Choosing a photographer
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At Camping World they suggested I get a camping world Visa card and they assured me there was no problems with me not being in America, so he started getting the information and then asked me for my Social Security number, I explained to them carefully New Zealand was not part of America and we don't have a Social Security number that any part of this system would recognise.

So it was on to buy the other bits for the Majestic, the shower in the RV has a plastic curtain and I discovered that you can get a concertina door to replace this at Camping World, but evidently it is only available via the Internet, so I've ordered one and hopefully it will turn up somewhere along the path. I've also included a kit of six LED bulbs to replace the power hungry hot bulbs that we currently have.

Five days into owning this current RV and I must admit I'm very happy with it, touch wood very quickly, it is much easier to drive than the Trek and a course being eight years newer its technology is a little bit better even though it is what I call a vanilla model compared to the A class.

We have stopped for the night in what is left of a village called Ludlow which was on route 66, it is just off  Highway 45 and I would guess is barely hanging in to this century while remembering the glory days of the last.

Wednesday, July 15

On across what can only be described as desert towards Santa Clarita, we passed vast fields of lava which obviously didn't happen last night, some of the roads were very bad and will well overdue for resealing but not quite as bad as what we experienced in Romania. It is interesting to note that California is putting kilometres on road signs along with miles, however I don't think it's a matter of holding one's breath until the rest of the country does this.

We stopped at three campgrounds, the first two were more expensive than staying in a motel, but I will admit to of the camps were nationwide chains of RV parks and then it does not matter whether it's summer or winter hot or cold they have the one price. The third one was under reconstruction and a manager said he had loved to have us staying but he would get into trouble.

Carrying on towards the ocean we came on our favourite overnight camping spot, a Walmart car Park which is where we are in the heat.

Were still having problems with the refrigerator and the heat currently the deep freeze are sitting at -2.4 with a small bag of ice in there to help in the refrigerator is at 17°. I know a lot of the people that build on the back of a MAN or Mercedes truck use an electric refrigerator with a larger battery and a converter but that moves into serious money.

Thursday, July 16

Well the deep freeze this morning was almost warmer than the inside of the motorhome, so I got on the phone to Antonio and charge of sales warranty at Cruise America and he very easily talked me through reprogramming the refrigerator so after a few simple instructions started getting cold so it looks like the problems had been solved.

Driving down Highway 101 we very quickly reach the sea and pulled into a parking spot right on the side of the Road and stayed there enjoying the coolness of the sea breeze after the heat of Phoenix, there we enjoyed watching the seabirds flying recently high over the water and then all of a sudden going into a kamikaze dive and emerging from the water with fish in their mouth. We also saw this happening with pelicans and was delightful to see the sea lions or porpoises, dolphins surfing the breakers, but we recognised the fact that there was no parking there overnight so would have to move on, so we drove on North passing what appeared to be a campground on the side of the Road with marked and numbered parking spots and a line of all sorts of RVs right up to the distant corner and as we discovered around the corner for a substantial distance.

Of course there were no empty spaces even if we could afford such a location but we figure is the same ocean in New Zealand without any of the costs or parking problems.

Recognising the fact that it was school holidays in this country and that would be very unlikely to find a camping spot anywhere, and all the Walmarts on the way did not permit overnight parking so we headed for a dumpsite just north of Santa Barbara, it was a campground and whilst they said they were full it looked like half the sites were unoccupied, and no they did not have a dumpsite but they sent us back towards Santa Barbara to a petrol station there for six dollars allowed us to dump and replenish our water.

I did find an overnight camping spot little north of Santa Barbara but we could not leave without saying hello to Joyce so we drove into a nice residential area and found Joyce's house, a rather nice Spanish-style "bungalow" I guess!

We pulled up and wandered in to the middle of her teaching seminar with a group of about 7, 14 to 18-year-olds and she was teaching them how to make fine art pictures with material other than a camera and film.

When we explained were on our way Joyce suggested we parked in her driveway that way we could spend some time together, so after 6 o'clock when all the kids had gone home we took Joyce to a rather nice little Italian restaurant, owned by real Italians, and were served by real Italians and we had delightful catch up with Joyce and a delightful meal.

Friday, July 17

Joyce had a painting class this morning at 9:30 a.m. so we are up early so Luda could have a good look at some of Joyce's fine art images and had some of the processes explained to her, so after that we said our goodbyes and headed off North along the Pacific Coast Highway or California number 1. We soon discovered that if we thought yesterday that the campsites were full today we started understanding what the word full meant!

If one is driving this highway is probably best to do it from San Francisco South as all of the stopping spots are on the seaward side which allows you to take full use of all the photo opportunities.

The Refrigerator again stopped working so by now we had the email with all of the instructions so eventually it was back in the cold mode as it should be.

There's no doubt about it the Pacific Coast Highway is absolutely magnificent, we stopped to look at the elephant seals, photograph one of the interesting looking lighthouses and some of the magnificent bridges and rock formation that the rest of the scene on this coast.

We turned off the motorway to fill up with petrol and we ended up in a small village and as I was filling the tank I thought that looks expensive, yes it was so lesson number 24, don't fill up in villages!

As we were driving north we passed streams and streams of cars driving south, there was obviously an outing by the Morgan motor car club, and then the number of Mustangs on the Road made it very obvious as to what one of the most popular cars in this country is, and then there were the long lines of motorbikes going South in large groups, of course it is Friday and it looks like everybody is getting out of San Francisco for the weekend.

We had given up finding at camping ground as everything we passed was full, and as we rounded the corner Luda saw a sign which said campground full, self-contained RVs only, so as it was 4:45 p.m. we thought it was worth a try, and we found out that at 5 o'clock when the day visitors have gone you're allowed to Park your RV in the car Park after you've signed a whole list of instructions and passed over $35.

Saturday, July 18

We carried on North along the Pacific Highway with hundreds of cars coming towards us, our destination was San Jose which was our alternative destination last night, we headed directly for the Walmart and did our shopping and then found out that there is a Californian bylaw which bands overnight RV parking so it is just as well we found what we did last night.

In the city I had an old friend Chromatek – Kodak days so I gave him a telephone call, he was on the golf course but by the time we sorted out our American telephones and the mobile hotspot he was off the golf course and it was time for us to head out to a delightful setting in the hills to what they call a gated community, there is about 4000 people live in the "village" and you have to be older than 55 to qualify, so the closest thing we would have to it perhaps would be a retirement village, but here they have is very strict security and if they have a visitor they notify the gate and providing the visitor goes in the correct lane, which we did not, there's no problems.

It is a delightful setting, with all of the houses of roughly equal quality, one however has just sold for 1.3 million, but as you drive around the village and has a very soothing visual effect. With so many people in a community like this is all sorts of possible pastimes from golf to horseriding, from quilting to swimming the list goes on and on. They've even got a very large RV storage lot filled up with 30 and 50 foot monsters of the Road, but being fair there were 1 or 2 smaller ones.

About 5 o'clock was time to leave to find somewhere to park for the night, we knew Walmart was out, but we thought we'd try an RV Park which was well away from the sea but there was no show there!

They had no suggestions but said perhaps if we went little south we might be able to Park up in a Safeway car Park, so we headed South and before the destination that we had programmed into the GPS we saw a Target shopping centre and thought this could be as good as anything, it was, the security guard gave us the okay so we had a peaceful night.

Luda had to visit the Russian Embassy and we had programmed this to happen in San Francisco but with the RV Park situation, and motels starting their pricing at $200 a night we decided we'd have too move on to Seattle and hopefully have better luck there.




to top right....

Sunday, July 19

We got on the road early this morning programming the GPS to Santa Rosa which we figured would get us through San Francisco, but in hindsight we should put the program in for Seattle and we would have ended up on the correct Road going North. As it was we drove through what seemed like 200 km of hilly winding roads and eventually after almost 2 hours end up on Highway 5 where as I'm sure from San Jose we would have gone there direct.

We decided to get to Seattle in three days instead of the eight that we would prefer and after driving for about seven or eight hours we arrived at Red Bluff and pulled into a Walmart car Park and yes we were allowed to Park, but after 15 minutes I voted for an RV Park with electricity to run the air conditioner. We found one very close, and I noticed the temperature gauge on the clock when we arrived was 36°C and about an hour later with the air conditioner running and dinner having been cooked was up to 37° but fortunately now is down to 34° so I'm pleased with the decision, as a massive as it was!

Whilst we have a mobile hotspot for Wi-Fi is always better to use a local one which costs nothing and is included in the camp fee so for the first time in a couple weeks were been able to prowl the Internet!

Monday, July 20

Today we carried on Interstate 5 covering a lot of the territory we missed last year when we did sidetrips, but the intent this year is to get to Seattle so on on North all day. We crossed from California into Oregon passed by Shasta Lake and the mountain the same name, we passed over the Sacramento River at must be at least six times and in doing so would be nowhere near Sacramento!

It is still very hot so we have taken the coward's way out and booked into a RV Park with electricity and were sitting with the air conditioner going but it still 32° inside.

Tuesday, July 21

Today we carried on our dash North to Seattle, and we looked at Linda's house at Arch Cape and saw it was over 500 km away but thought we will stop there for the night, we told Linda would be there by 5 p.m., but when we miscalculated with the odd stops we did and refilling with petrol we got there 10 minutes early, which I thought was jolly good for 500 km.

We had a great chat with Linda catching up on the last 12 months approximately since we saw her last and dragged ourselves off to bed at about 10:30 p.m. wakeup in our normal 7 a.m.....

Wednesday, July 22

Parking beside the new building at Linda's which could possibly double as a sleepout or storage unit, built by Ian Murray's son who is now a high-class builder in the states made me think of the crossroads we have in our lives and the roads we decide to take which are sometimes or the beaten path.

Ian as you know grew up as the son of a Supreme Court judge, went to teachers training College and became a very good teacher, then took up photography in Invercargill, and being so far away from the rest of New Zealand I had always told him he had to make a special effort to get out of Invercargill to keep up with his chosen profession. As usual when I was running a seminar I was on the phone to Ian convincing him he should fly North and spend the money as usual he did and of course that seminar have to be with the teacher Linda Lapp, of course the rest is history and most of Ian's children have ended up in America and are often wonder what would have happened but kept my big mouth shut!

Today we carried on our drive North and the GPS wanted to take us on interesting Road through a rubbish dump so we had quite a little detour before we headed back to where we went wrong and with the aid of the second GPS found our way and carried up the 101 but arriving too late for Luda to visit the Russian consulate so we headed out to a Walmart were we parked up for the night with the idea to drive the 62 km after the rush hour tomorrow morning.

Thursday, July 23

Has planned we headed off at 9 a.m. figuring the rush hour would be over by the time we got to Seattle, but oh how we were mistaken, we were nose to tail 4 km with a post a sign of 30 miles an hour and were lucky if were doing five, honestly the traffic through Shanghai was not as bad and I believe that got slightly larger population than Seattle.

With all the traffic we missed our turn off and I decided that I was not going to drive into the downtown area so we kept driving towards the space needle, and we found a car Park which is labelled central Seattle and we drove and they're taking up to car spaces and paying the necessary $24 for two hours then dashed down to the corner and flagged down a taxi and Luda hop turn and drove away presumably to the Russian Embassy, or Consulate as she tells me, they close at 12 for lunch solely the see her shortly or later this afternoon.

I've use the time while I'm waiting to put up a couple of extra towel rails ex-rental motorhomes are very basic and it looks like the drawers suffer the largest wear as I attempted to put a catch on one yesterday and found the ballbearings slider was basically worn out, playing round with it has stiffened it up so hopefully it may not fly out as we go around corners.

It is now 12:30 p.m. and Luda's just arrived back from the Russian consulate, it was so close she could walk back, she is in a jubilant mood as she has the papers signed that were necessary, it almost did not happen as when she arrived she was told she needed a number to be served and they were all handed out 7 a.m., but Luda is used to dealing with Russian officials and so she just persisted and it 11:56 a.m. they decided to serve her, it only took a few moments, but that's all that was necessary. A woman she was talking to had been there all morning and had made the appointment six months earlier and was getting a little frustrated. The consulate staff told Luda they closed at 12 noon and Luda questioned the hours that appeared on the Internet, it was the afternoon, they said they only take phone calls during that time, she held her tongue, as she wants to be served, and did not tell we had tried telephoning yesterday and no they would not pick up but that's life!

Lesson number 36, if you drive into a city car Park with the motorhome make sure you can drive straight out of the exit straight ahead of you otherwise you will be like us, parking neatly on a double car Park, paying the correct amount, then finding the cars building up all around us until when we want to move we couldn't. We waited for cars to move and found we could drive forward a little bit, and as we did a car drove in behind us taking the back portion of the car Park so here we were now stuck in the driveway not being up to go backwards or forwards. The guy in the American motorhome close to us had some good news to tell us that he waited till 9 p.m. last night to be up to drive out, so we kept our fingers crossed that eventually a car that could be called a keystone came and drove away and we were able to drive out the portion that we are parked in into the driveway, that did not do us any good as there was no way to get to the exit, so again we waited for about another four hours and eventually three cars shifted which allowed us to edge up and to get into a path that we could move out onto the Road, not that that did is any good as it was now the rush hour.

So we edged our way along the Road and believe me when I say the traffic was an gridlock, give me the Shanghai traffic any day at least we could move on it, we even saw a woman and a convertible Mercedes with the doing sudoku while she was waiting for the traffic to move. We edged slowly towards the motorway and found a side street on the right so into that we turned and parked and waited about two hours until the traffic died down and then it was back onto the Road out to the Walmart car Park we stayed at last night which was close on the Road to Yakima, but even kept us the same spot as we had last night!

Friday, 24 July
9 o'clock we started our drive east of the first stop all to see Ken Whitmire in Yakima was about 2 1/2 hour trip with quite reasonable traffic.

Ken was in good health and had for us a large portrait that he had done last year as we are passing through all beautifully done on the McDonald's canvas mounting process which evidently is becoming a rare commodity, so we enjoyed Ken's company for the afternoon and were there when he received word from the president of the PP of A that it next year's convention he was going to be honoured, it had left him a little bit overwhelmed but for the services he's done to photography over the last 60 years he is a worthy candidate.

Tonight we camped up in the Yakima Sportsman's State Park, where we got the last pull-through site and now were waiting for Ken to arrive so we can take he and Vi out to dinner.

Saturday, July 25

This morning we left the park set the GPS to Spokane and got on the road for 300+ kilometres which is more than we normally set ourselves for the day. Were driving through forests one moment and wheat fields another lots are locations that spoke about snow but it was a mild day so we did not have to worry about that or the heat. We got to Spokane about 3 p.m. drove out to a large Walmart shopping centre where we parked up for the night, sent a text message to Phil Howard who came down to work for me at Chromatek in the early 70s, very close today one and I believe he got a little homesick so after about 12 months headed home where he met his future wife of 36 years, now age 65 has retired and I'm not sure that I understand a summary I employed is old enough now to be retired.

Sunday, July 26

Phil and his wife Joanne stopped by the Walmart to visit with us we had a great catch up gave them is of advice on Motorhomeing and then it was time for us to be on our way again today heading for Coeur d'Alene we stopped by to admire the Lake on which the city of 47,000 was built and then it was on North towards the Canadian border and the city of Bonners Ferry before we turned south east again heading into Montana where we found a nice little clearing a few hundred yards from a snow chain area where we have settled in for the night.



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