Our Lady of the Blue Highways

Our Lady of the Blue Highways
Portrait in oils by Jackie Poutasse

Monday, December 22, 2014


Getting settled is more unsettling than I thought it would be.   Because we did not have the opportunity to load Miss Daisy ahead of time, we brought more  than we needed, and now have to sort it out and re-pack some into the truck - so I am constantly moving stuff in or out - trying to fit it in.

Internet access is extremely poor - the only time I can count on connecting is in the middle of the night, and last night I couldn’t even count on that.   So, I am typing posts in a word document - waiting for a connection - hoping it will last long enough to complete the post.

I mentioned to a friend that it was cold here last night and she was surprised, thinking we were warm and snug in the south.  We are south - only 30 miles from the border, however we are at nearly 4500 ft elevation and in the middle of the desert with extremely low humidity - which makes for pleasant days and chilly, and sometimes downright cold nights.

Phoenix, on the other hand, is at about 1000 ft elevation and enjoying warm, sunny days and comfortable nights, except when California sends over its storms.

On Tuesday, we joined the campground group for a trip to Paloma, Mexico for lunch.   The food was delicious, the service excellent , and the atmosphere of the Pink Store fascinating.   I did about 5 minutes checking out the pottery and other native wares - gathering ideas for future visits.

I learned that the boot store down the block does custom made boots for around $80.  Can you guess there is a pair of red boots in my future?   I've wanted boots all my life - but have not been able to find a pair to fit, and since I've been waiting all this time, I plan to be frivolous!!!!  Red, high top boots (not cowboy - this time) I am treating myself, big-time.

Every afternoon at 4 p.m. we gather in the bunkhouse for Happy Hour - actually for announcements as to what is happening in the campground as well as in the area around Deming.   Yesterday, during Happy Hour, a birthday cake and ice cream was served to celebrate all the December birthdays - there were 5 of us being so honored..

Among the honorees was a fellow from ......  drum roll, please..... you guessed it - Great Falls, Montana!!! - We now call each other "Montana"

The campground has a Bark Park for Tucker and his tribe.  When I was last here, two years ago, I could not turn Tucker loose in the park because there were a number of holes in the fence.  However, considerable effort has been made to bring the fence up to par for little fur balls, and I can now turn him loose to play there.

There are plenty of dogs in the park, large and small - so he has the potential of making many, many friends.

I still have not turned on the propane , we are heating with an electric heater,  and I wont risk another flood so we are not connected to the water - I just step outside with a jug and heat water in my hot-pot when its needed.    Cooking takes creativity.   We finally had our first hot meal - thank goodness for the crock pot .  I do have my camp stove with us - but no fuel right now - have to make a trip to Wally World.

We have signed up for the two big  pot luck dinners  next week -  Christmas Eve and Christmas Day  On Christmas Eve, well take appetizers and on Christmas Day -  Diane wants to make cranberry-orange relish - but we don’t have a food processor so that is out.   We do have a huge sweet potato and if I can managed to cut it down to size without a chain saw, Ill make sweet potato/apple casserole. - if I can figure out how to cook the sweet potato - I think Ill start a day ahead and cook it in the crock pot.

Its been overcast all but one day - while remnants of the California wet weather streams overhead, so we haven't been overly active - I do have to go to town today, though -  its time to get a microwave - even if its not a red one, and a 9 volt battery for the smoke detector. And a few other small essentials - like a short extension cord so I can re-charge my kindle while I sleep.  (In the end, I decided we could live without a microwave)

We are still discovering what is available in the town - From the ads I've read, there are quite a few art galleries, and other places of interest.   For practical purposes, there is a KFC - which is significant to me - both KFCs in Great Falls closed down as well as those in Helena, once in a while I really enjoy some KFC chicken.   There is a Dollar Tree, as well as a Dollar General - for saving money, and there are auto parts stores, and RV services and a quilt store - which I have not found yet, and a Wendy's for frostys and chili
I don’t think well go wanting or hungry for that matter.

When I wake up in the mornings, I can look out the window and see the most amazing sunrises over the Florida Mountains.   Cloud formations are awesome - saw one yesterday that looked like a watercolor.
I need to find my camera accessories  and  do some charging - and take some photos to share with you.

Until Next Time,
Bear Hugs
Boots & Tucker
& Diane, too

"She believed she could, so she did!"

Saturday, December 20, 2014

NEVER, NEVER, NEVER ……………………………..

Buy a used camper and take it on a six months trip without  trying everything out first!

Please note - these are not complaints - merely observations.  

Let me give you the history of my meeting and acquiring Miss Daisy - since I wasn’t posting this past year.

Since I first decided in 2010 that I was going to get a rig and go full time RVing, I had been defining and re-defining what I wanted.  I started big, and gradually brought my expectations down to reality.   At first I wanted 28ft with slide outs -  what I finally decided was that something around 20-23 ft - no slide-outs (just another something to go wrong) and I wanted twin beds so if I wanted to I could have a traveling companion (currently that’s Diane)

Right after Christmas last year, for some reason I decided to check out Craig`s list for a rig.   And, there she was!   A 22ft travel trailer, no slides, and best of all - twin beds.  Just what I was looking for - and…….. The price was right.   I snapped it up.

Brooke suggested I tow it out to their place (300 miles west) and Scott would go through everything to make sure it worked correctly and was safe.

Scott had a couple surgeries to recover from so it was August before we made the trip. That  was my first time pulling a trailer in at least 40 years.

Scott did a lot of work while we were there - he noted that the frame was torqued, and jacked it up to see if that would help, and put in a new ¾ inch sub floor to help keep it straight,  fixed the electrical pigtail which had a wire cut in two, checked to make sure the air conditioner worked, and checked out the propane situation - the stove, oven, and furnace.  He also built me a custom step - deep enough to fit my whole foot onto and shallow steps for comfort.

While Scott was doing his thing, Brooke was helping me clean and paint.  We ended up staying there for two full weeks.  During his inspection of the rig (who’s name is Miss Daisy, by the way)  he discovered critical problems with the black water tank.

When we returned home, I called a local RV repair shop and made an appointment - first available was 30 days away - September 17.   While waiting for the appointment, I worked on the painting and puttied (sp?) the floor, preparing it for finishing it with brown paper bags - if you’ve never heard of this - check it out on line - it looks really neat.

The day for the appointment came with painting still to be finished and the floor to be started.

Well, long story short - Miss Daisy was in the shop until December 8th.  We had to load all our stuff in the truck, pick up Miss Daisy and head down the road.

I’ve already posted about our trip down to Sun City AZ - so now Ill continue on.

We got all the cabinet doors attached and the latches installed.  We left Sun City at 9:30 for the 350 mile trip to Deming.   I figured 6 ½ hours - but that was based on not getting lost exiting Phoenix - Yep, that’s what happened - so, we backtracked and found Hwy 10 and started out again - we arrived in Deming a little after 6 pm - office shut tight - so I found a site and got temporarily set up.   Plugged in the electric and hooked up the water.

About 15-20 minutes later, I noticed water flowing across the floor - I went outside and found we were standing in a lake.   I turned off the water, and thought maybe I just didn’t get the connection tight enough - we had jugs of water, so I didn’t worry about it.   When I got up in the morning, entered the bathroom and stepped in a puddle of water.   Yikes, the plumbing is leaking - somewhere - in any event, I am not hooking up to the water again - Ill manage by hauling jugs of water in.

While I was working on this post, the battery on my laptop went dead, so I hauled it over to the Bunkhouse (coffee, widescreen TV, library, jigsaw puzzles, and card playing) and I met one of the campers and she told me not to dare turn on the propane unless someone (her next door neighbor in the camp - a retired engineer) checked it for safety.  She was very forceful on that point - then she told me that just 2 weeks before, a lady lit her furnace, not knowing that propane had leaked in her rig and the explosion blew out the back of her trailer and caught the next door 5th wheel on fire.   She got out ok, but her beloved little dog did not.   So - I will definitely wait til I have it checked out.

About that time, my new friend looked out the window and said “here comes the nicest and most helpful lady in the campground“.   I looked out and saw the rig she was walking away from, and asked - is that Grace?   She said  - do you know Grace?    I met Grace 2 years ago when I was here in my tent.

When the office opened at 9 - I went to check in and they had me move to another site and there I met more people - the couple to our right are on their first RV adventure, too.  The gentleman on our left was very helpful - he helped me get Miss Daisy settled into place and will help me with the sewer set-up - first step being I needed a couple more fittings for the hose.

So, once Miss Daisy was in place, we took  off for Wally World and picked up a few things - couldn’t get all the fittings, and missed the hardware store, so Ill try that again tomorrow

The weather here today is absolutely beautiful - in the mid 50s and tonite will be in the mid 30s

I am going to close this for now - Diane is taking a nap, and I am headed to the Bunkhouse for announcements.  Tonite is pot luck dinner night - for which we have nothing to contribute - but we will just explain we are not yet set up for cooking.   How I wish I had an electric cook top right now - I wouldn’t have to worry about the propane.

They have now increased the strength of their internet - not that I can get online in my rig, but at least I can take my computer to the Bunkhouse and get connected - so maybe the delays between posting will not be quite so long.

Until next time,  Bear Hugs

Boots and Tucker and of course, Diane

She believed she could, so she did!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

SCAM ………. or not?

This has never happened to me before - and I wonder if it has ever happened to any of you?

I didn’t find out the details until I called my bank on Friday.

In Springfield, Utah, I stopped at a Flying J truck stop for gas.  I have used Flying J before and even on this trip and never had anything like this happen to me before.

I pulled into the area designated for private passenger vehicles and RV’s.    I put my debit card in the slot and got a message telling me to see the cashier.   When I went in to the cashier, I was told that my card was denied.  We figured it was because I was traveling and my bank, seeing the interstate use of the card had put a hold on it as a safety precaution - I had not thought to notify the bank of  my travels this time.

I used my credit card with no problem - which I thought was a bit strange because it was issued by the same bank as my debit card.

We went on our merry way and when we got to Kit’s I called my bank and this is what I learned.    When I inserted my card in the pump,  it tried to grab $500 from it - this particular account did not have $500 in it, so it was denied.  Needless to say, I was furious.

I am used to a bank putting a limit on purchases at a gas station - usually $75 - and it’s a pain when  I have to pump twice to fill my tank - but, well, that seems a reasonable action to me.   But to try to take $500 from me?  No way!

I called the Springfield Flying J and talked with the general manager.  He said very matter of factly (is that a correct thought?) that it is normal for the bank to do that and that in a few days, they will post the correct amount purchased and refund the difference.   I asked him what  if  that was the only account I had (it wasn’t) and  I was stuck in the desert for days until they refunded my $446?  (my fuel came to $54)
What he did was give me a “verbal shrug” - ie:  he said “yes, and then they would refund the difference.

I’m afraid at that point I lost my cool, and told him that I would never  use Flying J ever again and I hoped no one else got caught in their scam, and I hung up.

I have decided to send a copy of this blog to the Flying J home office.   Perhaps they have an intelligent, viable explanation for this--

Now, have I over reacted?   Is this something that happens regularly?  Have you had this happen to you?

I know that if posting for a purchase is delayed, normally $1 is posted so you know its being processed, but $500 - now, really!!!!???!

Until next time,
Bear Hugs

Boots and Tucker -
Diane, too!

She believed she could, so she did!

Friday, December 12, 2014


Monday morning:   Spent another 3 hours loading the truck - I was unable to find my spare glasses, my camera or the big inverter.

We finally left at 11 a.m. only to find the repair shop closed til 1:00.   So, we got some lunch and went back to the shop to pick up Miss Daisy.  I very hurridly pull stuff out of the truck and threw it into Daisy - enough so we could see through the truck to hitch up.

I asked many questions - but forgot the most important of all -   "How do I hook up the black water tank for dumping?"    Luckily I know that Kit and Ken in AZ can help me there.

We left Great Falls at 1:30 and headed to Helena - our first stop  - only 100 miles away.   It was a good drive.  When I pulled in behind my friend Barb's home, I managed to pull Daisy into the only pile of snow on the street.   I backed up and pulled forward a couple times and figured I wouldn't have any problem getting back on the road in the morning.  Not!   The temperature dropped to 21 degrees, and all that snow turned to ice.  My wheels just spun on the slippery surface.

We had a great visit with Barb - a friend from childhood.  Tucker enjoyed visiting with Della.

We slept in Daisy - it was, as I say, 21 degrees and really cold because of the snow on the ground.  Not to worry - I had the two denim quilts, and two double fleece blankets in Daisy - and later found 2 more brand new quilts that I had forgotten were in the cabinet.  I had an electric blanket which didn't seem as warm as I thought it should be - reason being?   It wasn't heating.  The lights came on - but no heat, be we slept warm enough anyway.

In the morning I called AAA and was told, after explaining what happened, that  "we'll send out one truck with one man and that is covered.  If necessary, we'll send out a second truck and 2 men, and that will be covered for 2 hours.  After that you are responsible for the charge."  I tried to tell her it wouldn't take that much, but she was not impressed.

Two hours later, the truck showed up, when my feet were nearly frozen - having chosen sandals with socks over closed shoes - since there was no snow in Belt when we left.   The towman looked the situation over and shook his head.  "you've got yourself in a mess, he said"   He looked under the trailer and said he was afraid he'd damage the underside pulling it over the ice.  I told him - there was no snow under the trailer, only half the width of two tires was on the snow.   In any event, he hooked us up, and in about 10 seconds had us out on the road.   HE was very impressed!!!

So, we headed out - stopped at the tire store to have Daisy's tires checked out - and the situation was pronounced well under control.  Even though the tires were about 10 years old - the tread was excellent and just the slightest sign of weather checking - so we were good to go.

Once again, we got on the road at 1:30 and we had a little over 300 miles to go to get to Pocatello.

Daisy pulls like a dream -no problems there.  I felt totally relaxed

I chose this route to New Mexico because it had the fewest mountains to overcome.  We had to go over Monida pass - but its a very gentle rise with no winding roads with steep drop offs - we were over it by dark.

It was a bit warmer in Pocatello - but we had the problem of total disorganization.  We were hooked up to electricity and had the hot water steaming - but no knives, forks or spoons.  Well, I can be resourceful when needed - so all worked out. 

I had to get fuel in Dillon - but it was easy for my first time towing Daisy in a gas station - pull off line up and pull out.   What a relief.  Not so in Pocatello.   The station had several pumps and only one car there.  I discovered they only had a single diesel pump - on the same stand as a gas pump and of course that is where the only other vehicle decided they had to pump gas.   I slowly and carefully drove around the pumps to discover that indeed the only diesel was at the first pump.  So, we waited.
As I was finally at the pump, a gentleman came out and told me that as I came into the station, the door on  Miss Daisy came open.  I checked it and the door was shut tight and locked.

To leave the station, I had to once again circle slowly and carefully to the left to get to the entry and then make an immediate hard right turn -  we accomplished that with not a little concern and hit the road again.  Approaching the on ramp, a driver mouthed out "Your door is open!"   I pulled over and check the door.  Yep, shut tight and locked!  On the ground, I found a bungee cord and looped it around the handle and door knob and headed out once more.

Approaching Salt Lake City - which I really was not looking forward to, a car pulled up beside us and the driver held up a sign that said  "Door is Open"  and right behind him another driver who told us the same thing - We were moving into heavy traffic and had to cross 2 lanes including an "exit only" lane with traffic whizzing all around us.   I got out and checked the door - shut tight and locked!  But, the bungee cord was broken.  So apparently bumps or curves caused the door to come open.  I fixed it good, though - I grabbed a wire coat hanger, and wrapped it round and round and we didn't have any more problems with it.  For the rest of my life, whenever I miss something, I'll probably tell myself it must have fallen out that time in SLC.

We managed to make our way through SLC traffic with no problems for which I am very grateful.  I don't like driving in traffic at the best times, and pulling a trailer through it was no fun at all.  It was such a relief to reach Provo and know that we were out of it.  

The journey down the central corridor of Utah is such a wonderful experience - the mountains on each side are incredible.   There was a mist that day and the sky was overcast causing the distance mountains to look like a very delicate water color.   The very tip of the mountains had the barest blue outline which drifted down into the mist.  Awesome!

We spent the night in Cedar city with a little over 400 miles to go.  If you look at a map of Utah and Nevada, you will see a very small corner of Nevada belongs to Arizona.  It's only 27 miles wide and about 15 miles of it is the most awesome canyon.  It's like driving over a cliff - you drop over 500 ft, twisting and turning down to the bottom - not unlike driving to the bottom of the Grand Canyon.  Then, after about 15 miles, you just pop out - onto a level landscape - no climbing back up again - a very interesting outcome!

Shortly before arriving in Las Vegas, my GPS quit.  When we started out in the morning, it gave a message that the battery was getting low.  How can this be, I had it plugged in.  It did this once before and then mysteriously restarted, seemingly with no assistance.   It finally occurred to me that it might be the cord - and you guessed it - the cord was bad.   When we stopped for gas, I switched cords and we were back in business.   (I like to keep track of how many miles left to go)

While searching through the gadget bag for a different cord, I found my spare glasses and my camera.  Now if only the inverter would turn up.

We arrived at my friend, Kit's house in Sun City, AZ just in time for dinner.  Tucker was so happy to be reunited with his friends Sammy and Christi.

We will spend today visiting and tomorrow organizing Daisy, installing the mirrors so I don't have to keep moving them from bed to closet and putting up the remaining cabinet doors - and...... getting the door catches to actually hold.  

On Sunday morning (no rush hour traffic to worry about) we will leave here for the last leg of our trip to Deming, New Mexico to the LoW's campground.

Until next time, Bear Hugs
Boots and Tucker
"She believed she could and so she did!"

Monday, December 8, 2014


Yep - the day has finally arrived - Daisy has been released from the repair shop, and we are headed out later this morning.

I had been developing a fear of towing Daisy - but I had a long talk with myself today about negative thinking attracting negative events - now the fear is gone and I'm so excited about starting out that I'm not sure my feet are touching the ground.

This trip is going to be a real education.  I have so much to learn about operating a RV and living the freedom of the road.

Today we are going as far as Helena - 120 miles - we're going to have Daisy's tires checked by a particular tire shop - they have a good tread - but they were purchased 10 years ago and have been out in the weather - unprotected - so we'll see what the experts have to say about them.

Diane's (my cousin, if I haven't introduced her previously) daughter is meeting up with us in Helena since she couldn't make Thanksgiving dinner due to the weather.  We have a Christmas goody bag to give to her.    We just may spend the time in the Wal-Mart parking lot shifting stuff from "Luv" (my truck, remember) into Miss Daisy.   She went into the shop containing 2 blankets and a pillow - that is the sum total of her contents.  

I didn't dare bring her back to the house to load her up - we might not have been able to get her out of the yard, loaded.   It's pretty muddy here from recent storms.

So everything is being loaded into Luv and then will be transferred into Daisy - some will have to be switched at the shop so I'll be able to see through the back window in order to hitch up.  I just know we have way too much stuff - especially clothes and food - more than I would normally carry - but why leave it here in the cupboards, and have to buy the same food .... again.

My own bedding takes up a lot of truck space - consisting of a 2 inch mattress topper and a down comforter - I never travel without them  - but once in Miss Daisy, and the beds made - they won't even be noticed.

Diane gave me a huge black trash bag of clothes - but then there were still piles of more clothes on her bed.  I asked her about it, saying that we have to watch what we take - and she said "but I haven't even packed my dresses yet!"   I reminded her that she has worn a skirt only one time to church in over a year and if she had to take dresses - she could take one - just one!

As she continued to shuffle through the piles of clothes, I got down her larger duffle bag and told her she could take whatever she could fit in it, and the rest had to stay home.   I had not wanted to take that particular duffle because of it's size.   I did not realize, she also had a small duffle filled  - and..... I neglected to tell her that she had to be able to zip the duffle when she had it filled - oh, well.

She is also taking her rather large Christmas Cactus cause it's about to bloom.  Don't know where we are going to put it - but taking a cactus to the desert makes some sort of sense, doesn't it?

Now, not to make Diane sound like the villian in this -  I decided to take my sewing machine after all -  - I plan to work on the slipcovers for the dining benches this winter - so, in addition to the machine - a large tote with accessories, thread, needles, scissors, etc,  2-3 large bags of scraps of old jeans plus 1 huge bag of whole  jeans - all this takes up quite a bit of room in the truck.  Oh, yeah, I almost forgot - the wall hanging I'm making for Kit.

After all, I'm not going to be stuck with nothing to keep me busy, so, along comes the card bag, the domino set, the French language lessons, my embroidery bag, my kindle, and my trek sticks.  Clothes, not so many - a small bag for spring/summer clothes, and 2 grocery bags for winter clothes - plus 4 coats - heavyweight, rain, fleece vest and wool plaid shirt-jac - layers work best.

A lot of the stuff has been packed since Miss Daisy went into the shop in September - but I noticed in passing that I have a lot of plastic storage containers.  Hopefully that is why there is so much stuff in the truck - at least it doesn't weigh much.

It's 4:25 a.m. - I've been awake since 2 - Tucker is here helping me write this post and periodically he plants a paw on the keyboard and all sorts of exciting things happen.

We have a great weather window for travelling this week - clear and dry all the way south.  

I've only lost track of 2 items while packing - my larger inverter - which may already be in the truck, tucked into a box I packed in September, and my camera - where in the world could my camera be?  At least I have a back-up camera so hopefully I can get some photos out of this trip.

Well, I'm going to try to get another hour or so of sleep - although I see from face-book that my friend Carol is awake - so I may chat with her some.

Tuesday night, hopefully, we'll be stopping in a KOA in Pocatello, ID - if I can, I'll post from there to let you know how it is going.

Until next time, Bear Hugs.

Boots and Tucker
"She believed she could, so she did!"