Wham-Bam: No Thank You, Ma’am!

Long-time readers of our blog know that occasionally we “go dark.” Often it’s because we’re someplace where wifi isn’t reliable, but during 2020 it was hard to stay motivated to write — not just this blog, but anything else.

And for a lot of reasons, none of them good.

Like many full-time RVers, our adventure turned into what I call a “bad adventure,” rather than the good ones we had hoped for when we headed out on the road nearly a dozen years ago.

Everyone I know has had the worst year they can remember. Ours was, too. And COVID-19 was just a part of it.

Just as we started to acclimate to the stormy weather the pandemic has brought into all of our lives — eating out less often, shopping only for necessities, figuring out how to stay in shape when hiking or biking wasn’t possible —

Slam! Bam! Our world was flipped around.

It was a rainy afternoon in early October. We were sitting in our Jeep at a traffic light in Caldwell, Idaho, looking forward to heading away from the city in a few days. Then BAM! We got rear-ended by a driver in a huge flatbed truck with a big chrome cattle guard on the grille.

Thankfully, things could have been worse. Ellen’s back still gives her some problems, but the Jeep suffered the worst damage: $14,000 worth!

I was too shaken up to take a photo when the accident happened; this was taken the day after. Not a good look for the Jeep, eh?!?

You don’t think about some things until something bad happens. In our case, we had great insurance and, even better, the man who hit us had good insurance as well. We managed to get the Jeep into service, rented a car (I felt as though I was dragging my butt on the road, it was so low to the ground!), extended our stay at the RV park, and tried to go back to normal.

I’ll condense a very long story by saying the Jeep was in the shop for a more than a month and by then it was snowing. Our RV was starting to show signs of cold-weather stress, so we arranged to have the new roof sent to Yuma, got the old one put on (with a used, replacement back window for the time being), and headed south.

Sadly, the worst wasn’t over.

Whump! Whump! Whump!

We were about fifteen miles north of Las Vegas, on our way to Pahrump, Nevada, when we heard something and knew we had to pull off the road.

One of our rear tires had lost its tread! As my character Betty Rollin would say, “Poop-dammit!”

About four hours later we finally had roadside help and three new tires (we wanted to replace all of them but the roadside service crew only had three).

Not the first time we’ve sat on the side of a lonely stretch of road, waiting for assistance. Sadly, it probably won’t be the last!

After a twenty-two hour day, we rolled into the RV park in Pahrump at about four a.m.

We’ve since gotten the other four tires replaced (including the spare). Bob had planned to get them all replaced but when the pandemic hit we put it off.

Since then we’ve been dealing with air conditioner issues, generator problems, a broken refrigerator door, not to mention the exhaust pipe and bracket we’re hiring someone to replace for us.

Ah! The years we’ve been on the road are taking their toll on our vehicles. Despite that, we can’t imagine hanging up the keys. Not yet. The lure of the road, the reward of meeting people all over the country are still too strong for us to give up.

While everyone is hoping 2021 brings us relief from the pandemic — and you can include us in that bunch — we’re also hoping 2021 brings us a better travel year.

Here’s hoping you and yours are happy and healthy, and if you’re on the road — please travel safely!

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2020 Best EATS!

What a whacky year. Hopefully COVID-19 didn’t touch you, your family or friends in 2020 — and won’t in 2021. The pandemic certainly caused all kinds of changes to everyone’s “normal,” and when you live on the road as we do, “normal” is already mostly off-kilter from everyone else’s “normal.”

We visited many of the same places as last year, but because we had to order to-go rather than eat-in we ordered some different things and tried some different restaurants. Hard to eat our favorite Ham and Eggs O’Brian breakfast from Brownie’s Cafe in Yuma when you have to eat it from Styrofoam teetering on your lap in the crowded front seat of a Jeep, right?

Sadly, we lost a few favorite places. T+D’s Restaurant in Baker, Nevada, closed when the owners decided it was time to retire. Katy’s Korner in Cloverdale, Oregon, has been replaced by Antonette’s Kitchen South. We’ll miss both! And the Bulldog Diner in Rufus, Oregon, was closed when we stopped — whether it’s permanent or not, it did lead to our finding a new place down the road.

It’s sad for the restauranteurs, who have had a very difficult year, but the upside for us was discovering new eateries. In some cases, we tried the usual spots and weren’t as impressed, so ventured out. We were thrilled to have the Pie Hut in Sandpoint, Idaho, recommended to us — it comes into the Best list with THREE entries! You’ll see a few other new names in this year’s list… I’ll let you find them 🙂

So whet your appetite, forget about your woes, and join us as we present the 2020 Bob and Ellen’s BEST EATS Awards!


  1. Ham and Eggs O’Brian at Brownie’s Cafe in Yuma, AZ
  2. Sirloin Steak and Eggs at Bob’s Texas TBone Restaurant in Rufus, OR
Bob’s Texas TBone Restaurant, Rufus, Oregon
  1. Steak and Eggs at Shari’s in Meridian, ID
Shari’s Restaurant, Meridian, Idaho

Goldsboro’s Bakery, Yuma, AZ

Brownie’s Cafe, Yuma, AZ


Chicken Tortilla Soup at Jimmie K’s Diner in Yuma, AZ

Taco Soup at Minnie’s Montana Cafe in Thompson Falls, MT

Stuffed Green Pepper Soup at Pie Hut in Sandpoint, ID

Pie Hut, Sandpoint, Idaho

BEST DRINK [Nope, no alcohol here!]

Strawberry Lemonade at The Smokehouse in LaGrande, OR

Smokehouse Restaurant, LaGrande, Oregon


Steamer Clams at Hook, Line & Sinker in Garibaldi, OR

Hook, Line & Sinker, Garibaldi, Oregon

Fried Ravioli at Nicco’s in Pahrump, NV

Cheesey Garlic Bread at Bit of Italy in Nampa, ID

Bit of Italy, Nampa, Idaho


Best Side Salad

  1. Bit of Italy, Nampa, ID
Bit of Italy, Nampa, Idaho

Best Spinach Salad

  1. Shari’s Restaurant, Nampa, ID
Shari’s Restaurant, Nampa, Idaho


  1. Ronnie’s in Yuma, AZ
  2. Moose’s Tavern in Kalispell, MT
Moose’s Tavern, Kalispell, Montana


Best Burger
International Cafe, Austin, NV

Best Reuben

  1. Buffalo Cafe in Whitefish, MT
Buffalo Cafe, Whitefish, Montana
  1. Chalkboard Cafe in Wallace, ID
Chalkboard Cafe, Wallace, Idaho

Best Panini
Heather’s Special at Pie Hut in Sandpoint, ID

Pie Hut, Sandpoint, Idaho


Halibut and Chips at Sea Baron Food Trailer in Garibaldi, OR

Sea Baron, Garibaldi, Oregon

BBQ Grilled Oysters on the Half Shell at River View Dining in South Bend, WA

River View, South Bend, Washington


Best Fajitas
Jalapenos in Nampa, ID

Jalapenos, Nampa, Idaho

Best Comfort Food (Tie)

  1. Scalloped Potatoes and Ham at Minnie’s Montana in Thompson Falls, MT (Bob)
Minnie’s Montana Scalloped Potatoes
  1. Chicken Pot Pie at Montana Minnie’s in Thompson Falls, MT (Ellen)
Minnie’s Montana Chicken Pot Pie


Best Spaghetti
Bit of Italy, Nampa, ID

Spaghetti at Bit of Italy, Nampa, Idaho

Best Lasagna
Nicco’s in Pahrump, NV

Best Pasta
Maryland Blue Crab Ravioli with Housemade Pesto at Bit of Italy, Nampa, ID

Maryland Blue Crab Ravioli with House Made Pesto at Bit of Italy, Nampa, Idaho


Best Tiramisu
Bit of Italy, Nampa, ID

Tiramisu at Bit of Italy, Nampa, Idaho

Best Fruit Pie
Marionberry Pie at Alice’s Country House Restaurant, Tillamook

Alice’s Country Restaurant, Tillamook, Oregon

Best Cream Pie

  1. [Tie] Chocolate Cream Pie at Pie Hut in Sandpoint, ID
Chocolate Cream Pie at Pie Hut in Sandpoint, Idaho

and at The Smokehouse in LaGrande, OR

2. Peanut Butter Pie at Hook, Line & Sinker in Garibaldi, OR

Best Chocolate Cake
Chocolate-Blueberry Cake at Alice’s Country House Restaurant, Tillamook, OR

Chocolate Blueberry Cake at Alice’s Country Restaurant in Tillamook, Oregon

Best Hot Fudge Sundae
Hought’s 24 Flavors, LaGrande, OR

Hought’s 24 Flavors, LaGrande, Oregon

Alligator Bites at Icons Grill in Yuma, AZ: You don’t get many changes to eat alligator, especially out west. This was tasty and worth trying, but other than that it wasn’t anything special.

Icons, Yuma, Arizona

Yep. It’s a much shorter list this year, with our very best meals coming out of our own kitchen, thanks to Chef Bob 😉

Pan-Seared Netarts Bay Oysters (from JAndy Oysters) with Cheesy Broccoli and Corn on the Cob
Ham and Eggs with Potatoes and Toast
Garden Salad with Shrimp and Mussels

What about you? What kinds of great (or not so great) experiences have you had with road food this past year?

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Book Saga Continues

…with good news and bad news. First the good news: they’re back! Last I checked, all of my ebooks are again available.

The bad news is that in the shuffle all of my reviews (all four and five stars, I have to say) have vanished. I’ve been in touch with my publisher and Amazon about this, but it’s uncertain whether those reviews will ever be viewable on Amazon again.

So I’m hoping if you or your friends have read any of my books that maybe you’ll take a few minutes and type a review to let others know about these books. It takes years to build readership and reviews make a difference, including yours.

In the meantime, if you’re looking for other RVing authors and books, please take a look at the interviews to discover more RVing reading pleasure!

And keep watching this space… more non-book adventures will be posted soon, including our popular BEST EATS! Annual List of the best restaurant food we found during the year.

I promise!

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The Case of the Disappearing Books

Sometimes real-life hands us our own mysteries. After writing them for awhile, you’d think I’d be thrilled to have a real life mystery drop in my lap.

Not exactly.

I’ve been quiet here but active in other places online, promoting my latest Rollin RV Mystery, Superstition Victim.

The other day I was on Amazon (where I’ve been buying and downloading hundreds of books since the pandemic hit) and checked my author’s page.

Low and behold, my Rollin RV Mysteries were gone.


As if they had never been published and uploaded to Amazon.

My heart nearly stopped. For a woman who never had children (or pets) of her own, my books are my creations, my children. I had that same panicky feeling I got once when my niece went seemed to disappear in a large department store. When I found her hiding under a clothing rack I didn’t know whether to scold her or hug her.

Where had my books gone?

I found the direct link for the book, and plugged that into the browser. Nope. Just a “Nothing here” page.

My heart kicked into gear. Then up a notch or two. Pounding, pounding.

Over the next few days I tried everything I could think of: e-mailing Amazon, e-mailing and filing a fix-it ticket with Lulu, the publisher I use to get my book files distributed around the Web.

I thought to check Kobo and Barnes and Noble — my books are still there.

Whew. My heartbeat steadied, at least a little.

Maybe all was not lost.

But what was going on?

I tried re-formatting the files and uploading them again. Waited a day or so. Superstition Victim reappeared, minus the one review a blogger had posted for it.

Since then it’s all been quiet on Amazon. But that doesn’t mean I haven’t lost some sleep, fretted to Bob about it.

“I wish there was somthing I could do about it,” he said. Well, there was. We went for ice cream, which always helps.

Yesterday I learned Lulu had decided to switch distribution services. Putting on my Betty Rollin/Sherlock Holmes hat, I deduced this was likely the culprit, but had no proof.

Today I found a forum where fellow Lulu users were suffering the same fate: their books had suddenly vanished from Amazon. And someone posted that Lulu had responded to their fix-it ticket saying the “one- to two-hour” job had turned into something a lot bigger than that. (Obviously.)

So… to those of you who’ve been clicking links to check out my books only to wonder where they are, I apologize. I don’t know where they are.

But they’re supposed to come back.

The mystery might be solved and the perpetrator identified, but we’re still waiting for justice.

And trying to stay patient, something we have all learned a little bit more about in these crazy pandemic times.

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Catching Wild Critters

…on camera, that is! You won’t find me trying to get closer than the inside of our Jeep to this rattlesnake, which we came across on our way to a favorite hike this past spring in Nevada:

This was just our third rattlesnake, and this time it was in the wild and posing prettily, which made it perfect for leading off this post about seeing the wild things on our travels.

I won’t cover them all here, just those we’ve seen in the last few months (otherwise you’d get far too bored because the post would run way too long). Continue reading

Posted in and Critters in General, Animals, Birds, Cool Experience | Tagged , , | 7 Comments

Wanted: Energizer Bunny!

We’ve been relatively lucky when it comes to RV issues (our fifth wheel was only run into once when it was parked, by a woman disoriented in an RV park (it’s a long story), our Class C bumped a picnic table once… although we did have a flat tire just outside Whitehorse, Yukon, and a few while moving the fifth wheel [yes, a few, on one relatively short trip, but that’s yet another story]), so after more than a decade of full-timing we were probably due.

We’d just driven our Class C a short three-hour drive from outside Boise, Idaho, to LaGrande, Oregon. We stopped at a rest area on the way but never left the rig and never turned off the engine (this is an important detail).

We stopped for gas, turned off the engine, and when Bob turned the key to re-start the engine, it was dead. Completely. No turning over, nothing. Continue reading

Posted in Hiking, Interesting Stories, RV Parks & Lifestyle | Tagged , | 4 Comments

What Happened, Anyway?

So why did I end up dropping off the blogosphere for so long?

Lots of reasons. As I described last time, we’re still traveling, still having more adventures than I could document even with regular postings.

Every day we have at least one adventure. Continue reading

Posted in Attractions, Birds, Interesting Stories, Superstition Victim | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments


A few of you have noticed we haven’t posted much in the last several months, though we did manage to get the word out about our favorite places to eat (food always comes first, right?). Thanks for checking in on us.

We’ve been out and about, moving from here to there and back. Visiting a few new spots but mostly looping back around to places we know and love. Continue reading

Posted in and Critters in General, Animals, Cool Experience, Hiking, Insects, National Parks | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Bugging Us

Thankfully, COVID-19 hasn’t inflicted its nastiness on us, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t bugging us. We live a pretty low profile anyway, and we’re in a less-affected area (though under the more and more common “stay at home” order), so that has made it oddly comfortable.

That’s probably why, in this particular community, so many people are ignoring the six-feet apart rule. We’ll find ourselves in the grocery store or out exercising in a local park, dodging and weaving to keep our distance from others. We wear gloves. We’ll start wearing bandanas over our faces.

We miss our occasional restaurant meal…

… but when Bob bought a pressure cooker, his already amazing meals became melt-in-your-mouth miracles. On this particular day, we had veggies, bean soup and lobster tails. Mmm!

Bob’s been cooking and target shooting and taking care of business (doing our taxes, helping out with a project at the park where we’re staying, among a million other things).

I’ve been making bracelets. Here’s just one. It has little glass chili peppers sticking out:

And I’ve been celebrating the publication of my newest book. It’s another Rollin RV Mystery, featuring Walt and Betty Rollin, full-time RVers sucked up again into a who-dunnit.

Who knows? Maybe the next Rollin RV Mystery will involve an infectious virus or something….

We hope you and yours are safe and healthy, finding ways to stay active and virus-free!

Posted in Food, Interesting Stories, RV Parks & Lifestyle, RVing Books | Tagged , | 7 Comments

2019 Best EATS !

We’ve been at this for more than ten years now (WOW, right?!?) and along the way we’ve seen restaurants come and go. It’s always sad to head for a restaurant we’ve enjoyed in the past only to find it gone. This past year we looked forward to the Asada Omelet at Main Stop Restaurant in Kittitas, Washington (see last year’s post for an image). “This is the exit,” I said, and Bob made the turn. We found a place to park but ended up staring not at the side of the restaurant but the side of an irrigation business.

When we return to Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Bob’s Cafe has always been our go-to place for their amazing broasted chicken and a coleslaw unlike any other. Well, they’d moved since the last time we were in town, and though they swore their recipes moved with them nothing tasted as good in the shiny new place as they did in the old dive, and despite now being called Cluckin’ Good Chicken.

Sometimes disappointments like these lead us to find other restaurants, which quickly become favorites. Read on to see our tried-and-true favorites plus some new discoveries. Are any of them familiar to you? Have a better suggestion for a place in one of the towns mentioned? We’d love your comments!

Continue reading

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