(As you may have surmised by now, dear readers, this blog is not quite real-time. In fact, it is lagging behind by about 3 weeks at this point. That said, we will just continue on with our fearless protagonists with the spirit of the open road: It's the journey as much as the destination....)

So, with regrets, we pulled outta Moab. It was just such a pretty little campsite, the night at the brewery hanging out with Chris and Moki was heaps of fun, and the sheer bravado of the natural world there is humbling.

But, we did have quite a carrot at the end of our drive. At long last.... The Starlite Classic Campground was on the horizon.

But before the Starlite came the dastardly mountains. Now, I have detailed our run in with Cabbage Hill, Oregon. Now Cabbage Hill is 3,573 feet at it's summit. You lose 2,000 of those feet in a mere six miles, which is why it is so deadly. But... today we faced the real deal: The Rocky Mountains. Yup. Monarch Crest, with a, gulp, elevation of, hang on to yer seats, folks: 11, 312 feet. Just to be sure you got that: 11,312.

Ohhhhhh CRAP!!!!!!!!!!

Now, had we not been so damn determined to see the Starlite we woulda probably bailed. I mean, look at the map: you can head straight down to Albuquerque with far fewer challanges. And, as I mentioned, our top speeds on Cabbage Hill- even post-repair, were about 35 mph. But, we all just kinda silently agreed to not over think it- meaning stfu and just drive.

So, up we went. Up. Up. More Up.

More UP.

Crap, will we never get outta here? UPPPPPPPPPPP.

Finally, we wheezed, and I do mean wheezed into the family owned gift shop/ restaurant/ sky tram atop the Crest, which, incidentally, also straddles the Continental Divide. Normally one to shun crappy tourist trinkets we practically skipped into the gift shop to buy proof of our heroic climb. I promptly bought a bumper sticker for Big Blue and a fleecy blanket for the trailer, both emblazed with "Monarch Pass, elevation 11,312, Colorado." No one on top of Everest or Kilimanjaro, or whatever other high place you can tempt the Death Gods from, was ever prouder.

We also, ahem, got to meet most of the people who had also traveled up the hill at 35 mph, while looking at our trailer's rear end. Oh well. Lead Dog and all that.

And we got a baffled, and not very polite, imho, "WOW! My daughter and I did NOT think you were gonna make it!" Uhhh... gee, thanks? Eff off? I mean, what, precisely, is the right response to that kinda "encouragement"? My laser-eyes-of- death feature was temporarily offline, on account of my giddiness at being alive. So, I just mumbled something along the lines of "Don't underestimate the sheer will of three chicks and their vintage trailer mission, lady" and left it at that.

So, at this point, we had souvineer crap in hand- as if we'd ever forget- and we took one look at the sky tram and said, "Hell, yeah". Up, up, up some more, only without our beautiful albatross.

Now, I'm told the whole pass is one of the most beautiful drives in Colorado. I have no idea about that personally. I spent most of it clutching the wheel or praying for the person who was clutching the wheel. So, finally on the sky tram I took a look at the enormous, majestic, huge mountains, wide open skies and 50 surrounding miles... and almost peed in my pants when I realized we still had to go DOWN the other side.


Shortly after we got in the car to start our decent Sylvia from the Starlite called, which was delightful. After brightly chatting for a few minutes, I told her we were, in fact,  terrified and needed stiff drinks upon arrival. To which she replied "Margaritas or Pina Coladas?" which assurred me it was all gonna be worth it.


Yup. All thoughts of chilly Pacific Northwest rain are behind us. We are warm, dry and hot in a good way. 

So... the thing with Moab. Have you ever known anyone who went there? They gush and gush and, frankly, won't shut up. Why? Because this place is truly FANTASTIC. 

There are about 5,000 things to do here, and all of them involve the stunning beauty of the land. Now, as I have often confessed, I am not a terribly athletic person. I'm more of a gentle hike than a vigorous mountain scaling type. That said, Moab is so inspiring even the most timid of sorts would just have to get out in it. 

The scale of the place alone is humbling. The vivid colors. You just can't laze about when there is so much to see. As one of our native guides put it, "There are lots of crazy ways for tourists to get themselves killed here." Which normally would register horror with me. But, somehow, I get it. Ummm...not the getting killed part. But the thing that locals forget or can't see- people who are here for a short time just have to get as much of this intensity as they can in their terribly abbreviated visit. 

Perhaps if you are weaned on these majestic vistas, and have all the time in the world to amble about in them, you can calm yourself. But if you are merely visiting, the urge to throw, to toss, yourself up the bluffs, via rope, jeep, mountain bike, or on foot or whatever is so compelling... that you just go do it. 

I'm sure the few surviving old moths tell the young moths the same thing about the flame. 

Here are my exhilarated mountain bikers. Being the bio-nerds they are they geeked out all the way up on the cool plants. It seems we hit Moab at a wonderful time- still lots of green from the spring cool. It made the whole place resemble a red-headed green-eyed movie star. 

The wildflowers were also amazing. Our friend Chris told us the locals said they were seeing wildflowers they had never seen before this year- in 20+ years of living here in one case. 

Desert beauty is particularly compelling, I think, because it does not come effortlessly for the plant.

As you know by now, I like a fighter. 

We interrupt this self-centered blog to talk about someone else's cool vintage trailer. 

Let me back up: How many vintage trailers do think there are out on the road? 10%? 5%? I had not really thought to ponder this question before I headed out on the road. I was buoyed by the lovely community of trailer lovers on the internet. I guess, had you asked me, I would have thought, say >10%. 

Sit down, Love. It's bad news. 

Real bad news. 

Based on the 1,500+ miles thus far, the answer seems to be .0000000001%.
Really. No! I would not joke about something so sad. SAD. 

By the time we pull into Moab we have seen a grand total or 3 aluminum trailers, all Airstreams, btw. And one was not even on the road! The world is chock full of toxic white boxes... it's utterly dismaying. Where, O, Where are my vintage kin? 

The picturesque and well-thought out Canyonlands Campground in Moab yielded pretty much the same story. Row after Row of White Squares. (Well, being Moab, it was also peppered with ATV's, 4 x4 Jeeps and dirt bikes.) 

Anyhoo, shortly after hook-up Tiff comes back from some campground errand in a happy flap. 
"Vintage trailer!" she trills. 
"Tell!" Mary and I demand. 
"Orange and navy and super-super-tiny!! The name plate says 'Boler'".
"Ooooooooohhhhhhh," we coo.  
"And." She pauses. "It's called 'The Ritz'!"
We. Must. Meet. These. People.

Thus on fire, we stalk the absent owners for the next few hours as we set up and sink into camp. It's our first dry night and we are pulling out all our rabbits: chairs, tablecloth, BBQ pod, lots of Orla on display. Finally, finally!, I walk over and see lights in the now-falling darkness. 

Well, specifically, I see a headlamp focused on a book and a small dot glowing on the end of a cigar. Like some teen all star-struck I start babbling my trailer admiration. The Dot introduces himself as Moki and out of the trailer pops Annie Lennox. 

Ok, not the real Annie Lennox, but if Annie Lennox was a vintage trailer/ jeeping enthusiast dressed in REI chic, it could have been her. Annie's real name is Chris. Cool! 

But first, back to The Ritz itself. It's like a pod of candy. A marble-sized doll house. I cannot wait to get inside. After some mumbling about "housekeeping", which absolutely cracks me up because this thing really is the size of a marble so I'm thinking, Yeah, right, go blow the dust out in one poof!, they let me in. The. Inside. Is. JUST. AS. COOL! 

Surprisingly, it has lots more going on than the small size would have you guess. Good layout: a table area flanked by benches on one end, a kitchen and closets in the middle and bunk beds in the other end. The table area converts to a full size bed but with the IT department being housed under the table they rarely bother. (They self identify as "small people"!)

And here is the good news ya'll: It quickly becomes clear that even if there is a real dearth of vintage trailers in the world, and I do mean dearth, if the owners are all even half as cool as Chris and Moki, I'm A-OK with that. It's enough. It's dazzling. It's perfect the way it is. A small, well-vetted club with a surplus of cool.

I always have preferred Quality to Quantity. 


Lemme tell ya just a smidge about Chris and Moki, and I know you will love them as much as I do. Here is their deal. Chris has a very intense job as a ICU nurse. She is a mobile nurse, meaning she works through agencies that place nurses where they are needed across the US. She picks and chooses her gigs based on where they are. They home base outta Arizona. They are currently 1,600 miles into a 600 mile trip over to California. Yes, I meant to type that. And yes, you read it correctly. They are living the dream, ya'll. They found a way to make it work. She is well-paid and has a damn tough job. But she only has it part of the time. In bursts. Then she gets to reconnect to her passions, her internal battery, and stay sane. Moki, in her words, "Gives me this life I love. He allows me to have it. I am so lucky." He runs the care and feeding of the logistics and makes sure that they play as hard as she has to work. She does the on-the-floor stuff that pays bills. 

Now, in case we have any cynics, let me just say this is not some new thing for them. They have been perfecting it for 20 years. (Obviously, they met as infants.) He is Gomez to her 'Tish a la Addams Family.


And they still make googly eyes at each other. They are both absolutely beautiful. And so much style. They love each other! I love them! 

Again, it's Quality, people, that makes The Ritz The Ritz

Sorry, yall. I've been too busy living my vacation to get updates on dicey internet connections out there. We're gonna have a few “guest bloggers” pop up here to pick up the slack...

Laura, girl, you're up.



Guest blogger Laura here, Alex is having a few connectivity problems.  The road warriors are enroute to NM, I'm sure we will get the details soon.  Meanwhile, some background......

We gamely took on the mission of rescuing the Spartan without knowing her exact condition.  Lots of the details on the water, electricity, stove and heat were very fuzzy.  Enter aforementioned Trailer Gary, and we were able to ascertain what she has and if it is working.  Good news included 2 working burners on gas stove (propane tanks not empty!), most lights working, water in kitchen and bathroom working.  We all decided to leave the oven alone and even brave Gary thought the oil furnace was a beast we weren't willing to tackle given time constraints and the fact that it is summer and we have sleeping bags.  

Tiffany and Alex are prepared for the lack of all kind of basics. From battery operated laterns to extra ipods with serious playlists. I am still thanking Tiffany for the most awesome rain poncho that I wore as if it was my favorite skinny capris for the solid 2 days of rain from Oregon to Utah.   Y'all, not just one, she brought 2 red rain ponchos!  Better than a boy scout, that girl. 

  However, I need to clarify for you current day RV/trailer folk.  Back in 1950 they did not include generators and holding tanks.  So if you are not hooked up, you have nothing.  Same for the toilet run-off.  Hence the need for peeing in the bushes at Wal-Mart.  Just sayin'.
  A few more details about the Spartan and the tow rig 1985 Ford Econo Van.  For those of you thinking we are a bunch of sissies with the hitching up the trailer situation, you need to remember the Spartan was manufactured a LONG time ago.  I am talking sway bars and special tools here.  Also the van is obviously without the modern day amenities of back up camera or those nice extra big mirrors on the side.  Seriously, my mini mommy SUV has bigger mirrors. 

  Do not fear, dear readers!  We have Queen of Reverse Tiffany with us!  She can back up Big Blue in the dark!  In the rain!  In an unfamiliar campground! Faster than a speeding bullet she has the ball within a  quarter inch of the hitch, ready  to go!  Apparently that girl has been parallel parking her big honking truck in the city for some time now, she's good.  Real good.        
And by this point in the game, everyone is a pro at the hitch situation also.  But it was a little daunting at first sight.  Probably not to Alex, who is brave enough to envision this trip AND make it happen, but me....daunting. Just sayin'.
Hey ya'll. We are in Moab, Ut, where is is hot, dry and very beautiful. We scooted through Idaho, which, frankly, suffered from standing next to her prettier sister Oregon. I mean, I'm sure there are lovelier parts, but overall, after the majesty of Oregon it was a bit of a snooze. We we are also hustling to catch up to our plan. 

We were headed to Salt Lake City, where my friend Roma and her parents were welcoming us with real beds and all the parental amenities. We also had to pick up Mary at the airport at noon and drop Laura off at 7 pm. 

We had a good "pull" getting over Cabbage Hill the second time. By the way, the innocuous sounding Cabbage Hill, is in fact part of the Blue Mountains and notorious for causing breakdowns. It isn't so much the total elevation, its the length of the pull. We were told by locals they get lots of accidental tourists. In fact, the grade is tough enough that each year several RVs are destroyed by overheating to the point of catching fire and being lost. Which sounds awful, but seems like a ok outcome compared to in the winter when people die in accidents on the road. Yikes. 

So, we drove as far into Idaho as we could and spent the night at a very fancy KOA. Yes, there are fancy KOAs. This one was had granite counters in the bathroom and was spotless. We were only there for about 8 hours though as we were hot to get on the road. 

Roma went to the airport and claimed Mary and took her to a nice lunch so we were not stressed about missing our noon deadline. We all go back many years and trips so this was cool for everyone. Once we rolled into town we got to thinking about the fact that we had booked a campground- but were not planning to stay in the trailer that night. So, we thought- What the Hell- let's park her at Wally World again. Lock up and head to Roma's. So, we have now indebted ourslves to the hospitality of WalMart twice. What does it all mean? I'm a little confused by it- guess I can't slam WalMart anymore. Anyhoo, thanks, Sam! 

We went to the impeccably maintained and large scaled botanical garden's at Thanksgiving Point. Turns out we were a week early for the farmer's market. 

The plants were great but the whole place felt a little cold and impersonal. It was scaled for giants. Big formal gardens, highly planned but even the supposed whimsical touches, like a metal sculpture elsewhere in the park, felt obligatory. They boast the largest man-made waterfall in the world ot country or something, which about sums it up. I think you can have a nice garden without a big ole fake waterfall. But, the companionship was wonderful and the plants were cool. Lilac does not grow in Texas! 

We had to take Laura to the airport, being unable to convince her to abandon her family and run away with us for 10 more days. Sad. She is so much fun- and so awesome to have around. Boo. 

To cheer up we had a foodie dinner at a restaurant next to a book store. Sigh. Real food. Wine. Local beers (Tiff was quite pleased!). The Oasis. I recommend! 

And staying with Roma was sa-weet. We did laundry, relaxed, showered, relaxed. We also woke up to the smell of amazing breakfast: Roma's mom rocks. Eggs, tofu sun dried tomato "sausage" and homemade muffins. Yum! 

All too soon we had to hit the path again. Took us about 5 hours to get to Moab. We are relieved to finally be dry- the trailer is drying out, my sinuses are on the mend and after driving through the hot we were delighted that the fantastic campground here has a pool, which we jumped into after we unhitched, hooked up, and had a beer. Pool. So. Good. Cool. Ahhh. 

The girls are off mountain biking and I'm joining them in a minute for a river trip. It feels like Summer vacaction in a way I have not tapped into since about age 10. Life is very, very good:) 

I'll figure out pictures later... by for now, 2 national parks- The Arches and Canyonland, call...
About 2 am I wake up. I feel like HELL. I try to be quiet and still (it's easy to shake the trailer!). I have a coughing attack and decide to go outside and hack up a lung. Bad idea. Once verticle, I realize I have a bigger problem: I need to pee. Like a  Mofo. DAMN, again.

Then I hear a trailer door being opened. "Tiffany?"
"Yeah. I need to pee.'"
"Oh, hell, me, too"
"What should we do?"  
Walmart is closed.  
Taco Bell is closed. 
We do the pee dance.
Then I say, "Well, hell, we've got buckets. Wanna pee in a bucket?"
"I wanna pee in a BUSH."
And then she's out the door, and before I can say, "REALLY?" she's back, only she's not pee
dancing anymore.
Well.  Broken window theory.  I mean the bush has already been peed on, ya know?
So the next thing I know it's morning.  Six o'clock.  I stagger over to Walmart and do a legitimate pee and brush my teeth.  I still feel dreadful.  Tiffany and Laura are dead to the world.  So back to laying quietly and trying not to cough. 
Eight AM.  I start dialing for doctors.  We get wind of a walk-up clinic, and from the map, it looks to be about a mile away.  Laura and I will go, and Tiffany will start huntin' down coffee and charms.
Well.  Our mile stroll is 90 percent uphill.  And.  Our map is wrong.  We survey the entire freakin' town below from the hilltop -- and call a cab.  Who blows us off.  So down we trudge. 

Finally, we're walking past the Chamber of Commerce, so we walk in to grab a charm and verify where the stupid clinic is.  The lovely lady at the CofC looks at us in horror when we mention we're on foot.  She looks at me as I cough up a lung.  She calls a cab, which shows up about 17 seconds later.  
Two hours after leaving the trailer, I am delivered to the doctor.  Now, we spent the night in a Walmart parking lot, people.  With no power.  Everyone's phone is near dead.  Mine is just shut down.  I try to siphon a little juice into my phone while in the doctor's waiting room.  Laura manages to get a text that Tiff is actually near by, at Shari's.  So Laura goes to join Tiff for breakfast and pie, and I wait.  
A hundred dollars and a doctor later, I have been told that my ears, nose and throat are "not in a happy place right now" and given an Rx for a Z-pack. 

Now.  While all this has been going on, shortly before my iPhone blackappled me, the garage called and said the front seal replacement would be about $500-$600 and done after lunch. Oh, and they don't take American Express.  Platinum, my ass.  So for the first time in my life, I'm soon to be a Western Union recipient.  Happily, the Western Union is at the Safeway directly across from Walmart where the doctor has phoned my Z-pack into the pharmacy.  Finally, I walk over the Shari's and join my girls for a well-deserved piece of pie. 

We call the cab people, who know us all too well by now.  It is a small town.  And get a nice driver, who not only drives us down the massive hill, but also stops at Thompson's RV where we collect our trailer charm. Woohoo. 

At Safeway, I'm united with my Z-pack and briefly with my money.  I say briefly because I walk across the street to Ziegler's Car Repair and hand most of it over to them.  

Easy come.  Easy go.
I am also reunited with Big Blue.  Tiffany and Laura are back at the trailer packing up.  Now that I'm no longer a pedestrian, the town seems extra small and I zip around grabbing charms in a free-for-all.  A horse from the feed store!  Playing card charm from the Historical Society!  A saddle from the famous outfitter Hadley's!  It's dizzying, this charm-collecting business.  Until Tiffany texts me: R U LOST?  
To which I reply, "No, I'm a DUMB ASS, OMW."  

So, 24 hours after hour "lunch break," we pull out of Pendleton. 
When we last heard from our plucky heroines they were at the Rodeo Lanes Bowling Palace...
So, we blogged, bowled and beered. Well, some of us beered, my sinus cooties did not mix with drinking. Since we're living in a trailer in a WalMart parking lot (n-ice), we had toted our toothbrushes and face cleanser to the bowling ally. About 9:45 we, in turn, serepticiously head to the bathroom to clean up for the night. Ah, Home Sweet Trailer.
Laura is excitedly chatting with Don, the owner of the bowling ally. She's being nice and commenting on the décor, local teams, etc. And then, she picks up what looks like a charm bracelet attached to a picture frame. What? Her and Don chat some more and then next thing I'm hearing is “map” and “chamber of commerce” and “like a scavenger hunt”. Tiffany and I stare unblinking as she dangles 3 little bowling pin charms in front of our dazed eyes and says, slowly, and a little like she's unsure English is our first language: “The Chamber of Commerce here has a civic program where local businesses each sell a unique charm for $1 each. They publish a map of all the participating locations on the “charm trail” to make Pendleton a cool place to visit.” She dangles the visual aide in front of us, and reads the words on the frame: “Pendleton: What A Kick!”. Now, Tiff and I may be a little slow on the uptake, but we are starting to understand that we might get out of Pendleton with a cool souvenir charm bracelet.
Suddenly both Laura and Tiffany squeal. Squeal. Like stuck pigs. They have located a silver travel trailer charm on the bracelet, which can be found at Thompson RV, Inc. 
Pandemonium breaks out. We are ALL on board with this charm gig now. Which is how we find ourselves trotting 3 blocks over to the Oxford Suites at 10 pm to get a suitcase charm. And then walking, oh, a mile or so to the Rainbow Cafe and Bar to get the four leaf clover charm. Hot Damn! Women with a mission. Tiffany is all geeked on on the cool local brews and and finally about midnight I realize that even though I'm not drinking, I'm the one who might fall down. I'm finally reaching critical mass with whatever sinus funk is plaguing me. So, we call a cab and take great delight in repeating to the driver that we live at WalMart and then making him drop us off at the front door of the trailer. Once inside we realize that even without electricity to the trailer it is so bright from the WalMart parking lot lights that we have to adjust the blinds to sleep.
As this point I have to admit that I need to see a doctor the next day. So, we plan a morning of urgent care clinics and charms.
More coming soon...



Oh, where to start? At, say 4:30 am when our alarm droned loudly enough to beat out the steady drum of pouring rain and wake our bedraggled asses up? No, I have to start before that so you know I'm waking up in my trailer in a KOA in Salem, Oregon. After a marathon day that involved picking up Laura at the Aurora airport, Tiffany at PDX, cleaning out the 17 foot van, and then cramming like Hell with Trailer Angel Gary, in a frantic, last ditch attempt to be ready to tackle the open road with 50 feet of vehicle today.

At some point between pulling 16 random throw pillows, a full size axe, 2 hydraulic jacks, about a dozen pairs of work gloves, 3 butter knives, a folding saw, 7 boxes of kleenex, 2 road atlases, a full size trash can, work boots, a coffee can full of worther's candies, and a whole pile of other misc stuff out of the van and then spending a few hours driving in parking lots with the trailer to try to master tail swing and backing up, I think I just zoned out. 
Somehow we decided that camping out and sleeping in the trailer would help us get out of town earlier than if we stayed and endured my mom's ministrations and threat of eggs which would have put us on the road, well, maybe about 2 pm. As we pull into the campground at 11 pm the Pacific Northwest delivered it's signature weather, cold rain, in earnest.

Our terror of Portland rush hour traffic was greater than our adversity to being wet so we re-hitched up the trailer in order to be ready to roll at 5 am. Now, did I already say it was raining? And cold? In a bone-chilling damp kinda way that is associated with Jolly Olde England and the Pacific Northwest? So, we bundle up as best we can in layers of clothing and cotton blankets. And really, it's fine. Until 2 am when the alarm goes off. And off. And off. Until I realize it is not the alarm, its my goddamn phone. I stagger up (not so easy off of a futon mattress, hold the frame). I scrambled to STOP the noise. Only to hear my MOM on the phone, frantically babbling that I'm going to die of hypothermia and I need to unhitch the van and run back to the house and get a down comforter. Ok, people. She loves me. I know. She was worried. But really? In fact, the temperature was probably about 45. Cold? Yes. Wet? Well, yes, outside. But inside it was fine except someone had woken my ass up to worry about me. Sigh.

Ok, back to 4:30 am when the real alarm sounds over the heavy rain and we realize it is, in fact, time to face the aluminum and road ahead. Being a Houstonian, I spent a few minutes checking the weather to see when the big burst of rain will blow over to debate if we wait 30 minutes, or possibly, an hour to have clearer weather. HA! The hourly forecast woke me up to the realization that if you want the rain to really stop up here, you wait until July.

So, we up and at 'em. Laura gamely volunteers to be our first driver and get us out of Salem and through Portland. Which she does, with aplomb. Did I tell you Laura is an itty bitty thing? Like 5 feet, and a buck ten of pure steely determination. Man, that chick gets shit done.

She also has lived in the Pacific Northwest for about 10 years and is married to a Local. So she is brave about wet roads and knows all about the cool local attractions. She stops at the amazingly beautiful Multanomah Falls and shows us the walking underpass so we can actually walk over to see the Falls from a great vantage point. It was raining pretty hard, but, hey, we were ready to stretch our legs and be humbled by something, anything, bigger than our trailer.

I then take the wheel and drive us... through 20 miles of construction and narrow lanes. CRAP. Man, I was pretty ready to give my seat up to Tiffany when we finally found her a cuppa coffee another 20 miles on. In truth, by this point, the last few days, night at KOA, and my cold/ sinuses have caught up to me. I trade seats with Tiffany, helpfully mention that it's another 350 miles down the same road to our destination, and thus relieved of my co-pilot responsibilities, proceed to pass out.

When I fully come to conscious the girls tell me we are near Pendleton, OR. You know the blankets? They make those famous wool blankets, Indian style and striped ones named after the great American National Parks, like Yellowstone. Anyway, we are driving through the town, and you can visit their mill. Now, even though I was not willing to unhitch my van in the middle of the night to run over to my mama's for a blanket, it is chilly at night and I was willing to buy a classic blanket for my trailer. So we decided to stop in Pendleton, see the mill, stretch our legs, get gas and find a grocery store.

Excellent plan. Worked out great. I bought a blanket. We got gas. We bought groceries. We ate our sandwiches in the car (rain) and got back on the road.  

Laura is driving. We leave Pendleton and head out, up the hills. Now, we know we are not the speediest thing on wheels. But Laura is flooring the gas and we are racing up the hill- at about 35 miles an hour. And the hills, while not mountains, are many. So, finally, we are almost at the top of Cabbage Hill, and we smell smoke. And then see smoke. DAMN.

So, about 7 hours into our journey we are on the side of the road calling AAA. DAMN. DAMN. DAMN.
A hasty inspection shows us that the trailer is fine, but the van is leaking transmission fluid. And the fluid is dripping on the exhaust pipe which is what is smoking. Of course, People Are Kind (PAK) and a nice local stopped to make sure we were ok. Melvin stayed with us until Quincy, the tow truck driver, showed up. Of course, they know each other and have opinions on where to take Big Blue, as we have taken to calling the Van. Quincy calmly hooks the van and trailer up to his tow truck. From Melvin we have learned that the shop we are headed to is located next to a WalMart, and that their parking lot won't accommodate the now 75 foot or so triple combo of Quincy+ Blue + Spartan.

So, guess where we're camping tonight? For the low price of free? That's riiiight: WalMart. And that, my friends is how I find myself catching up with you from the Rodeo Bowling Palace in Pendleton, OR.

Stay tuned...