What darn day is this?  Where are we?  Starting to run together.

wind blew out steps 2018 jan 24.jpgMore winds.  All day the back side of the circular wind storm ran over us.  This time the wind came from the north.  It’s just as bad, but we do well.  The only wind event was it blew so hard the steps jumped out.  The happy thing is Oklahoma has the best roads.  Like glass.  We realized that the urpy rig jiggling yesterday was because of the road and not the wind.

More beautiful country.  We almost splashed ourselves all over it when we exited the interstate and the exit/entrance was about twenty yards long.  A road full of intsey teensey vehicles were trying to get on while we were trying to get off.  We survived because we are bigger and some guy didn’t want to bust up his car.  Was happy to see the navigator directed us quite far from the interstate.  Good.  We won’t hear road traffic.

We drive up to a really nice KOA.  Not too many trees.  When we opened the doors, the first thing we heard was tremendous traffic noise.  Darn it.  The road curved back to the interstate.  Sounds like we are standing in the middle of the highway.   Nobody told us we were going to need ear plugs when traveling.

sweet gum seed pod 2018 jan 22The second thing we noticed was little seed balls all under the trees.  Margo tells me it is sweet gum pods.  If we were kids, no doubt there would be a battle.

Their bathrooms are nice and the showers are huge.  We soaked under really hot water.

There is a small trail cut into the nearby woods.  A bit soggy, but the dogs think they died and went to dog heaven.  They ran and ran.

Aw heck no, we didn’t disconnect the hitch.

Sometime during the night the heater furnace quit working.  I didn’t notice.  I’m in a base layer, a long sleeve T-shirt, flannel jammie bottoms and wool socks that make my feet look like watermelons.    We’ve figured out how to keep the blanket in place (tuck in the bottom).  I’m as toasty as a baby rabbit in a nest.  Margo is the one who is cold (the first time ever) and gets up.  She switches the propane to the second bottle.  All is good with the world.

Posted in 5th Wheel, Campgrounds, East Coast Trip | 1 Comment


east coast tucumcari guineas 2018 jan 21.jpgThe slow-to-rise morning pastoral scene was crushed by a flock of guineas in our “front yard”.  They stared at our windows.

Buck-wheat!  Buck-wheat!  Buck-wheat!  We know y’all got wolves.  We watching y’all.

Hey, we weren’t hiding indoors with out dogs.  The cold and wind was keeping us in the warmth. So much for trying to outrun the wind.  At 3 a.m. an elephant bumped into the side of the RV.  Okay, maybe it wasn’t an elephant.  Maybe it was the first gusts.  For hours we felt like surfers on a super-sized surfboard.  We whispered, “I hope my seasick pill is still working”.  Our motto this morning is “Suck it up, Buttercup and get going.”  Today we would start in New Mexico, pass through the Panhandle of Texas, and inch into Oklahoma.

You know that fabulous foam bed I was looking forward to?  It didn’t live up to my expectations.  I once thought the foam mattress was a revelation; Last  was more a revolution.  My body melted a divot the depth of the Bermuda Triangle.  I had to crawl out to turn over.  And I was never really, truly, happily warm.

The big quilt my Momma made me doesn’t help.  Double-knit.  Y’all remember that back in the ’70’s?  It seems that when you lay double-knit on top of a smooth RV bedspread the two slip across each other like an ice cube on a hot plate.  All night the wind kept the heavy blanket in motion.  Off that side of the bed, off this side of the bed, down to our knees.  If we can’t fix this, I’m pretty certain this beautiful, flawed blanket will find its way to a thrift store.

We looked rough in the morning.  Now I’ve got to stay awake to keep Margo awake.  Lookit all that grass.  Lookit those trees.  Lookit those stock tanks.  Coming from a desert, we hunger to see those things.  Oklahoma is awesome.  Judging from how many cattle we see we wonder if Oklahoma rivals Texas in beef on the hoof.

The wind doesn’t let up.  It speeds up.  The perpendicular blasts spin scores of tumbleweeds in our path.  It took a lot of mental energy to not calculate their trajectory and dodge them.  We crushed many.  When hit broadside it was like someone threw a softball against the door.  Got big scratches in the finish I’ll have to buff out.  Reeee-diculous.

We stopped at a convenience store and went in through a door that wouldn’t knock us down.  As we turned the corner a syringe rolled across the parking lot.  Da-um.  You Okies are tough here.  Shoot up in the middle of a storm that can knock you off your feet.  I look at the drivers getting into their vehicles and silently asked myself, “Was it you who shoot up and dropped your syringe in the parking lot?  Are you going to drive now?”  It’s unsettling.

Speaking of driving.  Margo did all the driving.  I’m not ready yet to pull a 31′ 5er.  Just between you and me I may never be.  She’s got the traveling in a straight line down very well.  It’s those big turns into gas stations that need a little practice.  We also need to figure out which truck stops are good to stop at.  We can preview them on our truck app, but darn it, most don’t have an RV fueling station.  They have lots of slots for the passenger vehicles and lots more slots for diesel engines.  Our truck uses gasoline.  The only pumps we get to use are the two outside pumps and the 5er sticks out in parking lot traffic until we can pull away.  Margo has had to do some fine driving to not get us stuck.

east coast oklahoma wind turbines 2018 jan 21.jpg

We saw many, many, many wind turbines going into Oklahoma City.  I’m talking hundreds and hundreds over many acres of land.  Nearly all of them were rotating.  Could be we’ve seen these blades before.  Very often, specially designed 18-wheeler with sling beds carry the blades through Tularosa.  They must cross two lanes of Highway 70 and those truckers do some fancy steering to get it across without taking out everything around it.

We were so happy to pull into a campground in Elk City, Oklahoma.  We wanted a long walk, a nice shower, and a good meal.  It was all crushed under a stubborn hitch.  There’s a reason why the hitch is painted the color it is.

east coast truck hitch 2018 jan 22.jpgHere’s the story.  We pulled into our campground site and couldn’t disconnect.  We tried different heights of levelers.  We drove forward.  We drove back.  We hammered on parts.  Thinking we needed brute strength, two older RVing gentlemen gave it their all.  Didn’t move.  We jiggled and jerked on the hitch handle until our shoulder’s screamed.  After we exhausted ourselves, Margo spoke to the manager and she called her husband to come over.  He had Margo back the truck quite forcefully until a big click and with a couple of mighty heaves, the handle slid out.   We’ve learned an important lesson: Don’t baby the hitch when unhitching.

Our hero would take no money, so I bought a pizza to help out the business attached to the KOA.  We really wanted a dozen beers and to run screaming naked through the countryside.

Finally, sleep.  This time I was going to try something new.  I put on my silk base layer and thick wool socks.  Maybe if I can retain some of my body heat, I won’t sink like a stone.

Posted in 5th Wheel, Campgrounds, East Coast Trip, New Mexico | 4 Comments


Yeah, I got the posts out of order, and we haven’t even left yet.  I hope this fixes it.  Otherwise Day 1 will come before this introduction.

The reason for getting a bigger truck and 5th wheel is now before us.  Three months of volunteering sandwiched by the drive out to the east coast and back.

There were so many questions.  What shall we do with the dogs?  Whatever shall we take?  Whatever shall we do with all our bills?  What about the house?  The dogs came with us.  We took just about everything in the house.  Bills were pre-paid or online.  The house is being watched by a guy who watches our place like he doesn’t like people and two friends who will be going by often to water the plants and/or make sure there are no fliers hanging on doors and such.

We planned to leave Saturday then switched it to Sunday because of very high winds forecast.  Well, the storm didn’t travel as fast as expected so back to a Saturday departure, even if it was a bit high.

I’m going to drag y’all along with us because I’ve not nuttin’ going on except the trip.

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We are taking this trip like the retirees we are.  Slow and wandery.  Amazing what you can see when traveling at 55 mph as opposed to 70.  Saw two large herds of pronghorn antelopes around Vaughn, NM.  Is this a winter thing?  Usually they are in groups of 3-6.

We are trying to get ahead of the windy weather, but it didn’t pan out.  Fortunately, it was a tailwind and barely felt a thing.

We haven’t driven a busy interstate road in a long time.  Darn, those 18-wheelers speed and tailgate.  Arrived at the KOA in Tucumcari, NM after around five hours of travel.  Good time to stop.  “Finally, finally”, the dogs say.  I say, “You nitwits, you had the chance to potty at a pull-out and didn’t take it, so don’t bellyache to me”.

The campground neighbor is a cattle pasture.  It’s near I-40, but not very noisy.  The campground had a walkie-talkie tied to the office door.  A manager came over within minutes and escorted Margo in a golf cart.

The two-table cafe was closed.  The cook didn’t come in today.  Maybe she will be there tomorrow.  An ad posted in the bathroom, $2.99 for short stack.  Doesn’t everybody put restaurant ads in the bathrooms?

Bathrooms, one near the front, one near the back, are clean and neat.  Grass is mowed and stuff trimmed around.  It’s not bad at all.

Lots of picnic spots too.  Pool is covered and held in place with big straps and construction blocks.  Got a nice little playground with stuff manufactured in the 1950’s.

As I walked the dogs before dark, the world’s biggest cottontail zipped past us.  Fat and sassy.  I think he said something rude to our dogs because they were ready to throw down.  I held on for dear life.  The dog cause was taken up by a nearby German Shepard.   He pulled away from the owner and took off after the rabbit.  My dogs are cheering.  Rabbit escaped handily.  GSD turned to us.  Uh-oh.  He sure is big.  I hope he is friendly.  The owner yelled, “He’s harmless.”  Sure enough, he came up like a gentleman and met our dogs.  What a hunk.  He made our dogs look like loaves of bread.  The owner snatched up his leash and described how much he hates rabbits.

east coast tucumcari water pipe 2018 jan 21.jpgSites are large, mostly level, and drive thru.  If it weren’t winter, there would be grass.  We didn’t hook up to water.  The manager says you have to unhook by 10pm if it will freeze overnight.  That’s odd.  I see those big freeze protected faucets.   Why…. oh that’s why.  There’s a water spigot every other site so they added a short length of pipe and a T-fitting and added regular faucets on the ends so two sites can hook up.  There goes the freeze freeness of it all.  It’s going to be borderline freezing tonight so we didn’t bother hooking up.  If we hook it up and drive through freezing weather tomorrow, we will have to blow out the lines before we leave.  Sounds like too much work for us.

We didn’t unhook from the truck.  There’s a slight incline from front to back.  We’ll see if this is something we can live with.

Wifi is almost as fast as home.  Then again, judging from the available networks, nearly everybody has their own.   We are enjoying their cable TV.  Didn’t put out our fancy satellite dish out because it is expected to be very windy tonight, and we don’t want it to roll down the street.  Instead of setting up, my job was to get the soundbar to connect to the TV.  Didn’t happen.

Looking forward to sleeping on that spectacular foam bed.

We have been joined by a half-dozen more rigs, all of them bigger than us.  I wonder if they will get an early start like we hope to do to beat the higher winds.


Posted in Campgrounds, East Coast Trip, New Mexico | Leave a comment


We love dogs and don’t ever see ourselves dogless.  HappyDog recently celebrated her 8th birthday.  DotDog follows at seven.  They are starting to get tired when we hike and get stiff after resting.  It works out well for us because Margo and I also are getting tired when we hike and are stiff afterwards.  BTW, HappyDog gets a drink when she sees us taking out trekking poles.  I think that’s pretty darn cool.

The dogs weren’t trained to ride in a vehicle when little, but as we spend more and more time in the mountains we’ve had to step up the training.  The dogs loves to ride in the truck and assume that when we grab the keys they are going with us.  The sky falls when we tell them they must stay home.  I tell them how long before we will be back.  I don’t know what they understand, but it appears to lessen their anxiety.

There are some important commands we absolutely demand that they follow when we are out and about.  It all begins with the big “NO”.  “No pull”, “no sofa”, “no bark”, “no skunk”, “no chase”.  They know “leave it” mainly to keep them from tasting of all manner of things, and “wait” before they get in or out of the vehicles.  That helps when I have to move something out of the way or I want to leash them.  “Come”, “come to heel”, “better” (when they doesn’t position correctly), “sit” and “stay”.   Both are trained to go pee-pee on command except they absolutely, positively, will not go on the side of the road or rest stops.

They will never be farther than our voice will carry.  HappyDog is half weimaraner and is seldom farther than a shotgun distance from me.  She taught herself.

In the evening when they come in after last potty out, they usually gets a goodie.  When I was in the mountains, I would hide little training treats all through the house.  “Find the goodies” sends HappyDog into a frenzy.  I’m slowly adding hand signals for places I don’t want to make noise.  Sit, stay, release, “this side/way” and “that side/way” with big elbow/hand sweeps.  I transferred this inside lesson to outside to keep them on the correct side of the road or path.

We are working, poorly, on “Look at momma”, “Far Stop” and HappyDog not pulling on leash.

Well, that’s about it.  Do any of y’all teach your dogs additional commands?

Posted in Campgrounds, Driving, Hiking, Pets | 1 Comment


Our entire 5th-wheel’s weight sits on four wheel bearings and a bed hitch.  So does every other two-axle 5th wheel.  As the wheels turn, the ball bearings spin around the two axles.  Dry ball bearings means lots of friction and heat and eventually destruction and a halt.  That’s why we must periodically grease the wheel bearings. The RV dealer said they greased the bearings right before we bought it.  Should we trust them?  Well, how about trust, but verify.

In the old days you jacked the travel trailer up, took the wheel off, removed a cotter pin to take off a castle nut, pulled the bearing out, and reached in to take out a second bearing.  Then you cleaned them and let them dry.  Then you had to put a dollop of grease in your palm, rub the bearing in such a way that the grease went between the ball bearings.  Grease the second one.  Put everything back together.  Repeat the other side.  By the way, hard knee pads and a thick ground sheet makes crawling around on the ground much less painful.

5th wheel inner 2018 jan 15.jpgMargo, at peak brilliance, did two things.  She bought a ramp so all we have to do is roll up on the ramp to lift the tire next to it off the ground.  She also picked a RV that has bearings that can be greased much easier and cleaner than the old fashioned type.  All that has to be done is take off the center wheel cap, raise the tire so it spins, pop off the dust cover, shove the grease gun fitting onto the zerk and spin and pump until grease oozes.  My description is a bit simplistic.  Do a search on youtube and you can find several good videos.

5th wheel dust cap in hand 2018 jan 15.jpgYesterday, I looked behind the dust caps.  I can see grease in all of them.  I was going to add a little more, but the grease gun broke where the nozzle fits the case.  (Never get a grease gun with an unflexible nozzle.  At least I think that’s what the trouble was).  After carrying a grease gun while we had the travel trailer, I don’t think it’s worth the lost space of carrying it around.  Plus, the grease seems to migrate.  I had our gun wrapped in paper towels, then a rag, then inside two kitchen trash bags.  They all had a fine layer of grease.  Finally it was in a large, flat tub.  Everything in that tub smells like grease, and I don’t find the smell pleasant.

5th wheel zerk 2018 jan 15

Looking at the end of the zerk.  The grease gun tip goes on the zerk.

grease gun 2018 jan 15.jpg

A grease gun.  Get one with a flexible end.

My plan is to grease before we leave and grease when we return  — if it needs it.  I might even just take  it to a tire place do it.  It shouldn’t cost too much and they can take a look at the brakes too.  Nothing wrong with catching a problem before it happens.

Posted in 5th Wheel, Safety, Tools, Travel Trailer | 1 Comment


sierra blanca 2018 jan 12.jpg

Saw this north of Tularosa on Highway 70.  That’s Sierra Blanca, the highest peak in southern New Mexico.  I always enjoy seeing it covered in snow.  Want to see it yourself?  Highway 70 between Tularosa and Ruidoso.  You come around a hill and WOW there it is.  There’s a pull off the road spot so you can get a good photo.  Another good photo op is behind the Inn of the Mountain Gods hotel and casino.  The blue of the lake combined with the white of the snow and green of the trees.  Awesome.

I’ll warn you there hasn’t been much snow.  Photos need to be taken not long after a snowfall or all you’ll get is a photo of dark gray, treeless soil.

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