Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Retired At Last - Finally, We're On Our Way

Today was unbelievable. The Jeep has been in the shop since June 28th for warantee work and after all the excuses of backordered parts, etc. and the promises to have it done by end of work day, yesterday,  7/2, it still wasn't ready until this afternoon around 4:00PM. Lynn and I had been sitting in the motor home outside the Jeep dealer since 11:00AM. We have plans to see what is billed as one of the very best fireworks displays in the country. It is called LibertyFest and is located in Edmond, a suburb of Oklahoma City. After leaving Mesa at 4:00PM on the 3rd, a full day late, I have just driven 414 miles and arrived to spend the night in a Wal*Mart parking lot in Albuquerque, NM at 12:15AM on 7/4. I have reservations at the Rockwell RV Park in Oklahoma City the night of the 4th. I still have 515 miles to drive to get there, so I will sleep for about 5 hours and then drive the rest of the way and hope I don't have any problems. It will be close, but it is certainly doable.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Copy of A Letter Sent To My Work Associates

Dear All,

In case you haven't already heard, this coming Monday, July 2nd is officially my last day at Nestlé. After spending more then 10 years here and over 47 years working full time plus 10 continuous years before that working part time, I have decided to retire. It has been a great pleasure working with so many wonderful people here. It was a challenging, wonderful experience. I truly appreciate the opportunity which helped me grow personally and professionally. I will miss you all.

Thank You so much for all your kind co-operation, support and help throughout my time with Nestlé.

During my working years, I was able to see much of the North American continent via car, motorcycle and private plane, but at a very brisk pace as I could never get more than 5 weeks off at a time. Now, in my retirement, I plan to travel the North American continent at a much slower pace in my motor coach, exploring areas of interest in detail with my 4X4 Jeep.

Initially, I will be exploring the Great Lakes area and then the Canadian Maritime Provinces and the Gaspe Peninsula and Quebec areas. Come fall, I will start in the New England area and follow the fall color south along the Skyline Drive through the Shenandoah National Park and the Blue Ridge Parkway down to North Carolina and into Florida to visit friends. Next, we will explore along the Gulf Coast, to Hidalgo, TX. Then off to the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico and then the Copper Canyon where we will load the coach onto a rail car for a 5 day excursion through the canyon. From there we will take a ferry over to the Baja and do the length of that. After that, it’s up through Canada along the ALCAN Highway to spend next summer in Alaska.

If you would like to stay in touch, you can reach me either via e-mail ( or via my mobile: 714-658-8833. If you get a chance, please reply back to my gmail account with your contact information.

I wish you THE VERY BEST in all your future endeavors.

With Best Regards,

David Cross
Full timer (7 months) spending my daughter's inheritance
Traveling North America
Currently in Mesa, AZ
2007 Monaco 41 Ft. Executive
2005 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited
Good Sam

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Preparation For The Adventure

We sold our home in Brea, California in the early fall of 2006. We sold or gave away most of our worldly possessions, keeping only what we thought we needed for our new home and we also stored a few antiques and other stuff we really didn't want to get rid of just yet in a small 5X10 storage unit. You can't imagine the feeling of relief I had after doing that. I was suddenly free of all the stuff I had spent a lifetime accumulating. There were a lot of things I had completely forgotten I had. I decided it was just "stuff". I have pictures digitized so I can see them anytime I want, but they don't take up any space.

After selling the house and while returning from a vacation to Georgia in September, we detoured north to Madison, South Dakota to establish a domicile. It took less than 4 hours to become South Dakota residents. We first went to a mail forwarding service and established a Personal Mail Box (PMB) which would serve as our new address. We than walked across the street to the courthouse and filled out the paperwork for new SD drivers licenses. We took the eye test; got our picture taken and traded them our California licenses for the new South Dakota licenses on the spot. Next, we registered our Jeep in South Dakota and they handed us our new SD plates. With our new licenses as proof of SD residency, we went to another room in the courthouse and registered to vote. Next, we walked a block and a half to a local branch of Wells Fargo Bank and opened a checking account. Hooray, we are official SD residents. Later, we went back to visit a lawyer to update our trusts, wills, etc.
Lynn and I left California for Oregon, hauling a U-Haul which was loaded to the gills.

We arrived at the Monaco factory right on time on 12/4/06.

We were there when they opened on Monday morning and after checking in, we went straight to the rig and it was beautiful. Unfortunately, we were in so much of a hurry to begin our inspection and delivery process that we forgot to take any pictures of the exterior.

Apparently, it is the policy of Monaco to have the salesman participate in all factory deliveries, so we were to meet him at the factory so he could participate. That is when things began to go awry.

The salesman we bought from has a home just 17 miles from the factory in Oregon and was working for the dealer in California for a couple of months when we bought from him. He seemed like a great guy who really knew the product and basically full times in the same model we bought. He moves around the west, working for different dealers for a few months at a time. After we bought from him, but before the delivery, he changed jobs, taking a General Manager job at a dealer in northern California, but since he sold us the coach, he would still be the participant in the factory delivery.

The dealer in Irvine where we bought it should have sent the paperwork to the factory, but instead sent it to the salesman at his new employer so he would have it when we got to the factory. Problem was that the salesman was in Oregon at his home there when the paperwork arrived in northern California and had no idea that it was sent to his new employer. The new employer just put the envelope in his inbox. Our salesman had expected the paperwork to be waiting for him at the factory and so when he arrived at the factory and we did our pre-delivery walk-through which took most of the day and then went to complete the paperwork, it wasn't there.

It was now late in the afternoon on Monday and all of a sudden, we couldn't take delivery. A few phone calls later, and we were told that we could stay in the coach at the factory until the paperwork arrived, but we couldn't drive the coach anywhere without a factory person along, using the factory plates and we couldn't move our stuff from the U-Haul into the coach. The paperwork was to be overnighted from northern California to Oregon and would be there in the morning. The next morning, the paperwork arrived and we filled out everything, but it turns out that we had to sign something in front of a notary and then send it back to the dealer in Irvine and he in turn needed to send us the final documents that we needed to register it in South Dakota.

Meantime, we got permission to load our stuff into the coach so we could return the U-Haul, which needed to be done on Tuesday or we would need to pay additional days rental.

When we started to load the coach, we discovered we had brought too much and didn't have room, so we started building a new Salvation Army donation.
We finally got the U-Haul empty and returned it with a half hour to spare and the coach was full of boxes that needed to be put away and Lynn was beside herself, trying to figure out where she wanted stuff to be vs. where it would fit.

Four months later, we were still re-arranging stuff and trying to figure out what else can be given away so we can make room for stuff we want to get, like a barbeque and folding picnic table, etc, but let me get back to the delivery.

Now, things start to really fall apart. We got the paperwork notarized okay, but it was too late in the day to FedEx it to Irvine, so the salesman, who needed to get back to work in N. Calif., took it with him to drop off at FedEx the next morning. Meanwhile, I had an appointment at a shop in Eugene to get the tow bar and aux brake system installed in the Jeep and the connections and controller for the aux brake put in the coach, but I couldn't drive the coach without the factory person going along. They were very accommodating, but we felt bad about it. After all, it wasn't their fault either. They sent someone along with us and sent another person in a car to follow us so we could get the coach to Eugene and the factory guys could go back to the factory while the coach was being worked on all day. Then they had to come back in the afternoon to drive it back to the factory for us. Everything got installed okay, and we got back to the factory, but no paperwork was there yet. We tried to contact the dealer, but it was too late. Next morning, we left a message for dealer to call, but they didn't until early afternoon and when they did, they said they hadn't received the notarized paperwork yet. We then tried to contact the salesman for a tracking number, but couldn't reach him. We left messages for him on his cell and at the dealership in N. Calif., but received no calls from him.

Long story short, we didn't get our paperwork for 13 days, until 12/17. We had to cancel the driving lessons and other activities we had planned. We were allowed to have the coach moved to a RV park we had reservations at, but the factory moved it and we weren't allowed to drive it once it was parked there. Without driving it, we weren't able to properly test everything and get all the bugs identified before we left the factory. The salesman says FedEx lost the package and it took them a long time to find it, but since we were never able to get a tracking number from him, I suspect he just miss-placed it and never sent it on time. We will never know for sure, but had to re-do everything again.

All this time, I was working 8 hours a day from the coach, via a slow connection since there was no high speed bandwidth available where we were.

The weather in Oregon sucks. It was cold, rainy and foggy every day we were there and we had snow one day, hail one day and one day it was so windy, we had to close the slides to keep from destroying the slide toppers. Sustained winds over 45 MPH directly from the left side of the rig with gusts over 65 MPH. Power was knocked out over much of Oregon in that storm and it took crews they brought in from WA, MT, ID and CA over a week to restore everything. They had winds over 132 MPH on one of the mountains further north.

In this photo taken from the campground, you can see the frost on the grass.

We needed to be in Tempe so I could begin work at the data center on 12/27 and I wanted to see my daughter, grandkids, and great granddaughter over the Christmas holiday. They are all in the White Mountains, in the Show Low area of AZ. Because of the way the laws are written in California, when we changed our residence from California to South Dakota and because we purchased the RV in California but took an out of state delivery, we were not allowed to bring the motor home into California for six months unless we paid sales tax and registration fees which ran to about $35,000. That meant that to get to AZ., we needed to go the long way through ID. and UT.

We got the plates from SD. on 12/18 and left Eugene on 12/20. We stopped in Portland the first day to see a friend from our days at The Broadway, Carol Chavez, and then headed through the Columbia Gorge, headed for Boise, Salt Lake and Show Low.

When we got up the morning we left Portland, the weather guy said there had been ice storms in the gorge, but it was open now, so we took off. I've got to tell you, that was one white knuckle ride. I had a total of 314 miles on the coach and at 102 inches wide 13.5 feet tall and 65 ft total length towing the Jeep and weighting 51000 lbs, and no driving instructions, with the slippery ice and a little blowing snow with cinders they use to help traction; and accidents every few miles and cars laying on their sides and roofs and spun out everywhere and snow and cinders constantly hitting the windshield so that I had to keep clearing it with washing fluid, do you get the picture??? We went less then a hundred miles that day and I was exhausted. We finally got to Show Low on Christmas Eve

and had a wonderful time on Christmas with all the family

and got to Mesa on time to begin work.

We are staying at Mesa Spirit RV Resort, which is on Main St. in Mesa. It is a nice resort with lots of activities to keep Lynn occupied while I work.

We will be here until I retire on 7/2 and will leave the morning of 7/3 for the Great Lakes area. I'll get to our itinerary soon, but I need to fill you in on some other stuff first.

I believe you knew that I had prostate cancer and had the prostate removed in Jan. of 2002. The cancer had already escaped the capsule and was found in one of the lymph nodes in the pelvic region, but the Dr. had suggested a wait and watch regime, checking PSA levels every 3 months and later every 6 months. The PSA count had started to rise dramatically in October, just before I left CA. and I got another test in January when I got to Mesa. It showed a doubling rate of less than a year, so I was sent to a Urologist here who found the cancer had metastasized and was in the pelvic area where the prostrate used to be. I was sent to a radiation oncologist who has started me on radiation therapy and hormone treatments. I have completed 26 days of radiation so far and have 13 more daily treatments to go. The prognosis is good and the place I am going to has been rated very high in the US, so I guess they know what they are doing. Thank God for insurance. Treatments are $1768.80 per day.

Now, back to our plans. We will head for the Great Lakes region in July and after spending about a month there, we will head for the Canadian Maritime provinces including Montreal, Quebec, the Gaspe areas, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, Labrador, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and our New England areas.

We are taking a couple of Tracks tours, the Viking 33 day tour, followed by the Gaspe, Quebec 29 day tour. You can read all about them at We are planning to hit New England during the height of fall foliage and then follow the color south down through Shenandoah National Park, following Skyline Drive and then the Blue Ridge Parkway all the way down to Ashville NC and then down into FL to visit friends in Lady Lake and Sebring and Pinellas Park. Then it's over to Mesa for more Dr. visits to follow up on the Cancer, but on the way, we will visit all the Gulf Coast stuff, including New Orleans.

After Mesa, it's down to Mexico to do Copper Canyon on Tracks 17 day tour, putting the coach on a railroad flatcar for five days through the canyon. I'm sure you have seen the ads for this trip. When we get back from that, we will probably visit CA for a short time and maybe the kids again, but in early Jan, we will be going on another Tracks tour, this time 45 days to the Yucatan Peninsula.

Next Spring, we will be heading north through the Canadian Rockies, and into Alaska. I plan on spending all summer 2008 up there and after that, I have no plans yet.

Lynn is doing well and we are both looking forward to getting past this Cancer thing and getting on the road.
We have been taking day trips around southern Arizona since we got here and it is fun. We went to Bisbee for the weekend a couple of weeks ago. Below are a couple of pictures from that trip. 

We have also hit many of the tourist stops in the Phoenix area.
Last weekend, we did the air show at Luke AFB.