Monday, March 30, 2015

WHAT!! CRACKER BARREL AGAIN?? GENESEO ILLINOIS TO LANSING MICHIGAN

Set our watches & clocks ahead one more hour one last time this morning I feel my body now knows it is finally back on good old Ontario time.  First time in a long time I didn’t wake up with it being still dark out.  We were up & on the road headed east about 8:45 a.m. Ontario time.  I was surprised right off the bat by I-80’s lite traffic.  I had over estimated the congestion problem but that’s Okay because I prefer to err on over estimating a problem rather than underestimating a problem.  It’s a much better feeling when one discovers one’s error:))

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Traffic picked up around 11:15 as we approached the west side of Chicago & by high noon we were right in the thick of things.  Threw a couple extra logs on the fire & muscled our way right through the heavy noon hour rush.  In my opinion this is where a GPS system really shines.  Our Garmin Gertie is 8 years old & the only time we ever call upon her services is when we have to make our way through cities.  Kelly programs her ahead of time & I just follow Gertie’s voice prompts all the way through the city.  ‘Stay left, stay right, turn left in half a mile, proceed 22 miles, etc. etc.’  Knowing what exits to use & what lanes to be in miles in advance just make the whole driving experience so much more easily doable & especially driving an RV or towing a trailer of any length.

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ROLLING THROUGH CHICAGO

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In Sunday’s post I said we wouldn’t be in another Cracker Barrel until maybe next October.  Well darned if we didn’t find ourselves in another Cracker Barrel about 2 this afternoon.  Two in less than a day.  Now that’s a first for us.  Kelly had remembered seeing Cracker Barrel’s daily special while looking over the menu Sunday & mentioned there was a Cracker Barrel ahead of us in Kalamazoo Michigan.  Well I didn’t need any convincing of course so soon as we saw the correct exit coming up we angled off I-94 & in we went for a soup & sandwich special.  Always yummy at Cracker Barrel.

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Found ourselves into some nasty wind gusts when when we swung off 94 onto northbound I-69.  Luckily it was only about 47 miles to Lansing so just hung onto the steering wheel all the way.  Rolled into Lansing about 4:45 & looked us up a Walmart Super Store just off 69.  We’re just up the road from a Cracker Barrel we have been in half a dozen times or more before but we were all Cracker Barreled out & neither one of us were hungry enough for supper anyway.  If we find it a bit noisy with the 18 wheelers here in Walmart we’ll just pull up stakes & move a few hundred yards down the road to Cracker Barrel’s lot.  Next post will be from Canada………:))

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We have not come across any snow anywhere yet but we understand we still have about a foot in our driveway & the area we park our motorhome.  I imagine it’s probably frozen as well so we’ll just have to deal with that little problem when we get home sometime Tuesday morning.  Also suspect snow & ice has slid off our roof & blocked our front porch steps into the house.  I will likely be busy with my pick-axe & shovel tomorrow.  Oh well after such a long leg stiffening drive I am certainly in need of some good old down home exercise.

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Kelly & I don’t make a big deal of birthdays or anniversaries so maybe I had better not mention it was Kelly’s birthday today:))

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GROANER’S CORNER:(( The local pub was so sure that its bartender was the strongest man around that they offered a standing $1000 bet.  The bartender would squeeze a lemon until all the juice ran into a glass, and hand the lemon to a patron. Anyone who could squeeze out one more drop of juice would win the money.  Many people had tried over time (weightlifters, longshoremen, etc.), but nobody could do it.  One day this scrawny little man came in, wearing thick glasses and a polyester suit, and said in a tiny, squeaky voice, "I'd like to try the bet." After the laughter had died down, the bartender said OK, grabbed a lemon, and squeezed away. Then he handed the wrinkled remains of the lemon rind to the little man.  But the crowd's laughter turned to total silence as the man clenched his fist around the lemon and six drops fell into the glass.  As the crowd cheered, the bartender paid the $1000, and asked the little man, "What do you do for a living? Are you a lumberjack, a weightlifter, or what?"  The man replied, "No, I'm a tax collector."

Sunday, March 29, 2015

LINCOLN NEBRASKA TO GENESEO ILLINOIS JUST EAST OF DAVENPORT IOWA

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CROSSING NEBRASKA’S PLATTE RIVER THIS MORNING

Heard & saw my first spring Robin.  Always pretty special for we Northeners right from our early childhood school days to see who could spot the first Robin each Spring.  Quiet night tucked away behind Lincoln Nebraska’s Cracker Barrel.  It will be another 7 months before we will be able to stop into another Cracker Barrel again.  I’m kinda glad we don’t have them in Canada & especially anywhere near us in Bayfield…….for obvious reasons!!

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GOT ANOTHER PLANE FOR YA TOM

We monitor our southwestern Ontario winter weather by frequently checking in with the Grand Bend Yacht Club’s web cam set up along the Ausable River running into Lake Huron.  In theory when we see the river free of ice we know it’s time to head home.  Below is a series of photos over the past couple weeks showing the thaw this year.

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FIRST PHOTO IS MARCH 11TH & LAST PHOTO IS MARCH 28

Not much to write about again today.  We were on the road about 7:45 headed east on I-70.  A cloud cover made it a visibly good driving day.  Traffic was light & everybody behaved themselves.  Made it to a nice little RV Park east of Davenport Iowa.  Geneseo Campground  First order of business was to get my stepladder out, a bucket of water, & a squeegee to get all those southern bugs off the windshield.  Now I won’t have to drive with my head hanging out the side window to see where we are going:))

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CROSSING THE MIGHTY MISSISSIPPI RIVER THIS AFTERNOON

Monday morning we will roll out of Geneseo & head east on I-80 to do battle the windy city of Chicago about 150 miles away.  Traffic will be heavy from the time we get on I-80 here & get off I-69 in Lansing Michigan Monday sometime with most of the slugging & slogging being right through Chicago itself.  It will be a stock car race from start to finish.  Not our first time doing battle with this big windy city so we know what we are in for & what to expect.  Motorhome has been running fine as well as our fridge.  And we have been doing pretty fair as well.  With a bit of luck we may be home sometime Tuesday morning.  Looking forward to our brand spanking new shower which we have never even ever seen yet.  It was installed after we left for the southwest last October.

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NICE HAVING FULL HOOK-UPS HERE AT THE GENESEO CAMPGROUND NEAR THE TOWN OF GENESEO EAST OF DAVENPORT ILLINOIS

GROANER’S CORNER:((  While waiting in line to check out at a paint store, a customer held up a yardstick and asked the clerk, "Do you have these in a larger size?"

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A woman was taking her time browsing through everything at a friend's yard sale, and said to her, "My husband is going to be very angry I stopped at a yard sale."  "I'm sure he'll understand when you tell him about all the bargains you found," her friend replied.
"Normally, yes," she said. "But he just broke his leg, and he's waiting for me to take him to the hospital to have it set."

Saturday, March 28, 2015

‘FINALLY’….A CRACKER BARREL:)) COLBY KANSAS TO LINCOLN NEBRASKA

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AN OLD KANSAS WINDMILL

Despite a number of big 18 wheelers nearby we were not bothered by any noise in the night & slept fine.  No reason to have any night lights in the coach with all of Wal-Mart's parking lot lighting beaming through our curtains.  We also have a skylight in the coach so had lots of light coming through there as well.  Three other RV’s nearby.

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SUNRISE ON THE ROAD

Think it was about 7:45 when we had the big wheels back on I-70 headed east.  Not really much I can write about our journey today & that goes for photos as well.  Just flat country driving & with a windshield plastered with smooshed bugs there just was not a lot of picture taking going on either.  Weather is still holding up good with sunny skies & cooling temperatures.

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Last time we ate at a Cracker Barrel was nearly a year ago.  It was on our way home as well & it was April 10th when we pulled into a Lincoln Nebraska Cracker Barrel about noon & had us a turkey special.  By sheer coincidence my post tonight is coming to you from the very same Lincoln Nebraska location & here’s the odd part.  Neither Kelly or I have any recollection of being here.  Nothing looks familiar outside.  Usually I remember places if I have been before but had it not been for checking through some of my homeward bound posts from 2014 I would have never known we had been here before.  

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ALMOST A YEAR SINCE STOPPING AT A CRACKER BARREL & COINCIDENTALLY IT’S THE EXACT SAME ONE WE STOPPED AT A YEAR AGO

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SIGNS OF SPRING AT CRACKER BARREL

Until Retired Rod mentioned about tornadoes in Oklahoma city a few days ago we had no idea there were tornadoes in the area.  We have been totally out of the habit of turning on our television at all while traveling anymore & I have never been in the habit of reading news on a computer.  Checking the weather map Friday I did see rain & inclement weather across our path in eastern Kansas but never equated that with tornadoes.  Sooooo, we are duly warned & will monitor weather patterns closer today & go from there. 

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WITH ALL THESE BUG SMOOSHES ON OUR FRONT END YOU CAN IMAGINE THE MESS ON OUR WINDSHIELD

Thanks to readers for pointing out a couple errors in my Friday post.  Yes, the town of Craig is indeed in Colorado & not Utah.  Despite my photo showing the name ‘Johnson’ on the mountain tunnel it is really the Eisenhower tunnel.  That had me confused yesterday as well when on the road because I knew there was an Eisenhower tunnel somewhere in the area.  Figured I would later Google that confusion but totally forgot to do that Friday night.  Sometimes when I’m very tired I forget things.  Wikipedia explains my Eisenhower/Johnson confusion.

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KELLY CHECKS OUT THE CRACKER BARREL MENU

It is rare for me to ever overeat anymore but it seems whenever we get to a Cracker Barrel I sure seem to put a big dent in that rareness.  And tonight’s Cracker Barrel supper was no exception.  We both had chicken fried steak with cole slaw, & mashed potatoes with saw mill gravy.  Instead of the sweet potato Kelly got I had dumplins.  Of course there were also corn meal muffins & biscuits.  No desert thank heavens.  By the time I made it back to the rig I was waddling like an overstuffed duck…..

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A HAPPY CAMPER ABOVE & SKITTER SCATTER LET’S GET AT ER >>>    

GROANER’S CORNER:(( A coworker told me that I looked tired.  "I am," I said. "I just finished 100 push-ups."
"Oh really? When did you start doing push-ups?"
"Well, I did the first one in 1986."

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A lady went to a pet shop.  "I'd like to buy two yellow canaries," she told the owner.  "We don't have any canaries, but we have these," the owner said, as he showed the lady some pale green parakeets.  "That's not what I'm looking for," the lady stated.  But the pet store owner refused to give up. He said, "Just think of them as yellow canaries that aren't quite ripe yet."

Friday, March 27, 2015

I THINK WE’RE IN KANSAS TOTO…AVON COLORADO TO COLBY KANSAS

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Quiet night in Wal-Mart's parking lot due due to the store closing at midnight & no all-night gas bars nearby.  And nice to see this store manager keeps his lot free of debris & litter unlike other Walmart lots we have overnighted in through the years.

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ROLLING EASTBOUND THROUGH VAIL COLORADO THIS MORNING & SURPRISED AT THE HEAVY TRAFFIC ON I-70 HEADED TO VAIL FROM THE WEST (PLEASE EXCUSE THE DIRTY WINDSHIELD)

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PHEEBS TAKES THE ROCKY MOUNTAINS IN STRIDE

We made a decision this morning to un-hook the Jeep & drive both vehicles through the upcoming mountain terrain separately.  And it turned out to be a very much most best decision.  One of the toughest mountain grades lay just ahead & the rig handled Vail summit just fine.  Kept a close eye on Kelly behind me in the Jeep & she was doing just fine as well.  The Eisenhower tunnel summit seemed a bit tougher & that had the rig down to 30 mph over the top in it’s lowest gears.  I have always manually shifted down grades so they were not a problem.  Third tough grade to get over amongst a bunch of other up & down twisty grades was Floyd’s Hill & here I had a wee problem.  Due to heavier traffic heading into Denver I got locked in behind a slow crawling 18 wheeler just as we started into the heavy Floyd Hill grade & could not get into the passing lane to get around him.

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MOUNTAIN LAKES ARE STILL FROZEN

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Both the rig & I lost momentum & I was already slowed to about 15 mph at the bottom end of the grade.  By the time I saw a break in the passing lane I didn’t have the power needed to get around the truck despite having myself in a lower gear range.  The rig struggled all the way up & just short of the summit with engine howling it began cutting out & bucking.  The ‘check engine’ light which had not come on all the previous tough grades including Vail & Eisenhower now popped on.  Barely creeped my way over the summit but as soon as we crested the grade the tranny quickly kicked itself up through the gears & the engine instantly resumed it’s normal power range.  The wild Mustang was loose again as we barreled down the final twisting mountain grades into Denver Colorado.  The westbound I-70 lanes were just choked with traffic coming out of Denver & I figured it must be all the city folks heading into the mountains skiing for the week-end or something.  If not that then where the heck were all those people going anyway……………….

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Traffic picked up all around & at one point I had to pull over near an exit to wait & watch closely for Kelly because I had lost her.  Finally saw her holding her own in the morning traffic as I eased back onto I-70.  Twenty minutes later I spotted a Conoco gas station so headed in for fuel for the first time since Cameron Arizona we filled it up.  By the way I’ve stopped using the cheapest fuel at the pump & now use the 87 grade.  We were out of the mountains now so hooked the Jeep back onto the rig at the gas station & away we went.  Never bothered turning on our Garmin GPS because I-70 basically runs pretty much straight through Denver’s north side & I remembered not having any problem with it back in late 2008  when we headed into the mountains the other way.

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Having done the I-70 route west of Denver in both directions now we will probably not use that route again simply because those many long mountain grades are just too hard on a vehicle.  Remember, we have a gasser not a diesel.  In the Fall we plan to head for Capital Reef west of Moab Utah so we will take a different route through the mountains to get there.  Mike from North Ranch suggested coming through Cheyenne Wyoming (yep I’ve been there before) north of Denver on I-80 then heading through the Rockies & dropping south down through Craig Colorado to Rifle in Utah.  We came down that Craig/Rifle stretch of road back in October so I figure that is the route we will take in October. 

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AND ONE LONG TUNNEL THIS MORNING

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ROLLING DOWN OUT OF THE MOUNTAINS WEST OF DENVER THIS MORNING I WAS SO GLAD TO SEE THAT DISTANT DARK HORIZON SHOWING ‘FLAT LAND’ PLAINS COUNTRY:))

Just a great feeling to finally be free of the stressful steep mountain grades & east of Denver out of the traffic heading across the relatively flat expanse of the open Plains.  I watched the distant snow capped Rockies slowly disappear in my rear view mirror.  I am always sad each year to see those southwest mountains fading away but that sadness this year was also tinged with a big sigh of relief I must say.

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YES I KNOW BY THE END OF SATURDAY I WILL BE SO TOTALLY BORED WITH THIS FLAT LAND DRIVING BUT FOR TODAY IT WAS JUST WHAT WE NEEDED

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MIXED FEELINGS WATCHING THE ROCKIES DISAPPEAR IN MY SIDE VIEW MIRROR

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AND MY VERY LAST GLIMPSE OF THE MOUNTAINS OUT OUR PASSENGER SIDE WINDOW (DARK STREAK IS A REFLECTION)

We decided to keep ourselves on a southern route & enjoy the warmer sunny weather for as long as we can so just stayed right on I-70 which headed us off for Kansas & familiar roads & routes.  Stopped at McD’s in Limon Colorado for a couple of ‘wraps’ & coffee.  Kelly picked out a Kansas town ahead with a Walmart & that became our destination for the day.  We rolled into Colby about 3 p.m. Utah time or 4 p.m. Kansas time.  Little bit of traffic noise from I-70 but not a problem.   Parking lot is clean, sun is shining & it’s still warm out at 6 p.m.   All is good.

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It is always such a great feeling after driving for hours to pull in wherever & shut things down for the night whether it be an RV Park, a quiet boondocking spot, or a simple Walmart parking lot.  They all have their pros & cons depending on your preferences.  And it seems the longer & farther I drive in one day the greater I enjoy that total feeling of relief & relaxation when I shut the rig down & step away from the driver’s seat.  It’s like a big favorable reward at the end of a long tiring day.  Groovy:))

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HERE I AM HAPPILY TUCKED AWAY IN MY LITTLE COMPUTER CORNER WORKING ON TONIGHT’S POST…TOWEL DRAPED OVER WINDOW BEHIND ME CUTS THE GLARE ON MY COMPUTER SCREEN

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REST AREA UNDER A BIG KANSAS SKY WEST OF COLBY THIS AFTERNOON

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ACTUALLY THIS IS THE KANSAS WELCOME CENTER ON EASTBOUND I-70

GROANER’S CORNER:((  A young clergyman, fresh out of seminary, thought it would help him to better understand the fears and temptations his future congregations faced if he first took a job as a policeman for several months. He passed the physical examination; then came the oral exam to test his ability to act quickly and wisely in an emergency.  Among other questions, he was asked, "What would you do to disperse a frenzied crowd?"  He thought for a moment and then said, "I would take up a collection."

Thursday, March 26, 2015

GRAND JUNCTION TO AVON COLORADO & THE RIG DID GOOD AGAIN TODAY:))

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Been awhile since I’ve noticed light pollution but looking up at the sky early this morning from our KOA location here in Grand Junction Colorado I could not see many of the stars I normally take for granted seeing from our usual darker night sky locations.  Milky Way was not visible at all.  Too many people with great big honking security lights blasting out into the pristine night sky. 

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THIS LADY AT THE KOA WITH HER 2 DOGS, WHITE VAN, & SMALL WHITE TRAILER REMINDED ME OF RV SUE AND HER CANINE CREW

Rolled out of the Grand Junction KOA campground at 7:30 & had the rig at Bear Auto 10 minutes later.  Nice fellow in there took time to explain about 8.1 Chevy Workhorse engines, computers, older technology, codes, likely problems, thinner mountain air, sensors, etc. etc.  We felt confident he knew his stuff & we definitely got the feeling they were not just a ‘parts replacer’ garage.  We gave him our list of a 1000,1 things we thought might be the problem & that was it, we left the coach in their hands, crossed our fingers, & headed off to check out a few Grand Junction stores we had seen on the way in Wednesday.

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CABALAS

Neither Kelly or I had ever been in a Cabalas so we found the store & got ourselves in line for the day’s opening at 9 a.m.  Had in mind to find me a belt loop case for my Canon point & shoot camera.  A nice fella took us around to different departments looking for a case but no luck.  Later found one in a Best Buy store next door.  Well Cabala’s certainly is geared to the outdoor sportsman people & I can see it is a popular store.  They also have a big gun department where I’m sure the U.S. Army must get all it’s guns & ammo.  Lots of large stuffed animals all over the place as well as bird song calls in the air above.  Hey & they even have all kinds of fudge there too but none for us.  Ok, so we had some samples.  I hadn’t intended on buying a pair of shoes but Kelly spotted a pair of slip on Merrell’s & convinced me I needed them.  She was right of course but I hated spending the money.  All the time I was in that Cabala store I was in miser mood.

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I WONDER IF ALL THESE STUFFED STORE ANIMALS COME ALIVE AT NIGHT & WANDER AROUND THE STORE

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SURE HAVE A LOT OF GUNS IN THIS PLACE…THOSE LIGHTED CASES ARE CHOCKED FULL OF HAND GUNS

All that store browsing worked up an appetite for both of us so we slipped out to the parking lot & spotted an Ihop. (International House of Pancakes) I had never been in an Ihop before either (I live a very sheltered life) so we headed in for some breakfast.  I had my standard bacon & eggs but no pancakes.  Just as I don’t understand cheese & apple pie going together I’ve never understood bacon & eggs with pancakes either.  For me it’s one or the other!!

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CABALAS EVEN GOT FUDGE

Kelly popped into another store called TJ Max while Pheebs & I hung out in the Jeep for half an hour.  While Kelly was checking out her phone rang & it was Bear Auto saying the rig was ready to go.  We weren’t long in getting our buns back to Bear Auto.IMG_1930

KELLY CHECKS OUT A PAIR OF MERRELL SHOES FOR ME

The garage guys checked everything over including air filter, spark plugs, O2 sensors, manifold connection, codes, & cleaned the MAF sensor.  Other than cleaning the MAF sensor they could not find a thing wrong with the coach.  They also took the rig for a run with a scanner attached & that checked out A-OK as well.  Other than suspecting ‘bad fuel’ they didn’t have any answers.  Said it is not an uncommon problems for larger rigs to run into these types of problems out here in the mountains.  Also explained how the onboard computer & the driver can be at odds sometimes over when to shift going up grades & I am finding it is better for me to decide when to shift rather than let the computer decide.  Our bill was only $88 dollars & .48 cents tax.   We thought that totally reasonable for the time they spent on the coach.  Two thumbs up for Bear Auto in Grand Junction Colorado:))

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Next decision was whether to hook the Jeep up or drive it separately through the mountains.  Decided to tow the Jeep & see how it went.  If we ran into trouble we could always disconnect it from the motorhome.  We left Bear Auto at 1 p.m. & began the long gradual ascent towards Colorado’s distant unseen mountains.  Many medium grades & the Big EEE ran flawlessly with power to spare.

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HEADING EAST ON I-70 OUT OF GRAND JUNCTION COLORADO

We sure came through some beautiful country on our trek east following the Colorado river for a time.  Will be even prettier soon when all the tree leaves begin to bud.  Had it in my mind to maybe make it as far as just west of Denver but by 3 p.m. it was clear it would be better for us to wrap up the day & set out again in the morning.  The big grades in the big mountains are still ahead of us & we probably have another 3 hours drive ahead of us before we make it to Denver sometime Friday morning.

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DID OURSELVES SOME MOUNTAIN TUNNELS TODAY WE DID

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So tonight this post is coming to you from a nice clean Walmart parking lot in Avon Colorado.  We are surrounded by hills & mountains on all sides.  Spotted ‘No RV Parking’ signs in the parking lot so Kelly went in to talk to the manager.  Manager said it was Okay for us to stay the night.  Picked up a few groceries in the store plus a big cooked chicken which we demolished for supper.  Other than all the above that was about it for today.  If luck is with us Friday we should be well clear of the mountains & out on the plains east of Denver somewhere by the time I write Friday night’s post.  We had decided earlier today we just wanted to get this I-70 route through the mountains behind us…………………         

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Kelly first noticed something going on with Sitemeter a couple of days ago & Janna from Tin Tee Pee wrote about it in her latest post.  Sitemeter is a program which keeps track of how many people visit a person’s blogsite each day, month, & year.  I’ve had sitemeter since I began our blog about 9 years ago & have watched the numbers grow from 0 visits a day to just under 1,700 visits a day at the moment.  Those growing Sitemeter numbers have always been an inspiration to me over the years & I would hate to have to un-install the site because it’s flashing up ads when people click on my blog but if it is going to annoy readers then it has to go.  Let me know if your seeing annoying ads coming up on my site…………….DSC_0010

FIRST GLIMPSE OF SNOW CAPPED PEAKS AHEAD

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Gene S. & Peter in separate comments wondered if we knew about or why didn’t we take highway 128 heading east out of Moab Tuesday morning.  Have traveled scenic 128 several times before & remembered it has some sharp curves & grades requiring vehicles & especially big one’s to slow down substantially.  With our as yet unknown ‘power loss’ problem I figured it would be better to stay on the 4 lane straight 191 running north to I-70.  That way I could keep my speed up & roll with the momentum.  And yes 128 east of Moab is truly a very beautiful drive & also one of my favorites.

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OUR OVERNIGHT SPOT AT WALMART IN AVON COLORADO

GROANER’S CORNER:(( A zookeeper wanted to get some extra animals for his zoo, so he decided to compose a letter, the only problem, was that he didn't know the plural of 'Mongoose'.  He started the letter: "To whom it may concern, I need two Mongeese."  No, that won't work, he tried again: "To whom it may concern, I need two Mongooses." Is that right?  Finally, he got an idea: "To whom it may concern, I need a Mongoose, and while you're at it, send me another one."