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volume 8                April 1997                  number 3
Florida to California
�  Potpourri 
�  Campground Report
�  Coffee Break
�  Letters, Letters, Letters
�  Pets on the Road
�  This 'n That
�   My Brother's Beans
The next issue will detail our visit to Las Vegas, the Escapade and Jojoba Hills SKP Resort in southern California. 

Hot Springs National Park (Arkansas) visitor center
Atlanta, Georgia

It has been a dream of mine (since seeing Gone With the Wind about 25 times) to visit the city of Atlanta. Before full-timing we used to drive through it, but we were always in a hurry to get to Florida so never stopped. Sadly this time we were also in a hurry but at least we got to see a tiny smidgen of this historic yet very modern city. Although the weather was less than perfect ---it was cool and rainy---our base, Stone Mountain Park just east of the city, was fantastic. One could spend weeks there, never leaving the park, and have a wonderful time. It is a 3,200 acre "World of Family Fun" with a giant granite rock right in the middle of it. Carved into the rock is a magnificent Confederate Memorial which is the largest bas-relief sculpture in the world. It depicts the southern heroes of the civil War---Confederate President Jefferson Davis and Generals Robert E Lee and Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson. The carving is 400 feet above the ground, measures 90 x 190 feet and is recessed 42 feet into the mountain. What started in 1015 was only completed in 1972. Three different sculptors worked on the carving.

Stone Mountain has everything from lodging to a very challenging golf course, water sports to train rides, wildlife preserve to sky lift and much in between.  We especially enjoyed the diorama in the Confederate Hall. There one can learn about the Civil War in Georgia. I wanted to hike up the mountain, but we just didn't have time. 

One way to really get into a city is to use public transportation and we did just that. Good friends and fellow full-timers, Gary and Mary Ellen Mencimer, were also camped at Stone Mountain, so the four of us drove to the MARTA (Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority) station where we boarded efficient trains into the city. Our first stop was Underground Atlanta which I had thought was a shopping center build underground. Not so! Between 1836 and 1860 a railroad line was built connecting Atlanta and Chattanooga, Tennessee. The "zero mile post" marked the beginning of the new city of Atlanta. By the time Sherman got thorough with the city, it was in ashes and that zero mile post again focused commerce in the downtown area. The population grew so fast and the downtown was so congested that a plan was conceived to build elevated, concrete "viaducts" creating another level of streets. Merchants moved to the second floor, leaving their old storefronts for storage and service. In 1968, this virtually forgotten five block area was declared a Historic Site and became knows and Underground Atlanta. Although the shops are nice, we liked walking on the brick streets and looking at the architecture. There are some really good places to eat in the Underground. One we checked out was unusual, but very pricey. Dante's Down the Hatch features live jazz seven days a week and fondue meals in what looks like an 18th century sailing ship. We got to go down and take a peek since it was mid-afternoon Sunday and they weren't serving dinners yet. I picked up a souvenir menu, but there are no prices anywhere. That should be a good clue.

Ron talks to a statue -----Boarding the train to Atlanta

After we left the Underground we walked the short distance to the Coca Cola building. There is a $6 charge to visit the exhibits and we didn't feel like paying. Instead we walked about 10 city blocks (or more---but who's counting) to eat lunch at the Varsity. Famous for its chili dogs and fried pies since 1928, it is said to be the world's largest drive in. Located near the campus, it was large, but it didn't look like a drive in to me. Even on a Sunday afternoon this place was jumping. We walked up to the long counter and placed our orders for chili dogs and French fries. We knew the fries would be a little greasy even before we ordered them; the smell of hot grease filled the air. There were several rooms off to the sides of the ordering area and they were filled with little round tables, long tables and uncomfortable chairs. Clerks kept busy sweeping up papers and fries from the floor and wiping down the tables as fast as they were emptied. Oh, you want to know what the hot dogs were like? They were okay and the fries were greasy, but it was fun. We did notice many order a drink that looked like an orange shake. That looked good.

Ron & Barb shopping in the Underground
On another day we found our way to Grant Park which is the home of Cyclorama a 9,000 pound painting measuring 358 by 42 feet. For a better perspective that is longer than a football field and taller than a five story building. Painted with great visual accuracy and detail by European artists the circular painting depicts the Battle of Atlanta in July of 1864. To view the painting and hear the story the audience is seated in comfortable theater seats on a revolving platform. It turns slowly as the story unfolds. To add a dimensional effect the area in front of the painting is a diorama so it blends and becomes lifelike.

Another exhibit at Cyclorama is a video on the restoration of the art work. Since the painting was done well over 100 years ago and for many years had been ignored, it was in bad shape. Watching workers comb over every inch of the art work painstakingly cleaning and repairing each inch was fascinating. It was a monumental job and beautifully done. Upstairs in the building is a wonderful collection of Civil War photographs.

There were dozens of other things we would like to have seen in Atlanta, but we leave those for another time.

We headed out of town on Interstate 20. At Birmingham, Alabama, we took U.S. route 78 to Tupelo where we had planned to stop for the night. Just after crossing the state line we stopped at a rest area and checked our voice mail. A reporter from Memphis was wanting to interview us. We called him and decided to meet him at the KOA near Graceland yet that day. When we arrived the reporter and photographer were waiting for us, they did their thing and after a good night's rest we were on the way again---heading to a campground between Little Rock and Hot Springs, Arkansas.

I always dread long drives even in a motorhome, but I must say riding and driving the Dream is truly a dream. It is so comfortable, so quiet, so easy to move down the highway, but I was getting tired of the darn interstates. They are so boring, and I dislike all the truck traffic. The days were gray and cool; we had certainly been spoiled being in Florida all winter. We lamented that perhaps we had done it again---moved north too early in the season.

We had two reasons to visit the Little Rock-Hot Springs area. Judy & Wayne Richards, dear friends who live in their Monaco motorhome, but are still working, live in Bryant. Since they don't move much we had to go and visit them. I also wanted to take a bath---at the Buckstaff Bathhouse in Hot Springs. We had a wonderful visit with the Richards while sitting out all of those tornadoes which devastated Arkansas. The sirens were wailing all around us; in the end 24 were dead and many areas were wiped out, but we were okay. Later when we saw a map showing the direction the tornadoes took, we were surprised; we were right in the middle of it. The storms seemed to follow I-30 and that is right where our campground was.

We traveled to Hot Springs and set up camp in the Gulpha Gorge Campground. We had lived there for two months when we were volunteers back in 1990 and loved it. We were a little concerned when we read the Trailer Life Campground Guide because they stated that the sites could only accommodate RVs up to 24 feet long. I hadn't remembered that so we took a chance. Ninety percent of the campsites could easily accommodate us and our Toyota.

Our motorhome parked at the Gulpha Gorge campground at Hot Springs National Park in the campsite that they said would only accommodate a 24 foot motorhome. 
I called Trailer Life and asked why they would print such inaccurate information and told them of our experience in the Michigan state parks last summer too. Remember that we found many of the parks listed short sites when in fact they were very large? He couldn't give me an explanation, but said he would check into it.

We only stayed in Hot Springs two nights because it was so cold and dreary. But we stopped in for a visit with the rangers at the visitors center and then went to the Buckstaff for a wonderfully relaxing, pampering bath. If you have never indulged in these wonders, we recommend it.

Taking a Bath
When we arrived at the bathhouse an attendant escorted us to our section (men on the first floor---women on the second). After I undressed, I was draped toga fashion with a sheet and escorted to a private cubicle where an attendant was waiting. She had one of those old six foot long tubs full of nice hot water fresh from the hot springs. After I settled into the tub, she washed my back, arms and legs with a tufa sponge to get the circulation going then she turned on the switch of what looked like an outboard motor which was attached to the foot of the tub. Don't forget this building was built in the early 1900's and this was modern back then. Perhaps because everything is marble and old, it reminds me of the age of grace and beauty when pampering was good. Anyway, I was allowed to vegetate in the tub with gentle pulses nibbling at all of my sore muscles.

The second floor of the Fordyce Bath House-----The Buckstaff Bath House
After about one half hour, the attendant came to lead me to the sitz bath area. After that, it was time for the steam cabinet. These cabinets are the kind where each person has their own little chamber and my head stuck out of the little hole in the top. It was wonderfully hot, and I wanted to stay a long time; they suggest that five minutes is enough. Right after the steam cabinet, I was whisked to the needle shower. This shower shoots sharp needles of cool water from 360 degrees. It was stimulating but I didn't stay in it long.

The next step was the hot towel treatment. I was asked where I would like the hot towels placed and answered, "my neck and shoulders." She led me to a room full of padded tables and directed me to one while she went off and prepared the towels. They were thick, heavy towels which she had wrung out of very hot water. Quickly she placed them on my neck and shoulder then she re-wrapped me in the sheet which had been my toga. I felt like a mummy in a warm cocoon. Before the attendant left me to drift off to never never land, she placed a cool wash cloth over my forehead. Gosh it was relaxing. After about a half hour, the towels were losing their warmth and my attendant came for me. I was led to the masseuse and given a wonderful massage. She worked on all the knots around my shoulders and legs. By the time she finished, I felt like a rag doll all limp and wonderfully relaxed.

Getting off of the Interstate

By the time we left Hot Springs, I had had it with the interstate so began investigating other routes. I discovered a nice red road which ran off of I-30 just a little north east of Dallas. By taking U.S. 380 we avoided the Dallas-Fort Worth area and the road was wonderful. It was wide, straight, went through little bergs and there were few trucks. We made it all the way to Haskell by late afternoon. As we were setting up, a young man on a bike stopped to chat and Ron asked if there were any good places to eat in town. The Rodriguez Inn was recommended so we checked it out. This town has little to offer and most of the buildings were in poor repair. We might not have gone in this restaurant if the young man hadn't recommended it, but we are glad we did. What looked like a run down place on the outside turned out to be large and clean on the inside and the food was very good. Our dinner was served speedily by a friendly waitress and our bill came to just a little over $10. We noticed a lot of Cadillacs and Lincolns in town---must be all the oil wells nearby, but that sure was a poor looking town. We drove all over looking for a pay phone and finally found the one and only (I think) at the small grocery store. It was fun to live in Haskell for one night especially since the campground was free.

We headed south on U.S. 277 until it met up with U.S. 180 and we turned west again. From Haskell through Anson and Gail, Texas, we couldn't help but notice the rich red earth. Besides fertile farm land, there were lots of oil wells and they were pumping.

At Carlsbad, New Mexico, we turned north again towards Artesia. We stayed at The Ranch, SKP park one night and joined a bunch of SKPs who went back into Carlsbad for their monthly pizza spree at Pizza Inn. Several of our readers saw the Movin� On sign on the back of the truck and were surprised to see us. It was fun seeing Mary Jordan again (we printed her letter re: being single and on the road last month) and meeting Tom & Nan Hanna for the first time. These new full-timers from Florida were heading in the same direction we were so we suggested that they stop at White Sands National Monument at Almagordo, for a quick lunch stop.

Up over the mountain

Now that's my kind of road. U.S. 82 east of Artesia is a winding road up over the mountain. We went from desert to an area of big pine trees and the patches of snow here and there as we neared the top reminded us that Cloudcroft is a ski resort.

It was a beautiful drive. And lunch, parked on the sand at White Sands, was fun. White Sands National Monument is the world's largest gypsum dune field engulfing 275 square miles of desert. There is a visitor center which is very interesting, but the drive out to the dunes is amazing. The drive starts out very normal then a sign stating that you are leaving the road will scare you a little unless you have been there before. Suddenly you will be on a pure white drive surrounded by more white. If you are from the north, you might mistake it for snow. The drive is fine for even big rigs like ours, so don't pass up the chance to visit this natural wonder.

At White Sands National Park.
We happened to beat the Hanna's but visited a little after they arrived. Then we were off to Silver City for a two day visit with my dad and step mom who are in an assisted care facility there. To get to Silver City we took U.S. 70 to Las Cruces and then jumped on I-10 to Deming where we took U.S. 180 north to Silver.

We left Silver City on NM route 90 which was a good road. At Lourdsburg, we found U.S. 70 again and headed west once more. We spent a week at Valle del Oro in Mesa, Arizona. It was fun catching up with old friends and checking out our site for this coming winter. One day after leaving Mesa we were in California.

Even though it was a fast trip, it was wonderful and we are glad to be here.

To our friends that write in and ask me to evaluate the diesel compared to gas power, let me simply say, "You can carry a lot more stuff." I told you that I wasn't mechanically inclined. 

We are also getting used to the world of truck stops---it's easier to get fuel. Some are nice and clean and others ...well, they are truck stops. Watch where you step.

After attending 7 seminars at the recent FMCA rally, I can't cram any more into this old brain. The diesel and transmission seminars will qualify you for a mechanical engineering degree. I tried to take notes, but intend to rely on the Cummins and Allison network.

You may have heard about the large number of lane changers on the LA freeways. Some of this may be caused by the highway engineers. It's rare to see a highway network that adds and takes away lanes so often.

Our bicycles sure came in handy at the rally. When they park over 5,000 coaches, you know that you will be well away from the program area. Trams are available, but it's easier to bike on your own schedule.

We did it again. We went right by Quartzsite, Arizona, without even stopping. Barb is afraid that I might want to boondock in the desert for awhile. She's right. I would like to try it (at least for a couple of weeks).

Neither Michigan basketball team got invited to the big dance (NCAA tournament). Football is their game. 

(Please remember that this report was written many years ago and the campgrounds may or may not be in business or as they were.)

OK, so we didn't practice what we preach and moved much too fast. The good news is that we have a lot of campgrounds to report on.

Twin Oaks RV & Camping, Exit 41 on I-75, Elko, Georgia (near Perry). For those traveling I-75, this is a good place to overnight it. This new campground has big rig sites with excellent hookups and facilities. The friendly on-site owners built it and maintain it to perfection. Cost is $13.50 after Good Sam discount.

Stone Mountain Family Campground, Stone Mountain, Georgia, I-285 to US 78 (near Atlanta). This public campground has it all (see Barb's report, page one) Although it's $18 per night, it's a good place to visit Atlanta from. In the winter they have affordable monthly rates.

Memphis-Graceland KOA, 3691 Elvis Presley Blvd, Memphis, TN. This is next door to Graceland if that turns you on. We met newspaper people here or we would have skipped this one. Narrow, muddy sites and a $24 charge didn't excite us even if Elvis would have stopped by.

I-30 Travel Park, Exit 118, Benton, Arkansas. This is just an average park with dirt roads and sites, but it's close to Little Rock and the $16.20 (after G.S. discount) is reasonable for the area. Good laundry & rest rooms.

Gulpha Gorge National Park Campground, Hot Springs, Arkansas. This has always been one of our favorites with beautiful wooded paved sites right on the river. No hookups (dump station), but the $4 daily fee for Golden Age card holders is a bargain. Even though there is a Coast to Coast park with hookups close by, we elect to stay here for the beauty & serenity.

Haskell City Park, Jct of US-277 & US-380, Haskell, Texas. Heading west on US-380 we came across this 10 site park (part of the city park) with long level full hookup sites in a pecan grove. It's only several blocks from the small down-town and it's FREE. There is no charge for the first night and $9 a night thereafter. It pays to stay off the interstate.

The Ranch (SKP CO-OP), Lakewood, New Mexico. Great sites, great people and only $7 plus electricity. It's close to Carlsbad Caverns. Lots of SKP hugs---what more could you ask for?

Silver City KOA Kampground, Silver City, New Mexico. Good place to stay when visiting Silver City. It is meticulously maintained with excellent facilities. Interior roads can be dusty and like all KOA's the sites are narrow and expensive, but it's the only game in town.

Valle del Oro, Ellsworth & Superstition Hwy, Mesa, Arizona. A luxury resort with spacious sites and deluxe facilities make this a pricy stop. Daily rate (with G.S. card) is $22.50 and weekly rate is $150.

Jojoba Hills (SKP Co-op), 45120 Hwy 79, Aguanga, California. This is the Ritz among the SKP parks with gorgeous views, luxurious facilities and wonderful Escapee members. Barb will do a thorough report next month. Stay tuned.

Take a break. Get a cup of coffee and let's chat.

Tom Edwards F-T from Oregon, Alan King, engineer with GM in Michigan, Bob Wilcox, F-T from Florida and Allen Maywald, F-T from Colorado all responded to the technical questions concerning propane generators. I wanted to print all four letters but... From Alan King: "Regarding propane generators there are several pros and cons to consider. On the pro side, propane generators are a little quieter and less prone to carbon build up than gasoline versions. However, since propane has significantly less energy content than gasoline, a propane fueled generator requires more fuel to generate the same amount of electricity. Even though motorhomes with this type of generator usually have larger propane tanks you will not get as many hours of operation.... Propane generators are much less expensive than diesel.... I prefer to have the generator use the same fuel as my rig�s engine as it is easier (in my opinion anyway) to refuel the main tank (gas or diesel) than it is to go through the propane tank refueling." Tom added, "Propane generators pollute less, both air and oil, and last longer."

Regarding Julie Anderson�s other question about the Trek Diesel motorhome, Bob Wilcox, Tom Edwards and Alan King responded. Bob Wilcox writes. "I have a friend who has a diesel Trek and I was impressed with it. However, the gasoline Trek is cheaper, quieter and might be a better choice if you aren�t going to put a lot of miles on [it]. It is hard to have a conversation in a motorhome cab (even with your dog) while sitting over a diesel engine. Fuel would be no problem, even if you only went to truck stops. Be careful of small service stations which sell only small amounts of diesel fuel. It is easy to get fuel with water in it when the service station tank is not emptied frequently, especially in hot humid weather, which causes condensation."

Alan King added, "The diesel engine in 1994 and earlier model Safari Trek motorhomes is made by Isuzu in Japan... [Isuzu] is a major heavy truck manufacturer with a good reputation ... However, it is a relatively small engine (3.9 liter) and may not be a good choice if anything other than a very small car is going to be towed as a dinghy."

Tom added, "...Have encountered a couple of owners who were having loss of power problems, etc., and couldn�t find anyone knowledgeable on them to sort out their troubles."

Bob Wilcox also responded to Mark Ely�s question about Class C motorhomes. "I think the smaller Class C motorhomes are fine if there is not a lot of overhang behind the rear wheels. Most of the Class C's I have driven are less stable than Class A�s. They have a lot of weight high up on small wheels and feel �top heavy� on a test drive. If you would rent a good, small Class A for a week and have the friend do most of the driving, I believe she would learn to maneuver it in a short time. You will probably go to a Class A later; why not start with a small Class A?"

Nancy Joy, from Minnesota, Judy Richards from Arkansas and Marlene Deitrick, of Ramona, California, with impressive credentials in Home Economics responded to the convection oven question from last month. I quote Marlene. "Always set the temperature 50 less than for a conventional oven; due to the air movement things bake more evenly and faster, thus the drying out [if cooked at non convection temp and time]. That means 325 degrees for most casseroles in metal ---300 degrees for glass; cakes 300-275 degrees; biscuits 350-375 degrees."

New Questions: From Margaret Moore of Kalama, WA. "Do you or your readers know anything about inverters and solar panels. I think the inverter will be a must for the computer, but Terry thinks we will need a solar panel for the coach batteries. Would like to hear from someone who has these."

From Barb. Inverters convert energy from DC to AC, but you have to have batteries to store the energy and something to charge them. Solar does a good job so you really need both. I love using the inverter since I hate the noise of the generator, but I cannot run my computer as is (plugged into a battery back-up) with the inverter. Someone suggested that I disconnect the battery back-up when trying to use the computer from the inverter. I may try that if I get desperate.

Elaine & Bud Hamm of Englewood, Colorado have a question on dinghy towing. "We too bought a new home. A �97 Bounder model J with the 1997 Chevy chassis---Vortec engine.... We are discussing the dinghy and have gone back and forth between vehicles. We�ve read a lot but would like some suggestions based on experience. We�re worried the Jeep Sport is too heavy and the Saturn Coop won�t be rough enough---Saturn has a hatchback but haven�t heard anything about it. We�re also interested in suggestions on tow bars."

Good advice comes to us from Don & Kay Nation, F-T from New Mexico. "I had to replace our hot water heater as it was leaking just below the drain plug.... the man that replaced it...gave me the following procedure which he says should be followed at least yearly unless you spend a lot of time in the southwest or have well water (high mineral content). Under those conditions it should be done no less than every three months. We did this procedure when we emptied the tank after two months and you should have seen the big pieces of stuff that came shooting out. It looked like hunks of rubber roof caulking!!!! Here is the procedure.

1. Turn off all hot water tank heaters.

2. Open at least one hot water faucet and let it run until comfortable to touch.

3. Shut off outside water supply.

4. Close all faucets.

5. Remove drain plug.

6. As water is draining turn on outside water supply.

7. Stand to one side and open pressure relief valve.

8. When tank quits draining shut off outside water supply.

9. Before replacing drain plug wrap the drain plug threads with Teflon tape.

10. Turn on outside water supply.

Warning: do not turn on any heaters until water tank has refilled.

Note from Barb: Look for good places to eat mixed in the travel story.

Heard good reports about seminars

We have heard many good reports about your Lazydays Seminars and know you must have met many interesting travelers.... To Ron: I have had the proprietor of an RV painting company and several other knowledgeable people tell me that you should never use wax on a motorhome which has coats of Clearcoat covering the paint. They say the wax has small granules in it which put minute scratches in the Clearcoat. Your coach appeared to be clearcoated when I saw it. No, Ron, they don�t recommend you ignore the exterior of the coach. They say to use a polish (which contains no wax) instead of the wax. By the way, we thought your "dream" was gorgeous; we have been in many Dreams and thought your interior was one of the best... Although you comment that you want to go to Alaska, I am betting you won�t be taking that beautiful new Dream to Alaska anytime soon. Will you prove me wrong?....

Bob Wilcox & Barbara Hallsteine
Full-timers from Florida

Bob & Barb

That is a safe bet. We have always said (even with the Bounder) that when we go to Alaska we would buy a small Class C or pick-up camper just for the trip then sell it after.

Recommend the RV Rating Book

Found your "quiet" comment on the lack of load capacity on the new Bounders interesting. The subject is just beginning to get more adequate attention. Sure recommend the RV Rating Book put out by the RV Consumer Group... Lots of good information including a few shockers. We didn�t have such information available when we ordered our 31' Aerbus in April 1995, but my experience as an engineer and auto-hobbyist helped us to understand load capacity and the need for a longer wheelbase for stability. As with any basement model, we still have to watch what we carry since there is plenty of room to overload if you fill the compartments.

One of the things that prospective full-timers need to realize is that perfect health is not necessary. Good health care is available out there and you can go back to your old home town for surgery etc., if you choose. Flo has fibromgalgia syndrome and rheumatoid arthritis and has had both knees replaced.... I have congestive heart failure and osteoarthritis.... take lots of medication and do okay. Blood tests every 2-4 weeks are done wherever we are, faxed to my doctor at former home base in Oregon. His office leaves messages on dosage changes etc., with our daughter or on our message service....

Tom & Flo Edwards
Full-timers from Oregon

Bounders have changed

I think the real reason you guys decided to head for California so quickly was Ron was probably dying to get that big diesel out on the highway and cruise. I was looking at the specs for the Dream in my Woodall�s Buyers Guide and drooling over the 150 gallon fuel tank. A fuel economy report compared to the Bounder is definitely needed.

I also understand your reasons for not buying another Bounder. I don�t think we would get another one either unless they do something about carrying capacity, not to mention the undersized gray water tank. The styling of the 97's is disappointing (a virtually unanimous verdict of all the Lone Star Bounder folks at the Eureka Springs rally last October). They look extremely generic now and I think that is too bad. Complaints of poor build quality with 96 and 97 models are also rising. Our 94 has been so good to us that Bonnie and I intend to keep it quite a while. I am not sure what Fleetwood is doing, but generic styling, deteriorating quality, reduced storage space and less payload sure isn�t what we are looking for. What good is a slideout equipped widebody motorhome when you get significantly less storage space and carrying capacity than a corresponding non-slideout standard width rig?

Alan & Bonnie King
Milford, Michigan

Bigger is not necessarily better

... We are really upset about what Fleetwood has done with the Bounder. It seems they are doing nothing but lessening the payload. As full-timers we are very conscious of weight and yet we need to carry much more than vacationers. Bigger is not necessarily better. When will manufacturers ever learn? I will admit, though, that going into our fifth year on the road there are more things I can live without. Now if I could only cut down on the amount of food I stuff into the pantry... I have a real horror of not having what I need when inspiration strikes, whether it is for cooking or crafts. We have about decided to just keep improving our 92---34J [Bounder] until it won�t take it any more. We put in new carpet last year and vinyl in the bathroom. I am planning to make new draperies this winter and sometime we will replace the drop shades with something less lint producing. I really enjoy your newsletter and your common sense ideas about our mutually chosen lifestyle. Just keep Movin� On.

Jackie Smith & Joe Hartzler
Full-timers from ???

Finally a sighting of sorts

...We think there�s a wonderful message in your current "Interstate Race" for the west coast; it�s just another example of the freedom full-timing brings when such a decision can be made nearly instantly and acted upon without great difficulty or expense. Good for you! (We�re now extra sorry, however, that we can�t get away for the Chico Escapade.)

Visited Barb�s son�s web site just to say hello, and checked out your web page ad---it�s great! Also told a couple in California with whom we occasionally share e-mails on full-timing, and who�d read your book, to immediately subscribe to Movin� On. (Keep trying to sell the book, but everyone�s read it already!) Will now tell them to not miss your presentation at the Escapade. They can do a stand-in for us.

Finally, a sighting (of sorts). We took my parents (who RV�d for years, but no longer do) to the spring RV show last month. Mother and I were sitting in the cockpit of a new Bounder, and I said, "When Ron & Barb had their Bounder, this is where they set up the computer." A woman behind us immediately perked up and said, "Excuse me for interrupting, but are you talking about the Hofmeisters?" It led to a lively chat, of course, with introductions all around, discussions of each other�s RVing and full-timing considerations, and laments that none of us had yet spied a MO sticker, but we�re always on the lookout---etc., etc. Unfortunately, I wrote down their names, but could not find the paper when I got home, but if anyone else writes of this brief serendipity, you can match us up!

Pamela & Fred Handy
Denver, Colorado

Trying to absorb the wonders

... [we are learning] that we can�t go rushing around... to see the next view around the corner... we can�t go everywhere and see everything. I must try harder to live in today and enjoy it and not always be panting after something not yet in sight.... Another thing that has to be learned is that we can�t take things in in a glance, over night or even over the weekend. We need to wake up in it, go to bed with the influence for days and days to feel it, to take it in so that it sticks...

Robin & Victoria Jenkenson
Full-timers from France

Love the mail and message service

... We started our full-timing adventure the end of August and so far haven�t collided too much in our 33' Travel supreme 5th wheel.... In Jan., we headed south... for a visit to Rainbows End during the horrendous ice storm. We even got recruited to help out in the mailroom so we really saw how things worked. Since then we signed up for the SKP�s mail and message service and love both...

We now send out a newsletter of our travels to family and friends and they love it. Our computer is going daily for the many programs we use. It seems we almost need to have a sign-up sheet to use it....

Mary Lou and Ralph Feldt
Full-timers from Michigan

Ready to go

... I have exciting news. Everything is falling into place, which should allow us to hit the open road by January �98. Gordy has recovered from his nine months of chemo and radiation and is looking and feeling great....

I am still attending Olympic College and should graduate in December �97... I hope to use all this learnin to help me get temporary jobs through Manpower or Kelly Services as we travel... I want to thank you for all the help you have given us in the planning of this adventure of a lifetime. I have read your book...several times and never tire of it. It seems I learn something new with each new read. By the way, I want you to know I used your book extensively researching my final. I am giving a PowerPoint Presentation to the entire class on "Temporary Jobs and Workamping across the U.S."

I did want to add my two cents worth to a topic you covered a few months ago. Until we got a 5th wheel I had never driven anything bigger than a VW Bug. What can I say? I am a child of the 60's. Anyway, I wanted to do my share of the driving and learning how to hook-up, back-up and unhook and know how to connect and disconnect everything. Well, the driving part was easy, I had a very calm husband... who guided me through the process of learning. The only way to learn to drive is to simply get out there and do it. My problems start with anything mechanical. I simply do not have a logical, mechanical mind. So I followed my husband around and literally wrote down every move he made in the process of whatever I was trying to learn. I then put this step-by-step list into the computer, printed it out, had it laminated and now I use it as a check list, just like a pilot does in a pre-flight check. Once my flaps are down, I�m ready for take off. (Smile) Hope this helps someone out there struggling to learn.

Linda & Gordy Sloan
Bremerton, Washington

Will be volunteering this summer

...To augment our funds for a planned trip to Alaska next summer, we�re going to Workamp this summer. We will be tour bus drivers at Mesa Verde National Park in Mancos, CO.... Being computer nuts, we checked out the network and discovered you can download job applications for National Parks via the web. We searched for Workamper News and accessed Cool Works through it�s main page. Then we downloaded the applications and enlisted the help of our club affiliation Wagon Masters as references about the rallies we have hosted over the past few years. We heard from every national park we solicited for jobs and a few of the many private parks, who are looking for folks just like us.

Bob & Gwen Bills
Full-timers from Florida (I think)

Don�t need all the "stuff"

My husband and I have read your book... and found it to be the best book on RV lifestyle that we have read so far. We are still doing our homework... and hope to buy our first Class A by the end of April .... We really loved your book because you told us your personal story and we felt as if we were old friends when we finished it... Our plans are to go part time... until we know for sure we want to give up our home.... [Bill] has suffered two heart attacks and has had five by-passes. He still has some blockages that may require more surgery.... The plans for our new life have been what has kept us going these many months (since July� 96). Reading about you two and your wonderful life has given us courage to go after this, and make the most of what years we have left together.... I told Bill that the only thing of importance to me in this house was him. We could get rid of all this "stuff" and just as long as I have him I will be a happy woman.

Anne & Bill Travis
Murfreesboro, Tennessee

by Barb
Correction: Last month I reported on the American Travel Exchange but listed the wrong e-mail address for them. It should be 103077.464@CompuServe.com

There were so many good letters this month that I could have done a whole newsletter just on them. And there were many more questions and answers for Coffee Break than we had room for. I have saved some for next month, but I fear that this will only compound the problem.

Speaking of the Coffee Break column, last month someone asked how easy it is to get on-line from the
campgrounds. No one answered, but an article in the recent Computer Trails newsletter dealt with that very subject. And I just attended a session about getting on-line at the FMCA Convention in Pomona. From all evidence it is not easy to find campgrounds with phone hook-ups. Most who want to get on-line are regulated to asking campground owners if they can plug into their phone lines. There are guidelines such as---make sure you call a local number, don�t sit and surf the net---download your messages and get out, but I can just see this being abused by some and soon no one will be allowed the privilege. Cell phones seem to be the answer and we are looking into it. In the near future I hope to have a better picture of this whole topic and even be on line too.

When we left Gary and Mary Ellen Mencimer at Stone Mountain Park, it was tough to say good-bye. After all, we had been within shouting distance since September of �96 when we left the Fall Escapade. We camped together in Madison, Indiana, four different places in Florida, then Georgia. It was really nice always having our neighbors near---now we are so far away, but have plans to hook up again in May in Denver.

Texas telephones are terrible especially any where around Dallas. A law was passed a little while ago that allows these little phone companies to charge 25 cents for an 800 number phone call. I don�t object to that so much, but when we use our 800 access code to get to our calling card, make a phone call and don�t get an answer or get a busy signal, we are still charged for the call. As far as the company is concerned we got connected (to our long distance service). That is totally unfair. I put $1.50 in trying to get through to a number which was busy. We noticed this same problem last spring and I should have started a campaign about it then. If we all wrote to the Texas legislature, we might get some relief.

A sharp contrast to Texas is that a local phone call in Arkansas is only one thin dime. Wow!

Here�s a new idea. When we met up with readers Tom & Nan Hanna, Nan was excited to share her method of storing her past issues of Movin� On. They are all stored in a large loose leaf notebook. She also has a rather large black and white copy of a United States map and uses a highlighter to mark areas of the U.S. we have been with notes as to which issue details our visit to the area.

We really had a good time at the FMCA Convention. I especially enjoyed the convection cooking seminar. I had forced myself to use the convection oven even before the convention, but now that I know more, I love it. I doubt if I will ever use my regular oven anymore (unless I want to cook a bigger turkey than will fit in the convection oven. So far I have baked cookies (even while rolling down the road), pies, cakes, salmon patties, fish and meats. All were very good. I like it a lot!

No one can possibly imagine what a national FMCA convention is like until you�ve been to one. There were over 1,000 coaches on display, many good seminars, craft classes and lots of sociability. We got to meet more readers and found some old friends too. The three nights of entertainment were also terrific.

I finally found the motorhome of my dreams---well kind of. A private party was converting a 1979, 40 foot, doubledecker bus into a motorhome. The downstairs wasn�t totally finished, but the upstairs was. To the rear and the width of the bus was a full bath with a sunken Jacuzzi tub. The bed ran crosswise with the head at the curb side. Now here is the best part---there was an office the width of the coach at the front. It was complete with door, U shaped desk, office swivel chair and a wonderful window which looked out over the front of the coach. As soon as I saw that office, I said that it was for me. There were file cabinets and everything one would want. The price was around $250,000 but the real kicker was it was 14 feet tall. We�ve been in a lot of campgrounds where that would be a problem.

There were some neat new products on display at the convention. One that caught our attention was an awning that doesn�t have arms on the side and goes in automatically if it gets real windy. Since it doesn�t have arms, though the wind doesn�t really bother this one.

Don�t forget to check the bulletin board at the Escapade for the time and place of the Movin� On get together.

Pets on the Road

Bob & Gwen Bills do a terrific newsletter of interest to RVers who choose to travel with pets. Now you might think that there is not a whole lot to say about cats, dogs, and birds, but honest it doesn�t end there. For example, the lead story in the Dec/Jan issue is about a couple who travel with pet turtles.

There�s an article about pet insurance and cute stories about different pets. In this particular issue is an article about choosing the right pet ID.

I am impressed with the look and content of the newsletter. It is nicely done in color with plenty of graphics.

A one year subscription is only $9.50 ( U.S. currency). For that you will get six, eight page, issues.

To subscribe or for information write to:
Editor's note 2005. I left the address off thinking that perhaps they were out of business.

My Brother's Beans recipe first debuted in this issue. I have linked it to the
recipe section where all of our newsletter recipes are posted.
Copyright © 2005, Movin' On with Ron & BarbTM- All Rights Reserved 

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