And the road goes on forever...

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Time Flies

As they like to say when you’re having fun. Of course, my idea of fun may not be what most people think of since many of the tasks revolve around yard work and interior improvements. It always seems when I return that there is a boatload of things on my to-do list, so I immediately dove in knowing time's short. We’ve enjoyed wonderful weather for the most part which has quickly spurred Spring into action. I had our first mowing yesterday just before today’s rain. The lawn should like that. When it initially wakes after winter, its like a verdant, lush green carpet and the smell after mowing it was heavenly. Makes one feel as though they are part of the very earth and is an endorphin of such magnitude!

Things are on target with the sunroom’s windows now ordered to hopefully begin construction of that in a few weeks. The windows are the major cost driver in this project, coming in at over $4000! In anticipation, I had researched myself silly about what to do for furnishings when I had an epiphany . Our big reclining, rustic couch in the living room hardly ever sees any use; why not just place it in the sunroom? I know it already blends in with other pieces I have on hand that I plan to use. Since we rarely have company that uses any seating, that freed me up to purchase a couple of accent chairs for the living room. I saw these beauties and just had to have them. Once they can be placed it should spatially open the great room in a beneficial way.
I’ve been working hit and miss on getting a small garden going. There are still some more seeds to plant when the rain abates. After the snow went away and it warmed enough for the hoses to work I was able to finally get the rigs cleaned and washed. Then I started tackling one of the most important projects of the summer, refinishing our bedroom set. We had ordered it online and although I usually like the natural knotty pine look, this set arrived as stained orange. It has only aged badly in the past few years and was positively looking like a ghastly pumpkin.

I was going for a stained top with the rest painted distressed blue. The first stain just didn’t cover adequately so after two coats of that I tried another color. That after two coats gave me a much darker color than I was really after but the thought of doing another complete sanding job had me figuring it wasn’t so bad as it was. Concurrently, I was also working on sanding and staining the trim on the bed.
The paint went on beautifully and is a great color which doesn’t translate well to camera. It looks fabulous against the gray walls though. Once two coats of that were completed it got a topcoat of Polyacrylic and then came the fun part: using dark wax to distress and highlight. There is nothing like adding something that stains your brand new fresh paint job to get your adrenaline flowing. Replacing the hardware would have been expensive since there were 21 of them, so I opted instead to work with what I had by painting the wood portion hammered brown to match the stain and left the silver inserts. As it turned out, it’s one of my favorite things about the entire redo as I feel it really sets off the dresser now.
Coming up I plan more. In the living room housing our stereo equipment (yes, we still have receivers, amplifiers and LPs) I have an old knotty pine armoire which is shiny and badly scratched; a relic from the early ‘90’s which is in desperate need of a redo, and we also brought back my childhood cedar hope chest. This needs to have the legs and some wood damage repaired, then it too, will be ready. It is solid pecan wood, so I need to get it stripped down to bare wood to see if it merits stain or paint. When’s the last time you saw a piece of pecan used in furniture? Nowadays, consumers think rubber and mango wood are “real” hardwoods since they are almost being exclusively used in furniture due to cost. That’s the primary reason I try and buy vintage or antique—if its lasted 100 years it will likely continue to last during my ownership.
Another thing I worked on was a total replanning of where we will head during daughter’s visit in August. Lake Superior is just too far for the short amount of time she has so we’ve decided upon the Wisconsin Dells area. Not for the tourist trap town, but for all the natural features and hiking and boating in the area. Wisconsin state parks are always very crowded and we will be visiting the state’s most popular, Devil’s Lake. I managed to snag an electrical site at nearby Rocky Arbor SP, one of the last available. More about that coming up.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Running From the Storm

Updating our exit from the west, Marc had to fly back to work when we returned from the coast, so I stayed another week with my family. On my mom’s 91st birthday, a Monday, I took off with much sadness early, headed for Jerome, ID. Marc was leaving at the same time from Yuma, driving his big Dodge and a utility trailer which had been parked on our lot. We planned to meet up the next evening in Rock Springs, WY. My first night’s stay is highly recommended—the fairgrounds in Jerome, ID, $10/night for water, electric and paved parking all overseen by the 24-hour staffed National Guard office! I felt entirely safe staying there by myself!
I chose what I call the back route into WY, going through Pocatello and on into WY via Hwy. 30 which means you bypass the mess around Salt Lake City entirely. Much of it is extremely remote with few small towns. The portion in WY now carries fairly heavy truck traffic due to all the gas wells in the area but it’s still a breeze in comparison. I arrived at the Walmart in Rock Springs around 3:30 and was joined by Marc about 5, so not bad timing match-up given the distance. We could feel the wind building that night.
Unfortunately, the weather deteriorated drastically the following day with even nastier winds. By noon we were stuck in a Laramie truck stop with howling winds rocking and rolling my little trailer. I-80 was closed to light, high-profile vehicles and even though it calmed some (from 60 mph to 35 mph) by 4 p.m. we choose to just stay put. The weather forecast was looking dire: a blizzard was on its way. So, we danced our way across the rest of WY, NE, and IA barely staying one step ahead. We fought fierce winds the entire time, which was a struggle. Our final night was spent at the Iowa 80 truck stop, famous as being the world’s largest, even with its own truckers museum, on I-80 about a hundred miles from where it intersects I-39, our northward highway into WI. Wind was still bad our last morning and snow was called for, we only hoped it would hold off till evening when we would be in.
Alas, that wasn’t to be. We did make it through Madison with just rain and about a hundred miles from home before the temps started dropping and snow piled up along the freeway, then on the freeway. We only spotted one snowplow working the highway and it was clearing the fast lane. I jumped into that lane, but it was still a packed, slushy mess and there was too much traffic to stay there. Even though the Chevy has four wheel drive the tires are not the best for snow driving and with no chains for the trailer I was feeling every slide in the four inches coating the road. After a white-knuckle hour, I pulled off at a gas station on our connecting highway and told Marc I’d had enough. He unhitched the trailer which we left parked there and I drove the Chevy solo home. He turned around and went back with the Chevy to haul the RV in for me. Overall, this blizzard was record-setting for our area, dumping 28 inches of snow with heavy winds. We sat out the next two days unwinding and marveling at the April winter wonderland. This first picture caught Marc just arriving back with the trailer a total mucky road mess just before the blizzard really hits here. Even after a week we have about 4-5 inches on the ground.
The cats were elated to be home, as were we. Marc said how nice it felt to be here. Given the depth of the snow there wasn’t really a lot he could do this past week even though we are now enjoying sunny and mild days in the 50’s. He did get tired of trying to repair our old lawn mower so went out and bought us a new riding Troy Bilt. Cha-ching!
So, another summer in WI is about to start. Lots of projects (painting, refinishing furniture, yard work, building sunroom) and some entertainment as well. I will once again be in charge of organizing and arranging the humane society rummage sale in July and our daughter will be coming out mid-August, so we can go camping and exploring the Apostle Islands on Lake Superior. Marc will visit every six weeks instead of every four but will get more time when he is here. It’s good to be back and after the harrowing drive here I wish I never had to do it again. One of these days I swear I will say “That’s it. Been there, done that, not going back.” There is no reason to really; I love it where we are!

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Just Briefly...

We’re at the coast! We left Yuma on a warm Sunday noon and made it to our normal boondocking spot along Hwy. 95 at Searchlight, NV. Taking the bypass around Vegas proved a good aggravation, if not time saving, and by that evening we were pushing through to Rye Patch Res. along I-80. The campground was empty save for a host and given the time of year, was free. It was downright cold at 23 overnight with snow still blanketing the surrounding mountains.
We made Bend by four o’clock the following day to a happy reunion with family. My mother is looking good, if not too spry, at nearly 91, and we settled into her home for awhile as it was too cold to stay in the RV. The kitties enjoyed the extra room too. Marc helped son Neil wire the food cart trailer he is working on in hopes of soon opening his own side business in booming Bend’s yuppie environment of breweries and carts.
Our time in Coos Bay has seemed way too short as we spend each day walking, clamming, cleaning clams and eating our fill of all sorts of delicious seafood! It’s been wonderfully relaxing and good for Marc and the weather has cooperated in being mostly sunny or at least no rain. The clamming beach is directly across from the port marina RV park where we are staying so it has been very convenient. We’ve also enjoyed seeing old friends, lunches and dinners out and (after Yuma’s dust and dirt) the blissfully clean scented air that throws out good electrons for an endorphin boost.
We return to Bend tomorrow and from there Marc flies back to Reno for the work week and then to Yuma on Friday. Meanwhile, I’ll conclude my visit with family and plan to head for Wisconsin on or about the 8th. Plans are for me to meet up with Marc a couple days later in Rock Springs, WY where we’ll then travel together. He needs to get some of our rolling stock back home.