agreed with my proposal of working remotely. I will be working 20 hours a week, allowed to keep my benefits, and work remotely. I will have to come back to San Diego to work on site with the external auditors, Ernst and Young  sometime in Oct/Nov until we have the SOx audit wrapped up. Usually runs about 3 weeks. I am still trying to digest this…

YAHOOOOOOO comes to mind. Then trying to figure out how to thank Cathy and Mike for this gift….

Lynda and I are leaving San Diego on the 28th of June. Our Road Trip FOR a Lifetime commences. In the meantime, life just got busier. We have so much we have to wrap up that it is just crazy.. Next weekend we head to Yuma for a solar panel install Starlite Solar has had some good reviews.. This will allow us to boondock without running the generator all day and night.

We also have to get our vehicles registered in Florida, as well as move our bank stuff to Navy Federal Credit Union. (Had that account since 1983). Knew it would come in handy… Move our car insurance from Allstate to USAA. Hate to lose Mark Silverstone’s support, he is an AWESOME insurance guy.. We CANNOT say enough about his support, his help and being just a nice guy… plus he likes good beer. and motorcycles. and has a hot wife.. anyhow… Thank Mark, for all you did for us.

The list goes on and on and the head is reeling, but the wife, being the logical woman that she is, we have a list, in priority, setup, shared, and ready to rumble…

The countdown has begun… our route? so far is listed here. look at the icons and it gives you an idea of where we are going this year.

From San Diego to Colorado, to Wyoming to the East Coast, back to Colorado/Tahoe for the ski season, then down to Key Largo for some diving… Then? Florida to Alaska via New Mexico and Oklahoma to pick up my nephew and sister for some bucket list backpack trips and some time in Alaska… again.

Map of our Trip

This is gonna be.. wait.. wait……
Already IS great.

IMG_2038

Fuckin A!

Categories: Adventure, Adventure Travel, Backpacking, Camping, Hiking, Love, Reconnection, RV Travel | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Epiphanies and such…

Well, Lynda and I were sitting at the table, and we were discussing her family reunion.

481188_10151530104244505_1249909282_n

Let me start from the beginning. Lynda and her family back in the 80’s discovered that the only time the entire family got together was during funerals.. and the senior members of the family found that unacceptable. So, they started having annual family reunions around fathers day.. Just a time when kids were out of school and everyone could make time to be somewhere for the Hudson family reunion… (This was Lynda’s Mom’s side of the house)

Each year they rotated through who was going to host the family reunion, and if you weren’t there, you often were selected as the site for the next reunion. (teach them not to make it to the reunion) Then, if you were a spouse and didn’t make it for two reunions?    You were OUT. GONE.. Asta La Vista Baby. You can’t make a family reunion? Den go swim wit da fishes…

So we have been going to those family reunions since 2004. and in that it started me thinking that my family needed one, so we have done our best to follow in kind, having a Carpenter family reunion each year, usually during the summers in Alaska. However, Lynda and I started talking about doing something different. Something that would fit our bucket list, and make the Carpenter family reunion fun and exciting….. 

With that in mind, we came up with “Christmas in Belize”.. get the Carpenter and maybe Smith family together and go diving and hiking and such in Belize..  We have the bucket list that inludes the Blue Hole, and we think that with some effort we can all go diving together in Belize… for Christmas. The dives there can be shallow and lively, and provided they haven’t had a hurricane in the season, the waters are crystal clear.

Freedom B

I pinged my siblings and Walla! Everyone is in.. Big brother, Danny, will consider it… (planning is not his forte’, so I asked Kristin, and they will be there)… He truly hates to plan that far in advance, so we will throw it out there and see if it sticks.. HA!

So we are looking at cheap ways to get to Belize.. 4 airlines fly in there from the US. We can use Alaska Airline air miles to get there, but there are those damn black out dates.. so how do we work this? What can we do…. and the epiphany struck… By that time we should be on the road. It won’t matter if we are there in Belize or here in the US. (other than cost of staying in Belize). Why don’t we see when we CAN go? hmmmmmm research….. research…. research……

December 11th to the 9th of January.. a MONTH in Belize.. Holy Mother of God…. that is a LONG time, but wait… wait… let that sink in….

Lynda looks at me and says “I have NEVER in my life taken a vacation for that long”… and my response? “Why not start now?”  The light in her eyes when the fire lit was beautiful… I think we are both starting to understand the implications of being able to go where we please when we please…. The quandary?

Where to leave from? So which airport do we choose? Dallas Fort Worth is looking like it might be on the hit list. Decisions, Decisions, Decisions… This nomadic lifestyle is sinking in. for both of us.

Road Trip FOR a Lifetime…. to be continued…

And continue it does.. three days later (From when I started this post) and yet ANOTHER ephiphany…

We have some items that need to be wrapped up prior to our launch date. And we have been churning those over and over. Then, yesterday, I get an email from Lynda at work, saying: “Hey, met these guys through Toast Masters and they want to know if we would be interested in joining them on a backpacking trip”.

In August. In the Wind River mountains of Wyoming. As I have never been there, we have been told that it is some of the most beautiful country God ever created. So here I sit, looking at a group of folks that are going hiking for 6 days in some back country, and realize that if we do that, we are going to have to go straight from California, to Colorado for Lynda’s family reunion, to Wyoming for this backpacking trip. and my second thought?

I’m game.

My first thought? My usual stick in the mud. “We can’t do this, we have too much we have to do before we can….” and that was as far as I let my little voices get.. I told them to shut the **ck up and let’s do this. Let’s go!!!!  We can do the family reunion, AND go backpacking, AND do our Road Trip FOR a Lifetime.. if not now? when? So we are gonna do all we can to push it. A line in the sand has been drawn. June 28th, we begin.

There are a couple of showstoppers that I will not discuss here, but the likelihood of them showing up are about zero.  Instead, the likelihood of us launching on June 28th? About 90%. and that just tickles me silly…

In the meantime? My sister and I have a marathon to run in June. (She does the full 26.2, I do the 1/2 13.1) I run as Elvis as seen here with a running pack of Elvii I am in the lower right in the white outfit. and my sister? She just shakes her head and laughs.

IMG_1668

We also need to get our Advanced Open Water diving in if we are going to dive the Blue Hole in Belize… that is a bucket list item, so we need to push that up the line a bit.

IMG_2274

Top that off with some camping this weekend to shake out our camping gear and Walla! Another day seized.

IMG_0483

Categories: Adventure, Adventure Travel, Backpacking, Camping, Hiking, Love, Reconnection, RV Travel, Scuba | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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