18 October 2017

A New Home on the Road!

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When I decided it was time to retire and sell the house, I knew that I wanted to travel and see the U.S.A.  Since the early 1990's it has been a dream of mine to travel the US by RV.  When the time came to actually do it, I had lots of ideas about the type of vehicle I would actually travel in.  For a while, I thought I'd build a tiny home and get myself a big pickup truck to pull it.  Then I thought I might get a good sized RV.  Then a small one.  For a while I thought I would purchase a cargo van and convert it.  Then I became enamored of some tiny handmade Japanese trailers (which I still would love to try building myself).  But reality set in that building or converting something wasn't very practical for me at this time.  I didn't have the space nor the physical capability.  Purchasing a new RV was out of the question and after looking at many of them, I realized I didn't want to drive a huge one.  So I've been looking for a used one that would fit my needs.  

It had to have a dedicated table and chair, a dedicated bed, a functional bathroom, and kitchen area, and mostly, it needed to be 24 feet long or less to facilitate driving, parking, and camping in National Parks.  It would be a bonus if it was fairly well insulated and if the holding tanks were heated.  The vast majority of small RVs had sofa beds that needed to be made up each night, or involved climbing up to a tiny space over the cab.  Very few were well insulated and truthfully, most that I looked at were poorly made and would have needed much work right away, even when new.  Plus, they were ALL brown and ugly inside.  Yuck!   

Then one day while searching, I expanded my search nationwide and at last I found exactly what I was looking for - in Ohio!  After a sleepless night of thinking about it, I looked up the Car-Fax on it, called the dealer, booked a plane ticket for later that same day.  My daughter in law drove me to the airport and I arrived in Detroit at 2:00 a.m.!  After a brief night's sleep at a motel, I rented a car the next morning and drove to the dealer and spent the better part of the day inspecting the RV, test driving it, then doing it all over again, all the while asking a gazillion questions.  I decided I needed to sleep on the decision, but woke the following day knowing she (the RV is definitely a "she", though her name isn't fully decided upon yet!) was going to be my new home on the road!  

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The dealer was great and even helped me return my rental car to Fort Wayne, Indiana, about an hour away from the dealer.  I got to follow along behind my new RV and see how she looked from behind!  

2017.10.04 Mississippi River
It's roughly 1,200 miles from Ohio to Colorado.  A good way to get used to driving a big rig is to get on the road and simply drive!  We crossed the Mississippi River...

2017.10.04 Sunset in Iowa
Drove under a gorgeous sunset in eastern Iowa, stopped for the night in Des Moines, Iowa where I stayed overnight with my cousin, then hit the road again in the morning...

2017.10.04 Missouri River
and we crossed the Missouri River in the rain.  Got pulled over in Omaha, as evidently I looked "suspicious" driving an RV with temporary Ohio tags.  Had to show him my registration and sales paperwork to prove I was the legitimate owner.  Thankfully, that was the biggest excitement of the journey!  

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While driving, I felt like I was driving a huge rig, but parking next to a semi put everything into perspective!  She's about 23 to 24 feet long ~ big enough! We arrived home in Colorado late the second day.  Two long days of driving gave me lots of practice!  Hopefully, there won't be too many long hauls like that in our future.  

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So here's a look at her.  She has comfortable bench seats at the table with plenty of room to spread out a stitching project or some watercolor painting.  The sofa has been replaced with a single bed with lots of storage underneath.  Behind that dolphin panel is a TV and DVD player and more storage.  The dolphins have to go... not quite my taste!

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 One of the first things I did when getting her home to Colorado was to discard the old foam topper and replace it with a new memory foam topper.  I also discarded several brown fleece covers and "drapes"! The bed is slightly smaller to fit the space, so I got out my quilting ruler and a sharp knife and adjusted the topper accordingly! 

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Compared to most of the RVs that I looked at, this one has nice quiet colors and a subtle print.  Much better than some of the wild stuff I've seen!  

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Though the kitchen is small, it's quite functional and the microwave is also a convection oven!  I will miss my toaster oven though.  

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The bathroom is a nice size for a small RV!  

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The 1970's looking psychedelic shower curtain has to go though!  

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There's a good size closet and a set of drawers. 

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Lots of storage under the bed for stitching and art supplies! 

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There is a nifty little fold out counter in the doorway of the kitchen area.  Next to the refrigerator, there is a nice pantry cupboard space. 

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There are a few planned updates, such as a coat of white paint on the interior.  Some new linen slipcovers on the cushions, hopefully some new flooring at some point and other personal touches!  

I think she's going to make a fine home on the road!  

13 September 2017

New Adventures

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A good sign that life is developing some sense of "normal" again, is that I've been stitching again!  Working on this project, a combination of English paper piecing and crazy quilting in some lovely Japanese taupe fabrics.  

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Ol' Trusty got traded in for this new Subaru Outback a couple weeks ago!  Oh my, there are so many bells and whistles on it, that it's going to take some getting used to!  She hasn't earned a name quite yet, but hoping it will be soon as we've already begun our adventures together! 

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We headed for the mountains one day last week.  The aspen trees already beginning to change color in some places.  Fall is definitely in full swing in the mountains. 

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Our first stop was Echo Lake, where I had a nice walk with my cane on the easy trail around the lake.  

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Such a pretty spot!  Quintessential Colorado!  

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This lovely gray jay followed me part of the way hoping for a handout, but I've learned it's better to let them find their own natural foods.  

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The thistles around Echo Lake were a lovely deep shade of plum purple.  

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From Echo Lake, we headed up Mount Evans.  The road winds gradually up the side of the mountain until it tops out at over 14,000 feet high!  

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After Labor Day, the road is closed at Summit Lake so that the high tundra can get a rest before winter sets in and the wildlife has some time to themselves.  At well over 12,000 feet in elevation, it's still pretty high!  

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The path leads around the eastern side of the lake and then if one chooses, there is a rocky steep trail up to the summit of Mount Evans or down towards the Chicago Lakes and Echo Lake.  Too steep for me!  I was content to wander the shores of Summit Lake!  

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The view of the Black Cliff is pretty spectacular.  It's hard to realize the scale in this photo.  

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Looking down the canyon, one has a good view of the Chicago Lakes below.  

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The tundra is in full autumn mode with colors changing rapidly.  

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Lots of beautiful blooms still visible though!  

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And many that one might easily miss if not paying attention!  

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The Mount Evans road is a great place to see Bighorn Sheep and higher up, the Mountain Goats are often around.  Always a treat to see them. 

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There's lots of small wildlife too like this Colorado Least chipmunk busy gathering food for winter!  

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Along the lakeshore, the colors in the grasses were lovely.  Reminded me of some of the scenes I saw in Scotland.  

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Just beautiful!

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At the end of the day, I took the road down and found an overlook where I sat and ate my dinner and watched the gradual sunset.  Loved the shading of the mountain layers. 

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Eventually the sunset came.  The air in Colorado has been filled with smoke from the. many western wildfires and it gave the sun an eerie red glow to it before it disappeared into the haze.  

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The smoke has been thick as the weather patterns have backed it up against the mountains.  I don't think we've truly had a clear day since the eclipse in mid August.  It's a good reminder of all the troubles taking place around the country and indeed around the world.  Many thoughts and prayers going out for all those affected by the fires and the hurricanes and earthquakes.  

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It's not often that we get to see the Colorado landscape appearing misty/cloudy.  Definitely beautiful in its own way, but I'm ready to see some clear blue Colorado skies again!  

25 August 2017

One Last Adventure with Trusty


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Trusty is my 2004 Subaru Forester.  Up until Trusty, my luck with cars was rather abysmal and I was left stuck on the side of the road more times than I care to count.  Trusty gained her name by being incredibly reliable for the past 14 years and over 200,000 miles!  Not once has she left me stranded! I think I've spent more time in her than I've spent in my various homes over those same years!  We've been on so many adventures together and travelled back and forth between wherever I was living at the time and Colorado.  

But time and age takes its toll and though Trusty still looks pretty good for her age, she is showing signs that she might not be so trusty in the  near future.  Her bearings and joints are creaking, she overheats a little now, the belts are stretched and loose and various little things have been coming undone over the past few months.  At first I hoped to repair her and keep driving her, but suddenly the list of things needing repair grew beyond a reasonable budget for an old car.  So along with all the other changes in my life, it's time to say goodbye to Trusty and God willing, next week will bring a new vehicle into my life.  I can only hope and pray it will be as wonderful as Trusty has been!  

With the need for a couple of days of R&R, we headed for the hills for one last adventure together. It's only a car, but I find I'm feeling rather sentimental over knowing that this is our last trip together. 

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We started off with an old favorite ~ Old Fall River Road in Rocky Mountain National Park.  With lovely vistas of the valley below, the road winds up a canyon and exits at the Alpine Visitor Center around 11,000 feet in altitude.  

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Along the way we passed lovey waterfalls,

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hairpin turns on the dirt road (and some pretty big ruts in places!).  

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Despite the rapidly changing seasons in the mountains, there are still lovely wildflowers to be seen along the roadside.  

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We also explored a spot I don't recall having ever been to before in Rocky.  This is Lake Irene.  It's a short walk away from a lovely picnic spot.  

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The Fly Amanita mushrooms were out!  Poisonous for humans, they don't seem to bother the chipmunks.  

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We enjoyed the drive over to Milner Pass and this lovely view of Poudre Lake which straddles the Continental Divide.  The water closest in this photo flows to the Gulf of Mexico while the water furthest away flows into the Colorado River and on towards the Pacific.  

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We ended our first day with a drive through another favorite spot, Moraine Park.  Usually the meadow is full of elk, but today, the only wildlife sighting was this coyote who crossed the road right next to me.  

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Then he decided to follow Trusty for a little bit.  When we would stop, so would he.  When we drove on, he followed!  After about a ¼ mile, he decided to pass us and loped on by!  What a treat to end our day with!  

24 August 2017

Sold!

Not long after my last post, I made the decision to put my house up for sale.  With God's grace and blessing, it sold within 48 hours of listing for more than the asking price!  You can see the listing here if you are interested: https://www.iresis.com/cwa/link/listing?llid=prvt60&lid=1129806#  I am not sure how much longer the photos (which are amazing!) will be visible.  The photographer did an amazing job despite a stormy evening and dull light!  

With a closing date set for three short weeks after the sale, things have been happening quickly!  My kids all rallied to help me and I have moved in with my oldest son, his wife, and my dear sweet granddaughter for the moment, which will give me some time to figure out exactly what comes next.  

I've done a lot of downsizing and packing in the past couple of weeks as well!  The things I kept have been moved to storage for the time being and there is a "living" estate sale taking place over the next few days to get rid of the rest!   

Closing is this coming week and then it's on to figuring out the next part of this adventure!  In the meantime, I'm taking a couple of days of rest and rejuvenation in Rocky Mountain National Park.  I'm excited about this next part of life's journey - and to be truthful, just a bit anxious about it as well. Stepping out into the unknown is always a challenge, but God is faithful and has seen me through thus far!  


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