Monday, August 27, 2012

Driving the Beast …Birthday fun

We're reaching the end of August, which means we will once again be heading back into Hillsboro to have more of the “bugs” worked out with our motorhome.  That means we once again have to drive this thing!

So far, Steve and I have always split the responsibility of driving.  We take turns:  one drives the Buick with Parsley, the other gets the motorhome – all by themselves.  Steve and I have shared a certain experience.  Each time we take the wheel of our Winnebago Journey 42E, we “white knuckle it” for the first 5-10 miles before we once again relax, realizing we CAN do this!

It’s really a strange thing, if you think about it.  No one really teaches you, aside from verbal instructions and a huge manual of information - most of which I didn't understand - how to drive it!  In my mind, it was as if someone handed me the keys to a semi truck and said, “Have fun!”..... What?!?!  I have to drive this thing?!?

I think, initially, the biggest fear for me was the size of our new portable home.  How could I get that thing around a corner without taking out the curb, and everything on the curb?  How could I keep it in the lane and not cause accidents?

Then there’s the matter of knowing NOTHING about a diesel engine.  And exhaust breaks.  And the side and backup cameras.  What’s with a “tag axel” and why does it have to "dump" before I can back up?  What is a battery boost switch for?  There are many, many other switches and buttons.  My brain screams, “I am not trained to drive this!”  Yet we do.  Fortunately most things are in "auto mode".

I remember the first time I drove alone -- no one else in the vehicle or outside directing me away from fixed objects.  We were on our way to Shelton, Washington and I’d taken over driving when we'd stopped at a rest stop, determined that if Steve could do it, I could do it.  I believe about a half hour up the road, I began to realize clouds were forming in the sky.  That’s when it occurred to me I had no idea where the control for the windshield wipers were should it suddenly begin raining!  I managed to pry one hand off the steering wheel and call Steve on the cell phone to ask him if he knew?  He told me he thought it might be on the left side of the dash!  I spotted it, though I didn’t try it, but at least I had hope should the rain begin to fall.

In a “normal car”, you just know where things will be.  They are most always in a particular area of the drivers seat.  We take it for granted!  The windshield wipers would naturally be found on the turn signal arm, or at least in that vicinity.  Not on Moby.  Though I haven’t tried it, there’s a toggle switch on the dash on the left side that has a picture that might just indicate a windshield wiper.  Where the high/low settings might be, I still have no idea at this writing….

When it comes to buttons and switches, it’s just overwhelming.  Also, they are so tiny in comparison to the surrounding dash!  There are different groupings of switches in various areas of the driving area in the coach.  There are buttons on the side wall, to the left of the drivers seat.  One turns on a map light.  Two others bring down shades on the front window.  There are others on the left side of the dash, in addition to the wiper switch.  In the center of the dash, to the right of the speedometer, tachometer, etc. there is an information center where two small monitors sit.  I know the bottom one is  "slave" to the top, but have never used it.  The top monitor is where our side and rear backup cameras show us what's happening outside the coach.  It also has our GPS in it.  Also a radio.  Steve was reading directions this week and learned we also have a DVD/CD player in there!  Who knew?  Don't know who'd be watching a movie while driving ... but at least I could play a music CD, since as of this writing, I still don't know how to turn on the radio.

A major issue of using some of these toys when I'm alone driving the coach, is that I have to remove a hand from the steering wheel to push a button, while diverting my eyes from the road.  Both those things are still uncomfortable for me.  Perhaps in time ...

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We have found that one of the biggest blessings of this adventure has been the contact we've had with family, friends, making new friends, and chatting with various campers ... especially the little ones.  Children sometimes come to us asking to "help" as we clean camp sites.  Isn't that just the cutest thing?  I had a young lady of perhaps six ask to help me yesterday.  I asked if she could help me find litter?  She nodded, and then quietly looked around.  When she found something in the fire pit, she just pointed.  She was shy, yet bold enough to ask if she could help.  I loved that brief encounter!

We figured out today that during this month of August in Lincoln City we've had nine different visits from family and friends!  Most all were totally unexpected, and so appreciated!  It's meant an awful lot to us that people have gone out of their ways to visit us, whether for a couple days, or a few minutes.  It made us feel so special!

Today is Steve's birthday.  It's the first occasion where we celebrate a birthday outside of the family traditions we've pretty much done for 19 1/2 years now.  While we miss being able to share Steve's birthday with family, we decided it was an opportunity to do something different.  We originally planned to go out to dinner - just the two of us.  However our favorite host couple here at the park, Bill and Judy Brock, were asking us about this place we'd gone to eat at with our friends Brian and Shelley.  We asked if they'd like to join us there for Steve's birthday?  They accepted, and tonight we all enjoyed a wonderful meal at Tidal Raves, and got to know each other better.  Last night they'd come to see us at our motorhome, and after dinner tonight, we spent some time at theirs.  We visited at various times this month, and quickly figured out we had some fun similarities, including both Steve and Bill having engineering backgrounds and careers.  It's always fun to have friends who understand some of the unique qualities of the "engineering brain".  I love my engineer husband, and enjoy his many unique qualities.  Judy understands that and feels the same about her husband, Bill.  Before leaving them this evening, we made sure we have each other's cell phone numbers and email addresses.  We also made tentative plans to try to meet up on the Oregon coast next summer.

We had another fun surprise this week!  Steve went up to the wood barn to put away our tools after work yesterday and heard someone say, "Hello Steve".  It was "Oh-No Phil", a friend of Vern and Londa Sundin's who'd golfed with Steve when Brian had taken Steve along to golf with Vern's gang.  Steve has always talked about this "really nice guy", they call "Oh-No Phil".  His name came from the words he speaks often when he swings his golf club - "Oh no!"  Phil, and his wife, Shirley, are frequent RVers, and had been camping at another park here on the coast with the Sundin bunch earlier this week.  When they heard we were hosting just down the coast from them, they decided to spontaneously drive down and see if they could get into the park - which they did.  The Sundin's hadn't told us, so it would be a fun surprise.  It worked!  Phil and Shirley came to visit this afternoon after Steve and I had finished cleaning camp sites.  We had such a nice visit, and will likely get to see them again one day as they plan to hunt us down again.  What a special thing to make new friends!

God has blessed us with life-long friends, and it is a special blessing to be adding new ones as a result of our new lifestyle!

With only two more days left of "work" here at Devil's Lake State Park, we are getting things put away again, in preparation for our appointment at Camping World.  We're really hoping the pesky things that are not yet working correctly on the coach will be fixed.  We know the part is in for the a/c repair, and also my new closet door is waiting.  We are hoping we'll be able to use the electric controls to move the passenger seat out of the way of the entry area better.  We have had to add to the list that one of our two furnaces isn't working.  Like with the air conditioner, it fires up, then quits.  We'll most likely be needing that furnace at Wallowa Lake!

It will be an adventure spending a couple nights on the Camping World back lot also.  We're glad they are allowing us to do that, as we don't know where we'd stay without our home!  We plan to leave Hillsboro on Friday, spending a night at Memaloose State Park in the gorge (between Hood River and the Dalles), courtesy of Oregon State Parks!  Oregon State Parks lets hosts in transit between jobs stay overnight for free in the parks, assuming there's an opening.  This will be our first experience of that benefit.  Then we plan to arrive at Wallowa Lake State Park on September 1st.  Our orientation meeting is set for 10:00 a.m. on September 2nd.  We're really looking forward to spending two months in such a beautiful area.

I guess that brings my blog more up to date.  I'm hoping to have more time to write next month.  I haven't done so well this month.  I need to be "in my head" to write, and well ... I don't have much alone time anymore.  That's not a bad thing, simply a fact.  Steve and I are having to learn new ways of being together.  It's not natural for us to be together in the same room and not share spontaneously whatever pops into our minds.  Yet, we each need some time to be "in our heads".  We'll figure this out eventually.  It's just yet another adjustment we need to make.

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