Saturday, September 27, 2014

Altoona, IA - Glued Down

I can see Gary crouching on the floor, banging his head against it. No, actually, he’s trying, valiantly, to take our old flooring up. Here’s a shortened version of the story. We had carpeting in the bedroom of our RV which was typical RV carpeting: a bit cheap, a bit worn and a bit dingy with an emphasis on the cheap. We also had what is called ‘peel and stick’ tile in the rest of the RV. No problem with that - easy to clean, showed no dirt since it was dark and still looked good. Since we wanted to replace the carpeting, in a brilliant stroke, I said, ‘ why not replace the entire flooring so it looks all the same?’ Then, in another brilliant stroke, I said, ‘why not put in a wood floor like we have in our last 2 homes?’

RV Renovators in Mesa, AZ assured us that they had the right product for us, that it would not interfere with the slides coming in and the only problem with what we chose, the cherry laminate was that it would show every little bit of dust, hair, lint and everything else that landed on the floor. No problem, I’ll just dust more often. The sales rep told us that it would be best to glue the floor down so that the rocking and rolling of an RV down the roads wouldn’t move it. He’s been in the business for years and we trusted his analysis.

And, we were off. We made a deposit, signed the contract and they ordered the flooring. We arranged for a place to stay while the flooring was being installed and, when it came in, we took the RV to their center and moved into our new ‘home.’

They took about a week and, when we picked it up, it was as beautiful as we had thought it would be. Look at this - neat huh? We loved the look. It matched our woodwork and shone in the sun.
JourneyFlooringRenovation-4-2014-09-27-16-51.jpg NewFloorCovering--2014-09-27-16-51.jpg
2 months later, we had moved further north into central California, with a moister climate. Oops, what’s happening to our floor? Oh, oh, looks like its bulging up in certain spots. 2 spots were really noticeable - when we walked on them, the floor sunk about 3/4”. The bulges were that tall. We examined the floor and, over time this is what we realized:

        a. firstly, since it was a wood floor, it was swelling with the moister climate. In Mesa, AZ, where it’s dry, the floor was fine but, now, as we move further north through northern CA, Oregon and Washington, the moisture climate made the wood swell.

        b. the floor had been glued down but the manufacturer installation instructions said this: ‘floating floor, need not be glued down.’

        c. the floor had absolutely NO expansion joints, no room for the wood to expand and it was expanding upwards. Look how tight it is against the wall here. There was no place else to go but up and the flooring was so tight that it is pushing the wall paper up with it. Here’s a spot in our hallway where you can see the plywood floor on the bottom, our laminated wood floor lifting up 3/4” and making a tent with the wall paper a bit wrinkled above it. And, check out all that glue on the floor where Gary has removed a board.
And, of course, the manufacturers instructions not only said to leave expansion joints of 3/8” but they also included a special little plastic spacer to use to measure the 3/8” exactly. What could be more explicit?

        d. no underlayment. The manufacturer said to install the underlayment included in the boxes.

4 strikes and you’re out. Oh, no, Gary and I are out - a lot of time a lot of money and a lot of patience. 

What to do now? Well, Gary cut some slits in the wood where the bulging was the highest to relieve the pressure. And, we lived with these in our beautiful wood floor since March. But, there were more bulges than slits we wanted to cut. I mean, how 1 slit makes the floor look awful, 2 make it look atrocious, what will 3 or 4 do? I stained the slits and that camouflaged them a bit but we’ve still got two slits in the floor in most obvious places.

That was then, this is now and we’re in Altoona, IA with some time to make some repairs. Our only solution is to take the floor up, toss it and replace it with something else:

        something that floats, that will not be glued down

        something that we can cut some expansion joints around

        something that is not wood based.

There must be a lesson here for us to learn. But, really, the lesson we learned is not to trust the experts and to read the instructions ourselves. It’s our floor, it’s our RV and, in the end, it was our decision. But, we thought that we were dealing with experts who did this for a living and had dealt with these issues before.

3 days ago, Gary began removing the wood. Glue - well, they used industrial strength glue and covered the entire board with glue. Look at this board - that white stuff on the tan laminated board is the glue - not much of the laminated board can be seen. The yellow is the plywood floor and now we have to scrape that white stuff off the plywood.
(Later, when I was removing the glue from the plywood, I realized that this glue was nothing compared to some gel-like glue that Winnebago had put down to hold the carpet in place. I’m just sure this is hundred-year glue.)

He’s got crowbars, he’s got levers, he’s got a mallet but that glue is holding like it is supposed to. At one point, he worked with mallets, crowbars and levers for an hour and only removed one board. Ah, but that was the worst, the rest were a bit easier. However, it took him the better part of two days to remove all the wood planks.

And, what did we put in its place so we didn’t have to walk on the plywood? Why, this lovely 2-mil green plastic. And, here’s our beautiful floor now. Quite a change from the wood look, huh? You can see here that we still have some flooring to remove from under the table. Not done with the removal yet.

We put the plastic down so we’d have something other than plywood to walk on. Didn’t want slivers in our dainty little feet.

We had planned to put in a marbled look vinyl tile but decided that this marbled look would clash with the marbled look on our wallpaper. Shucks, that marbled tile sure would disguise the dirt. So, we chose a wood look again but with more graining than in the first flooring we chose.

And, soon, after we get the glue scraped off the plywood and pick up our new floor, we’ll have a beautiful floor again.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Altoona, IA - Des Moines Rocks

My, is downtown Des Moines hopping today. We’ve always loved downtown Des Moines, from the skyline to the river to the activities. We moved here in 1996 after selling our Minneapolis video stores and noticed that it was not as vibrant as Minneapolis. Well, it is smaller but it didn’t seem to realize that the downtown could be as vibrant as the suburbs. But, then we noticed a lot of change: new buildings, new corporate offices for large corporations, new activities, a new arena and lots of downtown housing going up and being converted from old warehouses.

Des Moines also discovered that there was actually a river than ran through the middle of the city. Fancy that. Like many other cities, the river was lined with old boarded-up businesses, old warehouses, train tracks and not much else except some fine real estate and some beautiful old bridges. Certainly not the showpiece of the city that it is today. Finally, someone realized that that strip that ran through the city and divided the east side from the west side, the Des Moines River, actually could be used a the centerpiece and be a draw for activities, building, housing, trails and festivals. What a great idea.

And, the town was off and running and today, we saw it at its best, with crowds enjoying its many aspects. We were in one of the day’s activities: the annual Alzheimer's walk which we try to do where ever we are in the fall. We’ve been in the Fort Dodge, IA walk, the Des Moines walk several years, the Phoenix walk and returned to the Des Moines walk this year. It’s been in several places in the city but today it was at the premier location: the Des Moines Capital. (we were talking with one of the organizers and she told us that an activity had to have a critical mass before it can be at the Capital. Not every activity can be here and the Alzheimer's Walk has grown and grown and finally has enough people to be held here.)


I should mention at this junction that my wonderful, witty, vibrant, thoughtful, caring mother had Alzheimer’s for at least 15 years. But, if I continue in this vein, you’ll see the tears on the blog so I’ll just say that Gary and I walked for her today.

We awoke to rain. Oh, shucks. But It was a light rain and the radar looked as if it would blow by soon so we dressed, ate breakfast and headed off. As we pulled into the parking lot, we noticed that there were lots of others pulling in and heading off for the front of the capital. Looks like a good crowd. We got in line, picked up our wrist bands, our flower, our t-shirts and headed over to the food area: donuts, fruit, milk, bagels donated by a local grocery store, Hy-Vee and a local outfit called Bandit Burrito had breakfast burritos. Gotta get those carbs.

There was a band, a Zumba instructor moving faster than I ever could and a great crowd. There were a few speakers and then they had 4 people up front to tell what the flower colors were for. Purple was for those who had lost someone to Alzheimer's and we had this color, as did most of the others. Yellow was for caregivers and there were a few of them. Blue was for those who actually had dementia or Alzheimer's and there were a few of these also and orange was for those who were walking because they wanted support the cause. They had just released a flock of white doves which was flying overhead when Gary took this picture. (whose finger is that, Big Gar?)


The walk started at 10:00 and headed down the hill to the businesses on the east side. Because there were other activities in the city today, the walk was 2.5 miles, a little longer than the usual walk, and crossed that river twice over two new bridges. The one below is a bridge that used to have a railroad track. That stone wall is from the early part of the century, lines the river on both sides and even has a cement walkway below it. You can actually walk on the walkway for about 2 miles when the river is low but today it was higher and the walkway was covered with about 5” of water.


There are statues and other artistic pieces along the river now. These are next to a small sandwich, coffee shop with tables on the side of the river.


Where in the world do these steps go? Up to the top, as far as I could see, and no further.


Beautiful walking course: beginning at the Capital, along the river, over two marvelous bridges and then back up the hill towards the Capital. Adults, kids, strollers, wheelchairs, large teams, small teams, dogs - a marvelous variety. As we walked, we could feel the energy of the group and the desire to cure this awful disease.

The walk headed off down the capital hill, along the river and then back up the hill. At the end we stopped to listen to a local band. Looks like someone needs to learn how to do selfies. (And, whose arm is in these pictures, Nanc?)

Alzheimer%252527sWalkforVirginia-1-2014-09-20-17-39.jpg Alzheimer%252527sWalkforVirginia-2-2014-09-20-17-39.jpg

At the end, we stayed a bit to hear the band which played a variety of music and then headed onto the second big downtown activity - the farmers market. One of the best in the nation, I’ve read and we’ve been going every year since we came to Des Moines. We’ve seen it grow from several blocks to about 10 now. There are musicians, crafts from baby clothes to metal lawn statues, baked goods from strudel to Dutch letters, drinks from coffee to smoothies, and, oh yeah, they’ve got vegetables galore. Today, since it is close to the end of the growing season, there were lots of potatoes, squash, carrots, pumpkins but there were also lots of beans, tomatoes, peppers etc. I decided to buy some beets. Now, I’ve never cooked beets from scratch - I’ve always bought canned beets but I thought I’d try these. They are a deep red so they must be good for you.

After this we walked around the downtown area. One of the largest department stores in town has stood empty for about 10 years now and they were finally rehabbing it when, you guessed it, a spark set the building on fire and it is a total loss. They are in the process of demolishing it now. What a loss and what a shame. As we were walking towards the river to walk along it, we met a couple from Dyersville, IA (from ‘if you build it they will come’ - Field of Dreams fame - looking for someplace to eat - and they are vegetarians. We directed them to the third big event in downtown today, the World Food and Music Festival.


I have to admit that we’ve never been to this one but, my, we’ve missed a lot. With the backdrop of the Des Moines skyline and being on a bridge over the Des Moines River, and offering food from many countries, we wonder why we’ve missed it. Look at the crowds, look at the food booths and look at the lines. A neat feature is a sample size of each booth’s most popular item. Great idea. If you want to try lots of different foods, you need to sample them, not have large plates. Here’s our favorite booth: the Local Yokels - serving Iowa food and the line was pretty long.


Here’s one of the bridges arching over the river with the white tents of the food festival on it. Back in 2005, the water was so high that you couldn’t even see the arch. All the national TV stations were here and if the river had crested any taller, it would have flooded downtown Des Moines, a real disaster. It did not and we were saved.


So, we’ve been to 3 of the major events in downtown Des Moines and haven’t even mentioned the Phantom of the Opera playing about a block away. Then there were several other charity walks around the downtown area.

It was a rocking time in downtown Des Moines today.

On another topic, kind of. Here’s a huge block of condos that were built in Des Moines about 8 years ago. Nice condos and we actually took a tour of one to check it out when we were looking for a town home. Funny thing, about 2 weeks after people started moving in, they noticed the train tracks running right beside the building. ‘Hey, there are train tracks right beside our building and trains toot their horns every time they cross the street.’ ‘It’s awfully loud.’ ‘What can be done about it?’ ‘Can it be moved?’ Didn’t they notice that track when they were visiting that town home the first time and the second time? Why were they so surprised?


Thursday, September 18, 2014

Altoona, IA - Hot Time in the Old Town


Yep, Altoona, IA - hot times in the old town - Nope. It’s pretty dull. I’m working on some small problems which just take some time. Today I called Verizon (right there you know that I was sitting for a while waiting) and was on the phone for at least 1 1/2 hours, getting several things taken care of. 

Firstly, there’s that rascally little $25.00 charge that hasn’t been removed from our account yet. Well, actually, it was all our fault. We traveled into Canada in June, knowing that we could not use the phone without some extra charges. However, we didn’t realize that those charges also applied to the web and we went online - to the tune of $53.00. Whoo-eee. Expensive goof. However, the pleasant young man at Verizon backdated a $25 charge for a global card which took care of the $53. Then he told us that he would give us a $25 credit - if we had learned our lesson. We agreed that we would call Verizon BEFORE we did any international travel in the future and he gave us the credit. Hmm, we never got it, even after we called Verizon in June. Today, we finally got it.

Then there’s the rascally little question about why my phone is disconnected. I never use my phone, it’s an old flip-top phone that I take with me when I’m not with Gary who has the smart phone. Like when I go grocery shopping and call to ask him if he wants one or two pkgs of spice drops. (What a dumb question - I might as well buy 3.) Verizon charges $30 per month for this type of phone or $360 per year. Last Sept, I bought a $100 pre-paid plan which gave me one year’s worth of calling. I only had to pay $.99 per day that I used the phone. I ‘heard’ that the $100 could last forever and I would never have to pay again until I had used all 40 minutes allowed under the card. Silly me. My prepaid plan ended this September. Shucks. Now, however I’ve signed up for a $5.00 per month prepaid plan and every call is just $.25 a minute. Now this phone is not $360 per year, not $100 per year but $60 per year. Someday we’ll have to decide if it’s worth even $60.

Then I asked the question with no answer: is it possible to get a paper copy of our $5.00 per month plan. I wanted it e-mailed to me so that I could have the contract in writing. Always a good idea to have a contract in writing. I told them that I had checked on line and couldn’t find it. No, the young man on the phone told me: it isn’t there. He then continued by telling me that one customer had gone online to Google and found it there. You’re probably telling me that I’m kidding, right? No - I am not kidding. Nothing in writing. ‘But I can tell you the details,’ he told me. Later I checked in an actual retail store and, nope, they have nothing in writing either.

I had two other small questions but, and after 1 1/2 hours I was done.

Next was the call to LLBean about 2 ‘waterproof’ rain coats we had bought in 2005 for our trip to England. In the ensuing 9 years, we’ve hardly worn them since who in their right mind goes out in the rain? However, being out of our right minds this spring and summer we hiked a lot in the rain in Oregon and Washington. We learned that our raincoats might be water ‘resistant’ but they were far from ‘waterproof’. Obviously, we need something stronger and have ordered that from Bean. Then I had a brilliant idea and decided to call Beans to see if we had bought ‘water resistant’ or ‘water proof.’ Hmmm. LLBean still calls them waterproof so they told me to send them back for a full refund.

Things are going well. Phone calls and results. I wish everything was that easy.

We used to have a paper shredder but, when we moved into the RV and became full-timers, we tossed it because it had also seen much better days. (Lucky, Gary doesn’t do that with me.) Thus, now, when we get personal mail with account numbers on it, I get to be a human paper shredder. I tear off the sections with the personal information, get out the scissors, open up the drawer with the recycling and trash bins and start cutting away. Small, narrow cuts alternating between the the trash bin and recycling bin. I’m thinking that someone would have to work really hard to piece it all together to make anything meaning full out of it all. BUT - no matter how much I shred I can’t prevent hackers from entering those websites where my personal information is stored. Like banks, and stores on line. That seems to be the weak point. Why would someone look in our trash and recycling when all they have to do is hack into our bank and steal not just our information but the information of millions of others in just one fell swoop. Sounds to me like a much more efficient way to steal personal information.

We changed our domicile to South Dakota last year and, of course, had to change our address with all our friends, the companies we deal with, our doctors - well, everyone we have an account with. I had a list of these and a folder with all the changes and all the envelopes that came to us with the tell-tale yellow forwarding sticker from the post office to please tell people our new address. I was just getting ready to deep-six that folder when our mailing service told us that it was changing its address - which means that I have to go through the process all over again. So, it got out that folder, tossed the info in it and printed off a new list. Oh, cripes.

Hernia Exam

I was able to get a hernia exam within two days of my medical exam. Pretty fast. I wanted the same doctor that Gary had several years ago since he did such a good job with Gary’s hernia. Interesting, both of us have had 2 hernias - 4 between the two of us. Name any other couple that had had as many. What’s the story? Why have we had so many?

I was telling Gary how much ‘fun’ it is being examined by 2 male doctors (one my doctor and the other an intern) who are poking and prodding at my hernia. Gary retaliated with his story of his annual prostate exam. First, any time there is a male patient and a female doctor, there needs to be a second female in the room. Now, this is a clean family-type blog and I’m not going to go into great description of this but there was something about leaning over to moon the Dr. and nurse and a glove. There is absolutely no modesty in a doctor’s office.

And with that story, I’ll put in another picture of a sunset here in Altoona.

Altoona, IA - Golf Tournament

The owner of the campground is a member of the Bondurant Lions club and holds a Cow Pasture Golf Tournament every fall on the pasture lands he has here next to the campground. We left October 1 last year so didn’t get to see it but this year we are here so I went around to check it out. The holes are all ‘Par 3’ but they have challenges that you might not see on other par 3 courses. On this hole you have to tee off from a hay bale. Looks like the guy swung too hard.

Look how you have to tee off on this hole - that’s a toilet seat.
Costumes are stylish.
This hole is evil - check out that slant. And, no, I did not tilt the camera - it is really at about 30% grade. Those golf balls all roll to the bottom.
Tee off on this hole and you ball must go through the tire.
Everyone had fun, the barbecue in the evening capped off the event and they made a lot of money for the Lions club.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Fort Dodge, IA - Reunion Time

‘I don't want to brag or make anyone jealous but I can still fit into the earrings I wore in high school.’

I know this will come as a shock to all of you who know us as young, vibrant, adventurous people but we actually are 68 and getting ready to attend our 50th HS Reunion. In fact we’ve been looking forward to it for about a year. When I planned our journey around the western coast of the US, our ending spot was always Iowa in September. But I’ve only been planning this for a year. I have an AZ high school friend whom we’ve been visiting for the last few 5 years out there when we hit AZ. She told me that she spends some time each day looking up people in our graduating class. She has used all kinds of on-line resources: Google, Whowhere, Facebook, Linked-In and anything that might have anyone listed. She’s even called fathers, sisters, and other relatives trying to find people. At one time she called an ex-spouse and, though she did not get a response from that person, she did get a response from the daughter.

She has been working hard for years on this. Then - she roped her husband in to do the database so that they could send letters and e-mails announcing the reunion. Another Tom Sawyer she is - getting her husband in on this when he wasn’t even in the same class. I once asked if they were going to do this for his 50th reunion which is next year, and got a resounding ‘NO’, followed by an ‘absolutely not’ followed by a ‘are you kidding?’ Dense I may be but I got their point.

However, it’s time to head on up to Fort Dodge for the reunion. We originally booked a motel room but then decided that we might as well take our RV and get a site in the local county campground. Since it’s 4 nights, we’d be able to spend only $64 instead of a hotel and meals expenses. You know me, I’m nothing if not cheap. It’s September and all the kids are back in school so we didn’t think that the campground would be too full. However, it is the weekend and we decided to go up on Thursday so that we would have a better chance of getting a spot than if we went up on a Friday. But, we still didn’t think we had to rush up there and left Altoona later than we had planned, stopped to check on the flowers on Gary’s parents’ grave and then stopped to see my brother. Then, we headed over to the campground about 3:00.

Well, all of the full hook-up spots were taken (by some monthly campers, I think along with some highway construction workers) and most of the electric-only spots that we could fit were taken also. Unfortunately, even though it is a first-come first-served campground, there are some who put out mats or chairs several days in advance to hold their spots and spots for their friends for the weekend. Unfair? Sure, but it happens. We were lucky though and did find a one of the last electric spots available, backed in, hooked-up and began dinner since we had invited my brother over.

Reunions can be many things - they can be a chance for rekindling of old romances, a time for settling old grudges, a time for the dweebs to show how successful they have become But, that’s the early reunions. Usually by the 50th, grudges have been forgotten, old romances are just good friends and the dweebs have been so successful for so long that they no longer have to say ‘I told you so.’ We’ve all grown up, grown older and grown more mature. Who remembers all the petty grievances of high school? Who cares? But, for most, the 50th reunion is just a great time to see each other and see how others have done. Where do they live, how many kids do they have? Or, more appropriately, how many grand kids do they have? What are they doing now?

Probably, those who attend class reunions are happy with their lives and are happy reliving them through a reunion.

Then there’s the hugging - I got more hugs from people I hardly knew in high school. You see someone near you, you don’t recognize them at all but you check their name tag, recognize them, hug and then look into their faces more closely and see the old twinkle in the eyes, the smile on their lips and, though the face has gotten older and the hair whiter the old expressions remain. They still laugh the same way and have the same gestures. Yep, that’s Craig.

I saw a guy that was in my homeroom for 3 years. I’m not sure that we ever said one word to each other. All of a sudden I looked his way and had to say something. ‘Hi, Rob.’ (I always was good with small talk.) Funny, we spoke more that night than we ever have before. He’s also got an RV but is actually making his own now. He showed us a picture of his ‘baby’ and wowsa, wowsa, is it ever fancy. He’s making an RV with all the bells and whistles. As long as he’s got the time, he sees no reason why he shouldn’t make it the best. But, what an interesting story - I wish I had known him better in high school. Here’s a picture of Gary and I talking with some others from the class. Looks like there is no one else at the reunion but we must have been in a corner. Actually 110 signed up and many brought their spouses. We had a class of 351 though one died before graduation. About 35 have died since then.
Then, there’s that awkward moment when you’ve spoken with someone and are not sure what to say next. You’ve covered all the past jobs, the kids, the grand kids, the interesting experiences - now what? How can you elegantly go say hello to someone else that you’d like to see.? ‘Gee, it was nice speaking with you but I just saw Mary Ellen walk in. Could you please excuse me?’

I saw many people I wanted to see after all these years. However, MJ wasn’t there. I wanted to see the guy who went with me to the Senior Prom. He didn’t make it. Gary’s old flame lives in Minnesota and couldn’t come either. Shucks. Actually, when we lived in Minnesota many years ago, she and I used to have a monthly dinner with two others from our class who lived in Minneapolis so we’ve see each other since high school. Her line at the first dinner we had was ‘I can’t believe I broke up with the nicest guy in our class (Gary) to date X.’ And, I only said, ‘Thanks.’

But it was a fun time. The plan was for a tailgate dinner on Friday night and a formal dinner on Saturday night. We all broke up about 10:00 and headed back to our homes or hotels or RV’s. And, yes, there were others from the reunion who were also staying at the park in their RV’s. We were not the only ones.

Saturday, we had signed up for a tour of the school at 9:30 and had been invited to a brunch at 11:00 by one of Gary’s good high school friends. It was fun to see the old high school and all the changes. Strange, there were no hall monitors sitting in a desk on the corners asking for our passes to walk around. Remember them? Yeah, there they sat checking all those wandering through the halls asking for their passes. Now, I think it’s much freer and wandering is permitted more. There is even a place to sit and talk for those students who have all their homework done and are doing well in their classes. Those who aren’t still ‘get’ to go a monitored study hall. Amazing. And, there is a way for a teacher to go online to check each student’s progress to check to see if they really do have all their homework done. Ah, yes, big brother is still there. But, as a former teacher, I think that’s OK.

Brunch was super. These were actually some friends of Gary’s in high school and, though I knew them, I really hadn’t spent much time with them. Mike is next to me and Craig is next to Gary. Susan, Mike’s wife, is in the second picture. I was happy to get them all smiling, next time I’ll have to work on not having things in people’s faces.

The second night of the reunion was at the Country Club catered by the restaurant which is there. We arrived a bit late since we had stayed at brunch so long and almost didn’t find 2 seats together. But, we did and got to talk with some people we didn’t know well in high school. Our table was the last to go through the buffet line and we were just finishing up with the dinner as others were getting their coffee. When we asked for coffee, we were told that they were out of cups. Out of cups? Even foam ones? Sure enough, they were serving coffee in small soup bowls. I guess they hadn’t counted well enough.
Fun time at the reunion and at the Saturday brunch. We even have planned a stop in MO on our way south this fall to visit with Craig and meet his wife.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Altoona, IA - 'Used' Crosswords and Tire Trends

Tire styles

No, that’s not supposed to be ‘Tire Treads’ in the title. It’s ‘Tire Trends.’ I am certainly no style maven. Current trends in fashion just pass me by. I’m happy to be dressed in clean clothes. So, it’s no surprise when I miss a new style. But, tires? There are styles of tires? Trends in tires? I missed this. Silly me, I though that tires needed to be black, round and have treads But, I found out today that there is more to tires than just those three criteria. There are new-style tires and old -style tires. New-style tires are thinner and do not have white lettering on them. Old-style tires are thicker and have white lettering. Got that? Look around - notice that 97% of the tires on cars do NOT have any lettering on them. That trend is passe. Then note how thin the tires are from the hubcap to the outside. Shucks, we’ve got thick tires and white lettering: doubly untrendy. Must be a sign that we are hopelessly out of style.

‘used’ crossword puzzles

I like to do crossword puzzles if I have nothing to do for five minutes or so or if I am between projects or am waiting for something. I have several crossword puzzle books in the RV for just such an occasion. I have bought some in local stores but I just went onto Amazon to order a new crossword book. And, I have a choice: I can order a ‘new’ book or a ‘used’ book. Now, what do you think a ‘used’ crossword puzzle book looks like? Are all the puzzles done so I don’t have to worry about them? Why would anyone buy a ‘used’ crossword puzzle book?

‘EASY’ crossword puzzles

One other thing that I’ve noticed in the crossword books is the wording on the cover. Now, we all know that the Monday puzzles are easy, the Tuesday puzzles get harder and the Sunday puzzles are the hardest of all. I’m pretty good on the Monday puzzles, Tuesday’s are fine, Wednesday’s are challenging but Thursday’s are probably about as tough as I can handle (I don’t watch TV, I don’t attend NY plays and I don’t know the Jewish months so I already have some large holes in my knowledge for NY Times crossword puzzles.) The last time I bought a Tuesday book it had the word ‘EASY’ is bold black letters on a pink background across the front. Who wants to carry around a book that says ‘EASY’ all over it? But that’s how the NY Times books come. I prefer this style ‘Tougher’ Tuesday puzzles. Doesn’t that play to my ego a little bit better than ‘EASY’?
Blog Hiatus

I haven’t written many blogs since we got to Iowa. Our life is not the most exciting here: we do projects, we plan our journey for next year, we (Gary) work on maintenance, I wash and wax the car and RV, etc. I mean, who wants to read about maintenance and cleaning? Pretty dull stuff but then, we’re ready for some dull stuff. We’ve been on the go for about 8 months and it’s time for a little dull stuff. Adventure and new are fine but certainty and old are fine also.

Huge $50 meal from Bravo.

Last year after we sold our house and had contributed a bundle of money to our real estate agent’s retirement fund, she gave us a $50 gift card to a local restaurant. Very nice gift and we really appreciated it but we wished it had been to a restaurant where we actually ate. We really don’t eat dinner out very often and prefer breakfast out. It’s much lighter and much earlier in the day. But $50 to a dinner restaurant was what we had. Last year, because we had so much on our minds and were leaving Sept 1, we never got around to using the gift card. This year we had to. Who knows how long any restaurant will be in business? Meanwhile we had a tire appointment close to the restaurant and decided to go at the same time. I had gone online to their website and noted that they had a $49 4-person dinner special: entree, salad, dressing, break sticks and breading oil. Why not? That will use the whole $50, we can take it all home and have some fine food for dinner. Why not?

So, we stopped at Costco and they took our car into their bays to change tires. Then we walked up to the restaurant, ordered one of their $49/4 dinners and began our walk. We thought we’d get our 4-mile walk in, pick up the meal, pick up the car and be on our way. And everything went according to plan. About 60 minute later, we picked up our meal, picked up our car and headed home. When we got there, we put all the food out out on the table and saw this. Holy Toledo, how much food is here? How in the world will we be able to eat all this? Who can we invite over for dinner? At 7:00, not many. It’s ours, sweetie, eat up. How many meals will this make? (I counted later: Gary got 4 meals, I got 4 meals and my brother, whom we invited over for dinner, got one meal. That’s 9 meals from the gift card, I guess we got our money’s worth.)
Thursday we drove up to Fort Dodge and invited my brother over for dinner - guess what I served? There went some of the food but the next two nights we’ll be eating out at our 50th HS Reunion. Sunday night dinner will be Pasta Bravo, and I’m suspecting that Monday and Tuesday will be the same. Monday, check. Tuesday, check. Wednesday I tried something else - gotta take a break from Pasta Bravo. Thursday, check. Friday - oh, shucks, I’ve got to cook something. And, finally, the Pasta Bravo was history.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Altoona, IA - Where Are We?

Ok, ok, here we are in Altoona, IA for one whole month. That’s sounding pretty long compared to the shorter stays we’ve been making for the last 7 months, ever since we left San Diego in Feb. We have been so looking forward to staying in one place for one month. Hitch itch is great and we’ve enjoyed the travels but, ah, the relaxation of staying in one place for 30 whole days is delightful to contemplate. Last year we were here in Altoona, a bit NE of Des Moines for 3 months while we sold our home and got ready to head out as full-timers. We know Altoona, we know where the grocery stores are, we know where to get a haircut, we know where the library is. Every town we’ve been in since Feb has been a new adventure: where is the grocery store, where can I get a haircut, where is the donut shop? Where to go? How to get there?

Adventure is fun but sometimes same old, same old is pretty comforting. I like the mix.

There have been times I’ve awakened in the middle of the night and tried to think of where I was, not often, mind you, and I always knew before I was completely awake. But there was always that unsettling feeling of - oh, my gosh, I’ve forgotten where I am.

Actually, if I think we’re going to have a relaxing time, I must not have looked at the calendar, which I took pains to fill back in February when we had settled on our route and schedule. Then I made calls: to the doctor to make two appointments, preferably back to back, 2 dental appointments and 2 optical appointments. Gary has two other appointments and I’ve got to make a mammogram appointment and - then there’s the pesky little hernia I noticed in February. No pain, no problems but I’ve got to take care of it. Shucks. So, I’m not sure that we will have a relaxing time in Altoona but, at least, we don’t have to move for a while.

I went grocery shopping today and Gary had put on the grocery list that we needed laundry detergent. But, he didn’t put down just laundry detergent: he told me that we needed no more than a 100 fl. oz bottle of HE cold water laundry soap with a little bit of fragrance. ‘No more than 100 fl oz’ I understand - any larger and it won’t fit on our laundry detergent shelf in the closet. ‘Cold water’ I understand - we’ve used that for ages. But ‘HE’? What in the world is that? Does that mean that it’s only for guys? It’s been a long time since you’ve done laundry,’ my sweet honey bunch said to me. ‘That means High Efficiency.’ Well, I’ll have to admit, it’s not often that I do laundry. He did it for the 10 years that I worked while he was retired and he just kept on doing it. But I’ll buy it for him - anything to keep him interested in the washing machine.

I’ve mentioned that we’ve been saving up some problems to work on in Altoona. Not big problems and certainly not show stoppers - we traveled as we had planned - but big enough that we need some time to work on them. And, now is the time. Let’s tackle the slide leak and the shower leak.

I’m sure that I’ve mentioned that we had some slide issues: that our slide leaked when we had rain. Gary has spent lots of time trying to figure out why and where and finally, after removing the interior trim around the slide, realized that he could see outside. Oops. Just a small slit of light coming through but it is outside none-the-less. If we can see outside, no wonder rain can get in. But just in the middle of the slide and only 1/8”. Looks like a gasket is not touching the inside of the slide. Hmmm.

And, he makes phone calls and goes online to find out what the solution is. Meanwhile for 6 months we kept the slide in and did not roll it out (of course, we’re traveling through Oregon and Washington where it can rain at any time.) Made the bedroom a bit smaller but, better a small bedroom than a wet bedroom. Here you can see above our slide and look out (the blue strip) and below you can see our bedroom cabinets above the bed and over the slide to the white line which is a sunny day outside. A small opening but water can pour in anywhere.

He heard that slides can be adjusted and decided to try to adjust ours. Long story short: there are some bolts that can be raised but to screw them up, he had to use a car jack to hold the slide up while he screwed them higher. Here he is working on one of the bolts in the slide. I wish I had a picture of the car jack holding up the slide but he did it while I wasn't looking. I wonder why. However, the leak in our bedroom slide is fixed and we haven’t see water for several rain storms.
Hey, what’s this? Why are the shower doors on our bed? Oh, yeah, that little leak in the shower our second little problem. We’ve lived with this leak for about 5 months now - it’s not big and we just put a towel over it to keep it from getting out onto the floor. But, now is the time to fix it.
Gary took off the shower doors, raised the framework around the shower, put caulking all along the edge and put the framework back down. Tightly. Took 2 days and we got to try out the campground showers.
And, our shower is perfect now. No leaks. Gary’s been working hard. Again, I just feed him donuts and tell him what a wonderful repairman he is. Works for me.

How about a beautiful sunset?