Monthly Archives: September 2018

Three Cheers for Boredom!!!

Ok, my weekend was not really boring, just uneventful and I needed that after last week’s fiascos.  This weekend I stuck with the home base and got out a little to discover some local charms.

Friday the only thing I discovered was 5 days is too long for me to go without starting up the engine. Luckily, it was not long enough that I could not jump it. (I really need to get that fixed.)

Saturday’s agenda was laundry, mail, and Farmer’s Market. I need a haircut, but I hate trying to find new hairdressers who know how to handle curly hair. I took the easy way out and just parted my hair differently to get my bangs out of my eyes. Instant makeover!

The KOA charges $3 a wash and the last campground charged $2, so I figured I could go off the grounds and do better than $3.  Yelp told of a place only 4 miles away for $2.25. First off, my bad for not confirming what direction those 4 miles where in (the opposite of my next stop) and secondly, there’s no way that was just 4 miles!  Then when I got there, the cheapest machine was $2.75 and it charged more if you changed the soiled level from light to normal. My money saving plan was a bust, so I will stay on the grounds for laundry from now on.

The post office was right by the park where Petaluma has it’s Farmer’s Market. I like the idea of a Farmer’s Market, but I never enjoyed them in Indiana. There is a novelty factor paired with a short season, so they were always so crowded that I would fight for parking, not be able to get close to several booths, and then leave buying nothing. Here, the season is longer (this one goes through mid-November), so there wasn’t the novelty factor bringing in hordes. This market was also a lot more fruits instead of vegetables.

It was mind-boggling to me to be buying farm fresh strawberries at the end of September (OMG, soooo sweet, too). I bought seedless grapes that were to die for. And the kicker: pomegranates! Pomegranates are my favorite fruit and they are available for a very, very short season in Indiana between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Once in a while I can find them other times, but they are usually sour and barely ripe. Here I was buying some in September from a guy who grows them! I knew intellectually that California grows this stuff, but pomegranates just seem too exotic to be available somewhere I could live. There was also a food truck where I got a delicious and authentic quesadilla.  Excellent. Then to top it off, the food stand I was parked in front of had fresh peach milkshakes. I was on a culinary roll, so I had to have one! Something I have noticed here is vanilla ice cream usually tastes like marshmallow to me. I don’t know if that’s a regional thing or if my tastebuds are out of wack.  Either way, a fitting end to my food adventure.

It was a pleasant day with the only drama being 50 cents more for laundry. I’m fine with that.

Sunday’s goal was to check out a local church. I have always been Presbyterian. I like that we are socially liberal with old-fashioned services. I like the old music and the comfort of knowing what’s going on. I have tried some more modern churches, but… I’ll say it: I despise Christian Rock. A friend of mine’s husband refers to it as “Jesus is my boyfriend” music and I think that is the perfect description. I don’t listen to much regular pop music, and Christian rock is usually so mind-numbingly sappy and then it sounds 100x’s worse when sung by a group. Add to that, so many churches will have you repeat the chorus a bunch of times until a 2 minute song becomes 10. It’s musically like nails on a chalkboard to me.

Sorry, went off on a tangent.

Anyway, I got there a little into the service and I was very disheartened to see a praise band instead of a choir.  It was not as bad as I feared because Presbyterians love a schedule, so there was none of this repeating the chorus until it lost all meaning thing. Then when it was time for the Anthem, a group got up and went to the front. The choir was sitting beside me the whole time! They just did not have robes and this was the only thing they sang. My choir in Indy was pretty hardcore and we would even do a couple of big concerts every year on top of regular services. This choir was tiny. The men outnumbered the women and there was only one soprano! So, decidedly not hardcore, but I could still get a little singing fix. The pastor turned out to be about my age and the sermon was right up my alley. Afterwards, lots of people approached and introduced themselves and took me around to meet other people. When I finally landed in front of the pastor, we had a great conversation and he offered to take me to dinner or lunch with his wife. He was very nice and genuine (and also a transplant to the area), so I maybe onto a path to a social life since my work schedule has secluded me from opportunities to get to know other adults at work.

The rest of my day was finding a nice local coffee shop. Then I took the dogs on a walk to a park I had driven by once. We had a harrowing walk along some busy roads and crossed a 6 lane highway and it turned out to be sort of future nature preserve not open to the public yet instead of a park. Even though that did not work out, I did take the opportunity to pick blackberries from a bramble at the front of the campground. There is a concerning lack of wildlife around here. People leave out food overnight and there are no raccoons or squirrels that get into it. The only birds I see on a regular basis are crows (or possibly ravens, I don’t know the difference) and oddly enough, some peacocks in one part of the campground. Those might be from a neighboring farm. So this blackberry bramble was still pretty full this late in the season. I had a bag on me and picked what I could without getting scratched up too much.


I cleaned them off extra well and made some homemade whipped cream. Delicious.

All in all, not too exciting of a weekend. Maybe I even earned back a few of those years last week’s adventures took off my life.

I Have a Nemesis

I am not a confrontational person. I’m just basically pleasant. I’m not going to gush over you or curse you out, so I never expected that I would have a nemesis, but I do.

Her name is Dolly. Tow Dolly.

I read about tow dollies vs. tow bars, so I knew she would be trouble. I tried to think of ways of getting out of needing a tow dolly, but everyone said I had to have a car in California and I did not have the money to even think about trading in my paid off car for one that could be pulled four wheels down. So I faced the inevitable and got a tow dolly in hopes that soon I could have enough saved to switch out for a different car. Surely, it could not be too bad in the short term?

That’s what I thought until Dolly came into my life.

I’ve been pretty clear on this blog about my feelings about her and she returned the favor today, big time.

My goal for the day was to get set-up at my new spot and relax after the harrowing night I had Friday. I was not looking forward to my drive back through Oakland and San Francisco but I had decided to pay the toll to keep the route simple.  There were no left exits or side streets. I even took the dogs on an extra long walk and scouted out the roomy gas station across the street for the location of their diesel pumps.

I was rested, I was ready, and I had a plan.

I got on the 101 and was hearing a noise I could not place.  My back-up camera has a microphone and I knew something was off, but I could not pinpoint what. Then I noticed a person passing me sticking her head out the window and looking back at me.  As I went down a hill, I then heard the distinct noise of metal on pavement. I managed to pull over on what was thankfully one of the wider shoulders.

I got out and the wheel on the driver’s side of the tow dolly was completely shredded.

Dolly, you vindictive B-.

I called Roadside Assistance and she told me that actually, I find the tow company and they may reimburse me.  In other words, not much assistance.

I called one company and he said the soonest he could get to me was 2 1/2 to 3 hours and he gave me the numbers of two other companies. The next one, I got voicemail. The third told me they don’t change tow dolly tires. I tried the second one again and got a person. She gave me a wait time of 1 1/2 to 2 hours and I took it. She asked me to get my car off the tow dolly.

So, I unhooked it all and got the car off. The shoulder was just wide enough for my vehicles to be just off the road, but there was a little pullover about 30 yards up. When the guy arrived, he asked me to pull it up there because there was not enough room for him to change the tire. With the car off the dolly, the screeching of metal on pavement was not quite as bad.

$150 later, I got to reload the car and somehow get back on the road. First off, the straps gave me all sorts of trouble. I had to take off one and start over. The whole time since I had pulled over, I had never seen a lull in the traffic. Add the cars were speeding downhill from a curve, so there was no way my big, slow behemoth was going to be able to jump in without causing a pile up behind me. The tow guy suggested I just stay on the shoulder and go up the exit that was right there, then hop back on the highway on the other side.

Great plan, except to rub salt in the wound, Dolly had chosen an exit with no on ramp. I had to backtrack and then turn around. Gah, another stupid loop!

Thankfully, the rest of my drive went off without any problems. I got to the KOA and had a set-up that was more complicated than it needed to be.  The sewer hook-up is at the back instead of the middle, so I had to take the car off Dolly and back up so my hose could reach. Then the park faucet sprayed, so I had to teflon tape the bejeezus out of it.

Good news is I am right across from the showers and these are private rooms. So it’s hot showers, with lots of room, and I’ll finally be able to shave again so Ruby can stop worrying Bigfoot will mistake me for his girlfriend.

Now if only I had a weekend to recover from this weekend.

Suck It Up, Buttercup

After last night’s debacle, I was fully prepared just to hole up in the RV and ignore the world. I took the dogs on their morning walk and stopped in the office to make sure I was all set since I came in late. I also explained my night and asked if he knew someone who could look at my non-functioning dolly lights. He basically made me feel better by toelling his own dead end with a trailer story and said he’d ask the Maintenance guy to stop by and see if he could pinpoint my problem. Apparently, I had survived a rite of passage last night. I am a real RV’er now.

I took a shower in the shower house since now it wasn’t a hike and I had my own stall (Sonoma had a gang shower situation, so I never used it.) When I entered, there was a hall and it became quite clear to me that when I went to the bathroom after picking up my paperwork  last night, I must have went in to the Men’s Room. Apparently, we can add wrong turns to the loop theme of yesterday.

The guy stopped by and just like with the hazard lights, I will take looking incompetent over needing a real repair. It turned out the plug is stiff, so it felt plugged in, but it was not quite in all the way. Yay! Easy and free fix!

I chose this park because it was close to the hometown and museum of the author who inspired this blog and the town that made me fall in love with California. I had made it this far, so it was time to put on my big girl panties and unhook the car from the dolly. (OK, I will admit to looking up the bus option, but it was a 2hr trip for something 15 minutes away.)

I took the dogs on a second walk, unloaded the car and headed for the National Steinbeck Center in 946AB8F3-F763-4E01-A73E-453D3E425A2ASalinas, California. It just so happened to be Farmer’s Market day, so I walked it and got a gyro and tater tots for lunch. I was eating my gyro, when I suddenly noticed a silent dog standing right beside me. He was a little yellow dog that I think was a puggle. He had the ears and face of a beagle, but the tail and fat body of a pug. He did not beg, have on a collar, or make a sound. He just looked up at me briefly like “I can take care of that gyro for you if you need me to” and then looked straight ahead again. I gave him the bit of meat left. He remained all business and then went and peed on some strawberry boxes before going off on his way.

After lunch, I headed to the Steinbeck Center and took a walk down memory lane. I had been there five years ago when I was in the Steinbeck Teacher Institute through the National Endowment of the Humanities. Not much had changed, but it was like visiting an old friend. My favorite part was

the Travels with Charley exhibit that had his actual truck/camper and a statue of his faithful travel companion, Charley the standard poodle.

Next was Monterey Bay. It was a gorgeous, sunny California day that was not too hot and a nice ocean breeze that was not too cold. I parked in front of the hotel I had stayed in for the institute, but the parking meter only took coins and all my coins were in the camper for laundry. I went in and asked about change and she directed me to a change machine a couple blocks away. ( I considered sneaking into the hotel for the wine/cheese tasting hour, just in case it was smoked gouda day, but I decided not to just in case if was just swiss day.)

When I got less than a block away, I spotted an open spot that took credit cards, so I rushed back to get my car and pulled up just in time to see another car take my spot. I did another loop and this time scored a free spot! I walked down to Cannery Row and looked at my favorite spots when I was there five years ago. Not being able to go to the Hopkins Lab was bittersweet and I missed the barking of the seals that had now migrated.

I followed the bike/pedestrian trail that went from Monterey to Pacific Grove. It has a wonderful view of the bay. My revelry was briefly interrupted by a biker who was coming up behind me and ringing his bell way more than necessary. I knew I was well out of the way, so I did not turn around to see his face, but as he passed a man coming towards me says to his buddies, “That was Erik Estrada, like from CHiPs!” Then about a minute later, another group coming toward me were talking about it being Erik Estrada. So, I saw the back of Erik Estrada’s head. My first celebrity sighting in California.

I had a nice time admiring the bay, listening to the waves crash on the

rocks, and marveling at how clear and blue the water is. In Indiana, every body of water is full of silt and muddy. You can maybe see a foot down at most on the clearest day possible if you are close up. I was up on a short cliff, several feet away and I could see to the bottom until the kelp forest began.

I finally headed back to take care of the doggos. I went ahead and reloaded the car onto the dolly, so we are ready to pull out tomorrow morning. I decided to take the route with a toll even though it does not save me much time because otherwise, I would have to drive on the hilly city streets of San Francisco. That was hard enough with just my car, in the middle of the nigh with no traffic, so this toll is going to be bad (they charge by the axle), but ultimately worth it to stay on hill-less interstates.

It was time for their pre-dinner walk. Lester lucked out by charming a little girl who kept giving him hot dogs. I am pretty sure he was thinking about abandoning me for her.  We got back and now we are relaxing and I am proud of myself for getting out there.

Something I realized while I was looking at the ocean was when I start letting my yesterdays poison my todays, then the adventure is over.

But it’s only just started.

I Think I Just Became an Urban Legend

Excuse my language, but Holy Hell what else can go wrong!

This weekend was supposed to be a camping for fun weekend. KOA had a free night of camping for members and only certain parks participated.  Of course, Petaluma was not one of them. I looked up the California KOA’s that were and the Salinas/Monterey park was listed. I love Monterey! Salinas has a museum dedicated to one of my favorite authors!

I attended a 3 week teacher institute there five years ago about John Steinbeck. Then I parlayed that experience into the grant that bought me the pop-up camper and the start of this blog.  I have very fond memories and associations with Monterey…

I’m trying very hard to hold on to those right now.

So let’s start with yesterday. The checkout time for the Fairgrounds was around noon, but since I would be at work and I had to reattached the tow dolly and load the car, the only way I could do this and arrive in Salinas at a reasonable time was to pull out Thursday night and park on the street for the night in Petaluma. Since the tow dolly adds a layer of difficulty to driving, my plan was to go fill up on diesel first, then come back and hook up the dolly.

You may remember that there is a hellva dip when you pull into the park. It’s what took out my bottles of olive oil , so I made extra sure everything was secure. I pulled out super slow and headed to a station that I had scouted out for diesel.

The strange thing about California is it is a huge state, but everything is compacted into tight spaces so when I approached the gas station, it was situated on a point where one road merged into another. What’s crazy is they put their diesel pumps on the small end of the point.

Think about that.

This station was right by a fairgrounds. The customers who need diesel are generally big trucks and many big trucks coming from a fairgrounds could also have a trailer.  Of course, there was a car at the diesel pump and no room to pull in while he took his time washing the windows, so I had to keep going and turn around for a second approach. Another fun thing about California is you cannot assume the streets are laid out in a grid. What I hoped to just be a trip around a block was more like four and somehow, I came out somewhere I recognized. My second attempt at approaching the diesel pump was once again foiled, so I decided to head to the main drag where I knew there were some gas stations and a parking lot actually large enough for me to turn around without it being an ordeal.  While I was headed that way, something came loose and I heard it scooting around on the floor, so I parked to re-moor all my cabinets. Turned out, it was the microwave that had opened and my coffeemaker had fallen out. It was a miracle the carafe did not break. I felt so dumb that I had not gotten the microwave shut all the way.

I headed to the main drag and once I got in the left turn lane, I saw that the station straight ahead had diesel, but I was stuck. I drove down the drag and the two stations I saw did not carry diesel, so I turned around in the parking lot I knew could handle me and headed back towards that station. When I turned in, they also had a monster dip and I heard glass shatter.  I pulled up to a pump and headed to the back to see that the microwave had come open again and this time the carafe did not survive. I did not understand it because the little coffeemaker should not have enough weight to knock open the microwave, but then I realized the glass turntable did, so I stowed that in a drawer and gave the coffeemaker a new travel spot.

When I finished filling up, I had to make a right turn to get out and make it across three lanes to get in the left turn lane. Once again, there was a monster dip so I could not take it fast enough to make it across three lanes, so I had to do another loop back to the parking lot and backtrack to the campground to get the dolly and car. By this time, it was getting dark. I ended up getting everything but the last step done before it got completely dark. I also discovered that the right turn signal that is magnetically attached to the roof of my car did not work. I just hoped no cops were behind me for a right turn and I headed out to park by the Lucky’s (a grocery store) like I did the weekend I could not find an open campground.

When I finally got there, SOMEONE WAS IN MY SPOT! The nerve. Once again, I had to do a loop and parked across the street. This put me two blocks from the doggie daycare. My plan was to walk them there and drive to school early to get a spot for my huge set-up, then come back after work and get my groceries, get the doggies, and head to Salinas/Monterey.

I knew traffic would be bad, but the journey that had been predicted to last 1 hour and 40 minutes when I looked it up the night before, became 3 hours during prime rush hour. That would put me at arriving at the campground at 8pm. Night time. In an unfamiliar place. Crap.

The drive through San Francisco and Oakland was nerve-racking. I was in a huge vehicle, with terrible blind spots, a bunch of other drivers who had way too much faith in my brakes, and right lanes that would end without warning. By the time I reached my final exit, it was dark and my nerves were fried.

That’s when it all went to complete hell.

It was a short ramp and a weird configurations of possible turns. I thought I was supposed to go left, but the short distances confused me and Google Maps and I suddenly found myself too far into a street that dead ended. If had just been the RV, I could have done a five point turn, but no. I had the tow dolly and car, so my only  hope was that the street ended in a cul-de-sac.  It probably would have in Indiana, but not in California where every inch of real estate is compressed. OK, it was a very small cut-de-sac, and I thought there might be a little hope I could make it, but it would be really, really close. Unfortunately, it was trash day so my turning radius was made just a bit smaller. I tried to go as wide as I could but it was not even close to being enough. Now I had to back up.

I have entertained many a campground with my bad attempts at backing up with a trailer and I had just not gotten enough around to have any hope of the tow dolly going the direction I needed. I kept trying and just ended up like that scene in Austin Powers where he has the golf cart sideways in  a hallway and he just keeps going forward an inch and backing up an inch. I kept trying until I felt a resistance that made it clear I was too jack-knifed.

I got out and the car had gotten off kilter and one wheel was against the fender of the dolly. The safety chains were too tight to unhook. I had no hope of even just taking the car off, unhooking the dolly, getting turned around, and re-hooking everything up.

I was living my worst tow dolly nightmare. (Seriously, I had imagined this very scenario many times.)

First I called the RV warranty company’s roadside assistance. She determined I needed a winch (I think she imagined me stuck in a ditch or something. She had no idea what jack-knifed meant) and Surprise! Winches aren’t covered.

I had just added roadside assistance on my RV’s insurance policy, but I had not printed it out. I headed back into the RV and fired up the computer and my sloooowww internet (Verizon’s unlimited internet is a joke, the fast internet is very limited). I finally got the policy pulled up and called the number that said 24/7 claims service. I called and was immediately routed to a commercial/survey. When I declined the product, IT HUNG UP ON ME! I called again and this time, the automated system told me it was not business hours. Imagine my frustration and the choice words I screamed as I was looking right at the sentence “24/7 customer service” at the number I had just called.

That’s when I called the tow company number the warranty lady had given me, knowing I was either going to just suck up the cost or fill out a bunch of paperwork to try to get reimbursed. As I was explaining to the guy what was going on, a cop car pulled up. He asked for ID and if there was anyone else in the RV. When I said no, he said he was there because they’d gotten a call about a fight in the camper and three more cop cars were on the way. I got off the phone with the tow guy.

He asked if I had any weapons, and was all business like he did not believe I was alone. I explained that I had yelled out of frustration when I was not having luck getting help on the phone. The other three cops arrived and slowly, it went from being on high alert because of a possible domestic dispute with a hidden assailant to “ha-ha, how’d she manage to get herself in such a mess?”

I think one of my superpowers is when I get myself into situations like this, I come off as quite helpless and pathetic (probably because at this point, I am) and it seems to make people want to help me. I’m like a starving kitten in a dumpster.

So after I was no longer under suspicion, they all decided to try everything before calling in a tow truck for a few hundred dollars. I think it may have become a challenging puzzle to solve. They ended up literally picking up the back of my car and moving it over so it was back to being lined up on the dolly. They then took the car off the dolly for me, unhooked the dolly, turned my RV around because I was still shaking so much that I couldn’t get the key in the ignition (see, pathetic), re-hooking up the dolly, and reloading the car.


All that and it turned out I managed to fray a wire and my lights on the dolly would not work. D’oh!

They were like, “the KOA is real close, just take care of that tomorrow.” I then asked if they would let me follow them to the KOA, because I was confused about the directions.

I finally got there and they had said it was a sharp turn. So I pull in and I can either go straight or take a sharp right and there is a Welcome sign on the road on the right.

Guess what.

It was the wrong way! I was going the wrong way on a one way road in a campground full of tight turns set-up on a  terrace system on the side of a hill. I just parked and hoped for the best.

Of course it was late, so the office was closed. I had reservations so there was an envelope with my name and site. Turns out, I did not have to go too far down and the road became two way and my site was part of a group of pull-throughs that alternated the direction you pull through and I’d be on the correct side to pull-through.

My momentary relief was shattered when I reached the site and it required a tight, sharp turn that would have been difficult to make with just the RV. If I tried, then I’d risk the dolly and car falling off an edge, not something minor like driving in grass. BTW, the whole place is paved.

I did a loop (a theme for the week) and decided I would just pull in from the wrong end and use my extension cord to get plugged in. After an overabundance of speed bumps, I approached and got pulled in. I took the dogs on a well-deserved and overdue walk. It wasn’t until I was almost back to my site when it occurred to me that if I would have went around the end of and approached my site coming from the other direction, I could have made the turn.

I really, really wish I would have bought some wine when I was at the grocery store.

Or kept Lester’s stash.

Forget it. It was late, I was starving, and I had had enough. I’m only here for the weekend.

Tomorrow, I will have to see if I can get the dolly’s lights fixed and I have zero desire to mess with the car, so I don’t know if I’ll even make it somewhere nice in Monterey or Salinas.

All I know for sure is I have to get a new car that can be towed all wheels down and rid myself of this damn tow dolly. If I didn’t have that dolly, I could have left my car behind in Petaluma for the weekend or if I still brought it, I could have been easily unhooked instead of four men having to commit a feat of strength.

One cop took a lot of pictures, so who knows, maybe the story of the silly woman in the RV who Austin Powers’ed her car will become a story cops pass around.

Maybe this is how Urban Legends are made.

Lester the Hippie

I was almost done folding laundry on the bed when I 1APooIWxRDCJFhHno%SGZgnoticed Lester was laying on something. He has been free range in the camper while I’m at work and occasionally he’s a turd and chews up something. He also likes to take his turd-ness to the next level and  chew those thing on my bed, so finding odd bits of trash in my bed is unfortunately not as uncommon as I would prefer. I pulled on the piece of plastic from under him and it was a small ziplock with a plant looking thing in it.

Now since one of the questions I got when I announced my move was if I was doing it just for legal weed, some of you may not believe me when I say I have never tried weed. I have been offered a hit on a joint, so I have also never seen weed when it is bagged, but I am pretty sure this was a dime bag of weed in my bed.

Before anyone thinks I need to sit down and have a talk about drugs with Lester, what I think happened is I had just done my laundry in the campground laundromat. I am guessing someone did not clean out their pockets and it ended up mixed in with my stuff.

I don’t know how to use marijuana or how many times it went through the washer and dryer, so I just threw it away. It’s legal here, so I may try it someday, but not a random bud I found in a sketchy laundromat. My luck it would be a strain that makes you super paranoid and I don’t need more paranoia in my life. I’m afraid in that state, I’d try to enroll Lester in a drug addict program.

Although, this could explain why he is always hungry…

Closer to Getting My Footing

This is basically a travel blog, so I imagine most of you were expecting a streak of posts for Labor Day Weekend, but I am an introvert first and a blogger second so Labor Day is not my jam. Same deal with Memorial Day. Those are holidays dedicated to going to outdoorsy places for one last hurrah or to kick off the season. Since everyone is going to the same places, there are crowds and I don’t find crowds relaxing, so I used the weekend to pretty much just laze about in the RV.

Saturday morning was spent at a meeting. Yes, a meeting. They love meetings here.

I have replaced some good librarians and some terrible librarians in my career and, let me tell you, it is sooooo much easier to replace a bad one. Expectations are low and you can build the program you want. Here, I replaced a rockstar (with one year between us of one who did not work out and killed the paper trail on what was in place) and who had a budget almost twice what I have, so I inherited a lot of “but this is how so and so did it” and a lot of committee memberships including co-sponsoring a comic-con with the local library and other high school. I have never even been to a comic-con (see my feelings about crowds above), I don’t read many graphic novels, and it’s just not the kind of nerd I am. *Headdesk

I did venture out Sunday afternoon to Taylor Mountain. It is a trailhead I found on my new scenic route to work. It started off nice enough. The scenery has a stark beauty and it was not a strenuous hike. There were tiny lizards about the length of my finger that would occasionally scurry past.


Some of the trees had moss hanging on them which I thought only happened in Southern Gothic novels. There was a split rail fence that I could not help but wonder how old it was. It seems plausible here for it to be over 100y.o.

The trail meandered up the mountain until we hit a fence and then it went into a cow pasture.  We never saw the cows, but Lester felt it his duty to mark every cow patty.


Once we hit the pasture, the trees thinned out and now there was no shade and it was the hottest part of the day. In addition, we found all the other dog walkers and this is where it all went to hell.

I am trying my best to get these two to stop pulling and barking at other dogs, but it has been going terribly. Every turn brought a new dog and chaos ensued. I finally abandoned making it to the mountain summit and decided to head home, but somehow we kept running into even more dogs. At one point, we reached a place where two trails bisected each other. I sat on a rock while dog past. Just as that dog got out of sight, another came. I sat defeated on that rock for four dog passings. Freckles and Lester never tiring of the battle with me. There was one family that I started to think was trolling me. They kept appearing from side trails behind us. I would get out of the way, they would get just past us and then take a break, so I’d just have to wait off trail. Then they would finally move on and we would get going, then BAM! They would come out of no where from another side trail and be behind us again and the cycle would repeat itself.

I was quite frazzled and frustrated with Freckles and Lester by the time we got to the car.

Beyond that misadventure, the weekend was pretty much spent reading and cooking. I’m getting better about cooking instead of eating out. My house trained me for working with no counter space, but having the storage space for leftovers has been a challenge.

Tuesday I decided I better start working on my battery problem. I called the number for the mobile RV repair van I keep seeing in the park. I got their voicemail and it said they aren’t taking new clients. *double headdesk

I called my warranty company and they sent a tow truck to jumpstart me. It was a long wait before the battery finally got enough juice to turn over and get the engine started. Then the hazard lights came back on. I explained to the guy what had happened and when I demonstrated how they wouldn’t turn off, they turned off.

I’ll take looking stupid over the alternative of the hazard lights being broken. My ego can take it.

I let the engine run for two hours to be sure it got charged up. It’s now Saturday and so far, so good. I pull out of here Thursday night because I have to hook up the tow dolly and car in preparation for our fun camping weekend. So since I’ll be pulling out anyway, the plan is to go to an Autozone and get the battery checked out and then hook up the tow dolly when I get back and boondock in Petaluma Thursday night so I can head out right after school. My dream scenario is this is all a coincidence and the dealer did not mess anything up, so a simple battery change will fix all my problems.

Now to toot my own horn: I did something handy! All by myself! It worked!

My RV has two ways to get water:

  1. Fill up a tank ahead of time and turn on a water pump when you need to use it.
  2. Hook a hose up directly to the RV.

I have had water hookups here and at the KOA, but the hose leaked so I would just fill up the tank every couple of days instead. This got to be a pain and not something I wanted to do all winter either, so once my finances settled down I ordered a new hose and bought some teflon tape. Once I had those, it became clear the problem wasn’t the hose, it was the hook-up to the RV.

I looked up the part and it looked simple enough. so I ordered one off Amazon. I got the old one off and replaced it with the new. Hooked up the hose and success!!! No drips or dribbles! Plus, now I have water pressure without the surprising loud water pump kicking on. My neighbors have to appreciate that.


I looked it over a few times and the boost of confidence this gave me is not enough for me to tackle changing the battery on my own. I’m going to still leave that up to the experts.

Next weekend, I have my fun camping weekend in Salinas, California. Salinas is the hometown of John Steinbeck, whose book Travels with Charley was the inspiration for this blog. This will also put me much closer to Monterey, which is one of my favorite places in the world. The Pacific is stunning there and the kelp forests mean an abundance of otters and seals, plus a decent chance of seeing whales or dolphins.  When I get back, it will be the KOA until May instead of a gravel parking lot and 30 min. commute.


Old Unreliable Strikes Again

I tried the positive route, but this RV has done me wrong too many times! Forget “Tiny-mite” the name is Old Unreliable.

When the dealership “fixed” the auxiliary battery problem, they managed to create a new one. Instead of not being able to charge the auxiliary battery, now the engine battery will mysteriously drain whenever the engine is not started for about a week.

My last post finished up with this little adventure of they first non-start of the engine after sitting for just six days. The next day: would not start again, so I got out the clips and let it run for twice as long.

Next day, it started, but I let it run for the extended time again.

Then Wednesday happened.

It was Back to School Night, so I got home late and did not have time to run it very long. Thursday… I guess I just forgot.

Then Friday.

Friday betrayed me.

When I got home, my hazard lights were on. The dogs like to watch the world from the cab while I am gone and go ballistic when I get home and probably whenever a dog walks by. I assumed that at some point they hit the hazard light button.

It did not seem like a big deal until the lights wouldn’t turn off! I tired starting up the engine. Nothing.

So I got out the alligator clips and nothing.

Tried again.


I don’t know a lot about cars, but I do know that if a battery gets run down too much there is no coming back. I could do nothing but watch the emergency lights get dimmer until they finally went out.

My mobile home is no longer mobile. The mobile repair van I have been seeing only works during the week until 5pm and it’s a holiday weekend. So on top of all the stuff I am trying to get done at work, I now have to worry about arranging a repair while trying to not take off work.


On the plus side, I have made one great discovery: a backroad route to work.

The word “rural” kept coming up in descriptions of Petaluma and to paraphrase The Princess Bride, “I don’t think that means what you think it means.” My experience with the area  had been a corridor of cities that blended into one another along the 101 with one brief break for some cow pastures. If there has one thing my commute has taught me it is that I am not an aggressive enough driver for Californians.  They love to use their horn. Finally, on one of my drives back to the RV when I was getting home later (I’ve discovered they like meetings here after school and I am on a large amount of committees), traffic got heavy enough that Google re-routed me off of the interstate early and onto a back road.

It was beautiful.

California has a very unique beauty. There are hills that look sculpted. They are steep, but don’t have sharp edges. Most are covered in dry grass that looks golden and a smattering of short trees that are a very deep, dark green. The contrast is striking. Then some hills are covered with rows of vineyards.

It’s impossible for me to capture in pictures, but it just has a wide open feel that you just do not experience in the Midwest.

California also has an Old World feel to it that was unexpected. We don’t cover the Spanish colonization much in our history classes back home, so I get surprised all the time to come across reminders that this area started getting settled by Whites long before Indiana did. Plus, the consistently mild weather has allowed older structures to survive for longer then they do with our cycles of hot, humid summers and cold, icy winters.  I also found the roadside farm stands that I knew had to be around somewhere.

So now unless I’m feeling crunched for time, I have a beautiful commute that reminds me why I am here instead of a white-knuckle honkfest.

It’s a nice break before I get back to my RV that cannot seem to have both halves work at the same time.