The mountains at Flagstaff
We are on the road to Kentucky finally. At the moment we are banging down the road in Arkansas. For the last two days we seem to go from reasonably smooth highway to the Chisholm Trail and back. When we hit the rugged road everything in Mary moves and rattles, clangs, and bangs. There are metal slide latches attached to the two heavy pocket doors that separate the bedroom from the bathroom, and the bathroom from the rest of the coach. When we travel we secure the latches so the doors don't slam open and closed as we travel. Once yesterday and twice so far today (and it is only noon) the latch has rattled loose and the door slammed. You can't miss it. It sounds like someone dropped a crate of cannonballs from two stories up. I'm spending my day running back and forth from the front to the back catching things and adjusting things that are coming loose. At one point I set my laptop on the dashboard and went to get my lunch. I got all of the stuff out for a sandwich and I heard John holler over the internal commotion in Mary, "You better get your laptop!!!!" I dropped the knife in my hand and sprinted to the front. When I got up close I stepped on Breezy's rug and slid into the cockpit just in time to catch my pretty Mac before it hit the floor. It was very good timing, and quite graceful, if I do say so myself. Two seconds later it wouldn't have been so pretty. Or if I had another foot to slide on the rug, I would have ended up on my ass on the floor with my computer. It all worked out.
We left Scottsdale, reluctantly, on Wednesday morning. It was another cool sunny morning. We drove through the mountains to I-40 at Holbrook, Arizona and then on to Santa Rosa, New Mexico. John zeroed in on a sign post that said "5,000" feet and said, "Oh, the beds." I said, "Oh, the beds," and sprinted to the back to find them on 100, the highest setting. I deflated them both to 5 and returned to my seat to let my heart rate settle down. An exploded bed would be rather tragic, I think. By the time we go to Santa Rosa the chambers had blown themselves back up to 95. All of the milk cartons, juice bottles and sealed plastic containers in the refrigerator were bloated. Imagine an exploding tomato juice bottle ... no, don't.
Smiley Jones at Barrett Jackson's car auction
The weather on this trip has been good so far. We decided that we would take I-40 and drive like hell. So far we've stuck to the plan. Amazing considering our track record with plans on this trip. We went from Santa Rosa to Checotah, Oklahoma yesterday. The wind picked up a bit in Oklahoma, but considering our usual experiences with wind in Oklahoma, it wasn't too bad. We stopped in the middle of nowhere for the night, where Ransom became enchanted with some crusty organic stuff that was laying around on the ground. I'm freaky about the dogs picking something up and eating it, especially while we are traveling, without easy access to a vet. He was just bonkers last night. Three times I practically had to wrestle him to the ground to take this gunk out of his mouth. He spent the evening pestering us to go out. He didn't need to do potty business, and after Idol started we had to get a little grumpy with him about it. There must be some dog nip in Oklahoma gunk. What ever it was he was a wild man. All Breezy wanted was her dinner :)
Remember Back To The Future?
Speaking of Idol, I don't know what you Idol watchers out there think but I think this is the best season yet. I don't miss grumpy old Simon and think Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez are doing a great job. Randy is trying to act like Simon at times, which doesn't become him. I prefer his old dawg self. Anyway, where did they find all of these uber talented 15 year olds??? This year they have cut way back on the goofiness in the audition process (which I could do without entirely in exchange for hearing more of the people that they put through to Hollywood), and the judges have been pretty constructive and not so painful in their critiques of the singers. I'll be really interested to see what other changes they have made since Simon the Terrible left.
Red rocks in Sedona
We are still waiting on the bank to either accept or reject our offer on the house. This is completely amazing. There are literally millions of homes either in foreclosure or approved for short sale in the United States (can you feel a soap box moment coming?). There are very few people that the damn banks will approve for loans to buy these houses. In this case the damn bank has a qualified, pre-approved buyer to purchase this house before it goes into foreclosure and destroys the sellers credit for seven years. The damn bank has moved the foreclosure date twice. It is now set for ten days from now. The damn bank waited an entire month from the date of our last offer until they finally responded, rejecting our offer and giving us a generous 24 hours to counter ... AGAIN. That more or less broke my pick with the damn bank. We countered within 24 hours. Now the damn bank has moved into WARP speed. The next day at 11:00 AM they responded, rejecting our counter, and gave us ONE HOUR to counter with our last and best offer. We were at the Barrett Jackson car auction (more on that later) in the midst of a kazillion people when we got the call. So we went back to the coach, had a very fast pow wow, and made our last offer on the place. I was just pissed off ... no, I was PISSED OFF!!! Our agent said that he felt very good about the offer. I'm glad he did because we were both just PISSED OFF.
Crossing the Mississippi River! Leaving the Chisholm behind!
Okay, so now we have the entire weekend to wait to hear from the bank. Our agent is feeling quite good about it. Good for him. We are just plain ambivalent. I guess this is a good thing because I'm reasonably sure that the bank is going to jerk us all around again before this is over. On Monday we got a call from our agent. He tells us that the bank wants real signatures on the addendum to the contract. We've been doing this all electronically up to this point. Our agent says this is a really good sign. I looked at John and said, "I'm not even excited!" That was a sad moment. When one buys one's dream house, one should be excited. But the damn banks are turning this into something akin to emotional abuse. So we signed the contract with real ink and email the thing back to the damn bank. It is now Friday and we have not heard another word. And foreclosure is looming on the folks that own the home. We have money. They have a house that they need to sell. I fail to see what the DAMN BANK'S problem is.
Now to windshield wipers. When we left Oregon last fall we had a new thing-a-ma-gig to help the windshield wipers function. As you might recall, they kept stalling out when we were in Kansas City on our way out west last fall. I invested in some Rain-X wipes which John applied to the windshield in case we got caught in a rainstorm without wipers. As it turned out the wiper motor was shot. So John called Monaco and ordered a new one to install before we left Kentucky for Arizona. They sent one. It arrived and John took it out to the farm to put it on Mary. He opened the generator door and peered into where the wiper motor lives. He looked at the big motor that Monaco sent, and realized that it didn't match the small motor that was installed in Mary. He came home disgusted. There wasn't any time to order another one so we hauled the wrong motor across the country to Arizona. By some major miracle we didn't encounter a drop of rain across the 2,000 plus miles between Kentucky and Arizona.
When we arrived in Arizona and got settled at Ft. McDowell's RV Park, John called Monaco and ordered the correct motor, and had it sent to the RV park. Monaco said that they would send a label to the RV park so that he could send the wrong motor back to Monaco. All seemed well and good. So the new motor arrived. John got it and announced that he was going to install it. He left the coach and I heard the generator door open. I looked at my watch an hour later and realized how long he had been out there. I got up and looked out the front window. I could see his feet and they were moving so I decided to let him do his thing without my observations. I was working on my new manuscript so time went flying by. I finally looked up and it was an hour and forty minutes since he got started. I hadn't heard any swearing so I figured that he must be making headway with the project. A few minutes later the door opened and he came up the steps into the coach. He looked like he had been mugged! His hair was standing up, his shirt tails were hanging out, and he had grease all over his face and hands. He was staggering across the floor. I said, "Are you alright?" He looked at me and smiled. "Yeah," he said. "I got it done."
The next step was to test the wipers, which he did at every speed, several times. It was a total triumph. The wipers were fixed. The only thing left to do was to make sure that the wrong wiper motor made it back to Oregon. He took the box up with the number that Monaco told him to write on the box. UPS was sending the shipping label to go on the box. All they had to do was match the number on the box to the one on the shipping label and it would go back to Monaco. Easy, right?
Two weeks later we are staying at West World I'm checking the credit card statement online to be sure that we were credited for the wiper motor. No credit. So I mention it to John. He calls Monaco. No motor. He calls the RV park in Ft. McDowell. No motor. The damn thing cost $250.00 and it is apparently lost.
Where the hell is the motor?
We drove out to the RV park the next day and John went in. The guy at the office swears that according to the woman who was working in the office that day, the UPS person picked it up. The problem is that the shipping label is still there at the office. We are set to leave the next day to go over to Palm Desert. There was nothing to do but put the ball back in Monaco's court, and wait for the woman who was working in the office the day that the box disappeared to come back to work, two days later. We left for Palm Desert.
John called Monaco again after we got to Palm Desert. Still no information on the disappearance. At this point the volume control on incoming calls on John's phone has gone to hell so he spends a lot of time hollering into his phone, "I CAN'T HEAR YOU!" Why is it that when we can't hear someone we assume that they can't hear us? Anyway, he was desperate to get to a Verizon store so he could get a new phone and he told the woman at Monaco that if she tracked the motor down to call my phone, which I don't wear on my body, so that we could hear the call. I took the dogs out for a walk and sure enough, she called. When I got back to the coach I listened to the message. She said that the UPS person did pick the box up before the label arrived. He used the information on the box to ship the motor ... BACK TO LEXINGTON. She wanted to know if anyone was at home in Lexington. I threw my hands in the air and hollered at my phone, "NO ONE IS HOME IN LEXINGTON!" John came in about that time. "Who are you yelling at," he asked. "Murphy," I said. Then I explained. He hasn't talked to Monaco since and we still don't have a credit for the motor. I bring it up every so often and he just sighs. He'll deal with it when we get home.
We just spent the night in Goodettsville, Tennessee. We are about an hour from home now. I'm ready to unload the bus and settle in at home.
As we were leaving West World on our way to Palm Desert and L.A. I was standing by John's seat looking at the monitor at the car. I never do that anymore because that seems to be the most reliable part of this mass of mechanics. It just tracks back there like a champ. It has for three years. When I looked at the monitor something struck me as odd, but not enough to suggest stopping to check it. You know how that goes. Your little voice whispers to you that something isn't right and then you promptly ignore it and forget about it. So we took off and hit the 101 going 65 miles per hour. For about 20 miles, every so often, a horn would toot. I thought that was odd, but the drivers in Scottsdale are pretty aggressive so I shrugged that off too. Finally after about 20 miles we were passing an exit when I heard a little "meep, meep" to the right. I looked out the window and there was a guy taking the exit on a motorcycle. He was mouthing something. Of course my first thought was that he was mouthing something obscene. Isn't that a statement on how we live today? I'm so used to people being obnoxious that when they are trying to be helpful, I just assume they are being obnoxious. We were traveling at the same speed, and he mouthed again, CHECK YOUR CAR. Holy shit.
I leaped from my seat to the monitor and hollered, "PULL OVER!!!" We weren't in a spot where there was enough room on the shoulder to pull over and of course John hasn't a clue that I've been getting messages from the motorcycle guy. "WHY?" he hollered at me. "THE CAR!! THERE'S SOMETHING WRONG WITH THE CAR!!" I screamed. "PULL OVER NOW!!!" I was nearly hysterical. I think I need therapy to something. Of course he wanted to know how I came to the conclusion that there was something wrong with the car so I explained in a speed talking jumble about the guy on the motorcycle. He pulled over on a very busy freeway and got out to see what was wrong.
Sunset in the desert
He came back and got in the driver's seat, put the bus in gear and moved forward, then stopped. "What's wrong?" I asked. "One of the towing arms didn't lock and the car was being pulled down the road cockeyed." I nearly hit the floor. He went out and looked, came back, and repeated the procedure two more times until he said that the arm finally locked. I obsessed until we got to Palm Desert. We had to unhook the car in order to put the coach into a tight spot. Then I got into it to move it. It seemed fine. After we got set up we drove over to Tim and Jeanne's house. It was fine.
It's official. The car is virtually in-destructable. When we parked in the driveway at Arcuri's place I said, "This car needs to be in the Smithsonian."
We made one more stop on our adventure in the west. After we left Griffith Park we went to Sedona to meet Jimmy and Helen Robertson. They were going to be there for a day before they drove down to Tucson. I have to say that I think Sedona is probably one of the prettiest places that we have been in this entire country. The "Oh wow" moments are never ending up there. We made a reservation in a ridiculously expensive RV Park (as RV parks go) and pulled in. The woman had instructed John to pull up to the office. It was a beautiful spot but as we made the tight turns into the office area I was wondering how we were going to get Mary back down to the park area. John went in and I got out and looked around. I didn't see a way to do it, even with the car unhooked. So he came out with instructions on how to get to our space. Step one was to unhook the car. Step two was to make a left turn and then a right turn and drive to the space. He tried left. There wasn't enough room to make the turn. So he looked right and then left and said, "I can make it." I was skeptical. He started that direction. I was standing by the car about to get in when this bearded guy showed up. "Man that's a beautiful rig," he says. "Thank you," I say as I turn to go to the car. "What make is it?" he asks. "A Monaco Dynasty," I say and start to turn away again. "How many miles do you have on it?" he asks. Exasperated I say, "Not sure. About 60,000 I think." Now I'm walking to the car when I hear, ssssrrrrrraaaaapppppppppe.
I won't say what I said.
I jumped in the in-destructible Smithsonian car and ripped down to the bottom of the hill where John was eyeing the damage to the side of the coach. Apparently there were some thorny bushes ... I'll spare you the details. When we take it to the detailer this spring he will have some work to do.
The next thing we had on the agenda was to find a car wash. Smithsonian car was a pig. Armed with instructions from the handyman at the park we took off. Sedona's city council must have outlawed left turns because from the time that you turn off of Interstate 17 and head for Sedona you start encountering roundabouts. No stop signs exist in Sedona. Only roundabouts. I think John took Mary through about ten of them on the way to the RV park and ten of them on the way out. 42 feet plus a Smithsonian car in a roundabout is a challenge. I think Smithsonian car jumped a couple of curbs on the way in. Anyway, back to the car wash. With some very loose instructions on how to find the car wash we set out tootling through roundabouts. When we had the choice to go left or right Murphy got involved and we took the wrong turn. A half hour later we were still looking for it, and we were only five minutes from the RV park. Finally we found it and then we couldn't figure out how to get in the driveway. Once we got into the driveway we found that we had discovered the world's slowest car wash. It took a half hour to get the car washed. Then Jimmy and Helen called us and asked if we would pick them up so that we could go up to a church that is built into a rock on a hill.
We picked them up at their hotel (we actually found it without turning around one time ... a miracle) and we drove up to the top of the hill. We went into the church. It didn't fall down. Another miracle. It was very cool and the view was fantastic.
The church in the rocks
We dropped them off and went back to the coach to change for dinner. We had made reservations at a place called Enchantment Resort. I read the reviews and they were glowing. The resort is about 8 miles out of town in the red rocks of Sedona. Jimmy drove us in their rental car, a new Camry, to the resort. As we were climbing in altitude we saw a full moon rising in between two stunning red peaks. It hung there like a giant softly glowing ball in the sky. It was stunning. Those who know the legend of Jimmy Robertson's driving, know that he considers himself "an excellent driver". They also know that when he drives his big red truck down the narrow winding road that they live on, people dive for the ditch when they see him coming. His driving is truly legendary in the horse industry. Helen, John, and I discussed this issue on the way up to the resort and decided that because the three of us were going to be drinking that Jimmy would be the best driver of the four of us after dinner. Scary.
We had a meal that I would rate in the top ten of my life. And the view, at night, with the full moon was almost surreal. And we drank a lot. We had cocktails. We had wine. And more wine. I think we could safely say that the three of us we were toasted. We piled into the Camry and Jimmy took off toward town. John and I were in the back seat so we weren't paying much attention to where he was going. He made a wrong turn and we ended up on a dirt road. It was a moonlit dirt road, but a DIRT road none the less. The three of us protested that we were going the wrong way. Jimmy gleefully continued down this road. We disintegrated into hysterics and I developed a horrendous case of the hiccups. I was laughing, tears rolling down my cheeks, and hiccuping, while Helen was writing a Facebook entry on her phone telling the world that we were lost in the desert in Sedona with Jimmy behind the wheel. The little Camry flew down the dirt road, around corners at high speed and through holes in the road like a champ. Finally, after what seemed like four hours, we hit the main road back to town. We just had a blast.
As of today (which is February 11th) the damn bank has harassed us for one piece of information after another and we still don't have an agreement on the price. If anyone is reading this that is considering buying a house on short sale here is my advice: RUN. RUN AS FAST AS YOU CAN THE OTHER WAY AND DON'T LOOK BACK. If we weren't so far into this we would pull the plug on this one and move on to a property that isn't in financial distress.
We are home now. It is cold. The ground is covered with snow again and the temperatures have been in the single digits for the last few mornings. Mary is plugged in over at the farm chugging away. The good thing is that the days are getting longer and the weatherman says that we have a break in the weather coming! Temperatures in the 50s are on the horizon. It's the mid winter break time. Yay!!!!!!
By our front porch
I hope everyone is having a good winter! I'll be back when we begin our migration back to Scottsdale in March for the horse show. Or maybe, if the house gods smile on us, to MOVE! :)
I was about to publish this post when the phone rang. It was John.
WE GOT THE HOUSE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!