The Great Motorhome Story, Part 1

In early May of this year, my dear mother had a simple proposal for me. “Would you like my old motorhome? I’m getting a new one.”

A bit leery, I said sure. It’s older, but in pretty good shape. She’s driven it all over Oregon with few to no problems. As I was unemployed at the time, I suddenly had visions of simply driving around Oregon, taking pictures for my Photoblog. I’d stay within 400 or so miles of home so as to be quickly available for any jobs.

I got the motorhome, did a few small maintenance jobs on it. A couple of weeks later the subject of a family reunion in Texas came up. As I now had the motorhome, and was still unemployed, I figured I’d drive down. Even doubling my estimate for gas usage based on mileage, doing so was cheaper then airplane tickets, car rental, dog sitter, and hotel rooms.

So a plan was born. I’d drive the motorhome down to Texas. My wife would fly in and then we’d swing through LA for a trip to Disney Land. I’d get to see large portions of the country I’ve never seen, she’d get to go to Disney Land and we’d have a great trip.

Itineraries were created, maps were procured. Food and necessities packed. CB Radio to talk to truckers. Maps to grocery stores and Free Wi-Fi hot spots were printed out and organized in a 3 Ring Binder. Lists of Camp Grounds along each stop, and a secondary list of Walmarts, Targets and KMarts that allowed RV over nighters. Oh, and Triple A like insurance for the Motorhome purchased just in case. The day of the trip rolls around and I’m off along I-84.

The route was roughly, Portland to Boise. Boise to Salt Lake, Salt Lake to Roswell (with a 30 mile side trip to a cemetery where some of my ancestors are buried,) and then across the state of Texas to San Antonio. I would drive back to Del Rio Texas, pick up my wife and mother there, go to the reunion, then go Phoenix, LA, San Francisco, Portland. Had 14 whole days scheduled for the trip with 300-400 miles each day.

It’s been a few years since I’d drive I-84. The weather was awesome. Saw two bald eagles sitting on an island in the Columbia River. Viewed the Maryhill Museum of Art and the replica of Stonehenge. Counted windmills and trains. Stopped at every single “Oregon History Sign” I saw.

I enjoyed the drive so much that I totally blew by my first scheduled stop in La Grande Oregon. Took the back road to Union, Oregon, a place I had stayed a couple of days several years ago and thoroughly enjoyed. Took lots of pictures at every stop. Took the dog for a couple of walks to get her calmed down from the all the noises in the motorhome.

Ended up crossing visting the Ghost Town of Lime, Oregon. Drove across the Idaho Border, got caught in traffic in Nampa Idaho, and finally drove into Twin Falls, Idaho about 9PM. I decided to stay at the truck stop, but off a road so that my much smaller motorhome didn’t get run over by an 18 Wheeler.

At this time the radiator belt had been squeaking pretty hard. The Chevy dealer in Boise was closed when I had gone through. So I hoped that I could find one in Twin Falls, or any kind of repair shop. At the truck stop I asked several different people about options in town. Two just didn’t know, and two had both recently moved into town and had no clue where anything was. They also did not seem to have a local phone book, and I couldn’t bring myself to pay $9.99 for a 30 second Google Search.

So, not worrying about it, I went to sleep.

Only to be woken up at 4:30 am as Truckers started their engines up and got ready to hit the road. I reluctantly got up, and got ready myself. Not thinking much of it, I didn’t notice at the time that the Motorhome didn’t start up with it’s customary squealing, but I was still mindful of the need to get the belt looked at and replaced. I drove through Twin Falls, generally heading East. Found very, very little in the way of garages or repair shops so decided to keep driving until I saw something.

A couple of hours down the road, the only thing I saw were small gas stations with quick stores. The one I stopped at said that the nearest repair place they new of was in Pocatello which was the wrong direction for Salt Lake City. I kept going, took the southern road to Salt Lake City. About this time the motorhome started stuttering a bit. Again, I didn’t think much of it, even though I’ve experienced this exact problem before.

About 100 miles north of Ogden I know that I’m in trouble. The batteries are both wearing down, and I had turned the radio and fridge off to save electricity. Right outside the bump in the road town of Snowville, Utah the motorhome engine dies. I’ve got just enough momentum to get it stopped on the highway exit.

Part Two

Taking a Trip to Texas

Taking a Trip to Texas

As of Friday, April 9th, 2010 I shall be on the road to Langtry Texas for a family reunion of sorts. I’m not 100% sure of the family connection of most people attending will be, but I’m very much looking forward to the trip itself.

I’ve been on two long trips like this before, once from Portland through BC to Edmonton Calgary then back down around through Yellowstone and then to Vegas, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and home up I-5. The other trip was a straight shot from Fort Wayne Indiana to Portland.

This trip will be from Portland, east along I-84 all the way to Twin Falls, Idaho. I’ll head south towards to Salt Lake City, Utah and then cut south east through the mountains and Colorado. I’ll hit Albuquerque, New Mexico (being 100% sure to take that left turn,) then stop in Roswell New Mexico for a bit of UFO Tourism. Afterwards I’m taking another detour to San Antonio, Texas to visit the Alamo and “world famous” River Walk and most likely some famous Texas Barbecue. And hopefully at the end of a week, end up in Del Rio, Texas which is the nearest city of size near Langtry.

The return trip will head west to Phoenix, Arizona. At that point we’ll see how the weather is. I’ll either head north to Las Vegas from there, or go further west and pick of Los Angeles and travel the I-5 corridor again if there is too much snow around the Lake Tahoe area.

To keep costs down, the vehicle of choice is a 1984 Class A Winnebago. I just took it on a 100 mile short trip to get a feel for driving it, it’s got a new CB radio with access to the NOAA weather channels, and road maps of everywhere I need to be.

I’ll be camping at Truck Stops and Walmarts, or if desperate, actual real campgrounds.

Other points of interest I’m hoping to see are the ghost town of Lime Oregon, historic Union Oregon (I stayed in the restored hotel about ten years ago and enjoyed it a lot,) and if I’m not running too far behind, Arches National Park in Utah. Plus whatever other sites I might happen to see along the way. Hopefully I’ll be able to get lots of pictures and be able to upload them.

I’ll have my computer, and my list of RSS job feeds so I can keep job searching when I stop. In the off chance I do get a job interview and have to be back soon, I’ll be able to park the motor home, fly home to go to the interview then go back and continue my travels. Since I haven’t had an actual face to face interview in over two months, despite sending out at least a dozen resumes a week, I don’t see that being a problem though.

Overall, I’m excited about this adventure. I’ll really looking forward to it and hope to have a great time despite the roughly 4500 miles in two weeks I’ll be driving all together.