The logistics of getting them together in that miles-from-anywhere-place was interesting. First of all we had to make sure they could all get time off from their busy schedules. They could. Plans began. Then the Air Force decided that Jim should go to Bosnia for a while. The party was canceled. Then his trip to Bosnia was canceled so the trip was back on.
The first obstacle was that Cutty�s Resort is a heavily wooded park and suggests that rigs be no longer than 34 feet. We are 39.2 and a wide body at that. I called Cutty�s before we bought the dream and asked if we would be able to fit in and they assured us that they had a spot for us. We reserved that spot and four of their cabins---one for each family. Then we sought out a travel agent to purchase the plane tickets.
Glenda and her son Eric live in West Palm Beach, Florida. She owns a bead and jewelry shop and had to arrange for help in her shop. Glenda's daughter (my oldest granddaughter), Liisa, lives in Finland and sadly had to be left out of the reunion.
Mark, Ana, Robyn & Jonn live in Saugus, California, (just north of LA) and he is with the Secret Service. We worked around Ana's daughter's prom night
Robert and Kristen live in Poulsbo, Washington. He is a chef in the Coast Guard. We held our breath. as we weren't even sure his ship would be back in time. He made it okay but had to go back early because of short staffing. Kristen had no trouble getting off from her job at Bon Marche.
Jim, Sue, Kristopher and James, were driving from their home in Warrensburg, Missouri. He is an air traffic controller with the Air Force. Sue who is from England, had no trouble getting off from her waitress job at Country Kitchen.
Our visit was very special. I cried when they came and again when they
left. Read more in the Colorado & Beyond story on pages four
Our report on seven parks this month includes four commercial parks, one Coast to Coast (CC) park and two state parks. As the report will show---big city camping is expensive.
Junction West RV Park, Grand Junction, CO. Off I-70 (exit 22). We liked this well managed park. It has extra wide sites with level well designed hook-ups (two sewer hook-ups). We averaged $14 a day based on a weekly rate. Monthly rates are available.
Cutty�s Hayden Creek Resort, Coaldale, CO. We love this mountainous CC resort and Barb will describe it in her story. Big rigs beware. You can get in, but it's an adventure. Disconnect your towed car down on the highway in order to spare it from the heavy dust on the two mile long dirt road going in.
Season's RV Park, Highway 50, Salida, CO. It's near the above CC resort, in case you can't get in there. Wide well maintained sites are right on the Arkansas River. Rafters camp here so reservations are recommended. $16.20 with Good Sam discount.
Dakota Ridge RV Park (formerly Scenic Rock), 17700 W. Colfax, Golden, CO.
This is a beautiful modern park with paved sites (concrete for big rigs), but like many urban parks, it is expensive. We averaged $22 based on a weekly rate. Because of long term residents, only a limited number of monthly rates are available. The location is great for visiting Denver and surrounding area.
Prairie Dog State Park, Norton, KS, off US 36. Good wide level sites and easy to get into. Rate of $15 for water and electric includes a daily $4 entrance fee and that makes it expensive for overnighters. The park is aptly named because you will enjoy watching the prairie dogs popping in and out of their holes near a special viewing area.
Knob Noster State Park, off Hwy 50, 9 miles east of Warrensburg, MO. We have visited this park 4 times because it is near Barb's son's family, and it's a beautiful shaded park with plenty of long level sites that are easy to get into. Rate including electricity is $12 ($10 if you are over 65). I was a month early.
Sundermeier RV Park, St Charles, MO. Another expensive urban
park---$25 per night. Good large paved sites and well located for visiting
historic St Charles and St Louis. The campground directory directs you
in off of I-70 and it's complicated. Since then 370 has opened and the
campground is only a few blocks from exit 22. A plus for this campground
(minutes from the airport) is also a negative. If the constant air traffic
doesn't drive you nuts, the nearby train will.
Grand Junction is a perfect sized town with a population of about 30,000. It has everything one could want. There are good grocery stores, a mall, Wal-Mart and K-Mart, a college, nice library, a national monument, a huge playground, called "The Mesa" nearby, culture and the most important---friendly people. The climate appears to be great. It is very dry with only six inches of precipitation per year. That means no snow. We were told that the city of Grand Junction doesn't even own a snow plow. Yes, it gets cold in the winter, but almost never below zero.
Most of our time there was spent working on the newsletter and doing
a little sightseeing. One day we drove into the nearby Colorado National
Monument which is a colorful maze of canyons, arches, spires and such
which meanders over 20,000 acres. Besides a visitor center there are many
hiking trails and a lovely scenic drive. Another day we took the long drive
up Hwy 65 to the Grand Mesa. This largest flat-topped mountain in
the world was still covered in a thick blanket of snow at the highest elevations,
but we could see what a wonderful winter-summer playground it must be.
We had hoped to take Land's End road back, but this twisty mountain road
hadn't been plowed open for the summer yet.
The birthday party. By the time we were ready to head south to Coaldale I was so excited that I could hardly contain myself. We had been able to get flights for the three families who were flying so that they arrived in Colorado Springs within one hour of each other. It was the same for their flights out.
Jim arrived the night before and emptied out his van then on Sunday morning he and I drove the 90 miles to the airport to pick up the others. It was so wonderful to have them together. I could hardly believe it. Cousins met for the first time, and Robert's wife, Kristen, was new to most. I picked up a van at the airport so between the two we were able to transport everyone (plus luggage).
Coaldale is on U.S. 50 between Salida and Cannon City. There is nothing there except a post office, a rafting company, the Arkansas River and snow capped mountains; the beauty of the place is overwhelming and that is why I wanted my party there.
Everyone at Cutty�s was very helpful and seemed to enjoy our party as much as we did. We had plenty of food on hand and a menu, but didn't have any idea how we would serve it to everyone. Our motorhome wouldn't hold them all and none of their cabins would either. Breakfast was easy; Dan, the manager of the park, cooked a wonderful breakfast just for us each morning. He did a super job and we had plenty to eat. He fixed eggs one day, pancakes another and french toast the final day. Each breakfast included juice, hot chocolate, coffee and sausage or bacon.
Our first full day together, we went to the Royal Gorge Bridge near Cannon City. Completed in 1929 this, the world's highest suspension bridge, is 1,053 feet above the Arkansas River as it rushes through the gorge. We rode the trolley, drove our car (5 mph) and walked across the bridge. The aerial tram ride gave a good view of the bridge and gorge. Sadly the "worlds steepest incline railway" down to the bottom of the gorge was not working. And even though it was a cold, gray day, the kids had fun---especially the big kids---my three boys. They dared each other to climb out to the edge of a rocky precipice. We understand that as soon as they were near the edge, Jim, firmly suggested, "no one touch anyone."
At other times we simply enjoyed the facilities at the resort like the indoor swimming pool, hot tub on the deck, and walks in this large wooded park. In the evenings we gathered at a campfire. The cabins were back to back and side to side so it was easy to gather there with a fire at the juxtaposition of the four. Then when it was time for the little ones to go to sleep we were able to stay out a little longer and still be near them.
Except for Robert who had to leave one day early, they all left very early on a rainy dreary morning. We had to be on our way to the airport by 7 a.m.; we also had to use three vehicles. Jim, Sue and the boys were heading east after saying good-bye to everyone at the airport. They had Kristen in the car with them and were the lead vehicle. I had her luggage and barely got it there in time for her 9:20 flight. Mark, Ana and the kids, left at 9:30 then we had an hour to wait for Glenda and Erkki's flight. Ron returned the van while she and I enjoyed a cup of coffee and conversation. After they left we drove that long lonesome drive back to the resort; I was so sad. When we got back the sun was shining beautifully, but Cutty�s seemed completely empty. The cabins were there but my kids weren't. I was glad that we took off the next day and headed to new territory.
Getting back to normal. The drive to Golden was easy; we went by way of Colorado Springs and up I-25. Once we got to the campground we were greeted by our extended family. The Mencimers, Stewarts, Baumans, Prices, and the Whartons were there. These are all people we had met on the road at one time or another.
You know the Mencimers because we spent a lot of time with them this past winter when we were in Florida, and Atlanta. They are from the Denver area and enjoyed directing us to some of the secrets of the area like the Village Roaster coffee shop in Lakewood. Located at the northwest corner of Garrison and Alameda it is the business they started years ago and recently sold to Maryellen's sister and husband (Kathleen & Jim Curtis). We got to see the whole facility and were amazed at the roasting process. They get the coffee green and actually roast it there. You know you are getting good fresh stuff. They have a lot more than coffee too, but you should see it for yourself and tell them we sent you. Three years ago when we were in the Denver area for four months we had done most of the tourist things. It is always nice to be back to a familiar area for a while; we knew where the stores were, where to get film developed and so on. We just relaxed and enjoyed being with friends. Sometimes we have to just live and not be tourists. We read, worked on the newsletter a little, wrote our articles for the Arizona Republic, did some other business, went for a bike ride, enjoyed visiting the church we attended three years ago and so on.
A visit to Boulder. We had never been to Boulder and our friends were talking about several businesses there that were special, so we decided to take a full day to do the town. It is an easy drive from Golden and not far away. McGuckin Hardware is huge and we were impressed with all that they have. We wandered up and down all the isles and enjoyed looking and looking and looking. We didn't need anything, but it was a great way to spend an hour or so.
This college town (University of Colorado) has a wonderful downtown. Pearl Street has been made into a mall and all of the businesses are alive and thriving. We especially enjoyed people watching. There were lots of students around and as Ron said, they were dressed for Halloween. Is this what college is about now? On Pearl Street we found another recommended business. Peppercorn is a huge independent cookware store. Again I didn't buy anything, but loved looking. They have every gadget and cook book imaginable.
While in Boulder we toured Leanin' Tree cards and Celestial Seasonings northeast of town off 119. We had a great tour at Celestial and enjoyed seeing all of the artwork and greeting cards at Leanin' Tree. Both were free except for what we bought in the gift shops.
Central City and Blackhawk are just a few miles up into the mountains from Golden. These old mining towns which are only a mile apart were nearly ghost towns until a few years ago when they were turned into gambling towns. Most of the stores are now casinos. The winding road up to these towns is a beautiful drive with the rushing waters of Clear Creek racing to get to Golden to be made into Coors Beer. The creek looks more like a river and is white water all the way. But as scenic as this road is it is also very busy. We had driven it many times before. This time we decided to hop on one of the busses which departs from a depot next to the campground. Busses leave every hour on the hour and the fee is $8.50, but they give you back $5 to be used in their Casino (Bullwhackers). It was a relaxing ride and we didn't have to worry about where to park once we were up in the mountains.
Ron & I wanted to visit each and every casino in the two towns (over 30) so Ron devised this great game. When we went into each casino, we could only spend one dollar (four quarters). We sat down at a poker machine, put one quarter in and if we won, we could bet our winnings; if we lost we put in our second quarter and so on. When one of us lost the original four quarters, the other had to cash out and we moved on. All totaled for the day, I made about $20. Ron lost that much, but we had a lot of fun and saw everything.
Heading east. We left Golden on I-70 until we got just east of the city then we jumped on U.S. 34. We were anxious to get off the interstate which was in terrible condition, but found route 34 to be just as bad. It was sad to leave the mountains behind; the front range, as the area east of Denver is referred to, is all flat farmland which is sparsely populated. Once we entered Kansas, the road improved greatly. With little traffic and few towns we made great time (as good as if we had been on interstate) and it was more relaxing. We kept our daily mileage to about 200 miles per day so we were off the road early. One stop was in Hillsboro, Kansas, where we enjoyed an afternoon visit with our good friend Liz Ryding. We parked right on the street in front of her house for the night. The next night we were in Warrensburg, Missouri, and enjoyed another evening with my son Jim and his family. It was on our way. Our final stop before heading into Indiana was St Charles, Missouri. I hope you have a chance to spend a little time there. The old historic main street is fantastic. The architecture, the history, the shops---oh it was a fun day.
Well, we covered more in this newsletter than I had originally planned, but I just couldn't get in the mood to finish this before we left Denver.
By the way the detours Ron talked about weren't bad. He just gets a
little nervous driving this big monster when he isn't sure where the road
will take him. I keep telling him that we can always unhook and back up,
but I donut think he likes that idea. We do those rural bridges though.
(Remember that this report was written many years ago and the restaurants may or may not be in business or as they were.)
Colorado, Kansas & Missouri
D Bar J Cafe & Lounge, Main street, Collbran, CO. Stopped for lunch and had a wonderful BBQ pork sandwich with chips for $4.50.
Rockslide Brewery, downtown, Grand Junction, CO. Stopped for lunch---good food and beer. Their oriental coleslaw was great!
Las Delicias, 439 E 19th Ave, Denver, CO. Great Mexican food prepared from original home style recipes. Try the Carnitas ($7.99) which are only served on weekends or the Carne Adobada ($6.95). Of course they also have the more standard Mexican fare which must be good. They have been chosen as the best Mexican restaurant in Denver over the years.
The Bonanza Casino (upstairs), Central City, CO. Ron said he had the best prime rib ever here for lunch and the price was only $3.99. His dinner came with baked potato, vegetables, and a roll. I had taco salad. The whole bill came to $10.64 and everything was wonderful.
NY Deli, Pearl Street, Boulder, CO. Terrific Rubin sandwich (which we should have split) with French fries (nice and hot) for $6.95. Eat indoors or at umbrella tables on the sidewalk.
Old Towne Restaurant, 126 N Main, Hillsboro, Kansas. We went to the Saturday evening German buffet and it was out of this world. Everything was fresh, hot (because they only put out small portions at a time), tasty, and included desserts for $6.95 (seniors), adults $7.95. They also have a regular menu which we're sure is good and a soda fountain. This historic building (it used to be a hotel) was charming too.
Vivian's Vineyards, 1409 North Second St, St Charles, Missouri.
This fun place is a little expensive for dinner but affordable for lunch
and in fact noted for their half pound hamburgs ($4.95-$6.95). Located
in a delightful old house in the Historic French Town district, just reading
the menu was a treat. For example, they have a page on how to conduct yourself
at a "Class (Third) Restaurant." All of the chairs, tables, and dinnerware
are individual (nothing matches). In fact, the note about the chairs on
the menu is as follows: "Many of our chairs were donated and patrons desire
to sit in their chair while dining. Please do not be offended if asked
to give up your chair in the middle of the meal. We'll try to provide you
with a suitable replacement." By the way, the food is excellent. We tried
the hamburgs and a special dinner. If camping at nearby Sundermeir RV park
you can use their business card to get you a 10% discount on your meal.
Take a break. Get a cup of coffee and let's
Betty & Reid Poovy, full-timers from NC have some help for Bud & Elaine Hamm who asked about toads and tow bars. "We were towing a straight drive Ford Escort wagon with speedometer disconnect, but while in Florida traded for a Saturn wagon and new Falcon tow bar which stays mounted on the motorhome. You don't have the added weight of the hitch on your car when driving around. The Saturn is automatic and comes all ready to tow. It is an extremely safe car and is light enough to tow with a gas powered motorhome. We are extremely pleased with both."
Tom & Genny Mantini, wannabees from San Antonio, Texas, want to know what is the minimum monthly income one needs to full-time. We answered her from our experience, but we'd really like to hear from you. If you don't mind, we'd like to have the wide range of all of our readers. So many worry about finances of this lifestyle.
Audrey & Tubby Watson, full-timers from Louisiana, just joined a membership park that went under and wonder how one can avoid such in the future. "...We just found out that the club we just joined, Thousand Adventures [Coast to Coast], went bankrupt. The main reason we joined was this east coast trip. They had several in Florida and one at Kitty Hawk, NC, Now what!... What can one do to check into the stability of a club before buying into it? We aren't easily fooled but they got us this time. What dummies we were. Someone in one of the parks told us that they knew they were going under when they sold to us in Sept."
Ron & Barb respond. You can't undo what has been done, but you should be made an orphan and would be picked up by some other park. Then all you need is to pay the maintenance fees for the new park. We have said it before and will say
it again, "buy the cheapest membership you can, and talk with other members of the park before you plunk down any money." The basic Coast to Coast system works; it is the extra frill organizations, like the President's Club, that often don't. We suggest not paying more than $500 for a Coast to Coast membership.
Rich & Bobbie Broockmann, full-timers from Colorado Springs, Colorado, have some good information on solar panels, and inverters. "...we have two four foot solar panels and added two additional batteries to the two that come with the Bounder. We also converted our generator to propane. That system allows us to camp on our property in Westlake [CO] indefinitely without normal hookups. Our generator powers our well pump which we use to fill our tank. We did put in a septic system for sewer hookup. By running our generator for 2-3 hours per day we have all the power we need for TV, computer, etc. Whenever we need an appliance that requires a heating element we turn on the generator. By using an Extend-a Stay-tee (Camping World) we can hook up to external propane bottles and stay as long as we want in our beautiful mountain valley."
Marceline & Virgin Dwinell, new full-timers from Indiana, had an experience that needs mentioning." Full-timing is fun, but we ran into problems we did not plan for. Our insurance policy on the vehicles was canceled by our Indiana based insurance company because we were no longer residents of Indiana. I don't know where they considered our residence; however, we finally got that straightened out. Then came time to vote; for the first time in fifty years, we were unable to vote because we didn't meet residency requirements anywhere. Since we spend over five months in Florida each winter, we are planning to buy Florida plates... and for all practical purposes, we will be considered a resident of Florida. Don't know if that is good or bad...."
There's a lesson here. You must pick a state for your legal domicile.
You never have to visit it, but you have to be licensed there, and have
some address in that state---not necessarily your forwarding address. Also
it really helps to insure with a company that understands what a full-timer
is. Your old "home-town" company won't have a clue.
Friends call us "Crazy"
Considering going full-time
Gil & Pauline Ensign
Going full-time with trailer and van
Harry & Joan Bellerby
Movin� On & SKP Ambassadors
Georgia & Tom "SKP" Harding
The most interesting question I have had thrown at me these last couple of weeks as people learn of my selling the business is: "What are you going to do between the time you return from Florida (mid June) to the time you leave (September)?" I find it curious that so many people cannot conceive of anyone not running the treadmill of what, productivity/ wage earning? Cheese---Louise, they just don't get it. I'll have plenty to do. Like the third phase of our life...
Dante Russillo & Claudia Beach
My husband passed away suddenly March 17 in a hospital in San Antonio, Texas, and after most of the paperwork, etc., was finished I got a job house-sitting for some friends in another city for the summer. Our 37' Mountain Aire motorhome is our home and it moved with me. I didn't have a lot of driving experience but enough to accomplish the move thank goodness. I have listed the motorhome for sale as it is larger than needed just for me and my future plans are very uncertain at this time. Please wish me luck to sell and do keep up the excellent newsletter. I am renewing my subscription as I sure want to keep traveling with you. Even though we are no longer on the road we had two grand years traveling, making beautiful memories and met so many wonderful people.
For those of you who are "thinking" about the full-time lifestyle---don't "think" too long---you are missing out on one of the best experiences of your lifetime. Besides, you can always obtain another foundation home and easily obtain more "stuff" if for some reason you don't like the freedom, mobility, beauty and less stress full-timer lifestyle....
Concerned about RV Image
I know the issue of free overnight parking in public places is a very controversial issue and unfortunately one that may offend some RVers.... I can understand people who want to save money and do without a few conveniences while parking on BLM land in the desert etc. However, to create problems like the RVers did here is beyond me and one the RVing public and industry can do without.
Don & Betty Corder
Found lots of snow
We spent two days on snowmobiles doing the loop road around Yellowstone National Park. I would recommend this highly. The animals share the road with you.... While in Jackson, Wyoming, we went x-country skiing and snow shoeing in the Grand Tetons. There are some beautiful places to see in this country. We just got started....
It sure is good to be in one place for a good long time. We made the mistake of not getting out of "vacation mode" (seeing everything as fast as you can and moving on) for the first three and a half months. That continuing to run, run, run, sure can take its toll. I think we have learned our lesson and we will go a lot slower now....
Rich & Bobbie Broockmann
Enjoying her volunteer job at LBJ
That 25 cent charge for 800 numbers at pay phones is in effect around the hill country area too!!! I too use an 800 access code for my calling card and when the line is busy I have to start over with another quarter. Very annoying!!!
Why bother with Oregon address?
We lived in W. Covina, California, for 9 years. Now we live in San Diego and counting to full-timing. I want to comment to Duane & Jan Duvall�s letter in the last issue [May 1997---Vol 8 # 4].
We licensed in Livingston in April. Insured the motorhome (MH) with Foremost (1-800-237-2060) and the toad with National General. The MH is covered for total replacement, contents,... and homeowners type liability. They cannot insure cars in Texas yet....
When you consider how much less the licenses cost, what are you complaining about with the insurance? We're at least $900 to the good per year....
When Escapees is the "broad spectrum" organization for full-timers (we're so glad Ron and Barb recommend it), Why would anyone bother with an address in Oregon, when they have an attitude toward Golden Staters, and SKPs covers it all? We've had Livingston address since November 1996 even though full-timing is still just beyond our grasp. We have full-timer friends in Oregon who tried to get us hooked in there, but fortunately we were already SKPs!!
SKP�s services are friendly, efficient, and most helpful by phone. We want things as simplified as possible. Thank you SKPs!!!
We have a house buyer; now we pray for sale of theirs. The cracked fuse block in our 96 Bounder on 97 Ford Chassis finally got referred to Acacia [Colton, California]. They were wonderful!
Jerry & Marlene Deitrick
We wrote about Frank Herrington in our book on page 171 (second edition); he was the single full-timer. Notice that I used the past tense; he is no longer single. He is a neat guy and we are happy for him. By the way, he married an old friend, Polly, not someone he met on the road.
After having two bad permanents this past winter I was very happy to be in an area where I knew a beautician. Three years ago Deborah at Village Hair Designers in Golden had given me a wonderful perm and I got another one this time. I also splurged and had the manicurist, Sue, do my nails: I even got a pedicure. After being on the road for a few years, I have a list of good beauticians in various cities. That's nice.
Silver City, New Mexico, and Warrensburg, Missouri, have been regular stops on our east/west travels for a long time. Suddenly both have been vacated by our loved ones and I'm not sure we will return either. It just won't be the same.
I did not write about Denver, because we had done it thoroughly three years ago. You will be able to discover all of the wonderful things to do on your own.
As soon as we got to Grand Junction, we found a printer to do the newsletter. In fact, Adams Quick Print was the first one I called; the price was right and they could get them printed by my deadline. When we went in to pick up the half-tones (a process to put a dot pattern in the photos), the owner, Bill Adams, greeted me with, "I know you; I just read your book." That was the first time that that had ever happened. He and his wife stopped over one afternoon, brought us some fresh eggs and we talked about full-timing. They plan to take off soon and home-school their young daughter.
Some people in Grand Junction asked me not to write about their town, because they didn't want more people moving in. I can't blame them; it's just about right. We loved the bike/walk path along the Colorado River and walked it nearly every day. I could live there---for a summer.
There is something about the engine in this motorhome that says "go, go, go." We have passed through more time zones in the last few months than ever before. Between moving and daylight savings time (and some states like Arizona and Indiana which don't do daylight time), I really don't know what time it is. Some say now that we are retired it shouldn't matter. They are probably right.
We had a wonderful turnout at our seminar at Stevenson RV in Golden. One who showed up unexpectedly was Joyceene Stallcup. We met her and her husband, Allen, when we were volunteers at Hot Springs National Park. She shocked us by saying that Allen had died suddenly just four weeks before. She is going alone and in fact will be doing a little of the volunteering that they both were signed up to do at Rocky Mountain National Park. She has severe arthritis and will be pulling that 5th wheel unattended. What a gal.
We had applied to Rocky Mountain National Park to work this summer and the strange thing is that finally, the middle of May, we got a call from the park asking us if we were still available. Since we hadn't heard from them we had made other plans, and I was a bit angry at the park for waiting so long to call us. It turns out that they were asking us to fill the position that Allen & Joyceene were scheduled to do. His death created the job we were asked to fill. Neither one of us knew the other's plans.
The chess pie is yummy. I first had a chess pie in Tennessee. Research says it originated in Britain and that Chess was a generic word for eggs and milk.
Don't pay any attention to whatever I say about where we are going.
Last month I said we were heading to N & S Dakota later this summer.
Now we've decided to go east out of Michigan's UP and into upstate New
York, Pennsylvania etc. But don't necessarily believe it. And that is one
of the benefits of this lifestyle.
recipe section where all of our newsletter recipes are posted.
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