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Mt. Rainier National Park, Washington

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Camp Master Tech

(Elkhart, IN) Hi 70 Lo 41 -- We slept in a half hour later this morning. We turned on the little space heater last night and slept better without being as cold. They got us into the bay at 7:30 and started working on the RV right away.

It's like being in a hospital, the main guy working on our RV wears a surgeons cap to keep oil and dirt out of his hair. He came by to tell us progress every once in awhile, so it was like a surgeon telling us about our baby.

Our RV in the bay. (Click on picture to enlarge)

There's several RV's in the service building packed in like sardines.


We went to lunch and when we got back we had a progress update. The AC compressor is shot, so they're ordering a new complete air conditioner. Ours is a Carrier, which is no longer in the RV business. So we're getting a Coleman unit that uses our same remote control unit, so they won't have to install any wires in our walls for a thermostat. The part for the propane furnace came in so that's fixed. They decided on a solution for our slide problem. They're installing another roller on the bottom of it to provide more support. Then they went back to work and we went back to the waiting room.

At the end of the day they had the new roller installed. Here it is, under our kitchen sink area.

They also repaired the gap where the kitchen cabinets were pulling away from the wall by installed some gussets. The frame and structure under the front cap was checked and everything is ok there. The AC will (hopefully) come in tomorrow and be installed. We're back in our parking lot site for the night.

My nephews Dave and Doug live in the area, so we arranged to have dinner with them and their wives at Das Dutchman Essenhaus Restaurant, one of the best Amish restaurants around.

The laughs were many and the food (all you can eat buffet) was delicious.

L to R: Dee, Jim, Dave, Doug, Tina, and Pam

Doug, Dee, Jim, Tina and Dave

Pam, Doug's wife took the picture above, so we have to include her.

We had a wonderful time and on the way home the sunset was beautiful.

Hopefully we'll wrap up our repairs tomorrow. See you then.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Celebrating Jim's Birthday with Friends

(Elkhart, IN) Hi 63 Lo 41 -- HAPPY BIRTHDAY, JIM

We had to be up and ready to take the RV to the repair bay by 7:00. It was really cold but the waiting room was nice and warm. We went to breakfast mid morning, then to a local discount store called Meijers. It's very similar to a Walmart. We found some long sleeve shirts for the colder weather we're in to be more comfortable. When we left there we went to Goshen to the Elkhart County Fairgrounds to see Kris and Dan and Howard and Linda. They're still there after the RV-Dreams Rally ended yesterday. We invited them to join us for Jim's birthday dinner at his favorite steak place, Texas Roadhouse.

Howard and Linda (RV-Dreams.com) have made some improvements to their 2004 Cambridge fifth wheel, including new flooring and a full body paint job. They also had a hauler bed installed on their Ford dually. (Click on the pictures to enlarge them.)

Howard and Linda

We all met at the Texas Roadhouse and had a wonderful dinner.

L to R: Dan, Howard, Kris, Dee, Jim, Linda

It was so fun to relax and just talk about travels. Thank you so much Howard and Linda for dinner. We said our see you laters to everyone and came back home. We'll need to get up early again tomorrow.

An example of the renovation skills at Master Tech RV is this early '70's Winnebago that they completely renovated from the frame up. It's gorgeous on the inside and out.

An update on our repairs... The big full wall slide will need more work that we thought. It's so heavy that it doesn't have enough support, so the techs are going to beef up the underframe and add some additional rollers to make it operate smoother. We'll know more about their planned work tomorrow, but we know it isn't going to be cheap.

We've had a busy day. See you tomorrow.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Restful Sunday and Visit with Friends

(Elkhart, IN) Hi 65 Lo 54 -- This was my last morning to sleep late for a few days. We'll have to be ready to move into the repair bay by 7am each morning until the work is done sometime this week.

We watched the morning news shows, read emails and blogs, then took a walk around. There's several RV's that have moved in and a few that have been here for a while. We talked to one couple in a nice looking 1991 Pace Arrow which was completely renovated a few years ago here at Master Tech RV. They even manufactured a slideout for a unit that didn't have any slideouts. While we were talking to them it started raining. The rest of the afternoon we had rain off and on, with a fine hard rain that came down sideways. We watched the race and some football the rest of the afternoon.

I noticed while reading the blog of our friends Bill and Debbie that they were in town getting their fifth wheel serviced at another facility. I emailed them and they wrote back right away, so we made plans to meet for dinner at a local Mexican restaurant.

Bill and Debbie

We had a very nice visit and enjoyed catching up and sharing our travel experiences the past couple of years. After a good meal and some great conversation we came back to the RV and settled in for the rest of the evening. We'll be up early tomorrow, and hopefully they'll make some progress on our repairs.

See you tomorrow.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Back Home Again in Indiana

(Elkhart, IN) Hi 78 Lo 56 -- I’m from the tiny Indiana town of Clunette, just north of Warsaw, and lived there till I was 18, when I moved to Florida. It’s grown a lot since the 60’s, but a lot of it is the same.

Today we headed to Nappanee for the Apple Festival. Our family went to the Apple Festival every year when I was growing up. I didn’t plan on being there long, I just wanted to buy some fresh, home grown apples. When we got there we walked around for a little while, then left before the parade started. There were lots of people and we parked a few blocks away from the main activity. I wanted a half bushel of apples, and you’d think there would be apples everywhere. But there were mostly vendors selling everything BUT apples. There was a couple of bins of apples for 50 cents each, and we finally found a tent that had cakes, cookies, pies, cobblers and a couple of types of apples sold by the sack. We bought a sack of Galas and a huge apple fritter.

There’s apple decorations all over town. (Click on photos to enlarge them.)
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A car show was being held later today, and Jim really drooled over this 1965 GTO.
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Some of the vendodors weren’t open yet.
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We got a kick out of these giggly Amish girls looking at clothes that they're not allowed to wear. It's interesting that they dress in their traditional home made clothes, but they were all wearing very expensive looking athletic shoes.
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There was a small midway with a few rides, but this one was the only one operating when we were there.
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We left Nappanee and went to Clunette. This is the house I lived in during my teen years.
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We went to my friend Evelyn’s just outside of town. She’s been like a second mom to me, and her 91st  birthday was this past week. She lives alone, still drives, and takes care of the donkeys and sheep on her small farm. She is such an inspiration to us!

2014-09-20 Evelyn and Dee Clunette IN

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Evelyn made us a wonderful lunch of chicken and potatoes. She has a very protective dog named Fido, who loves to play with her cat.
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While in town I called my old schoolmate Beth, who invited all of us over to see her and her dad. She’s in the process of moving back to Clunette from Illinois. Her dad Jack is a hero of the greatest generation who earned a Bronze Star in World War II.

Beth and her dad Jack
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We had a great time visiting, and after goodbye hugs all around we dropped Evelyn back at her house and headed straight back to the RV. There were severe storms on the way and we wanted to get home ahead of them. We did stop on the way at Rise and Roll, an Amish bakery shop, for some fresh donuts. We made it home before the rains came. But the severe weather thankfully went south of us.

It was a great day of visiting. We have more friends and family to see before we leave the area.

See you tomorrow.

Friday, September 19, 2014

A Day of Waiting

(Elkhart, IN) Hi 72 Lo 48 -- We were told to have the RV ready to go into the repair bay by 7:30 this morning. We were up and ready, then waited. It was after 10am when they finally came to get us. We settled into their comfortable waiting room for the day. We did take time out to have some lunch at a little hole in the wall type place called Cock-a-Doodle-Do Cafe. It was great food and very fast friendly service. We barely sat down and ordered and the food was brought to us. They serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner all day long. Today was all you can eat fish, which is what I had. It sure was good. It was Alaskan Pollock, which I've never had before.

Then it was back to the waiting room. We enjoyed talking with other customers. They all said the same thing; Master Tech RV is slow, but they're very good. That's what we like to hear. :)

We got a status report at 3:30. The furnace needs a part, which will be in Monday. That's basically all they got to today. :( The tech kind of insinuated we'd be there until the middle of next week. But that's OK. We're back in their parking lot site for the weekend with electric, water, and great free wi-fi.

This evening we're headed out to have dinner at Applebee's with Hank and Selene, our NC friends we saw last evening at the RV-Dreams Rally. We're looking forward to seeing them again.

See you tomorrow.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Milwaukee to Elkhart - Meeting Friends, Old and New

(Elkhart, IN) Hi 70 Lo 46 -- We left the Wisconsin State Fair RV Park in Milwaukee yesterday at 9:30am. It was a beautiful morning, but the trip was stressful and tiring. I-94 between Milwaukee and Chicago is horrible. The traffic was very heavy, and we've never seen so much truck traffic before.

Jim likes to cruise around 55-60 mph and stay in the right lane. On this trip he constantly had trucks all around him whooshing by, sometimes on both sides if he was in a middle lane. Add to that several construction zones with narrow lanes and concrete walls on both sides, and it made for a pretty stressful trip. This was one time we wish we would have stayed off the interstate. I do miss watching for the state signs to take a picture of them. Now that we have all 48, there's no need for another photo.

We arrived at Master Tech RV in Elkhart, IN around 1:30. There's a lot of RV's in the parking sites. We checked in and gave the receptionist the list of things we want done, and then parked in one of the several sites they have for customers. They have about eight sites on the back side of the building that were all occupied, so we were given the one site in front. We have 50 amp electric and water, and we set up our satellite, so we're fine.

There is one annoyance here. We keep hearing a high pitched screeching noise. It took awhile to realize we're near a huge train yard, and the sound is the brakes being automatically applied to train cars that are rolling down through the sorting chutes. We learned about that when we visited the Bailey Rail Yard in North Platte, NE a couple years ago.

We spent today waiting for a knock on our door to let us know they're ready to start working on our home. We're here to get our air conditioner repaired (or replaced), the propane furnace isn't coming on,  adjust our full wall slide, and find out why the trim screws on our front cap keep coming loose. They're behind on completing a couple of jobs, so they weren't sure when they'd get to us today. Jim went in and checked at 1pm and we had the option of having them do the troubleshooting late this afternoon, then do the work tomorrow, or just start the whole thing tomorrow morning. We chose the latter, so we don't have to move, then re-set up again a couple of hours later.

The RV-Dreams Fall Rally is being held this week in Goshen, about 12 miles away. We've been to two RV-Dreams Rallies in the past. Although we didn't sign up for this one, we were invited to come to their potluck dinner tonight. Several of our friends were there so we were looking forward to attending. We headed over around 4:30 to join the fun.

Selene and Hank are our friends from our ham radio days in NC. They sold their home this past spring and are now full timers in their new to them American Couch motorhome.

We met Kris and Dan in Ohio a year and half ago when they were just thinking about going full time. They've now been on the road three weeks. Congrats you two! We had the pleasure of meeting their friends David and Peggy, who are now OUR friends too!

David, Peggy, Kris, and Dan

The food tables were loaded.

There's 160 rally members, all learning about the full time lifestyle.

Our table. From L to R, Jim, Hank, Selene, Peggy, David, Dan (hidden), and Kris.

Howard and Linda Payne, who run RV-Dreams.com, have been conducting these rallies since 2008.

After dinner was over they gave a demonstration of their two models of Sea Eagle inflatable kayaks.

We went to Hank and Selene's motorhome for some after dinner conversation, then returned to our home. Even though we're parked in a parking lot in and industrial part of town, once we come inside and close our door we feel just as much at home as if we were parked in the most expensive RV resort. (Except for those screeching train brakes.)  :)

See you tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Milwaukee – It’s Miller Time

(Milwaukee, WI) Hi 64 Lo 42 – Today was cool, but bright and sunny. A much better day than yesterday to take a drive to Milwaukee. We made our way east on I-94, found a parking spot on the street,  and took a walk along the Lake Michigan lakefront and onto a pier that gave us a nice view of the city.

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Nearby is the Milwaukee Art Museum, housed in one of the most beautiful and unique looking buildings we’ve seen. It’s designed to look like a sailboat.
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We didn’t go inside, but we sure enjoyed walking around it.
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We occasionally go inside an art museum, but not very often. Most of the time we just don’t agree with what some consider art. Such as this…

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I don’t know what it’s called, but I guess “Car Wrapped Around a Telephone Pole” would be an appropriate name.

Milwaukee has what I’d call a “modest” skyline. The city population is around 600,000, and the metropolitan area is around 1.3 million. The tallest building is the U.S. Bank Center, at 42 stories and 601 ft.

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We liked this pink fountain. It’s probably tied into the Susan G. Komen Race For the Cure being held this Sunday in Milwaukee.

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After we enjoyed our downtown stroll we drove around the north side of town and stopped for lunch at Culver’s. Culver’s started in Wisconsin so there seems to be one on every other corner in this state. We then made our way to the MillerCoors Brewery to take a tour.

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We’ve toured other breweries, both large and small. MillerCoors is a large brewery, but not as big as Anheuser-Busch in St. Louis. The tour took about an hour and included the bottling line, brew house, packaging warehouse, and “The Cave”, where beer was stored 60 ft. underground under the original brewery building. A film explained that tons of ice were brought in to pack around the outside walls of the cave year round to keep the beer cool. Here are a few photos.

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This is the original brewery building built in the mid-1800’s.

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Our tour guide shared one interesting stat. Of the millions of barrels of beer produced at the Milwaukee Miller plant, 40% of it goes to the city of Chicago. Chicago consumes as much beer as four other entire states. Wow!

Of course the tour ended at the tasting room, where we got to taste Miller Lite and Miller High Life. Ho hum. (At Anheuser-Busch they let you sample their premium brews, some that weren’t even on the market yet.)

It was an enjoyable tour, and a nice way to spend part of an afternoon. (And it’s free.) We headed back home and managed to beat the rush hour. Just down the street from our RV park is the U.S. Olympic Training Facility for the U.S. Speed Skating team.

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On a whim we stopped and checked to see if we were allowed inside to take a look. Turns out it’s an open facility. It was very impressive to see an Olympic-size speed skating oval in person. Using auto racing terms, this is the home stretch, looking toward turn 4…

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… and this is looking toward turn 1.
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Awesome! The only action going on was a couple of ladies practicing their figure skating moves in an area inside the oval.

Right next door to us they’re setting up for a circus that’s starting tomorrow.

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That looks like it’ll get real crowded around here starting tomorrow, so I’m glad we’re leaving in the morning. We’re headed to Elkhart, IN to get some work done on Tumbleweed. We’ll be in that area for about a week. We always enjoy ourselves in the Elkhart area. It’s close to Dee’s home territory, so we’re looking forward to seeing family and friends while we’re there.

See you in two days.