Friday, November 23, 2012

November - a very short month!

I admit I knew when we were sitting in Wallowa Lake State Park that we were going to have to hit the ground running when we got to McMinnville.  We had so many things that needed to fall together during the month of November.  It was a true gift to arrive a week early.  We needed that extra week!

Among many other things, our list of "action items" included:
  • Participate in and celebrate my Dad's 80th Birthday!
  • Visit Camping World for more warranty work (don't get me started...)
  • Find/Purchase a new tow-able car
  • Get the new car and motorhome equipped for towing
  • Find/Purchase a new mattress
  • Dental Appointments
  • Eye Exam Appointments
  • Find Church to attend in McMinnville
  • Participate in and celebrate Thanksgiving with Skeels family
  • Visit as many friends as possible

It's November 23rd as I write, and I can report that we've made some good progress, but have a little ways to go.

We had a great time celebrating my Dad's 80th Birthday.  We went out to dinner as a smaller family unit on his actual birthday, and then had a much larger party for extended family and friends for following Sunday.  What a great time that turned out to be!  I got to spend some quality time with my sister as we baked pies and a cobbler for the party, and it was great see friends and family we haven't seen in a long while!

We've been able to see a few close friends so far, but haven't nearly got to do the visiting we'd hoped.  We're hoping to do more before the month is over, but it's getting frustrating ... It feels that McMinnville is a lot further away than it was last July ...  Must be because daylight hours are shorter, and the rain and wind storms much harder!  By the way, we thought our coach was going to fly through the area during the wind/rain storm just before Thanksgiving.  I haven't been that scared in a long time.  In the dark, it sounded much worse than it was!

We spent another day at Camping World having more warranty work dealt with on the 31st of October.  The repair list had got shorter, but sometimes seems it will never end.  The first year warranty period is almost half way gone.  We can only dream of the day we won't need to go back there again...  After this October appointment, we had to continue waiting for new fireplace pieces.  The fan rattles and the remote died.  If you are going to have an extra source of heat, you really don't want it to rattle the whole time you use it!

We received a call mid-month saying the parts were already in.  Consequently, we went back for a second visit Tuesday before Thanksgiving...

All this continual packing and moving has felt bothersome for me.  I guess I hadn't realized how much packing and moving for short term periods there would be in this lifestyle.  I expect I'll just get used to it over time.  I need to just "buck up" and look at packing and moving as a necessary inconvenience which, prayerfully, won't be as frequent once we get past all this warranty work and have established a new "normal" in our life.

Let me insert something here about dealing with all this warranty work:  Let's just say, if you can find service people with good communication, good skills, good communication, who don't tell you want to hear and then send you away to get you out of their hair, and with good communication skills, hire them!!  We're still looking for more of those people in the RV service business ... 

In case you feel that's too vague, here's one of our many, many experiences:  We had a closet door latch which wouldn't latch on the 4-door wardrobe in our bedroom.  It came unlatched during travel and wouldn't latch again.  It's important to latch doors, as doors can slide back and forth in travel, potentially causing damage.  Doors always need to be latched.  Feeling I could perhaps figure out the problem, I took the latch off while we were at Wallowa Lake (just two little screws).  I failed trying to fix the latch, so I went to the hardware store and looked for a replacement latch, with no success.  Steve helped me, and we got the latch to work again.  I put it back on the door, and after 3-4 latches, it quit again.  Though it could be fixed with a screwdriver each time, it didn't seem realistic to expect we should be satisfied with this situation.  I mean, it's only a latch needing to be replaced! The results - more warranty work.  They won't just mail you a new latch.  You have to go to them and let them fix it when it's on warranty.

Our service people said they could not reproduce the error.  Therefore, to them, it was not defective.  (This alone is SO frustrating to me!)  However, because I had said it was defective, and I believe they are tired of seeing and listening to us, they replaced it.  The cost was $10.99 for the latch, but we'd have to pay for it.  I said OK.  When we picked up our coach, the bill was $70.  Seems there was a bit of labor costs involved as well.  They later waived this charge when we complained, though they claimed they'd told me of the labor cost on the phone.  Like I would've missed that?  I'm just saying that. once again, good communication could've saved a lot of frustration.  We've experienced this over and over with mostly much larger tasks.  I'll move on now ....

Steve and I joined the "Family Motor Coach Association", which gives us access to the lists of vehicles which can be towed "4 down", meaning 4 wheels on the ground - the most common way of towing an extra vehicle.  We'd both been studying the lists, and talking about what kind of vehicle would meet our needs and "float our boat" for the next 10+ years.  It took a lot of evaluation of needs/wants, but we finally came to a decision that we really wanted to find a vehicle about the same size as our 2002 Buick Rendezvous - a cross-over utility vehicle (CUV) is what they are calling them now.  We wanted to be able to drive distances in it comfortably, have room for Parsley's cat carrier and litter box, and feel good about it's "driveability".  Also, we wanted to feel like it was a car we could be happy with for a long time.  We've always kept our vehicles for 10-13 years.  Also, we really like buying new - because of the warranties, because of the comfort of knowing the true history of the car.  Just a personal thing - if we can swing the $$.

From the list of tow-ables, we narrowed down our search to perhaps 6-8 vehicles.  We needed to go look at them to narrow down our list.  We pretty much assumed that we could eliminate some just by sitting in them.  They might be too big, too small, not comfortable enough, or whatever.  Then we'd get serious on whatever vehicles were still on the list.  We didn't waste any time getting busy with our vehicle shopping.

We started in Beaverton - Buick/GMC, Chevy.  We have always thought ourselves to be "Buick people", and it was difficult to come to the decision that the Enclave was just too big for how we now believe we will use a vehicle.  The GMC Terrain felt just a little too small.  The Chevy Equinox seemed very possible, but didn't have the same feeling we'd felt when we bought our Buick Rendezvous.  It's that thing you just can't put your finger on.  We decided against the Subaru, and the Honda CRV because of their smaller engines.  We really like our V-6's and were hoping for a bit more" pep" than we'd had in the 2002 Buick Rendezvous.  Our list was getting shorter.  We had a Cadillac SRX on the list, but didn't really think we were "Cadillac people".  Funny how we get certain impressions, while never even looking ... Still, there was a GM dealer right in McMinnville, so we'd go check it out.

We left the dealer that evening with a 2012 Cadillac SRX.  God's timing was perfect and there were 3 end-of-the-year SRX's on the lot - two black, one white.  White was the only thing that made sense.  It's hard to find a car wash on the park host circuit ... and State Parks don't allow car washing.

We had a great salesman at Larsen Motors in McMinnville, and even making the deal was a great experience for us.  They gave us what we wanted on our trade-in, and we were satisfied with the price we agreed to pay overall.  We would trade being able to pick color and conveniences for a great deal any day!  We have continued to feel good about our new car since driving it off the showroom floor that night.  It's just the right car for us.  It just feels right for us.

We had Wilsonville Camping World install the towing equipment on the car and motorhome.  We reasoned they'd done lots of these installations.  Experience made us feel better about making these modifications to our new vehicle.  They finished it in one day, however the walk-thru was by flashlight in the dark.  We decided to spend the night and try it again in daylight.  Steve was the first to drive the motorhome with the tow vehicle behind for the 30 mile trip back to our McMinnville RV Park.  No problems!  The hooking up is going to take us a while until we get comfortable with it.  It's scary, wondering if you've done it all correctly!  We are amazed when we watch others quickly hook up or unhook here at the RV park.  They make it look simple.

We had a funny moment on our first towing trip.  We made a planned stop in Aurora at the truck stop to fuel up the coach.  As Steve prepared to take the exit, he turned on the right turn signal.  As he drove onto the off-ramp, he glanced down at the monitor, expecting to see, via the rear camera, the car still safely behind us.  Instead, he saw open road!!  It only took a moment of sheer terror before he remembered we have cameras on the side of the motorhome that automatically switch our view to the side when we turn on the turn signal!  The car didn't show up in that view!  So many things will become less scary with experience.

Our dental appointments are complete.  The only pain was the bill ... we don't have dental insurance since we retired about 4 1/2 years ago.  We are blessed that it hasn't posed any major difficulty for us financially at this point.  We plan for those visits in our budget.  We also carry our own individual health insurance policies, with higher deductibles in order to keep our costs down.  We are committed to keeping the deductible amounts in our savings account, just in case we need it.  The rest is up to God.

Finding a new mattress has been a high priority on our list this month, however even that task had to be put off as we dealt with the new vehicle, family matters, etc.  Our new friends from Wallowa Lake, the Schaffers, told us about a Newberg mattress manufacturer who they'd been very happy with.  We decided to check them out.  Mattress purchases are costly these days!  It's also a very important choice for me particularly.  I have a bad lower back that has given me lots of grief during and after moving from our Hillsboro house.  The mattress in our new motorhome is a knock-off "sleep number" type bed, and we really hoped it would work.  I was in tears within a couple weeks of trying to make it work - from pain and a lack of decent sleep.  After a particularly bad night, while in Washington, Steve's cousin Steve had helped us find a 3" memory foam topper in Olympia.  It made enough of a difference that I could at least get some sleep again.  While I am still unable to lay on my side, it was a great improvement.  Over time, it seems less and less effective.  For the past couple weeks, I've been sleeping on the couch in the living room, which thankfully lays down into a bed.  While not perfect, it is working better for me.  I miss having Steve next to me though ... the couch didn't work as well for him.

We picked out a mattress at the manufacturer's show room earlier in the month, but had asked that they come see our unique situation before we made a purchase.  Our RV-king bed has to mechanically slide up the wall (like an adjustable bed) quite a ways in order for the bedroom slide to come in.  When both sides of the room slide in, the wardrobe meets the foot end of the mattress.  There's a micro-switch which will not allow the bed slide to move, if the bed isn't raised all the way up.  Our new mattress has to be able to bend well and must be able to be raised as our current mattress does.  Also ... our RV King mattress in the motorhome isn't a 76x80 king.  We are 4" narrower than a standard king, and perhaps an inch shorter.  RV manufacturer's often make these adjustments to improve their layouts.  RV supply companies, like Camping World, sell RV mattresses, but we found them to be quite inadequate for my back comfort.  (When a mattress is delivered flat and rolled up, you have to be suspect about the amount of support it would provide!)  Our mattress manufacturer makes each mattress to order, and for an extra amount makes "custom cuts", so our 72x79" size would require custom cut(s).  The catch is that we can't return it, since it is a custom mattress.  That's why we asked them to come view our unique situation before we committed to the order!

Unfortunately, the guy who was to come see us got sick.  We began to panic as we saw the days of November ticking away.  We have to leave here November 30, and Thanksgiving would mean the mattress factory would be closed for 4 days over the holiday weekend. We were told they'd need 7 working days to make our mattress.  I called and pleaded with the fill-in salesman for help.

I remember pointing out to Steve how God repeatedly seems to have us in these "we-can't-control-this-ourselves" situations.  How would we get this mattress, and could I manage another week sleeping on the couch?  This past Monday the original salesman came to visit us.  He measured the bed, the doorway, the bed lift, etc.  He called later to say the mattress wouldn't fit through the doorway .... but they had options:  1) buy a "split king".  He didn't think we'd be happy if we couldn't sleep right next to each other though; 2) buy a queen mattress to fit in the king space.  He said he'd knew we would want the additional space of a king; 3) the factory guys had the idea of splitting our bed in a different way - about 18" up from the foot of the bed, where the seam wouldn't matter.  We'd never heard of such a thing, yet it makes sense.  The short section of bed can be at either the foot, or the head.  It actually gives us more opportunity to vary where we sleep in the main section of bed - making the mattress wear better.  Thank God!  The mattress is to be delivered 2 days before we leave town.

We found a church we feel very comfortable attending here in McMinnville - Calvary Chapel.  We have attended there except for last Sunday when we had a great time back at our home church - Cedar Mill Bible.  Steve decided he wanted to usher along side his friend, Tom, who'd recently lost his wife to cancer.  He had a great time.  I got to sit with my long time friend, Debbie, and be surrounded by a few of the friends we'd hoped to be able to have personal visits with this month ... which is becoming less likely.  It felt like we were home!  Even our lead pastor-teacher preached the message that morning.  It was a good day.

The Amazon Kindle Fire HD 8.9-Inch is going to be a huge holiday hit. To make for an even better day, my birthday present - a new Kindle Fire HD 8.9" was delivered to our "home address".  I'm so thankful we pre-ordered it back in October, as I probably wouldn't have spent the money this month as we watched so much of it fly out of our savings account.  However, I am so pleased with how it's going to make life easier here in our motorhome.  I have worked hard to get recipes out of cookbooks and into my computer.  However, my laptop (a larger one) takes up too much kitchen counter space to be able to view the recipe while I'm cooking.  My new Kindle is just the right size to read from, and in it's space useage!  Also, Steve and I have an Amazon Prime membership, which has saved us lots of $$ in shipping charges, as we get free 2-day shipping via  (I find internet shopping a real life-saver in our RV lifestyle.)  In addition, I can enjoy reading books for free as a part of the amazon lending library.  We could stream videos for free also, except we don't exactly have a high speed Internet feed.  We are very thankful for our Verizon Mifi, which gives us our hotspot via our cell phones, but the speed isn't what most enjoy in their "stick houses".  Still, we can do most all the things we enjoy.  With my new Kindle, I can even do a few computer things with the cat laying in my lap.  It was difficult balancing my laptop on the arm of the chair previously.  Isn't it the little things that make life fun?

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving at my parents place.  It was a smaller group, with mostly just our immediate family gathered, missing only my sister-in-law, who'd had to work.  We have so much to give thanks to God for!  The list keeps getting longer.  God is good ... all the time.

Photo of Harris BeachWith only a week left in the area, I am happy to report that our list of things to accomplish, one by one, have fallen into place.  As much as we've enjoyed being in the area, visiting family and friends, getting some necessary things done in an area where we know where to shop, etc., we are also looking forward to our next assignment just outside of Brookings, Oregon (SW corner of the state).  We will be at Alfred A Loeb State Park, on the Chetco River, for December and January.  We're looking forward to exploring the town and the local area.  We stopped in Brookings years ago, and recall thinking it would be a great town to retire in.  I remember the beach being very different from the Northern coast, but just as beautiful in a whole different way.  We're expecting it will be a mild winter down there.  We expect to be meeting fishermen in the park, as it's said there is wonderful salmon/steelhead fishing on the Chetco River.  We've also heard the park hosts like to do breakfast together once a week - a nice opportunity to get to know hosts in the 3 state parks near Brookings (Harris Beach, Crissy Fields & Alfred A Loeb).  We're praying for safe traveling weather at the end of the month.  Our next adventure awaits!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Getting through the Columbia Gorge ... to McMinnville

As I mentioned in the last post, we decided I would drive the motorhome from Pendleton to McMinnville, as Steve was feeling extra groggy that morning.  I was short on sleep, but feeling I could handle another day of driving.  Our new friends, the Schaffers, decided to stay an additional night at the casino RV park in order to take advantage of the laundry facilities, so Steve and I were on our own again.  We stopped in to say goodbye before heading out.  I believe we were on the road about 10:00 that morning.

I really have got quite a bit more comfortable driving our motorhome.  It's crazy, but I love turning corners.  I also love those exhaust brakes.  It just all makes sense now.  My main area of concern now is having to turn tight corners in traffic in downtown situations.  As I've mentioned, I'm a planner.  My comfort zone is knowing (being able to picture the roads/intersections in my head) where I'm going and what I'll deal with before I get there.  Obviously, this isn't realistic.  I guess that's why we've always had the Buick be our "lead vehicle".  If there's something difficult ahead that might be avoided, the lead car can notify the motorhome driver.

On this travel day, I was nervous about unknown wind conditions in the gorge first.  We began driving, mile after mile, and the weather was just great!  We saw a large flag hanging straight down somewhere near Umatilla.  No wind!  What were the chances?  Even as we approached The Dalles, the wind continued to be pretty much non-existent.  This was such a huge relief, and made for an easy day of travel.  It was clear we would go all the way to McMinnville.

As we drove through the last section of the gorge, approaching Troutdale, we were speaking via cell phone, deciding how we'd travel through Portland to McMinneville.  We agreed on the Marquam bridge across the Willamette, to I-5 South.  While going over the bridge in the motorhome was scary, it seemed do-able.  The next decision was which exit to take off I-5.  Would we take Hwy 99 through Tigard, or drop down to Aurora, get fuel at the truck stop and then take Hwy 219 to Newberg to connect with Hwy 99.  I wasn't sure I wanted to go further south, and we didn't have to get fuel yet.  We'd filled up at Pendleton as we headed toward Wallowa Lake, and 100 gallons was lasting us just fine.  I figured we would just fuel up at the end of November before heading to Brookings.

The other option, taking the Hwy 99 exit off I-5 was scary, since I just couldn't picture it.  How many times had I ever driven south on I-5 that far, coming from Portland?  I was afraid there would be an intersection, where I'd have to make a tight left turn to head east on Hwy 99.

...That's when Steve's cell phone died.  His battery likes to surprise us.

No more opportunity to talk through the decision.  I resolved myself to just follow Steve in the Buick, wherever he might go.  What other choice did I have?  I kept my eyes on Steve in the Rendezvous and just kept going.

About the time we prepared to take the approach to the Marquam, traffic really slowed down.  Going slow always makes things more simple!  I managed to stay in my lane over the bridge and maneuvered the on ramp to I-5 without any difficulties.  Hurrah!  Next, I wondered which exit Steve would decide to take to get us to McMinnville.  It appeared we'd be doing the Barbur Blvd/Tigard exit.  I just kept following Steve.  Seems there was no intersection to deal with!  No left turn!  Also traffic was nice and slow through Tigard, giving me lots of time to make sure I stayed in my lane and made no quick stops at traffic signals.  God was so good to us yet again!

I know you "man-type creatures" out there are probably thinking I'm some kind of wimp.  How hard can driving a motorhome - or a semi be?  Well ... I kind of am a wimp.  I'm just a determined wimp.  I love accomplishing things I thought were perhaps impossible for me.  And, along with that, I am learning more each day how to trust the God I have chosen to put my trust in.  It's not magic.  You don't just decide to follow God and suddenly have no questions about where you are willing to go.  Each day, each hour, each minute is often a new decision.  Yet each time we get through the next rough patch, I find He is trustworthy.  Not a bad lesson to learn over and over again!

Planning - perhaps. Flexibility - a necessity!

If you know me at all, you know I like to plan.  I like to be prepared.  It makes me feel more relaxed when I know what today and tomorrow hold.  I have some anxiety issues ...  I love lists.  I love my calendar.  I plan out our dinners a month in advance (if I'm on top of things).  Can you relate to that at all?

Part of this new life style for me is learning to be more flexible.  I am having to learn to be more open to whatever happens to come up.  This is not always easy for me, but I'm trying!

Being a park host is excellent training in being flexible with my own plans.  I'm learning to accept each position with the attitude of "whatever you need us to do, we will try our best".  I've done that in other volunteer opportunities quite successfully.  However, this park hosting business has raised the bar!   If I could, I lean toward avoiding any real or imagined difficulties.  I'd like to appear confident in my job, which means I might only want to do what I've already tried.  Fewer risks.  Rarely now are any two jobs the same!  Yes, I'm being stretched - in a really good way.

We accepted the park hosting position at Wallowa Lake State Park for September and October.  We were assigned our camp site (we loved it).  I did not pick it as I've always done when we were just "regular campers".  We were assigned responsibility for selling wood and for cleaning vacated camp sites - both tasks we enjoy - because that's what they needed us to do.  How the job is done varies from park to park.  We began work the morning after we arrived, and worked with 5 other hosts.  Our schedules overlapped and and we covered for each other as work loads changed with the changing of the seasons.  All of that required being available and flexible, getting to know new people and learning to deal and accept individual differences.  At Wallowa, we worked with such a good group of hosts - we all became quick friends, even with different strengths and personalities.  Park hosting is a great way to make new friends!

October brought some changes to our happy little Wallowa Lake family.  Some hosts left at the end of September.  The seasonal rangers were beginning to leave as well.  We had an additional host come join us for a week on a special project (photographing campsites which will eventually be viewable when making online camping reservations).  Steve and Al hit it off pretty quick (the "engineer thing") and we hope to see he and his wife again at another park one day.  We lost a couple other hosts who were ready to move to their next job, or planning to "Winter" elsewhere, leaving only two remaining hosts - the Schaffers and ourselves.

The weather changed rapidly in October.  We began getting freezing temperatures, in the mid 20's, at night.  We were unable to get propane delivered directly to our coach at the park, but had figured out a location we could take the coach to in town, if necessary.  We nursed our 28-gallon propane, using one of our heat pumps (air conditioner) for heat once the temperature got above 35 degrees, when the heat pump began to be effective.  Running a furnace can use a lot of propane up quickly, though at the time we had just one of our two furnaces working.  We went into town and purchased a small ceramic heater for extra help holding the temperature above freezing in the night.  It began to look like we were going to make through two months without buying more propane!

A prior winter photo by Heather Honeywell
Around that same time, our supervising Ranger, Shawn, told us that there would be a point coming soon when Maintenance-Ranger Wes would begin shutting off the water in various loops to avoid freezing pipes at the park.  Our host site happened to be C-1, a part of the first loop they were planning to close down.  To us less rough-and-tough people, it's no fun trying to "dry camp" for any extended length of time.  Keep in mind, this is our house!  We do laundry in it, take showers in it, wash dishes, etc.  We certainly need more than 100 gallons of water for a couple weeks of living!
Steve and I began trying to figure out what we could/should do.  Could we move into another site in B loop, which they'd planned to keep open longer?  While Ranger Shawn assured us that we could leave whenever we felt we needed to, it felt strange to consider leaving the park early.  We'd taken the position for September and October.  We've always met our commitments.  We spoke with our fellow hosts.  They planned to stay to the end.  We were really struggling.  Suddenly, the weather warmed and began to look hopeful!   They wouldn't need to turn off the water unless things got worse again.  We stayed on at the park, though we decided to leave on the 29th, to give us a better shot at being home for my Dad's birthday.  Our best plan was in order.

Then we had our first real rain of the reason.  It poured and poured for a couple days.  A small lake formed behind our MobyHoma.  We breathed in the moisture!  My cuticles began to mend at last!  But, then we saw our first snow.  It was so great to be able to see it come down in the park.  I love snow!  I don't want to have to drive in snow, mind you, but I love it!  We were keeping a close eye on the weather forecasts...  On Sunday, October 21, the temperatures dropped down in the mid 20's again.  We'd seen frost for the first time the morning before, thanks for the moisture left from the rain.  Keep in mind moisture was rare during our time at the park.  We decided not to risk driving into town on icy roads for church in Enterprise that morning.  One Ranger had experienced black ice on her way in to work.

Instead of church, Steve and I did a lot of talking.  We checked the latest weather forecasts and discovered a steady downward trend in the temperatures, both during the day and at night.  Snow was predicted for Tuesday morning, the 23rd.  We talked about our desire to be home for my Dad's 80th birthday, about the amount of tasks we were going to have to accomplish during the month of November, including finding/buying/ rigging a tow vehicle.  We were already aware that it was going to be an extremely busy month.  We were going to have to hit the ground running in McMinnville in order to accomplish everything we needed to .  Then we considered the weather creeping in on us.  When would it be too late to drive out safely?  We decided it was time -- now.  We decided to leave on Monday, October 22nd, prior to the predicted snow event, just in case it didn't end after the predicted day.  This would be one week before our planned date of departure.

We went over to visit our co-hosts to tell them of our decision.  I said, "We have some news to share."  Sharon said, "I think I know what it is."  I asked, "What?"  She said, "You are leaving the park tomorrow."  I couldn't believe it!  How could she have known?  We didn't talk to anyone else about it!  Seems they'd run into Ranger Wes, who'd shared that he was going to have to turn off the water on their loop, and had already closed the restroom/showers and laundry facility in that loop early that week.  They didn't have a washer/dryer in their Class C motorhome.  Independent from us, the Schaffer's had come to the same conclusion on when they should leave! It was clear God had confirmed that our plans were His also.  How cool was that?!?!

I went on to explain to Bill & Sharon that we thought we'd only go as far as Pendleton, staying at the RV Park at the Wild Horse Casino.  Bill said they'd had the same idea!  Sharon had told me on a previous day that she like the idea of traveling together with us for safety reasons.  After all, we were both headed the same direction.  Bill & Sharon were heading back to Newberg, and we were heading for McMinnville.  However, our leaving dates weren't making that possible.  Until now!  I should mention that Bill and Sharon are very early risers compared to us.  Steve and I are much slower and prefer to stay up in the evening a while longer.  Knowing that, Bill and Sharon were still willing to wait and leave with us between 11:00 and noon once temperatures were above freezing.  The plan was made.

We left Wallowa Lake State Park just after 11:00 on Monday morning.  It was snowing (not sticking) as we drove around the lake on the way out.  Steve (with Parsley) led in the Buick, I followed in Moby, and the Schaffers followed in their motorhome, towing their Volkswagen bug.  We had us a "convoy" of sorts!

I prayed a lot during that 2 1/2  hour drive to Pendleton.  First, I was concerned there might be slick roads along the way.  (Our motorhome doesn't appear to have a temperature monitor for the road.  If it does, we haven't found it yet.) However, things went very well and were pretty easy, at least until we started climbing to get through the pass prior to Pendleton.  We ran into a pretty good amount of rain, which was increasingly mixed with snow.  This was my first experience using the windshield wipers, and I was so happy to see how well they worked.  I knew I could just pull over if it got just too dicey.  However, then I imagined the snow might begin sticking and we could get stuck.  I knew we had to keep going.  I began to pray aloud to God asking that He would get us through these last 30 miles safely.  Hadn't He led us to this day of travel?  He did.  Surely, He would see us through.

There was sunshine on the other side of that pass!  We pulled into the Wild Horse Casino RV Park around 2:00 that afternoon.  We set up and then joined the Schaffers on a shuttle bus to go enjoy the Casino's lunch buffet.  It was so nice to enjoy our new friends, a good meal, and relax.

Steve and I didn't get much sleep that night, but decided the next morning to go ahead and head for McMinnville that day.  If there was excessive wind or other nasty weather in the gorge, we could always decide to stop for another night.  Since Steve was feeling particularly groggy this morning, we decided I would go ahead and drive Moby the rest of the way to McMinnville....

To be continued .....