A Big Cruise

Our bags are packed and we’re ready to go…..two more days and South America here we float! This will be a new continent for us and we are excited to explore the areas of the many ports along the way. The fare for the first 17 day leg to Chile for this cruise on Norwegian has dropped to $399 for an inside room in case anyone wants to join us 🙂

I have been watching the S. America fares on several cruise lines for months and believe our timing to book was spot on. It is interesting to watch the fares fluctuate and sometimes actually plunge, but just for a short time, and then rise again depending on what categories of cabins are close to being fully booked.

The map shows our route (roughly) going south and then we will fly back from Buenos Aires via Lima and Bogota to Los Angeles.

Our motorhome and car will be parked at a friends house in Yuma, Arizona and we will drive a rental car to San Diego which is only a 170 mile drive. We did this on our Australia and Hawaii cruises too and it worked out well. It is much less expensive to rent a car than park at the ports for longer cruises.

More Bad News

Last night my mother had a heart attack.

My brother called after we were asleep to say she had severe chest pains after she went to bed and he called an ambulance. Within one hour she had a heart catherization and stent inserted in the artery (the LAD) that caused the attack. The cardiologist discovered more blockages but said because of her age, 87, they won’t do bypass surgery which she needs.

Now the kicker:  She is being sent home tomorrow morning just one and a half days after a heart attack and stent placement!! All the guidelines say she should be in the hospital 3-5 days but the insurance system in this country wants to save money and not lives.  In this case it is Medicare, the national insurance for those over 65. There is a rule that she has to be in the hospital three overnights before she can have inpatient cardiac rehabilitation.  Thank goodness for my wonderful niece who is running interference, talking to medical staff, and now hurriedly trying to find some inpatient cardiac rehab that my mother will pay out of pocket for.

Never in a million years did I think she would have heart problems. That makes 5 out of 6 members of our family with  (two died) coronary artery disease. Me being the 6th that is so far so good.

We left Branson this morning as planned on our way to Minnesota to get the mattress which is already being manufactured and we have prepaid for it. No getting out of that. It might be ready Thursday instead of Friday and then I alone or Steve and I together will make a beeline to Colorado.

We drove a two lane road through pretty Missouri countryside today and are staying in the Walmart parking lot in Chillicothe for the night.  Hoping to do better on sleep tonight but right now some dragster with a noisy car is trying his best to disrupt the peace.







Topeka and Branson

Steve’s Topeka brother had a vacation planned to Colorado leaving two days after their father died and so it was fortunate timing for us to be there for his mother and to also be in town for a funeral that we thought would happen in a few days. Two more weeks and we will return to Kansas for it. Steve’s mother doesn’t cook so we went out to eat quite a bit and I fixed a couple of meals. Steve tossed and rearranged in her apartment for two days. Then a sister and another brother arrived from different states and they took over in getting rid of Steve’s dad’s clothes and throwing out more from the storage room. I’m sure next time Steve goes to Kansas that more “stuff” will appear and so there will be another sort and purge.


A nephew, Steve, his mother, his only sister, one of 4 brothers, and a niece


Steve’s sister and brother surprised us with a visit at the campground just as Steve was repairing a leak where rain had come in at the edge of a vent fan. That was the only leak after many days of rain and now it is fixed.

Finally, the day before we left, Steve and I got away to the botanical garden in Shawnee Park where we stayed. It was more beautiful than it was the last time when we were there September 2013 because of the tulips blooming around the park. We even went back again the next day and half the tulips had been taken out as some of the blooms were not so fresh anymore.







And speaking of tulips, our Tulip, the little motorhome that we sold in March went on a trip to New Mexico with her new owners. I had warned them that Tulip was famous. Actually I was kind of teasing because of the decals we had put on her and almost removed before putting her up for sale. Anyway, they were approached by a couple in a similar motorhome that right away knew who Tulip was because of my blog. Now that was a feel good day! Thanks Rhonda and Steve (new owners) and Jud and Liane (blog readers).


Picture is courtesy of Rhonda. We do miss the ease of getting around in Tulip that is for sure. But the trade off is having a much better living situation and since we spend many more hours living in a motorhome rather than driving one there are no regrets.

When we left Topeka we still didn’t know where we would go after Branson, Missouri because it’s too far to Kentucky and then back again to Kansas now that we get half the gas mileage as before. And we would be rushing too much to drive from Kansas to Texas in time to see friends that were leaving. So we have stayed in Branson almost two weeks trying to figure it out. We both like Branson quite a lot and don’t mind being here one bit. There is beautiful natural scenery with water everywhere, hills, rock walls, a state park with nice walking paths, and plenty of greenery. It’s an easy little city to drive in with good shopping. Probably the main thing Branson is famous for are the shows, mostly along one boulevard. There are 60 different shows going on now but we haven’t gone to any. It’s just not something we like to do.

What we do like, is Branson Landing. It is a long waterfront promenade on Lake Taneycomo of shops, entertainment, and restaurants a block from downtown Branson. But the best part is a 7.5 million dollar water fountain spectacular, synchronized to light, sound, music, and fire. It goes off every hour beginning at noon and lasting until 10 at night. However, there was severe flooding in Branson last December and the fountain was damaged. We went to Branson Landing multiple times with just one goal and that was to see the fountain. It was working only once and that was during the daytime. We really really want to see it at night but have only a few more chances before we leave.


View from the bridge that crosses Lake Taneycomo. It’s a very short drive from Turkey Creek RV Village to Branson Landing. There’s also a big city RV park underneath this bridge on the city side.


The RV park we are in is just 1/4 mile on the other side of the bridge. This is the shortest route to the RV park but also the absolute wrong route to take with an RV as we had to go through downtown and take a right on a busy two lane city street where it was impossible to swing wide. The concrete post of the light there has been hit many times but Steve managed to miss it.  He is still very traumatized from my poor navigating.



Hundreds of condos are above all the shops the length of the promenade at the Landing. 



When the fountain is functioning properly, fire shoots out of these tubes at the back of the fountain.


Molly went with us last night and was she the hit of the Landing. At one point, five ladies were crowded around her. Person after person came up to us asking permission to pet her. Not just because of last night, but every single time we are out, we meet the friendliest people ever. Really, we have not ever been anywhere that is as friendly and nice as Branson. Too bad Branson isn’t out west for us to visit over and over because that is mostly where we will be in the RV.


Molly, 12 years ago.

And we had some excitement four nights ago. Readers in the US may recall the severe weather warnings that there would be many tornados in the midwest. Our area’s forecast called for a very slight 10% chance of a tornado. It began raining and thundering around midnight but we went right back to sleep. At 2 am the phone went off with the severe alert sound and the message to get to shelter immediately because of a tornado nearby. Then the sirens began. We could see people from the RV park going to the office so we quickly got dressed and joined them. There is a rock house with garage for the lawn equipment behind the office that is protected by a small hill and this is the shelter we were all crowded into along with our wet pets. Actually we were pretty drenched too after making a run for the office in the pouring rain. About 30 minutes later the alert was lifted and we returned to the motorhome safe and sound.


A huge limb came crashing down behind the RV across from us. Most of it had been cleaned up before I took this picture. And a house next to the office had a big part of a tree barely miss the roof when it fell. We never did hear of a tornado touching down in the area though.


Four Day Trip = New RV

For the past several months Steve and I have scoured the internet ads looking for the perfect motorhome within our budgeted price range. In my last post I mentioned we had a narrow list of three. But neither felt exactly right for several reasons. For example one of them had a refrigerator in the slide, another had negative reviews for that model year, and the other had a very low axel/wheelbase ratio.

There are very few short diesels for sale around the US and when we factored in our year range of 2005-2007 there were even less. Then last week a 2008 model came up for sale and I remembered that the chassis on motorhomes is normally manufactured the prior year. I contacted the owner and sure enough, this MH did not require the ULSD fuel that cannot be obtained in Mexico. Better yet, it was low mileage, had first been owned by an aerospace engineer who had added every upgrade imaginable to include 540 watts of solar panels with a 2000 watt pure sine wave inverter. Documentation and CAD drawings are bar none. I will eventually make a tab at the top for “Alice” listing all the upgrades which you won’t believe. Anyway, here she is:


2008 Tiffin Allegro Open Road FRED 32 feet. There is a slide out for the sofa and dinette on this side.


And another slide in the bedroom. The body is in perfect condition as it has been stored under cover and professionally cleaned and waxed twice a year.

Of course we didn’t get every single “want” but Alice comes close enough. No washing machine and the kitchen is rather small, but there are two pantries to make up for that. And recently, new very small portable washing machines have come on the market that we can stow. Oh yeah, and we came in under budget!

It was a one and a half day 800 mile drive to the Phoenix area. We met the owners at their house at noon on the second day,  received a good going through of everything, wired the money at 3:00, did the transaction at their financial institution at 4:00, and were on our way by 5:00. The funny part is the owners were looking to buy a newer RV of a particular model which is hard to find. While we were at their house, they received a phone call that the RV they wanted had just come in on a trade and no other salesmen knew about it yet. Our Allegro owners bought it the next day.  The wife thought it was Karma that brought us to them at just the right time.

We had a bit of a problem finding a place for the night and Steve was understandably nervous as he has never driven anything this big. The extremely nice owner, who I might add had an oil change done the previous day and filled up the fuel tank, actually drove Alice to the very north end of Phoenix for us so that we would immediately be on the two lane road headed north. The only place to stay was a casino at Ft. McDowell. We got there and it was so crowded that there was not one spot to park an RV. Then we found out there was also an RV resort only 1/4 mile away. But they were full. The lady at the desk suggested an overflow parking lot at a county park a few miles away. The problem was we had absolutely no kitchen utensils, no food, it was almost dark, we had not eaten since breakfast, and the casino was the only place for miles with food. Then the desk clerk generously told us we could park behind their RV storage area for the night in a wide open area. It was quiet and the views were pretty good. We were warned that cows and horses might come up to the RV but that didn’t happen, unfortunately.


The next day we drove through the mountains to the high desert where we picked up the 4 lane highway in Holbrook. The driving then became easier for Steve and he is loving the engine brake for steep downhills.




We spent the night at the Route 66 Travel Center which is next door to a casino. As we had had no lunch (again), we splurged on the all-you-can-eat seafood buffet. This casino has a pretty classy buffet with different stations for Mexican, Mediterranean, Asian, and American food. Very good but expensive!


I will take pictures of the interior once we put the living room slide out and get more organized. I am sitting in the passenger seat at my desk writing this as we go down the highway. And when Molly Dog travels with us she will have her very own window at my feet.