The Great California Escape – Eight Weeks Under our Belts

The Great California Escape – Eight Weeks Under our Belts

We began our great escape from California almost eight weeks ago. The trip has been loaded with blessings and sprinkled with challenges. I last posted about our travels after we visited Ohio. We went there to see friends that we met on last year’s trip to Florida. We have been blessed to meet the most wonderful people on our RV excursions over the past four years. It’s been great to have folks to visit all over these beautiful United States.

From Ohio, we headed to Pennsylvania on route to pick up our tow vehicle in Maryland. We sold practically everything we owned before departing the not-go-golden state for good. With the recall of gruesome Newscum going down to defeat, we couldn’t be happier to be out of it. We sold all of our vehicles because we didn’t intend to give California another penny for registration, and my car was not flat-towable. As I mentioned in my earlier post, we saved over a thousand dollars on the motorhome registration alone when we switched it to South Dakota, our new legal domicile. We have to return to the state every three years and stay at least 24 hours in Pennington County to keep our residence up to date. If you are thinking about becoming a full-time RVer and have questions about this process, please email me, and I’ll be glad to offer advice.

Tommy had been searching the internet for a flat towable car that had all of the proper towing equipment included since we left California. He’d done a lot of research, and we have talked to many fellow RVer’s. The Blue Ox system has had fantastic reviews, and it’s what Tommy was hoping to find. He saw a few possible matches, but they were never anywhere near us. Last month he found a 2009 Ford Explorer with one of the top Blue Ox tow packages in Maryland. The gentleman that was selling it was going to New York for a week. So, it wasn’t a problem for him to wait for us to make the drive from Ohio. The date was set. I found a KOA close to his house to stay at while we took care of the transaction. Talk about a blessing! This car is so clean that it looks brand new. Mac, the car’s owner, takes care of his stuff. We are thrilled with our purchase.

Back to our drive to Maryland. The drive to Ohio had been stressful, and we hoped for a more pleasant exit from the state. It didn’t start out very well. Despite doing plenty of research on Google Maps and RVTripWizard, we ran into some problems. We’d chosen what looked to be the best route, and I had a picture of it on my phone. We entered the destination address into the motorhome’s GPS, and the blue course it offered seemed to match the one on my phone. Off we went, and it was a beautiful drive. The county roads that lead to the highway were windy and small, but the views were gorgeous. Beautiful scenery doesn’t impress Tommy one little bit when he’s driving a 40-foot motorhome at a snail’s pace, tight turn after tight turn. He was handling the situation pretty well when Samantha, that’s our GPS guide’s name, told us to make a left turn on Crooked Road. Could the road get more crooked, we wondered? On the approach, we saw that a huge truck and trailer were backing up into the road, and it looked to be having difficulties. I hopped out of the rig and went to ask the man giving the truck driver directions if turning there was a good option. That’s when I noticed that it was a dirt road. Needless to say, he suggested that we didn’t take the Crooked Road. He told me that he was sure we’d find a better option if we kept going straight. One catastrophe was avoided because of God’s timing. A truck blocking the road wound up being a blessing.

We had three days to get to Maryland, and I hadn’t booked any stays in between because I wasn’t sure how far we’d want to go. What I did know was that we needed to do some serious shopping. I don’t remember the last time our refrigerator was that bear. We headed towards Pennsylvania and were on Hwy 36, which looked to be in the middle of nowhere. In Coshocton, Ohio, right off of the freeway, was a super Walmart, Yahoo! We have been trying to boycott Wally World as much as possible because we are angry about them replacing all of their checkers with self-check cash registers. We feel like their loyalty is misplaced, and they are doing severe damage to working Americans with this policy. Not to mention that self-check is a pain in the butt. We have stood in long lines in the only check stand operated by a human being because we refuse to scan our own groceries. If you have any produce in your cart, it’s not a game you want to play. Not only was this Walmart almost empty, but three checkers were waiting to serve us. We walked right up and put our groceries on the conveyer belt. Our checker was very pleasant, and we were out of the store in record time. Blessing number two. Thank you, Jesus. We had a fully stocked frig, and it wasn’t even 10:30 a.m. What a wonderful surprise.

On travel days, we try to stop and get a nice lunch. I hate cooking after being on the road. We usually have leftovers, so I don’t have to worry about fixing dinner. Low and behold, on I-77 in Kimbolton, Ohio, we found Jackie’s Family Restaurant. I’d Googled restaurants near me, and it wasn’t too far off of the interstate. As it turned out, it was pretty easy to park the motorhome. That in itself was a huge blessing. You never know when you bring up a restaurant in your search engine if you can park close to it. We’d attempted to go to another restaurant where parking was a challenge. Tommy did his thing, and we found a spot. After walking to a place with five-star reviews, we were greeted by a sign on the door that said a water main had broken, and they were closed until further notice. With our heads hanging down, we headed back to the motorhome. We stopped at another restaurant that we’d passed on the way, and it too was closed because of the water main issue. It was another 30 miles to find Jackie’s, and we were glad that we did. Tommy had liver and onions for the third time on this trip, and it was the best that he’d eaten. I had a great burger served by our lovely and overwhelmed waitress, and we left with happy tummies. The service industry is in dire need of people that want to work for a living. We are always sure to tip well and be patient and kind to the great people serving us.

We felt so accomplished, and since we had three days to make our journey, I suggested to Tommy that I start looking for a place to spend the night. I found the Spring Valley Campground in Cambridge, Ohio. They had just received a cancelation for one of their larger sites. It was only $38.00 for the night, and it was a great little campground on a small lake. Since we didn’t need to leave early the next day, I was able to take a fantastic walk and got to see more horses. I do love my horses. I couldn’t pet them because a sign next to the electric fence said they might bite. It was a lovely final morning in Ohio. It is by far the greenest state we have ever seen, and we’ve been to 39 of them. We will definitely be returning to it. It may even be a good option for an extended seasonal stay.

I’d made some calls to RV parks in Pennsylvania the day before, and many were booked up. I left messages at a couple of parks and emailed one. I told Tommy that I may had blown it by not having a destination to stay at for Friday and Saturday nights and when we’d gone to bed, I had no idea if we’d find a place to stay. The following day when I opened up my email before my walk, there was a message from the Saunderosa RV Park in Mercersburg, PA. The message said that she’s had a cancellation and could put us in a nice big site for two nights. They were also having a festival on Saturday. It was a fabulous park on a small lake. The seasonal campers had their sites set up beautifully. It was a pleasure walking around and checking them out. There were Trump signs all over the place. I thought Pennsylvania was a blue state? I’m looking forward to them doing a recount of the November election votes.

The Tractor Festival was fun. We tried the hatchet toss, which we weren’t very good at, had a smoothie made with a local distillery’s vodka, and grabbed lunch to take to the motorhome. We’d enjoyed the miniature golf course so much on our first night there that we played again after we ate dinner. The stay at this park was a huge blessing. We have experienced many God-incidences on this trip. He always makes a way for us.

We were staying at the Washington DC/Capitol KOA to meet up with Mac, the soon-to-be ours Ford Explorer owner. It was only 118 miles away, so it should have been an easy trip. Like Ohio, Pennsylvania has many small windy county roads. Once again, we’d done plenty of research on the most desirable route. We were taking it slowly through lots of twists and turns, and I noticed that there was a sign that pointed to the left with the country road number that we were on. Since Samantha didn’t say to turn, Tommy went straight. Within a very short distance, we found out that it was yet another dirt road. Thankfully, Tommy found a place to turn around, but it was no easy feat. If we had our tow car behind us, we would have been in real trouble. We managed to make it to our destination before noon and were set up by the time Mac showed up with the Explorer. As I said, we were delighted by the condition it was in. Mac was accommodating in showing Tommy how to hook up the towing equipment. Not only was the car pristine, but he included the correct attachment for our bicycle rack. He was pleasant to work with. After spending quite a while with Tommy on Sunday, he returned Monday to take Tommy to the DMV to handle the paperwork. My honey said that they walked right in and had everything handled in minutes. That wouldn’t happen in California.

We stayed at the KOA for three nights and enjoyed our stay. The pool was closed for the season, which was a drag. When it’s 85 degrees outside, a dip in a pool would be enjoyable. The folks that worked there were pleasant and helpful, and they had a great laundry room. I washed our bedding and took a fabulous walk around the beautiful neighborhood. The houses in Pennsylvania are huge! On my return trip to the RV, I noticed a pool table behind the covered swimming pool. I’d purchased a set of balls and cue sticks last year.  We found ourselves in many campgrounds with pool tables but couldn’t play because of COVID restrictions. I’d begun to wonder if we were ever going to use them. Tommy kicked my butt, and we called it an evening.

We are currently at Fort Eustis in Newport News, Virginia, visiting grandkids and great-grandbabies. It’s been quite interesting so far, but I’ll share those stories in my next post. Happy trails, and keep praying and believing. God’s not done with these beautiful United states yet. I believe that great things are ahead for our county. It’s always darkest before the dawn.

God bless, Cat

We Must Never Forget!

We Must Never Forget!

Who doesn’t remember where you were and what you were doing on that fateful day of September 11, 2001? No American should ever forget that horrific event. As a nation, it shook us to our core, but it united us in a way that it seems only wicked occurrences do. I don’t think that the people of our nation had bonded together like we did since the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor in1941. At least for a little while, we were a praying and unified country. It was the good that came out of the ugly.

I had the opportunity to visit the September 11 Memorial in May of 2015. I’d gone to Albany, New York, to attend the Boozefighters National Convention. When I owned Johnny’s Bar & Grill in Hollister, I became very close to the motorcycle club that was at my historic bar in 1947 during the so-called motorcycle riots. They were the most generous bunch of people, and they treated me like royalty at their gatherings back then.

I figured if I was flying all the way across the country, I needed to make it a point to see the 9/11 Memorial. I’d asked around for someone to join me but found no takers. The employees at the Holiday Inn described the trip from the hotel in Albany to the Memorial as not a big deal. Let me say that the assessment couldn’t have been further from the truth.

The hotel shuttle service dropped me off at a bus stop with instructions about which bus I should board that would take me to another bus, which would take me to the train, that would take me to the subway, and then to the Memorial. I’d long conquered my phobia of going places alone, but this was an adventure of astronomical proportions. I somehow managed to find the right buses and made it to the train station. Once there, I relaxed a bit. The ticket salesperson told me to get off the train at Grand Central Station and gave me instructions about purchasing my ticket for the subway. She said I’d know where to get off once on it because the conductor would announce the 9/11 Memorial stop. Easy, peasy, right? Not hardly, but it’s much too long of a story to get into. Suffice it to say that by the grace of God, I made it to the Memorial.

If you have never seen the 9/11 Memorial and Museum up close and personal, there is no describing it. At least not in a way that conveys the purely emotional experience. In the bowels of what was left of the Twin Towers, seven stories below the Memorial, is the main exhibit. You see first-hand the devastation, the twisted metal, Ladder Company 3’s demolished fire truck, and what once were stairways that terrified people scrambled down to escape the horror. The museum is full of artifacts and stories from survivors, first responders, residents, and eyewitnesses. Interactive displays and a memorial exhibition honor all those that lost their lives. It is the most powerfully moving exhibit I have or ever will see.

You come out of the cavernous museum to the Memorial’s twin reflecting pools, which are each nearly an acre in size and feature the largest man-made waterfalls in North America. The almost 3,000 names of the men, women and children killed in the attacks of September 11, 2001, and February 26, 1993, at the World Trade Center are inscribed on bronze parapets surrounding the twin memorial pools. I couldn’t help rubbing my hands over the names. I may not have known any of those people, but their loss and the holes they left in family members’ hearts were palpable.

I’m so glad that I got to experience the Memorial, but I won’t be making that trek again. I have no desire to return to New York, but please don’t miss seeing the Memorial if you find yourself there. It is historical, somber, emotional, and inspiring.

I want to finish up on a lighter note. There is a bit too much gloom going around right now. To say that my return trip, which included a subway ride in New York at 5:30 in the evening, was harrowing would be an understatement. I still haven’t conquered my claustrophobia. Let’s just say that if you suffer from the same affliction, the last place you want to be is on a New York subway at rush hour. I’m pretty sure that there is no limit to the passengers allowed in each car, as long as they can close the doors. I wound up wrapping myself around a pole right next to one of the doors and holding on for dear life.

The fear I was feeling was evidently easy to perceive. I met the nicest people who showed genuine concern and did their best to ease my hysteria. One lovely lady talked calmly to me and asked me questions about myself to distract me for most of the ride. When she got off, she told me that I only had four more stops before mine and continued to talk to me like a mother would to a frightened child. The gentleman standing next to me told her that he was getting off at my stop and would be sure to assist me. I’ve heard tales about New Yorkers being mean and self-absorbed, but the folks I met were terrific.

Not only did the man get me off of the subway at the right stop, but he made sure that I got on the correct train to head back to Albany. From there, I was supposed to take two buses once again and then hail a shuttle back to my hotel. That was not happening! The visit to the Memorial was emotionally draining, and the subway and train expeditions polished me off. I called a cab and was driven right to the door of my hotel at a very hefty price.

I have checked a visit to New York and the 9/11 Memorial off of my bucket list. Can I suggest that if you do the same, don’t do it alone? Take a friend or a family member. Heck, take an ex-wife or ex-husband. Just take somebody with you.

Let’s all say a prayer for the nearly 3000 names etched on the Memorial and for all of the families that lost loved ones that day. Many first responders have suffered illnesses and even died well after the incident because of its health issues. Let’s pray for all of them too. While talking to The Man Upstairs, let’s also pray for our hard-working firefighters and men and women in blue who risk their lives for us every day. God bless them all.

The Great California Escape – Weeks Three & Four

The Great California Escape – Weeks Three & Four

The Great California Escape – Week Three and Four

When we decided that we couldn’t be in California another day and started out on our trek, the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally never crossed my mind. We had business to take care of in Box Elder, South Dakota, next to Rapid City. The entire area is inundated with bikers in the first half of August. As the owner of a famous biker bar for over twenty-two years, I appreciate them more than I can say. However, my honey was not excited about sharing the highway with thousands of them while driving a motorhome. Finding an RV park to stay in anywhere in the area was also impossible, so we decided to putt around North Dakota for a bit.

Our first stop at the Camp on the Heart in Dickenson, North Dakota, wasn’t much of an RV park, but for a two-night stay, it worked. We had full hookups, and it was only $30.00 a night. The nice fella who runs the park works another full-time job, but he promptly answers his cell phone and is very accommodating. He told us to pick a spot when we arrived and that when he got home from work, he’d collect the funds for our stay. The weather was finally cool enough to sit outside, and Paddy was thrilled to be in his playhouse. I took a walk and met up with a couple of horses that had a blast sniffing my hair. I love the way I seem to be meeting up with horses and cows on my walks.

Our next North Dakota stay was at the Bismarck KOA. I requested that we have a site that would afford us satellite service, and it wound up being a mistake. The beautiful wooded sites were further from the highway and much nicer. The new full hookup sites have no problem with satellite reception because they are basically in a gravel parking lot. They are right next to the road. It was a nice park, and I used the laundry to wash sheets and towels. I’d chosen Bismarck because they were supposed to have the largest RV dealership in North Dakota. Their website listed nine motorhomes for sale there. That turned out to be a complete misrepresentation. We used Lyft to get there, and it was a complete waste of our time and money.

We are just being looky-loos at this juncture, but there was nothing to look at. The two motorhomes on the lot were nothing special. There weren’t any restaurants within walking distance, so we had to call for another Lyft. The good news was that Lyft was available. Many cities that used to have Uber and Lyft drivers lost them to COVID. It’s unfortunate. So many jobs gone that will never come back. Anyway, for those of you thinking about visiting North Dakota, Bismarck is a pretty large city with lots of shopping and restaurants, and there is plenty to do in the area. Without the luxury of a car to drive around, a four-night stay was plenty, and we headed to South Dakota.

The South Whitlock Resort in Gettysburg, South Dakota, was our next stop, and it was a nice one. There isn’t much to do in the area unless you like to fish and hunt. It was unseasonably hot like just about every place we’ve been. The park was relatively empty. The sweet gal in the store where you check-in told us that it had been so hot that the fisherman gave up fishing. She said the fish go so deep to get to cooler water that they are dead by the time they are reeled in. The store was loaded with fishing gear. They had every lure you could imagine. They also had many necessities available, which is good because it’s pretty much in the middle of nowhere. It’s a pretty park with easy access from the highway. Surprisingly, there was a great little restaurant right across the parking lot. We enjoyed visiting with the locals and ate there twice. I had a great place to walk. I walked down to the lake every day that we were there, and the walk back up the hill was torture. It was great, though. I love to feel the burn from a walk. However, after a few days of it, getting out of my chair was a challenge. I would gladly stay there again. Full hookups were only $27.00 a night. A little more extended stay would be great if we had a vehicle and could explore the area. Maybe next time.

Presho, SD, was our next stop, and the New Frontier RV Park was lovely. It, too, had a bar and grill within walking distance. Are you seeing a theme here? We love visiting with locals and enjoying good food and beverages. If I have a good place to walk, it is the icing on the cake. Our stay there was pleasant, and we almost stopped there again when we left Box Elder. We are changing our domicile to South Dakota, as I told you in my earlier post. A prerequisite to doing that is staying at least one night in Pennington County. America’s Campground in Box Elder has seen a lot of folks from California. America’s Mailbox does a lot of business there as well as the Escapees, which we belong to. While I was waiting to get checked in, I chatted with a man that not only had escaped California but had once lived in Shingletown. What are the odds of meeting someone in South Dakota from our tiny town?

The campground is pretty much a parking lot. We had full hookups, and Lyft was available to take us to the Pennington County Treasurers Office, where we switched our California plates to South Dakota ones. Our motorhome registration was $1000.00 less in S.D. When we find a tow vehicle, I’m sure that it cost a lot less for that too. Crazy Cali will tax you to death. We met a lot of people that were changing their domiciles. Our next-door neighbor was switching from Delaware. We met the sweetest folks from San Diego, and they were very helpful because they had already gone through the process. That is one of the best things about living on the road. You meet the nicest people from all over the place.

We are SO happy not to be in California and to be enjoying our trek across the country. We’ve experienced a variety of RV parks, and most have been good. We covered over 20 states staying in many places for only one or two nights on our first cross-country trip. We don’t roll that way anymore. We prefer to keep our miles down to 200 a day and spend at least two nights at our destinations. We’ve been amazed by how many campgrounds look empty on our arrival and then fill up, some people pulling in as late as 7:00 p.m. We try to be settled wherever we stay before 3:00. The next day those same people are gone by 10:00 a.m. We are so blessed to be taking our time. We’re flying by the seat of our pants in many ways. Sometimes I don’t make our reservation until the day before we leave. So far, that’s working just fine.

Thanks for tuning in and taking this voyage with us. I’m excited to bring you along. It’s easier to post all of my pictures on our Facebook RV Road Trip with Tom, Cat, and Paddy page, so if you want to see them all, be sure to check it out.

God bless you. Keep on praying and believing. God’s not done with us yet.

The Great California Escape – Week Two

The Great California Escape – Week Two

We had such a great time with our pal Teresa and her mom Pat in Idaho Falls. We have been so blessed with wonderful friends. On our way to Idaho Falls from Caldwell, where we enjoyed the company of the Roland’s, we stopped for lunch at Jakers Bar and Grill in Twin Falls. As soon as I saw the billboard sign advertising the restaurant on the interstate, I told Tommy that we had to eat there. You see, my brother’s name is Jake, and I’ve always called him Jakers. It was a great meal that fortified us to finish the trek to our storage facility in Idaho Falls.

As I said in my earlier post, everything we own that wouldn’t fit into our motorhome is in our 20-foot box trailer that housed my Jeep on two cross-country trips. Now the trailer is parked safe and sound at a facility about six blocks from our pal Teresa’s house. Teresa will drive by it often. It blesses my socks off that I found a place so close to her house. It is a God thing because I had no idea it was so close to her when I arranged for the unit. God shows Himself to us through these little blessings all of the time.

We had many views of the Snake River on our drive, and it is truly amazing. We stopped for two nights at The Village of the Trees RV Resort in Delco, Idaho. It was a cute little park that was easy to access from highway 90, but road noise was not an issue. It was beautiful when we arrived, so I set up Paddy’s playhouse. He was so happy to get outside. The weather report said there was a ten percent chance of drizzle that night, so I went to bed without bringing in his beds and items that I wouldn’t want to get wet. At 11:00 p.m. I woke up to pouring rain and ran outside in my nightgown to stick as much of his playhouse under the pop-out as humanly possible. I neglected to grab much of the bedding that had already gotten wet, and I spent the next morning spreading everything out to dry. Our stay there was enjoyable, and $30.00 a night for full hookups in a beautiful park couldn’t be beaten.

I had asked Teresa to scope out the Snake River RV Park close to her because the reviews were not very good. After seeing it, she called to tell me that she would gladly stay there. It had two bar and grills within walking distance and was very close to her house. I tried making a reservation for over a week, and they never had a cancellation. Teresa called me and said that she had called every RV park in the area. The only one close to her was in Shelley. The North Bingham County Recreation Area is about 20 minutes south of Idaho Falls. She’d gone there to check it out, and the manager told her to have me call right away because they only had one site available for our stay. I reluctantly made the reservation because they didn’t offer sewer, and we are glampers in every sense of the word. Tommy drives me crazy, worrying about how often I go to the bathroom if we don’t have a sewer hookup. It makes for a stressful stay.

I called the Snake River RV Park again in a last-ditch effort about 40 minutes from Idaho Falls. I was informed that they still didn’t have room for us. The receptionist told me that they had a sister park in Rigby close by. She gave me the number, and I called the Yellowstone Lakeside RV Park. I was thrilled to secure a spot for our four-night stay. It was north of Idaho Falls, and they offered full hookups, so I canceled our stay at the other park. Thankfully, they hadn’t taken a deposit, and they were great about withdrawing our reservation without a fee. With our campsite reservation handled, we headed to the storage facility. We got our trailer situated in its spot without any problems. After securing it, we stopped on the way to the RV park for a nice Chinese lunch.

The name Yellowstone Lakeside Park was deceiving. It wasn’t lakeside, and it didn’t have any amenities to brag on. That is unless you have a dog. The dog washing station was quite nice. It was, however, conveniently located and had full hookups. It was only 18 minutes from Teresa’s house. She came and picked us up and gave us a tour of Idaho Falls before taking us to her house for dinner. We had a great visit with her and her mom, Pam, before heading back to the campsite in her car. She graciously let us borrow her car since we still don’t have a tow vehicle. We are currently keeping our eyes open and checking Craig’s List and RV forums for a used car with a tow package.

I took a nice walk from the RV park, not knowing exactly where I was headed, and wound up with a great surprise. Adventuring out of the park, I passed a couple of horses while trekking through a small ranch. It took me to the road that led in front of the RV park, and that led me to the Jefferson County Park. It was a beautiful place where we would have loved to stay. It, too, didn’t have sewer, but it was $25.00 a night cheaper than where we were staying and much more pleasant. The Yellowstone Lakeside Park is a glorified gravel parking lot. This county park, blocks away from it, was on a small lake. It had a slide in the middle of the lake, roomy sites, food trucks along the lake that sold tasty snacks six days a week, and a creek running through the back of it. The walking and biking trail around it was nice too. I told the sweet gal at the gate that didn’t charge me the $6.00 walk-in day fee that I would give them a great review and would most likely be back for a day visit with some friends.

Teresa planned lots of great stuff for our visit to the area. On our first full day, she took us to Island Park to have lunch at the Lakeside Lodge and Resort. After a fabulous lunch and tasty beverages, we headed to Johnny Sacks Cabin. It’s an incredible log cabin in Big Springs that won Idaho’s Historic Preservation Award in 2010. It is a must-see if in the area. From there, we went to Upper Mesa Falls. It was amazing!! Teresa was going to take us to the lower falls too, but we didn’t think they could outdo the upper falls, and we were spent. It was a full and fun day. We went back to the RV tired and happy. We needed to rest up for our trip to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, the next day.

Jackson Hole is only a two-hour drive from Idaho Falls, and it is very scenic. Teresa and Pam were amazed by how low the Snake River was in many areas. I guess many parts of the United States are experiencing a drought. I digress. Jackson Hole is a bustling little town, almost too bustling. Tommy and I were both praying for a great parking spot, and we were blessed with one. Teresa and Pam wanted us to experience the Silver Dollar Bar for lunch. I bypassed the LONG line at the door of the restaurant and found four seats at the bar. Favor, once again. Thank you, Jesus. The bartender was slammed, but she still managed to give us excellent service. We enjoyed a tasty lunch and had a great time. From there, we headed to another must-see while in Jackson, the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar. It’s full of eclectic items, including lots of taxidermy and horse saddle bar stools. The service was good, but the drinks were pricy. It’s what I would expect in a tourist town. The bar was huge and full of happy customers. It was great that out of hundreds of visitors, we saw very few masks.

We had talked about going to the Jefferson County Lake the next day to enjoy a swim on our last day, but after two very full days, we put the kibosh on that idea. Instead, we went to one of Teresa’s favorite spots for Happy hour and another excellent meal. When we arrived at the Smokin Fins, Pam was at the bar saving seats for Tommy, Teresa, and me. The bartender knew her and Teresa well and went out of his way to make us all feel special. They had quite a variety of food. Tommy had sushi, and I had tacos, and everything was delicious. It was an excellent final day in the area.

Our next stop was Melrose, Montana, 178 miles away. We try very hard to stick to the 200-mile, two-day-stay plan. If we go much further, it makes Tommy cranky. I picked the Sportsman Lodging and RV Park because the next stretch of RV parks was over 200 miles from us. I use RVTRIP Wizard in conjunction with RVParky to find our destinations. I love the fact that the Wizard shows you where RV parks are on your route and all the information you need to make your decisions. It lists the amenities, reviews, tips, and the weather in the locations. When I choose our parks, I put them on my list and have an outstanding record of our journey. It also shows you where fuel stops are, and you can add your favorite grocery stores and more to your route. At $39.00 a year, it’s an excellent value. RVParky is free and a great place to check out reviews and RV parks in the area that you are headed.

We got the last spot at the Sportsman, and it was between two giant trees. It was a little tricky to get into, so the park owner came out and helped Tommy back into the site. The Venus and Mars conundrum comes seriously into play when attempting to help Tommy park the motorhome. I was relieved not to be in charge. It was a cute little park with a bar and grill within walking distance. Since we haven’t purchased a tow vehicle yet, this amenity is vital. The Melrose Bar was a fun place. The bartender was so sweet. Not only did she tend the bar and cook the food, but she handled the gas pumps too. There were some video gambling machines there. I lost $8.00, and Tommy won $10.00. It was a fun way to kill some time. We had a pleasant visit with some folks staying in the same park, and it was an enjoyable day. The fried chicken and gravy fries that we took back to the motorhome were surprisingly delicious.

We only got to stay one night at the Sportsman because they were booked up. We were off to Big Timber, Montana KOA, bright and early. We are KOA members and have stayed in many of them, but this one was like no other we had experienced. We always joke about KOAs and trains. Fellow KOA campers totally get it. The first time we hear a train whistle, we laugh about it. Highway noise can also be an issue at KOA’s because most of them are very close to them. The Big Timber park was, however, like nothing we have ever experienced. It was the first time we couldn’t get a sewer hookup at a KOA. I needed to do a load of laundry and figured that I’d do it in the park’s facilities.

We were crammed in like sardines.

We survived the lack of a sewer hookup, but the train and highway noise was horrible. I’m a light sleeper, and it is hard for me to return to slumber once I wake up. I lost count of the trains that sounded like they were right outside of our door. I think the conductors get paid extra from KOA management for hitting the horn additional times. Needless to say, after a two-night stay, I was fatigued. On the bright side, I did get our laundry done for only $3.00.

Despite the problems with Big Timber, I booked us into another KOA in Miles City, Montana. It has been a much better experience. By the grace of God, we are in one of only two sites that have satellite reception. The park is very nice, and the staff is excellent. We were led to our site, and it has a huge patio, table, chairs, and a fire ring. It rained off and on, so we didn’t get to enjoy it much. I couldn’t get out Paddy’s playhouse because of the rain. Try explaining that to a cat. Especially an ornery one like Paddy. The rain very seldom matched up with the forecast. We got a window of opportunity to walk into town, and it was great. Miles City is a cute little town with lots of shops, restaurants and bars, and casinos. They aren’t casinos like Reno or Vegas. They are quaint little places with video games. I put $20.00 into the Hold Your Horses Keno machine and left with $120.00. Tommy left $2.38 lighter than when we walked in. Not bad for a fun afternoon. We went to the Montana Bar from the Silver Star Casino, a historic establishment founded in 1908. We had a nice lunch, and the server was delightful. Bonus, I used some of my winnings to pay for our lunch.

I hope I didn’t drag on too much and bore you. I love hearing from everyone that takes the time to read my blog and check out the pictures of our adventures. We’re off to North Dakota today. It’s one state that we have never been to. If you have some places that you think we should see, please let me know. We’re flying by the seat of our pants this time around, and getting reservations has sometimes been challenging.

God bless and happy travels, Cat

The Great California Escape – Week One

The Great California Escape – Week One

We became full-time RVer’s when we vacated our house in Shingletown, California, and moved into our motorhome on our property. In June of this year, we sorted through all of our belongings, purging ourselves of everything that we possibly could. We talked with many full-timers on the cross-country trip that we embarked on in November of 2020. Everyone we spoke with advised us to GET RID of EVERYTHING! They all said that spending money for a storage unit for things that we will never use again was a complete waste. We took that advice to heart. We had an estate sale, a yard sale, and donated truckloads of stuff to a local thrift shop that gives their proceeds to the care of abandoned animals. I may have gotten a bit carried away. While we were still staying in the house, I asked Tommy to boil some pasta for our dinner, only to realize that I sold every saucepan we owned in the yard sale.

Despite the massive purge, there are still some things that need to be stored. You can’t throw away precious pictures and photo albums. There are important papers that need to be held on to. There are some mementos and collectibles that are impossible to part with. Everything we had to keep and wouldn’t fit into the motorhome is packed into the 20-foot box trailer we used to tow my car behind the motorhome. My Jeep, which I purchased three months before we decided to move from a fifth-wheel to a motorhome, was not towable. My Compass was an all-wheel-drive automatic. We made two cross-country trips with my car in the trailer, and it was often a hindrance and pain. The great guy from Norcal Estate Sales who did a fantastic job for us also purchased my car for his ex-wife. Yes, I said he was a great guy. He sold Tommy’s truck, too, so we don’t currently have a tow vehicle. We are going to purchase one after we set up our domicile address in South Dakota. We will NEVER give California money for vehicle registration again.

We are a part of the mass exodus from California. We are sick of the crazy politics, taxes, and the flat-out insanity of our birth state. Tommy is a third-generation San Franciscan, and I was born and raised in California too. We are sad to see the state that we loved turning into a cesspool and are leaving it in our rearview mirror. Our house hasn’t sold yet, so a return may be imminent, but that is in God’s hands. Shingletown is very rural, and our property is utility-independent. We opted for solar, and since we left every winter, a PG&E connection was not something we cared to do. I think that it may be making potential buyers nervous. For whatever reason, it hasn’t sold, but we are not stressing over it. We have faith that it will sell when it is supposed to for the right price. We have an excellent house sitter, and when the property sells, we can do all of the paperwork online, so we are free to start our adventure.

Our first destination was Idaho. We have friends in the state, and many of them escaped Hollister to move there. We are also storing our trailer in Idaho Falls for half of what it would cost to keep it in California. We made our first stop in Hines, Oregon, for a one-night stay. We were hit by a swarm of cicadas about the time we crossed the California, Oregon border. It was absolutely insane! It sounded like the RV was being pounded by golf ball size hail. We could barely see out of the windshield and had to stop a couple of times to attempt to get the insects off. When we reached Hines, we were exhausted from driving for almost seven hours. We don’t usually travel that far in one day. But, we wanted to be in Caldwell, Idaho, early to begin our anniversary celebration with our pals, the Roland’s.

Angie and Bruce escaped California for Idaho last year. They have a beautiful, completely paid-for home in Star, Idaho. They are retired, but Bruce still does consult work. To pay the crazy taxes in California, he would have had to work a lot more, which is the case for most retirees in the state. There is a town close to the Roland’s with over 65 transplants from Hollister, California. Not just from the state of California, but Hollister. It speaks volumes about the need for conservative, tax-paying citizens to relocate to enjoy their golden years. We continue to pray for California and all of our family and friends there. We are praying for the low-life Newscum to be replaced, but it will take a lot more than getting rid of him to bring revival to California. Thousands of people in influential positions will need to be replaced from school boards to city councils, board of supervisors, and an overhaul in congress. Sorry, I’ll get off of my soapbox now.

Our first stop at the Sand’s RV Park in Hines, Oregon, was an interesting one. The “park’ wasn’t a place to brag about, but for a one-night stay, it was perfect. It was a short distance from the highway and easy to find. We thought we were in the parking lot and found out that we had actually pulled into one of its sites. We didn’t even see the pedestal with the power and water. The owner came out and greeted us, and he was a pleasant man. The nightly fee was $22.00, including tax. For full hookup, you can’t beat it. We didn’t hook up to the sewer, but it was available. There was a restaurant within walking distance which was a huge plus. After a long day on the road, the last thing I want to do is fix dinner. The Apple Peddler had good service and decent food. It was SO refreshing to be waited on by someone that wasn’t wearing a mask. A few people came in wearing masks. I’m sure they were all from California.

We arrived in Idaho on July 24th and spent three wonderful days with our pals savoring great meals and each other’s company. We enjoyed their favorite restaurants and their church, and no one was wearing masks. It’s so great to be out of California. We stayed at the Ambassador RV Park in Caldwell 20 minutes from their house. The park was beautiful and very well taken care of. I didn’t take the time to enjoy the pool but it was spotless. The staff was friendly and accommodating. The park had lots of amenities and was only $45.00 a night. That is probably why we almost didn’t get a reservation there. They were booked solid but I kept calling and we managed to get in. If you want to RV in Idaho I’d make reservations well in advance.

We are currently in Declo, Idaho, where we spent two nights at a lovely park next to the Snake River. The sites are large and long enough to accommodate our 40-foot motorhome and our 20-foot trailer. There is a small grill that serves breakfast, lunch, dinner, and a pretty well-equipped store. Tommy had biscuits and gravy with eggs, and I had a chorizo and egg burrito for breakfast on our first morning here, and it was tasty. Bonus, it was only $8.50 for breakfast. We have full hookups, and the place is beautiful. It is only $30.00 a night, which makes it even sweeter. We were only going to stay one night, but reservations in Idaho Falls made it necessary to stay two. I’m glad that we did. Yesterday was the first day in forever that we could sit outside without being baked, even under the shade of our awning. Paddy was over the moon to be able to finally hang out outdoors. We had a pleasant visit with the lady at the campsite next door and took a great walk along the river. If you are looking for a stop between California and Idaho, the Village of the Trees Resort is a great choice.

That’s a wrap for week one. I’ll let you know how the trailer dropping excursion goes in Idaho Falls. We are meeting up with our pal Teresa who grew up there. We chose the spot from the internet, and we’re hoping that it’s a nice place to leave our belongings. It’s gated, locked, and reasonably priced. Teresa took care of our home in Hollister on our first cross-country trip. She and her husband Lee were a blessing beyond description. We had a koi pond, a pool, lots of yards to tend to, as well as two outdoor cats. They made it easy to enjoy our trip without stressing over our house. God blessed us the same way in Shingletown, where we have great friends looking after our property and home there too. We would like to make this exit from California permanent, so please pray that our house sells soon.

Thanks for coming along for the ride. I’ll talk at you soon. God bless, Cat