Technical Difficulties

We have been fortunate to have avoided any real technical issues with our motorhome until now.   Although not serious, I thought I’d share some of the challenges that can happen on the road, even in a new RV.

It started as we prepared to depart from our week long stay on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land outside of Joshua Tree National park south of Palm Springs, CA.   BLM land is great because you can stay free!  This area is just outside the southern entrance to Joshua Tree and has great Verizon coverage (unlike inside the park).  There are no hookups for water, electricity or sewer on BLM land, but there was a  campground 6 miles away in JTNP that has a dump station and water.  We’ve learned we can go about 7 days without needing hookups.  So, as Lisa is pulling in the back bedroom slide she calls me and says “we’ve got a problem.”  After coming in 1/2 way, the slide motor on one side just quit.  We tried get it to go out, no luck.  Tried to bring it in again, no luck.   The left side motor was working so if we kept pressing the switch the room would twist out of alignment.  Not good.

Fortunately, we were only returning to the Thousand Trails Palm Springs campground about 30 minutes away so we had time to solve the problem without worrying.  After some trial and error, we discovered we could manually push the slide in on the broken side while the motor pulled in the other side.  This was good news!  Soon we had it pushed in and we traveled to our campground.  I later learned I should have done something to lock the room in (such as a 2×4 brace) as it could have slid out if the other motor shaft broke during transit.  Fortunately, we arrived without incident at our current campground.

I called Winnebago Customer Service and the technician said that although our motorhome is now out of warranty (1 year old as of February), they would cover this repair if I could bring it to a local dealer.  This is the challenge as we have learned on this trip.  Trying to get an appointment for service work is harder than a meeting with the President!  We have a small list of things (nothing serious) that are all warranty issues that we have been trying to get fixed since we stared on this adventure last summer.  Each time we try to get into an authorized repair facility, they say it will be 6 – 8 weeks before we can get in, by which time we are somewhere else.

So I wasn’t hopeful when I called the local Itasca dealer, Mike Thompson  RV.  The service advisor was pleasant, but told me the earliest he could get us in is April 29.  Several more calls to Winnebago and attempts with other dealers in a 200 mile area yielded nothing better.

In addition to the slide not working, our propane system stopped working after we refilled our tank here.  I searched the online forums, talked to the Winnebago tech and although we tried several things, nothing worked.  So, we are without propane until we can get in to a dealer also.  We were able to remedy the propane problem by purchasing a small 2 burner electric appliance which, along with our microwave/convection oven, will make things easier until we can get it fixed.

This has been our biggest disappointment from the road – the lack of available dealer technicians to fix things.  If consumers had to wait 6 weeks to get their cars repaired, they would be furious but RV customers are just supposed to accept this.  I have heard from many fellow RVers that this is normal.  While it may be “normal” it is completely unacceptable and I hope things change soon.

F-18s, Marble Slides and a Castle. A National Park?


Click on photos to get larger version

Surprises await at Death Valley National Park.  We were amazed by the varied scenery and the huge amount of history found in this wonderful desert landscape.  Never expecting life in Death Valley, we were shocked by the many thriving towns that had sprung up in this area due to mining in the 1800’s.  The most successful mine was for Borax.

The Badwater Basin is a huge pool of primarily subterranean water but is terribly salty and in the drier seasons is covered by three feet of salt that we walked on.  Way above on the rocks is the sign for “sea level”.



The Ranger told us if we saw a puddle not to step in it because we might fall through.  Why is that not posted on a sign there?!  Interesting enough there is a huge aquifer with millions of gallons of pure clean water under acres of this park and of course Nevada and California want the water!  Never would have guessed there was so much drinkable water here but it explains the springs.


Another surprise greeted us very early in our visit …F-18s flying overhead.  Oops, I missed it!  It was like watching an air show!  Awesome!  That inspired us to launch our own rockets.


If this has not convinced you yet that this is a kid paradise then add in the fact that the kids can hike and climb anywhere.  It is an “open park”.  So many parks ask that you “stay on the trails”, which my children do not appreciate.  This park is also an international dark skies location which means it is so dark at night (no ambient city lights) you can see the stars in an amazing way.  The Milky Way was clearly visible along with millions of stars and we enjoyed just lying on the ground at the camp staring up at the night sky.  Death Valley has risen to my children’s top four favorite national parks list.




They loved hiking in Mosaic Canyon where the walls have sections of marble worn so smooth that they could slide on them.  We hiked, climbed and slid this trail twice they loved it so much!




We also hiked the Natural Bridge trail and the kids again pretended to be mountain goats.


Artists Palette was a beautiful drive and the pictures do not convey the dramatic colorful layers of rock.  The geology of the park was fascinating and so varied!


We expected a boring, dry, sandy park.  We did find sand and really  enjoyed the dunes but most of the park was dry and rocky and in every direction were beautiful mountains.  Are we slow?  That is the description of a valley but somehow our expectations were that this would be a boring flat piece of desert.  Boy, were we wrong!


To add to the adults’ interest we visited Scotty’s Castle which is more of a spanish mansion than a castle, but the story and history are again so very intriguing.  A whole story in itself but I’ll leave something for you to discover yourself when you come to visit!


While waiting to take the tour, we had our first up close and personal time with some local coyotes.  We saw more back at our campsite as several casually walked through camp just a few feet away.



We really enjoyed this unexpectedly beautiful park.  The camping is plentiful.   Our first night we camped at Panamint Springs, a private (not owned by the National Park) campground, motel, gas, gift shop and a restaurant.  They offer full hookups for camping and a nice restaurant and bar.  Furnace Creek Campground has 16 sites with water, sewer & electric sites (reservations required);  we dry camped there and at Stovepipe Wells.  Both campgrounds had water and a dump station available.    We preferred Stovepipe Wells campground due to the scenery and it was less busy.  For those not interested in camping, the Furnace Creek Inn is a beautiful facility and there are other lodging options as well as restaurants and bars in this area.  We highly recommend this national park and if you have any questions feel free to contact us for more information.

Finding Cars Inspiration on Route 66

IMG_8452We accepted an offer on the house in December so we put the RV in storage and headed cross country from LA to Atlanta in mid-December to move our household belongings into storage.  Since we had emptied the house, we decided to head to Chicago to spend Christmas with Lisa’s family.   Following a great time there, we needed to make the long trek back to our RV in Acton, California, northeast of LA near Palmdale, CA.  Hmmm…. Chicago to LA in a car …well, being the “Wandering Adams” and with no deadline to get to LA, we decided to make our way to LA taking some side trips along the famed Mother Road.

IMG_8297Our family all enjoys the movie “Cars” so what better way to explore Route 66 than to stop at some of the areas that inspired the movie.   Our first stop was in Galena, KS to see Tow Tater which was the vehicle that inspired Tow Mater.  At the 4 Women on the Route shop we met the original.   In the nearby photo, the truck on the right is the original and they now have a Tow Mater also.


The next stop was the Rock Cafe where the owner, Dawn Welch, inspired the writers for the character Sally.   Inside, she has some great original memorabilia on the wall with personal notes from Pixar employees.



And what Route 66 trip would be complete without a visit to the Cozy Cone Motel.  The real motel, called the Wigwam Motel, has been a Holbrook, AZ landmark since 1950.  IMG_8343


After side trips to the Grand Canyon and Las Vegas we made it back to LA and returned to the RV to prepare for our next adventure to Death Valley.

Yosemite National Park


“No temple made with hands can compare with Yosemite.  Every rock in its walls seems to glow with life.”    

John Muir, 1869

Every national park we have explored has been outstanding, yet I now know why John Muir’s effusive prose regarding Yosemite is not exaggeration.  John Muir was the naturalist who is credited with inspiring political leaders to establish the national park system.  Abraham Lincoln signed legislation to protect Yosemite Valley and Mariposa Grove in 1864.  Muir hosted President Theodore Roosevelt here in 1903 and this led to the expansion of Yosemite as a National Park in 1906 (formerly under the control of the State of California).   We traced Muir’s footsteps and explored the valley and Mariposa Grove (home of the gigantic sequoias) November 9 – 10, 2014.  This was just a brief introduction to the park and we could have spent many more days exploring and hope to return in the future to do just that.


Mariposa Grove  is a majestic grove of giant sequoia trees.  The nearby picture is of the kids in front of the Grizzly Giant which is estimated to be 2,700 years old and is the fifth largest sequoia tree.



We attempted to see a sunrise from Glacier Point which overlooks Yosemite Valley.  We rose before dawn to drive the 40+ miles up to the point but I calculated the drive time wrong and we arrived after sunrise.  It was still spectacular and the picture shows the sun revealing the valley and its beautiful fall hues.  To the left is the overlook where Roosevelt and Muir posed for a photograph.

In summer, there is a nice concession stand at the Point and how  I wish the old hotel was still around (it burned down in 1969 and was never rebuilt) – it would be incredible to sit on the balcony and watch sunrise without the long, winding drive up 7,214 feet.   The drive was fun and at one point the temperature had dropped from 46 to 26 degrees and then it warmed up again as we approached the summit.   The drive is not for anyone challenged with motion sickness.



The sublime view of Half Dome from Glacier Point was well worth the drive.

For those who like the impressive historic hotels of our National Parks, the Ahwahnee Hotel should not be missed.

Ahwahnee Hotel
Ahwahnee Hotel

It was a beautiful, warm afternoon when we arrived and we enjoyed the back yard with views of the hotel and the surrounding rocks.   The interior is equally as impressive with multiple large fireplaces to cozy up and let your cares fall away.

We thoroughly enjoyed our visit  – the complex beauty of creation observed from the hiking trails led us in worship of God the creator.  I agree with John Muir that there is no cathedral on earth that can compare with the awe inspiring beauty of Yosemite National Park.


Olympic National Park – Finding Sea Stars and Eating Spiders!

Ken met our neighbors in Port Angeles, WA at the beginning of our Olympic National Park adventure.  They invited the two of us over for drinks and we enjoyed their company immensely!  We compared future plans and figured we probably wouldn’t meet up again.  To our surprise they found us at Kalaloch Campground on the Pacific Coast.  We loved this campground (no hook-ups but some of the sites overlook the ocean).IMG_7020

Our site did not overlook the ocean because there are only a small amount of sites that would accommodate our larger RV and still overlook the water.  The kids didn’t care; our site had a “fort” or I should say that they made a fort which included a chandelier,IMG_7008 IMG_7013several rooms, a grinding station and a lounge chair.IMG_7012IMG_7018  How can you beat that?  And our site had a water view out of one window and only a very short walk to the ridge above the ocean.

During one of the evening low tides we drove over to Beach 4 of Olympic National Park and waded around the rocks.IMG_6921  We were so excited to see over one hundred sea stars, hundreds of anemones, some hermit crabs and a few trapped fish.  Brian touched many of these beautiful creations.  The were so cool to see in the wild!IMG_6907


The next day we discovered that we were surrounded by blackberry bushes. We picked at least a couple of cups of them.  Yum!IMG_7022

That evening we walked over to Kim and Rick’s to cook spiders over the fire.  What are spiders?  I wondered too.  Spiders are hotdogs that you have cut so when they are cooked the legs curl like a spider.  Basically take a hotdog, leave the middle two inches whole, on the ends cut them through lengthwise and then rotate the hotdog 90 degrees and cut it lengthwise again.  Do this to both sides and roast it over a fire by constantly turning it as if it is on a spit.  They taste really good and are super fun!IMG_6999

The sunset over the beach was gorgeous!  We were glad to see it.  Many of the days we were camped here we had cloudy and misty weather and did not see the sun or sunset much.  But this sunset was a beautiful end to our stay here.IMG_6975

Cape Flattery

IMG_6616A few days ago we went to the NW point of Washington, Cape Flattery.  We figured it was the farthest we could get from Atlanta in the 48 contiguous states so we needed to say we were there.  Can you blame us?

We are on the Olympic Peninsula and had gone up to Hurricane Ridge in Olympic National Park and visited the Ranger Station but much of the outside edge of the peninsula has little towns or Indian reservations and Highway 101 is the only route around this whole area.

After moving the motorhome to Forks, WA we drove up to the Makah Indian Reservation and toured their wonderful little museum which was delightfully rich in history.  You can visit their site at  (One of the interesting facts was that the Indians did not have sheep or goats so they used the cedar trees to make clothes and bred a certain type of dog for its wool.)

After the museum we drove as close as we could to the point and then hiked our way down the trail.  The trail itself was beautiful with old grooved trees, thick green mosses and the most charming rough  cut boardwalks.IMG_6617 IMG_6618The smell of the ocean was calling us as we hiked and when we arrived at the point we were rewarded with gorgeous sunshine and a rough sculpted coastline.  It was amazing!

IMG_6657 IMG_6622IMG_6646

We enjoyed our lunch here and decided we needed to dip our toes in the Pacific Ocean so we left the Reservation and headed down the coast to a sandy beach.  The water is pretty consistently between 40 and 50 degrees so the kids were telling me to hurry up and take the picture because their feet were freezing.  Ah, torture!IMG_6679



Visiting Friends and Family in the Midwest

We have really enjoyed our last several weeks in the Midwest visiting with family and friends.  In Michigan we had dinner with my brother, Greg, and finally saw his house, of which we had heard so much.  He has been working on restoring his historic home.

We also saw my third-cousin, Bryan Van Baren, and his family.  Visiting with them was so much fun!  The kids had a blast playing on the big jumping pillow in the campground.  I wished we could have had more time with on jumping pillowall of ussilly kids

In Indiana we saw my cousin, Patti, and her family.  They live in a house on Lake Michigan so we enjoyed the sand and water and of course the kids had to have a sleepover at their house!  Luke, Brian and Chloe love their cousins!  We also went to the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore and saw some cool things when we hiked the Cowles Bog Trail.IMG_4740

In Illinois we saw many more cousins, grandparents and aunts.  Staying at the Cedar Lake Conference Grounds Campground was awesome!  It was so peaceful and the kids had lots of private roads to ride bikes.  My cousin, Don and his wife, Wendy invited us over to go tubing on Luke’s birthday.  The kids had so much fun and Luke had the special treat of getting to drive the boat.Chloe tubing the boys tubingIMG_0221

The kids and I also visited Cantigny Park and Museum in Wheaton, IL.  They really enjoyed climbing all over the old tanks but I thought the museum was wonderful.  The museum follows the first division through WWI, WWII, the cold war, Vietnam and Desert Storm and gives you a taste of each one.  Loved the price too…$5 per car for entrance to the gardens and museum.  Great price!climbing on the tanks

We also learned that because of the high demand for rubber in WWII people were trying to find a formula for synthetic rubber and  thus silly putty was born.  No replacement for rubber but the formula was purchased and put into plastic eggs and sold as a toy.  The kids got to make their own silly putty.making silly putty

Our last night in Cedar Lake we had more cousins over for S’mores and the kids played Hide-n-Seek in the dark.  At one point Luke was lying in a dry ditch and was laughing because the other kids were jumping over him and didn’t even see him.  Great fun!

On a smoggy Saturday we biked around the beautiful Chicago lakeshore with my sister, Kelly and my cousin, Mary, who Chloe thought was the best tour guide ever!biking with Marybiking on the lakeshore

I had to share with the kids Rosetta’s sculpture that I sold to the Lincoln Park Zoo decades ago; larger than life-size mountain lions called Siblings.IMG_0278Chloe with the sculpture

We moved on to Union, IL, closer to Ken’s family and relished our time with Deb and Vance and Mark and Donna, two of the kids Aunts and Uncles.  Union also has the largest train museum in the world.  Our ride on the Nebraska Zephyr was a cool – air conditioned and quiet.  Zephyr

In addition to trains of all kinds it was also antique car day when we were visiting so the boys were in “Boy Heaven”.  Trains AND Cars?  What could be better?  And a car that rides on rails?  Awesome!
rail inspection car

Here is the truck Luke wanted to take home.IMG_4855

As we head out I now am experiencing what others have talked about – the sadness of loving a place but deciding to move on – saying goodbye to friends anad family and knowing you won’t see them for a long while.  We are moving west to visit the Winnebago factory, the Badlands and the Black Hills.  It will be a continuation of our grand adventure but still hard to say goodbye.  We will miss all of you!


Review on the Creation Museum

Wow!  The Creation Museum ( was fabulous!  We found it to be top-quality, gorgeous, well-laid-out, informative, and logical.  If ever you wondered how the creation story fit with the science of earth I believe your questions would be answered here.Creation Museum outside

We were truly impressed with the whole museum, even the cafeteria (LOL) which had gluten-free  and vegetarian options, reasonable prices and a deck with a beautiful view.  I would totally go back and highly recommend it!

Some people have said they spent two days at the museum.  We did not do the zip lines or all of the outdoor activities, we skipped one movie and the Imax movies but we did go to the petting zoo and Chloe rode the camel.  Brian feeding the Zony

Chloe riding a camel

Also with children ages 7, 10 and almost 12 we spent a lot of time reading signs and pointing out important facts and felt that they understood and followed but had enough after one day.  I can see where you might want to spend two days here but our main focus was the museum’s galleries and we covered those pretty fully with the kids, even on a crowded day.

Overall, it was time and money well-spent and was a wonderful day! We would definitely go back!

The museum is located in Petersburg, KY, southwest of Cincinnati, OH.  More information can be found at




Where We Are

Sunday and Monday we were south of Nashville at the Old Stone Fort Archeological Park. We got to the park after dark because we were trying to fit the last of our stuff in to the motorhome before we left town.  When you look at the pictures of the bridge I think you can appreciate how difficult it was to maneuver through this bridge in the dark.  Headlights don’t illuminate the side mirrors which barely fit through the supports on the bridge.  If that isn’t nerve-racking enough add the fact that the bridge says for a single axle RV (like ours) the bridge weight limit is 10 tons and we weigh 11 tons.

Ken left me parked by the bridge until he talked to the ranger in the station on the other side of the bridge who said that the bridge had seen rigs way bigger than ours go over it so he was sure it would be fine but then added that the park service doesn’t train them on bridge strength.  Nice! Bridge at Old Stone Fort Archeological Park

Luke, Chloe and I biked to the museum the next day and then hiked around the wall, stopped at the waterfalls and practiced sketching the falls.  I don’t think I could have picked a much harder subject.  My sketch looked terrible!  in between the waterfallslower fallsupper falls

We have  left Cave City, KY having visited the Mammoth Cave National Park.  We took a  historical tour late in the day Tuesday and Wednesday morning we took the Domes and Dripstones Tour.  The kids much preferred the last one because of the narrow curving passages we went through and the deep drops we walked over.  Mammoth Cave Sign

kids in the caveWe were delighted to see wild turkeys several times as we drove through the National Park and we were amazed that there are over 400 miles of explored cave included as part of the Mammoth Cave system – huge!

On the way to Ohio we stopped to see the cabin where President Lincoln was born.  This is for all of our past First Grade Teachers…Lincoln's cabin

We just arrived in the Cincinnati, OH area and we will spend a couple of days at the Creation Museum.  At our campground the kids had fun on the quadricycle.  I hope I got that right!Quadricycle

Move Over and Let Me Drive

Many of you may think driving the RV is a man’s job.  I say, “No way!  Move over and let me drive.”  First of all, I know my spouse’s routine.  He is going to start out with us and then fly off on business for several days and be back on the weekend.  This can happen for several weeks in a row (we’re used to this and he likes his job so this is OK); therefore I have to be very confident driving this large rig.  If I need to move us and have him fly to a different airport or if I just want to move campsites, I need to be able to move.  I hate being stuck and having to wait on someone.

I grew up driving a window van and then graduated to a van with a trailer behind it.  I was doing this in high school so I am not completely clueless about having a backend.  However, this one is over 36 feet long and is as tall as a semi.

On the test drive before we bought it I let Ken drive first so I could watch before I tried it.    I did pretty well on my first try but the first corner I took too fast.  The RV is very top-heavy so you get the sensation of almost tipping over if you go too fast on a corner.  But that was a first try.  No big deal.

Our first trip out after we owned the RV, we decided to go about an hour away to a campground to spend the night and test all of the systems. I drove first.  Eighty percent of the drive was on the interstate so really a pretty straight shot.  The actual driving part was fine, but it is very scary when the semis pass.  The RV has such a large side profile it gets easily pushed around by wind.  Even when the trucks pass slowly,  you feel like they are only two inches from your window and then their backend can drift toward your lane, and well, I would let out a small scream every time that happened.  The trucks were WAY to close for me. There is definitely a freak-out factor.  I learned that if there is a shoulder it is best to drive on the line near the shoulder.  If the trucks go by fast then you get the shock of them being on top of you for less time, but the blast of air that pushes you off of the road is quite alarming.

On our next trip for Spring break we were on some small country lanes with no shoulder.  Hah!  That was not fun either.  The rig is 8 1/2 feet wide with the slides in and I think the lanes are the same width.  As Ken was driving you might think I was more at ease.  Nooooo!  He would move to the edge of the road to make space for the oncoming traffic, even if it was a small car and they had room to move over.  There were times it seemed like he was off the road  I don’t like sitting in the passenger seat of such a large vehicle and feeling like we are going to go off of the road.  Like I said before, “Move over and let me drive.”

The truth is, it is best to have two drivers.  Non-busy interstate driving is really no big deal.  The things that make driving unnerving are:  lots of traffic, bad weather including wind, city driving and now I am adding small country road driving.  With two drivers we try to drive between two and four hours each session so we each get a break.  We have also discovered that RV driving is much slower than it is in a car so we need to plan more time for the miles driven.  I don’t mind driving and, in a way, I find it fun.  We’re both still newbies and we’ll see what happens as we add more hours to our logbook.


Our family of five hits the highway to explore America