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Friday, September 20, 2019

The Massive Retrospective: The Estate Takes on Alaska

Copyright 2019, CABS for Reflections From the Fence

The last post on our Alaska adventure.  It covers Alaska and my comfort zones, and after thoughts, some about what worked and what may not have worked. We will be months absorbing the enormous and vast things we have seen. 

Alaska is large, huge, vast, BIG!  Getting to Alaska via Alberta, British Columbia and the Yukon is also large, huge, and more than the sum of large and huge put together.  Leaving Alaska via Yukon and British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, etc. is also large, huge and more than the sum of large and huge.  There is less connectivity coming out through British Columbia than there was going in, less of just about everything else as well.  Less campgrounds, less fuel.  The adage, do NOT pass a fuel station, should always, and I do MEAN always, be followed and adhered too. Alaska, getting there, being there, getting back, can be and was at times overwhelming.  It helped to focus only on where we had to get to on any given day, a couple hundred miles or so at a time.

Living and traveling in 100 square feet for over 3 months.  Yes, that’s a comfort zone challenge.  We are actually quite surprised at how quickly we adapted to living in our "tiny house on wheels".  One trick - - there is this corner over by the sink that one person can cozy into while the other walks from the bath to the front, or front to the bath. Ya kinda get used to dodging in and out of the cubby corner, or just climbing onto the bed to stay out of the way of the other.  Man found that it was a good time to take Sir W for a walk and dispose of the garbage while I packed up each morning.  He was out of the way, and I have freedom to move about. It made for a more speedy and stressless packemup.

The flip lid small storage box.  One of those things that worked out way past any expectations or hopes.  On our last trip to the Home store, I saw this, and grabbed it, thinking, I love this, but, have NO idea how to use it in The Estate, but, I am buying it anyway, cause I love it!  WELLLLLLL.  This has been well used, well appreciated and I am so glad I bought it.  It holds little stuff that I would normally have on my nightstand.  And, my earrings.  And, the top holds my iPad or iPhone, or a small book, or my pencil or my stylus for my iPad or - - -

The only flat spot around my sleeping area, and it is small.

Way out of my comfort zone. Wait! What do you mean little internet, and even less television?  No internet at times, or minimal connectivity which is hard to surf with.  No phone service for hundred of miles at a time.  Basically no television once you pass into Canada till you cross back into the lower 48.  Your satellite will not function up here. If it is not attached to your unit, just leave it home.  Campgrounds with cable were scant.  Many that had cable offered snowy pictures, small number of stations, or both.  I can count on one hand the days we had "decent" cable or over the air television once we crossed into Canada.  I used that down time to rest, blog, rest, process photos, sleep and after resting some more, I might play computer solitaire.  It is our collective memory there were very few campgrounds in Alaska proper that offered cable either.  I went weeks without even turning on my television.  Yes, Virginia, it can be done, even Carol can go without television for weeks on end.

Weather is always a challenge. I mean, who went to Arizona and had 3 snow storms in 6 weeks in Cottonwood - where it may snow once every ten years.  In Alaska, in our experience in the 6 weeks or so we were there, we had fog, rain, fog and more rain, none of it was torrential, just constant rain.  August is said to be the rainy month?  This year, July was too.  That’s a tough thing for a sun loving, seasonal affective disorder sufferer.  And, they have fires.  Smoke producing big ole fires.  Smoke that covered Fairbanks, Denali, Homer, Seward, Cooper Landing,  for a few hours, or all day. Both of us have breathing issues and the smoke on bad days had us searching for something to do inside.  The smoky hazy days were disappointing as it reduced visibility.  That said, we did not lose our home or our business due to fire, and our healing thoughts go out to the citizens affected by the fires. For us, the rain and fires were inconvenient, not so for the citizens who lost so much. 

The well used bucket /box/basket.  Sits between the two seats in the cab.  This thing has been stuffed with water, passports, Sir W health papers, power bars, iToys, maps, books, Sony III, and whatever else.  Super functional.

Regrets. Photos missed. Like the porcupine. It was the only one I saw.  Photos taken that were not in focus and were tossed into the digital trash bin.

Delighted. Long days, no setting sun. Loved that.  Would not love the no sun in the winter. Nope, that would break me.  But loved those long glowing days of July. Ooooo ya!

Packing everything in boxes. Food, clothing, medicines, you name it, it went in boxes.  Small enough to fit in the cupboards and small enough that I could not fill them too heavy.

The all important memory cheat card.  We did look at the height numbers a time or two and the license number (removed here for obvious reasons) was nice to have available while going through borders.  I read it off to several customs officials.

Crossing international borders.  Another “out of Carol’s comfort zone” issues. I have never like crossing borders so this is nothing new.  It is enhanced tho, now, considering world and American politics and issues.  Due to Man's hearing issues, he made this pronouncement at the beginning of the tour that I should drive through each and every border crossing.  I guess the ole "activity keeps the nervousness down" worked for me once again.  Keep busy and you won't have as much energy to fret. I successfully drove through customs each time, I believe it was 7 crossings.  We were never asked for more than our passports, the standard questions and we were never pulled over for the agents to do a search. I was so busy dealing with the "hat off", dog papers, our passports, all electronics "off", "tinfoil" out of the windows, etc., etc., etc. that I did not have time to get very nervous.  That crossing into Washington tho, that took 1.5 hours, give or take, and the one crossing into Alaska the first time, taking 45 minutes, those both left me "fret" time.  Overall, border crossings were almost painless, sorta almost.

Growth.  Spend this much time in 100 square feet and put on as many miles as we have and you will either break or grow.  I think we did both.  Life is real and some days break ya.  Other days, are splendid and you come to new understandings.  Yep, even after 51 years of marriage.  The growth can be personal or as a couple, or both.

Worked, like really worked. Tin foil, my nickname for a Reflectix (trademarked name) double reflective insulation, which is bubble wrap with two sides of silver reflective material. We cut tinfoil to fit every roof vent, with the velcro applications they come down easy peasy. Then we cut 2 large pieces for the window over the bed areas.  Those were cut a wee bit large so we could just press them into the opening.  Easy to remove or even slide side to side.  They were originally intended to fight the midnight sun in Alaska, but, were even more useful when the days were hotter than blue blazes.  That tin foil can really cut the heat factor, and therefore reduce the use of the noisy (and quite irritatingly so) air conditioner.

Then there is the stool!  Oh, what would we have done without this.  Sir W uses it to jump on the bed, Man uses it to sit on some mornings while having breakfast (with his bed tray filled with food), and we both use it several times a day to access the "attic".

The Estate has performed over and above our best hopes. Way above our most wildest dreams, as they say.  Parking is easy.  The gearing is fabulous.  Fuel mileage more than acceptable for us. We have praised the driving and the Transit time and time again. We climbed to over 8500 feet and according to the GPS, were about 900 feet below sea level one time (NO, we were not, it was some fluke, hysterical fluke.) We are totally thrilled with the size and no slides.  The Estate is not as wide as Jolly and driving through as many construction zones as we have, every time, we look at each other and declare, one more time, how nice it is to go through these zones with a more narrow rig.  Yea, really, for this time in our lives, for this intense kind of traveling, The Estate rules!!

The living is easy - - in The Estate.  Simplified and easy.  Hard to loose stuff.  LOL  Although I did loose a camera battery about 1 month out. I found it the other day while cleaning out The Estate.  That said, really, the living is easy. 

Funky fix. If you have been following along, you may remember a few posts ranting about the rattles and noise.  I spent a few days and more hours that I want to think of, searching down and silencing stuff that wiggles, jiggles, clanks and makes noise.  For the most part, if the road is smooth, it is quiet in here.  Hallelujah!  It takes me about 5 - 10 minutes extra during packemup to put all the noise stopping measures in action. Sure, it's a bit longer to pack up, but, that quiet, that silence, that peace.  Yea, rattles drive us nuts!   This is the cover for my stove top, the rig did not come with a cover.  The cover provides mandatory much needed counter space.  And, it rattles something awful.  Thus, the foam,  no rattles now.

It may look funky, but, the quiet miles, so worth all the funk!!


Disappointments.  AT & T phone service.  They changed their Canadian partners in the last year or so, and connectivity was awful.  Especially in the Yukon.  No service for days. We went with AT & T due to the wild positive raves we had heard during our planning stages.  Huge disappointment.    It was our emergency back up and it failed. To be clear, we rarely get phone calls, use our phones to tether into the internet.  Noting that the data cell towers are different than the cell towers that deliver your phone calls, eh?  But, if you have NO service, I don't care what you want out of your phone, you will not be getting it!  LOL We expected to be out of service when we were 100 miles from any town of any size. But AT & T would not connect even when we were in "towns" of any size.  Verizon data, on my iPad did not fare too well either.  And, yet, there were a few times in Alaska that Verizon data on the iPad was the only connection available.  For the "connection addicted Carol and Man act", having 3 different providers sorta worked out.  Unless you are 100 miles out in the middle of millions of pine trees.

What did not quite work out the way we expected.  The Milepost.  I know, I know.  So many Alaska travelers swear by it.  And, we did refer to it, now and then.  And, we LOVED the big ole pull out map, that alone made it worth the purchase price.  Our issue, was that if we read it while rolling, the reader had their head in the book and not looking at the scenery and glory all about us.  I personally found the organization did not suit the way I see or think about stuff.  I use mile markers, or in Canada kilometer markers.  They are usually pretty easy to spot.  I kept thinking, and screaming now and then, just use the mile/kilometer markers.  Why all this silly so many miles from the east AND/OR, so many miles from the west. l am not so good with abbreviations and the Milepost is full of them. Now, don't get me wrong, some of the historical data was very interesting.  But, if I find the thing frustrating, I am not going to be reading the fine historical data either. Yea, this did not work out for us. It's a great resource,  just did not speak "Carol".

Surprises.  Sprint phones, we were told would be shaky in Alaska and Canada.  They out performed AT & T and Verizon.   Our GPS worked most of the time, in Canada, and Alaska.  There was the 900 plus feet under water thingy one time.  Ooops!  A few times it simply could not find a satellite. We were told that GPS was flaky up there, but, that was not our experience.

Your breakfast is served. Another of our, wow, this is sooooooo valuable tricks and it multitasks.  Bought this for Man to balance his big breakfasts. Man loves his tray.  Soon discovered it fit well on the kitchen sink, thus has served well as an additional level surface.  That white cutting board behind the sink, it will also fit the sink opening and can be used as another way to cover the sink and provide a flat surface to work on.

No regrets. The Estate. Lost count on how many times we have said we are so glad we did this trip in The Estate not Tana. We have nabbed campsites in campgrounds that were full of big rigs and only had room for little guys and gals like us.  Parking in shopping centers is pretty easy and we did pretty good in most situations. Sometimes we got in extra steps due to where we had to park.  U turns are easy with The Estate, so we did many!  The ease of driving and set ups upon arrival at camp, what a joy.  We love Tana, but she is an exhausting lady at times.  (Refer to the prior paragraph, "The Estate has performed over and above our best hopes.")

One of those things not usually spoken about in public.  OK, so, Man and I both have some health issues and we use the "head" more frequently than we care to mention. SIGH.  Having the head so easy to access, well, it was good!  LOL  This is in part due to the size and ease of driving The Estate, we can pull off the road in places that we would never consider pulling off Tana and Jolly.  (Yes, "head" is a sailors term, you may internet search it if you don't know the meaning.)

You CAN do this.  You can keep a digital journal every day and convert it to blog posts and you can choose and process the photos and post them to the appropriate blog post, almost daily, I think I did two posts that had 2 days each, other wise, it is one post = 1 day.  Some days I went from 200 plus photos taken to 30ish used on the blog.  Some days I barely had one photo to choose from from that day.  The posts and editing of the photos will not be perfect, spelling and grammar take a back seat to speed, connectivity and the urge to "get it done".  You CAN, and you DID.  OK, I am breaking my arm patting myself on the back.  When I started I wondered if I could make it to the end, and I DID!  Wow, just WOW!

What is this mess? I'm sure ya all are shaking your heads now.  Well, it's Sir W's feeding plate.  (By the way, it is wet, and clean.  LOL) We put silicone caulk on the bottom and guess what, it does not slide around on the linoleum floor in The Estate.  I know, silly, right?  But, totally functional.  It can be the little things.  And, often, it is.

Learn something new every day. Subscribing to the app News Break which feeds local news as well as national and international turned out to be a fun and an educational good thing. Of course, you must be connected to the internet, eh??  One day in Wyoming I learned that coal mining is in trouble there, two mines having recently closed. That news gave me some new insight into the state we were traveling through.  

What sorta missed the mark.  Replaced two throw rugs, they were so dirty, sigh. No way to wash and really get clean. Will address that clean thing back at the stick built. 

Man's leveling app and hardware.  This thing is so fabulous we have no words.  We pull into a campsite, he can determine in 30 seconds if we are level or not. He can quickly determine how many leveling blocks or ramps we will need and where, and seriously, in less than 5 minutes we are done for the day.  The Estate cannot have automatic levelers installed, for reasons too complicated for me to remember.  LOL  We LOVE this app and hardware!  

App on the iPhone, shows you each axel, what will be needed to make the unit level.

Before you jump.  Before you jump into RVing and/or a trip of this sort, you really need to know who you are, how you live, what you can do and cannot do.  We had disappointments, true, and they are never fun, but, they were not totally unexpected.  Knowing the sport, expecting things to break, knowing what is necessary and what was not, all this helped us survive over 90 days in 100 square feet.  Think, plan, think more.  Know thyself and to thyself be true!

Bug out.  OK, so, we encountered NO skeeters. Alaska is experiencing a long term drought, so despite the rain we experienced, there just were no skeeters.  There were close encounters with flies tho. Reminder to Carol - - you need a fly swatter - - just sayin.

Extra shelves Man built for kitchen cabinet. Could not have managed without them.

Cool!! We have three of these little USB personal sized fans.  One for each of us and of course, one for Sir W.  Since The Estate has no large ceiling fan, these are life savers. And, can be run when you are on battery power only.

Wish list. A slightly larger frig, we managed, but if only it were just a bit larger. Known issue before purchase.  Always something about a rig that is less than stellar, frig size fell into that category. Water heater that is not set so high/hot.  This one will scald you, just way too hot.  The lemonade here is we save a bunch of propane, as we run it just long enough to get warm water and then turn if off. 

Irritating. Water pump/leak. We are determined to find the fix for the water leak.  Determined!  (And, we did! For now, eh?)   Rain dripping in on cab doors. This is poor design.  Rain or air conditioner drip off the roof with the aid of "extensions". The extensions on the front are not long enough.  So, when you open the door, the dripping hits the electric window switches.  We can tell you from past experience, this is NOT a good thing.  Had a similar issue in a custom van once, it melted and fried the electronics in one door.  Could have burned down the entire van.

It's a LONG trip. Son told us that our estimated total distance driven of 12,000 miles is half way round the world, yep, we will have driven approximately one half of the circumference of Mother Earth.  No wonder we are tired.  I actually did another search on this factoid, to get the exact numbers, the circumference of the Earth in miles is 24,901 at the equator.  Our final trip milage was 12,283. Half way round the world, at the equator would be 12,450 miles.  We missed it by 167 miles!  LOL  But, I think we can call that close enough!

Biggest disappointment.  No doubt about it, the smoke, especially at Denali.  We never saw the mountain range, the visibility was less than 1 mile.

Biggest delight.  Combo of Banff National Park, Jasper National Park and for sure the Icefields between the two.

I have been asked a number of times, will you ever go back?  My initial reaction has been, probably not.  4,000 miles just to the border of Alaska and The Yukon is epic and exhausting!  I have no burning desire to see millions of pine trees again.  However, as I am a firm believer in "never say never, cause you will regret it when it comes back to bite ya on the backside",  I'll say that the photos I am seeing as fall hits Alaska, intrigue and interest me. Seems there are trees that are NOT pine trees, and they turn colors in the fall. Ya, the fall colors might do it. Never say never - - it's not wise.

The End.


Thursday, September 19, 2019

The Last Day: The Estate Takes on Alaska

Copyright 2019, CABS for Reflections From the Fence

September 17, 2019

We woke to quiet. The water pump burping has ceased.  

A pretty pale purple flower - - cause it's pretty.

We head over to Coachmen service to thank them again.  

Coming to your house soon?? Amazon Prime delivery trucks.  See, here is the thing, they don't just build RV's here in Elkhart County.  We have seen ambulances, and other types of trucks.  You know, fleets and/or emergency type vehicles.  I believe the number we heard on this order was something like 20,000 units.  We saw two large parking lots full of these, waiting for transporters to deliver them. The photo is way out of focus, and how bout that big ole pole in the middle??  Well, you get the idea and know what to watch for, coming sometime soon.

Quietly slip over the Michigan state line before noon.  It’s a overcast cool day, since we are looking at unpacking and moving back into the stick built we are pleased with cool.  

After Sturgis we note the corn is looking pitiful. Soy turning yellow.  Deciduous trees very green.   Near Bronson, we see a few leaves turning color tho. We suspect another late fall.  

We stopped and had a quick lunch and we stopped and cleaned out the holding tanks one final time.  

At 3:57 we back into the driveway, and the trip is officially over.  Lawn was well cared for, looks good. Crabapple is starting to loose leaves and the "fruit" awaits the deer this winter.  (By the way, that is the pole barn, not the house, in case you wondered.)

We drove 106 miles today. And we are home. The adventure has come to a conclusion. 

*Seems we were rather lucky.  Our neighbor provided this photo of a bit of excitement a few weeks back.  I don't know exactly when.  One of the limbs left distinct brush marks on Tana where the limb brushed the front cap when it came down.  Jolly has no damage.  The limbs fell about 30 foot and are fairly heavy.  I'm no physicist or mathematician, but, I know that that thing was falling hard and fast. We were soooooo lucky!!  One of those small miracle events.


Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Holding for That Burping Water Pump and The Fix: The Estate Takes on Alaska

Copyright 2019, CABS for Reflections From the Fence

September 15, 2019

Last night I could see the moon.  It was a few hours past full, but, I cannot see any degradation,  You know I took a photo. Only, those electric lines just would not move aside.  

You may remember my last post and my rant about the horrible roads around Joliet Illinois. I mentioned how bad the pot holes were.  How it was a challenge to try to miss most of them.  There were some of those holes that were the entire lane wide.  This morning I opened the cupboard and it seems my dishes were tossed about.  I told ya it was bad!!  Note:  This cupboard is right over the rear axel, it does bounce back there.

It rained all morning.  I took a nap before I ever got up.  

It will be a very slow day for us. The sun will finally burn off most of the grey.  

It’s more rest than anything else today.    

I will do some blog work.  Once we arrive back at the stick built, I doubt there will be much time for blogging.  We have many appointments to schedule, visits with family are at the top of the list.

September 16, 2019

Getting the water burp/leak looked at the Coachmen service center.  Found a connection that was split, it connected to the fresh water tank. They also replaced the water pump.  Note:  The connection did not look this poorly while on the fresh water tank.  LOL  I am guessing to get it off took a bit of destruction??

We were at the center at 7:30,  I have been up since 4 AM. (I know you heard the groans of sleep deprived pain.)  

They loaned us their “van”.  Oh, my.  I remember it from last year.  I must have shrunk or someone managed to muscle the driver’s seat back even more, today I cannot reach the pedals.  The seat does not move, like many other mechanics of this van that just do not function, like the drivers side door lock that is punched out.  Man drives, I fret over the shrinking issue (OK, not really, well, maybe a little.)  We drove into Middlebury and had breakfast at the Village Inn.

We are finished at the service center and back at our campsite by 3ish.  We refill the fresh water tank and start testing.  It took a bit to get all the air out of the lines, and we heard delayed burping due to that air.  We held our breath and kept running the water, finally the burps ceased.  Oh, happy day!

Worked on computer stuff, a summary blog post is in the works and doing backups of posts.  Finished backing up the July posts, now on to August.  By days end I had 12 of those done as well.  

No burping water system. We are doing little hopeful happy dances.  The new pump does sound different. And, we discover the water flow is increased.  But, no burping.  Now, if we don't eventually pop some new leak - - hey, its a realistic possibility, let's be real about it.  So, we happy dance for now - -


Illinois to Indiana, Rank Roads, Fawn at Risk, Good Eats at the Blue Gate: The Estate Takes on Alaska

Copyright 2019, CABS for Reflections From the Fence

September 14, 2019

Sad to leave this little place of heaven, but real life and home await.  Today we edge even closer. It is sunny, cool breeze and 65 at almost 10 am.  Had to turn the furnace on for one round this morning to take the chill off. Seriously, heavenly.  

Stopped at FlyingJ to top off the fuel and stayed for breakfast. It was good!  

The farmers here are blessed with super rich soil. Dark. I’ll bet it smells heavenly earthy when freshly tilled.

The corn looks good,  it has not started turning yet.  A month or so out from harvesting it.   The soy here has very little yellow. I am seeing a few trees with a wee bit of the leaves turning. 

The roads just west of Joliet, driving was on I-80, frankly, STINK!  Pot holes, bad ones, could not miss em all, and they were rattlers.  I would rather drive 100 miles of frost heaves around Tok Alaska than those 10 or 20 around Joliet.  I am glad however, that you did not hear the purple words flying around The Estate.  I was not a happy driver.  Stressful driving.  I was glad it was not any longer.  SIGH.

We hit 12,000 miles for the trip today. Note, it says we have been "moving" during this trip 268 hours and 36 minutes.  Well, then!  LOL  Also note, that I was NOT exceeding the speed limit at the moment the photo was taken.  

Once east of Gary, I note that some of the corn has turned and should be ready to harvest any day.  Saw a few trees of yellowing leaves and 2 of bright red.  The sumac is turning red as well.  Fall is coming.

On the Indiana Turnpike I see a small deer standing very close to the highway, I could not move to the other lane of travel.  I let off the accelerator, I was reluctant to slam on the brakes, as there was so much traffic surrounding me. Tightly held on to the steering and prayed and told that baby to stay put. It did not, but thankfully it went back down the embankment. I was a bit surprised, it was early in the afternoon, not dusk. 

We found our campsite and drove right over to Shipshewana and had dinner at the Blue Gate.  They now have a buffet downstairs, and it was scrumptious.  This area, Elkhart County, RV capital of the world, is a favorite of ours, almost feels like coming home.

The Blue Gate always does such a nice job on their holiday themed decorations.  They are ready for fall.

We drove  232 miles today.  Eastern Time Zone. Our last “border” crossed for a while, well, we think. Stay tuned. 


Sunday, September 15, 2019

A Most Delightful Day Enjoying a Fab Park in Illinois: The Estate Takes on Alaska

Copyright 2019, CABS for Reflections From the Fence

September 13, 2019

The storms went through late last night and in the early morning.  The first round had significant thunder and rain.  Sir W did not like the thunder and told it to stop.  

The morning came with much cooler and more pleasant conditions. Sun peaking out and then the clouds pretty much just going somewhere else.  At noon the temp out there is still under 70.  Truly delightful. 

As our tour is coming to an end I am starting the cleaning all the dust and grime I can find. Window edges, floors. Rugs will get done when we get back to the stickbuilt.  The Estate will be gutted, linens washed, gear will be transferred back to Tana or into the house.  Current plan is to winterize The Estate pretty much as soon as we get back.  

A nice field of corn was growing behind us.  It will be about 3 to 4 weeks before it is ready to harvest.

We had a leisurely day. The weather was spectacular.  I cleaned and cooked and cleaned some more.  I do love clean floors, I think it is a fetish.  LOL

Won’t be attempting to do Harvest Full Moon photos, too many trees and corn fields.

This view out the front of The Estate, well kept grounds, lots of fresh gravel, and a playgroup for the kiddos that was purchased from another local campground that was going out of business. (See below for a discussion on that.)  Note the auto is NOT ours, we have no toad (towed) with us.

Last night we had a very interesting discussion with one of the owners of this campground.  She told us that 2 or 3 other local campgrounds have gone out of business.  Just shut down.  Several reasons, the first she mentioned is “fighting bad reviews”.  Basically unreasonable customers. I have been know to rant now and then. (Wink, wink.) I do, try to balance the rants with unreasonable expectations. For example I won’t rant because there is a gravel site instead of poured concrete one.  People complain about all gravel sites in the west, mmmmm, dear peeps, it’s pretty water intensive to have “green” campsites in ohhhh, Tuscon.  I mean really, peeps complain about - - weird stuff.  Like there are too many buildings on a property.  The buildings are not “labeled”.  I dunno, if it is me, and a building is not labeled I just figure it’s none of my business and go about the rest of my day.  In a time when the RV industry is delivering about one half a million new units per year, campsites are tough to get now.  Not many new campgrounds are being built.  And, campground reviews that are not fair, or are just outright silly are causing established campgrounds to close their doors forever.  I suppose none of this should come as a surprise in the divisive social media times we are living through.  It is very sad tho.  

The campground photos do not come close to doing justice to just how nice this place was.  Man and I both agreed that we could have easily spent a week there, just sitting and enjoying and relaxing.

I have rough guess estimated that I have taken 6600 photos during this tour.  That does not count the ones I deleted already.  Aren't you happy that I only shared the best of the best due to time and bandwidth/connectivity issues??  Ya, I knew that.  


I-80 Truck Stop and Truck Museum, on to Illinois: The Estate Takes on Alaska

Copyright 2019, CABS for Reflections From the Fence

September 12, 2019

A slow start. Departure 11:30. Warming up, getting hot and soppy humid.  

First stop. Supplies. I need bananas.  Oh, and we need other stuff too.  LOL

After the stock up stop we still need fuel and lunch. And we realize we are 35 miles from the I-80 truck stop. So. Off we go, we will fuel up and have lunch there. See how much it has changed since the last time we were through here. 

This part of Iowa, still a bit windy, but I can see for miles.  I like it.  Farm land, silos, farms. Corn fields stretch for miles.  Soy as well, some of which is turning yellow. 

I-80 truck stop, of course there are changes.  Interior of the building we remember has been freshened up.

Now, the Museum, which I have discovered was expanded in 2012.  I could not remember when we were here last, but, after checking around in my blog and photos, it seems it was the same year.  Man and I do not remember the museum, at all.  The best I can figure we were here in 2003, 2012 and now.  I have yet to discover the original date of opening of the museum, and we do not remember it being open in 2012, so, this is our first visit.  It was fun!

In the museum we see White trucks. Connects to Martha Darden (a first cousin 3 times removed)  via her marriage to Richard Zeisling.  Richard's second wife was Elinor Bradley.  Elinor's first hubby was William King White.  Yea.  Not a direct line, but a fun subject to research.  From the work, "Boys Grown Tall, A Story of American Initiative, A reprint of fifty biographical sketches of Cleveland industrialists" published in the Daily and Sunday Plain Dealer during March, April and May, 1944 : "White comes of a long line of Cleveland industrialists.  His grandfather was creator of the famous White sewing machine.  His father, Rollin H. White, pioneered in creating the White Steamer and the White gasoline-driven automobile."  Anywhoooooo, another example of my genealogy and my RV life enhancing each other.  I had no idea there was such a history/display of the White trucks anywhere.  

This is a 1924 White Wrecker, Model 40.  Signage indicated top speed of 15 MPH.

There were so many signs, all over the walls.

Now, this may be the coolest truck they have on display, and, yes, it is a White.  LOL  It is a White 1944 model WA-114.  By the way, it holds 4,800 bottles of Coke.

There were two concrete mixer type trucks in the museum.  It's a family thing, the concrete connection.  My father used to see admixtures for concrete.

This is a 1942 Mack FJ, top speed, 27 MPH.

1929 International Harvester, HS 104 C.  Top speed 25 MPH.

Mississippi River, on Illinois side lots of tall deciduous trees and just as I was mourning the loss of views, and the corn fields returned. It’s a mixed foliage story now.  

Windy. Whewie.  Side attack. Kept our speed down to about 55 and took our time, but there were a few blasts that shook us good.  

Arrived campground near Sheffield Illinois about 6ish.  We had to call the owner to come check us in. That tells me it’s a quiet campground.  Not crowded.  And it is, both, quiet and not crowded.  The campsites are so nice and wide (and ours was more than long enough for us, could have easily held Jolly and Tana.)

Spent the evening sitting outside.  It was still warming and humid, but the breeze was nice and the view so pleasant.  Till the skeeters arrived.  One bite swelled up larger than a dime in seconds.  Scratching, scratching.

We are watching for storms, none till very late. 

We drove 134 miles today. 


Saturday, September 14, 2019

A Day for Quiet Contemplation and German Food (and Beer, of Course): The Estate Takes on Alaska

Copyright 2019, CABS for Reflections From the Fence

September 11, 2019

Of course, today was laden with memories and memorials and such for 9/11.  It is also Man’s birthday.

 We are still in Amana, and we know a great German restaurant.  Yes, we do and did.  Local brewed beer and some great schnitzel.  

We spent the morning doing “real life stuff”.  Like tracing down leak(s) in The Estate.  Yea, we still have that annoying pump “burp”.  And, we cannot find it.  That’s even more annoying.  We did find a small leak from the shower drain, but, it goes into a plastic bin in the back, so we are not too concerned about it.  We are concerned with where the fresh water/pump/burp is ending up.  Never a dull moment when you own a rolling home.

After lunch, it was very warm and muggy, Man hit the meat market and we came back to camp.  I don’t know bout Man, but, I, mmmm, took a nap!  

I spent several hours today doing computer back ups of the summer’s blog posts.  I still have well over half of July to do, all of Augusts, and whatever I have done in September. It’s not the fastest project in the world, but, one that I feel better having finished.


Friday, September 13, 2019

Wet Start, Nice Ending, Amana Iowa Here We Come: The Estate Takes on Alaska

Copyright 2019, CABS for Reflections From the Fence

September 10, 2019

Awoken this morning at 5 with hard rain. Went back to bed.  At 9:30 it was still raining. It finally stopped and we decided to run to Amanda. I think Man is hankering for some good Amish cooking. 

I took this photo before we pulled out.  See, all the rain, soaked up, gone.  Gotta say, the drainage here is super!  Man asked me to take this photo, and to be positive that Sony III was level.  I have a level in the view finder, easy peasy, I can do that.  The Estate still looks a bit un-level, but, Sony III was not.  I know, silliness - -   We were in a "side by side" site, a weeeee bit narrow, they will not park you in these sites if you have a driver's side slide out room.  We had no neighbors on either side of us, I'll admit it, that is nice.  After the storms last night, we are certainly glad we did not park under that tree! Nice clean campground, a KOA, translated - - a wee bit pricy.

12:12 departure. 74 humid degrees.  And, I see some blue skies!  

Adventureland Park. Ah, the memories.  We had purchased Big Butt, our first Tana hauling machine and had Tana on order.  As we waited, we decided to run out to Des Moines and do some serious Lashbrook research.  We landed at Adventure Park, not knowing what it was really, sighhhh.  They worked with us, and found us a campsite.  It was a great week of research and I helped a campground employee find her father, who had sadly passed, but, she was able to connect with 1/2 siblings she never really knew.  Yes, indeed, some good memories of that park.

We fueled up at Flying J. right next to Adventureland Park for $2.19 gal. Man remembers paying  close to $5.00 a gallon in the Yukon.  This may be the lowest price we have paid for fuel this trip.

DeSoto Iowa.  John  Wayne birthplace.  We did not stop, it was some distance off of I-80.

We did not take the route Man had planned, due to a sore back and mis-communications. So we drove about 25 miles further.  But it was a nice ride and we are good, we enjoyed the day. 

Iowa River,  places it looked dry?

Soy turning yellow. Lots of soy. 

Iowa 30?  Seemed like about 10 miles of construction.  Not one worker.  All that equipment. No workers?  Turns out it is a 7 year project, about $225 million.  Yes, I found an article on the internet. 

Amana Colonies.  Off the road at 3:45.   Warm, humid. Almost 60% humidity.  I drove most of the trip as Man's back was sore.  He did not take any photos, something about, "I don't care" right now.  He's forgiven.


Rolling East. What Do You Mean Tornado Watch? In September?: The Estate Takes on Alaska

Copyright 2019, CABS for Reflections From the Fence

September 9, 2019

Departure. 10:15 temp. 72. Sprinkling. Sigh.   Long day of travel, 229?  Let cha know later on that. 

Rain stopped within 30 miles.  Lots of Black-eyed Susans to cheer me along. It’s not quite as dry here and they are flourishing. 

 BY the way, the microwave fix is holding. For now. Knock on wood.  

East of Council Bluffs, some really pretty farms.  Every acre for miles seems to be planted. Terraces. Neat rows, that may or may not be square. So pretty and the fields remind me of an Amish quilt. 

Spied a few nice old barns, this was the only one I could get a photo of.

Soy turning yellow.  Corn looking good, even saw a few fields that had started to turn a bit yellow. Some hay here, has been cut and baled. 

Two wind farms. Now I remember the windy part of Iowa. LOL. 

Yes, they were repairing or replacing parts.  Big parts, big cranes to help.

Huge ole grasshopper hit the windshield. He was bigly.  I flipped him off with the wipers. 

We pull off the road about 3:45 and it is hot and humid, Man’s glasses steamed up as soon as he stepped out of The Estate.  I now remember that part of Iowa!  

Within 10 minutes of pulling off the road as we are parking and setting up, we see dark clouds over yonder. A look a radar sends us to the hurry scurry mode of set up. 

Sometimes I should not look at the "danger triangle thingy", eh??  Not happy, tornados.  UGH  This screen capture was taken just after the storm hit.

The skies are angry and dark. Rain starts at 4:15. We rock, we roll, the rain is torrential.  There are a few small hail hits. Roads flooded in campground. And it is over for this round by 4:40.  There was another round, with only rain 10 minutes later.  Round three, heavier, came at 5:05. 

The photos of the storm were taken through windows on The Estate and were not digitally edited except for downsizing to post to Reflections.  Yes, indeed, the skies were that angry and the storm was snarky.  

Rain came down the windows in sheets, not drops. We were pleased to discover we had NO leaks after this storm. (I have no idea what that yellow blotch is.)

We ordered thin crust pizza and wings from the campground. They delivered. Man said the wings were good.  I say, so was the pizza. Thin crust and spicy enough to satisfy.

5, maybe 10 minutes later, the rains returned. (The pizza did not get wet.  Delivered in between downpours.)   This round of storms did not have that scary wind blasting us and bouncing us around.  Ya, NO wind!  But look at how dark those storm clouds are!  Good grief!

We drove 222 miles today.