Camping… part 1

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We started this adventure in Casa Grande Saturday morning, we drove through Florence, then Superior, Globe, down and up Salt River Canyon, which Kid 1 (10yo) hated so much she cried, it scared her bad, I have to admit, it is not my favorite trip either. 

We drove through Showlow, and stopped in Pinetop looking for bricks to jack the trailer hitch up on, because the ones we had been using broke in Casa Grande. We ended up getting a bunch of culled lumber really cheap and by cutting and nailing it together we built a stable base to jack the trailer up on, we still needed a stone, to keep the hitch from digging into the wood, but it will do for now, we also got extra lumber, for setting the corner jacks on, and to use as ramps for the trailer to help level it.

We arrived at Big Lake late in the afternoon, and after a little hunting found a good site, one that didn’t cost $30 a night, and after much maneuvering, and bitching by Hubster, he realized that I hadn’t screwed up and bent one of the jacks (by directing him to back over a rock) and we got the trailer setup. Sent the kids hunting for firewood and Hubster was just so impatient to go fishing that he took all 3 kids out while I got the rest of camp set up, and the trailer all set up and organized (gas turned on and the fridge working, and loaded, etc.) and started dinner (yes, it was past dinner time by that time. and almost dark, dark isn’t happening here till about 8 or 8:30)

They came back from fishing after just about an hour or an hour and a half, with one little trout. Who caught it? Kid 3 (4yo). He had caught the first fish, and the only keeper, we are not yet sure how he managed it as wiggly and impatient as he is, but he did. We built a fire, ate dinner, and had s’mores. S’mores are a hit with Kid 1 and Kid 2 (8yo) but Kid 3 just doesn’t like marshmallows, in any incarnation, so he just pesters me for chocolate.

We got them all in bed and crashed, we were tired.

The next morning, (Sunday) we all got up, I made breakfast and Hubster took all 3 kids fishing again. They came back with just one fish again, and Hubster still hadn’t had a chance to even get his poles into the water. He told me that from now on, when ever he takes all 3 kids, I have to go with him. By now we had a list of things we realized we had forgotten, or still needed to pick up, including propane, yeah, ditz that I sometimes am, I forgot to fill the propane tanks. So Hubster sent me and two kids down into town (about 30 minutes away) to pick up the stuff we still needed, while he and the other kid went fishing. We were gone just over 3 hrs, and unable to get propane, as there is no place open to pump propane on a weekend, we did have enough to last us a couple days though.

When we got back to pick up the Hubster and Kid 2, they had caught 2 fish, so we had a grand total of 4 fish in two days. Still not enough make a meal for us. So we built a fire and had corn on the cob and hot dogs for dinner… both cooked on the fire, both really yummy, and more s’mores.

On Monday morning Hubster got up early and went fishing alone, in about 2.5 hrs he had caught his limit, and brought them back to camp, where I fixed breakfast for everyone. He decided that at the rate they had been losing tackle, he had to go into town and get more (think about it… 3 kids with poles, constantly hitting snags, this equals a lot of lost hooks, weights, line and bait.) Plus, he was waiting for the offer of a promotion, so he had to get somewhere his cell phone would work so he could call in and see if the offer had been made yet so he could accept it. So down the hill we go again, this time all of us, we were able to fill a propane tank, it wasn’t as empty as I though, but better safe than sorry. He called in and accepted his promotion (yay, by the time we get back he will have only one more week on Graveyards before he goes to a straight days position, with weekends and holidays off!! I can’t wait, I have hated graves this time around.) We got more bait, more smores makings because I had underestimated the ability of my family to roast marshmallows… and we stopped and got the kids Ice Cream. After we got back to camp and dealt with all our purchases, got the gas tank hooked up to the system, we all went out to fish.

We park the truck.. hike a quarter mile to Hubster’s favorite fishing spot… only to discover 20 minutes later that he has forgotten something vital… and I get sent back to camp for it. Before I left, Kid 3 had hooked a fish, we didn’t realize he actually had a fish and wasn’t just playing with the pole until I saw the fish jump, then I helped him reel it in… it was too small, but he had caught the first fish of the outing again.

I get back to the fishing spot, after hiking out and back, to find that they had caught a keeper, and we had some fishing neighbors… the younger kids were getting bored by this time and playing in the rocks above where we are fishing, I sat down in my little beach chair in front of one of the kids poles and in less than 10 mins, it had a bite and I grabbed it and landed it. With the kids off playing I decided to do a little fishing, and so I  cast the line out again… had a couple bites and landed a baby  off that pole.. our fishing neighbors had already limited out (in this lake that is 6 a day per adult 3 per child) but were still enjoying fishing, just releasing what they were catching, when they found out that we hadn’t caught enough to eat yet they started giving us their keepers. We brought 11 fish back to camp that night. They were VERY tasty. Even though we couldn’t convince Kid 3 to even taste one.

Tuesday morning, Hubster got up and took Kid 1 out fishing with him, they didn’t catch their limits but they got close. While they were gone I had fed the younger two, and heated enough water and given them sponge baths. While Hubster got the fire burning and enough coals to make lunch, I helped Kid 1 bathe, and I bathed. We had more fish for lunch and Kid 1 had convinced Kid 3 to take a bite of fish. We told him he only had to have one, but he wasn’t getting anything else until he tasted the trout. He took his one bite, but refused anymore, even though he said it was good.

We had another, shorter, fishing session with everyone that evening then we came back to camp and had more fish for dinner, and Hubster fired up the generator to charge the batteries in the trailer, and as a treat for the kids he put a movie into his laptop and let them watch that while he and I played cards. Kid 3 fell asleep watching one of his favorite movies… Goonies but the other two managed to stay up till the end when we bundled them all into bed and crashed.

Wednesday morning Hubster got up and took Kid 2 fishing with him, they were gone several hours and only brought home 3 fish. Wednesday was my birthday, and only Kid 1 thought to tell me Happy Birthday. They gathered and cut more firewood, and we decided to take a day off of afternoon fishing, we played games, Hubster took the trailer to be dumped and filled with water, and he took my phone with him (our camp site doesn’t get cell or internet service, but the spot where the dump is does) so my email downloaded and I had a bunch of emails telling me Happy Birthday. We played games and spent a good afternoon together, and we ended up eating the steaks I had brought, for dinner, the kids, who mostly refuse to eat stake, had more hot dogs. Kid 3 was asking to watch a movie again, but while the older kids were making their s’mores, he went into the trailer and fell alseep.

Road Trip, the end of the saga…

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On Tuesday,  I spent a great deal of the day working at MIL’s house, we replaced the locks on her doors, repaired one door where it had been kicked in and the frame shattered.  I epoxyed windows shut that had been broken into  until the mechanism that opened them was useless. Basically, I was working on securing her house sot hat it was harder for people to break in. As MIL has a problem with her sister’s family breaking in and stealing things or just moving their criminal selves into her home.

That afternoon I worked on cleaning up the trailer and securing things for the trip home. We took SIL and her kids out to dinner that evening, in a town an hour away, to Applebee’s. We had a great time, and the kids watched a little bit of tv before going to bed that night.

On Wednesday, we hooked the trailer back to the truck, cleaned up the mess we had made and headed home. We discovered that a lot of truck stops have RV dumps on our way home so we were able to empty the almost full tanks on the trailer without hauling it all the way home. We stopped again at Andersons pea soup. and continued south.

We were about in Sacramento when I pulled off my glasses to clean them and the frames broke. I didn’t have my old pair with us, I spent the rest of the trip not able to see more than 4 feet in front of me clearly. Not something I recommend.

Hubster, in his infinite wisdom, decided that we could make it up the Grapevine (steep mountain pass just north of LA) to the Flying J truck stop with just barely enough gas to get there if it were flat ground. 3 miles from the station the truck ran out of gas.. (DUH!) we were not even to get the truck and trailer completely off the road, and the far right two lanes on the highway are reserved for semi’s. We panicked for just a moment, I admit it. We didn’t know who to call, until Hubster remembered Onstar. (yeah, I admit, I was tired it was like 9pm and I had been on the road most of the day) We hit the emergency button and they called us a tow truck, initially just for gas, and a Highway patrol officer , because we really weren’t in a safe area. Hubster and I discussed which would be safer for us and the kids, to get out of the vehicle and stand at the side of the road in 40 degree weather, where if the truck got hit it could slam into us, or to stay in the vehicle where we had airbags and seatbelts, plus, the residual heat of the day. We finally decided that the safest option was in the truck, with seatbelts on and hazards flashing.

The DPS officer arrived, he had his lights lit, and the trucks started going around us as they passed. But the officer told Hubster that there was no way he was going to let anyone stand on the traffic side of the vehicle to put gas in, we were going to have to be towed, at least off the interstate.

The tow truck arrived after a 25 minute wait. Faster than the estimate of 30 minutes, and towed us up the road to the next exit and then added the gas, we were able to make it to gas station 3 miles up the road. Argh. I chewed Hubster out about his habit of running down to the last ounce of gas hunting for something 2 cents cheaper a gallon.

We continued our trip home and actually made it in about 4:15am Thursday morning. by the time we got the kids in, and in bed, and all the things we had to get done finished, it was 5am before we were able to go to bed for a few hours.

The second leg of our trip, the part where we were going to go see my family on the other end of the state got delayed for a month or so, my grandfather caught the flu, and was very ill, he is improving but I didn’t want to risk taking the cold that my kids have to him, especially when he is so weak.

Road Trip, Day five.

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Today has been busy. And it was far better than I had anticipated… it started out not so great, but it improved. It started out slow, as, thankfully, all our vacation days have… the kids wake late, we wake late, and it is even later by the time we dress and eat and are moving around. Hubster realized at 9:25 that he was supposed to pick up his mother, who lives 30 minutes from where we are, at 10:00 and take her to the Social Security office. So he rushed off, taking our only vehicle, leaving me here with our 3 kids, thankfully, not the nieces, because school started here today. I had no clue what we were going to do all day long, because I *knew* that a visit to a Social Security office on the first Monday of the month was not going to be a quick thing. I was not a happy camper.

I got the kids all ready to go in to the house and bathe (no sewer hook up here, so we are using limited water in the trailer)  just as I get them in the house and situated, and I am about to climb into the shower my phone rings, Hubster is 15 minutes away, headed through town, and he has to stop, do we want to go into the town with the SS office with him? (it is also the town I was needing to go into to get a bit of shopping done) I jumped at it. I got my girls through the fastest showers of their lives and got them dressed and back out to the trailer, we were just getting hair done when Hubster got here. We finished getting ready and took off.

I was able to get my shopping done, my girls needed some warmer clothes, it is hard to find more than just gray solid sweatshirts where we live, it just doesn’t get cold often enough for most stores to stock them.  I walked into Kmart, which shared a parking lot with the SS office, and found sweats for my kids, with cute prints on them for $3 a piece. and a fleece jacket for my 3yo, for only $4, we got enough to last us the winter, and hopefully into next winter. When we were done in the store the kids and I sat out in the back of our Yukon, we opened the back gate and played games and waited, it wasn’t a long wait before Hubster and MIL joined us and we headed back. 

We stopped and at a local Chinese food place (only our second restaurant meal this trip!!) and took MIL home, and dealt with a little more business there, determined what work needed to be done on her place that we could do in the next day, to help her out and then came back to SIL’s.

We set the kids to cleaning up their mess once we arrived and I worked on cleaning up stuff in the trailer, I find my self doing this a couple of times a day as we are out here, 5 people in this small space, I am always picking up something. 

I discovered a short time later that one of the nieces didn’t come home after school like she was supposed to, and that caused a whole new drama. Her mother knew where she was, but it wasn’t where she was supposed to be. I was very careful not to tell SIL how I would handle it or how I thought she should handle it but I did tell her that if it were MY 15 year old who pulled this, there is no way that she would be getting her drivers license any time soon.

Our plan for tomorrow is pretty simple, pick up the stuff that we determined we could do to help  out MIL, and deal with it. I plan on sealing some windows, filling a couple of cracks in walls, changing locks. Nothing really complicated but some things that will really help her.

Road Trip, Day Four.

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We are enjoying the opportunity to sleep late and not get moving until we are well rested.  I turn down the heater in the trailer while we sleep, I drop thermostat as far it will go. My oldest daughter has instructions that when she gets up she can set the thermostat to a specific temperature, and it will start warming up. This is especially handy for me, since she tends to get up much earlier.

Anyway, we got up, and, again, I fed the kids, this morning they ate much better than yesterday, a full meal, not just the grazing bit they ate yesterday. And then I told them they could go in the house, well, there were only kids and teenagers in the house, mostly asleep, as everyone else had left. BIL (Brother in Law) and his family  had gone home (they live an hour or two from SIL (Sister in Law), not sure where exactly) and SIL had taken MIL (Mother in Law) home, she lives about 30 minutes away but had spent the last two days here.

So a bit later, I go out to fill the water tank on the trailer (as all we had  was what remained of the 1/3 tank I had put in before we left home to run the toilet.) Anyway, just as I was coiling up and draining my hose (it is cold here, I really don’t want my good hose to freeze and break because I left water in it)  SIL comes out of the house and gets in the car, Hubster hands me his coffee cup and tells me he is going with his sister, not that he had any clue where she is going, or when they will be back, but he is going.

I go inside the house, where my kids are, to see what is going on, there are 5 kids 10 and under, and a 15 year old, they are all doing well, not tearing the place down, and the 15 year old is watching the younger ones. I made sure there was no catastrophe, and I left. I was not going to stay in a room with 6 kids, 2 of which I cannot stand. Especially for an undermined amount of time.

About an hour or so after they left, Hubster and SIL return, Hubster comes out and tells me he has a money order from his sister, and he is going to make a payment on her electric bill, because they are about to be shut off… Well.. Initially I might feel sympathy for the situation, except that so far I have seen 3 of the newest model Ipod Shuffle, and a Wii that she has gotten her kids for Christmas.  On top of the fact that this type of thing is typical, she can barely make the bills, but the kids all have cell phones and all have whatever the newest gadget is. To me…that is not just poor money management, it is irresponsible, but hey, that’s just my opinion.

So a few hours later Hubster hands me the money order and tells me I need to go cash it, and where to go, a local grocery store. When I ask him if he wants me to get anything, he just says “Ice cream.” So off I go with my shadow (my younger daughter had lost her glasses, took hours to find them, in the mud outside, her punishment was to be my shadow, sit next to me, go where I go, and no playing, for 2 hrs. This is not her first episode of losing glasses, she has worn them for sometime, and has to learn the responsibility for them some time, all my in-laws kept telling me I was to rough on her over this. Yeah, I am so going to take parenting advice from a professional bum and a woman who 2 out of 3 kids are so bratty and snotty I will not put up with them.) I realize once we get there that it is after 3 and they have nothing planned for dinner, so I call and find out what they want and get the ingredients, because, after 12 years I know what will happen, they will start thinking dinner at 5, then decide they have to shop first, and we won’t eat till 10.

While at the “grocery store” (I have never seen a grocery store with 5 aisles of alcohol) I found Hiram Walker brand Amaretto, I can never find this in Arizona. It‘s not expensive, just hard to find, so I bought it. I will take it home and enjoy at my leisure..

I got all the stuff for dinner and once I returned, started cooking. While I was cooking Hubster and his sister were discussing their childhood (why it must be relived every time they get together, I have no clue, but apparently, it is a must.) Most of the conversation wasn’t fit for children’s ears so they ran the kids off to play in another room twice, and then they went outside, leaving me alone in the house cooking, with said children. When SIL’s youngest daughter decided to try to follow them outside Hubster opened the door and told her to stop, when I realized what she had done, I chewed her out, I didn’t yell, I didn’t cuss (massive amount of restraint for me there, this child annoys the shit out of me) I told her that they were discussing something her mother didn’t want her to hear, they had told her to go away twice, and since she wouldn’t go, they went where she couldn’t here and she was NOT going to follow them there. And then I went back to my cooking. I noticed a few minutes later that she had disappeared, and realized that she was hiding from me.

I was just finishing dinner about the time that Hubster and SIL came inside the house, and Hubster was dishing out the spaghetti and I was passing plates out to kids when the girl appears, curls herself into her mother and start sobbing, not just crying *sobbing*. When SIL asked her what was wrong, I told her, she was upset because I chewed her out for trying to follow them outside when they had left so that the kids couldn’t hear them. SIL comforted her and babied her until she calmed down. THIS is why this child is such a brat and I refuse to put up with her. Now, lest you think I am being unreasonable, this is not a 3 or 4 year old, this girl is 9, she is old enough to go away, to know what is acceptable behavior and what is not. Apparently, SIL and I have two totally different level of acceptable.

School starts back up here tomorrow, and SIL has to work, not sure what we are going to spend the next two days doing, but Hubster has decided that we are to stay here until Wednesday. Oh, Joy. Oh Bliss.

Pass the shot glass any time now.

Road Trip, Day 3, at the in-laws

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We wake up in the morning, feed our kids before going inside, despite the cold in the trailer, make it into the house at about 10am, local time, at which time, they are just starting to dig out food and eat, my kids have to eat again, of course.

They sit around and chit chat, visiting for a couple hours before I start to push about getting the trailer moved and set up. At which time Hubster decides that he doesn’t want to have to travel an hour each day from the RV park, he wants to set it up at his sister’s where there is no sewer hook up, so that it is right there…. Now, let me say, it has been raining for I don’t know how long , it is muddy, and he wants to set up in the mud. ARGH.

It was a pain in the ass… a royal pain in the ass, but we did get it done. He stretched an electrical cord so that we have power, and I turned on the gas and got the heat and stuff running. I will fully admit there are some major pluses to having it set up here. But there are minuses too.

Pluses ~

  1. It is right out side, when the kids or crazy in-laws get on my nerves, I can escape for a while.
  2. I can put the kids to bed when they need to go to bed, and not have to convince him that we have to go first.
  3. I can slip out, heat up my water, make myself some tea and spike it, without them (including Hubster) knowing that I need alcohol to put up with them.
  4. I have food to feed my picky 3yo when he refuses to eat what is served.

Minuses~

  1. the kids wanted to hide in  it while playing hide and seek.
  2. no sewer hook up, so showers and such have to be carefully monitored.

I set up SIL’s wireless router yesterday, so I have internet access while we are here, it makes it so much nicer too… I can hide in the trailer and still be able to do stupid shit like post here..

Road Trip Day two,

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We wake and get back on the road, with strict orders from Hubster not to feed the kids, as will soon arrive at Anderson’s Split Pea soup, and he wants to ensure that they are hungry. 

Four hours later we arrive. We go in, order our meals, and eat, I will say this, the ‘regular’ food at this place has dramatically improved. Always before they food, other than the soup, which my husband and kids swear is divine, and I swear is nasty, was merely so-so, this time it was actually good, not outstanding but not something I minded having to eat either.

Anyway, we eat, we get back on the road, and we drive and drive and drive some more, we finally arrive at Hubster’s sister’s home at about 6pm, she is not home, she is 1/2 an hour away (despite having 3 hrs notice that we were on our way and our approx. arrival time) so Hubster starts unloading the recycling we had brought up with us (where we live only offers about $.50 a lb for aluminum and nothing for glass, SIL can turn it in for $.05 an item here, dramatic difference) we get the kids out, they run around like wild banshees while the adults visit. At 10pm I finally take my kids out and put them to bed in the trailer, I soon follow them, riding while Hubster drives exhausts me… I keep having to force myself to relax and not look at the road.

To begin the saga,

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I will start with the plan, and work my way through the changes in that, and then onto to the actual trip and the drama there of… as possible I will embellish with pictures..

First, the plan. Hubster decided about a week before Thanksgiving that he needed to make the trip north, from the Third Circle of Hell where we live, to where 2 of his siblings and his mother live, the trip is 800 miles, each way. How are we going to make this trip? Well, we are going to drive, towing our travel trailer, we will leave as soon as he gets home from work on New Year’s Eve (around 11pm)drive all night (something I totally hate and had put an end to several years before) and get to our destination around dinner time on the First.

Yeah. laugh with me. *I* knew it wouldn’t work out this way, but there was no telling him that…Anyway, i start looking for RV parks in the area, now, let me tell you that this is the off season for tourism in the area, so I have a very difficult time finding any RV park that isn’t a trailer park in the true, southern redneck meaning of the term. I do finally find us a park, on the opposite side of the lake from his family, but that is not necessarily. a bad thing in my eyes. The rates at the park are killer, 5 nights will cost us what 1 night at the only decent motel in the area would cost us.  Anyway, we  will stay in No, Cal. for 5 days then head to SE AZ, as Hubster has NG Drill, and I can spend several days visiting my family, then we will head home, just in time for the girls to go back to school.

As time for the trip gets closer, Hubster arranges to get off work earlier in the day, so that we can leave earlier, and possibly just get through the LA area while it is dark and there is far less traffic to deal with, and then maybe we would stop for the night, get some sleep and continue on in the morning.

The day for this ordeal finally arrives, and I work all day long to get all the last minute shit done so that we can leave as soon as possible when Hubster gets home… He gets home, piddle farts around, drives me  out of my mind and we pull out of the house almost an hour late. But Wait… it gets better.

Part of the piddling around was checking the pressure on the tires, totally needed, but could have been done ahead of time, like that morning, instead of sitting on his ass in front of the computer. Anyway, tires are a little low, we need to fill them up, so as soon as we leave the house (for the 2nds time, because we forgot to put the trailer mirrors on the truck and realized it halfway down the block and went back to get them.) We stop at the truck stop a mile up the road to put air in all the tires.

We get all 9 tires inflated to suit Hubster (4 on truck, 4 on trailer, and the spare that was really low) and we start to pull out. Hubster, AKA Mario Andretti, decides he is going to make a u-turn with a full size Yukon, and a 35’ trailer. It didn’t work. he hit the pillar protecting the air pump with the rear of the trailer. Thanks to two very nice older gentlemen, we managed to maneuver back and forth and get free, and pull the truck to a clear space to fix the hitch (stabilizer bar hitch, you have to be careful or you pop the stabilizer bars out and you have less control of the trailer) and survey the damage, a broken light and a cosmetic crease in one fender. it could have been much worse.  By the time we get out of there we have lost another 45 minutes, and are 1.5 hrs late leaving town.

We head out… maybe an hour and a half later we have our first “I gotta pee!” coming from the rear. We were prepared for this, we stop and I take the offender to the bathroom in the trailer… and we get back on the road. We end up stopping again for another pee’er a couple hours later, this time I took them all 3, and while we were in the trailer I fed the munchkins, and offered food to Hubster, who refused all I had to offer, and went the convenience store and bought junk. we get back on the road. and drive and drive and drive.

Hubster didn’t start looking for a gas station until the low fuel alarm went off in the truck (he is also known as Einstein when the mood strikes me.) so we spend 20  minutes searching an extremely residential section of the 210 in LA for a gas station, this is made so much easier by the 6’ cement walls along the interstate that prevent you from seeing anything but the interstate.

We finally find a station, and brilliant soul that he is, Hubster put 5 gallons of gas in the truck (mind you, pulling the trailer we are getting maybe 10 miles to the gallon) I told him he was insane and he could hunt for the next station all by himself, I wasn’t doing that again. We hit the 5, and get into Santa Clarita, and he pulls off and finds a cheapER (cause there is no such thing as cheap gas in California) station and fills up.  Then we head up and over the Grapevine, a taxing set of mountains, that also, basically, signify the edge of the LA area. Once we got past the grapevine, at 2am, we pulled off at a truck stop and caught a few hours sleep in the trailer.

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