Our 2017 Tour Begins But in Slow Motion – We Rose Early – First a Fuel Stop – Then a Propane Fill Stop – Arrived Safely at Flagstaff KOA 5:30 PM –

Up the mountain, down the mountain, up the mountain, down the mountain. This is what it seems like to me traveling on I-17 North to Flagstaff, Arizona. I’m not a mountain enthusiast, but I’m determined to get to our destination in spite of roads that wind through steep terrain. Steve is not afraid of mountains. Chelsea, our Bichon Frise, doesn’t seem to mind them either. She is invigorated by finding a new park to explore on her daily walk. She stops at every stump and stone to smell them. If they pass whatever test she is performing, she pees on them. Ha!

We got up at 5:30 a.m. this morning and did not arrive at our destination until 5:30 p.m., and it was only 172 miles away. We had much to do to pack all the things we accumulated over the winter months. We also had to stop at Camping World to fill our propane tank for the inside stove, or so we thought. As it turned out the tank was half full, and I might have cooked another entire year before running out of propane gas. Steve wanted to fill up the coach with diesel at the Fry’s station, so we went there next. By this time we were hungry for lunch, and Taco Bell was on the same parking lot. How convenient. We usually have lunch at a rest stop half way to our destination. As I said, slow motion.

Better late than never. We are here and safe and sound. That is the good news. Since it is evening, we will start exploring our new surroundings tomorrow.

Carol Ann Hoel
Buddy for David, Novel
Suspense, Faith

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Chelsea – Pet Bichon Frise – Puts Her Paw Down – Demands Her Daily Portion of People Food – But Should We Give It to Her – Would You – We Do – Then We Don’t – Then We Do Again –

Little Chelsea, the bravest Bichon Frise I know, out for her evening walk, trails behind Steve. She has her good days, many in fact, but she has her bad days, too. Fifteen years of woofing and doing doggy stuff has worn her out.

Chelsea does not complain, at least not about her waning strength. This she deals with as necessary. What she really hates is being deprived of her portion of our food. If she doesn’t get it, she lets us know how sharply she disapproves. She begs, whines, and barks. She turns her big black pleading eyes on us until we give in. Chelsea has kidney stones, the kind that only surgery can help, but at her age, an operation would not be wise. She has done well for a pooch with problems. Along with kidney stones, she has a deteriorating disc in her neck. Additionally, she suffers from digestive trouble. We think that people food may be the cause of those episodes, so we encourage her to eat doggy food, the dry kind. She eats it reluctantly and only if all her efforts to make us give her people food have failed.

Some of our friends are silent on the subject, while others speak up for Chelsea, telling us they think she should eat what she wants at her age and be happy. We have withheld people food for a time, and we thought she did a little better, fewer episodes. Yet, she still had episodes. We would give her a little people food again, and she would love it! She would be happy! When she gets sick and lies on her bed most of the day, we wonder if we should deprive her again.

Chelsea’s longtime kidney stones caused her a bladder infection only once, which antibiotics took care of swiftly. Her digestive flareups resolve after several hours of rest. The bad disc caused her a pinched nerve once, but she seems fine with it now. One day at a time for old Chelsea girl. She is a trooper, and we love her, our little Bichon Frise.

______________________________
Carol Ann Hoel
Author, Buddy for David
Novel, Suspense, Faith

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Booking RV Parks – Eight Day Project – Job Complete – 37 RV Parks – 6,588 Miles Driving in Our MotorHome – Everywhere We Park Is Home – Until We Move On –

 

This is my office space within the living room area of our coach. This is where I spent the better part of eight days finding and booking 37 RV parks for our year 2017 6,588 mile tour of the country.

How did I do it? Mathematics first. I divided the number of miles from one destination to the next, such as the distance from our Albuquerque park to the park we chose for Nashville, approximately 1,022 miles, by 200 (our desired distance between parks), which told me the approximate number of 200-mile trips to reach the Nashville park was 5. Then I multiplied that number by 3 (the number of days we wish to spend at each park), calculating the length of time the entire journey from Albuquerque to Nashville would require as 15 days. I determined that I needed five parks located as evenly as possible between those two destinations, an approximate distance of 200 miles apart, where we would remain three days at each one. All I had to do was find those parks and book them. I repeated this formula as needed until the entire journey was booked.

Steve provided me a huge map of the United States, which had everything we wanted except lines showing state borders. Steve improved it by adding the state lines. I made a calendar template using Excel. Steve made copies of it for each month we would be traveling. He filled in the month at the top and all the days in their proper places. These calendars became the work papers I used to mark in draft each booking and the days we would stay. This helped me not to book the same day or month twice. (It could happen. I was confused more than once as this project wore on.)

Finding decent RV parks at proper intervals along the Interstates was the most difficult part of the project. Not all RV parks are equal. Some are great, some are good, and some are not places we would want to stay. Booking was only a phone call to make once a park was chosen. Eight days – 37 phone calls.

I prepared a chart on Microsoft Excel to guide us to all our reserved RV parks. It shows the name of each park, the days booked, the number of miles from the last park, the park address, directions from the Interstate to the park, the park phone number, the full amount due for the booking, the amount of the deposit, and the amenities provided for us at the park. This document is 7 pages long with each RV park a line item. It’s finished. I can enjoy the ride.

________________________________
Carol Ann Hoel, Author
Buddy for David, Novel
Suspense, Mystery, Faith

 

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Perspective

 

Launch 2016 Tour of USA

Launch 2016 Tour of USA

Stretching ourselves again – Lord –
Leaving our comfort zone ….
How I’ve settled here –
Loving sameness –
Loving stillness –

Sometimes seeing the day we leave
Our campsite as the day
We launch our home on wheels
Headlong into
The unknown –

Stop – I say – I stand my ground –
Think from where you’ve come ….
Like a cat – nine lives – but
Really one –
Many chapters –

The end of every trail presented a
New beginning – Embrace it now –
Our Lord has been faithful –
Ever present –
Providing care –

You make me strong –
You change my point of
View – I see You
Leading us –
Keeping us –

Looking from this perspective
I see adventure rising
On the horizon of
My mind –
And heart –

I’m ready to go along
For the ride with You – Lord –
As it was last year – when You
Were here –
So this year –

No fear ….

____________________________
Carol Ann Hoel, Author
Buddy for David, Novel
Suspense, Mystery, Faith

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Luxury Campsite (well, you know, relatively speaking) – We Will Leave Mid April – Return Next Winter – Few Sites Offer as Much Area for Patio – We Will Miss This – But We Will Have FUN Doing It –

winter-patio

Lots of room under our awning with shade screen. The canopy behind is also ours. We have eight lawn chairs, a long table. The Weber grill in the background is also ours. Steve grills our foods out there whenever we eat at home. (Yes, home. Home is where we park it.)

I like to sit outside on a chair to read a book on my Kindle. We have been here since November and are ready to book our 2017 tour. This time it’s complicated because we have to be on Long Island on a certain day in June. This takes more planning than it took to aim ourselves in a direction chugging along with a loose sort of plan. Many say our plan last year was anything but loose. I booked it all in advance. Still, this time we must be precise. I must map it out before starting to reserve our spots. I’ll let you know how that turns out. Steve is patiently waiting to see it happen.

winter-patio-parkingThe trunk of this grapefruit tree was painted. It’s not a Birch. The grapefruit was wonderful, but I have eaten so many from the tree that I can’t even look at a grapefruit right now.

___________________________
Carol Ann Hoel, Author
Buddy for David, Novel
Suspense, Mystery, Faith

 

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Bar Nunn – Wyoming – Birch – I Believe – Could We Have Pulled in Any Closer – Here for Only One Night – What a Beautiful Tree – I Will Always Remember –

bar-nunn-wy

We left Rapid City, South Dakota, September 17, 2016. We stopped in Wyoming twice, first in Buffalo and then Bar Nunn, on our way to Colorado Springs. This beautiful birch tree is what I’ll always remember about Wyoming. We saw it in Bar Nunn. We stayed there only one night, continuing on toward our Colorado Springs destination in the morning.

___________________________
Carol Ann Hoel, Author
Buddy for David, Novel
Suspense, Mystery, Faith

 

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Colorado Springs – Garden of the Gods RV Park – View from Our Motorhome – See the Many Camping Choices – We Often See Tents and All Sorts of RV Styles – We Look Forward to Our 2017 Tour –

colorado-fun

We were making our way back to our Arizona winter campground. It was late September of 2016. We stayed a week in Colorado Springs and spent a few days with our good friends who live there and love it. See the mountain range behind the trees? I never cease to marvel at those mountain peaks. Mountain roads make me nervous. Steve doesn’t mind them at all.

We left Colorado at the end of the week heading south toward Las Cruces, New Mexico, where we would spend two weeks with some other friends that also own a motorhome. They met us in a campground in Las Cruces called Sunny Acres. They reserved the campsite next to ours. We celebrated so much those two weeks that sadly my waistline has not yet returned to its former state. I’m working on it. Patiently. Steadily.

las-cruces

This Las Cruces campsite was larger than most. We had a carport for our jeep as well as a spacious area for Steve to erect our canopy. Behind the canopy was our patio with a table and chairs under the awning attached to the coach. Steve never tires of building our recreation areas and taking them down again as we move from one campground to another. We are thinking about our 2017 tour and feeling the urge to get on the road again.

______________________________________
Carol Ann Hoel, Author
Novel – Buddy for David
Young Adult Genre – Suspense – Faith

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Winter Months Fly by – Remembering 2016 Tour – Fun – Family – Road Trips – Bugs on Windshield – Yes – Bugs On – Bugs Off –

bugs-off-windshield

This photo reminds me of a less glamorous part of our road trips, bugs on the windshield. It doesn’t always happen, but when it does, it’s a surprise. Without warning a swarm of insects slams the windshield. SPLAT! Although blinded for a nano second by the collision, the event is over so quickly it seems not to have happened at all. Carnage to be washed or chiseled off the glass affirms that it really happened.

Here Steve was determined to get off every trace of bug guts from our windshield. We were camping in Las Cruces, New Mexico, at the time. We should have attended to the bug removal detail the moment we arrived, but since we had other things to do, the bug bodies dried onto the glass making the job more difficult. After washing the windshield with water, the ghosts of many insects remained. Steve marked each bug spot with an orange post-it-note so he could attend to each one expeditiously. Mission accomplished.

_____________________
Carol Ann Hoel – Author
Buddy for David – Novel
Faith, Suspense, Young Adult

 

 

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Baked Ziti Cooked on the Grill – Would It Be Called Grilled Ziti – Don’t Think So – We Loved It!

baked-ziti-2

We are wintering in Arizona this year. Now that traveling is not the main thing, I am cooking again, but we do not have a conventional oven, at least not yet.

baked-ziti

Steve was craving baked ziti. He really wanted lasagna, but I thought we might be successful if we tried baked ziti first. I prepared it using the baked ziti recipe on Simply Recipes. I adjusted the ingredient amounts and put it all in a loaf pan to make baked ziti for two. I took it outside to Steve and he did his magic.

Most grills have a lid, as ours does. Steve set the temperature a little lower than usual and let it cook until the sauce was boiling. He then closed the lid for another period of time, checking it often, until the top was browned. The cooking time was 20 – 30 minutes.

It was doable. Since it turned out delicious, we may try lasagna soon. It should be impossible to cook this dish on a grill, but it worked!

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What Genre Do You Read – I Like Suspense – I Read Suspense – I Write Suspense – Buddy for David – Suspense –

promo-buddy-for-david

Novel: Buddy for David –

Having a child go missing would be any parent’s worst nightmare. Yet, this is what happened to the Anderod family on a clear day in July, 1994. Their eight-year-old son David disappeared. The same day their five-year-old daughter Rachel experienced something that made her unable or unwilling to speak. It seemed obvious that the two occurrences were related, but what happened to Rachel no one knew. The Anderods were as horrified as any parents would be. The sheriff of their small community in rural Ohio began an extensive search to find young David. Two kidnappers held David captive in the back of an old, black van. Frightened but strong enough to endure one day at a time, David waited…

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Why Are These Sticking to the Grill – Says My Hubby – Brush Them with Oil Before You Turn Them – Say I – Yellow Squash Sliced and Oiled – Tasty – Steve Grills – I Love It –

steve-at-grill

We have it worked out perfectly. I prepare it and Steve grills it. This time I sent him out the door with a small bowl of garlic infused oil to slather on the slices of yellow squash. This keeps it from sticking and makes it taste wonderful, too.

We keep learning new ways to cook old recipes. Like meatloaf. I prepared a meatloaf the same way I always did. Each time I make a meatloaf, I make it a little different. Steve came in the door after returning from the store where he bought me a loaf pan. (I had sold my loaf pans thinking I’d not ever make meatloaf again without and oven.) He noticed three raspberry pastries missing from the plastic see-through container. “Somebody had a snack,” he opined. Not so. Somebody put three raspberry pastries in the meatloaf. meatloaf-on-grillHa! I chopped a Roma tomato, also, and tossed it in. But here is the real amazing part of the story: Steve cooked the meatloaf in the pan on the grill, and it turned out better than in the oven!

I am beginning to wonder if there is anything that can’t be cooked on a grill. Hm. I guess I can’t bake a cake. I know someone who baked a cake in a crock pot.

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As Automated as We Are – Nothing Has Replaced Reading for Students – Acquiring Knowledge Requires Reading Skill – So How Does that Skill Develop – By Exercise – Reading a Book that Motivates a Reader to Turn the Page Will Increase Reading Skill –

Read this Book

Do you remember how you learned to read? I can’t say that I remember the process that started in primary school, but what I remember clearly is receiving a book to read from my parents. It was Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women. I read it from cover to cover, and when I finished it, my reading skills were better.

Before reading that book I didn’t like reading much at all. Comprehension and appreciation had been impeded by my lack of reading skill. Continuing from page to page because I wanted to know what would happen next was the key to my future success as a student. Reading had become natural, not something I resisted, but rather something I enjoyed.

Buddy for David photo

If I may be so bold as to recommend the novel I wrote as one that will motivate a reader to turn the page, let me say that Buddy for David will do that for readers.

Summary: Young David is abducted. How he survives, how his family endures the days of his absence, how law enforcement officials struggle to find him, and what happens each moment of his captivity will keep the reader turning the pages. David lives to tell his story to an unlikely audience. Every emotion, including love, fear, hope, and anger, comes into play, and a few chuckles along the way.

Buddy for David is available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble online.

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Almost the End of November – Yet We Are Not on the Road – We Are Resting Up – What Do We Do – I Have Fun Cooking – Again – But I Have No Oven – Do I Need One –

cornbread

How can I bake without an oven? I baked this cornbread on top of the stove in my iron skillet. The cornbread was good. Someday we may replace the dishwasher with an oven. I’ve been told there are little toaster ovens that may be used for baking, but our counter top space is already being used. I prepared meatloaf in my slow cooker. I can have fun cooking without an oven. Can I not?

While we were camping along the roads of our country, Steve and I worked out a method of cooking that was simple and produced satisfying meals. Steve grilled the meats outside, and I cooked the sides inside. It worked well for us, but willingly I had allowed my cooking fun to be stifled. Being here almost a month and not having to engage in getting ready to hit the road again, my thoughts returned to cooking. I am back in the kitchen for fun! I’m having so much fun that it has rubbed off on Steve, and he prepared a plate of Bruschetta for our lunch yesterday.

bruschetta-1   bruschetta-2   lunch-2  lunch-1

lunch-3

We had fried tilapia, stir-fried vegetables, pickled beets (prepared the day before), and Steve’s bruschetta. The bruschetta was delicious. It was all good. And WE had fun cooking and eating lunch together.

 

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First Tour of the United States of America Completed – We Made It Through Unscathed – We Feel Blessed and Grateful to the Lord for Success – What Was It Like – AWESOME –

a-post-today-1We traveled 6,885 miles and camped at 35 RV parks over a period of six months. We visited family in Texas, Florida, North Carolina, New York, Ohio, and Michigan. Coming or going we passed through the additional states of Arizona, New Mexico, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, South Dakota, Wyoming, and Colorado. There remains a huge portion of this great land that we have not yet seen.

We had a blast visiting our families, Steve’s and mine. We enjoyed the entire trip, but having fun with family we hadn’t seen for a long time cannot compare with anything else we did. Now we think every trip we make may involve family.

We are camping in Arizona for the winter the months. We have friends here, and we are glad to see them again. I picked the photo above because it represents our (RV) home. Wherever we went we had our home and whatever part of the above extension of it we chose to erect while we were there. Some places we camped overnight and continued driving the next day. Other places we stayed longer. Three times we spent an entire month, in Florida, Pennsylvania, and New Mexico.

Now that we are here in Arizona, we do what we have done during the six months we were traveling. That is, we both cook and clean. Steve maintains the coach utility system that makes this place a real home with inside plumbing, hot water on demand, etc. Life in our motorhome is much like life in the stick-and-brick home we left, minus the landscape duties. Often we go out to eat, sometimes we visit a church, Often we shop for supplies, and occasionally we go to movies. We see the local sights. We like to explore. We see America, plain old beautiful America.

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Could Not Resist Snapping This Amazing Sunset in Las Cruces – New Mexico – Looks Like Fire in the Sky –

sunset-las-cruces

I took this blazing sunset photo through the windshield of our Jeep as we drove home to our campsite in Las Cruces, New Mexico. You can see the headlights lit up on the cars. Las Cruces is a delightful city, elevation 3,900 feet. Mountain peaks in the distance are a stunning sight. We have enjoyed our stay here. We didn’t have to drive far to find shopping and restaurants of many kinds. We leave tomorrow morning. We will surely return to this place in years to come.

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On the Road in Iowa – Didn’t Really Want to Go There – Winnebago Tour – A Man Thing from My Perspective – One of Our Best Trips – The Tour Was Okay – But the Stay There Was Fabulous –

iowa-road

The second half of our trip revealed that I booked too much time on the first half. I did. I could see this fact as I attempted to book the second half. Rather than starting over, canceling, planning, and booking again, I went forward.

Steve wanted to visit Iowa for the opportunity to tour Winnebago Industries in Forest City, Iowa, an activity that didn’t interest me very much, even less so when I had few days to book parks and many miles to cover to get us back to our winter campground. Steve wouldn’t budge, so I booked five days in Clear Lake, Iowa, not far from Forest City.

Only five days. We really enjoyed our stay in Clear Lake, Iowa, all five days. It was difficult to squeeze in the tour, but we did. We dined at The Landing Patio Bar and Grill at South Shore Inn located only five minutes from our campsite. Our table was situated under a canopy, so we were sheltered from the sun yet seated in the open air. The view was spectacular and the gentle breeze just cool enough to make the atmosphere pleasant.

The Landing was large and very crowded. I prefer not to invade the privacy of others by including them in photos. I chose instead to snap this isolated part of the restaurant that was cordoned off.

the-landingIs that scene not beautiful to behold? I couldn’t keep my eyes off the water, the boats, and the several activities going on out there on the lake.

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Wyoming Is Windy – Really Windy – What Do I Like Best About Traveling – Is It Seeing Monuments or Other Unique Places – No – I Like to Explore Our Surroundings –

windy-wyomingWe arrived here early this afternoon after driving on the Interstate in Wyoming. Windy, windy, windy! We could feel the wind impact the coach as we rolled along the highway. Steve isn’t rattled by it. I would be, if I were driving. I never drive the coach. You can see why.

I took this photo wondering if my hair would blow off my scalp before I got back inside. The trees across the way were waving in the wind. The white barked birch or poplar, or whatever they may be, did not sway. Their branches danced in the wind, but their trunks held firmly like they owned the soil they grew in.

This is what we do: We stop only one day at these in-between places only to spend the afternoons resting and the nights sleeping. We drive the next morning until we arrive at the next stop and finally at the destination booked months earlier. We see very little of the areas we are in during these brief stay-overs. We explore our surroundings when we reach the places we booked for a longer stay. Next year there will not be stops that last only one day. We will stay at least long enough to enjoy these in-between places.

We are new at this. We are learning as we go. Is there another way? We like to hear stories from other RVers about the things that happened to them while they were beginning their adventures. We all have our stories to tell, and no one can appreciate those stories like another one of us.

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On the Road – So Much Driving not Enough Time to Rest – Soon We Will Spend a Month with Friends Having Fun – and RESTING –

lunch-at-rest-stopWhile we travel a lot, we drive only 200 miles a day, more or less. Here we stop at a rest stop on the Interstate for lunch. Although the slides are pulled in for driving, there is a path back to the kitchen. Steve takes Chelsea for a walk while I put food on the table. Lunch meat sandwiches, cottage, cheese, chips, and water make a satisfying meal. We spend about 45 minutes eating, relaxing, and walking in the sunshine before we get back on the road again. Most traveling days we arrive between 1:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. at whatever RV park I have booked for a day or two.

We are in Rapid City, South Dakota, this week. The weather turned cool. We hope an early winter storm does not sweep over this land before we leave. Next time we come here, we plan to do it in the summer. We will return, so we plan to see Mount Rushmore when the wind is not blowing so much and the sun is shining.

We stopped in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, for only two days. We drove for only about ten minutes from our RV park to see this magnificent water fall. sioux-fallsBefore we left the falls, we walked up a staircase that led to the door of an old building. We were surprised when we stepped inside to find a cafe. We had lunch there. What a lovely day that was. We snapped the photos below of one another at the cafe. We drove toward Rapid City the next morning.

steve    me

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What a Blessing to Park Our RV on Lake Erie’s Shore – From the Window at Our Breakfast Table We Watch the Sun Slip into View Each Morning over Lake Erie in Sterling State Park, Monroe, Michigan –

Sunrise on Lake Erie

Sunrise officially occurred a few minutes after I snapped this photo. The colors were spectacular just before the fiery globe appeared on the horizon. I wasn’t aware that I had booked a site with this gorgeous view of Lake Erie. While driving here, Steve asked me if we would have a spot on the water. I said, “No. I don’t think so, but the shore will be somewhere in the park.” What a nice surprise!

Steve met more of my family in Toledo and Bowling Green, Ohio. We hosted cookouts at our campsite in Sterling State Park, Monroe, Michigan, two days in a row.

I’m not slimming down yet, but I am having fun!

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Do You See Steve’s Feet Sticking Out the Window – Yes – Most People Use the Door to Get in – So Why Would Steve Choose to Use the Window – Mia Culpa – My Fault –

Feet

Okay, here’s the scoop: Many of you know that we had a bad experience getting locked out of our coach. We thought we solved the problem. We both have keys to the door in our pockets everyday. How could we get locked out again?

There are two locks on the door. The top lock is a bolt; the bottom, a key/remote. We obviously should have been carrying both keys, but we expected to need only the top key. Why? I don’t know why. Duh. Every night I lock both locks before we go to bed. Every morning I open both. We were in a habit of locking only the top lock with a key when we went for a walk. If we had used the remote, we would have been locking both. Now we will do that. But Steve locked only the top lock when he took Chelsea for a walk. This doesn’t sound like a problem, but it was.

Steve had taken Chelsea for a walk. He locked door because I take my shower while he is gone. After he left, I saw him through the window walking without Chelsea. I was curious, so I decided to find out why he didn’t have our pet Chelsea with him. I unlocked the door the way I always did, first the top, then the bottom. I actually unlocked the top lock and unintentionally locked the bottom lock. I walked out, closed the door, and we were locked out. After we realized we were locked out and needed the key we didn’t have, we were duly horrified. After calming down, I remembered that I had opened the windows early in the morning. Ah! How wonderful! Steve put the ladder up to the window, opened the screen, and entered the coach.

We now carry both keys in our pockets just in case we fail to lock the second lock. Now we lock both locks even if we only take a walk. Who woulda thunk it could happen…

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