Hi everyone -

We're a little overdue with this email to all of you, but it's taken us awhile to feel like even touching a computer. After two weeks on the road, this is only the third time I've hit email. I didn't miss the Net at first, but tonight, I kind of do.

We are in Humbug State Park, in Port Orford, Oregon, about 70 miles north of the California border, on the coast. We're about 200 yards from the beach, and it's really nice here. Things are finally settling down. We and the dogs are getting into a groove.

The first week was pretty rough. We were getting used to living in the RV, the dogs were not used to the routine, and we had a lot of mechanical problems. Some of the problems were our own doing, and some were genuine breakdowns. I was beginning to get comfortable with driving this big rig, but only barely. We had so many problems and hassles the first few days, we were right on the naked edge of driving back to the dealer, selling it back, and taking our financial beating. I think that if either one of us knew what to do for the next few months instead of driving around in the RV, we would have done it. Most RV'ers work up to one of these big rigs, so have a history. We jumped right in - the way Cordula and I always do.

The night before we left Redwood City, I was suffering from a massive poison oak attack that even caused me to make a trip to the Urgent Care clinic (lots of pre-travel yardwork, and I wandered into a big patch of poison oak), and some sort of back problem. By the next morning, I could barely walk and only then, bent way over. Cordula and I were talking about delaying our departure for a few days, until I could at least stand up straight. At 6:45 AM, I started calling every chiropractor in the yellow pages, and fortunately, found one in Redwood City who was in early catching up on some paperwork. He was a magician! After just 10 minutes of treatment, I was fine. I had a disk that had some how popped out of alignment, and he popped it in. No problems since other than a minor ache.

Alas, the RV had aches and pains, too. We discovered more leaks from the engine cooling system, plus the internal water pressure (for showers, sink, etc) was busted, plus a couple of electrical problems. Ugh. We went to the dealer on the way out of town, and spent 6 hours (this after spending a few hours loading up the RV and me with my back and constant poison oak scratching) sitting around while they worked on it. Finally, we escaped and hit the road. We spent our first night about 70 miles south of Monterey, parked in front of the King City police station - a small ag town - simply because we couldn't find anyplace else and we were beat. At least the cops were nice, and told us which place had the best food within walking distance.

We then spent 5 nights in a state park, set up with spots for RV (electricity, water) near Ojai. Ojai is an upscale tourist town, 15 miles inland from Ventura. Cordula had a group seminar near Ojai - I spent the days checking out the area in a rental car, and continuing to battle a bunch of small RV problems. I even had to call a plumber when our sewage system clogged and wouldn't empty (we've learned how to avoid that problem again).

After our 5 nights, we returned the rental car - and, upon leaving the rental car office, saw gallons and gallons of radiator fluid on the ground under the RV. Something else broke! Fortunately, Cordula went into an auto parts store right in front of us, and talked to the owner. He called a friend of his who owned a big diesel engine shop only 1/2 mile away. The guys at the shop were great - dived right into the problem, and fixed it in just 3 hours. The bill was sent to our dealer. It turned out to be the same problem as before, just not fixed right - now it is.

We drove up Highway 395, which runs between NEvada and Cal near Death Valley. There was a massive heatwave - 110 degrees, and we were climbing through 4,000, 6,000 and even two 8,000 foot mountain passes over 2 days. We were really scared something would break, and we saw a lot of broken down RVs, trucks and cars. Although the engine temp gauge went up, it never hit the danger zone. We learned how to drive in the AM before the afternoon heat, turn off the air conditioner on the steepest parts, drive in a lower gear, and drive a little slower - all things we never had to do in a BMW.

Since then, we've had no problems at all, and we have learned how all of the pieces work. We've stayed in some nice places - generally for a night or two, depending upon how we feel about driving that day. We spent a night in the parking lot of a casino outside of Reno that encouraged RV'ers in exchange for their gambling dollars and also in some nice parks. We travelled through several national parks & forests - Lassen, Modoc, Lava Beds and a lot of state parks.

We have figured out how all of the systems work, and the little optimization tricks. We figured our how to keep the pots and pans from clanging every time we hit a bump. The dogs have each figured out their favorite spaces for when we are driving, and for when they are sleeping.

There are an amazing number of really nice small towns in the northern most 100 miles of California and along the Oregon coast. Lots of them have used book stores, so we trade in our books, and stock up. The weather is much more moderate - we've escaped the heat wave. The quality of life in the RV is excellent. The kitchen is complete, and we are cooking better meals than at home (dinner becomes the highlight of the day). Lots of space, and some of the RV parks have cable TV hookups - 50 channels and at last, I have a TV I can watch in bed.

The range of characters we've met is huge - everything from a clinical psychologist taking the summer off with his wife, to some real dubious individuals who are living on the fringe of society. The 3 shelties are real conversation starters - and then everyone wants to know about our RV - it's been about the nicest one at every place we've been - we even use the ice maker to supply ice to our neighbors. You can always see the light go on when they realize that other than the weekend trailer types, we are younger than most other RV'ers. They put the pieces together, and really want to know what's going on.

So, things are finally going pretty well. It's getting addicting. Driving this big rig is finally fun - my confidence level is high, and I can actually now parallel park it. Cordula is getting to be a good driver, too. (Annotation by Cordula: it is true, I'm getting pretty good at driving it - only Steve does not believe it and has one million comments. Any suggestions on "turning him off"? - I believe many of you have had this same problem with him...). We really have no responsibility, no big hassles beyond figuring out how to hook up to the electricity and water, and there's less work than cleaning and maintaining a whole house. Our big daily decision involves deciding how far to drive that day. No meetings to go to and my only connection with the stock market is a daily call to Abbas, plus whatever's in the business section of the local paper.

Now that we're caught up a bit, next time, we'll share some thoughts about the transient nature of today's society, and how the rest of America couldn't give one damn about the Internet.

Feel free to forward these emails along to any friends and family we've missed.

- cordula & steve -

P.S. we'd love to hear back from you, but please - due to narrow bandwidth, no big email files or when you respond, don't resend our email back to us!