Dreamstreamr's Journal,
July - September 2007

This page is the illustrated journal of our second quarter-year of Dreamstreaming around North America, Jul - Sep 2007

We describe our current month's travels in our
Journal page, and everything older we store in quarterly pages. This keeps the archive files easier for you to load. Thanks for your interest -- let us know your comments anytime at as4822@gmail.com.

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September 22-30, 2007
Click OHIO SWISS FESTIVAL, to see our pictures and experience at this great rally, September 22-29, 2007.

September 21, 2007
Our final day in Jackson Center, Ohio was wonderful for us and our camping neighbors. Many of us enjoyed the successful completion today of our respective Airstreams' warranty work and service. Our Airstream now sports an awning along the entire streetside and an awning across the rear. These will help keep the trailer's sides cool from the sun and will reduce rain entry when the windows are open. Jim installed our new OCEANair cassette blinds in the entire house (seven windows), replaced a cracked part (cast aluminum end) on the support arm of our older awning, and prepared our Airstream for tomorrow's trip to Sugarcreek.

The factory production runs a very short Friday schedule to avoid overtime, and the service department runs a lighter schedule where feasible. The skilled mechanics completed installation of our trailer's new awnings by 0830 hrs. Deb caught up the website for this week, adding narrative and pictures of this enjoyable visit. Jim helped Paul Martin, one of our camping neighbors, repair another camper's electrical supply cord. The trailers are all self-contained but benefit from connecting to electricity, water, and sewer when available.

The "shore power" cord is industrial strength 5/8" diameter 30 amp electrical cord with huge ends on it. One of our camping neighbors had accidentally pulled the cord out of the plug when driving the small Airstream motorhome away from the campsite without first unplugging it. Paul reattached the plug and Jim helped test the repair and find the tripped campground breaker to return power to the motorhome. The motorhome's owner was so appreciative they invited Paul and Jim to a visit to the local ice cream bar. Jim and Paul still had a lot of work to complete on their own campers so instead countered with a "drinks at seven" request which worked out well for everyone. We were in for a fun surprise. When we joined up at seven, Paul brought his guitar and offered to play his "Dreaming of Streaming" composition for us. This attracted an appreciative crowd and gained for Paul an invitation to play next year at another Airstream venue. Stay tuned for this, his song is charming and fun and Paul is a very good performer.

September 20, 2007
We awoke at 6:00am again and as we were leaving to go to the Service Center just before 7:00am we looked back and the short green and yellow John Deere tractor already was towing our Airstream trailer out of the Terraport. We again settled into the lounge and spent most of the morning conversing with our fellow Airstreamers. The mechanics worked on the maintenance items this morning and completed the work on the furnace to our satisfaction. At lunch, we drove up to the TA Marathon Truck Stop at Wapakoneta to weigh the truck. We have weighed the truck and trailer together but wanted to know the actual trailer weight by subtracting the truck weight from the combined weight. Fortunately, the truck weight was more than we thought and the trailer weight is exactly where it needs to be. While in Wapakoneta, we drove around and found a place called Generations in Thyme for lunch downtown in the turn of the century Hotel Steinberg. The place is very quaint and our lunch was wonderful.

We returned to Jackson Center for the afternoon and were informed everything had been completed except for the new awnings. The awnings would be done Friday morning and would take about 2 1/2 hours. Chris Burch, the service manager, knew what he was doing when he suggested we make our appointment on Wednesday instead of Thursday, just in case we needed an extra day. Deb did a little Christmas shopping in the Wally Byam store and finished out the day. Looks like another lovely evening in Jackson Center for us.

September 19, 2007
Up at 6:00 am, had breakfast, got the trailer ready to be towed the short distance to the repair bay. We checked into the Airstream Service Center at 6:55 and met with Bill our expert mechanic. He meticulously documented all 14 items on our warranty list and the 4 items on our maintenance/enhancement list. We really had only one big warranty item, an issue with the ducts coming out of front of the furnace being pinched closed. Our big enhancement for the trailer is the addition of street and rear awnings. These will help keep the trailer cooler when we're staying in warmer weather, such at the international rallies. Bill seemed to think there would be no problems with any of the items on our list and said he would come and get us when needed.

We settled into the very comfortable waiting room were we have WIFI available, free coffee and cookies, and lots of Airstream pictures and memorabilia to enterain us and of course the store for more shopping. While Jim worked on downloading pictures and other website maintenance, Deb caught up on some reading. We spent a lot of time meeting the other people in the lounge and finding out what they are having done to their trailers or motorhomes. We find a number of them are planning to continue on to the rally in Sugarcreek. There will be more familiar faces when we arrive.

Throughout the morning, Bill came out to the lounge to get Jim and review what he had found or was considering doing to address our warranty concerns. We found the process very comforting and reassuring. We knew exactly what was going on with our trailer during the day and we were being consulted on the decisions. We felt we were in the hands of an expert and Bill would take care of us through this whole process. Everyone at Airstream was extremely helpful and pleasant to deal with.

We signed up for a tour of the Airstream factory during our first day of service. They called us for the tour at 2:00 pm and gave us safety glasses and ear plugs and off we went. Unfortunately we weren't allowed to take pictures so we can't share the Airstreams in-the-making with you. It was a fascinating tour. We saw little production-line type work. Most of the work that goes into making each unit is manual, very little automation here. It also surprised us to see that there was every variety of make and model coming off the two production lines at once - no two of the same thing in a row. We saw some of the new narrow body trailers (7 1/2 feet wide) being made for the European and Japanese markets. These are much lighter weight than the standard 8 and 8 1/2 foot wide models popular in the United States.

There is an extensive wood working shop where Airstream makes all the cabinetry. There were areas labeled for Roof Lockers, Galleys, Lavatories, Wardrobes, etc. All the wood used is high quality hardwoods and plywoods, no particle board. We saw them building the floors; assembling front and rear ends; all these pieces being brought together into the shell of the Airstream before our eyes. The only real production work that we saw were two men assembling doors. They began with a frame and added the insulation, interior covering, latches, etc.

They each had quite a stack this late in the day. After the body was assembled and the windows, doors, vents, fans, and skylights were all assembled, the unit was pulled inside a carwash-like enclosure and submitted to a downpour for seven minutes to detect leaks. Once they certified the roof leak-proof, it went forward to begin the interior finishing. Here they let us go inside the partially finished units and inspect them. We were able to see the finishes for the European models which were pretty sleek. The tour ended back at the customer lounge and they had finished with our trailer for the day. They towed it back to the Terraport for us to spend the night in it.

September 18, 2007
Tuesday was a "zero" day for us, meaning no traveling. We planned to do laundry, wash the truck, pick up our mail at the post office in Jackson Center, and do a little house cleaning. We checked in at the Service Center and were told to be ready on Wednesday morning at 7:00 am to have our trailer towed in to the service area.

Wow, we haven't had to get up this early since we were working, but it's only for a couple of days so not too bad. There's also the Wally Byam store here at Airstream so we spent some time browsing. Jim found a 12K pound hitch ball for only $11, a real deal, so we purchased it. That's all for now but we know we'll be back before we leave. We asked about a laundry in town and the ladies here told us to go to Wapakoneta, about 15 miles up the road. There's a combination laundromat/car wash there so we can accomplish two of our tasks. After picking up our mail, we headed up to Wapakoneta and Deb did laundry while Jim made the truck look beautiful again. Then we headed back to Jackson Center for more socializing with our fellow Airstreamers.

This evening we took a walk around the Airstream parking lot. In front of the Service Center, Airstream Company has a number of vintage models parked, including the gold anodized Airstream that Wally and Stella Byam took on the 1959 African caravan. In back of the Service Center a number of units that have been left for repairs are parked; some of them are vintage units. We enjoyed viewing these and speculating on what we would do to restore them - if we wanted a project. After setting the alarm for 6:00 am(!), we enjoyed another quiet evening in the lovely Terraport campground.

September 17, 2007
On to Jackson Center, OH - just 187 miles to our second key destination for this trip, the Airstream factory. We've called ahead and have an appointment for Wednesday, September 19. Most of our drive to Jackson Center is along US 30, a divided highway with somewhat limited access so the road is pretty good but very popular with the 18-wheelers. We listen to some interesting conversations on the CB radio as we travel this route.

At last we turn off to Jackson Center, a town so small it does not show up on our AAA regional map. Airstream is easy to find as it's about the only thing here. We check in at the Service Center and they direct us to the Terraport, their "campground", where we have full hookups. The camping is free the day before, the day after, and while you are having service work done on your trailer. We go over to the Terraport to get settled in for the evening and find that it is almost full. We back into one of the two remaining spots and get hooked and began meeting some of our neighbors.

Almost immediately we connect with members of the South Carolinas Coastal unit of WBCCI we know and get together with them for Happy Hour. Yes, you can tell we're with a bunch of Airstreamers. We had a lovely quiet night. They even turn off the overhead flood lights at 10:00 pm in the campground. This is a simple but very nice consideration so we can leave our windows open to enjoy the delightful overnight temperatures and the bright light won't shine in our windows while we sleep.

September 16, 2007
Chicago, IL is not just one big city -- it is a huge mess to drive through on the highways. Jim missed a turn trying to follow the right highway signs and we ended up driving right through Niles, IL. Fortunately, Deb is a great navigator and Niles was "the good part of town". We found our way back to the Interstates with a little help from Lucy (Garmin 650) and a lot of help from Deb.

We spent over an hour traversing a mass of road construction with horrible merges and ramps and detours. It will take through 2009 to complete the work and we won't try the route again until afterward. Oh, and one should probably check professional team schedules before driving near or through major cities on Sunday afternoons. The Chicago Bears' game is this afternoon only three hours later so we didn't time this very well. It would have been worth the extra hundred miles to completely bypass this mess.

West of Ft Wayne, IN is a pretty area, Bass Lake. Our old camping directory stated we would find Bass Lake State Park campground. We could not. Two years ago the county apparently dropped this pretty little park and it became privately owned. Rates doubled and it appears the county was running it into the ground. The new owners are very nice and have great plans for the campground and beach they took over from the county. We hope they make it -- it is a great location, well away from highways and commercial areas, and very pretty. We were glad to find this after our rough drive through Chicago. It is sunset, the sun is hanging low over the lake and reflecting beautifully on the water through the campground's trees. This website does NOT endorse drinking, driving, or carrying on in any manner, but one of us is getting ready to have a Jack Daniels on the rocks.

September 15, 2007
We crossed the 6,000 mile mark today on this trip! The driving has been absolutely a breeze. Yeah, we are burning a lot of gasoline and navigating is an occupation when we are driving almost every day. We are still enjoying being on the road and aren't looking forward to returning home. We'll do what we have to but think we've found what we want with travelling. Every day is different in whatever way we choose. Drive or stay. Pick a compass direction. Head for warmer temperatures, or cooler ones. Take a factory tour. Make really big mileage or drive a few hours. Pick a secluded little campground well off the interstate or stay in a commercial rv park in a super-convenient location. Take a leisurely morning? No problem. How many cups of tea would you like with your morning, Ma'am? Awake, brush teeth, wash face, brush hair, dress, check the trailer hitch, and drive for an hour or two before a break for tea. Any way we want to do it is okay with you, isn't it?On the return trail we were startled by a deer breaking away. But he only distanced himself fifty yards away and stood watching us until we moved along. His behavior and the chipmunks' bravery around us confirmed the obvious -- they see a LOT of people every day through this area.

We are pleasantly surprised we saw no litter along the 2.5 mile trail. Not even gum wrappers or cigarette butts. Just as it should be, eh? On the drive back to Jackson we encountered a bunch of cars pulled off the road and the people stepped up onto their door sills aiming binoculars or cameras at something a hundred yards distant in the sagebrush. A few dozen elk were grazing in the sunset and attracting a large crowd of viewers. The elk were too distant for us to get any pictures but we were able to see them clearly with our binoculars. Two were massive and had large antler racks.

September 8, 2007
We drove 400 miles today to get from Meacham, OR to American Falls, ID. This is double the daily mileage we want to maintain but will give us both better access to a choice campsite in Jackson, WY area and will allow us more time in Jackson and Yellowstone before we resume our eastward travel. We woke up this morning at 0630 (PST) and were on I-84E by 0745. It was a cold morning, around 38F. We slept very warm under a single sheet and one year-round comforter despite the 48F temp inside our camper.

Today's drive went quickly -- we started without breakfast, stopped only for fuel or rest areas, and split a chicken sandwich at a local grill at 1600 hrs. Only thirty miles later we found a nice city park, Willow Oaks Recreation Area, high above the Snake River in American Falls, ID. Bright, sunny, a little breezy, and well away from the interstate for a change. Oh, but the rr tracks are only 800 yards south of our campsite. Fewer trains pass this track section than trucks would a section of interstate. We hardly notice. We sat in the sun and read awhile, caught up a little on phone calls and email. Jim grilled a piece of Sockeye Salmon we bought in Vancouver and we enjoyed it with a fresh salad and cooked carrots.

We dumped the fresh water tank and refilled it with American Falls, Idaho water, something we try to do every couple weeks to keep the tank fresh. We don't use much on-board water but keep the tank full for two reasons: it may add to the trailer's stability since the tank is very low in the trailer's frame; and we never know when we may need to have our own water since we don't know where we will stop next. It takes only minutes to refill the tank with a potable water hose from the faucet but requires a couple hours to drain it through a tiny valve on the side.

September 7, 2007
We were up and eating a great hot breakfast Jim cooked before 0730 today. We learned early today we could not stay another night in this site so we hitched up and moved seven sites further up and slightly away from the exposure to I-84 – a little more peaceful and much more woodsy. A quick 25 mile drive brought us to Pendleton, OR to tour the historic Pendleton Woolen Mill and peruse their shop.

We couldn't find anything we needed but were interested in a little Christmas shopping while we were there. The factory tour is short and interesting. They do a very nice job showing their compact factory where they produce up to 1,000 blankets a month. Pendleton claims they produce, in the United States, 84 percent of their apparel products as opposed to approximately thirty-something percent of other apparel companies. We appreciate this and were still disappointed in the number of goods the Pendleton store represented from China, Mexico, and a smattering of other countries.

After lunch we toured the Pendleton underground. This guided tour centers under one of sixteen underground blocks from the late nineteenth century. One of the things Jim found most interesting was a turn-of-the-century kerosene stove the Chinese men had used for laundry water heating in this area under the buildings in Pendleton.

The underground area served both as domicile for the male Chinese workers and as storage or work area for many of the shops above. Underground was the required haven for the Chinese workers who were not allowed above ground in Pendleton after curfew each day. We viewed an opium den, bunks, laundry, ice cream making shop, meat cooler, ice making, speakeasy, card room, and other underground features. Pendleton had at least four blocks by four blocks of interconnected underground areas. These underground paths and storage were originally intended to provide transport of goods from the railroad depot to the shops without exposure to highwaymen or other thieves.

September 6, 2007
Today we drove from Yakima Sportsman State Park to Yakama Cultural Center and Museum. We spent over an hour learning how the Yakama Nation is preserving and representing their culture and history. The tribes were severely disadvantaged by the damming of the Columbia River at The Dalles. This dam destroyed the historically significant Celilo Falls salmon fishing area for the tribes. The tribes saw an reduction in their annual fishing from up to six million pounds of salmon to under 550,000 pounds.

The museum portrayed very well the strong bond between the Indians and Pohta (Mt. Adams) and the animal spirits. The museum also made much of the terrible irony of being required to give ownership of the land to the invading white people. The Indians had never owned the land and didn't believe anyone could, nor did they believe they had a right to sign over this right since they never presumed to own the land.

They were like one with the land and, if anything, governed by the land. We drove on back roads from Yakima to Pendleton then twenty-five miles south to find a state park campground. It is very nice but, as we have found more often than not, closer to the interstate highway than we would like. We'll stay here so we can visit Pendleton tomorrow.

September 5, 2007
We left Burnaby, B.C. this morning after one more trip to see Kelsey, Stephen, and Eleanor. Deb cooked everyone a wonderful southern breakfast of grits, eggs, bacon and toast. Our mail didn't arrive but we are just going to hope it catches up with us later. Afterward we returned to hitch up the camper from Burnaby Cariboo RV Park. We drove through a very quick and smooth U.S. customs check at Alders Grove and were through Seattle by four o'clock for a brief visit with Jim's cousins, Jan and Chad Cocks.

Chad led us out of Sammamish to I-90 West for our brief trip to Yakima. Deb found us a beautiful campground in Yakima, Yakima Sportsman State Park. This is, without question, the prettiest campground we have visited. It is well away from the highways (approx six miles), nestled in a wooded area, has irrigated grass areas, paved sites, nice comfort stations, and is generally just really attractive. We hope we can find more like this down the road.

September 4, 2007
We originally planned to leave Burnaby today but are going to wait another day for two reasons: our second forwarded mail packet from Deb's mom and arrange a visit with Jim's cousins near Seattle. Jim got up early and washed the trailer outside while Deb thoroughly cleaned the inside. The campground, like many others, prohibits hose washing of RVs. (they provide very nice RV washing areas, unlike any we have visited) They allow hand washing in the campsite so Jim washed and rinsed the trailer with a small bucket and some cloths. The process ended up requiring very little more time than hose washing would have and the result was excellent. It helped to have an overcast and cool morning. The clouds burned off by lunchtime and we sunbathed on the nice sundeck above the swimming pool.

September 3, 2007
Today is Labour Day in Canada. We went just after breakfast with Kelsey, Stephen, and Eleanor to Granville Island. The bakeries smelled divine, musicians were playing in the open air and in markets in various places, and the shops weren't overcrowded. We enjoyed browsing and doing a little shopping before trying to lunch at Go Fish! Unfortunately for us they were closed for the holiday so we ended up eating at a popular touristy place near the entrance to the island. It was a nice lunch place with outdoor dining overlooking the harbor. Here's the view from our table:

Here are a couple other pictures from the same morning on Granville Island:

This is a good image of the Granville Island market, of Eleanor perusing the lunch menu, and of her beautiful mother Kelsey. After lunch we dropped the kids off back at their house and we returned early to relax at the RV Park.

September 2, 2007
Today is a day of rain. We slept in late today then enjoyed a quiet day. It is a good day to catch up on laundry and then take the kids out to eat at Naam, the oldest vegetarian restaurant in Vancouver.

September 1, 2007
Today we awoke after 0800 hrs (again) after another night of wonderful cool weather for sleeping. Deb made coleslaw and packed the picnic for later today with the kids. We walked to a late brunch with Kelsey, Stephen, and Eleanor at a colorful little coffee shop near their neighborhood. After Eleanor's nap we piled into the truck for a little trip into British Columbia's past. We toured Fort Langley on the Fraser River. Little did we know, this was not a militarily significant fort but a trading post which became a major supply post for early British Columbia. The fort was built by the Hudson's Bay Company in 1827 to capitalize upon excellent location on the Fraser River as a trading site. Very few years later the fort's mission changed to one of farming for and supplying the rapidly developing area. We enjoyed touring the exhibits especially the storehouse with all sizes barrels, and had a wonderful picnic.

August 31, 2007
We celebrated Deb's birthday today with a pleasant 90 minute walk through some Burnaby neighborhoods and parks, a quick shopping trip for groceries and other picnic stuff for tomorrow, and a visit to the Vancouver Aquarium with Kelsey and Eleanor. Kelsey volunteered at the Aquarium when she and Stephen first moved to Vancouver so was a very capable tour guide for us. The Beluga Whales were beautiful and the jellyfish presentations were stunning. Also they vend soft-serve ice cream so we can watch the children learn to eat it.

The Aquarium does a fabulous job with all their displays. Afterward we enjoyed pizza, cake and ice cream with Kelsey, Stephen, and Eleanor at their house. It was a lot of fun relaxing with them, opening presents, and big surprise, our first forwarded mail from home arrived.

August 30, 2007
Jim's getting those old wanderlust feelings. We've been in Burnaby, B.C. nine days. We've seen the sites and he's hungry for some good western U.S. National Parks on our way to Ohio. Today we took three hours to walk an eleven kilometer trail around Burnaby Lake. Thankfully it was relatively flat and partly shaded. We also had a fun bonus of plentiful and delicious blackberries growing wild along many parts of the trail. The bears and birds don't seem to have much competition for the berries – apparently the locals regard the blackberry as Americans regard kudzu. Just one more non-native species running amok in their cities. We enjoyed the berries just the same. Vancouver has been outstanding. The weather has been very gracious. Yesterday might have hit 78 degrees. Last night was in the low sixties. We've seen one day with rain and a very few light sprinkles. The skies have been mostly partly sunny and we've had a few full sun days. You cannot ask for or expect this much good weather. We feel lucky.

We enjoyed yesterday visiting one of the premiere public parks in Vancouver, Queen Elizabeth Park. Due to the 42 day old 'labour dispute' the Conservatory was not open. We had the run of the rest of the gardens including a beautiful hilltop pavilion and wading fountain. There were a dozen small children playing in the fountain pool and Eleanor was immediately attracted. Off came her shoes and socks and off with her skirt. She wandered about in the pool and could not seem to get enough of it. We had to do some convincing to get her from the fountain and back onto walking again. The day was warm and bright so the fountain's water felt really nice.

Tuesday we visited Grouse Mountain, riding the Swiss cable car up to the high chalet then walking the remaining few hundred feet up to the peak. This peak offered a marvelous view of Capilano River and the waters around Vancouver as well as of downtown. We tried to see the grizzly bears but they were enjoying their privacy in their little habitat and weren't coming out without due reward. We watched a fun lumberjack demonstration and a show named "Birds in Flight" with trained falcons, turkey buzzards, and hawks. Oh, this falcon is a little headstrong – he took flight and kept on going. They mentioned, after a few minutes, this happens occasionally and they collect him and return him to his job. The radio transmitter on his leg works well. The keepers can track the falcon and find him sitting in one tree or another a few miles away seeming well pleased with himself. 

We've spent a few days in the RV park enjoying the indoor pool and Jacuzzi and the sunning deck above the pool. One day we washed the trailer, did laundry, and caught up on reading. Another day we had a very pleasant shopping day when we walked twenty minutes to the mall at Lougheed Town Centre to replenish the few things we needed. We've spent a few days at Kelsey's and Stephen's apartment, enjoying playing with Eleanor and talking. Overall we are enjoying an easy pace without rushing to any goal. We visited Vancouver in December and had seen some of the attractions already. This visit we are comfortable exploring and sightseeing some days and relaxing some days. We have five days remaining here. We will continue to enjoy the weather and our time with Eleanor, Kelsey, and Stephen. We both love the beautiful British Columbia atmosphere.

August 23, 2007
We had a very short 60 mile drive from Cle Elum to Issaquah WA on Sunday and checked into the pretty little Issaquah Village RV Park alongside I-90. Petunia pots hung from every light post. The park refills propane tanks. The asphalt paving was very dirty with runoff from the mulch. The highway noise from immediately adjacent I-90 was terrific and constant. This park is $45.00/night and just not worth it except for the proximity to Seattle.We stayed two nights at Issaquah Village RV Park. The first evening we enjoyed a great visit with Jim's cousin, Jan. The next day we toured Seattle all day including Seattle Center and the Space Needle Pike Place and the famous Fish Market, and Recreational Equipment Inc., or REI. Seattle is beautiful and we enjoyed our short visit.

We have enjoyed two beautiful days in Vancouver, B.C. Yesterday reached 78 degrees F and both nights were just under 60 degrees F. Yesterday at the park we overheard a neighbor of Kelsey's exclaiming to his wife and children how hot it was. We thought to ourselves how incredibly nice it is to have mid-70 degree weather in August. Great days and really nice sleeping weather. We have found 70 degrees at last. Let's stay awhile. . .

The number one reason we drove 3,100 miles to Vancouver is to see nineteen month-old Eleanor, Debbie's granddaughter. Since they eat the same breakfast cereal you wouldn't have been able to tell which one is the grandmom so we put two pictures of Eleanor here -- see if you can tell which is Eleanor?

Would you believe we had over seventy-five pictures just from our short time seeing Eleanor and less than fifteen from the previous four days? Beautiful pictures they all are, and anyone can tell we are most impressed by little Eleanor and willing to use any amount of disc space to try and capture the great picture. Burnaby Cariboo RV Park is like no other we have seen in our very limited rv camping experience. Every site is protected by a 2.5 meter tall evergreen hedge. The entire park seems immaculate. Our site is paved under the Airstream, has a brick patio under our camper's awning, and grass behind us. The park office includes a comprehensive convenience store with dry goods, a dairy case, frozen foods, camping supplies and equipment, and souvenirs. The campground has a large fenced playground, a large coin laundry, a fitness center, game room, pool, hot-tub, and rv wash areas. There are many more amenities than we have previously enjoyed. Tuesday we completed our cross-country drive, arriving at Burnaby Cariboo RV Park in Burnaby, immediately east of Vancouver, B.C. Customs at the border crossing was a very pleasant surprise. We prepared with our passports, drivers' licenses, vehicle registrations, insurance card, and a list of what we needed to declare.

Instead Jim answered four questions to a vigilant Canadian Border Guard: where is your home (I did not mention I may not long have a sticks/bricks home); where are you going; what are you going to do; are you carrying any gifts you will leave in Canada? We were, without any delay, signaled to proceed through customs. And after all that beer and wine we had to finish off in Issaquah so we wouldn't have to pay penalties upon entering Which of our fruits and vegetables would be consumed or thrown away immediately to enter Canada we even cooked the eggs and made egg salad in case they didn't like our fresh eggs. What a relief!

Today is a business day -- we have talked with our wonderful Merrill Lynch financial advisor Dan Brienza, washed the truck, vacuumed the trailer, washed over two weeks clothes and linens, updated our website, read today's paper, and relaxed. We will link up with the kids again tomorrow and Saturday to do the tourism thing again. We are here two weeks, if we want, or three. We love it and are having a blast!

August 18, 2007
We awoke today thinking, it's Saturday so we can do anything we want. Every day is Saturday except the Sundays. Cool. We're still adjusting to this retirement thing. Don't know how it will turn out but we relish the prospects.

Yesterday the west Montana fires turned the skies extremely hazy and smoky. The air smelled strongly of smoke – sorta reminds us of camping except we aren't allowed to have any campfires now. National Guard and state fire service are proclaiming extremely high fire risk in Idaho and Washington. We're happy to be west of the fires and very sorry for all the losses and trials they are going through.

Great news! We found 72 degrees in Cle Elum at the Whispering Pines RV Park. Theoretically we should stay here and explore from this base point. This campground, although very beautiful, breezy and cool, is situated a little too close to Interstate 90. Some people full-time here. Perhaps they need the noise, don't hear it, or evidently don't care either way. We imagine we can find quieter places we'll be happier in. We'll see. It doesn't matter for us anyhow. Tomorrow we land in Seattle for a day and a half of tourism and perhaps family. Deb hasn't seen Pike's Fish Market and REI. (The really big mother ship home store, that is.)

This trip has been effortless for us. Nothing (knock on wood) has gone wrong, the truck and trailer have more than met our expectations. We have been to one grocery store, one post office, no Laundromats, several scenic overlooks, and a zillion gas stations. The truck is so very comfortable and we sometimes aren't sure the trailer is still obediently following us. The Airstream tows beautifully – we already knew it did and have confirmed it with 2,900 miles in eight days. No concerns, we are just loving being on the road.

August 15,2007
Sort of funny, our entry August 13 mentioned the pleasant breezes and light rain, right? A few hours later we were wondering if we would be able to 1) find the tornado shelter, and 2) get there in time. A great huge storm piled in with driving rain and strong winds. We turned on the ham radio and listened to dire reports of tennis ball-sized hail in the area. What area? We didn't really know where we were in relation to the storm reports. So we unpacked the t.v. and watched the stormwatch, showing this terrific damaging storm started 45 miles northwest of us and skirted us to bomb St Paul. Whew! Close call.

Left the Frontier Village campground in Jamestown, ND (night's low was 58 degrees) after taking a picture of the world's largest buffalo with us along side for size comparison. Unfortunately, we still had no siting of White Cloud, the albino buffalo. Today's drive was very uneventful -- very little traffic, with gentle, rolling terrain. In two places along I-94, the interstate was routed up the exit ramp and back down to the interstate for work on the road under the bridge with minimal impact to traffic flow. Try that on I-77 or I-85!

On a tip from Rick, an amateur radio contact, we stopped at the Painted Canyon visitors' center. What a sight - like a mini Grand Canyon. We can really tell we're not in North Carolina anymore. The terrain has really changed in the last two days. We rode through the North Dakota Badlands today along the southern border of the Theodore Roosevelt National Park. We've added this park to our list of places to go backpacking, but not this trip. We are onward to Vancouver.

August 13, 2007
We have completed 1,400 miles toward Vancouver. That took two big days of driving and an easier one today. Pulled into a small city (Sauk Center)camping park named Sinclair Lewis this afternoon for a little relaxation and full hook-ups. It's already sprinkling and pleasantly breezy. We have less than 2,000 miles to go in the next eight days.

August 12, 2007
We drove 550 miles today, starting from just east of Lexington, KY to Wisconsin Dels between Madison and Eau Clare. The driving was much easier today. Our gas mileage was better because we drove slower and we were entirely on interstate highway and mostly very slight grades.

We were on the road for over twelve hours. We talked, listened to old albums on the radio, did a lot of navigating through Lexington, Louisville, Indianapolis, and Chicago, and Deb read some of the paper aloud. We ate and stayed in the parking lot of Cracker Barrel restaurant, our first meal "out" since we left Charlotte five days ago.

August 11, 2007
We drove more than 400 miles today and parked at sunset in the Wal-Mart parking lot in Mt Sterling, KY. We stressed out Australian Jill (our gps voice) with NOT taking turns she prescribes. Deb jokingly suggests the satellite watchers are onto us by now, and track our non-compliance with Jill's instructions. "Yeah, those are a couple of baby-boomers still rebelling . . ."

The interstate was totally blocked due to a car fire in a tunnel on I-77 between Wytheville and Beckley. We elected to bypass it and took a curvaceous local hiway up and down for 26 miles instead. Worked out great and don't want to know if they cleared the highway of the wreck – but we finally muted Jill after listening to her repeated commands to u-turn and return to I-77. She didn't evidently didn't hear the cb radio proclaiming the interstate impassable for northbounders.

We learned Jill is helpful to confirm what the maps suggest or the driver intuits. Jill would be a sorry sole navigational source for the maneuvers we took in town and on the interstate today. The AAA map, the large Atlas, and Jill combine with the driver and copilot as a formidable navigational system.

The truck and trailer are a dream on the highway. Everything in the trailer was where we left it despite the strong driving just above Wytheville as we detoured the car fire on I-77. The truck has room for us to organize our maps and atlases and snacks and drinks and still move around all we want. We'll look forward to more days and miles and miles on our way to Vancouver.

We walked into Customer Service at Wal-Mart and asked for a manager. The customer service lady looked at us and deduced 1) we looked like road-weary travelers and 2) the only people who look like us are going to ask if they can park. She said, "you want to know if you can park? It's okay." We bought three things we needed in auto parts and home section and then returned to fix supper in our Airstream. A wonderful salad, a beer and some talking, a shower, and we are ready for bed after a great first day on the road to Vancouver.

August 8, 2007
Today we drove to Dan Nicholas Park in Salisbury, NC for the first leg of our 7,000 mile shake-down trip. We're sure we've packed the trailer and truck for five days but both still have spare storage -- can't we find something else to take? I'll look forward to weighing the trailer sometime in the next week or two and seeing how much below the max allowable weight the trailer is. Or, we may find ourselves moving heavier items into the very capable 3/4 ton truck.

Today is an auspicious beginning for our trip -- 101 degrees without the heat index. Will shade at the campground make much difference? Probably not, but the swimming pool will!

August 4, 2007
Today is the first day of our retirement. Our neighbor, Nick, said all our days can be Saturdays. Well, at least one Sunday per week, too. We'll adjust but know it is going to take a bit.

Last night we celebrated and pondered our future. It's up to us. We will apply the same intensity, ingenuity, and enjoyment as we always have. The results may be equally wonderful -- we think, Yes.

Our luncheon and Airstream tour Thursday was a lot of fun. We fed over twenty people from our work teams a delicious black bean chicken yellow rice casserole and showed them the Airstream interior. Most, if not all, had never been inside an Airstream trailer. They all seemed impressed.

Deb's division put on a reception Thursday to celebrate her twenty-three years service. She wished she had a guest registration to enjoy reviewing names of all the wonderful friends who came by to bid her farewell.

Yesterday Jim's division (the Taylor Division> held a reception to which they invited all the managers and directors in the hospital. Jim tried to mix and move around well but realized later he didn't get to speak to a few friends who had come by. Maybe receiving lines are the way to go, after all?

Our workplaces are behind us. We are grateful for the many caring messages we received at work and by email. We will look forward to maintaining the good friendships we formed working here.

August 1,2007
We work two more days for Carolinas HealthCare System. Tomorrow we host more than 25 people for lunch in our sticks and bricks house and open house in our future home.

July 27,2007
We have one week of work remaining. Five work days and we are on our own. We're amazed and intrigued and maybe a little afraid. So many people have written in so many places about how they prepared and set out upon their journey into full-timing. Yet we are feeling our way through this major new project and building the plan ourselves. There are so many small tasks and a few large ones. We want to start traveling five days after retirement so we have a very finite timeline to meet. Here is a partial list of the tasks to date:

  • Set up health insurance to start before we lose our coverage from our employer.

  • Arrange mobile banking to avoid the expense of atm fees and avoid carrying sums of cash.

  • Establish new email accounts separately for commerce and correspondence.

  • Learn how to work this web site and properly take advantage of features.

  • Set up the laptop for the tasks we want to perform.

  • Sell Jim's car, turn in the tags, cancel the insurance. (done!)

  • Arrange temporary mail forwarding for our first adventure.

  • Determine how and whether to use automatic position reporting system (APRS) for viewers of our website.

  • Provide for the cats, dogs, birds, and aquarium fish while we are away (just kidding)

      This list just scratches the surface. We aren't complaining -- we are completely thrilled. In case we didn't know how lucky we are, everyone tells us how much they envy what we are going to do. Are we just a little too ambitious, though? Should we have allowed more time between last day of work and first day on the 7,000 mile first leg of the Odyssey

      July 17, 2007
      We are getting ready to quit jobs, pack the truck and Airstream, and travel -- woohoo! This big change isn't a sudden decision, nor one lightly considered. We have been preparing and rehearsing for two years. We used our personal accounting history and a lot of full-timers' information to forecast our expenses. We projected very conservatively our sources of income and tried to be more liberal forecasting our expenses. We have, except for buying and equipping our Airstream and truck, consistently tried to conserve our resources so we can afford to take this adventure into retirement. The income and expenses was prelude to the physical means for the adventure.

      What size trailer, what type truck? How to equip them? Investigate what we need. Determine if we have a place to put the things we think needed. Obtain the right equipment.  Try out the new equipment. Adjust it. Try it again. Decide how much space we have left over after each addition. Do we need the remaining space for something? Will we have enough space for everything? We have made lists of lists to keep up with all the planning.

      What if we are on top of a mountain or middle of a desert and forgot something critical? Who knows what the something will be? Can we avoid forgetting something? Nah! Stay flexible, accept mistakes, and keep our sense of humor. We will do our best, then adjust and go again.

      E-mail Us at as4822@gmail.com

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