Saturday, July 26, 2008

Hello from Chatfield Reservoir Littleton, CO

Hello from Chatfield Reservoir Littleton, CO

Saturday afternoon, July 26, 2008 (fifth and final travelogue of this trip)

We are at Chatfield Reservoir (here). As is always the case, you can click on the link to get to Google maps. We strongly recommend that you switch to the satellite view, since it is much more interesting (I try to set it for that option, but I don't think it happens all of the time). On this link, if you zoom out a couple of times, you will see a subdivision to the left of our location. This is Kelly and her family's subdivision. They are staying here at the campground with us. We will be celebrating one of our granddaughter's (Molly, turning 3) birthday tonight.

Since our last blog, we drove to Sterling, CO where we stayed at a rather run down campground (Buffalo Hills). We always debate about whether to stay in a campground vs running our generator when the weather is hot and we need the air conditioning. We paid $28 for marginal power (could only run one air conditioner). We would have had to run the generator for perhaps 6 hours (probably less) and that would be about 3 gallons of fuel. That really points out why we stay in Wal Marts so often. This campground did have a swimming pool and it was quite invigorating (read: cold), but that felt pretty good since it was darn hot.

Another issue with campgrounds is that some have a lot of trees. That can cause a problem with our internet and TV reception. This campground had a lot of trees, but I walked around with a compass and found a site that would get reception.

Periodically I update the statistics of our use of the bus. We made our maiden voyage in March of 2006. Since that time we have spent 421 nights in the bus. We have traveled a bit over 45,000 miles. We have been very fortunate in that we have encountered very few minor problems (no major problems and that is amazing, considering who did all the work {grin}). While our bus is not fancy, we feel like it is our home when we are the road and it is very comfortable. We are fully self-contained and go for two weeks without having to connect to water/sewer/electricity. We have a washer and dryer and a full office with relatively high speed internet (via satellite). I continue to work on the bus, but it is doubtful that I will ever get it “finished”.

Wednesday (7/23) we came to this campground. It is a neat area with fun views and it is quite relaxing. It also allows us to see one of our daughter and their family who live close by (the ones camping with us this weekend). This is always neat when you have been on the road for a month. We went swimming with the two youngest granddaughters on Thursday.

Being close to the Denver area, we ran a bunch of errands on Thursday. Today we went to our oldest granddaughter's (Amanda, 12 years old) swimming meet. I had swam with Amanda last year when we were in Florida and she just blasted me away with her swimming skills! Today she swam several events including the 100 yard individual medley (four laps with four different strokes) and came in first in several of them. It brought tears to our eyes to see how grown up she is getting and how talented she is. It was fun to get to see all of Lisa's family.

Tomorrow we will make the very short trip home.

We will catch up with Judy and her family early next week.

That is all for this trip. I will start blogging again in a couple of weeks as we travel to Europe.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Hello from York, NE

Hello from York, NE

Tuesday morning, July 22, 2008 (fourth travelogue of this trip)

We are currently in Wal Mart in York, NE on our way home.

In the last blog, I mentioned the weather and how is had been moderate. Well, as soon as we began setting up for the show, it turned hot and muggy. The vendors were in the cattle barn at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds, and it is not air conditioned. They had moved in portable AC units, but they did not really help. We spent three very hot days in the booth (plus the two days of set-up). The vendors were fit to be tied and the customers were not in the best of moods. In addition to heat, our booths were not the full 10 feet depth. That is not an issue for us, but caused significant problems for some of the vendors.

We parked with the Converted Coach group and our location was very close to the cattle barn. We were not able to do much socializing with the group once the show started, as most of our time is consumed with vendor activities.

The show was bigger that we would have guessed. Years ago, there were often over 5,000 motorhomes in attendance. The past few shows, the count has been less than 2,500. We were guessing that the count would be less than 2,000 with the high fuel costs. The official count was 2437 family coaches and 150 exhibitor coaches. With the display coaches that gave a total of over 3000 coaches.

Our sales were OK. The best part of the show is that we made some great contacts with the higher end coach groups and their owners. This is our new target market and we were quite encouraged. My seminar had fairly good attendance (excellent audience participation). Pat did two of her sessions and both sold out very quickly. Her sales were quite good.

On Friday (10/18) we drove a short distance to Mystic Lake Casino (here). This is said to be the fourth largest Indian casino in the US. It is huge with great facilities. We went to a fancy steak restaurant with the Swaims and had great fillet mignons. On Saturday (my

birthday) I went to visit two bus conversion folks that I have corresponded with over the past few years. That was great fun. You can kind of guess what Pat did {grin}. That evening we went to the buffet at the casino. It was, perhaps, the best buffet we have experienced. We were in the campground with 50 amp service, so Pat did several loads of wash.

We obtained and installed an in-motion TV dome via some “horse trading”. That allows us have access to TV as we travel down the road. On Sunday I was able to record and listen to the Rolex Series race that a good friend races. It turns out that he won the race!

Sunday we traveled back to the Diamond Jo Casino just south of the Minnesota border on I-35. We stayed there previously on this trip. From there we traveled to York. We should be in the Denver area on Wednesday where we will camp at Chatfield Reservoir with our daughter and her family.

I have been meaning to mention the fun I have been having with my new bicycle Pat got me a great new bike for a combination father's day/birthday. This is the first quality bicycle that I have owned. It is great fun to ride. I have a computer that indicates that I have ridden well over 30 miles on this trip. That is just riding around the campgrounds and fairgrounds at the FMCA. It makes getting to customer coaches much easier.

Guess that is all for now.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Hello from St. Paul, MN

Hello from St. Paul, MN

Saturday Afternoon July 12, 2008 (third travelogue of this trip)

In the last travelogue I said that I would discuss the Amana Colonies. The history is fascinating! The following information came from:

The Amana Colonies was established in 1855 by German immigrants. They established seven villages and adopted a constitution which formalized their communal way of life -- one that would become one of America's longest-lived and largest religious communal society.

In the seven villages, residents received a home, medical care, meals, all household necessities and schooling for their children. Property and resources were shared. Men and women were assigned jobs by their village council of brethren. No one received a wage. No one needed one. Farming and the production of wool and calico supported the community, but village enterprises, everything from clock making to brewing, were vital, and well-crafted products became a hallmark of the Amanas.

Over 50 communal kitchens provided three meals daily to Colonists. These kitchens were operated by the women of the Colony and well supplied by the village smokehouse, bakery, ice house and dairy and by huge gardens, orchards and vineyards maintained by the villagers.

We were able to tour the woolen mill and the furniture/clock factory and the products continue to be of the highest quality.

On Monday (7/7) we drove to the Dakota County Fairgrounds in Farmington, MN (here). This was the site for our Converted Coach Chapter pre-rally. It was a very low key rally with about 14 buses. About half of the buses were factory, high dollar conversions. On Friday we had a guided tour of the neat little recreated historical town on the fairgrounds.

The weather has been both good and bad. In Iowa, on the Fourth of July, we watched the fireworks from beside the bus and needed light jackets. In general, it has not been overly hot, which is a good thing, since it is pretty darn humid. On the way to Farmington we encountered one of the worst rain storms we have been in for for a long time. Most folks pulled off the road. Thursday there was a terrible storm at the fairgrounds and a tornado traveled along the ground for over six miles not far from our location. During this past week, we had two additional days of severe weather warnings and heavy rain. I think that the weather is supposed to be pretty nice for the next few days.

We are now at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds for the big FMCA International Convention (here). We caravaned in with the CVC folks today (7/12). We have great parking spots. We are very close the building where our booth will be. We set-up tomorrow and Monday and the show is Tuesday – Thursday.

In the last blog, I forgot to mention that the flag pole/flag in the picture was ours. At a rally a while back, I horse traded for a flag pole so that I could use it for an cell phone antenna mount (when we are in marginal areas). I never got it out after I put it in the bay. The day before the 4th, Pat was wishing we had a flag, and I recalled that the pole came with a flag. It was really neat to display the flag on the 4th of July!!!!

That is all for now.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Happy Fourth of July!!!

Hello again from Amana, IA

Friday Evening; July 4, 2008 (Second travelogue of this trip)

We are still at the Amana Colonies RV Park (here). We will be here until Monday.

We scheduled this week to be here in order to meet with the owner of SilverLeaf Electronics ( I have become a dealer for them. I have followed their company since its start over 10 years ago and have used their VMSpc engine monitor system since we have had the bus on the road. One of the main reasons I wanted to go with their products was that they are developing a tire pressure monitor system that will replace the product I have carried in the past. There is some information on my website ( This product will compliment my system and could possibly lead to additional business relationships.

I also wanted to be here for continued a dialogue with Swaims. They have helped me make some major business decisions. We knew that we had to change the way we did business, because we were not close to making a profit and had considered the possibility that we would have to shut down the business. There are lots of major changes we plan to make. One of them is that I will become an installer. That is where the money is. I had avoided that option, but it has become clear that it must be part of the business. We have worked out the details so that I feel comfortable expanding into this end of the business. We will charge a fixed rate and I will be able to do the install at a more leisurely pace than those I have been involved in so far. It will require a large adjustment in our scheduling, but that is a positive, since it will give us more time in an area to explore.

Suffice it to say that my head is swimming. BTW, Pat has had a lot of great input into these major decisions and I really appreciate that! There are lots of other business details, but I will keep the blog more travelogue oriented {grin}.

This campground is a huge facility that was created in 1988 for the World Ag Expo. It is also used for the Farm Progress Show. There are nearly 500 camp spots. We were lucky, that we have not had next door neighbors. We have 50 amp service, so we have been able to do several loads of wash. The campground office sustained some pretty significant damage during the recent severe floods. Many of the surrounding fields are totally destroyed by the flooding.

There are several RV rallies going on here. The Safari brand motorhome had their rally most of the week, and now the Beaver brand rally has started. Some of you may recall seeing Safari motorhomes, since many have distinct animal murals on them. We had always admired the murals, and assumed they were decals of some sort. It turns out that they are all air brushed by hand by the same family members that have been doing it for years. Apparently it was a factory option for about $2500. The artist is here doing a few motorhomes. He does about one a day. The murals have unbelievable detail. The photo below is an example. We watched him do this one. Not only is the mural extremely detailed, but he hides small animals in the mural. This one has 13 hidden animals. I talked to the owner and he has found all but one.

In the next travelogue I will discuss the Amana Colonies in a bit of detail.

That’s all folk!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Hello from Amana, IA

Hello from Amana, IA

Tuesday Evening; July 1, 2008 (First travelogue of this trip)

We are at the Amana Colonies RV Park (here). More about why we are here later.

I have not posted to the blog since April. We have been quite busy, but that is mainly an excuse. Since the last post, our bus trips have included a trip to Albuquerque to do a system installation, and to the Mountain Park campground in the Poudre River area (here). The latter was for our family vacation. Our three girls and their families (including our eight grandkids) plus our German exchange student (‘81/’82) and her husband were there for at least part of the week.

BTW, the two map locations above can be viewed in either map or satellite formats. For satellite view, you may need to zoom out a bit.

On this trip we left Evergreen on Sunday, June 22. We made overnight stays at the Wal Marts in North Platte, NB and Ankeny, IA. We then proceeded to Mankato, MN where we stayed at Pneumant Systems Inc ( This is a very neat niche company that makes silo cleaning equipment. They also have excellent technicians/engineers who have installed three of my systems. We were there to install a system in Gary Swaim’s beautiful new Holiday Rambler Navigator. Gary and Karen had a horrendous fire last year and lost both their motorhome and service vehicle (they are vendors and installers of satellite systems – TV and Internet). They are full-timers, so the lost everything! They documented how they dealt with the fire at: We have gotten to know Gary and Karen over the last year and they are really great folks. I am honored that they chose my system.

This, by far, is the best installation I have seen. Gary is a detail person and we all rose to the occasion (challenge) of doing a top notch job. I will document the installion on my website in the next few days. Gary and I assisted, but the lion’s share was done by two folks at Pheumat.

We left Mankato on Sat. (6/28) and traveled to Diamond Jo’s Casino at exit 214 on I-35 in IA. This was a fun couple of days. Pat got to do a bit of gambling and on Sunday we went to Clear Lake, IA. This is the site where three major entertainers of the 50’s died in a plane crash. They were: Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson. The crash occurred in the middle of a corn field and occurred on Feb. 2, 1959. I had looked up the GPS coordinates, but the site was not marked from the road. It turns out that you have to walk a fence line about a half a mile in the corn field to get to a small marker.

Monday we came to this campground. It is the site of a Safari motorhome Rally. I will talk more about it in the next post.

Guess that is all for now.