Climbing boulders and taking care of the Perfect Tow Vehicle

Wednesday, October 30

It’s a beautiful day at our camp near Lone Pine, California.


The Perfect Tow Vehicle needs an oil change. 

Lone Pine doesn’t offer a lot of choices in garages.  The crew and I motor into town and I stop at Casey’s Automotive.  It’s a small shop.  I notice a county fire rescue vehicle is there for service.

I inquire about an oil change and the man says he can take care of it today at 2:30.  I ask him how much it will cost and he says sixty dollars.

“What does that include?” I ask.

“Change the oil filter, add oil, check the tire rotation and the brakes.”

“I don’t need the tire rotation because I just had new tires put on, and the brakes are good.”

“Well,” he replies.  “It’ll be twenty dollars plus the cost of the oil.”

We have about an hour and a half to kill. 

I drive back up the Whitney Portal Road and turn onto Movie Road to go into the Alabama Hills.  The crew and I need some exercise and we haven’t climbed the boulders since camping here.

1-DSC01221I park the PTV.  Bridget and Spike come out the side door like they’re shot from guns.  I wonder if they remember climbing the rocks last year.  We had a great time together.

1-DSC01222I walk them on-leash in the direction I want to go, and then I set them free.  Spike and Bridget love this.

1-DSC01225I let them walk ahead of me and choose the paths we take.

1-DSC01224Paths wind around the boulders and up and over knolls.  There are acres and acres of boulder piles.

1-DSC01223Very few people are here in the middle of the week.  I don’t see any tourists climbing rocks.

1-DSC01230RVs were scattered all around this Bureau of Land Management land, tucked behind rocks along side roads, during the weekend of the annual film festival.  It’s an easy place to find a level, dispersed campsite.    

1-DSC01231Gee, it will be good to have that oil change taken care of. 

We make a big loop through the boulder piles.  I check my cell phone . . . 2:15.  I’m always a person who shows up early.  It’s a lifelong habit.


“Time to go!”  Bridget and I cut off Spike before he trots off to a destination only he knows. Together we walk back to the PTV.

1-DSC01229I park the PTV at Casey’s Auto.  

I set out a bowl of water for the crew, and once they’ve had a good drink, we take off down the main street of Lone Pine.  A lady remarks, “What cute dogs!”

I’m proud of the crew’s sidewalk manners.

They walk alongside me, their shoulders side-by-side.  Spike lifts his leg on a whiskey-barrel planter in front of a restaurant, but I manage to whisk him away from it before he sprays.

We pause for a few minutes at the skateboard park and watch boys having fun.  It disappoints me that there are no girls.

We mosey on back to the auto shop and find a seat outside. 

Bridget and Spike are always good in this type of situation.  They’ve had exercise and a drink, so they’re happy to lie down and rest quietly.

1-DSC01244The bill is as follows . . .  oil filter $4.11 . . . 6 quarts of oil, $25.50 . . . hazardous waste disposal, $5.00 . . . labor, $20.00 . . . sales tax, $2.37 . . . for a total of $56.98.

I’m hungry!

No wonder.  It’s after three o’clock and I haven’t had lunch.  A few blocks away I pull into McDonald’s.  It’s been ages since I’ve had some fast foodI think the last time I ate at McDonald’s was in 2011 when we lived in Georgia.

1-DSC01243The fish sandwich and fries are good.  I look out the window at the passing motorists.  Tomorrow we’ll break camp and head further south.  Goodbye, Alabama Hills and Lone Pine . . . .



My blog’s readers purchase a variety of products.  Here are a few samples:

Christmas Countdown Charm Pack of Precut Fabric Squares
Amplified Indoor HDTV Antenna
Steel Propane Cylinder With Overflow Prevention Device Valve And Sight Gauge
SKIL 4.2-Amp 7-Inch Wet Tile Saw
Prest-O-Fit 18″ X 17″ RV Step Rug
The Pioneer Woman Cooks: A Year of Holidays: 140 Recipes for Simple, Scrumptious Celebrations


December 15, 2012 the crew and I are camped at Borrego Springs, California.  I drive to an ARCO station to get propane and meet a hopeful fellow who is turning his life around.

“Hope at the propane tank”

This entry was posted in Simple living and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

46 Responses to Climbing boulders and taking care of the Perfect Tow Vehicle

  1. Angie2B says:

    YouHooo…..First comment. Life’s little pleasures. (grin)

  2. Once again, great photos – you truly have an “eye” for the scenes – some very simple, others very complex – all interesting and inspiring.
    I’m not sure about the cost of the oil change; but then those figures don’t stick well in my head.
    That area looks like a great place to get some down-home culture in California. I know you and the crew like to be away from people for a good part of the time. I, too, enjoy alone time with just my dog and two cats; but I’m always interested in pick-up conversations with the locals. Oh, the experiences we have as we travel around – almost never would happen at home. I love meeting new people and finding out what their lives are like.
    Oh, and for me, this is incredible – 2nd comment! I’m usually about 23rd!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Mary-Pat,

      I enjoy conversations with locals, too. (See the link, “Hope at the propane tank” for instance) I let them come my way. If it happens, great, but I don’t go looking for someone to chat with. I like to see what comes naturally.

      As for the oil change bill, I accepted it with two thoughts… 1) It may not be the best deal, but I’m happy to get the job done… and 2) This is California!

  3. mockturtle says:

    Yeah, I was thinking that was a bit high, too, but then I remembered you are in CA. 🙂

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi mockturtle,

      I suppose the shop has to pay sales tax on the oil and the filter, too.

      It must be tough to be poor in CA. Prices are higher in rural areas to begin with and then that sales tax . . .

      • Chuck Hajek says:

        Yup, Legalized THEFT…. yes, you know I used to live here(35 years+) and it is SO bad I will not return. A shame that such a gorgeous state has shot itself in the foot(and other places). I now feel soooo much better…Thank You, Sue!

  4. Duke of Paducah says:

    oil filter $4.11 . . . 6 quarts of oil, $25.50 . . . hazardous waste disposal, $5.00 . . . labor, $20.00 . . . sales tax, $2.37 . . . for a total of $56.98.
    RVSUE’S piece of mind,,,,,PRICELESS!!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Duke,

      Absolutely! About the only thing I miss about my former life in a regular house is the trust I had in the local auto shop. The guys there did great work, were honest, and went out of their way to be helpful.

      Oh well, a small price to pay for the freedom to move whenever I want!

  5. Rita from Phoenix says:

    I remember the area well from your travels last year…love the rocks/boulders. I pay anywhere from $35 to $60 for an oil change depending on what they had to do i.e. new air filters, tire rotation, etc. I had been going to the same garage to have this done but changed as management changed. The new manager told me I needed a transmission tune up….I told him that was unlikely since I drive a stick shift with a clutch. He was flabbergast and didn’t know what to say. I thanked him, walked out, and never went back. Thank heavens I’ve never had the wrong oil but in my truck like Nina and Paul’s beast. But I always ask what type of oil they use and what I prefer. Sears is another outfit who told me they rotated the tires and repair a rear tire with a nail in it…when the work was done I look to see if the tire with the nail was fixed (I marked the tire so I wouldn’t forget which tire) but they never rotated the tires or fix the tire with a nail…the charge $70.00. I complained and also had them show me the oil stick to ensure the oil was changed. I may be a little old lady but I know a thing or two LOL!! Safe travels. Bridget and Spike as usual are adorable.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Rita,

      I have my own horror story about Sears automotive from several years ago. I was ripped off in a major way. Of course, I never went back.

      When I was a lot younger, I had another outfit try to scare me into a big repair. When I said I was leaving to get a second opinion, I was told with a shocked voice of phony concern, “You’re not going to take that out on the road, are you?” Well, I did, and the repair was minor.

      Good for you for keeping on your toes!

  6. Tawanda says:

    What a pleasant sounding day for you and the crew, actually I should say another pleasant sounding day, you seem to be feeling quite at home there in the Lone Pine area.

    Just an fyi RVSue, if you can change your Amazon address link to, Amazon will donate 0.5 percent of whatever you spend to the charity you choose of the several hundred they have listed, our local food bank is on the list.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Tawanda,

      I’ll look into that Amazon offer. Yes, it’s easy to feel “quite at home” in Lone Pine. It’s a relaxed place with “regular” folks. No Starbucks or other trappings of the frenetic, upscale places . . .

  7. Trip and Lisa says:

    Hey Sue,,,,,it’s 10/31,,,,,Trick or Treat

  8. Kathleen says:

    Hi Sue! Started reading your blog before we set out fulltiming last November. Really helped keep us going during the hectic months of selling the house and getting rid of all our stuff. Even went back and read all your old posts at the time, late at night, to keep up the motivation and realize that it could be done! Just wanted to finally let you know that I have enjoyed reading about your life and telling hubby about RV Sue and her cute pups! Hoping to get to the Alabama Hills someday during our travels. Thanks for your inspiration for boondocking. Godspeed to you in your travels! You are one cool woman!


    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Kathleen,

      You’re welcome. Congratulations on your new lives as full-timers! You’ve almost completed a full year. I hope the vagabond life is all you hoped it would be and more.

      I’m still surprised and pleased to read about my blog helping others find their way through the transition stages… from that first spark of “Hey, we should do this!” to shedding possessions, setting up the rig, and then heading on down the road.

      Thank you for taking the time to write here. I hope you will keep in touch. Best wishes for your second year!

      • Kathleen says:

        Thanks for the reply Sue! We are loving the life, and hubby and I are talking today about what to do special to celebrate our one year fulltiming anniversary. Hmmm…..

  9. Good Morning from Florida Sue! LOL! Made it across the state line yesterday! Be back home today, our RV spot will be ready today! Spike and Bridget are really enjoying their long walks! Lone Pine looks wonderful, I love being around big old rocks! But today… I am gonna love being around oysters and shrimp…. Seafood Frestival today! I will think of you! 🙂 LOL!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hello, Florida Girl!

      What different worlds we are in… I’m looking at the desert out my window and you’re on your way to a seafood festival. Remember the shrimp we had in Virgin, Utah? I can’t remember the name of that place . . . Something Willie’s? Seems like ages ago.

      Have a wonderful time at the festival, being with family, and getting set up in your new/old home.

      • Wildcat Willies !!!! Yes I remember the name only because Chuck wore the t-shirt from there a couple of days ago! It was good shrimp at Wildcat Willies for sure, but now that fresh shrimp is gonna taste a lot better than frozen shrimp! It does seem like ages ago… but what fun we had!

        • Chuck Hajek says:

          That was excellent shrimp! But Geri did not tell you about the beautiful brown spotted Rat Terrier we saw in AL! Gorgeous little female with lite brown eyes a model would die for. The Buffalo Shrimp to nite was to die for….iffen wed ‘a ate another plate, we wooda’……

          • rvsueandcrew says:

            I’ve never seen a rat terrier I didn’t like. Sounds like the Seafood Festival met your expectations . . .

  10. Re: Avoiding tourists – something to keep in mind is that people who are willing to get off the beaten path and invest some sweat equity into really exploring an area tend to also have an understanding of the serenity being in nature delivers. Almost every encounter we’ve had while hiking away from the ‘masses’ has been pleasant and/or gratifying.

    The areas accessible by car though? Don’t even get me started about the loony behaviors we’ve observed from those who seem to think the wilderness is some sort of safe, teflon coated amusement park.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Tamara,

      What you say is true. I love your last line… that description of the wilderness! Oh, my . . .

      The crew and I are unable to hike into wilderness areas. We need our wheels to “get off the beaten path.” Fortunately I’m the kind of person who finds enjoyment in what other people might consider “ordinary” places. When I set up camp in a secluded area with no sign of people, I’m in heaven! It’s all about recognizing the beauty of nature in all her forms and being grateful for it. You apparently understand that.

      As I type this in our new camp in what many would consider a boring, desert landscape, the sun is rising above the hills, casting light beams across the scrub. A short while ago the crew and I were on a sandy beach watching and listening to crashing surf, and before that, in a rainforest. What bounty we have in this country!

      You have a great day . . .

      • PNW alison says:

        Beautifully said, Sue, and so very very true.
        Sometimes I don’t read all the comments, there are so many now and I try to minimize my screen time. But I’d hate to miss sentiments like these!

      • I agree with your agreement. 🙂

        One of my favorite John Muir sayings is “I’d rather be in the mountains thinking of God, then in church thinking about the mountains.”

  11. John fossildreamer says:

    Hi Sue, Always loved those boulders, Have been there a couple of times in my car
    even after I stopped Begin full time.. than It was than down to hwy. 58 over the
    mtn. to 99 and home to Sac, what a bummer to not keep going south for
    the winter,, So now I travel with you, and I love the places we go…
    PS Is it just me or it time for spike’s bath.. Safe Travels Sue,,,

  12. Jean/Southaven, MS says:

    Hi RVSue. I need readers of the blog’s help. My hubby and I have just bought a 1997 Winnebago Vectra Grand Tour with tag axle. What kind of chocks do we need to buy? I have learned so many things from your readers, but there are so many things we do not know about RV’s. We have decided to climb Mt Everest on our very first mountain climb I am afraid. We have never had anything but a tent up until this point.

    • Alan Rabe says:

      Jean, It depends on the type of brakes you have. If you have air brakes then you don’t really need chocks at all. Otherwise something like this:
      BAL 28012 X-Chock Tire Locking Chock
      are the best for tandem tires. There are several types so shop around.

      (Alan, I substituted one of my links for the product you suggested.)

      Nothing personal and please don’t be offended but Mt. Everest as your first mountain climb is just outright stupid and tantamount to attempted suicide. I actually doubt any guide will even take you on. Start with Whitney, when you can do it easily, go to McKinley to get snow and ice experience. Only then should you try Everest. Experienced climbers die every year on Everest and they are still there buried in the ice and snow. There is no one to bring them down. So please get advice and guidance from someone who has actually done it.

      • Jean/Southaven, MS says:

        I am afraid I left out part of my thought on the Mr. Everest statement. I meant to say that us buying a large RV when all we have ever owned was a tent, as being like trying to climb Mt. Everest on a first mountain climb. It feels like suicide right now. We have not picked the RV up yet and we are a whole lot on the nervous side. I am sure we will get over it.

        • rvsueandcrew says:

          You will get over the nervousness! Going from a tent to a big RV is kind of like me going from never camping to a travel trailer. You’ve made the big leap and now you just have to catch your balance. Best wishes to you both!

          BTW… Feel free to ask questions here. As you know, my readers are knowledgeable and happy to share information.

        • Alan Rabe says:

          Ok, I understand now, makes me feel a lot better. As to an RV. I bought a 2001 Monaco Diplomat in Sept, 2012. It was a huge investment but I will finally be moving into it this thanksgiving. Depending on what you plan on doing with it I can make some suggestions if you want. But the first thing I did and I would suggest to anyone is to get rid of the tank type hot water heater that is in it and replace it with a tankless water heater. Tanks run out of hot water almost immediately and run 24/7 heating that small tank. Tankless runs when you turn on the hot water and shuts off when you turn off the hot water. So no wasted expensive propane. If you use the RV a lot you will pay for it quickly.

          • Ed says:

            I don’t disagree with everything Alan has suggested however this statement is not always true: Tanks run out of hot water almost immediately and run 24/7 heating that small tank.
            I say that because I can take a shower and never run out of hot water, that is me , you and he may take much longer showers. My hot water heater does not run 24/7; there is a switch that I can turn on an off. When I want hot water I turn it on, wait 15-30 minutes then turn it off. This will provide me with hot water all day unless I shower, then I may have to turn it on again if I have used a lot of hot water earlier in the day.
            I don’t shower daily so there are some days that I never turn the hot water heater on. You might experiment some before investing in a tankless water heater, you may not need it.

  13. Cinandjules says:

    Why what nice boulders you have there! :). Fun to explore!

    I believe in supporting the mom and pop businesses over the franchises of big name businesses. Their prices are often higher because they can’t compete with bulk purchases. They also rely on word of mouth and reputation! Good for you!

    Jean in MS
    I have to agree with Alan regarding Mt Everest as your maiden climb! The lure may be so great that one fails to understand the experience/skills needed to successfully attempt a summit. Of course… Money can buy anything as was the case with Shirya Klorfine who had zero experience. $100K got her up the mt…Google her story which was also a topic for the TV show Dateline.

    I’m not saying don’t follow your dreams….absolutely follow your dreams! Just don’t try to accomplish a feat that is often not obtainable by those who’ve have trained their entire lives for! You’re setting yourself up for not only failure but death!

    So being “afraid” is a good thing! Does the other half of “we” have the same feeling?

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Cinandjules,

      You make a good point about the small businesses that are often passed up for the big outfits. They do face expenses that the big guys don’t.

      I don’t know how good the mechanics are where I took the PTV, but I do know they changed the oil because I watched the guy slide under and come out with oil on his hands. 🙂

      I think — I may be wrong — Jean was using Mt. Everest in an analogy, meaning all the obstacles and things she needs to learn about RVing seem like climbing the highest mountain.

      You and Alan have such big hearts, you immediately showed concern for Jean’s welfare. . .

      • Jean/Southaven, MS says:

        Yes RVSue, you are right. I love my fellow followers. They are all wonderful. I have learned so much about so many things following this blog. Thanks ya’ll.

  14. Gayle says:

    Fellow full-timers and bloggers gone with the wynns are at Alabama Hills now. They had a pumpkin carving contest with some others. Can you see them around there someplace? Big Monaco bus.

  15. Rand says:

    first SENIOR MOMENT was at the MacDonalds in Lone Pine.. Sun rising , oldguy behind the counter says, “Are you a senior?” answer == “not yet, I’m 58″.. he says” thats the magic number “—coffee was $.58.

    • Cari in North Texas says:

      I’ve been getting ‘senior’ coffee and soft drinks for years at McD’s, and I just turned 61 🙂 I’ve found with a lot of places you just say I’d like the senior discount, please, and they just give it to you.

      • rvsueandcrew says:

        Some places consider 55 and older to be senior. I remember the first time I was asked if I wanted the discount. Boy, she took a chance asking that! Fortunately for her I was over 55 at the time.

  16. Lynne says:

    Just finished reading your blog, the whole thing, and I am so jealous. Enjoy your travels.

Comments are closed.