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volume 7                      January 1996                   number 1
INSIDE
Texas
•  Potpourri 
•  A Look at Finances
•  Good Places to Eat
•  Coffee Break
•  An Alaskan Adventure
•  Letters, Letters, Letter
•  This 'N That
•  Mal Pita---A Fun Dice Game
•  1995 in Review
•  Carrots Au Gratin

Coming in February: The conclusion of An Alaskan Adventure by Bette Salter. What started out on a ferry ends only after a drive to the Arctic Circle and back.


Ron & Barb at the Christmas dance.
Several of you have written wondering what Christmas is like without family and home and also asked if we could give a picture of what Christmas is like for full-timers.

It doesn't matter where the full-timer intends to spend the winter; plans can be made to fly or drive back to the former hometown for the holidays. Here at Outdoor Resorts many have done just that. Others have made arrangements for family to come done here. And another bunch celebrates with the extended family---other full-timers and/or Winter Texans. 

Last year we did fly back to Michigan to be with family at Christmas and it was fun, but we really like our home and new traditions. Here is what we do now. 

Decorating the motorhome only takes a little while. The tree is up and lit in no time. I choose to buy store-bought cookies instead of baking (I did make some fudge this year in a moment of weakness), and we do little shopping. We don't buy each other presents because we really don't need anything; we treat ourselves to events rather than things. Now you might think this is very bleak, but really it isn't. We play euchre with the euchre group two nights a week and as Christmas approached we all realized how nice it was to be so relaxed that we could enjoy good friends at this time. How many with families have time during the holidays to play cards twice a week and right up to Christmas Day?


Our little Christmas tree*****Ron opening his gift from his daughter Marty

There were two festive dances here in December and a fun Christmas program which we attended. We dressed up for the dances and the Christmas program was kind of like the school Christmas programs we all remember; there were skits, songs, choirs and such. There were a couple of parades here; a lighted boat parade and a lighted golf cart parade---what fun! Christmas Eve we met with some of the euchre group at Mary and Charlie's place. We enjoyed a great pot-luck and fellowship before church and returned after for more good times; we even learned a new game.


The wives at Mary and Charlie's Christmas Eve party. The guys were in the other room.

Christmas Day was very relaxing. After a leisure start, good friends Don and Kay Slattery joined us for dinner at the beautiful Radison Hotel on South Padre Island. Their Christmas buffet was extraordinary and yes, we ate way too much; don't we all? After dinner we went to the movies and saw the funniest movie we have seen in ages. If you get a chance to see Grumpier Old Men do it. It was fun to laugh and we did a lot of it. We laughed so hard it hurt. Since laughter helps digestion we felt better at the end of the movie. 

We were going to attend the New Year's Eve dance in the ballroom; but, we decided that we like our quiet New Year's evenings alone. I'll fix a nice candlelight dinner and we will reflect on our year and count our many blessings.

The whole month of December was festive, yet relaxing. Of course if you are from the north and Christmas lights excite you only when they reflect off new fallen snow, you might have been disappointed with brightly lit palm trees. 

We fondly remember Christmases especially when the children were young. I remember the fun and I remember being totally exhausted when Christmas finally arrived. Now Christmas is relaxed and we have time to enjoy friends and the spirit of the holidays. We hope yours was special
too. 


Potpourri

by Ron
I'm still in shock after the thrashing that the Detroit Lions took in Philadelphia. Isn't that supposed to be the city of brotherly love?

Our long time readers will remember when I predicted that Barb would try to be another USA Today as the newsletter developed. Witness this issue's 14 pages. Case closed.

Fishers of Men Lutheran Church (isn't that a great name for this area?) has been a real blessing to us. It's only a few  blocks away and we enjoy going to church with our park neighbors.

I hope our good friends, Jim and Norma Neve appreciate all the restaurant exploring (dining) we have done in anticipation of their coming visit. We want to be sure that we take them to the right places. It's a tough life.

With all the technical advances in RV's you would think that they could make one where black streaks didn't drift down from the roof. Our Bounder hasn't moved in two months and it's dirty again. Washing it will interfere with my fishing.

There ought to be a law against cooking bacon in a campground. There are two areas on my morning walk where I encounter that delightful aroma. Like all good things, bacon is a no-no.

I appreciate the propane truck going by our site every day. Those of you who have struggled getting a big motorhome into a propane outlet while traveling will under stand that.


Faithful reader Clint Meeks called last month inquiring whether full-timing costs have increased much since we began this adventure and since we wrote the book. We updated the book when last printed, but found that very little had changed. The updates related mainly to our personal budget because our lifestyle has changed due to publication needs. Often we are required to be near large cities on short notice and that adds noticeably to our campground and fuel costs. And we have not been able to do any volunteering. As many of you have discovered, costs are affected by the two L's---lifestyle and location. 

Unlike those living in a house, full-timers have control over the budget crunchers. Some campgrounds have increased their prices, but that can be controlled by getting weekly or monthly rates, boondocking (dry camping), volunteering, using low-cost public parks, and avoiding the high tourist areas (that's why our house has wheels). Likewise, increased fuel costs can be compensated for by staying longer and traveling less. Food costs are easily con trolled because we follow the sun and take advantage of produce bargains that are always available. Try that in Michigan in January.

There's no doubt that RV's have increased in price, but so has your trade-in. As always good shoppers still come up with great bargains. Dealerships are now used to telephone comparison shopping and that can save a lot of time and money. 

Another major expense is health insurance and we discussed that in a previous newsletter. We didn't have a good solution then and still don't. Many of our readers opt for high deductibles when they have to bear the cost and look forward to being 65 (that's a switch). As medical advances increase, so do the overall costs. 

After all this conversation, Clint, we would summarize our seven year full-time budget experience as follows: Fixed costs such as vehicle and health insurance have increased more than the cost- of-living index. But we would have these costs if we were not full-timing. Other major costs have increased marginally, but are easily controlled. Full-timing is still a very affordable lifestyle.


Good Places to Eat
(Remember that this report was written many years ago and the restaurants may or may not be in business or as they were.)
South Padre Island, Texas

Joseph's Restaurant & Bar, 210 S Padre Blvd. This place is a must if you like the very best in ambiance, food and service. This elegant restaurant is not very well advertised but gets plenty of business because of word-of-mouth. The special prices for early dining make this wonderful place more affordable. Ron had Mahi Mahi which he said was suburb and Barb had Shrimp & Scallops Al Pesto which was also very good. Everything from the crisp salad to the turtle pie was out of this world.

Rovan's Restaurant, Bakery & BBQ, 5300 Padre Blvd. This casual, friendly place serves good food every day except Tuesday (6 a.m. to 6 p.m). Breakfasts are very hearty and are served all day long, but their claim to fame is probably their BBQ. Besides good food, the atmosphere is festive; a model train runs constantly on a track near the ceiling in one of the rooms and a player piano plays cheerily in another.

Amberjacks Bayside Bar & Grill, 209 W Amberjack St. What a treat this place was. We went there for our anniversary because it was one of the major restaurants we hadn't tried yet. Very nice! Especially enjoyed our appetizer of Rasta Shrimp which earned them first prize in the World Competition. This is fresh gulf shrimp sautéed and topped with a Caribbean Curry sauce. Yummy! Ron's large portion of Blackened Tuna was very, very good. Barb chose Shrimp & Pasta Diane and enjoyed this spicy creation. The salads were divine, portions extra large, service excellent and the prices were moderate. You'll love all the brightly colored fish hanging from the ceiling and the view of the bay.


Take a break. Get a cup of coffee and let's chat.
Ted & Bette Whippie, full-timers from Connecticut have lots of comments to help you folks out. 

5th Wheel vs Motorhome:"...we have lived eight years in our 29' Travel Villa 5th wheel and have not been able to find anything we like any better.... With ours we have been able to camp in all campgrounds... that have sites 21-22 feet or over. I would not want anything longer because it would restrict us from the primitive campgrounds. I like our home being separate from our transportation for many reasons, the major one being that the truck can receive minor or major repairs and we can keep our home in the RV park. Also there is much more flexibility in trading when that becomes necessary."

Max length for campgrounds: "We have seen 5th wheels up to 35 feet in most public campgrounds except for national forests..." 

Gas or diesel: "...One thing for sure, if you are going to pay the price for diesel, you better plan on driving it for many thousands of miles to come out even! I personally like diesel and now have over 200,000 miles on my Ford. If I were to trade, I'd stay with Ford, the new modifications to that engine make it a real workhorse. However, it is true that Cummins produces a lot of torque because of the long stroke you can get from a straight engine."

ATM's: "We have found that USAA in San Antonio, Texas, is the best you can get; all transactions electronically or by mail, a check and cash card that does not charge for withdrawals anywhere and real friendly people. It really is the number one bank in the country. Their phone number is 1-800-*** ****  I believe you can open an account over the phone."

Message service:"One question the Bowers did not ask that I will answer anyway is message service. We use the Discover Card message service and for eight dollars a year it can not be beat. Call 1-800-***-**** for details"

Here's another vote for 5th wheel trailers from Jerry Clark of Stoughton, Wisconsin."...We started out by tenting then graduated to a pull behind 23' trailer (what a nice change). A couple of years [later]...I started our business and the time never allowed for anymore camping so we sold the trailer; that was 1978... [In] 1984 we bought a used Winnebago Class A motorhome. We kept it two years before we sold it. Neither of us liked it very much. Marge did not like the feeling of riding so high in the seat; she felt as if the unit was going to tip over all the time. I did not like it because we were always in our home....In 1990 we bought a 1985 Jayco 5th wheel...we both really liked [it]...was easy to pull, easy to backup, quick to set up and take down, had lots of storage, etc. In 1994 we purchased a new Dodge with a Cummins and a 34' Damon Escaper 5th wheel and just love it. In the last two years we have put on over 20,000 miles traveling...."

And here is one more for the motorhomes from Bette Salter, full-timer from Dallas, Texas. "Re: Karen Fleckenstein's comments on  motorhomes vs. fifth wheels, I agree with everything she said, and would like to add one comment. We have also had both kinds of RV's and soon discovered that neither of us enjoyed having a pick-up as our only means of transportation. A pick-up just does not provide as comfortable a ride as a car. Most fifth-wheel owners will disagree with me; but, we had occasion to borrow a friend's large pick-up last weekend (to haul some bulky items) and were reminded of how much more comfortable a ride our Bounder provides. So, for someone trying to make a choice between the two types and not already pick-up owners, they may want to give this serious consideration."

Barb jumps in. There is no end to this you know! This is the last comment I will print on this subject since we have done two each (see Dec. 1995  for the first comment on motorhomes). You choose whichever suits your fancy.

More from Bette Re: The Halvorson's problem with getting allergy shots on the road. "I felt I should relate an incident that happened to a friend of ours who takes shots on a continuing basis for his allergy to insect bites. His wife was taught how to give them and normally does so; but, last fall he and another man took off in their motorhome for a two week trip to Hershey, PA. He would need a shot during that time so he took everything with him, including serum, needle, and all documentation. The hospital wouldn't help him at all, claiming insurance problems and fear of law suits. He even begged them to call his personal physician, to no avail. If he missed a shot he would have to begin the whole series again. Finally, he asked around the campground until he found a diabetic who was willing to give him his shot. The moral to this story is learn to give your own shots before leaving home."

Barb Comments: After all the clinics and doctors we have visited on the road, I find the above the exception to the rule. In fact I immediately called the clinic here pretending to need an allergy shot. I explained that I was traveling through, needed my allergy shot, had the serum and medical records with me and asked if it would be a problem. All she said was that they prefer that I make an appointment rather than just drop in. She asked me what day I needed to get the shot and started to make the appointment. I fibbed and said I would call back later. But really, it shouldn't be a problem. If the first place you call gives you a problem, call another. And carry all medical records not just shot history. I do agree with Bette though; allergy shots are easy to give and one should learn to do it for him/herself. Besides it would save having to pay a professional.

From Bill & Nancy Gallaher of Riverside, California comes a new question. "My wife and I are about to start full-timing with our six year old daughter, Chrystal. In considering a tow vehicle three things were of primary importance: 1) the ability to reach remote campsites, 2) reliability, 3) room in the tow vehicle for Chrystal. We decided on a Toyota land Cruiser (5,000 lb tow rating). We were willing to give up the ability to tow larger trailers to get the above three things. We are currently looking for a trailer that has a dry weight of around 4,000 lbs. Two questions to your readers: Anyone ever done this i.e., 1) traveled with kids and 2) had experience with a smaller trailer that is well designed for full-timers?"

Here's a question about cellular vs CB's from Betty Weaver of Tigard, Oregon. "I can't remember if you have written...on what you think about cellular phones. I've been told that traveling long distance they are not reliable in case of emergency be cause sometimes you are out of range. Should I have a CB in case of emergency?"

Barb responds. Absolutely---especially since you travel alone. We do hear lots of complaints about cellular; most complaints are about range and cost.

Loyal readers, Ellie & Bob Henderson, full-timers from San Diego, California have some great information on ceramic heaters. "We thought we solved our heating problems when we replaced our forced air heater (which ran down our batteries) with the ceramic heater. And all last winter it did a terrific job of keeping the rig cozy on those nippy desert mornings and evenings. But when we got some cold weather up in the Rockies last summer we found out that our heater didn't function well over 6,000' elevation. (Gosh does every facet of full-timing have a pro and a con?) And since most of the campgrounds in the Rockies are 8,000' plus, we spent a few chilly days bundled up during bad weather. The problem is the oxygen depletion sensor on the heater that shuts the heater off if you forget to open a window for ventilation. In the rarified air of the Rockies the sensor just kept turning the heater off. We tried opening the windows wider, but unless we had a regular gale blowing through the rig, the heater would only stay lit about five minutes. Rats! Still and all, we spend much more of our cold weather time below 6,000' so we're still glad we have the new heater (see Vol 6, No 1, Feb 1995—pg 6—Camping in the desert)"

Pamela (& Fred) Handy of Denver, Colorado wonder about fire ants in Texas."Rumors are running rampant in California about the fire ant problem in Texas. Next issue, can you comment one way or the other?"

Barb comments. We've been in west and south Texas a long time and haven't encountered any. We remember them being a problem at the LBJ ranch, but we were in that area recently and didn't see any.

Margaret & Terry Moore of Kalama, Washington have some questions about Coast to Coast. "Are there added benefits at your home campground as to length of stay? How on earth does one choose one without taking a year to tour them all? Would like to make a decision then watch for a good buy. Also when you see an area with lots of memberships for sale does that indicate it may be getting too crowded (e.g.Laughlin)? If one is traveling a good share of the time what difference does it make? Is that because you have to spend some time in that state because of residency?"

Barb & Ron Answer. In most cases you can stay at your home park for two to four weeks at a time then you need to be out for a week or so before you return. We chose a home park based on one we liked in our old stomping grounds. If we had to do it over, we probably would just pick one based on price; we may never ever go there, but we would get the CCC benefits and that is what we want. When you see a resort with lots of memberships for sale, it more than likely means that there is a lot of dissatisfaction with the management or the area. Sometimes it means lots of high pressure was used in selling too. We know of no instance where you have to stay some time because of residency at least in regards to CCC. Many full-timers have CCC memberships to resorts they have never visited.  Please see the note in This 'n That regarding a special Coffee Break offer.


2003 Editor's note: The pictures used in the story as it originally were Bette's and they were returned to her. I have scanned the pictures from my copy of the newsletter and apologize for the quality.

Since we are not traveling right now, we thought this was a good time to present this great two-part travel report about Alaska. Bette Salter does a wonderful job of allowing us to experience their adventure and we really appreciate the fact that she took the time to write for us. You might remember that Bette was a major help to us when we were preparing the revised edition of our book. 


Bette and Clyde wading in the Arctic Ocean
Prince Rupert—May 19, 1995

Finally the day arrived. Our three years of planning for our Alaska trip is coming to fruition. We decided to take the Alaska ferry in May, boarding at Prince Rupert, B.C. and disembarking three weeks later at Skagway, Alaska, to experience the Inside Passage. We will drive back to the states over the Alaska Highway this fall. Preparations included an extensive check-up for our 34' Bounder at Junction City, Oregon, and extra tires, hoses, and belts purchased to meet possible emergencies. We also bought a one gallon distiller from Sears as we have heard that the water varies in quality.

Our jumping-off point was Birch Bay, Washington, and we crossed the border at Sumas, without incident. It took four days to reach our destination (over 900 miles) and each evening we stayed in a very nice campground with full hook-ups that averaged $15.50 Canadian ($11.60 U.S.) per night. The weather was usually cooperative; it ranged from the low 40's at night to upper 50's during the day and was mostly cloudy with occasional rain. Our route on Highway 1 offered a beautiful drive along the Fraser River valley. A stop at Hells' Gate, where the steep canyon walls constrict the river to a narrow opening, is a must. We enjoyed excellent driving conditions the entire trip; the two-lane highways have frequent passing lanes and pull-outs for viewing scenery and rest stops.


Salter's  debarking  ferry at Skagway

We traveled 290 miles and spent the first night at Fir Crest Resort, situated on the shore of clear, blue, Lake Le Hatch. The next day we traveled 223 miles to Lakeside Resort, about 40 miles west of Prince George on Hwy 16, which we followed on to Prince Rupert. This was another nice campground; but it was windy and we experienced our first mosquitos. Highway 16, The Yellowhead, is in good condition and became increasingly more picturesque as we traveled toward Prince Rupert.

Even though we had allowed ourselves a week to reach the ferry, we were so eager that we traveled every day for four days. We passed through Smithers, a darling ski town, and skipped the 37 mile trip north of Vanderhoof to visit Fort St. James, a hudson Bay fur trading post which has been restored to its 1896 authenticity. This decision was based on the fact that, although it was open, we were too early for the living history program which takes place in July and August. In fact, we discovered we were much too early for a number of opportunities which are available later in the summer. We were passing through prime fishing country; but not until July, and we missed the KSAN Indian dancers when we spent the third night at the KSAN Campground in Hazelton on the banks of the Skeena river. A jewel, it is situated on an Indian reservation, within walking distance of their tiny village, and completely surrounded by beautiful snow-capped mountains. But, the river, which we were told is bright green in the summer and a prime fishing river, was brown, angry in its swiftness, and nearly at flood stage this time of year. We followed it all the way to Prince Rupert and could only imagine its summertime beauty silhouetted against the backdrop of huge mountains while bears fish along its banks during the fall salmon run.

There are advantages to traveling in mid-May, however. They include very little traffic, almost empty campgrounds, and snow covered mountain peaks that became increasingly more beautiful as we neared the coast. The Skeena River also becomes larger and larger until it resembles a huge lake more than a river emptying into the ocean near Prince Rupert. 

Finally, our destination came into view. Prince Rupert is a lovely town, great for walking, hiking trails, and a delightful pub called the Breakers, which serves excellent food with a picture-perfect view of the harbor. The only campground, Park Avenue RV Park, is very nice, reasonably priced, and situated only ½ mile from the ferry terminal. Everyone is waiting for a ferry and very friendly; but, the size of our motorhome plus car is overwhelming compared to most rigs here in the park which are small Class C's, pick-ups with slide-ins, or small trailers. 

Ketchican---May 23 We had no trouble with the large motorhome on the ferry. In fact, a Dynasty, parked next to us, and a huge Travel  Supreme fifth wheel were much larger. First leg of our ferry trip was flawless and so far, weather is wonderful!! 

June 23
Our experience on the Alaska Marine Ferry was all that we had hoped it would be. We loaded and unloaded our 34' Bounder motorhome and detached Toyota seven times from the first embarkation at Prince Rupert on May 22 until we debarked the last time at Skagway on June 16. In spite of some boarding times during the wee hours of the morning the ferry personnel were always patient, helpful, and courteous. Notice that I said our car was detached. Very important! Three times Clyde had to back the motorhome onto the ferry, and the other four times he had to back up and turn around inside the ferry before driving off. This is common practice with the larger rigs, including those pulling trailers and fifth wheels. We never saw anyone board with a car on a tow dolly, but I understand it is done infrequently. I can't imagine how! As time went on we got to know the people loading us, and they began to recognize our RV because we only traveled on two ferries. I asked if they ever had to drive someone's unit for them, and they said they did, so they are prepared to cope with all situations. They can also adjust the ramp when the tide is low to handle vehicles like ours with long overhang (tides can range from 14-25' between high and low.)

The first question everyone asks us is: "How much did that trip cost?" We paid $1,900, which included point-to-point fares for each stop, as opposed to a thru fare, and outside staterooms on three legs of the journey when we were getting on at odd hours for extended periods of time. It can be done cheaper, but not much for a rig the length of ours. For more information about fares and schedules call 1-800-*** ****. Ask them to mail you a schedule to plan your own trip; or they will do all the scheduling for you by phone. Reservations are a MUST, and as early as possible.

Our first stop was Ketchikan where we spent three nights. This area is best known for its totem poles which can be viewed at Saxman and Totem Bright State Parks. Also, eagles are as common here as sparrows are in Texas and can be enjoyed everywhere along the Inside Passage. Ketchikan plays host to numerous cruise ships so tourist attractions abound near the wharf. Creek Street is a delightfully restored former redlight district which now houses many shops and cafes. It lies along the banks of a river that enjoys a significant salmon run in July. Visitors can stand on the bridge and watch them swim upstream. However, only one RV park in the area has hook-ups. Clover Pass, about 14 miles from town, costs $20 per night and is primarily a fishing camp. Four miles further is a state campground, Settler's Cove; and only seven miles from town lies a U.S. Forest campground. Neither has hook-ups, but both are in lovely settings, and each has a few spaces to accommodate larger rigs.

It is interesting to note how these towns are geared to the cruise ships. Like a flower, they open up and blossom when a ship is in port, and when it leaves they fold up until the next ship's arrival. But, there are other things to do besides museums, eating and shopping. Hiking trails in every town beckon to the more athletically inclined, and fishing in the lakes, rivers and by charter, is very popular.

We purchased an Alaska State Park annual pass for $100. It provides unlimited use of all state parks at no additional charge. There are no hook-ups, and most spaces are for much smaller vehicles, but, so far we have found space for our RV whenever we wanted it.

We were blessed with beautiful sunshine and clear skies in Ketchikan, surprising since they measure their rainfall in feet rather than inches, but rain caught up with us in Petersburg. We were there during the annual salmon derby and enjoyed watching the entrants bring in their catches to be weighed (two 45.6 pound fish tied for first place); but, we endured three days of almost solid precipitation in minimal quality RV parks. Petersburg is a Norwegian town, and enjoys a very prosperous fishing economy, but no cruise ships stop there, so it is  pretty quiet. We were glad to move on to Sitka.


Chena River                ****                  Mt McKinley
Sitka was the Russian capital of Alaska until the U.S. purchased it in 1869. It is off the beaten path and difficult to reach. When we got off the ferry we had to wait five days for another one to come along. Most people don't bother; but, we felt Sitka was well worth the trouble. It is situated in a lovely harbor surrounded by snow-capped mountains and has much to offer the tourists. This is a cruise ship stop. Russian folk dancers, an excellent museum, a Russian Orthodox church, and a raptor rehabilitation center (where eagles and owls are nursed back to health) are just a few of the many things to do here. Also, James A. Michener lived in a tiny cottage in town while he was writing his book, Alaska, in 1986. Hiking trails abound and salt water fishing is very popular. Clyde went out on a half-day charter and caught a 25 pound king salmon. We stayed at Sealing Cove, a city-run parking lot with water and power hook-ups for $16 per night. It has just been raised from $10 because a local RV park complained to the city council that they couldn't compete. A U.S Forestry campground is also available outside of town, but the city park is so well located at a small boat harbor and within walking distance to town, that it is worth the cost. Even though it rained off and on while we were there, Sitka was our favorite stop.

From there we went to Juneau for five days and thoroughly enjoyed our visit. The weather was so beautiful that people began to complain of the heat when it rose into the upper 70's one day (40's and 50's are normal). We spent three days in the parking lot of the Juneau Yacht Club for free. The only requirement was a permit from the harbor master's office. We also spent two nights at the Mendenhall Lake U. S. Forest Service Campground for $8 per night. Hiking is very popular around the glacier, and the city offers many attractions, including the Red Dog Saloon with its sawdust floors and walls decorated with Alaskan memorabilia. We also enjoyed a wonderful program of folk dancing and singing performed by a Russian troupe on tour. Since the weather was so beautiful I took a one-day Glacier Bay tour and felt it was money well spent. We cruised for nine hours in Glacier Bay and saw lots of wildlife in addition to the glaciers. The most active one “calved” for us several times. On the return to Juneau our airplane flew over the Juneau ice field. It was spectacular, made more so by the sun shining on the snow and ice. It reminded me of the cake frosting my grandmother used to make.

Our ferry trip through the Inside Passage was delightful. The ship is warm and comfortable. A large Observation Room is surrounded by windows on three sides. Another protected area on top is open at the back, and ideal for viewing whales, birds, and waterfalls. A cafeteria, bar, and rooms filled with lounge chairs are also included. We arranged our trip to travel mostly during the daylight hours, which wasn't difficult considering that it was dark for only three to four hours a night. We slept some in our staterooms, but spent most of the time with binoculars in hand watching the passing parade. We were very lucky not to have fog or low clouds on any of our trips. Occasional sunshine blessed our view, and we were fortunate to see pods of whales cavorting in the water on two occasions.

Our final two stops were in Haines and Skagway. Haines was very beautiful the afternoon we arrived. The snow clad peaks in the background glistened in the sun. However, low clouds settled in that night and still had not lifted when we left five days later. This was very disappointing, but at least we knew the beauty was there. We spent two nights at Oceanview RV Park, a parking lot right on the waterfront with full hook-ups and cable TV for under $16. However, they have no bathroom facilities, so most go up the hill to two other parks which are more complete, but lack the view. We spent the first three nights at Chilkoot State Park about eight miles from town. There is good fishing in the river, especially when the salmon are running. They were just beginning when we were there, but we didn't catch any.

It is only an hour's ferry ride from Haines to Skagway 14 miles away. Skagway is a very interesting town, and the main street (Broadway) is part of the Klondike National Historical Park. The visitor center is very active providing walking tours, slide presentations, and a film. Each ranger covers different areas of Skagway history so we took two town walks. We also drove nine miles out to the site of Dyea, where the trail head of the Chilkoot Trail is located. This was the most popular route to the gold fields, and is now a popular three to five day hike (33 miles) made by hardy hikers. We took a ranger-led tour which described the area during its heyday. Skagway was also a jumping-off point for the Klondike gold rush in 1898 and survived by building a railroad over the White Pass to facilitate the journey. The narrow-gauge train has been restored to service and now takes tourists on a half-day trip ($79 per person) along the same route used by the gold-seekers. Some people don't like Skagway. We loved it because there was so much to see and do. We even went to the Days of '98 show about “Soapy”  Smith and his gang of henchmen who ruled the town briefly during the gold rush. It was good fun and even included an hour of gambling with play money before the show began. 

We left Skagway after two nights because we had to get on our way into the interior. We will always remember our three wonderful weeks in Southeast Alaska. Hope our good luck and enthusiasm continue as we tackle the construction and frost heaves which plague the highways of the Yukon and Alaska. We are still 832 miles from Anchorage where we will meet our 10 year old grandson who is flying in from Dallas to spend a month traveling with us. More on that in the next chapter.

July 3
I'm just now getting this in the mail as life has been hectic, with lots of ups and downs, since I finished this letter---one ruined front tire and a huge chip in the windshield during the first two days of travel, is the worst so far.

To be concluded next month.

LETTERS * LETTERS * LETTERS

Great campground in San Diego

...We're still in San Diego....We are actually staying in an RV park---a novel experience for us! It's called Campland on the Bay and is a pretty reasonably priced park at this time of year. They have set aside some monthly spaces for $250/mo ($225 for seniors) in an effort to attract snowbirds. The rate is only available in the off season---Labor Day to Memorial Day---and you have to specifically ask for it. The management doesn't openly advertise it. The park has two pools, spa, marina (Mission Bay), store, snack bar and the usual activities. The sites are cramped---hopefully you will like your neighbors. The best feature of the park is its location---right in the middle of San Diego! So it's a great deal for someone who wants to spend a month leisurely taking in the sights of S. California---Sea World, San Diego Zoo, Wild Animal Park, Stephen Birch Aquarium, Old Town, Mexico, beaches, and bay, great restaurants and shopping. The off season is the only time of year to visit San Diego. Not only do the rates go out of sight in summer, (our space rents for $36 a day in summer and all rates are daily only) but the weather is awful. Around here they call it Gray May and June Gloom. Just when it's nice everywhere else in the country, San Diego disappears under a heavy cover of low clouds and fog. July is often not much better. The ocean water temp is frigid too. Best months for the beach are August-October. My favorite months are March and April. 

Ellie & Bob Henderson, full-timers
from San Diego, California

Bitten by travel bug 

I have read and very much enjoyed your book, An Alternative Lifestyle. On my 18th birthday, 30 plus years ago, I was given a book, Travels with Charlie by John Steinback, as a gift. The travel bug has been biting me ever since.

We bought our first travel trailer when our children were small so we could enjoy vacations with them. 

We hope to be able to travel more in a couple of years, so I'm keeping your book... I found so many hints and helps and I sincerely enjoy going back and reading it again.

Hope to meet you on the road sometime....

Louise Brown
Paw Paw, West Virginia

Heading out after the holidays

Just a few lines to say hello and let you know our new address!! Yes, we sold the resort (only took two months to sell) and we are looking forward to starting a new and exciting lifestyle. 

As I am writing this we are getting a typical Michigan winter storm, blowing and drifting snow with temperatures falling into the 20's. What makes it even worse is the fact that our 1996 Southwind is snow covered just waiting for us to take it south! Our plans are to head out after the holidays and guess what? We don't know where we are going to go!! I can't believe we can actually say that! Hope your holidays are great and maybe someday we will meet!

Rich & Wanda Townley, new full-timers
from Houghton Lake, Michigan

Dream of traveling in the Bounder

Just wanted to tell you how much Chuck and I enjoyed meeting you. It felt like meeting old friends after reading your book. Even though both Chuck and I have read your book cover to cover, there are times when I get frustrated with work, I pick up your book and day-dream of traveling on our Bounder. In 18 months I am quitting (Chuck says I'm too young to retire), and he is retiring again and we are going to be 3/4-timing. We found someone to be our caretaker and he is moving into our guest house next week so we can travel without worry.

Chuck and I are planning to spend two weeks at Christmas down at the Texas Coast in Rockport....I hope all is well with South Padre Island, it is truly one of the most beautiful beaches on the Texas Coast. One of our favorite spots to eat fried shrimp in Port Isabel is The Fisherman. It is...where the locals eat. It is definitely not fancy but the Fried Shrimp Platter is quite good and plentiful. Another restaurant on the island that we like is Jesse's Cantina...the food is exquisite but the service is slooooow, so if you are not in a hurry you might give them a try; they also have Margaritas that will “knock your  socks off.” Of course you probably know about these restaurants already!... want to say again, that we really enjoyed your seminar, your book and love Movin' On.

Kay & Chuck Eissler
Waco, Texas

Great Coast to Coast park

...We've been to Arizona since our last letter and before heading to the LA area in a week or two for Christmas, we're taking the month off at our Silent Valley home park [Banning, CA]. Of all the CCC parks we've been to, this one far surpasses all others. I'm so glad we can stay here a month. We had Thanksgiving here; it was fantastic. The park was full. They had such a good dinner at the restaurant, Blue Grass Gospel Quartet both Saturday night and Sunday a.m. plus lots of activities for the kids. The weather cooperated beautifully---hard to believe it is near Christmas. The park is decorated. They will have lots of stuff going on for Christmas week ---we won't be there for that. Silent Valley is a little off the “beaten path” and the road is "twisty-turny" for about eight miles, but the roads are well paved. 

Jim & Lois Gramenz, full-timers 
from Southern California 

Two letters from the Frairs

September 9. 1995
Well, we're definitely much further along the road to full-timing. Much of our furniture and odds and ends that one collects after 23 years in the same house went during our late August garage sale. The painters followed the dry wall guy at the same time as our garage sale....Just  before we put our house on the market the first of March, we'll re- carpet it. As soon as it sells and the deal closes, I'll submit my retirement papers with June 30, 1996 as my last day of work. As I write this we are spending our 1st night in Moose, a class C 102 Gulf Stream 31' with the slide-out. We took possession of her (with the bank's help) this morning. We're dry camping in the infamous Alaskan Wal Mart parking lot. 

Irony of ironies---Larry had our rig in here less than two hours when our wind shield collected a crudely worded xerox notice that everyone had to move out of the parking lot by Monday morning. All summer long the tourists did get to stay here. Now that it is Alaskan licenses on rigs (with about two or three exceptions), the welcome mat has been withdrawn. It won't be long before snow flies here and Larry wanted to test everything out before Moose gets tucked in the storage yard. That way if our house sells right away in March we could move into Moose till I file and meet the retirement criteria for early retirement. Until he is more comfortable driving her, he doesn't want to try backing her down our long, narrow driveway.... 

She ended up getting named Moose in honor of being a bunch larger than our 19½' van camper, Little Deer.... Besides, Moose are native to Alaska so what better name for an Alaskan rig....Now we are parked in the K Mart parking lot. We did some checking and found rigs with out of state plates got no warnings unless they'd been there for weeks and weeks. According to a fellow from Minnesota, one fellow with a 5th wheel had told him he'd been living in parking lots since 1983 and had been at Wal Mart's all summer. Because of a few idiots, everyone suffers.... 

December 14, 1995
... Just got a firm grip on myself and we donated our large Christmas tree and all but a few special ornaments to the state mental hospital for one of my patient units. We're using a macramé tree my father made for us years ago. Now that will go with us in Moose. Am starting winnowing the chaff out of my recipe file box too...trying to get down to only two boxes of things to store at my folks' place and a handful of photos to take along with us.

Had already gotten a bunch of the plastic storage containers for use in closets and cupboards. Think your idea of repackaging cereal, etc., in them makes a lot of sense. I buy oatmeal, flour etc., from bulk bins at the supermarket and store them that way already and plan to continue once we're on the road. Can get only the amount we need rather than lugging five lb. sack/bags.... The hardest part will be trimming down books and my crafts materials.... I plan to use a divided binder for patterns, organized by craft or subject. You'd die laughing at my pile of to take things in the middle of our dinning room floor... Can't show the house with my Mound for Moose heaped up like Mt Denali....

Cheryl & Larry Frair
Anchorage, Alaska

One never stops learning

I have thoroughly enjoyed your book, An Alternative Lifestyle, before Carol and I retired and started full-timing about a year and a half ago. I just recently re-read the book and got some additional insights and thoughts. I can see that one never stops learning....We are completely enjoying our new lifestyle but are still finding ways to improve it: reducing costs, seeing more interesting sites, volunteering opportunities, etc.

Dick & Carol Burch
Full-timers from ????

Need to get investments in place

Since you left Reno, we have had wonderful weather up through the end of this month [November]. Reno set a record for the number of days without any measurable precipitation, somewhere over 120 days. 

Your newsletter is a real pick-me-up after putting in 60  plus hours a week. It is a constant reminder that there is an alternative to this crazy life. I am not so sure I can hold out for many more years, nor do I want to maintain this intense lifestyle. Debbie and I need to find a way to work out medical insurance coverage and have enough time to get more investments in place....

Dick & Debbie Lewis
Reno, Nevada

Freedom date approaching

Our freedom date is slowly approaching—Sept 1, 1997. Your book...is still the best of all the books we have; we even tried Gaylord Maxwell's book. P.S. Barb, you were so right. [reference to letter to Motorhome magazine in our book-pg 178 1st edition, page 190 second edition] 

Andy & Doris L'Heureux
Pense, Sask, Canada

Enjoyed update from the Elliotts

...Was so pleased to see letter from Clarence & Kae Elliott. Their Full Timers Newsletter* was a big help to us when we first started out. We aren't full-timing now because of Bil's leg and foot problems, but still go as much as possible. Did buy a 24 foot 5th wheel this year, had 35 ft. Find it easier to tow, to set up and break down. I can even do it by myself, if necessary, so we are more willing to go-go-go.

Bil & Darlene Allen
Newport, Michigan

*The Full-Timers Newsletter ceased publication in 1992 and readers were transferred to Movin' On.

Rented RV and loved it

I just received your book,... and love it. It has really been helpful to me. Lots of info and incentive to know that I can full-time. 

I will be retiring in about five years but I am starting to do my homework and looking forward to it. I just rented a 29' motorhome in October and drove to Albuquerque for the Kodak International Hot Air Balloon Festival. I had never done anything like that before and had a wonderful time. I took my 83 year old mother, my daughter and my cousin with me. I am going to be buying my motorhome some time next year and your book was very helpful in that area.

Jo Ellen Rogers
Stockton, California

SKPs are great people

Thanks for your...newsletters. We always enjoy hearing from you guys. We always tell others of our acquaintance and hope they will subscribe to your newsletter and buy the book. Some already have! 

We really enjoyed our nine day stay at Rainbow's End [Livingston, Texas]. Met a whole bunch of nice SKPs including an old fellow employee from telephone company 25 years ago. SKPs truly are a Special Kind of People. They are all so friendly...

Don & Betty Corder
Full-timers from Colorado
 

Book helped change directions

...We feel like we know you both so well from Movin' On and your book and thought you might like to hear our story.... Two years ago we sold our four bedroom home to get ready for retirement and moved to a two bedroom apartment. Our four children who all live in different states, came and got what they wanted and we had a garage sale and had enough left to move to the apartment. We had a 27' Winnebago that we used on weekends and to attend Nascar Races here in the Southeast. While on a trip to Myrtle Beach for a long weekend we stopped at Camping World and picked up a copy of your book... and the rest is almost history. We decided we wanted to go full-timing. We bought 37' Bounder from Lazy Days in February (sight un seen). They mailed us pictures overnight mail and we picked out the one we wanted, drove it up to S.C and picked up our old one for a trade in. They are GREAT people to do business with. Of course we did tell them we had heard about them from your book and that is also why we bought a Bounder, because you seemed so pleased with yours. We do love ours too.

We will both retire from our jobs in February 1996 (not far away and so much stuff to still get rid of). We will head to Texas to establish residency in early March and head back to S.C.to get rid of the rest of the stuff, pack the Bounder and hit the road May 1st full-time and onto new adventures. It has been a lot of work with all the planning but we are so excited and can hardly wait to get going. Your book was most helpful to us as is Movin' On....

Dick & Carol Pegler
Columbia, South Carolina

Got to meet Lady Bird

We've been on the road a little over four months, and thanks to the both of you, your book and Movin' On I'm sure we've made a lot fewer mistakes. Thanks for all your help!! Full-timing's been great!!! Some highlights include being in the D.C, Baltimore area during Streak Week and attending games 2129 and 2130 when Cal Ripken set his consecutive game record. Also have met many great people and have some really good new friends (even got to meet Lady Bird Johnson last week and Joe shook her hand). One downside has been being away from old friends (especially when they go thru hard times like a major illness). Our daughter and  son-in-law will be with us in San Antonio for Christmas so that will help (and we did fly home from Houston for Thanksgiving). We head for The Valley [Rio Grande Valley] last week of Dec. and may get over to Padre Island sometime.

Joe & Dee Jones
full-timers from Wisconsin

Could live without RCA dish

I sure appreciated your hint on the five boxes to sort things out. I was thoroughly overwhelmed until I got your book out again and opened it to that page. Thank you, thank you....

We have our RCA dish and I'm with you Barb, it's something I can live without. Maybe after Christmas things will slow down so I can see a movie now and then. ...You lucky people down there in the sun. Here we are with a terrible wind storm and rain, rain, rain, Our power was out for nearly 48 hours and we lost some trees....

Margaret & Terry Moore
Kalama, Washington

Wants a Movin' On window decal 

...An observation; among perennial strangers, symbols of things we have in common are great attractions and ice-breakers, whether it's similar rigs, license tags from the same state, or emblems from Escapees or even Good Sam. We wish, then, you'd consider developing a little window sticker that would identify Movin' On friends & subscribers to each other. We'd happily pay to get one, and bet others would too!

Pamela & Fred Handy
Denver, Colorado

Thumbs down on DSS's

...Barb, I'm with you---thumbs down on DSS's [satellite programming]---I'd like the music also. It's great but sports is always on---So there in is life, ha!...

Audrey (& Tubby) Watson
Full-timers from Louisiana
 

Dog too big for Sands RV Park

... We've been using some of your newsletters for ideas as we've traveled along. Tried to stay at Sands RV in Desert Hot Springs, but it's a small dog park, so even though Doozer is a fossilized 12 year old lab, we couldn't get in. Oh Well!

Gary & Maryellen Mencimer
Full-timers from Colorado



This 'N That
by Barb
Are you surprised at the heft of this issue of Movin' On? It's your late Christmas present. We had so many wonderful letters; I wanted to include them all. And the great story on Alaska seemed naked without lots of graphics and photos. Ron saw me agonizing over what to cut and suggested the extra four pages. So when you read his comment in Potpourri, you'll know who really is trying to compete with USA Today. This will not be the new standard; I would have to raise the rates considerably.

Thanks to everyone for the tremendous responses to the Coffee Break questions each month. I think we get a lot of good information from our readers but especially like the responses we get for Coffee Break. Many of our new subscribers ask the same questions that you have so generously responded to before. Many would even like to have all of our back issues to catch up on this type of information, but we have few available. I had an idea for our newer readers and have compiled all of the Coffee Break columns from its beginning (November 1992) into one 40 page report. It is available from us for only $7.50 which includes shipping (see the newsletter order form-pg 13). 
2003 note: this of course is no longer available.

Did you notice that it's the gals who complain about the satellite dishes? Several are really upset at the annoying (mostly male) habit of  constantly surfing the channels. I am so lucky, Ron does not do that and he really is good about not watching too many sports. Right now the music is on.

Marian Lundborg, one of our readers who is staying here at Outdoor Resorts for a week, said something that really got me thinking. She likes to listen to radio stations as they are traveling down the road (they are full-timers) so she can feel connected. I suddenly realized that that is  what I am missing when I listen to this lovely uninterrupted music. It is also what I am missing when we watch the evening news from New York City instead of watching the local station. I prefer snowy local stations with inexperienced announcers to the polished NYC station or CNN. I promise myself to dial into the local stuff once a day.

Many of our Christmas Cards coming from the northern states expressed envy at our warm, sunny weather. I have news for all of you. We didn't see the sun for 12 days and it rained and was cold---really cold like “through to the bones” kind of cold. No golf, no walking, and this motorhome got a little smaller. We recently talked to friends in Florida, Arizona, and Desert Hot Springs, California. They all admitted that they have had cool or cold weather, but the sun was out brightly through it all. I could handle that better.

I hope you all like Bette Salter's story on their trip to Alaska. As I said at the beginning of her article, since we are not traveling and have no plans to go to Alaska, I thought it would be something you'd be interested in. The conclusion will be in the February issue.

I've heard from Karen Fleckenstein and she sounds good. She likes the group she is traveling with, the weather and the country. She did have a frightening incident just as the caravan was taking off; her car separated itself from the tow bar (where it was welded to the body). Good thing she was with a group; they helped her in the crisis and later in getting it welded back on. She really got some shoddy work done back in  Connecticut before she ever started out and she was taken financially by this so- called reputable outfit. If you are ever in doubt, go for a second opinion. 

I had another great permanent (probably the best) and like to mention good shops when I run across them. If or when you are in the area, and if you need a good hair cut (men too) or a perm, please call on Sissy at the Blue Hairing, South Padre Island. 

Do you wonder why I put a picture of a Pelican on the front of the newsletter? There are a quite a few of them around here and it is fun to watch them. They get in trouble in bad weather---trying to fly against stiff winds---and land on the causeway to rest. So there are flashing caution lights at both ends of the bridge to warn drivers to "watch out for pelicans" during inclement weather. They are protected because there are so few of them.

We hope to visit the wildlife refuge nearby and make a trip to Mexico before the next newsletter goes out so we will have those things to report on.

I need to thank the Valley Morning Star in Harlingen for the terrific job they do on my half tones. I will be using them once more before we leave here.

Ron mentioned the Lutheran church just outside the park and how nice it is, but I want to publicly compliment Pastor John Fritz, a retired minister, most recently from Houston, who has agreed to serve here. His sermons are exceptional. 

We have been so busy that sometimes I think we have to get back out on the road so I can rest. Did I tell you that I am taking watercolor classes here in the park? I have been wanting to learn since we camped at Hunting Island, South Carolina, way back in 1989. We were camped next to Frank Wright a watercolor artist and I didn't know it until the day they were leaving. I used to paint in oils so this is totally different. This is the first time we have been sitting still long enough to do things like this and it is fun.



 

Any number can play and the only equipment needed is pencil and paper for scoring and six dice. The object of the game is to get to 500.

Everyone antes ten cents (optional) and rolls (piddles) one die. The one who rolls the highest number will begin the game. This person is called the Hammer. The Hammer will be the last person to roll at the end of the game too.

Hammer begins and piddles (rolls) all six dice and counts them accordingly:
1's = 10 points
5's = 05 points

Additionally the following groups count points, but only if they are rolled on one roll.
3—6's   =  60 points
3—5's   =  50 points
3—4's   =  40 points
3—3's   =  30 points
3—2's   =  20 points
3—1's   = 100 points
3 pair  =  75 points
Run 1-6 = 150 points 

And if anyone rolls six of one kind, they are the automatic winner and the game ends.

At the beginning of the game and before any scoring can be done, each player must accumulate 50 points in one turn. Roll all six dice and keep any that count points. Roll any remaining dice and again keep counters. But when any roll ends with no additional counters, that turn ends and any points are lost. The player must then add five cents to the pot (optional). This is called dink. Once the 50 point beginning score has been achieved, the player can accumulate as little as 35 points per round. As before you can keep scoring until you get 35 and choose to quit, or when a roll yields no count. If you use all six dice in one turn you may roll all of the dice one more time. But again, if you get no counters, you lose all and must dink.

When a player reaches 500, every player between him/her and the Hammer gets one more turn. Hammer is last. If two players end up at 500, the pot is divided.
 

January. . . . . . . Desert Hot Springs, CA

February. . . . . . .CA, NV, AZ and back to CA

March. . . . . Arizona & Southern California.

April. . . . . . . Southern California, Nevada

May. . . . . . . .West coast of Oregon.

June. . . . . . . Olympic Peninsula of WA.

July . . . . ..Three weeks with granddaughters
                  touring in WA, ID, MT, WY.

August. . . . . . . . .Idaho, Wyoming.

September. . . . . . .Colorado, New Mexico.

October. . . .  . West Texas and San Antonio.

November. . . . . . . Start of our winter here.
 
 







 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 Carrots Au Gratin  recipe first debuted in this issue. 
I have linked it to the recipe section where all of our newsletter recipes are posted.
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