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May, 2010

Saturday, May 1 - Tuesday, May 11:

These days were filled with work, work, work on the old and the new RV.  There is so much in the area to see and do but this time we didnít get to do any of that, though we did get to visit with old and new friends and have some fun.
 
We finally got the old RV emptied out and moved off our lot.  Mac then sold it by auction on eBay and it sold; though not for as much as we were hoping for.  But at least it sold!  The buyer is from CA and weíll be delivering the RV to Phoenix for him to pick up. 
 
You would think that with all the time we had here at The Ranch to get things done that we would have gotten it all done. NOT!  We left lots of stuff in our shed to either put on the new RV when we return later this season or to store away, etc.  Like solar panels, weíve only got one on right now so no long periods of dry camping for us unless we want to run the generator.  We will definitely return and finish up everything later this traveling season.  We need to get on down the road, deliver the old RV, and then on to Vegas for some serious concentration on work and evening relaxation before our cruise to Alaska later this month.
 
Wednesday, May 12:
 
We finally got everything ready to hit the road and left around 11ish.  Iím driving the old RV and Mac is driving the new one with the car in tow.  Weíre driving to Phoenix to deliver the old RV to the buyer.  We stopped for gas in Carlsbad at two different stations.  Mac stopped at a gas station but there were too many cars for me to get in there also so I drove on down the road and stopped at Wal-Mart.  This was the first time I put gas in the RV all by myself.  Mac and I then parked near each other in the parking lot and had a bite of lunch before the long drive begins.
 
As leaving Carlsbad I saw a sign stating ďNo Service for the next 130 milesĒ.  Hmmm, Fuel: Check, Beverage: Check, Bladder: Double-check.  Okay, Iím good to go. 
 
Even though itís desolate country in areas it also is quite beautiful.  Weíre looking forward to returning and exploring more as we relax from working.
 
As mentioned we drove through some beautiful country and it was windy too.  The forecast was breezy but this is more windy than breezy.  Wish it was a tail-wind to push us on down the road but itís not so fun time driving with gust that can push you around.  We got on I-10 on the other side of El Paso and headed west.  We drove to Deming NM and stopped for the night at the SKP Park Dreamcatcher.  It was a nice cool evening.  I cooked dinner, yes, I do know how to cook, washed dishes and we slept well in preparation for tomorrowís drive.
 
Thursday, May 13:
 
We got up early and did some work before leaving this morning.  Before leaving Deming we made plans to meet at the Flying J in Lordsburg for gas.  We try to stay within sight of each other but itís good to know where we plan on stopping next since there are areas where there is no cell phone signal as we found out yesterday.
 
We stopped for gas at the Flying J in Lordsburg as planned.  Mac checked the inside dually and sure enough itís flat.  He thought heíd heard it pop earlier this morning while driving.  Thankfully it wasnít a front tire!  We found a tire place, went ahead and bought 5 tires, they didnít have 6.  We need them so might as well get them and eliminate that worry about a tire blowout.  It takes a couple of hours to do all of this so we ate lunch at an Arbyís that was within walking distance.  Finally, the tires are all put on, our minds feel easier and our pockets lighter.  We then drove to Phoenix with no further problems. 
 
We have an appointment at Freightliner to have the air-conditioner looked at and some other things taken care of in the morning so we parked in their parking lot overnight. 

Blowout on I-10! (not as dramatic as it sounds)

I already had concerns about our tires on the "new" RV because their manufacture dates were in 2001 and 2002 making them 8 to 9 years old.  Manufacturers and knowledgeable tire pros recommend replacing tires based on age regardless of condition.  Seven years is often quoted, and sometimes up to 10 years such as this Michelin technical bulletin.  In any event, our tires were showing their age with numerous deep cracks all around the sidewalls and I had planned to start replacing them 2 at a time beginning with the front tires.  Having this blowout made me want to replace them all ASAP.

I called Coach Net and they located a tire dealer within 1 mile of our location.  That was the good news.  The bad news was the next closest was 25 miles so we settled on the local one.  They had no tires of the right size at this location, but had 5 at another store 25 miles away (must have been the same one Coach Net found).  They retrieved the tires; Goodyear 670's, and started working on the RV.  While pulling the tires off we discovered the inner dual tires were actually newer, made in 2006, and they were Goodyears too and similar to the new tires.  One was flat, cause unknown at this point, so I tossed it in the basement and will have it checked out later.  The other was good so it stayed on the RV.

Friday, May 14:
 
Our appointment is at 7:00 this morning.  After getting checked in we took everything from the new RV that weíll need for today.  Mac drove the old RV and I drove the car; we drove to the bank where the sale will be later today.  We left the RV there and we drove the car to the IKEA store.  Iíve never been to one of these stores before.  They also have a food area so we had another breakfast and more coffee before looking around in the store.
 
Finally the time comes to meet with the buyer.  We show him around the RV familiarizing him with how it operates.  Then it was time to say good-bye.  I must admit I did shed a few tears.  This was our home for 5 Ĺ years in addition to being our first RV.  It served us well and will be remembered with great fondness.  Good-bye old friend!  I hope the new owners enjoy you half as much as we did.
 
We got back to Freightliner before they closed to pay our bill and pick up our RV.  There is only one item that they couldnít get done today because they didnít have the part so weíll have that done later down the road.  We sure donít want to hang out here all weekend.
 
We left the RV in their parking lot and headed out for early dinner.  Since we had a late second breakfast and didnít have any lunch weíre having an early dinner and Iím starving!  One of the closest eating areas has a Claim Jumper restaurant.  Itís our first time to eat at one of these.  Good food, decent prices, large portions.  It was a good place to eat, plenty of leftovers for tomorrowís lunch!
 
We went back to Freightliner and hooked the car to the RV.  Lights: check, brakes: check and finally we are on the road again together!  This is my first time riding in the new RV.  My goodness itís so different from our old one.  It has a lot of great features, like diesel engine in the back so there isnít the engine noise right in the driving area, it can climb hills with no strain on the engine, huge windshield and side windows to see out of, comfortable leather seats, but come on whatís with the lousy cup holders????  Whoever designed these cup holders obviously never intended for them to be used.  The cup holders are too shallow, a cup can easily overturn as weíve discovered.  Sheesh.
 
We had hoped to arrive before dark in Quartzsite and we raced the sun but the sun won.  It was plenty dark when we got here tonight.  We had a little difficulty finding the area we parked in the last time we were here but finally we found it and stopped for the night. 
 
Saturday, May 15:
 
We headed out this morning and drove to Vegas.  I got to drive the RV today too, my very first time!  Boy!  Itís really different than driving our old one; this will take some getting used to.  It will be fun to practice driving it!
 
We arrived in the early afternoon at our destination, Nellis AFB RV Park.  We plan on being here through our cruise and into July.  Those are the plans but of course plans can change at any time.
 
We got set up on our site which included putting out the slide.  Wow, lots more room with the flip of a switch!  We ate lunch, spent some time relaxing, etc.  We then went to the Palms Casino and played for a few hours before having dinner at the buffet and then heading back to the RV for the evening.

Sunday May 16 Ė Monday May 31:
 
On Sunday the 16th Mac and I went to the M Casino and took advantage of a promotion they had going.  Earn so many points and get a free buffet, so I played on each of our cards and earned us both a free buffet.  They really have a nice buffet there, way too many choices! 
 
Ever have one of those mornings where you shouldnít touch anything?  I did the morning of Monday the 17th.  I donít know how I did it but my computer fell right off my lap, I donít think I was awake yet so I couldnít catch it before it hit the floor.  I had visions of dollar signs dancing in my head.  How much to replace the computer?  It broke where the power cord connects into the computer, could not put the power cord in and make it stay.  Thankfully, Mac is a very handy guy and he fixed it.  It had to sit all day and dry from the glue that was used but that was a small price to pay.  I was really happy to have it back working.  It would not have been fun to try and get everything off of it and onto a new one.
 
One evening after dinner I wanted to go play at the casino and Mac didnít so I went by myself to Aliante Casino and played deuces wild.  I had a great time, hit 4 deuces twice and then hit a royal flush all on the same machine!  I cashed out for the evening with a profit of $1,200.  Building that gambling kitty up, hopefully there wonít be any dry times to drain it.
 
Saturday, the 22nd Mac and I went to the Palms Casino for some lunch and play time.  I love playing 9/6 Jacks on the triple play machine.  I was playing and Mac stopped by to talk a few minutes and heíd just walked away when I was dealt a Royal Flush!  I yelled at him and he ran back over and we both celebrated getting dealt $3,000 worth of diamonds.  Diamonds really are a girlís best friend!
 
After that fun we went to the outlet mall and had fun shopping.  We still had a few things we needed to buy before our cruise so we found a few things there.  Mac bought me a water-proof light windbreaker jacket that will keep me warm and dry during any rains in the northwest.  Itís really nice too; and it was at a reduced price!
 
Twice this month I went shopping on Wednesday to the thrift stores.  Wednesday is seniorís day so I can get 20% off.  I found some really nice stuff too, a lot of it brand new with the original tags still on.  It always amazes me how much I can save by shopping at the thrift stores.  And I have fun looking for bargains!  Also I look for books to add to my stash and take on our cruise later this month.
 
Decisions, decisions, what to pack for the cruise?  Neither of us has been on a cruise.  Plus the weather is iffy up where weíre going.  It can rain, snow, sunshine, get very warm, etc. all in the same day!  We also need to pack relaxing down time clothes, dinner clothes, night clothes, travel and exploring clothes, enough for 8 days!  Of course, we packed way too much stuff.  We even bought another suitcase to pack all this stuff in because our other suitcase which would have come in handy is in storage in Tampa!
 
But we finally decided whatís going with us, got it all packed.  Mac didnít want to leave the RV hooked to anything while we were gone.  I defrosted and cleaned the refrigerator and disposed of everything that was in it.  I also cleaned the RV so that itís all done when we get home.  Mac unhooked us from everything, turned off the circuit breakers, etc.  Itís as safe as we can make it and thankfully it was still there when we returned.
 
Alaska Cruise

The 28th we flew to Seattle for our 7 day cruise to Alaska.  We had made the decision back in New Mexico to fly from Vegas to Seattle.  We realized that we were behind schedule on our plans for the year and to not add additional stress to ourselves we decided to fly instead of pushing it to drive there.  Weíre both glad we made that decision.  It gave us time to get work done, shop, to relax, and plan, etc. before the cruise. 
 
We managed to work at our jobs, work on getting everything stowed away in the RV and last minute packing before we left for our trip.  We stopped at Tuscany Casino for dinner and a short time of play before driving to the airport.
 
While there Mac got a call from the airline.  They told him that our flight was delayed, that we may not catch our connection to Seattle in Phoenix, etc.  We drove over to the airport and parked in the long-term parking lot, took the shuttle to the airport and checked in.  At the desk they werenít sure about our flight, how much of a delay, etc.  We were pretty nervous but it all worked out in the end. 
 
Since I had my knee replaced this is the first time Iíve flown so I was interested in seeing how they do that now.  They call over a female with a hand wand who goes over the whole body and every where the wand beeps she hand pats down.  Interesting!  One thing I do not like is everyone having to take their shoes off.  If someone is wearing sandals then they have to walk barefoot through the inspection area.  Gross!
 
Our flight was a little delayed getting in and we all boarded quickly and took off.  Turns out instead of having to run to a connecting flight the plane we were on would be the plane to Seattle.  The other plane never made it in I think. 
 
So we made it to Seattle, called the hotel shuttle service and checked into our room.  I canít say it was a good nightís sleep because we were both pretty excited but we did manage to get some sleep.
 
The 29th we woke to a soft rain, it is Seattle so of course itís raining!  We both put on our water-proof jackets and walked to IHOP for breakfast and lots of coffee.  We then walked to a grocery store and bought items to take on the ship that we didnít want to fly with us such as mouthwash, shampoo, etc.  I donít like to pack those items in the suitcase; Iíve had a few leaks over the years, so Iíd rather buy the stuff on the other end. 
 
Finally the time comes to call for our ride to the cruise ship!  Really nice guy he was too.  He stopped at Radio Shack so that Mac could run in and get a charger that heíd forgotten to pack.  He showed us some sites along the way and we look forward to returning to Seattle to see more. 
 
When we check in at the cruise ship they take the luggage and it will be inspected, probably by x-ray before going to the room.  Then we all go through another inspection like we did at the airport but I didnít set off the alarms so I didnít have to be hand inspected.  We also had our picture taken for ship ID purposes, got our room key which is the most important item we need on the ship.  You canít get off or on the ship without it, buy anything, etc. everything is done by your room key.
 
Finally weíre on the ship and we go to the buffet for lunch.  Crowded, madhouse it was too!  There isnít too much to see or do until the rooms are ready and the ship leaves.  Iím glad when we can go to our room so we can have a little peace and quiet time. 
 
The room is small but bigger than I was expecting.  We have two twin beds, a desk area, another desk area thatís probably for make-up, a good-sized closet, drawers, shelves, nice bathroom with shower, etc.  All the comforts of home! 
 
After everyone is aboard and before the ship leaves the dock everyone must report to their lifeboat drill area and listen to a safety briefing.  It was good information to know, where the life jackets are, where to go in case of an emergency, etc.
 
Finally!  We start pulling away from the dock, sideways, and then out to sea slowly.  We got to wave at people onshore; Iíve always wanted to do that! 
 
Mac made us reservations for around 6:30 for dinner at the Teppanyaki restaurant.  We met 2 other couples there and had a great time.  This was my first time at a Teppanyaki restaurant; itís very interesting and entertaining to watch but Iím sure the food is full of calories.  Weíll have to go to another one someday and see what other choices they might have.
 
Mac:  Chris commented about the food being full of calories, thatís because they used mass quantities of butter!
 
The 30th was a day at sea.  It was a dreary morning, rainy and not much sunshine.  In the afternoon I met up with the 2 couples weíd met the night before and they taught me a card game called 99.  We had fun playing cards before time to go in and get ready for dinner. 
 
Mac did more things on this day than I did.  He attended the information sessions, asked questions, etc.  I just went where he led me and let him be our cruise director.  Itís a good fit for both of us.
 
When we woke up on the 31st we were in Ketchikan Alaska!  Time for our first shore excursion!  We quickly ate breakfast at the buffet and headed out.  We went on a boat excursion where we got to see lots and lots of eagles, totems and lighthouses.  It was totally awesome to see the eagles, there are so many in Alaska, amazing sights and beautiful country.
 
This evening we ate at the Aqua Restaurant.  It was good and our waiter was outstanding. 
 
I really enjoy how our room is so tidy when we return.  When we got back from our excursion our room was all tidy, beds made, fresh towels, ice in the bucket, etc.  When we got back from dinner in evening same thing!  Wow, I could become accustomed to this.
 
They do have a casino on the ship.  Itís open and we can play when the ship is in international waters, or when weíre at sea and the local law says we can.  Anyway, I played and they had lousy pay tables of course.  The only decent pay table was at the dollar level but it was still not that great.  I hit one royal while on the cruise and was grateful for that.

The story of our cruise continues in June and includes photos.

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