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April 29, 2009

Day One Observations of Toutle River RV Park

     If you have read and followed the previous blog you probably already know but I will mention some things anyway.  This deluxe RV park is 360 sites, and if seen from the air would look much like a large piece of pie.  On entry to the park one is at the wide end of the triangle and as one travels the mile long length of the park one eventually comes to the point of the triangle.  It is in this area that there is not enough room for RV sites and the owner has chosen to develop a walking trail that leads to the point where two rivers, the Toutle and the Cowlitz converge.  Strategically located along this trail are exercise stations that one could stop at and work a different muscle group at each station.  At the point of trails end there is a very large stone fire pit (stocked with firewood), sitting benches, and picnic tables. 

     The owner has not spared a nickle in developing this park.  The landscaping with rock and a large variety of young trees is impressive to say the least.  All of the grass areas between sites and throughout the park are watered from underground by a saturation method rather than a sprinkler method.  The trees will require individual watering during the non rainy summer season and supposedly that will be our job (at least for a portion of the park).

     We have met several of the workampers who are already on site and some that are not new to the park as they have also workamped here last year.  In private conversations they all have had very positive things to say about the experience and indicate that they are sure we will like it here.

     Don, one of the Co-hosts of the park came to check on us today to see if we were making out OK with getting set up on our site and ended up just sitting and visiting for a couple of hours.  He told us that when all arrived there would be about 20 people workamping in the park.  Not all are couples as we have already met some singles.  We, "workampers" are strategically being located throughout the park so as to act as ambassadors and eye's and ear's for security purposes.

     All of the roads and sites are groomed with black gravel and then compressed as with a steam roller of some type.  This being done in preparation for blacktopping which is to begin in the next couple of weeks.  Ground has been broken for the pool, spa, and park store.  Supposedly to be completed by July...

     I walked to a very large building this evening and upon entry discovered it to be a very well stocked carpentry shop with hundreds of bird houses, newly made, and stacked along one wall, picnic tables in various stages of completion, and other wood projects underway.  There were numerous golf carts, gators, quads, and pick-ups parked in this building as well.  There are other maintenance buildings on the grounds as I have seen some fancy lawn mowing equipment coming and going.  There are two strategically located laundry facilities with showers and bathrooms located in adjacent parts of the building.

     On a "walk about" this afternoon Kathleen and I explored a great deal of the park and I took a few pictures which I will include for your enjoyment.  We continue to be impressed.

     Place your cursor over the picture for a description.



Pool, Spa, and Store location on Knoll 














Some sites still under development















Roads and Sites ready for blacktopping















Walking trail leading up to Pool, Spa, and Store Area















Same trail















deluxe site with private fire pit and landscaping















Movie and Storytelling Pavillion















another example of deluxe site















Can you find the Tininthewind















There she is















Park Model on display and for sale













Living in the Shadow of Two Mountains---Temporarily

     Yes!  It's true!  We have temporarily suspended our complete retirement and life of travel and total leisure for a new adventure of "Workamping"!



The Resort 























     We began talking well before our last winter trip to Mexico that even though we both enjoy the life of leisure our bodies and minds could use a little more challenge and perhaps some "Workamping" might be to our liking.

     There are so many things about this full-time RV lifestyle that many around us are unaware of and the "Workamping" aspect is one of them.  Rather than go in to an explanation of what I mean click on the following link to learn a little about it:  www.workamper.com/ .

     We subscribe to the workamping web-site and throughout the past year have followed up by making application to several workamping situations that fit with our desires and desired locations both for the Summer and the coming Winter.

     Here is an explanation of what we have chosen to do for the summer of 2009.  We are going to be part of a workamping crew assisting with getting what will be, a 5 star Resort when finished and operational.  A link to the resort web-site:  www.greatrvresort.com/index.html .

     After phone contact and interviews we told Linda and Don, managing host and co-host respectively that we would accept the challenge and would arrive May 1st.  We arrived in the area a week or so early and decided to pay the resort a visit to hopefully see what we would be getting ourselves in to and quite frankly if it had not been to our liking we would have graciously declined.  On a drive through the resort we had an opportunity to visit with one of the workampers already on site and that gave a tremendous amount of insight in to what this workamping experience would most likely entail.  The workamper we talked with had been on site for a couple of weeks and liked what he was doing and the people he was responsible to.  We arrived at the resort and were greeted by both Linda and Don late yesterday afternoon.  Don drove us through the resort and gave us the choice of several sites as there plan is to locate the workampers strategically throughout the resort so as to also act as ambassadors to the paying RVers.  We have been given several days to settle in before being assigned our duties and we are anxious to find out what will be required.

     The resort as I mentioned earlier is beautifully layed out and is in various stages of being completed.  As an example the pool and spa will not be completed until some time in July.  All roads throughout the complex are completed and prepared for blacktopping which is slated to begin next week.  There are hired crews working throughout the resort still finishing sites in the back forty and planting trees. 

     What we understood from the interviews is that we will be required to workamp for 12 hours per week in exchange for our site including water, sewer, and electric.  It will be at our discretion to work beyond the 12 hours and anything over 12 hours will be payed at $8.55 per hour.  Kathleen and I have agreed that we both will try to do 6 hours per week and then decide individually if we want to earn a little extra.  To accomplish those 12 hours we have been told we can do 2 hours per day for three days each if we wish and then have 4 days to play, or add to those 2 hours each on those three days for pay and still have 4 days to play.  They seem very accommodating and we are hoping that will remain the case.  If not, we do have wheels on our "Tininthewind".

     I am cautiously sensitive to some interesting twists to this resort.  The resort is not open to the public yet, even though it was slated to open in 2006 and total completion by 2007.  I am told that the owner has "bumped heads" with the permit process and those who approve them and thus all aspects of the park have been held up.  We haven't met the owner but I am interested to do so.

     I am sure I will be writing quite often in future blogs about what we are doing and how we are coping with the new challenges but in the mean time here are a few pictures of our surroundings.  I mentioned earlier that we also have an interest in doing something similar for the coming winter of 2009/2010 and am happy to announce that we have made a commitment in the Rio Grand Valley of Texas and very shortly I will blog about those future plans.



We like our site and yard















Another View















Fellow Workamper's Site















Soon to be Paved




























     We like it so far!!! 

April 25, 2009

Our Path's Crossed

     We met up with Alan and Jean, (our Canadian Friends) just outside Easton, Washington on I 90 and decided we had enough time in the day to continue on to the Thousand Trails RV Park just outside of Monroe, Washington.  It was good to see these two as we had left them behind in Lo De Marcos, Mexico when we departed, about a month before they did.  In that month, we took care of our medical check-ups in the Mid-West and visited with family, while Alan and Jean played their way along, visiting with friends in Mesa Arizona and attending a Rally in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

     We got to spend two days with Alan and Jean, enjoying eating out, and visiting a railway museum not too far from the camp ground.  Alan recounted his days of youth when his dad, an engineer, on the railway would allow him to shovel some coal in to the boiler, blow the whistle at the on coming crossing, and man the throttle from time to time.  It was fun to have Alan recalling those fun times from quite a few years back.

     Alan and Jean departed for their home in Campbell River, BC and we took an auto trip south of Seattle to attend to some business, (more on this later) and on our return from there, popped in on Bill, Heidi, Mason and Maddie to join them for supper.  It was a bitter sweet day to say so long for now to our friends, but great to hear those little voices saying "grandpa", "grandpa"!



Alan standing by an old engine on display















Shovel that Coal



























April 21, 2009

The Beauty of Montana

Sitting along side the Yellowstone River















     We are making good time.  After leaving a nice Walmart parking lot spot from our overnight in Bozeman, Montana we are currently in Silverton, Montana sitting along side the Yellowstone River which is flowing rapidly by about 50 feet from our front door.  We spent a couple of hours in Missoula, Montana making a stop at Bretts RV, where we purchased the "Tininthewind" 3 years ago on April 26th in fact.  We were able to visit for a few minutes with our Sales guy who sold us the coach, Wade Whitmire.  We also took the time to visit the local Verizon Office to upgrade Kathleen's phone which has been long overdue.  We then went to a large car wash that also had a bay that allowed the washing of an RV.  I did the RV and Kathleen washed the car.  It was a full day.

     We will be connecting with our Canadian Friends Alan and Jean tomorrow at our next stop.  We will meet at a Coast to Coast park at Easton, Washington and then hopefully get to spend a couple days together before they continue on to their home in Canada.

     I hope when we turn the lights out for the night we can hear the water from this great Yellowstone River as it rushes along, but the interstate is also near by and I am afraid we will have the traffic noise to contend with.  Oh well, can't have everything..

 Yellowstone River















Yellowstone River

















April 19, 2009

'Crap' More Band Aids

Trying to Find the Trouble















     We overnighted in Chamberlain, South Dakota and got a good nights sleep after watching the Nascar Race at Phoenix.  An early start to the day was to my liking and off we went.  We didn't get 5 miles up the road and the temperature of the engine began to climb rapidly.  I had just commented about it to Kathleen when all the bells, whistles, and warning lights began to flash on the dash telling us to shut her down and pull off the road.  I was pretty sure when I got the bicycle removed from its rack and the engine compartment open I would find a broken serpentine belt.  It wasn't broken but it sure was loose.  I could put my fingers between the belt and a couple of the pulleys.  Tools in hand, I went looking for the place that tension was put on the belts.  It didn't take long to discover that the internal spring had broken in the belt tension devise thus allowing the belt to just flop on the pulleys.  A couple of rubber snubber strategically located with plenty of tension allowed us to limp some 200 miles to Rapid City, South Dakota and what we hope will be a quick repair when the local Cummins Engine Diesel Shop opens in the morning.  This being Sunday we are pretty well relegated to just wait it out.

     Breakdowns are never good but at least this one with a little "jury rigging" allowed us to limp in rather than use an expensive tow.  I will have to hold my breath now and hope that the repair facility has the part and we won't have to be delayed while one is ordered.

     At least we are safe and off the road.

April 18, 2009

Band aids Applied and Heading West

     Band aids all over the place.  We both had our physicals and Kathleen went through a zillion appointments with her follow-up check-ups and we were told "good to go---see you in a year".

     We are presently en route to the Seattle area and a 2009 USA summer with our boys and their families.  We always enjoy the North West as long as we can avoid the city as much as possible.  The parts of the city as we travel between the boys places isn't too bad for getting around and we are getting used to it.  Our membership in the Thousand Trails RV Preserves is great for our lifestyle and types of parks that we like to hang out in, and there are a bunch of them all around the NW.  We will most likely spend a great deal of time at those we like from the Coast and then to the Mountains when the temperature warms later in the summer.

     We are going to get a chance to hook up with our Canadian friends, Alan and Jean at Thunderbird Thousand Trails campground near Monroe, Washington as they will be passing through the area on their way home from Mexico.  It was Allan who last waved too us as we pulled out of Lo De Marcos, Mexico.  We have missed them.

     Our visit back in the Mid-West wasn't all for medical as we got to visit with my mom for a couple of weeks and all of our stay but one night was spent at our all time favorite RV park "Sunshine Acres".  Thanks, Jim and Alyce for a great stay.  

April 05, 2009

Thoma Dairy Bar-- Garnavillo, Iowa















‘Thoma’ is the last name of a family that has been pillars in the community of Garnavillo, Iowa.  ‘Dairy Bar’ coupled with ‘Thoma’ is the one and only restaurant in the aforementioned community.  The community ‘Garnavillo, Iowa’ is where both Kathleen and I grew up, dated through high school, and graduated from in 1963.


     The “Thoma Dairy Bar” was the ‘hang out’, ‘meet after’, ‘burger with fries’, and ‘malt’ stop for us after (me) from Basketball practice, and (Kathleen) after Cheerleader practice and of course all the other couples that had interest in each other and of course the singles too…


     There were four booths along the south wall, and a row of about 10 stools along a low counter (the kind where you could lean forward, rest your elbows on the top, and still be hunched over) from which behind, all those malts mixed and ice cream was scooped.  There was a small kitchen that turned out all the other goodies.


     We have been gone for many years now but when we do visit Garnavillo it would not be complete if we did not stop in to “Thoma’s Dairy Bar” for at least a malt if not for some of the other goodies as well.


     Guess what?  There are very few changes to the restaurant since those early years.  There are still the same four booths along the south side.  The counter and stools have also not changed (perhaps recovered) and the kitchen appears to be the same.


     On this visit covering a few weeks Kathleen and I have frequented “Thoma’s” a little more than usual.  Hoping to see people we might have known, but if we were to admit it, just to take a little trip down memory lane.  The trip down memory lane has been a wonderful experience for us both but we also have been lucky to catch a few sitting in the booths, or leaning on the counter, who factored in to our lives at some point in the past.


     Pictured below is me talking with Paul Peltz (Hobie) who was a couple years older than I was but who was probably responsible for me still having a pretty face as it was Paul who came to my aid when some guys from a neighboring town threatened to beat the crap out of me for chasing their women (girls).  No I wasn’t dating Kathleen at the time (she was only 14).  Paul was a masculine hunk of a guy who commanded a lot of respect and after putting out the word that anyone who messed with me would have to do so through him----I was cleared to, shall we say, look over the hill.  I had to ask the waitress (Beth) on duty today if that was “Paul Peltz” sitting at the counter, reading the paper, as I have not seen Paul in many years.  It was great to be able to visit with Paul and reminisce about those fading memories.


     How can it be that so little has changed but yet so much water has flowed under the bridge?  You want a good malt, or burger and fries?  Give Thoma’s a try.


 Paul and George






















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