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Old 02-24-2015, 12:41 PM   #1
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Road Trips

For several years I've written of our trips around the US and Canada with a specific year, but Road Trips 2012 went on and on because I got tired of starting a new thread plus we were so engaged in selling a house we took fewer and fewer trips.

We learned that selling a nice house in a rural area is very difficult—to some degree it is like owning the best house on the block. Comparables are not good and lots of people don't want to live in rural America (after trying it for a dozen years, we don't either). But we finally sold it last November and are looking forward to getting on the road again once spring are arrived—spring in Colorado can be late or later, so that probably means May or June.

Our first trip with trailer is usually to Ouray where we stay for several nights at a KOA. Thus gives us a chance to check out the trailer, relax for a little while and be only a couple of hours from home. We may do that again. The big trip for this year is probably going to be to the northwest and Vancouver Is. We went to the Island about 10 years ago, before we had the trailer. We've thought of taking the trailer for years, but the ferry is very expensive and we've gone elsewhere instead. The call of the ocean is strong and we enjoy driving along the Oregon and N. Cal. coast. And the pizza at Upper Crust in Gualala, Cal. is irresistable. When we take that trip is still unknown. Other trips are possible, but we haven't thought it out.

We bought a house near Grand Junction 1 3/4 years ago and have been remodeling it ever since. We attacked it with vigor for more than a year, but I had to have back surgery last September and less remodeling has taken place as I recovered and, then we both got bad colds in December—one month of coughing. But remodeling is picking up and how we balance road trips and remodeling will sort itself out. Our house is 1/2 miles above the city (much cooler in the summer), but only 20 minutes into town with great views and a floor plan that works for us.

We decided to take our annual winter trip to Santa Fe and arrived on Sunday. Snow started 70 miles from home and although not much snow fell, the roads were snowpacked for almost 300 miles. Worse were the samples of snow blindness (even with good sun glasses, it became hard to see), white outs, ground blizzards and lots of slush freezing to the FJ Cruiser. Driving was tiring, but we took turns and arrived in pretty good shape after a grueling drive. Two days later we are still chipping ice off it. We're taking it easy, sampling various varieties of green chili and taking it easy.

Our northwest trip will probably be driving long days to get to Washington fast. Then we'll slow down on the Olympic Penn., possibly seeing a former Airstream owner in Gig Harbor (are you watching, Dan?). We'll take the ferry to Victoria, thus avoiding the Seattle traffic. We know people there too. Then spend a week or more on the Island. Back to Washington and down the coast, coming back east somewhere north of Marin County. This is about a 3 week trip, maybe a little more. We've driven up and down this coast twice before with the trailer and at least one other time. We never tire of the roads along the coast. Some of them are a challenge with a trailer, but well worth it. I hope there will be no tsunamis or exploding volcanos.

When we get back next week, back to remodeling. A tile feature in the "great room" is next and then to finish the bedroom—80% finished, but last worked on just before I had surgery. And there's the basement hallway. Barb started painting it last week, so it needs a second coat and then I need to do baseboards, door trim and wainscotting. And it if gets warm again, some more painting of the garage exterior. Somewhere in the future is the great room paneling and new lighting and finishing the kitchen painting and maybe redoing a countertop. It seems to take us a lot of time for this even though the remodelers on HGTV do it in a matter of weeks. Our crew is us and no one else—maybe that makes a difference.

We haven't had time to wash and polish the trailer for a long time, so that will come in May. Compared to detailing a car or light truck, polishing an Airstream is like polishing a whale. I'm glad we only have a 25'—I can't imagine I'd survive a 34'.

Doing all this gets harder as we get older. But we are determined and this is our 3rd remodel together. We are doing better work than ever even as we go slower. A marriage that can survive 3 remodels and 50,000 trailer miles must be working pretty damn good and we like our lifestyle. Fairly new to the Grand Junction area, we are meeting lots of people and there's more than we can do in the city. Local musicians have a blues jam every week at a local bar and there was nothing like that where we lived before. So life is good and exhausting as we try to live like we are young, but there's no better way to do until they cart me off to hospice in about 20 years.

Snowing in Santa Fe now—drought here is really bad and I hope more snow comes. Santa Fe is really pretty in the snow. We've been coming to SF for 25 years and it doesn't snow very often, so we welcome it.

Gene
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Old 02-24-2015, 02:06 PM   #2
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So glad you got the house sold and that very long chapter is over for you and your wife.

May you enjoy many happy trips.


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Old 02-24-2015, 02:20 PM   #3
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Hi Gene,

Glad to hear that you finally got free. Enjoy the ride and keep us posted.

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Old 02-24-2015, 07:49 PM   #4
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Yes, Brian, we are free! We use just that word to describe how we feel. The Great Recession still goes on in rural America. We had small comfort from the fact others had just as hard a time selling their houses. Now get out there are find the mooses.

And, Maggie, it was a "very long chapter". The positive side is that we had a lot of time to remodel the new house without all our stuff there. We worked hard, even when I was messed up from back issues. The work and stubborn determination kept me from thinking about the pain. A lot less back pain now, but my knees are getting worse and now I have a big ugly brace for one knee. I'm supposed to wear it when I work on the house or exercise. The clear message is if I don't, a partial knee replacement is coming soon. I will do whatever I can to avoid that and have stepped up exercising. I am not blessed with good fibrous cartilege—the disks in my back and the padding between bones in my knee are examples of that. But I don't have wrinkles, so I still look young, especially to people with bad eyesight who believe I have blond hair, not grey (my secret, stay in the weak lighting).

It is hard not to know Jullianne Moore won lots of awards for her performance in Still Alice, even for us who can't stand awards shows. She's a great actress who enhances most any movie she's in. She is also a very attractive woman and any Hollywood woman who lasts more than a year or two as an actress must have something special, especially after she's 29. We went to see the movie (a professor of linguistics gets early onset Alzheimer's at age 50) this afternoon. Powerful for those of us who worry every time we forget something. But I've been forgetting things for many years and it is the same as it was 10 years ago, so I prefer to believe I'm fine. All my aged friends joke about forgetting things, but I think there may be some compensation going on. Laughing in the face of the devil so to speak. After this very not-funny movie, I was in the bathroom and the guy next to me started talking about the movie. We even made some jokes. There are very rigid conventions about what men do standing in front of a urinal. We always try to keep a distance from the next guy—one empty urinal between us and no talking. If we talk, the other guy might think we're trying to pick him up. People have even written studies about this. So we guys are pretty silly, but we had a good discussion about how the movie affected us. We may be silly, but we don't buy a lot of shoes and many of us have learned to take showers.

I'm thinking of the trip along the coast a lot of the time. I hope there's a campground on the ocean near Tofino. Yesterday Barb's cousin met us in Santa Fe (she was in NM for a training session for her job) and told us about a rock in the Pacific you can walk to at low tide. It is near Cannon Beach, Ore. Apparently you only have a few hours to go and get back, or wait for the next low tide. There are caves to explore on the rock and waterfalls. Maybe it is an island and not just a rock. We'll have to check that out (with knee brace, of course). I can imagine myself driving along all those roads, even the twisty, narrow ones. I think I have it bad—I want to drive!

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Old 02-24-2015, 08:38 PM   #5
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Gene,
Keep us posted on your Northwest trip. Our new home is only about 10 miles or so north of Gig Harbor. Search for Manchester, WA on Google maps. Were just a couple blocks south of the Post Office. Maybe we'll get to meet without me having to go the western slope.

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Old 02-24-2015, 10:52 PM   #6
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Hi, don't forget that Bob is in Oregon now. Lately we have been buying plants and doing prison work. You know, where the prisoners take sledge hammers and break huge boulders into smaller ones, break smaller boulders into rocks, break rocks into gravel, break gravel into pebbles, and break pebbles into sand. Well not exactly, but our un-landscaped back yard is mostly clay and fist sized rocks. This makes digging holes for plants quite a job for a old person.
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Old 02-25-2015, 12:35 AM   #7
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Old 02-25-2015, 10:46 AM   #8
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the road out to Tofino, as memory serves me, is very narrow, twisted and with a pretty good pull up and then down, 7% seems to stick in my mind. the RV parks we found on the east side of the island were nothing to recommend, unfortunately, but never checked out Tofino and that area, good luck.

as far as the coastal travel and vistas, the WA coast is beautiful until you get as far S as the Hoh rainforest turnoff, then the roadway heads inland and all you see are clearcuts that were never replanted. pretty much the entire OR coast is packed with scenic vistas along with small towns that stretch along hwy 101 for mile after mile of slow crawling traffic. best vistas are on the south coast of OR, but you probably already know all about this.
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Old 02-25-2015, 11:28 AM   #9
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Ken, I thought you were moving north of Seattle, but now I know another person along the way. You may remember Dan who was a short term Airstream owner; his family goes back a long time in Gig Harbor. I haven't forgotten Prisoner Bob in Salem either. We've never seen Salem and I think it is close to I-5. I hope we'll have time to get to Vancouver Is. Barb has cousins and her aunt in Richland, Wash., and I don't know we'll go there, but it distorts my desire to move north fast. Next month I'll get out the maps and start planning how to do this in 3 weeks—it may have to expand.

Evan in Victoria—are you watching? Dave in Nanaimo?

Everywhere we will travel we have been before with a few exceptions. The things we didn't see (like the cheese factory in Oregon) we may see this time. We'll concentrate on the places we liked the most. I'd like to go to Point Reyes National Seashore again, even though the campground is right on the San Andreas Fault, and if the next big one is really big, the ocean may rush in. But it may be a little too far. Last time (2012 I think) we went to a CG on the Pacific at an Indian Rez in Wash. where they had been filming vampire movies. That was nice, but out of the way. We were right next to the beach in Anchor Bay, but in the summer I don't know if we could get a spot that close—and it was very difficult to get the trailer in the site. Otherwise, it is pretty hard to see much of the coast in Washington, but the forest is nice to drive through and traffic is light, so we get to Oregon sooner. We have some places we always stop because we like them—Cannon Beach, Bandon, Gualala. But maybe we'll find some other adventures.

You may have noticed I'm closing in on 10,000 posts. I'm probably closer than the number shows because threads I have posted on have been disappeared. The number of posts indicates I am a narcissistic dog with too much time on his paws. Seven and a half years ago I was a puppy, eager to defend my masters' new Airstream, now I am an older, more experienced dog, but I still defend the trailer and truck. Mess with me or my masters and I'll poop at the bottom of your stairs, or better yet, on them. I enjoy traveling but my male master is deteriorating with his infernal back problems, weak knees and decreasing memory. So I type for him as he mumbles to me. But my young female master feeds me, walks me, and lets me jump up on the sofa. She has better things to do, but the Forum keeps the old guy out of trouble (except when the mods go crazy). Woof!

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Old 02-25-2015, 09:49 PM   #10
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Hi, Gene; Yes, the Tillamook Cheese factory tour is great. We plan on going there again when my Daughter shows up. Today Prisoner Bob was forced to did a large hole in the ground for Lee's "Weeping Snowfall Cherry Blossom" tree. I like cherries but this tree only makes flowers. You should see the rock that was in that hole!
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Old 02-25-2015, 09:55 PM   #11
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Hi, OK that was actually one of four landscape rocks that Lee had the rock retaining wall man place there. [with a tractor] It might weigh about 200 lbs or more and Lee wants me to relocate it. Here is the largest of the rocks that I had dug out today. Lee and I lifted it out together. The picture doesn't even show how heavy this rock is. Most of the rocks are like the little one on the left, on the weed. My shovel stops at all rocks.
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Old 02-25-2015, 11:21 PM   #12
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One of my favorite cartoons is the guy with a shovel in his hand, and the wife indicating "plant the tree there!" And under the ground is a veritable pyramid of rocks under the indicated point. Story of my life.


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Old 02-26-2015, 12:00 AM   #13
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Road Trips

Here's a problem that couldn't be solved via said suitable application.


Sorry for the humor hijack.

The trip plan sounds great!
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Old 02-26-2015, 12:24 AM   #14
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I'll claim "not a suitable application" on that one...


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Old 02-26-2015, 09:15 PM   #15
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What I've learned is to not use dynamite on whales or rocks. I do remember blowing up trees and ice with dynamite when I was a lot younger, but I've given that up. The anticipation was more exciting than the result.

Another snow storm coming tonight and snow on and off for the next several days. The center of tonight's storm seems to be right in the way of our drive up I-25 as the storm settles in Santa Fe to Las Vegas (the one in NM, not Nev.). And the winds are supposed to be gusty. Most of I-25 is in the plains and white outs are not uncommon. We're thinking of going through Taos where less snow and much less wind is predicted (the Sangre de Cristo range is will protect us as the winds are to come from the southeast. As we go north, the weather should be better, though another storm is coming in a few days when we go back home. Barb wants to see her parents and I understand that, but I'm not sure it is the best thing. We might drive north through Taos to Fort Garland—then we get to US 160 and can go east toward Pueblo or west toward home. The weather will tell us what to do. I should be able to get road conditions on my iPad as we go.

Our Santa Fe friend says just stay here one more day. Tempting, but we're done with Ft. Marcy condos. Today we came back to the room and they started testing the fire alarm. We were surprised by an ear splitting noise over and over. I went to the office where no one knew what to do and no one much cared. We were run out by the constant alarms and went to town. The suite is ok, though not too well maintained by the owner or management. It is close to the Plaza and the rate is good for Santa Fe, but it isn't high quality. It has the darkest kitchen I've ever seen and I'm never sure I've really washed a dish well. The wifi is intermittent and the TV remote doesn't work well. A bad remote drives me crazy. I understand people used to have to get up and walk over to the TV and turn knobs—how primitive. Last year we had a better unit, but it had too many stairs for my back problem and knees. From what I've read, it is hit and miss here depending which unit you get. Last year we did better except for the location.

We have been taking it pretty easy. With my new knee brace I can walk without knee pain, even on the uneven sidewalks of Santa Fe. We went to the state capital yesterday. They have a very large art collection and we went to see the art. A friend had 2 paintings there at one point, but they rotate the collection, so they must be in storage. The building—called the Roundhouse—is, strangely enough, round. It was built in the '60's and is a very nice building and very well kept. No security, so you don't have to remove your clothes and be molested by strangers. We met a small town councilman who was looking for more money for his town. He comes from a small town not too far from where Barb's father grew up and he know some of her father's family. I don't know if he got any money for his town, but if being a nice person counts, he'll get it.

We've been going to various shoppes, but not so much that I had to complain. It is slow season and the shopkeepers like to talk since they have plenty of time. We went into a 2nd hand bookstore and they had a great selection, but I can't keep up with the books I have. Then we went to an antique store where the owner (a self described "old cowboy") was also talkative. He seemed to be a collector who collected too much and then priced it too high to sell. We've seen that before. The day before we talked Navajo rugs at another shoppe. Before I had the surgery, I couldn't stand in one place for more than a few minutes. Now I can stand much longer and talk with new friends. Meeting locals is always interesting and spending time learning about each other and finding out what we have in common or who we both know is what makes a trip more special.

Now it is time for a weather update on the "internets".

Gene
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Old 02-27-2015, 08:25 PM   #16
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on your

return from victora island...sail in to orcas for a couple of days...and rural will take on new meaning.....we would be glad to be your host....
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Old 02-28-2015, 03:54 PM   #17
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Thanks for your invitation and I don't think it will fit into our present plans. We've talked about visiting the many islands, but never found time to do so. The ferry charges for a trailer are another reason. We plan to take around 3 weeks which gives us time to race north, go to Vancouver Is., take some time there, and then go down the Oregon and northern California coast, and then race home. Even that will be a challenge in 3 weeks. Of course, seeing an island of orcas (I didn't know they lived on land and I wouldn't want to be around them when they are hungry), is tempting. I'd like to tour a lot of the islands and that in itself would be the subject of another trip, but not this time.

Our trip back home yesterday was pretty easy except for the length. From Santa Fe north we had a little snow and slush on the roads until north of Taos. After that the roads were dry or just wet and we made good time. We had thought of stopping for a night along the way, but we just sucked it up and drove home, arriving around 7 pm and tired. We watched last Monday's "Better Call Saul" and started getting very sleepy and went to bed and slept 9 or 10 hours. We feel rested today and have a very dirty SUV needing a good wash to get the mag chloride off. Only a couple of inches of snow had fallen here, so our driveway is ok. More snow predicted, but we always get less than they predict this year.

Now back to trying to figure out how to do the tile feature ("feature" is a word from watching too much HGTV). It goes in a 2' x 11'8" space above the opening from the kitchen to the great room. I've wired it for 2 sconces. But the space is uneven, very uneven, and fitting 1' squares of tile made of little pieces of stone is hard. You can't cut it like regular tile and it has to fit together because the pieces are interlocking. There are no grout spaces with this type of tile. This does not allow the slight changes in the grout spaces between tiles that no one ever notices. The top is 1/2" high on one side than the other. The bottom is more level, but lower in the middle. It is about 24 5/8" from top to bottom, the tile is one foot, so I have to cover some of the tile with wood moldings, but the tile is uneven on its face, so the molding cannot fit flush. That may work ok, but I have to see it to make sure. I can install a 3/16" piece of wood on the top to level that, but the bottom will be more of a challenge. I've never cut stone on my tile saw, but it is less dense than porcelain tile—though these are 1" x 2" pieces on a mesh and some of them have to be cut very thin and may shatter. Although I've done a lot of tile work, this is new to me and this is what happens when I try something I've never done before.

I think about it all the time trying to come up with an easy way to do it. I think I have to think it through upsidedown. Normally, tile is installed from the bottom and at the top, either I've adjusted the grout spaces slightly on each course to get it look level on the top. But here I think I have to start at the top and work down—actually I have to figure out the amount to cut off the bottom and then put that in and then the top one flush to the top. The bottom piece will sit on a board screwed to the bottom and I can adjust that slightly to account for differences up to 1/8" at the most. The idea is not to make it perfect—that's impossible—but to make it look perfect to the eye. A thin slat nailed to the bottom board will hide any messes and only people over 7' tall could see what is behind it. We don't know anyone that tall. The top has to fit flush because 5' tall people can look up at it. But if it doesn't look right, quarter round will hide that. If you understand what I've just written, I'm surprised. And my hope that writing about it would stimulate my brain to come up with an easier way to do this has not worked (rereading what I wrote did make me think it through again—if I can get the space between bottom to top slightly more than 24", then I won't have to cut the tiles and can shim them at the bottom, then hide the gap with molding; for some reason I'm not sure it will come out to slightly more than 24" based on some measurements I had made a couple of weeks ago—the only way to really find out is to do and cut where I have to and hope for the best).

So, tomorrow I will install the board at the top making it level, then perhaps the bottom board that keeps the tile from slipping down when installed (stone tiles are very heavy). I start in the middle and work outwards adjusting what I can. Once I do that the space between the top and bottom should be no more than 24 3/8" which gives me some room to play with it and cover the gaps. Before that I have to cut Wonderboard (cement board), no easy feat in itself. It likes to crack and I got a carbide blade for a Sawzall to cut it (otherwise you score it like drywall a break it along the score line, but it doesn't always break cleanly). I also have to cut 2 openings for the electrical boxes for the sconces. That's no fun either. And positioning the cement board is also a challenge because it is also very heavy. And the cement board doesn't come in the right size, so I have to cut it up to get 2' high by the width the studs are at. Isn't this fun? I expect to do a lot of yelling at it, much of it in 4 letter words. It doesn't make it go better, but it does release frustration. I could have paneled it or painted it and saved myself a lot of thinking, yelling and time, but no, I wanted to do something special. I should stop watching HGTV and reading Fine Homebuilding.

Prepare for the next few days. You may hear a lot of yelling at the cement board, wall, tile and myself. Hide the children. Get earplugs.

Gene
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Old 02-28-2015, 04:23 PM   #18
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Work from the top down. Sometimes that's the only way. Use lots of blue masking tape to hold lower tiles up into place as you go down the wall. Stretch the blue tape gently to get enough tension to hold tile up.

Best way to cut any tile or stone is with a wet diamond saw. Carbide really doesn't do it. Diamond saw could be rented from local big box store or rental center. It's just a lot easier. If you do cut with a wet saw be absolutely certain the tile is totally dry before you install it. Wet tile will not bond properly to Thinset or mastic.

Backer board does not have to be cut perfectly. You can be close and the tile will look just fine as long as at least 1/2 to 3/4 of the tile is on the backer board. Lay in a little extra thinset if you have a gap. Blue tape carefully placed can hold it straight.

I've done a few miles of tile in my "career" of constant home improvements..successfully!


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Old 02-28-2015, 07:27 PM   #19
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Thanks for the tips. I might have forgotten the tape. I do have a good wet tile saw and have done pretty well with it. Don't know if I've installed miles though. I can fill in gaps in the cement board with extra thinset if necessary. The carbide blade is for the cement board. I figured for the couple of bucks for the blade, it was worth a try vs. scoring the cement board with a utility knife. I may change my mind when I do it because a blade raises a lot of dust.

Tile is an economical way of making special features in a room as long as you can do it yourself and already bought the tile saw. Thinset isn't cheap anymore. I buy the premixed kind instead of mixing it myself which adds to the cost. Saves time and effort. I put plastic wrap on the remaining thinset to keep it damp, otherwise it dries out and you have half a bucket of cement useful for a doorstop or large paper weight. The tile was on sale and I already had a bucket of thinset. Amoritized over several tile jobs, the saw is getting cheaper every year. It was on sale too—$800 worth of saw with a stand, for $350. Cement board is pretty cheap. For a couple of hundred bucks, I'll have a thousand dollar job. I already bought the sconces a year ago, so they don't count, but thats another $150. Lighting is another thing that really can improve a room and it isn't all that expensive if you can do it yourself either.

Gene
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Old 02-28-2015, 09:07 PM   #20
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Gene
I have always followed your posts with interest and am glad to see you planning a big trip. We are also going to the PNW and Vancouver Island this summer but are taking from late May to Labor Day to do the trip. We lived in Portland, O. for many years and will be visiting friends along the way. We also will be able to stay in one place for a week or so before we move to the next stop. Vancouver Island and Vancouver are new to us and I am looking forward to that. Perhaps we will see you along the way.

All the best,
Caryl
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