Archive for the '2011' Category

Jun 07 2011

Prom, Graduations, Strutter’s Spring Show, Jobs

Published by under 2011

I wanted to wait until all the major events had come and gone to write a post. Maybe that wasn’t the best of ideas as there were so many, so please bear with me.

First was Deidra’s prom. She looked like a full-figured Tinker Bell in her gorgeous gown. She doesn’t have a boyfriend so she went with her two best friends and other acquaintances, one of whom had rented a limo for the evening. I think they had more fun getting ready (nail, hair & make-up) and taking pictures than at the actual prom, but they did have a really good time.

Next was Dayna’s graduation and Deidra’s Strutter’s Spring Show – all on the same weekend. Dayna ended up with a 4.0 GPA in her Master’s program! (We’re not too proud!!) Next she will do the prep class for her CPA exam. She’s going to take the exam in NM as she doesn’t qualify for it in TX. In TX you have to take half of your accounting classes in a classroom. Since she did her Bachelor’s studies on-line that didn’t happen. She’s job hunting but not having any success. One company really likes her and they are hiring a lot of people as it is a new business but they haven’t found the right position for her yet.

Deidra was in nine dances in her Spring Show. We found out Strutter’s is not just a drill team. It’s a dance group. They did a military, hip hop and jazz routine as well as many others. Dayna did one with other moms and Chris participated in a Daughter & Dad dance with Deidra. We were so glad to finally be able to see her perform as we’ve missed most of her season. The picture is one of her outfits they wore at football games.

Finally Missy D graduated last Friday evening! It was held at UNT’s (University of North Texas) coliseum so there was lots of room for all the family and friends who wanted to, to attend. We can’t believe that cute, red-headed infant of 18 years ago is now a high school graduate! This picture is of her and her father, Daren, who came from Las Vegas to be with her. His sister and niece also came, as well as Crystal (and family) and Eva (Dayna’s former business partner) (and family) from NM. (The picture on the banner is of the same three as the prom photo.)

Dayna has been living on adrenaline for over a month and is looking forward to doing nothing for awhile … until she starts her CPA prep course. It just never ends for her!

Dom just finished his first day at his new job. He is working for the HOA, cleaning pools, restrooms and around the lake. He decided he likes his job as he found $15 while cleaning the lake today!

Deidra has been promised a job at Sonic but they haven’t put her on the schedule yet. They are supposed to this Friday, but we’ll see. She plans on attending a local community college to get her basic courses out of the way. Currently she thinks she wants to be an English teacher.

It’s been a busy month attending all the events plus we’ve started our home make-over projects. I’ll let Richard tell you all about them. The list just keeps getting longer and longer.

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Apr 08 2011

Scooting and Really Scooting

Published by under 2011

We had so much fun Monday that we decided to take another scooter ride on Tuesday.  Since there will be little time left before we need to be in San Antonio after we get the trailer fixed, and we will need to take the most direct and shortest route when we leave, we decided to ride the scooter through the Salt River Canyon to Show Low.  It’s about 100 miles from where we are staying and we really enjoyed the scenery.  Salt River Canyon has some great views and it was nice to end up in the pines of Show Low.  After having lunch, filling up with gas, and looking around a little, we headed back to Globe.

The scooter ran fine but we encountered some heavy headwinds in the afternoon.  We also often found ourselves climbing long grades where the scooter was not able to maintain the speed limit.  Even with the throttle wide open we found ourselves at 55 or 60 when the speed limit was 65.

When we first bought the Burgman in 2005, I considered buying the larger 650 model, but decided to go with the 400 since we figured it would mostly be used around town and that we would only occasionally ride on high speed roads or take long trips.  While it does get a lot of around town use, we have found more and more that we like to tour with it.  The trip to Show Low was a perfect example, and we have talked about riding some of the parkways and traces on the East Coast sometime.  In the 6 years since we bought it, we have put almost 33,000 miles on it.  That’s a lot for a single cylinder motorcycycle.

I often peruse the Burgman Users Forum for ideas about maintenance, accessories and other talk about Burgmans.   I have also kept an eye on the classified section.  Tuesday night when we got back from our ride I saw a new posting from a man in Albuquerque who had decided to sell his 2008 Burgman 650.  He had purchased it on an impulse when gas hit $4.00 per gallon, but in over 2 years he has ridden it only 895 miles!  It is essentially new.  It has always been kept in a garage and is in showroom condition.  Best of all, he was willing to sell it at a reasonable price.  A new one today would cost just about $10,000.  He was only asking $6,000.  I made a couple phone calls, and….  well, you can guess the rest.

Dianna was all in favor of it too.  We made arrangements to meet him Thursday to look it over and close the deal if it was as described.  That meant we had to drive to Albuquerque the following day.  Nothing like 12 hours notice!  Wednesday we drove back north through Salt River Canyon to Show Low, on to Holbrook where we joined I-40, and east to Albuquerque.  We checked into a hotel and then went out for dinner at one of our favorite Mexican restaurants.

Wednesday night Albuquerque received the first rain they have had in over 2 months.  Naturally.  It was raining when met with the owner, but the bike was exactly as described.  After making the deal and accompanying the owner to his credit union to pay off the loan and make arrangement for the title to be sent to me, we prepared to take the bike out to our friends in Edgewood who have graciously offered to store it for us until we can come get it in a few weeks.  The rain had stopped in Albuquerque, and it looked like we might be able to make it to Edgewood.  By the time we entered Tijeras Canyon it was cloudy; then it started sprinkling, then raining, then sleeting, and finally hailing on me.  Yuck!

The good news though, is that the Burgman performs incredibly.  I had a very hard time keeping the speed down to 65.  The bike is much heavier (around 600+ pounds), and much more powerful.  More than that, it has a completely different feel.  The suspension is very different from the 400′s, and the transmission is much more sophisticated.  Having two cylinders instead of only one also make it much smoother and vibration free.

After parking the new Burgman in Weavers garage, we headed back for Globe.  This time we got off I-40 before we got to Grants and drove through El Malpais National Monument before joining US 60 in Quemado, then west through Springerville and down to Show Low again.  After dinner in Show Low we made the trip through Salt River Canyon for the third time in as many days.  We got home about 8 last evening.

There are many posters on the Burgman forum who used to own, or still do own, Honda Goldwings.  Many of them compare the Burgman 650 very favorably to the Goldwing.   Of course the Goldwing is much heaver and has more power, but many people prefer the Burgman because it is lighter and easier to handle.  They think nothing of starting out across country on a Burgman 650.

Then there’s Gerry from Oz, the Australian fellow whose blog I followed a couple years ago when he rode his Burgman 650 from Vietnam, across China and Russia to Europe.  We don’t have anything that strenuous in mind.

Needless to say, we are really looking forward to getting back to New Mexico and picking it up.  After the trailer is fixed, and we are still waiting on parts, we need to so to San Antonio to see Deidra perform in a drill team show at Sea World, and then get some adjustments made to the slide outs on the trailer.  After that we will go to Denton where we plan to have some more upgrades done on the trailer.  As soon as we are settled in there, we will go over to New Mexico and pick up the new bike.

Stay tuned as we end our scooting days and begin our “really scooting” days.

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Apr 04 2011

Keeping Busy While Waiting For Parts

Published by under 2011

Since our breakdown occurred late on a Friday afternoon East Coast time, it was not possible to get a lot accomplished.  Saturday morning I supplied the owner of the place our brakes were done in New Hampshire with serial numbers so he would have all the information he needed for Monday.  We also talked about the best approach for dealing with the badly damaged axle.  Rather than try to have it repaired we agreed that the best thing to do was to have a new one built by the manufacturer.

After getting all that taken care of, I took care of one additional item.  Our plans have been to spend the next couple months in Texas, having several things done to our trailer.  We want to get it painted, new curtains, new carpet, new inverter, and we wanted to install new wheels and tires.  The issue about the tires is that currently there is only one tire made for the size and load rating  of our existing wheels.  It is a very unusual tire that is only used on large 5th wheel trailers.  The tire is not only quite expensive, (about$350 apiece), but it does not wear well and it has a very poor service record with respect to tread separation.  I replaced all 6 of them in 2007 before our trip to Alaska, and they are now all just about worn out completely.

Many owners of large trailers like ours have replaced these wheels and tires with ones that are used on low boy trailers.  The are much more common, a little less expensive, rated to handle more than 1,200 pounds more apiece, wear better, and have a good service record.  It’s not an inexpensive upgrade since it involves replacing both tires and wheels, but we feel that the additional safety margin is well worth the cost.  There are a few companies that are making very nice aluminum wheels for these tires that will fit our trailer.

Since one of the tires was destroyed when the wheel came off, I had no choice but to do something.  It did not make sense to replace just the one tire when I was planning on replacing all of them in a month anyway,  so I ordered 6 new wheels and tires.  They are being shipped from Ohio and will arrive Thursday.

After getting everything in motion, there is nothing else for us to do until all the parts are here.  We spent the rest of the day Saturday and all day Sunday just hanging around the RV park, out of the heat on Saturday and out of the wind on Sunday.  This morning I received a couple phone calls and by noon everything was ordered.  I am still waiting on tracking information and projected arrival dates.  Since the axle will need to be manufactured, it may be a while until it is ready to ship.

This afternoon we rode the scooter to Tonto National Monument. It’s only 30 miles or so from here, and it was a nice ride.  We were there a few years ago but Dianna didn’t remember it, so it was new all over again for her.  I still get a warm feeling each time I just show my Senior Pass and walk right in.  We hiked the half mile up the steep trail to the cliff dwellings, and enjoyed looking things over.  They sure had a nice view out their windows.

We’ll try to find other things to do for the next few days.  While there’s a chance all the parts could be here in time to get us on the road again this week, I doubt it.  It will probably be the first part of next week at the earliest.

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Apr 01 2011

Breakdown – No April Fool’s Joke

Published by under 2011

After spending almost 2 months in Mesa, we left this morning for cooler climates.  Our plan was to get to the high country by way of Globe, Salt River Canyon, Show Low and then Springerville.  We got ready quite early for us, and were on our way out of Apache Junction by about 10 AM after dumping our tanks, filling with water, and filling a propane bottle.

US 60 climbs much of the way, and is narrow and winding in some places.  Dianna followed along in the car and we made good time on the 60 miles to Globe.  After driving through town we made the turn north toward Show Low and were only two miles out of town when Dianna suddenly came on the radio telling me we had just lost a tire on the trailer.  It was sure fortunate she was following me because I did not notice anything out of the ordinary.

I quickly pulled to the shoulder of the road, and as I did she came on the radio again telling me she was seeing flames.  As soon as I got stopped I jumped out and grabbed the fire extinguisher.  The smoke was coming from the middle wheel on the drivers side.  I hit it with the extinguisher and quickly put it out, but the problem that had caused it was very easy to see.  The wheel itself was no longer attached to the axle.

Last August we had new disc brakes installed on the trailer.  They have worked wonderfully for the 4,000 miles we have driven it since then.  But something obviously was done wrong or was defective.  The bearings failed.  Whether there was a manufacturing defect in the new hubs or the bearings, I don’t know.  It’s also possible they were installed to tight or too lose, or that they were not properly greased when they were installed.  We’ll probably never know for sure.  All I do know is that they should not have failed in only 4,000 miles.

Needless to say, everything was extremely hot.  The fire was caused by the hot metal of the brake rotor touching the tire.  After it cooled down some I was able to lift the trailer with the hydraulic leveling jacks enough so I could get the wheel out from behind the Tskirt (which was also damaged slightly).  The brake calipers were still hanging, sort of, but the hub was in two pieces and the bearings were gone.  Just the damaged spindle and the brake mounting bracket, which was also bent, were still attached.

I managed to roll the tire up a 2×8 we carry, onto the back of the truck bed.   We consulted our GPS and camping directories to locate an RV service place in Globe.  The Chevrolet dealer handles large trucks and RV’s so that’s where we ended up.  I drove only 30 miles an hour since the two remaining tires on that side are now carrying the entire load.  The brake bracket clears the ground by about three inches.

I called the owner of the place in New Hampshire where I had the work done, and he said he will work with me on getting it repaired.  Exactly what that means remains to be seen.  He is going to call his supplier to see if they will stand behind it.  The service guy at the Chevy dealer seems to know what he is doing.  He said they can take the existing axle off and have a new spindle welded on, but the axle will have to go to Phoenix to get that done.  Since it is Friday afternoon, I don’t expect to get much done until Monday.

Meanwhile, we have moved out to the Apache Gold Casino RV Park, just a few miles west of town.  Again I drove only 30-35.  We will stay here until we figure it all out.  I won’t take it back into the shop until we have all the parts in hand.  Staying in the trailer while they are working on it is not possible, so we will probably have to spend at least one night in a motel.

When we know more, we’ll post more.

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Feb 12 2011

The end of an era

Published by under 2011

It is finished.

We continued packing and preparing to move the things family members wanted, and we held a very large garage sale on a Saturday and Sunday.  We had pretty good luck getting rid of many of the items but were still left with quite a bit of furniture and some other things.  Dale’s van was immensely valuable as we used it to take two large loads to Goodwill.  We also used his van to move furniture to Julie’s house.  Marie and Adam borrowed his dad’s pickup and came for their things.

We continued to advertise furniture on Craig’s list and has some success over time.  We had to keep dropping prices until things were practically being given away.  In fact, we finally advertised a couple things as “free”, just to get someone to come take them away.  Even the beautiful side by side refrigerator/freezer that lists for almost $1,900 did not sell until we lowered the price to just $250, and we finally ended up donating the dining room set to friends in the church.  We donated much of Mother’s art materials to a church school and another art school.  We also took a van load and two car loads of items to the church where they covered 6 large tables.  We just asked people to make a donation to the church in Mother and Dad’s name if they could.

On Monday, January the 31st, the moving van with items going to Texas and Tennessee left, and Tuesday the moving van going to Rochester departed.    The only thing left was a trundle bed which we loaded into the van along with boxes of other things for cousins Carrie and Nancy.  We also took with us many boxes of family heirlooms that still need to be scanned.  They now fill the upper bunk in the truck.

We spent the night at our home in Bakersfield, then convoyed to Turlock on Wednesday with Dale to deliver the bed and some of the boxes to Carrie.  Dale and I visited Mike, then Carrie fixed us all a nice dinner while Dale and I built a fire in the fireplace.  The next morning we said goodbye to Dale as he left for the coast to do some sightseeing and to deliver the remaining items to cousin Nancy in Arroyo Grande.  Before we separated we spent most of the morning touring the airplane museum at what used to be Castle Air Force Base.

I don’t know what we would have done without Dale’s help and his van.  He made  so many trips with his van full of things.  He and I also confirmed the fact that we really don’t want to do furniture moving for a living.  We did plenty to prove that.  It was also great just having him with us.  It gave us a chance to become real brothers again.  I can’t explain it, but in some ways it seemed like we had never been apart for all those years.  I’m sure glad he is back in my life again.  Thanks, man.

On Saturday the 5th  we went to the house one last time to clean it for the new owners.  Although we thought we had already emptied it, we still took another car full to church and filled all our trash barrels as well as the neighbors.  About 5 PM we left our keys on the kitchen counter and locked all the doors.  I pushed the button on the garage door opener and then jumped over the electric eye as it closed.

We had dinner that evening with Julie and Michele, then drove home to Bakersfield.  It was tough saying goodbye to them too.  Everyone has done so much under very difficult circumstances.  We are going to miss them.

The house closed on Tuesday the 8th.

We are now in Bakersfield, catching our breath and getting ready to resume our “normal” life.  We have neglected some maintenance on the truck and trailer, and have been taking our time getting ready to move again.  Dianna has had a bad cold but is finally on the mend.   We plan to leave here on Tuesday and make our way to Arizona to be there when Dave and Lisa visit.  We don’t know how long we will stay or exactly where we will go from there, but we want to be in Texas for Deidra’s  graduation as well as Dayna’s MBA.  We also have some things we would like to do to the trailer.  It is nine years old now and it’s time for some upgrading and remodeling.

One era ends.  Another continues.

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Jan 15 2011

Working through all the details

Published by under 2011

I know it has been a long time since we last posted, so we need to catch everyone up to date.  As planned, we continued to inventory the entire contents of the house and clean out things that could not be sold or given away.  We photographed every item in the house and cataloged it in a spreadsheet.  When we finally finished there were over 1100 items on the list.  The photographs and the spreadsheet were distributed to all heirs for their initial selection.   Everyone had the opportunity to mark any item as “I want it”, or “I’ll take it if no one else wants it”.  After tabulating all the requests we found that there were a relatively small number of items that more than one person wanted.

All three children gathered at the house again in mid December to make the final decisions.  We went through each room and made the final choices.  The process worked so easily and there were absolutely no issues.  This has to have been the easiest, most amicable division of an estate in history.  Dianna, Julie and Greg are special people who obviously were raised by some very special people as well.

The decision was made back in November to put the house on the market.  There were several showings but it quickly became apparent that the market had fallen even further than any of the realtors we interviewed had thought.  We lowered the price in late December and that stimulated the interest considerably.  During the entire inventory process we kept the house looking as good as possible so it could be shown in its best light.  That was difficult but we felt it was necessary.

After the mid December meeting to make the division decisions, we decided it was time to move forward with packing and distributing everything, even though the house had not sold.  We needed to leave for Texas so we could spend Christmas with our family, but Tina stayed on to begin the packing process.  Michele stayed with her and they accomplished a tremendous amount in a weeks time before returning home to NY.

We returned to California after the first of the year and have continued what Tina and Michele began.   We are advertising and selling unwanted furniture on Craig’s List, and we have found charitable organizations who are worthy recipients of other things.  We have also given much to friends and relatives who are grateful to have things to remember the Wideners by, and who can really use some of the items.  We still have a tremendous number of things that we will try to sell at garage/estate sales in the next few weeks.  This is now imperative because we have accepted an offer on the house and it will go to its new owner on February 15.

Having a deadline is a good thing because we now know what we have to do and when it has to be done.  We no longer have to keep the house looking good for prospective buyers, and it is now full of boxes and empty walls.  All the family members have been here when they can to help with the sorting and packing, and my brother Dale has come to help us as well.  He was here all of last week and plans to be here at least next week as well.  This weekend he is making a quick trip to see Death Valley and plans to go to Universal Studio on Monday with Don’s family.

That’s about it from here.  We are still staying the mostly empty house until we sell the bed we are sleeping on out from under ourselves.  We don’t have many pots and pans or any food in the cupboard, but we are making do.  At some point we may have to make other arrangements, but we think we can hang in for a while.  It will soon start to feel like camping out.  We will schedule the movers sometime in the next couple weeks, and that will really make the big difference as we will have no place to sit after that.  We still need to return about once a week to our rig which is still parked in Bakersfield.  Other than that, it is just more packing and moving, but the end is in sight.

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