Tag Archive: Women RVers

100° Snow

Okay back to the post I started last night…….

Before I tell about the wonderful visit I had with the president of the Lagotto Club, I have to tell of  Washington’s North Cascades. Truly beautiful even for a jaded Californian; as you climb the mountain the color green intensifies. It begins to seem unreal. The blue sky and azure lakes appear as if drawn by an illustrator with the saturation level tuned too high. I was seeing this with the right side of my head aching from jaw to throbbing eye singing in tune like a jealous lover as I awed at the amazing splendor around me.  At the summit of Highway 20, the North Cascades I stopped at the viewpoint punching the air conditioner to full blast. Cooled a bit, I ventured out for the view trail but was unable to make it. Mason and I rushed to get back  to our climate controlled world, Olympia, of course was gung-ho to go,  After the summit we stopped to see the snow–yes it was 100 degrees! I dumped snow on Olympia and me, Mason would have none of it so back to the LT for cool air so we could breathe. Wow, so this is how it feels to be getting older, or maybe I’m just out of shape or spoiled by Santa Barbara’s mild climate. I was spritzing water on myself and the dogs, yes even Mason and the bottom of his paws too, for once he didn’t complain.

Hairpin curves, byways, trail-heads…. drama, gorgeous vistas and summertime heat…Here’s some photos. Sorry the slide show had trouble so tired this… you have to click on each photo to see it and then click “back” on your web-browser….  not a very good feature (alas.)

All this was topped by one of the scariest nights I’d yet spent. The drive and previous night had been so wonderful I was determined to push on and find the perfect spot. Oh, if I had only listened to Mason!!! At the very first place I checked out, still glorious with the day was the Interpretative Center Campground for the Cascades. Mason’s eyes lit up…he said, “stop here Jamie, this is perfect, let’s stay here!” I very clearly heard him and saw the delight in his eyes and his tail; but no, it was not on the river, the trees were too dense, it was too dark, bla, bla, bla…. I rejected it and likewise for the next 4 RV parks (all perfectly fine but not the perfection I sought.) Now I was beyond tired and becoming irritable, where was my riverside oasis? No matter, I decided I’d stay at the next camp. LOL that turned out to be a dangerous decision. I spent the night at Eagles Nest in Concrete at the foot of the cascades. Apparently the place has been for sale for the last ten years. That’s where they wanted an extra $5 for a shower. when I asked why the fee was so steep, I was told it was because they had hot water. No fooling! I suppose they must believe most showers only come with cold water??? I took the trail down to the beach, the first time was so nice and a relief to be away from the derelict site so I tried again after dinner….mistake. A guy stopped his beat-up car, no cars were supposed to be in there, he leaned on it and pointed something at me. I didn’t hang around to find out what it was–later as I was trying to sleep I heard a woman scream, then 2 gun shots with a pause in-between coming from the beach. No Ms valiant here, I did look out my window to see if it bothered anyone else…nope… I laid on the floor for awhile. I never undressed or got in the covers that night… by 7 am I was on the road.

I stayed in this dive
oh no, i’m not crazy… sewer hose leaked like crazy tho

Had breakfast at a campground further afield…where I shoulda, coulda spend the night!

Couldn’t find Lake Shannon but found this! Had breakfast here.

A little peace in-between the gunshots and the police

Oh was I tired, and dirty and my head-jaw-eye ache was worse than ever. Barley awake, skittish and hot… I headed for Burlington to check it out. Some young guy in a big black pickup was playing stop and go.  After about the 4th or 5th run of this I passed him on the right at about 3 mph. Not good, a cop whizzed on his lights in full pursuit of the little RV from California. He put on his serious face, like I was the one shooting guns in the middle of the night. Of course the dogs thought it great fun and wanted to play, he didn’t seem amused. I was having serious trouble staying awake and my head was spinning.  He wanted all that paper work that was carefully buried away in hidden compartments in my motorhome….  he left me searching for my current insurance note…  I had shown hm the little slip my insurance company provides but it was from last year…Drat, where had I put it, I remembered folding it up and putting it my my wallet….  I was still looking for it and feeling very very hot and lightheaded with brain freeze… fortunately he didn’t ask what my name was I might not have remembered….. he came back with a deal. “Well, I’m not going to give you a ticket.” ….  all he was probably miffed to find no violations on my record and lo and behold I wasn’t wanted for any nefarious crimes, what a disappointment…”you should count yourself lucky” he said, ” since you can’t find your insurance slip, I’m gonna give you a non-moving citation, it’s something like a $100 filing fee.” I thought this guy was out of his mind. I definitely did not like Burlington. By this time I was only semi-conscious from the pain in my head, lack of sleep, and fear of the men in this region. I told him about the gunshots, thinking he might like some real crimes to occupy his time, “oh, they were probably just shooting coyotes,” he drawled…heck maybe he was shooting there last night. Then he answered my question about where I could rest, the place to go apparently was a gravel (unshaded) lot next to a place called Shrileys…. he’d seen some other RVs stowed there…it was probably illegal.

Looking for Lake Shannon

White creature in the woods

Thursday night I camped in the Redwoods, stayed in the pop-up section of the Emerald Forest  in Trinidad. – I asked for a quiet spot and was so rewarded. Dark and quiet in the redwoods, I’d stopped earlier in a redwood grotto slipping in and out of the Redwood HWY scenic bypass  …Mason was unable to explain why a tree should be sooooo big! Tried walking the main road with the dogs, but that didn’t work…too much traffic and little to no shoulder. The world of cars leaves little room for wanta be pedestrians. Instead I braved the tiny one lane rutted  dirt road in the LT to check out the seascapes …what could be the worse that could happen? It was nervy but after all, in my car I wouldn’t have hesitated. Saw all the sights, the party crowd at Moonstone Beach, the sandy beach where the dogs had a romp, the rocky cliffs, the harbor, the replica of the lighthouse (I’m not sure what happened to the real one.) I was fairly tired and feeling challenged by being alone. The campground was nice and quiet.

Mason at Moonstone Beach

These beaches are great if I could just keep my feet dry!!!

Saturday August 20th I landed at a KOA in Waldport Oregon.

As I wrote: (and it explains a bit what happened to me on Fri night LOL:

It’s very expensive (the KOA)…$60 for one night. It’s supposed to come with Internet, which it has but it doesn’t work, the cable TV hook up doesn’t work either. I picked up the last spot available, a rather late decision as I’d intended to head to Corvallis until I discovered that it was 100 degs  (I would like to check, but no Internet – no TV–this took hours of technical mumble jumble and well, I’ll not call them lies, so instead say the night staff, while very friendly and kind are technically challenged– to discover) as I plan to head that way in the morning. At the moment I have my blackout  blockers and my curtains up, doors and windows closed and my inside air conditioner with the filer blowing; my neighbors , a young family in a cabin a few feet from my spot, are huddled around a billowing fume of heavy smoke – normally if I saw something like that I’d think about calling an emergency fire truck!  LOL I want to hand them a boy/girl scout manual and basic camping guide….what it must be doing to their lungs! The camp is crowded and there are spotlights as if these campers are afraid of the night. The smoke is making my head and throat ache Maybe they’re hoping to disable their little one’s vocal cords? I walked to the beach and came back with one very clean Terrier and one horrifically dirty Water Dog. The Water Dog had to be shampooed and walked until dry; so much for free time. Had chocolate ice cream with sprinkles for dinner–there was an ice cream social.

I saw the perfect camp an hour or so before I arrived in Waldport. The RVs were perched like gunmen on the cliff overlooking the sea—quiet, serene, secluded. I should be there but it wasn’t late enough to stop driving for the day.

It’s been day of romping and showing off my dogs. Florence, Oregon turned out to be my favorite city so far. Hated Coos Bay and everything else I saw yesterday…..yesterday btw was a real trial. I was exhausted and discouraged with the general Oregon scene… almost considered turning back to California–the wind was fighting me, the curves taunting me, I was the slowest vehicle on the road and was having trouble staying on it! So the next day finding Florence with its bustling farmers market, vendors, cafes, shops and really really friendly people was a balm I badly needed. A couple invited me to sit at their table and chat; the dogs got free French Fries, I was starving.

Lots of people talked to me, I handed out copious helpful hints and how to have your dog not pull you down the street. One woman showed me how her hands were raw from holding the leash….oh my.

Fri night is not a good time to expect to find a place to park an RV for the night, especially if that Fri falls close to Labor Day and back to school. Everyone who hasn’t already done so is required to take their kids on a summer outing and camping, RV camping, is wildly popular on the coast of Oregon. You don’t want to hear how desperate I was Fri night…. campgrounds full, lots of suspicious RV parking lots looking like derelict homeless encampments, in fact, the State Ranger took pity on me and told me where the homeless encampment was, she said, since I had the dogs (oh, yes…they would kiss any attacker to shame!) I could try it; otherwise she suggested Walmart or the Casino. I checked out the homeless encampment and bypassed it…for some reason I thought the Casino would be rough so headed to Walmart, there were a dozen RVs scattered around the edges of the parking lot trying not to look suspicious under the copious postings….NO OVERNIGHT RV PARKING….  I asked the Walmart manager, oh, she said, you’re welcome to park in our lot as long as you like, its okay with us but the CITY, the city has an ordinance against such things and if you leave your RV it might be towed or you might be woken early in the morning and ticketed.I spent 2 lonely hours worrying about all this, moving the van around and walking the dogs so I check on what the other RVs were doing. As soon as it turned dark I gave up, not dark really with the blazing lights…the Walmart was huge, the parking lot massive. I couldn’t take it, in the dark I scurried….  at long last I decided to check out the Casino (this was in North Bend near Coos Bay) Oh MY GOSH, I found all the RVers!!!!!!! They all knew, I was the only one in the dark. The place was jammed, like a Las Vegas for RVs. The spots with power and water were completely filled but the gravel dry camping lot was open. The place was secure, calm and quiet which was amazing given how many RVs were occupying the site…and it was free! Once settled, I popped a movie on the DVD player then had a peaceful nights sleep.

It’s morning at the KOA in Waldport and I’m doing laundry and scrubbing the walls inside the LT to remove the smoke taint. The park assistant checked the TV cable, yep–problem is with the site and now, even in the office there is no Internet. No posting till ????? later. At least they had pancakes.

The attempt to leave

I’m doing a (final?) load of laundry and am washing my hair…


The LT is sitting in its place in front of the house; the hot water is hot, the refrigerator is icy, the gas tank is full, there is food in the cupboards, clothes in the closet, books in the shelves, a wool mattress topper on the bed and a fresh water dish waiting to be sloshed. . . . But, yes I found a new trouble… should it stop me? The flame on the propane is orange; it’s supposed to be blue.


The dogs are restless and I’m lethargic. It will be hot on the road, campgrounds tending towards full and overpriced, gas is expensive, maybe there will be strong winds or thunderstorms—a dust storm. I could get lost, blow out a tire, the dogs overheat. Maybe I won’t find anywhere to spend the night or will be roused from restless dozing by the police (move along) or suspicious characters. Maybe it will so hot that I will be unable to leave the dogs even for a moment, or I won’t be able to wiggle out of a parking spot with no one to guide me. What if the air conditioner fails or I can’t find a place to dump the septic? What if I get stuck, damage something. The dogs with…stickers, skunks, barking, mud; Mason hates rain, Olympia covers herself in mud. Others have returned from their summer trips with fresh gleaming memories. I’m stewing…. do I wait, do I leave, where was it I wanted to go?

1996 Dodge Freedom Wide Leisure Travel

The day I brought it home

No buyers guarantee with this baby – I bought it from a friend with only her good word. Right now it’s back at my mechanic ATG. Two people told me it shouldn’t be making the clicking sound like it’s doing and frankly since the new serpentine belt the handling seems off, wagging again although Jamie at ATG told me the belt could not be related to the power steering even though I’d been told by a few people that it could indeed be caused by a loose belt……so who’s a woman gonna believe? It’s not only my namesake I saw at the mechanic but I spotted a Dodge 3500 Freedom Wide Coach House in the lot! It’s a little newer than mine but has the same seats, layout and looks uncannily like mine. I left the owner a note–hope they call, would love to chat with them!

Asked again about the loose steering, this time I was a told there is a way to tighten it but it’s not standard procedure. Am keeping my fingers crossed that they will do it!!!!

So back to the story….

Frans would complain that I rarely drove or started up the Leisure Travel. In the Fall and Winter  of 2010 -11 this was true—I considered my purchase a nightmare, a pocket drain—why oh why had I bought this  @#$%$$$$. It wouldn’t start half the time I needed to move it. Parking on my street is enforced, with us neighbors needing to move our vehicles twice a day on school days for the kids to ride their bikes (in 20 years I’ve only seen a handful of kids on bikes; it’s far more dangerous with the huge empty buses speeding on our narrow street every 20 min and parents picking up and dropping off kids and us neighbors shuffling cars than to simply leave things be, but it’s the way it is. Good intentions and bad planning is the norm.) So the LT was parked around the corner where I only had to move it twice a week for street cleaning although I’d move it Fri evening to claim a spot in front of the house…no way would it fit in the driveway. Frans devised an interior battery switch so I wouldn’t have to go into the rain to flip the battery on/off with the pulley switch in the outside battery compartment. His first creation sported flashing lights and dials—it was driving my bad eyes crazy and draining the cab battery. (I received a new jumper cable as a gift.) Fortunately he re-did the switch box. I love it now, nice and simple. I insisted on a new cab battery—Frans put that in.

NAXA TV mounted in a Class B RV

TV secured to the wall for driving

Frans likes to be creative as he’s a retired engineer. When he’s done tinkering he always asks, “Where is my RV?” Believe me many times I would have liked to be free of it but I was rapidly approaching the point where a sale would put me in the red with more money invested than I could recoup. Under protest he took out the old 13-inch tube TV. It was a mess having to saw off the protruding portion of the wooden box where it was nestled on the ceiling in-between the driver and passenger seats. I’m so glad it’s gone, I was constantly hitting my head on it. I replaced it with a 15.5 Naxa LED 12 V DVD flatscreen and a articulating mounting arm installed in the back near the bed/couch. It’s good except for one little white stuck pixel… still have to fix that. The space of the old TV is now storage for my electronics. Frans also installed extra DC jacks.

Took it to a body shop to have the door seals replaced and to find out why the windows wouldn’t open and to have the privacy door fixed. They kept it for 2 weeks burning $50 of gas on road tests. I called every day, nothing. Finally went to pick it up for my Phoenix trip. The service rep spent a few min explaining how they had taped it here and there and driven on the fwy—the noise starts at about 50 mph—and the noise would still be there. He motioned the mechanic over to explain it to me. The mechanic readjusted the driver door… took him about 20 seconds as he was talking to me; with a straight face he looked me in the eye and said, “you know the door seals really should be replaced.” I crocked; they wanted $185!!! My screaming moved them. Not good to have a middle-aged female standing in their lot with arms waving around looking reckless. They rescinded the bill. Just before I left it was pointed out that there was a little locking pin holding the windows shut.

I had Frans cut the locking pins off all the windows with one of his mysterious tools from the garage.

Drove the LT to Phoenix for a dog show with Olympia and Mason. Traveled great and the cabin noise was somewhat reduced, but very hard to handle in the high wind.

I had filled the water tank but nothing would come out.

March 30, 2011 Bruce’s Auto Repair: water pump replaced.

June 9, 2011 Took it to ATG for an oil change and a trip check. $316… needed the front brake rotors resurfaced. Complained about the wind noise and asked if they could do the door seals. Also asked, if they could, please…please…. please tighten the loose steering. They made a note.

Called the recommended body shop, was told that door seals were no longer made for the 1996 Dodge Ram 3500 van – this was only on the drivers side. I took the bait, well, I asked, what do you suggest. Nothing! That was the answer… I said things that weren’t very nice and hung up.

Took it Master Motorcrafts after calling half-dozen other body shops with no luck. The fellow at Motorcraft inspected at the door seals, taped the wing windows and went for a test ride with me. No, it didn’t need new door seals since these were still soft, he didn’t recommend them because the new aftermarket ones caused problems. Maybe the white exterior body trim that was puckering loose might be causing the wind noise. He suggested I try that first. Amazing, no charge!!! And a very nice guy – he really liked my old Dodge van; said the chirping noise was probably the serpentine belt or the pulley. I’ll definitely return when I need them.

Took it back to ATG on June 22 2011; the noise I’d told them about (but they had ignored other than writing it on the intake sheet) was getting louder… Needed a pulley and I agreed to have a new serpentine drive belt installed: $177 (the old belt is safety tucked away for emergencies.)

At last. . . Bill’s RV…. Had the water filter replaced, the generator serviced and the sewer hose replaced. Trim never arrived. Still no awning but today I found a better idea than a $400 bluetooth radio … I ordered a wireless device for $35 (thank you Amazon) that will allow me to plug in my Droid for wireless music and hands-free phone calls. It will be here in a few days… and then I’m off.

I received the wireless transmitter yesterday. One has to find in a station with no interference but it works great. I tuned in Folk Alley on my Droid, climbed in the bed in back and relaxed.

Next….   Packing

How I arrived

Perhaps I should take a moment to comment on the journey that has so far landed me here.

I’d been inspired by a small quiet road in the Sierras in those moments when the trees seem to speak aloud. I’d parked, touched by the glances of hidden animals and the sound of afar off water cascading into thirsty niches. I wanted to stay, to spend the night or the week simply listening and watching so I began to search. . . two years later I purchased my 1996 Dodge Freedom Wide Class B 19′ self-contained Leisure Travel. I had twice inspected and rejected this vehicle, certain I could find what I truly wanted, a compact, economical go-anywhere (affordable!) camper that could sleep 4 or in pinch at least 3. It would be off-road capable and enable me to be independent of the built environment and allow me the freedom and comfort to roam in the panoply from highrise city to desolate wilderness. Something like this would have been my dream: The Earthroamer or a Tiger

In the beginning I knew nothing. I didn’t know motorhomes were a type of RV and that not all RVs are self-contained or that they come in different classes. I didn’t know that what I wanted was in short supply and high demand and that my dream vehicle was at the top of the line. I didn’t know that the NADA guides–the RV version of Kelly Blue Book–was only going to frustrate me. I started to back-down on what I wanted, adjusting, capitulating and probably doing a lot of whining. Salesmen took me under their wing explaining the facts: as the economy collapsed home-dwellers were drawn to the RV — it was mobile, comfortable, and to some, offered the lure of exploration and salvation from failure. Small requires precision craftsmanship, that means you pay more, add that to the history of RV travel on the West Coast with big roads, long distances and cheap gas creating the demand for spacious RVs–gas guzzlers with room for the whole family and all their toys. The global picture changes; empty-nesters and solo singles, the new class of vagabonds, the lost and the adventurous sharing the frustration with the rising pump and the fear of ruining the family vacation has turned ‘little and economical’ into precious and expensive.

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