Moving on – to Albany, OR

6/20/16 (Monday) in Albany, OR (Albany Fairgrounds for FMCA Rally)

This past week we had a great time meeting members of the Lewis and Clark local FMCA chapter. To belong you must be a member of FMCA and Thousand Trails. This is a really great, fun group of people. We joined them back in the winter of 2012 but this was our first chance to participate in a rally. Lots of good food/meals, games, and wonderful conversation. My favorite time was when we gathered around the campfire for 3 hours. I even got to teach a watercolor class. I’ll be meeting with my student while we’re at the big FMCA rally in Albany, to try to continue the classes. We just didn’t have much time this week.

So that’s where we’re headed now, the Albany FMCA Rally. These rallies gather several thousand RV’s (motorhomes in FMCA), providing a great many seminars/classes and vendors of all things RV.

albany fair

You also can check out rigs to buy and participate in fun social games/contests, even a Lady’s Tea. We’ve concentrated on the classes in most of our prior rallies but this time we’re branching out into the Volunteer arena. We’ll both help distribute coffee and pastries early in the morning for 3 days, as part of the Panhandle Gems local chapter. John will be helping with transportation driving a golf cart. I think he’s going to feel more like he’s having fun on the playground than working. I’ll be welcoming people with packets for a couple of the days. Plus teaching some watercolor painting I hope.

We left around 10:15, going north on Hwy 101 then east on Hwy 20. That’s a twisty road, but there’s no other real choice. So I spent the time John was driving that road writing this blog and other computer exercises. It kept my mind and eyes off those curves. We were both happier. It was in pretty deep green forest, so I did look up to enjoy that periodically. There were a couple intersections near Corvallis (Hwy 34 and I-5), when I paid more attention.

I’ve had such fun I’ve forgotten to get photos. Plus when we’re concentrating on social times I’m not sure people want their images plastered on a blog for the world to see. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

Once we arrived we contacted Les Schwab so we’ll be driving the coach to their shop at 8 for it’s new shoes.

McClinton Auto Body Shop

6/21-26 (Tuesday-Sunday) in Albany, OR (Albany Fairgrounds for FMCA Rally)

Well, let’s just say we were in a hurry getting out by 8 and I was flummoxed with needing to use propane for my toast and egg, so things didn’t start well and they quickly deteriorated. I burnt my toast then the smoke alarm went off (we’re really close to lots of neighbors). After recovering from my breakfast struggles I rushed through my departure procedures (remember John didn’t have any power, water or sewer jobs). John moved the car for me (I was to follow) and said I’d see him around the corner. I thought that meant I was to follow him. Our car was pointed in the other direction from John and I was pointed to what appeared to be blocked off by sawhorse barriers, so I began backing up, to go into out slot and turn around. Unfortunately I was so focused on getting to our spot, I didn’t check my rear view mirror. Loud thunk/crash! That’s right, I hit another car that was parked a ways behind me. One of our Lewis and Clark friends. I was so distraught, thinking I needed to let them know who did it. Tried writing a note, then they appeared. I said I was SO sorry, that we were on our way to Les Schwab and would be right back to settle things.

car 1

John/Trish car damaged

ron car 1

Ron/Betty’s car damaged


Meanwhile John had driven on around that corner I was attempting to reach, to another corner that was just in front of me (outside the barriers and weren’t actually blocking my way). He was asking on the radio why was I out of the car. I explained. Then we went on to Les Schwab. We arrived, John left the rig in their hands and John proceeded to drive back to the fairgrounds.

Little did we know what I had begun inside Miss Journey. Since I’d forgotten to latch the freezer door to our French door residential refrigerator, it had slammed out during John’s trip. He thought he’d heard something, but had forgotten it by the time he’d arrived at Les Schwab. He also never heard the door alarm ringing. 3.5 hours later we returned to pick up the rig (he noticed the freezer at this point and closed it, latching it), John was driving Miss Journey as I drove the car. Upon arrival we set down the jacks (I stay outside then so they don’t get confusing signals regarding the weight inside). Then I went in to get the slides to come in. Hmm, I noticed water all over the fridge door and on the floor and the freezer drawer seemed warped. Had a hard time concentrating on my pushing-slide-buttons job. When we finished the basic arrival chores, I told John what I’d found with the refrigerator. Then he admitted what had happened. We looked inside. Most things were melting, but not melted, so we shut it, crossed our fingers and got the generator running. The refrigerator was warm too. So it seemed we were behind the curve for 2-3 days trying to keep our voltage up, running the generator for 4-5 hours a day. When the fridge seemed to be back to normal, we checked the freezer. Piles of frost were on the side that seemed to sit out from the wall of the fridge. Later I figured out that on that side the seal was about 1/4” from the edge. No wonder we had all that frost. A few days later I thought to put a rolled towel in that space, like you would at a door to stop cold air from coming in, although this was placed vertically. Because the generator seemed to be working extra hard to get our voltage up, we weren’t sure if the problem was the freezer draw or our batteries.

Towards the end of the rally we had Les Schwab put a load test to our batteries. The technician said our batteries were in great shape, with a good two years in their future. He explained that RV batteries are made to be able to drop very low (like to 9 volts) periodically. It won’t hurt them, though it does stress them, sort of ages them. He said they’re like cell phone batteries in that they will form a memory of where your keep them. Thus, if you keep charging your cell phone throughout the day (or keep your RV batteries at 12.2 to 13 volts with your generator or power pedestal) then it likes to stay up in that range. That’s it’s comfort zone. When you withhold that constant charging, letting the voltage drop, it drops faster than it would in the cell phone (or RV batteries) that didn’t get all that constant coddling. On the other hand if you frequently let your RV batteries drop to a low voltage you’re stressing it more often and aging it faster. In conclusion, even though RV batteries are made to drop low, they will live longer if you keep those deep drops to a minimum. Thus we also bought solar panel (200 watts) to help keep our batteries coddled. John will be installing it when we’re in Spokane. It feels like a cushion to me, like having savings in the bank as a financial cushion.

Now the freezer and batteries were just one part of our story. The other is my accident. During our stay here (Miller insurance seminar) we learned that the insurance companies now have access to much more about us than they used to, due to the Internet. Most will report any claims (even if you just call saying you hit something/or got hit) to CLUE, where all insurance companies have access, on top of all your personal credit information, plus where you live, travel, own… They’ve also gotten more strict about their definitions, like when you collide into, say, a pothole or a tree, it’s comprehensive damage. The bottom line is, call your insurance agent when something happens. Anything you tell them won’t get reported. They can see whether reporting your claim to the insurance company will lead to higher costs in premium raises than the cost of the accident for you at the time. Our last accident, when John collided with trees, created 3 years of premium hikes that amounted to the cost of our accident. So this time we decided to pay for the repairs ourselves after contacting a nearby (.5 miles) shop that was highly reviewed on Google: McClinton Auto Body Shop. We concur. Not only did they do a beautiful job on both cars, they finished them in 2 days! They were very professional, very efficient, friendly. We got our estimates in just a few minutes, with a printout. Our car was repaired for it’s estimated price, the other was under! I can’t say enough good things about this shop. Plus we could walk there, across the Linn Timber Park, to pick it up.

trish car 2

John/Trish car repaired

ron car 2

Ron/Betty’s car repaired

In sum, our stay here included heavy expenses: new RV tires ($4,000), new solar panel ($1,000) and repairs for 2 cars ($1,700). The good news is all of this was with NO TAXES! Thanks, Oregon. To think we thought we’d hardly spend anything! Plus we were extremely busy with volunteering (John worked on the trams 11 hrs total, I worked trams for 4 hours, we both worked giving out coffee/pastries for 4.5 hours and I worked Will Call for 3 hours). I also spent about 5 hours teaching watercolor painting to Becky. I had fun doing Zumba Gold 3 times. Then throw in a few dinners, entertainment, “Fast Track” games as well as checking out new RV’s and RV vendors, a couple classes (solar panels and insurance).

Meanwhile, back at the RV, we noticed a bad smell. Hmm, seems there is a leak at our sewer connection. That’s going to have to wait until we get to Bridge RV where John hopes to clean that area well in the hopes that will solve that issue.

Just the same, we had a great time, even with our issues!!!

About Patricia Elser

I've always loved the loose, flowing, transparent look of watercolors, of Chinese paintings and their calligraphy, but alas, no watercolor classes were available when I was in school, so that interest remained buried until my children were grown. Even then, I was afraid that I couldn't really paint, so upon my sister's advice, I actually started to take classes. I signed up for every class available, determined to learn no matter how afraid I was. I came upon a teacher, Stan Miller, who inspired me, who opened the door to success in watercolor. I love to look at beautiful images. I want to capture them forever. All my life, photography was how I gathered images of the beauty I saw. Thanks to all that photography, I enjoy composing pictures, especially up close. Watercolors allow me to add more of me in their translation of that beauty. My paintings reflect my love for music and dance, with their rhythm and flow. I am fascinated by the play of light, so it appears in my pictures as drama for they are filled with darks and lights. Maybe it's the challenge, maybe it's the beauty, but now, when a work comes together, it fills my soul.
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