This time we decided to follow the right channels in getting through customs - even though we did need two goes - we forgot to fill in a form - you would have thought we knew the process by now.We picked up a hire car from LA Airport and headed on out to see Stubbie. We were both feeling very anxious not sure what to expect on her condition. The Big Fella had these great fears that we would get there and she hadn't been started the whole time we had been away, I made him forget that I said to him I had a dream that the Storage place and all the motor homes had been packed up and that there was now a high rise building on the site. Well we were very pleased to find Stubbie was in great order and started first time - phewww.
After we got Stubbie set up we went to get some groceries etc. but instead decided to go and eat out - much better idea I thought - plus I hadn't slept for about 24 hours and I was starting to get a bit feral.
Oh I forgot to mention - but as many of you would have heard, Dave did have a few words about the amount of clothes and especially shoes that I was bringing over. But I'm sure he wont be telling this story - lets just say that when we had finished unpacking all my shoes and clothes fitted in my cupboard space with room to spare and the Big Fella had to use half of my hanging space. He had forgotten that when we left Stubbie he had kept a fair amount of clothes here - so guess who is going shopping....
The Big Fella has picked up the driving on the other side really well. Even though I must admit I was a bit nervous sitting in the passenger side for the first few days. Dave has been commenting on how hot it is, it's been about 37 degrees Celsius - I did remind him that we were in the desert and that it was still summer. I haven't been game to tell him that it is going to get hotter before it gets colder.
The Big Fella and I commented on how when we got Stubbie set-up it really felt like we were home. We didn't realise how much we missed Stubbie.
04/09/2010 – 14/09/2010 - The last few days we have been looking to buy a small car that we could tow behind Stubbie and today we picked up our new addition it is a 4 Door 4WD Suzuki Sidekick (a very small 4WD) - we christened her Shooter. We were lucky enough to find this one that had most of the towing gear already set-up we now need to connect Shooter to Stubbie and ensure that we have the appropriate braking and lighting systems set-up. The previous owner also left the registration going, so Shooter is registered until October.
Dave has been busy trying to get all the lights working but after a couple of days of no success he asked me to sit down with him and have a look at the diagrams. I did ask if he was checking the back of Shooter and not the front to see if the indicators etc were working - he just looked at me then looked back at the diagram and then went outside for another attempt. Well after about another 10 minutes to set it all up again (he had previously decided to pack it all up) we had lights - I'm not the most popular person - but hey I didn't care I walked back into Stubbie and poured myself a large glass of wine...
We have both picked up the driving pretty well - we just seem to be having one minor problem - Dave wants to drive on the wrong side of the road and I keep getting into the wrong side to drive.
Dave has been busy trying to get everything organised. I have been trying to keep myself busy at the shops – much to Dave’s disgust – he keeps reminding me that I’m no longer working and I keep telling him that I never will be either – he just looks at me and laughs. I do have the great job of organising the registration of Shooter, this makes me nervous, as last time when we were trying to get Stubbie Registered (with the help of the car dealers) it all went wrong and our temporary registration had run out before we had her registered. Luckily I had a bit of leeway. The registration process is fairly complex for us, as we are registering out of state i.e. we are in California and we are registering her in Vermont. Vermont is one of the States that we have been able to find that will register us even though we don’t have US Drivers License and an address in that State.
11/09/2010 – Today we headed to Palm Springs to have a look around. One of our stops was the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. This is a breath taking 10-minute, 2.5 mile trip going from an elevation of 2,643 feet to 8,516 feet into the Mt San Jacinto State Park on the world’s largest rotating aerial tramway.
12/09/2010 - After two weeks at Banning we finally decide to bite the bullet and leave the comforts of Banning. We were hoping to catch up with Vicki and Andy in Vegas but unfortunately that wasn’t to be. We are heading on up to Breckenridge, Colorado to see our friend Peter. It looks like we will be helping out on the weekend he has a couple of stores that he willing be running at Breckenridge for their Oktoberfest.
Well we have been told that it should only take about 5 minutes to get Shooter connected to Stubbie – well after 35 minutes we are both sitting in Stubbie ready to take off and at this stage still not feeling overly confident. I must admit we were both very hesitant and kept looking in the back-up camera to ensure that Shooter was following us and that we couldn’t see any smoke coming out of her.
Shooter is towed with four wheels on the ground. The manual 4WD hubs are set to free, the transfer case is set to neutral, the auto gear stick is set to park, handbrake is released and the ignition switch is set to accessory. The hardest thing you have to get use to is putting a car in PARK before you start to tow.
The first lesson you learn when unhooking is to put the handbrake on before you disconnect. Dave made it look easy stopping a runaway car. Of course once we get on the road and are feeling comfortable I finally tell Dave that our first stop will be near Las Vegas – well you can just imagine the look that I got. I decided to wait a while before I told him that we wouldn’t actually be stopping in at Vegas at which stage he gave me a nice smile.
13/09/2010 – We spent the first night camping in the parking lot of a Casino about 30 minutes outside Vegas – and no I didn’t even go in, but there were some outlet stores nearby which I did visit for an hour or two. We are really happy with the way that Stubbie towed Shooter. You can hardly tell that she is behind us, except we do loose a bit of power of the mark and going up hills / mountains. Unfortunately, it looks like our back-up camera is having a few intermittent problems and our TV up the front is going on the blink. Dave’s not happy something else for him to fix – I think he has had enough of doing is manly duties.
14/09/2010 – 16/09/2010 - One of the bonuses of staying in the parking lot was that we didn’t need to unhook Shooter. One of the directions we were given when we bought Shooter was that when towing a vehicle you need to stop about every 300 km’s and start her up for a bit. So when we had stopped last night, Dave did the right thing and went and started her up. Unfortunately, we couldn’t remember if we had turned the key to accessories – so after being on the road for a minute we pull over and check – luckily all was in order. Something I’m sure that we will get better and trust ourselves more with as time goes by.
On our way to Breckenridge, we drive through Arizona and into Utah. Once again we are just amazed at how spectacular some of the scenery is – it was really fantastic and I think this was the first time that the Big Fella really relaxed (and stopped thinking about his fix it jobs). We loved being able to stop whenever we like and for as long as we like. We ended the great day by staying at a Rest Stop among this beautiful scenery the sunset we experienced was fabulous the sun was really bright pink to red.
One of our stops was at Castle Valley and San Rafael Swell. This is a geologists paradise during the Jurassic Period, the area had tropical forests, inhabited by giant dinosaurs that died and left behind their bones. Unfortunately, our photographs don’t do this spectacular scenery justice.
We stop over at Grand Junction, Colorado for two nights to get a service and a few things sorted out with Shooter. Dave had the mechanic replace all the oil in the diffs, transmission and engine plus a radiator flush and some new front wheel hubs and bearings. After Shooter had been serviced we took her for a drive up to the Grand Mesa, the world’s largest flat top mountain, I don’t think that either of us will ever get sick of the scenery. Dave also had a chance and did a great job in fixing the Back-up Camera and the TV – he really is becoming the handy man.
We made our way up through Aspen Vale and it was great to see the country side without the snow this trip.
17/09/2010 – 23/09/2010 – Well we finally arrived at Kremmling, Colorado. (Which is just outside Steamboat.) This will be our base for the next week, whilst we catch up with Peter etc. One of the first things we notice is the tiny Chipmunks running around everywhere – these weren’t here last time we visited – I can just watch these little ones run around all day, except they make me dizzy – they are really entertaining and they remind me of my Grandmother and Great Auntie. They appear to be very busy collecting for the winter.
On Saturday Peter has us both up nice and early we need to get to Breckenridge and set-up for the selling of his Pretzels and Apple Strudel (the Big Fella isn’t overly excited at this). So we are already to go at 6:30 am, it takes us about an hour and a half to drive to Breckenridge. Breckenridge is a beautiful ski resort. It takes us a couple of hours to get everything set-up and ready to go; the Big Fella comes in handy setting up the tents etc. Peter is unable to do much except yell orders (he has a very badly swollen ankle and is unable to put any pressure on it – hence the crutches). I’m so surprised at how popular the Pretzels are; there are two varieties the original salted variety (which they serve with the bright orange cheese sauce) and a cinnamon pretzel which is served with a vanilla sauce – all a bit much for me and even the Big Fella. We are also selling Apple Strudel with the vanilla sauce and cream. It was great to get there early and watch the little town come alive (well I thought so). It was amazing that there was only a couple of beer tents set-up; prior to going to the beer tents you also had to line up to buy the tickets – Dave and I looked at each other and thought that there might be a riot – all of these stalls had lines of up to 20 people and they weren’t moving that quickly – we are sure there would of been a lot more noise back home. At the end of the day we were sold out of all Pretzels and sauces, I believe we sold over 1,500 Pretzels plus the Apple Strudel – we really didn’t stop all day and even the Big Fella needed to get in and lend a hand in making the sauces. Ohh well at least tomorrow we won’t need to get up so early – we are leaving everything set up and just closing the tents.
Peter has told me that Sunday wouldn’t be as hectic – well it wasn’t as bad but we had our heads down most of the day selling Pretzels etc again. We had another successful day with all but one tray of the cinnamon pretzels not selling – about 30 pretzels all up. At least the kids in the playground were happy – free pretzels.
All in all it was a great weekend – I believe Peter said it was his best ever weekend. I did enjoy the stalls and the atmosphere – I especially loved that more than once people would ask us where we were from and that they loved us speaking Australian... We got the chance to catch-up with a lot of lovely people that we had met on our previous visits – they really did look a lot better on the Saturday than on the Sunday morning – all I can say is lucky that we were working and not drinking, or we would have looked the same.
20/09/2010 – 23/09/2010 – We now have a few days to relax around the lake etc. Peter and Dionne have gone back home and will come back to the Lake on Tuesday (and hopefully will bring his dog Mozart). On Tuesday we went for a drive to Steamboat (about 45 mins away). It probably would not have taken as long if we were driving Stubbie rather than Shooter; Shooter isn’t able to go too fast up some of the mountain ranges. But it is great to have the freedom of just being able to jump into her and take off for the day – without having to pack everything up.
The drive around this area is just breathtaking; we are here at the beginning of fall, to see the leaves of the trees changing from green to yellow are just spectacular. (Up in the mountains it is called an Indian summer.) Some of the colours are just amazing they range from green, yellow, bright orange and even a brilliant red.
One of the many benefits of staying near Peter is that he does all the cooking – you gotta love that. Unfortunately, Dave and I had been doing really well and trying to lose some of our weight – The Big Fella had lost over 15 pounds and I had lost nearly lost 8 pounds. I think this week with Peter we will both be happy to stay even. Peter was very grateful for our help over the weekend and bought me a couple of bottles of wine and also paid for our camping fees – fantastic.
23/09/2010 - Peter and Dionne leave us today and head back to Longmont. They have another stall to be set-up for the Oktoberfest celebrations in Denver and yep once again Dave and I are going to go down and help. So we will be staying just outside of Denver for a couple of days before we head off to Oregon.
Just to let everyone know that we are no longer complaining about the heat; we’ve gone from 40 degrees Celsius in California to a nice cool 4 degrees overnight in Colorado.