Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Livin' La Vida Local in Moss Landing

We collected the coach from the shop and completed our short hop to Moss Landing.  All in all it was a two-day delay and we took it in stride; having the Subaru with us made a huge difference to our comfort, especially the animals, while wrangling the tow company, repair facility, picking up new parts, and hotel shuffling. We were planning to leave it behind with Gramma in Prunedale for a little while and then sell it later, but now I'm starting to have second thoughts about that.  I think we will continue to caravan the Subaru until Lance's foot is completely healed and he can again wear motorcycle boots with impunity.

Moss Landing is, as usual, enveloped in cool fog.  We have embraced the local cuisine as much as possible, which is fish and artichokes in this part of the land.  Lance bought some fresh lingcod right off the boat and grilled it up with some Castroville artichokes from the field next door, doesn't get any fresher than that.  Tonight we will take Gramma to Phil's for some fresh fish and live music.  Tuesday we hit the road headed for Lincoln, there are some tweaks to be made still on the Corporate HQ computer setup.

I've got a lot of bookkeeping work to do and am working long days to keep it all under control. Lance drags me out for lunch breaks whenever he can, today's lunch break was a quick walk on Moss Landing beach with the whales on the horizon.  There's nothing in the world quite like a happy dog running on the beach. 

So far the internet connectivity has been solid and so access hasn't slowed me down at all.  When we can get a Sprint signal we have unlimited high-speed internet, if we can't get Sprint we can still tether the phones and use our AT&T 4G connection but it's not unlimited so we may have to pay for additional GB here and there if we rely on it too much, we'll see how that shakes out. Fortunately my bookkeeping work isn't very GB heavy, this will definitely become more of an issue when Lance starts uploading video files. The WeBoost antenna has significantly improved our reach.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

And we're off! Sort of...

We handed over the house to her new owners on Monday.  I still don't feel anything about it except relief.  On the way out of town as we drove by we said our goodbyes to this restaurant, that hardware store, and before long our goodbyes turned to "goodbye neverending construction, goodbye helicopters, goodbye K-rails, goodbye crazy traffic"... we never, ever, ever want to drive in LA again.

I expect the full force that I've left friends and family behind will hit me later.  When it does I will come and visit them then but it will be by plane and train and not by RV or motorcycle.

And... we're gone!

Our first stop: a Harvest Host location in Paso Robles called Tobin James Cellars.  Once we settled the bus into the dirt lot at the winery nestled against the oak tree-covered hill we wandered across the road for some wine tasting.  The people were friendly and the wine was tasty, an excellent first night to be sure.  We watched the sun go down over the hill and sipped more wine before bedtime, and both cats and the dog got a kick out of watching the bunnies in the field at sunset.
Harvest Host boondocking at Tobin James Cellars
Stewie, Chloe and Starfish bunny watching

The next morning was supposed to be an easy and short run to Moss Landing.  Then just 11 miles north of Paso Robles on Highway 101 the gas pedal fell all the way to the floor and Lance coasted her to the shoulder, it was just before 10am, less than a full day since we pulled away from the house, not even one full day as full-timers. Fortunately it happened in a very wide shoulder spot.  Further investigation revealed a bracket on the engine (throttle linkage Lance says with a sigh) had broken and required a weld.  Of course our welding equipment was let go with the rest of the house purge so we will have to buy something, the day is windy and we are adjacent to a dry grassy field. Not to mention whatever flammables are under the bus in that region, and the fact that Lance would be wedged under the bus at a strange angle to do the work.  So we decided we needed professional help.  I called Coach Net,  one of the two tow services we bought a few months ago. It was 10:30.
Roadside on Hwy 101

First they tried to find a mobile mechanic to come out and do the weld on location.  Everyone's feeling on the matter was the same as ours... dangerous. A controlled environment and a big lift are what's needed here.  So, next they set out to find us a tow and a garage.  Here's where I learned a few things that I hadn't really thought through before:

-Class A coaches are heavy.  Fully loaded we think ours weighs just under 20k lbs, we will stop and get it measured when we find a truck stop that isn't crazy crowded with trucks trying to do their jobs.  So we're not an easy tow requiring specialized heavy equipment and the drive shaft must be disconnected first, not a job many want to undertake. If we had owned a truck and 5th wheel or travel trailer we would have been under way in a matter of minutes.

- Class A coaches need a roomy and strong lift for any work to be done on them.  Facilities like that aren't too common.

-The trailer is a separate tow and requires a separate vehicle.  With Coach Net this is all considered one "tow event", with AAA it counts against your annual limit as two separate events.

-My cell phone has a "send a location" button which I can send by text to anyone.  Didn't know that before.  My phone is an Android but apparently this is an iPhone thing too.  To do this with an Android phone open a text message and select your recipient, then click the plus sign at the bottom left of the screen and select location. So easy.  The tow truck driver came right to us.

All in all it was almost 7:00 before all 3 pets and Lance and I were all settled together in a hotel in Paso Robles, the trailer in a secure facility and the RV safe at the garage and drive line re-connected.

On the bright side:
- It's good that we had thought through this scenario and already had a ditch bag pre-planned for the pets.

-Smart phones are invaluable. I was able to pull together the hotel, the mechanic, and the tow efficiently from the relative comfort of my dinette.

-I learned a cool new Location feature on my cell phone which is now my new favorite cell phone thing.

-If you find yourself sitting on the roadside for 8 hours, having your own bathroom and kitchen is very convenient.

We did ask for an adventure, right?  To quote a traveling friend, "this is what we signed up for".

Also... we discovered the town of Paso Robles, which we have been through many times but never really slowed down to get to know. What a great little town.  We might just stay another day just because. We got lucky and got a room at the historic Paso Robles Inn and they are pet friendly, in fact this whole town is pretty pet friendly so Chloe is getting in lots of downtown sniffing and table scraps.

The Courtyard at the Paso Robles Inn

The bus will probably be ready to go today, or maybe not, either way it's all part of our adventure.

Friday, July 14, 2017

The pretty shoes made the final cut

Packing the bus has gotten creative. I try to think backwards about everything - when we go looking for this later, where will we look first? Where will it be at hand when it is likely to be most useful?

So perhaps my packing won't make sense to some. But to me it makes perfect sense.

Where will you go looking for the baking pans? When you go to bake, so... oven storage for the lasagna pan then.

When will you go looking for the beach towel? With the beach stuff of course...  so outside in the "let's have some fun" basement compartment then.

Where will I go looking for my pretty shoes? Well, that caused a conundrum because I don't get pretty often.  In the end I came to the conclusion that Lance will be dressed up too, so the pretty shoes and clutch are going in a superbig ziploc-style storage bag with his suit, in the compartment under the bed.

These really big storage bags are awesome. I found mine at the dollar store and my favorites are the ones you just roll up or lay on to compress, no vacuum required.  I have used them to triple my storage capacity for seasonal clothing, and I am really looking forward to donning a sweater and fuzzy socks again someday.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

I found the early birds of LA, and they're garage-sale hunters

Since we moved to LA in 2004 I've enjoyed the mornings mostly to myself.  I'm an early riser an it seems most of LA is not.  Generally if I want to get something done I get to it first thing in the morning before everyone else gets moving.

Well, I finally found all the other early birds.

The garage sale was scheduled for 8am.  I thought putting the garage-sale-signage-covered cars on the street at 5:30am would give me a couple of hours to finish sorting the garage, kitchen cabinets, and displaying our goods.  I had this vision of placing the handwritten pricetags at 7:30 or so while sipping my cup of coffee and getting a chance to leisurely look it all over for the prettiest display opportunities before the sleepy residents started filtering in around 8 or 9 or so.

OMG that is so totally not what happened.

I had just come back from parking the moving van down the street when the first truckload arrived. The sun was just fully formed - must have been about 6am.  I calmly reminded them the sale started at 8am and wandered into the kitchen to resume the cabinet sorting.  I didn't lock the door behind me, they must have followed me in.  Within 10 minutes I found myself awash in strangers. Everywhere.  They were in the back bedrooms, opening closet doors, looking over my shoulder and asking questions about tupperware and mugs and handling the stuff in my "keep it" pile.

I glanced nervously outside to the garage, hoping for a little help from Lance and found him surrounded in much the same way - a tall man with a worried expression surrounded on all sides by short people with assorted brands of broken English all vying for his attention for this tool, that tool, the racks on which we intended to display it all... It was like a scene from a zombie movie right before the hero is taken down by the hordes.

Our friends showed up with their baby stuff to sell shortly after 7 and had to fight their way up the driveway.  How they managed to complete their setup amid the total chaos speak volumes about their perseverance.

By 9:00 it started winding down.  The garage racks were gone, most of the tools, all of the big appliances. The 9-noon crowd was more along the lines of the leisurely paced group I had originally imagined, playing dress-up with the Halloween costumes before settling on a choice, picking up one treasure after another and putting them down.  We took turns manning the driveway and hitting the pool.  It was a record-breaking heat sort of day, thankfully we retrieved the beer and ice from the fridge as it was rolling out the door.

All in all we did very well.  Almost all the big ticket items sold and I only have a few loads to take to the donations center and all week to do it.  Sadly, nobody wanted to pay for my favorite chair so we pushed it to the curb where Stewie and I later enjoyed the sunset on it together; a fitting goodbye to a once-fabulous and now frumpy and clearly too-well-beloved chair.

Word to the wise for new Angelenos... I found all the early birds and they have a penchant for garage sales.  Be ready the night before.  If only I had known, we could have prepared better for the hordes.