Archive for the ‘Summer 2010’ Category

At Home in Novi, Michigan

Thursday, September 23rd, 2010



September 23, 2010

We’re fairly well settled into our two-bedroom suite at the Marriott TownePlace Suites in Novi, Michigan.  Bob is about a mile from work and I have housekeeping services three times a week, so life is pretty good.  The motel complex has a very nice pool and hot tub.   I am going to physical therapy for my hip three times a week and I do exercises in the pool on my off days.    We found covered storage for the motorhome in a nearby city called Oak Park.  Bob is enjoying work, and I am enjoying getting to know the area.

Here is the outside of our motel.

The outside of the Marriott TownePlace in Novi, Michigan

We have a view of this pond from our bedroom window.  Also when I walk Patty, I often sit and rest on a bench overlooking the pond.  There are often Canadian Geese here.  I have seen a little muskrat-like creature swimming, and one day there was a most elegant Swan who stopped by for a rest.

Pond behind our motel

After living in the motorhome, our motel suite seems downright spacious.  The living area is comfortable.

Living area

Here’s the bathroom.  I’m enjoying having a tub to soak in again.


Our bedroom is fairly roomy.

Our bedroom

The kitchen is small, but adequate. 

The only problem is that the refrigerator door opens the wrong way – against the kitchen.  Bob says he will switch the door as soon as I get permission from the management.

refrigerator door blocks access to fridge

There is a spare bedroom for guests.  This bed looks small in the picture, but it’s actually a queen-sized bed.

Spare room

 Today my friend Candice, who lives on the third floor here in the motel, and I went to Goodwill, some yard sales and a farmer’s market.  I bought things to make the motel look a little more homey.

Kitchen cabinets before

Kitchen cabinets after

I bought everything at half price at Goodwill and will be able to leave the greenery and just change out the colored items for each season.  Of course, everything will have to be donated back when we’re through with it because there is no room in the motorhome for such fripperies!  (Did I actually say fripperies?)

Patty has found her new favorite place from which to survey the world.

Patty contemplates her new life

Life is awesome!

Apache Junction, Arizona to Novi, Michigan

Thursday, September 2nd, 2010

Arizona to Michigan

Apache Junction to Novi

August 21 to August 30, 2010

We left Countryside RV Park in Apache Junction to head for our next adventure in Novi, Michigan.  We were sorry to leave Countryside where we had met many very nice people.  Thanks to all who were so helpful during our stay there.  We really appreciate it.

We made our way out of the city and drove north on I17 to Flagstaff.  At Flagstaff, we pulled over for a quick lunch and then headed east on I40.  After a long day of driving, we were approaching Navajo, Arizona.  We had just commented on how  well the Kram-A-Lott had pulled the hills.  We had climbed from 2,000 feet in elevation to over 7,000 feet.  Suddenly, we heard a loud noise and the motorhome lost power.  It died, and that was it.  We were stranded out there in the middle of nowhere, Arizona.

We called our insurance company – State Farm – to implement our roadside assistant program only to find out that our agent had given us roadside assistance on the pickup, but not on the motorhome.  Bob is sure he asked for it on both, but they informed us otherwise and we got no help from State Farm.  Thank goodness for the internet and cell phones.  After calling several towing places that kept referring us to each other, we finally reached a 24-hour towing service from Winslow Ford out of Winslow, Arizona.  Within an hour, they had the motorhome hooked up and were towing us 70 miles back over the road we had just driven to Winslow, Arizona.

Winslow Ford towing the Kram-A-Lott Inn

Hooked up and ready to go

It was a Saturday evening, so they towed us back to the Winslow Ford Dealership and left us in the parking lot for the weekend.  They were nice enough to plug the motorhome in, and we appreciate it very much.  The service people would be checking things out on Monday to see about repairs.

Parked and waiting for repairs at Winslow Ford in Winslow, Arizona

On Monday, they took the motorhome into the shop.  Thus began several very frustrating days.  It went something like this.

Monday – The consensus was that the fuel pump in the motorhome probably failed.  The motorhome started right up on Monday morning, though, and they took it for a run twice to try to reproduce the failure.  It ran fine.  Then they let it idle and run all day to try to reproduce the failure.  They ran most of a tank of gas out, but it ran fine all day long.  They were hesitant to change the fuel pump (which is located inside the gas tank on our motorhome) if they couldn’t reproduce the problem.  Bob suggested that just driving the motorhome alone, without the pickup hooked up, wasn’t reproducing the conditions under which it failed.  He asked them to hook the pickup up and drive it, but they said they couldn’t do that for liability reasons.  By four o’clock that afternoon, with no communication from them and after we sat around the waiting room all day, Bob went to ask what the verdict was.  They had not yet made a decision about how to repair the motorhome.  Finally, frustrated, Bob told them to stop “jackassing around” and hook up the pickup.  He then said he would ride with them to test drive it.  They said they couldn’t allow that for liability reasons.  He informed them otherwise.  Finally, they hooked up the pickup, Bob climbed in, and they drove the motorhome.  It didn’t fail, but the check engine light did come on.  At the end of the day, they were still dithering around with no decision made.  Bob asked the service tech, “If you had to drive this motorhome another 2,000 miles to get to a job, what would you do?”  He replied, “I would change the fuel pump.”  “Then do it!” Bob said.  Bob also told them not to tear it down unless they were sure they had the part.  The parts man assured him that they had the correct fuel pump in stock, so the plan was to start tearing it down the next day – Tuesday.  They put the motorhome back in the parking lot, plugged us in, and we spent another night in Winslow, Arizona.

Tuesday – First thing in the morning, they dropped the fuel tank down and pulled out the fuel pump.  Oops!  The fuel pump  didn’t fit.  Again, although we were sitting in the waiting room, they didn’t communicate this to us.  Finally in early afternoon, Bob just happened to hear two people talking together about the problem and suspected it was about us.  He went back to inquire and was told that the fuel pump they had didn’t fit and they couldn’t find one that did.  They just said, “We don’t know what to do,” and shrugged their shoulders.  About 4 p.m., Bob called a meeting of the parts man, the service manager and the service tech.  He informed them that the motorhome had a Ford motor, but that all ancillary parts are OshKosh which is now owned by Freightliner.  Had they communicated with him in the morning, he could have told them to call Freightliner to get the correct part.  They called Freightliner and found the part immediately.  It was to be drop shipped to Winslow in the morning by Fed Ex.  Since the fuel tank was now sitting on the ground, the motorhome couldn’t be pulled out of the shop and we couldn’t stay in it overnight “for liability reasons.”  We rented a motel room.

Wednesday – Once again we sat in the waiting room, all day, with no communication from them.   About 1 p.m., Bob checked with them to see how things were going.  “Oh,” they said.  “The part hasn’t come in yet.”  “Where is it?” asked Bob?  “We don’t know,” was the reply.  “Then get the tracking number and get online and find out!”  Bob said.  “We don’t know the tracking number,” was the reply.  “Our computer is down and we can’t get online.”  “Then call Fed Ex!” said Bob.  “We don’t know the number to call because it is on the computer and the computer is down,” was the reply.  “Then dial 411 for information!”  said Bob.  By this time is was once again 4 o’clock in the afternoon.   We were getting very frustrated with Ford’s service department’s inability to communicate, make decisions and get things done.  The parts manager actually had the audacity to say to Bob that he was being very impatient!  Then two things happened.  Bob asked a passing sales representative for the name of the owner of the dealership.  She told him and then made a beeline for the service department.  The next time he talked with the service manager, Bob happened to mention that I am a writer and that I was working on an article for Motorhome Magazine about our trip.  After that, things started hopping.  Within minutes of those two events, the service manager was high stepping it out to let us know that he had gotten ahold of Fed Ex and that the part was guaranteed to be delivered by 4:30 that day.  About then, the part came in.  In the meantime, after dithering around all day,the tech now had to drain the gas out of the gas tank in order to be able to lift it back up after installing the fuel pump.   You would think he could have done that while waiting for the part.  Bob went to the motorhome to pack some things and found the tech dumping the gas into a dirty tank.  He said, “You aren’t going to put that gas back into the motorhome are you?”  “Yes,” was the reply.  “Would you put gas from that tank into your car?” Bob asked.  “No,” came the reply.  “Then don’t put it back into ours.”  Bob said.  They agreed to put a few gallons of new gas into the tank when the job was finished to get us to a gas station.  The day was over, the tech was tired, and we went back to the motel.   Hopefully the job would be finished tomorrow.

Thursday – The job was finished Thursday without a hitch.  The test drive showed that it had been the fuel pump.  Prior to changing it, we were getting 35 psi.  With the new fuel pump, we were getting 55 psi.  It had probably been failing for a long time.  About 1:00 p.m., we paid the bill – which was staggering.  The last questions they asked Bob were, “What do you think of our service here?” and “When does that article come out in Motorhome Magazine?”

"Standing on the corner in Winslow, Arizona...."

"Such a fine sight to see....."

We left Winslow, Arizona at 1:30 in the afternoon after filling up the motorhome, and made good time.  The motorhome pulled hills like never before.  That day we made it to my favorite casino just west of Albuquerque – Route 66 Casino.  We parked in the parking lot, ate supper and then Bob rested while I enjoyed myself in the casino until about midnight!  What a life; you gotta love it.

Spending the night at Route 66 Casino

New Mexico is beautiful.

The next morning we headed on east on I 40 passing across the Texas panhandle passing one of the largest crosses in the U.S. near Groom, Texas along the way.

Cross in Grove, Texas

One of our RVing friends, Al, lives in Groom, although at this point in time he is in California.  At Amarillo we tried to call Bob’s sister.  Unfortunately, she wasn’t home and we weren’t able to stop and visit.  We spent the night in a rest area just inside the Oklahoma border.  After a good night’s rest, we drove on eastward.  There were some awesome sunrises along the way.


Awesome midwest sunrises

 Oklahoma city Just west of Oklahoma City, we  jumped onto the Toll Freeway just west of Oklahoma City.  We followed the toll road to Tulsa crossing the Arkansas River just before entering Tulsa. 

Arkansas River just west of Tulsa, Oklahoma

 In Tulsa, we met with Bob’s nephew and wife, Stan and Kay, and his friends, Jim and Joe, for lunch.  It was fun visiting with them. 

After lunch, we continued on Toll Road 44 to Joplin, Missouri crossing the end of the Arkansas Navigational Channel on the  Verdigris  River at Catoosa. 

Arkansas Navigational Channel

The Oklahoma Turnpike has a McDonalds that spans the freeway.

McDonalds spanning the Oklahoma Turnpike

In the northeast corner of Oklahoma, we drove within miles of the towns where Bob grew up – towns including Picher, Quapaw and Miami (pronounced My am uh).  Because of the five-day repair job in Winslow, Arizona, we were unable to stop and explore.  We decided that in the future we would come back to Oklahoma and spend a month or more exploring the area.

We continued into and across Missouri passing over the Missouri River along the way. 

Missouri River

We spent the night in a rest area on the east side of Springfield, Missouri near Lebanon, Missouri.  The next morning, we headed onward towards St. Louis, Illinois.   That day, we made it through St. Louis.  I managed to get a picture of the St. Louis Arch as we crossed through downtown St. Louis. 

St. Louis Arch

We continued northeast on I 70.  Somewhere in Illinois, we were going to stop and buy groceries at Walmart but they had overhead barricades at 10 feet in height to keep motorhomes out.  That lost them a couple of hundred dollars in grocery sales right there!   Even though it made for a long day, we managed to drive on through Indianapolis before stopping for the night at a casino in Anderson, Indiana.  Bob rested once again while I spent the evening in the casino.  That was a nice casino with a shuttle service from the motorhome parking area. 

Somewhere along the way, I think in Illinois, we saw a cross alongside the road that looked as large as the one in Groom, Texas.  Our friend, Al, who is from Groom explained it like this, “Texans say our cross is bigger – by 3 inches and that illinois did it shorter to show respect for Mr. Thomas, who made our cross possible and assisted Illinois in raising money for their cross.  Texans always have to brag a little!”

Another huge cross

The next day, we drove northeast on I 69 through Fort Wayne and on up into Michigan.  We headed east through Jackson, Michigan on I94 and then north out of Ann Arbor on Highway 23 to Brighton.  From there we went east on I 96 to Novi.  It was a good feeling to arrive in Novi and to check into our new home – a two-bedroom suite at the Marriott TownePlace Suites. 

Our back yard

Patty likes it here.  Once again, after living in the desert for months, she has green grass.

Patty enjoys grass again

We arrived on August 30th and unloaded the motorhome on the 31st.  Bob reported to work on September 1st.  We have found covered storage for the motorhome in Oak Park, Michigan which is located about 18 miles closer in to Detroit.  After we have the motorhome cleaned and winterized, we will take it to storage for the winter. 
Our trip from Arizona to Michigan didn’t turn out to be as relaxing and scenic as we had hoped.  We’ll have to backtrack someday to take in the sights.

Total Hip Surgery

Friday, August 20th, 2010


Apache Junction

July 12, 2010

Although we we arrived in Apache Junction on May 18, I was unable to have surgery until July 12 because Dr. LaCognata’s scheduled is backed up that far.  


In front of hip hospital

 I had total hip surgery on  Monday, July 12, 2010.  My surgery was scheduled for 1:30 p.m.  I was asked to be at the hospital by noon.  Because my RA meds suppress my immune system and thin my blood, I was asked to stop taking them prior to surgery.  By the day of surgery, my RA had flared.  I suffered through the last few days before surgery and was at the hospital at noon on July 12.

I immediately began asking for some pain relief, my pain levels were at a 10, but was told that they couldn’t help me.  After checking into the hospital and making payment arrangements, I went to the lab for blood work and then to preop to prepare for surgery.  At every turn, I asked for pain relief.  At every turn I was told there was nothing they could do.

In preop, the air conditioning was turned up so high that I had five blankets on and was still freezing cold.  I was freezing and in incredible pain.  I asked them to speak with the anesthesiologist to see if he could do something for my pain.  I never saw him until 5 p.m.  That is when I finally was taken to surgery.  I spent five hours, in pain, freezing, in preop.  It was horrible.

Surgery went well although Dr. LaCognata told us that my hip had deteriorated to the point that the ball was barely there and had a hole in the middle of it.  It also had a hairline fracture, so it was a broken hip waiting to happen.    Oh well, all is well now with my new hip.

I left the hospital on Thursday and was taken to a rehabilitation center in Chandler, Arizona.  Bob drove out to see me every day as I began my OT and PT sessions.  I didn’t want to be there, and the nurses assistant ticked me off the very first day because of her attitude when I asked for help.  When she did that, I decided, “I’ll just do everything myself.”  So right from day one, I did it all myself except for pain meds.  The OT, who was great, did help me take a shower also.  What was interesting there is that some people had been there two or three weeks and had no idea when they were going home.  It was like Hotel California there.  You could check in any time you want, but you could never leave.  Bob and I found the head office and informed them that I would be leaving on Friday, so I was there for one week and one day.

I had home physical therapy for a week and then began outpatient physical therapy.  My hip is healing well although it is still weak at this time.  While I was in the hospital, Bob added a bigger and better handle to the stairwell.  Thank you, Bob.

New hand rail


Thursday, July 22nd, 2010


Apache Junction

June and July, 2010

While we were in Apache Junction, we bought used GoCharly scotters.  The salesman told us that we needed to charge them, “for 24 hours.”  What he was really saying was that we would need to keep them plugged in 24 hours a day to maintain even a partial charge.  Needless to say, that didn’t set well with Bob.  He determined that the internal chargers on both machines were no longer working correctly. 

Internet searching found that the GoCharly company in Germany was out of business and that it is impossible to get GoCharly parts.  We found all kinds of people on the internet who were having the same problems we were.  Bob found an external charger that would work.  Once we ordered and received it, he charged one Charly and then promptly blew up the other one by crossing the battery wires.  Now the search for replacement parts was on.

Bob tore the scooter apart and after much searching on the internet he found a controller that had reverse polarity protection.  He rewired that to the scooter, but the new controller didn’t have circuitry for the  battery level indicator.  Another search on the internet found a digital volt meter that would work.  It was primarily made for motorcycles.  It turns out the seller was located in Chandler, Arizona – just twenty or so miles away – so we took a drive down to pick it up. 

Now the scooter works great.  In fact, with the new controller and digital battery level indicator, it thinks it wants to grow up and be a Harley. 

Bob's rebuilt GoCharly with basket for carrying things to the pool

K.C. on her GoCharly

New voltage meter

It really shows up at night

Bob and GoCharly

Our Charlys are turning out to be a lot of fun now that Bob has them charged and running.  Patty loves to run ahead of them.  The people at the park joke that she pulls us around the park on our scooters.

While at Countryside RV Park, we also had motorhome water damage repaired.  Water had been seeping into the cracks and getting under the fiberglass skin.  Then in the winter it froze a few times and separated the skin from the frame creating a bulge in the side of the motorhome.  We found a man who came out to the park to make repairs.

In need of repair

Working on repairs

Being repaired

Repair finished

The Kram-A-Lott in looks as good as new.

Here and there around Apache Junction, Arizona

Sunday, July 11th, 2010


Apache Junction

June 18-July 11, 2010

We left Happy Days RV Park on June 18 to move to Countryside RV Park on the southern boundary of Apache Junction.  We enjoyed our stay at Happy Days, but because Countryside is affiliated with Thousand Trails, we’ll be able to stay there for the rest of the summer for less than a month costs at Happy Days.

Parked at Countryside RV Park

We met a lot of really nice people at Countryside, and they treated us really well there.  If we ever decide to settle into one place for the winter – this would be the place.  The hot tub and swimming pool are excellent.  They had a potluck one night and we enjoyed meeting people and eating lots of good food.  My pecan crusted cherry cobbler was a big hit.

Potluck at Countryside RV Park

Potluck at Countryside

On June 14th, we returned to Goldfield to check out the metal art there and to ride the train.  Unfortunately, the train was down for repairs and the metal artist had gone on vacation.  We did take a look around, drank some lemonade and took some pictures. 

Welcome to Goldfield, Ghost Town in Arizona

It was a hot day, so it wasn’t long before we headed on back to town.  The clouds were white, fluffy and beautiful.

Beautiful skies

The Prickly Pear cactus (Bob asks, “Is the plural of cactus – cact-i-asses?”) bloom really well here.  They are beautiful.

Prickly Pear Cactus

Patty likes it here.

Patty enjoys Countryside RV Park

We took a drive out into the foothills and found the second house that we will buy when we win a mega millions lottery.

A dream home

Most evenings we take a dip in the pool.  It’s a great park.

Pool and hot tub