Fran Crawford's WebBlog

Saturday, March 26, 2005

There Really is Hope

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Our two weeks in Lancaster came and went all too quickly. The Lancaster Crawfords are always incredibly active and busily fill each day from dawn to dusk. They try to include us in all that they do and we try to keep up but sometimes run short of energy as we acclimate ourselves to a higher altitude. Going from less than 50’ above sea level in the Sacramento Valley to Antelope Valley’s almost 2500’ saps our get-up-and-go until we get accustomed to it. But it is respectable conditioning for 1800’ Hope, and even higher, Congress, Arizona.

Steve got the satellite dish working for our computers, but we could also use wireless from Mark’s computer system in the house. Mark prides himself on running a ‘single-space RV park’ with all the amenities possible. He’s even promised the pool will be up and running when we get back in May.

With time passing so quickly and our bent for procrastination we didn’t get done a lot of things we wanted to do. But it’s always fun to be involved in the family activities when we visit Lancaster.

We packed down the morning of Friday, March 19th, and as Steve rolled the house off of a leveling board I noticed a bit of a bulge in one of our new trailer tires. It ‘squatted’ (as Steve calls it) more than it should so there was probably a slow leak. There was no convenient tire shop that we knew of on the way we were headed between east Lancaster and Victorville, so Steve got out the 12 volt air compressor and we waited while it filled the tire.

Talking to Mark later he asked why we didn’t use the air compressor he had purchased last year. He said it was included as one of the amenities of the ‘park’ and he had told us before that we could use it anytime. It was my fault... I had forgotten all about it. Most RV parks don’t have compressed air available.

We departed Lancaster around 11 a.m. just in time to get into a noontime traffic crunch in Victorville... or maybe it wasn’t just a Friday jam. Maybe Victorville and Apple Valley are always subject to traffic clogs. We’ve only been there three or four times.

We had chosen a route to circumvent Victorville by taking a small road called Air Base Road that junctioned with Highway 395 at Adelante and should take us south east to Highway 18. What we didn’t find out until too late was that road had been renamed. There was no place to turn the house around so we stopped for lunch and then headed east on Highway 18 from where it crossed the 395, to Lucerne Valley and then took 247 through Landers to Yucca Valley. When we head back to Lancaster we will take Bear Valley Road that goes due west from the 18 just below Apple Valley. It comes out on the 15 between Hisperia and Victorville and misses all that other traffic.

Traveling is definitely educational!

We traveled on through 29 Palms and then through the vast desert along Highway 62 to the Colorado River and across to Parker, AZ. The desert in California was beautiful, thanks to the rainy winter months. Each change in altitude seems to bring about a change in vegetation and color. I wish I knew all the names that go with the colors... purple lupin, I know, and white Joshua tree blossoms... but there were also oranges and yellows and some red ground cover that was so thick it looked like red soil with green shrubs growing up through. Valley after valley amazed us because they were so unusually green.

By the time we got to Parker, had dinner and headed for Hope it was too dark to see if the Arizona desert compared to the beauty of the California one. We knew we were late so I called Ramblin’ Roads RV Park and Paul said he would be in the office until nine. We pulled in at 8.

You gotta love the large spaces and great views at this out-in-the-middle-of-nowhere RV park. The weather has been good... cold at night and sunny most of the days. The wind and allergies from abundant sprouting growth are the trade-offs for this spacious, peaceful snowbird spot. It’s like coming home at this point because we’ve stayed here a month or so for many years.

We have meet up with old friends and tomorrow is the start of the park’s farewell to winter visitors week. Our satellite computer connection is working perfectly and yesterday I got some up-to-date photos granddaughter Katie. Are we livin’ large... or what??!!

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Here we go again...

March 9, 2005

After nine months in one place we are back on the road. Finishing up a round of medical/dental appointments, hanging out to meet granddaughter Katie ... who appeared February 17th... and attend the 17th birthday of grandson Clinton brought us right up to the end of February.

The day before we planned to head south I needed to take my car to Todd's in Roseville for storage while we are traveling. But first I needed some fuel. Here's how it went.

I was refueling my vehicle at a self serve pump but it didn’t seem to like my ATM card. After several attempts I went to the cashier and confessed I could not make it work despite having used that same pump many times before. She came out to the pump with me and put my card in a couple of times, pushed a button to clear the machine and put my card in again. It worked.

She then proceeded to give me the ‘little old lady’ treatment.

“First open the little door and remove the cap.” She paused so I indicated I had already done so.

“Then put the hose in before you push the start button or squeeze the handle.” I inserted the hose while she pushed the button.

“Thanks, I can take it from here,” I told her so she went back to her station.

I filled the tank and managed to get the nozzle back on it’s hook; replaced my gas cap and shut the little door. But when I started for the open driver’s side door I was suddenly halted. I could go no further. I had shut the bottom of my jacket in the little door!

It wouldn’t pry open and I couldn’t reach the lever by the front seat to release it. I removed my jacket, released the latch and put my jacket back on hoping no one had noticed THAT ‘little old lady’ maneuver. And hurriedly left the premises.

On departure day a final stop before leaving Yuba City was to have the axles flipped on our fifth wheel. We took the 'house' to the RV shop, and went to breakfast with Granddaughter Katie and her parents while the work was completed. As we pulled down the road from the RV shop and put on the turnsignal to head south Steve discovered we had no trailer brakes!

Back to the shop. They repaired it and noticed that we had a couple really bad tires. They advised not traveling any further than absolutely necessary on them. We called Ray, our tire guy, and ordered a new set of tires to be put on in the morning. Back to Travelhome Park for the night much to the surprise of those we had bade farewell that morning.

Tuesday... a quick efficient tire change and we were off at last. Destination Turtle Beach Fish Camp just south of Manteca. This is a new Thousand Trails/NACO preserve and borders on primitive but a great place to be... we rarely use the fancy stuff anyway. Our satellite computer connection was not working and with no cable few channels were worth watching. There was a heavy downpour during the night.

Wednesday Steve wanted to revisit Sonora where his folks lived a while back. It was a beautiful day for a drive up the mountain. With all the precipitation the fields and canyons were covered with velvety green. We went the whole way to Twain Harte. Nice sunny day.

We departed Turtle Beach around ten Friday... overcast and showers. We were headed for Lancaster in the high desert above L.A. Thunderstorms were predicted but no weatherman had warned of the incredibly intense hailstorm that we encountered when we were passing through Bakersfield.

Traffic did slow, sensibly, and it took 20 to 30 minutes to get through the city on the interstate. The noise in the cab of our pickup was horrendous as the marble sized ice pellets beat straight down despite reports of tornado type winds in the vicinity. The water on the road was several inches deep even on the middle lanes. The only time you could ‘hear yourself think’ was under the underpasses where many vehicles pulled over to wait. That silence didn’t last for us. Pulling our house made us too long to be able to park under one so we continued southbound. It was probably the worst hail storm I have ever experienced.

To the east over highway 58 through the Tehachapi’s the sky was black and foreboding. On the west side the dark clouds were dumping their load on the foothills. Straight ahead the sky was gray and getting brighter.

By the time we reached the base of the Grapevine the sun was shining ahead of us. Of the routes to Lancaster from Bakersfield we had chosen the best! In fact The 5, over Tejon Pass and down to Gorman, appeared to be dry, but not long after heading east on 138 from Gorman we were again under dark clouds.

We reached Mark's & Janette's house, parked and hooked up the basics, and were immediately swept into the activities of the family... it was time to head to the Knights of Columbus hall for their annual fish dinner and where we would meet up with many of Janette's family.

Southern California is making up for it now, though, with Chamber of Commerce type days. The mountains that rim Antelope Valley are snow covered; the sky overhead is cloudless and before long we may just be complaining of too much heat.

One of the most asked questions we get from non-fulltime RVers is how do we handle problems that arise from time to time when we are so far away from home. The answer is we are NOT far from home and we cope the same way you do if you have a leaky roof, clogged sewer or a garage damaged by a fallen tree... we fix it, get over it and move on.

We'll be in Lancaster another week or ten days and then head for Hope, Arizona, maybe.