Salida, CO and an Update

First an update – I’m in Santa Fe, NM for some warranty work on the scooter.  It wouldn’t start one day, and rather than drive over to Sportique in Colorado Springs I got an appointment at Centaur Scooters in Santa Fe.  We were already heading to New Mexico to meet some Lazy Daze folks at Abiquiu Reservoir on Sept. 20th, then to Albuquerque for the Balloon Fiesta in Oct.  I just had to do a little side trip before getting to Abiquiu.  Good news – the problem was a failure by the starter solenoid and was fixed less than 2 hours after I dropped it off yesterday.  They diagnosed it quickly and had a solenoid available to use.  Also, they filed the warranty claim so I wasn’t out of pocket anything and was able to load up the scooter and be on my way.  Sometimes you get an early failure on a part, so I’m not worried about the scooter.  I really liked Centaur when Chris and I visited in June.  We had stopped in there to look at scooters and see about putting a rack on my prior rig (which ended up not being possible).  It seemed like a great mom and pop shop, well stocked and well run.  They sure did well to get me on my way with no delay.  So, I have scheduled my initial 200 mile service with them, before heading down to Albuquerque on Oct. 1st.

Anyway, after Leadville we moved down to Salida.  We had stopped in there for a week or so back in late June, early July.  There is a free BLM boondocking spot just east of town, on the Arkansas River.  Leadville was nice and cool (highs were in the high 60’s, low 70’s), but really cloudy and rainy.  My 85 watt solar panel couldn’t keep my batteries charged with just an hour or so of sunshine per day.  So, Salida seemed like a good next stop, usually sunny, hopefully not too warm at 7,000 feet, plus we had enjoyed it before.   Salida has a Walmart, dump station/water at the Chamber of Commerce and a decent laundromat.  I utilized all of them on the way to the campsite, that way I would be set and not need to move for 10 days.

Salida Campsite

Salida Campsite.  The Arkansas River is right behind our rigs.

Arkansas River at Salida East

Chris had fun fly-fishing in the Arkansas River near our site.

Chris and I unloaded the scooter that afternoon.  I was really excited to have it at this spot, since the town is cool (cute with a funky vibe) and just a couple of miles away.  The next day (9/6) I made a quick trip in to get something at the True Value hardware store.  The next morning was Saturday and I was looking forward to scooting to the Farmer’s Market and the big Fiber Fest (yarn and roving, spinning and weaving, etc.) in Riverside Park.  Unfortunately, the scooter wouldn’t start even though it ran fine the day before.  Everything worked except the starter button.  We checked the battery, fuses, whatever else we could see, but couldn’t find the problem.  I was quite bummed.

Then, I turned on the water heater and it wouldn’t start.  What is up with these failures?!?  I checked it all over, researched online for possible answers, cleaned the connections, etc.  When nothing worked we took the circuit board off of Chris’ unit (same Atwood model) and hooked it up to mine.  It fired right up.  So, it seems I needed a new board.  The RV dealer in nearby Poncha Springs quoted $323 for a new one, but I ordered one from Amazon for $124.  I had it sent to PakMail in Salida – they do package acceptance for $5.  (Some mail can come general delivery to the post office for free, but Amazon usually ships UPS or FedEx, which can’t go to the post office.)

Later in the day I rode into town with Chris in his truck.  We really liked Cafe Dawn downtown and went several times while in Salida.  Afterwards we drove by the park and Fiber Fest was still going on.  It was much bigger than I expected, lots of booths.  There was some really nice yarn, fiber art, felted hats, lots of interesting stuff.  I kept thinking how much our friend Melinda (who is on her way to Balloon Fiesta after summer in Alaska) would have loved it.  I meant to get a picture, but failed.  Here’s a shot I took of our favorite coffee place on July 4th:

Cafe Dawn

Cafe Dawn

Next on my failure tour, the batteries didn’t seem to be holding a charge, even though we had more sunny days in Salida.  Checking the cells with a hydrometer showed the batteries were only 50% charged.  I called my Dad and also my friend CB for advice.   They are both smart engineers and had good info, things to check/do.  Also, I spoke to AM Solar, the servicer for my solar controller.  I decided to check into the RV park next door and plug in for a day or 2 and get up to 100%.  After 2 days one battery was up to 75% and one was still barely above 50%.  There must be something wrong with them.  I had just gotten them at the end of August in Steamboat Springs, so I swung by Napa after leaving the RV park and explained the situation.  They had to order a set that would arrive the next morning as they didn’t keep the 6 volts in stock.  I asked them to put a slow charge on them and I would come by in the afternoon when ready (something I should have thought to do with the Steamboat Napa).  I picked them up Friday, the 13th, and this set seems to be doing fine.

While at the Salida spot Chris and I took the opportunity to wash and wax our rigs.  It takes a while using just buckets of water.  The wax didn’t seem to do well on the silver/grey paint on the part I waxed, leaving swirly streaks where I applied it.  Figures, everything that could go wrong was going wrong lately.  Now I had ruined part of my paint. Terrific.  I read online that 3M makes a restorer for heavily oxidized paints and was able to pick some up at Napa.  Haven’t had a chance to try it yet.  Hopefully it will work OK to restore the silver.  Chris’ rig looks really good all washed and waxed, though.

When I got back to the campsite after leaving the RV park I found that my friend Carol, who I had met in Caballo Lake last year, was camping near us.  I didn’t remember that she was from the Salida area.  She makes really beautiful sets of cloth napkins and potholders and had a booth at the farmer’s markets at Salida.  I drove in to town on Saturday to do the market and run errands. It had been raining for a few days and more was forecast, but it turned out to be a really nice morning, great for the vendors.  I hoped to get some cranberry/almond/cinnamon swirl bread at the baker’s booth.  I had gotten some in July and had lusted for more ever since.  Luckily they had some and I’ve been enjoying it for breakfast.  If you ever get to the Salida farmer’s market look for it, it’s fantastic.

Salida Farmer's Market

Lovely day at the Salida Farmer’s Market

Carol at the Farmer's Market

Carol (on the right) at the Farmer’s Market with her beautiful napkins and potholders.

I really liked Salida.  It’s a good size, has a nice Safeway and a Walmart, walkable area downtown with parks and residential nearby, renovation of historic buildings downtown, etc.  As I said, it’s got a funky vibe.  There are a lot of cool refurbished vintage bicycles that people ride around town (didn’t get a pic), they have thrift shops with names like “Free The Monkey” and “Wanderlust Road”, and houses of different eras are intermingled, like Victorian next to a mid-century craftsman, next to adobe… I loved looking at the houses as we drove into town:

Salida Houses

Salida Houses

Salida House

Salida Houses

Salida’s a town that I could live in, but it’s been ‘discovered’ and real estate seems to be  pretty expensive.  Well, it’s a nice place to visit for now.

House

The little house in the middle with the for sale sign was about $300k!

Just before leaving we had more Lazy Dazers roll in.  John and Linda (and Sadie), who stopped to see us at Rabbit Ears Pass, stopped by on the way to Abiquiu from their home in Colorado Springs.  Also, Frank and Cookie, who I had briefly met in Quartzsite, were traveling with them, so we had 4 Lazy Dazes at the campsite for the night.  It was great to have a visit with them, and we all went out to Amica’s Pizza for dinner.  Great pizza and company, a terrific evening.  Can’t wait to spend time with them and a whole bunch of Lazy Dazers in Abiquiu over the next several days.

Hanging out with Cookie, John and Linda (and Riley and Sadie)

Hanging out with Cookie, John and Linda (and Riley and Sadie)

I think/hope the troubles I have had recently are done.  Sometimes trouble comes in waves.  Hopefully it all doesn’t sound like too much of a bummer.  These things happen, sometimes all at once.  Just the normal life of an RV’er.  It’s all probably less than when I had a house to take care of – when the A/C went out a few times (replacing the whole HVAC was fun), sections of fence falling over in storms, having to fix sprinkler heads, replacing the roof, etc.  You have a moment of upset, breathe, figure it out, maybe replace some piece of equipment, and move on.  Literally – you move on to some new piece of real estate that offers stunning mountain views, or forests, or lakes and rivers.  You move to where the weather is nice and the town is interesting.  It’s all good, and I’m loving it.  🙂

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Keeping Cool in Leadville

After Wolford Campground Riley and I headed to Leadville, where there were some forest camping spots not too far from the town.  Chris took a side trip back to Hot Sulphur Springs for a couple of days, where he had good fishing right next to the campground.  I went ahead and scouted out a place for us so we could have a good campsite well before the Labor Day weekend.  Arriving on Wednesday, 8/28, the first place I checked was a good spot, so I set up camp.  It was just about 4 miles straight west from town off county road 4, very close to Turquoise Lake.  Although we didn’t have direct mountain views from our site due to the dense forest, the views were good just down the forest road where I would walk Riley.

Walking with Riley

Walking with Riley, towards Mt. Massive

This next shot includes Mt. Elbert, the highest point in Colorado, at 14,439 feet.  It doesn’t look that high, but Leadville sits at 10,000 feet, so it just looks like an average mountain from there.

Mt. Elbert and Mt. Massive

Mt. Elbert on the left and Mt. Massive to the right

I hadn’t used the scooter since leaving Denver, since there just wasn’t anyplace worth scooting to in Hot Sulphur Springs or on Rabbit Ears Pass.  But, we did unload it in Leadville.  I needed to run to the post office a few times for a package of mail my folks had collected/forwarded for me, and for my new license with the motorcycle endorsement.  Texas Department of Public Safety would only mail to me out of state.  If you give an in-state address (my folks place where my mail goes) they say you must be in TX and should just go to any DPS site and get the license.  After going around and around with the guy I had them send it to general delivery in Leadville.  Then when it finally came, just after Labor Day, it was wrong.  They hadn’t actually put the motorcycle endorsement on it.  Figures!  So they had to remake/resend it to my next stop in Salida.  Fun times. 😦  Anyway, I got to ride the scooter to town a few times, so that was good.

Leadville

Leadville

We hiked a bit at Turquoise Lake.  Hike isn’t really the word, it was more like a stroll.  There is a mostly level trail that goes right along the shoreline most of the way around the lake.  We did part of it one day, then started mid-way on another day and walked another section.  Such a beautiful lake.  This was another spot where I couldn’t stop taking pictures.

Turquoise Lake

Turquoise Lake, looking south to Mt. Massive and Mt. Elbert

Turquoise Lake2

Looking West

Chris and Riley on the Turquoise Lake Trail

Chris and Riley on the Turquoise Lake Trail

One day I saw a post from Glenn (ToSimplify.net) pop up in my Feeddler and the title was “Leadville”.  I had been following his travels for about 3-4 years, since I first started researching RVing.  (I was envious that he got to hang near the Grand Canyon with my friends Bob, Randy, CB, Laurie and others on his way east from LA.)  So, when I saw he was in town I sent him an email pointing out the great boondocking spot we had, with many great sites right along our forest road in case he needed a hang spot.  A few hours later Glenn drove up in his new “Go almost anywhere adventure rig” that he built himself!

Glenn

Glenn with his new go-anywhere rig

It was really fun visiting with him for a couple of days in the forest.  That rig is so well done, such great design and craftsmanship by Glenn.  He chronicled the whole process on his blog, so if anyone wants to strip down a VW Vanagon and build a new home on wheels, that’s the place to read all about it.

Next we headed for Salida, where we had camped in late June/early July, just before I headed to Denver.  We really liked the town and the camping was right on the Arkansas River, where Chris could fish close by.  It was quite cloudy/rainy in Leadville, being so close to the mountains.  In Salida we figured it would be sunnier – I needed more sun for my solar panel and new batteries.  Will select some pics and write about Salida soon.

Five Weeks in Denver

Tomorrow we leave the Denver area.  I can’t believe it’s been 5 weeks already. We arrived on July 12th to check out the 26′ mid-bath Lazy Daze for sale in Aurora.  I bopped around Aurora for a week, staying nights at a couple of Walmarts, while running errands and negotiating/completing the new RV purchase.  Our last night in ole Myrtle was spent at Cherry Creek State Park, a full-hookup park.  Bev and I had stayed there last August, right before she flew back to Austin.  I knew I would need hookups to dump the tanks before moving into the new rig and storing the old.  And, it was so hot I needed the electric to run the A/C.

Cherry Creek Site - our last night in the rig

Cherry Creek Site – our last night in the rig

Is it just me or do these clouds look like the Starship Enterprise?

Sunset at Cherry Creek

Sunset at Cherry Creek State Park

Also, during that time I worked on getting my old rig up for sale and managed to find an RV park where I could stay for a month in the new RV.  Plus, I was able to find a secure storage spot for a month for the old rig.  Lucky for me they were running a $1 move-in special, with no minimum time limit. I only had to pay a $23 administrative fee. So, I got an $85 monthly spot for $24. Score!  I hoped one month would give me enough time to find a buyer for the old rig, get the new rig set up how I need it, choose/buy a scooter and take the class to get my motorcycle endorsement on my driver’s license.  It was a lot to do in a month, but it all got done.

The best part of the month was when Chris came for a visit and reserved a week at the same RV park.  He helped me get the scooter and carrier, mounted the carrier on my hitch, devised a system to store the scooter ramp on my bumper, and drove me to the meeting with the buyer of the old rig, to the bank, etc.  One day we rode the light rail from the Golden station near the RV park to Union Station downtown.  It only takes about 40 minutes and avoids the hassle of driving, traffic and parking.  There is a “Mall Ride” free bus system that picks up at Union Station and runs down 16th street, which is pedestrian only (except for the Mall Ride buses).

Clock Tower and Mall Ride

Clock Tower and Mall Ride

The first stop was the Tattered Cover bookstore.  We both like big bookstores with character and a coffee shop.  It’s in a great renovated old building.

Tattered Cover Bookstore

Tattered Cover Bookstore

Larimer Street is supposed to be hip and trendy and the guide book said not to miss it. It has several restaurants with outdoor seating and some boutique stores.  I bet it really comes alive at night.

Larimer Street

Larimer Street

The middle of 16th Street has big trees, tables and chairs, vendor carts, and there are several pianos along the way.  Folks are encouraged to make music.  One guy was banging out a tune, and his friend was singing and really putting on a show. (At least I think it was his friend.  Could have been some random dude just singing along.)  I thought it was fun.

Piano Man and Friend

Piano Man.  His friend, on the right, was very entertaining.

We had planned to eat at a food court that Chris remembered from a prior visit.  We didn’t really see a restaurant there that we wanted to eat at, and back outside we ran into a guy passing out flyers for a lunch spot.  It was for a bunch of food carts that are set up in Civic Center Park every Tuesday and Thursday.  Our lucky day – it was Tuesday!  So we headed on to where the 16th St. mall ends, near Colfax and the Civic Center Park.  It has a neat arch entrance from that side.

Arch at Civic Center Park

Arch at Civic Center Park

Inside there were many, many food carts.  It took a while to check them all out and decide where to eat.  I finally decided on a salad from the Greek place.  Chris had found us a site under an umbrella in the amphitheater area, and we ate there.  Such a great lunch!  Good food, lovely view, nice weather, great company, all-around fantastic!

Food Carts

Food Carts

Our lunch spot

Our lunch spot

After lunch we headed to the US Mint.  I had tried to sign us up for a tour, but they were booked up through mid-September.  We visited the gift shop, then I checked to see if they had any cancellations. Maybe we could get in on the spot.  Nope.  Never hurts to ask!

US Mint

US Mint

We headed back to 16th St. to walk back towards Union Station on the other side of the street.  We stopped at Peet’s Coffee for a break and iced beverages.

Resting at Peet's

Resting at Peet’s

A little further up the road we visited the Federal Reserve Museum.  (I’m a finance person, had to get a tour of one of the big monetary establishments while in town. :-))  I really liked this history of currency.  Also, there is a picture of 30 million dollars in the slide show at the end of the post.

History of Currency

History of Currency (Click to see a bigger version)

About 4:00 we got back on the train for the easy 40 minute ride back to the Golden station.  I had dropped Riley off in the morning at the Rover’s Retreat doggie day care that’s right next to the RV park.  They will also do a bath and brush, so he got that done, too.  Spa day for Riley and I didn’t have to worry about it being hot in the RV or him needing to go potty.  Perfect!

It was great to have Chris here to help me and to do touristy stuff with.  It’s very nice to have your boyfriend come down from fishing in the mountains for a visit when parked in Denver for a month!  Tomorrow I head up to the mountains to join him again.  We will be camping in a couple of areas between Hot Sulphur Springs and Steamboat Springs.  Definitely will be cooler than Denver, where it’s been mid-80’s.  With no shade on the tin can, my rig heats up into the 90’s during the day.  I hate having to run the A/C.  Looking forward to some cools.  And to letting Riley run around off-leash a bit.  And to meeting up with Chris again.

One more shot of Golden – tubers floating down Clear Creek in the middle of downtown.  Neat little town they’ve got here.

Floating Clear Creek in Golden

Floating Clear Creek in Golden

By the way, I hope to get a picture of my new RV posted to the top of my blog soon.  Currently I have just the pictures I took in the Home Depot parking lot, and at the RV park where we’re packed in like sardines.  I’d like to get a good shot like I have above now, of the old rig at Jackson Lake in Grand Teton National Park.

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The Scooter

Well, I got my scooter.  Chris came in on 7/31 and the next day we went running around doing errands and stuff.  We went to Performance Cycle, who had the carrier rack and ramp in stock, then to Sportique Scooters.  They thought they would have to order the scooter, as there weren’t any in stock.  That would take about 10 days.  But, just after we left I got a call that there was actually one in stock that was still in the crate.  It just had to be transferred to the Englewood store and prepped.  I would be able to pick it up on Saturday.  Yay!  We got the carrier rack loaded on the hitch on Friday, then on Saturday we turtled-up and drove the new rig down to Sportique.  Chris snapped a picture with his iPhone when I first got a look at my new scooter.

New Scooter

New Scooter

By the way, Colorado just legalized marijuana.  They are still working out all the processes.  But, the area on Broadway in Englewood, where Sportique is located, is weed central.  One intersection nearby had 3 stores.  Maybe one day they will get a pot distributor on the 4th corner.  This place pictured below is next door to Sportique.  It’s called Nature’s Kiss at Broadsterdam.  I guess that’s what they call the area, as a reference to Amsterdam.  I think they should call it Engleweed.   This store is currently a medical dispensary, and you can’t go in without a prescription.  (I just wanted to check out what a weed shop is like, I swear!)  You see these green crosses all over town.  I guess they are the medical marijuana shops.  As the new law rolls out a lot of these shops will be able to sell regular retail.

Engleweed

Broadsterdam/Engleweed

Anyway, in order to get an M (motorcycle) endorsement on my driver’s license, Texas DPS requires a 2-day class approved by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation.  I was able to find one nearby that I could get into that was held Thursday and Friday, 8/8-8/9.  Chris was leaving on Wednesday, the 7th, and I wanted to get it done ASAP.  The class was held at G-Force Powersports on Colfax, and it was a great place to take it.  All the folks there were fantastic.  The instructor, Jesse, was great.  I even liked the other guys in the class (all twenty-something guys).  They were really nice, and were super helpful when I needed to get my scooter unloaded off my carrier.  I did accept some help, but I need to learn to do as much of it by myself as I can.  To load it back up after classes I asked Adam, who manages the G-Force training program, to help me learn to get it up on the rack and strapped down properly.  Again, he was really helpful, but it is very hard to do, both weight-wise and structurally.  It’s bulky and hard to balance as it goes up/down the ramp, and until I get it firmly strapped down.  I’m not sure if I will ever be able to do it all by myself.  I am happy to say I passed the course and can now send off my paperwork to the Texas DPS and scoot around.  It will be so nice to have my own mobility, not having to get Chris to drive me into town, or drive my big rig.

Here is a shot of the scooter at the RV park, with the new rig.

Scooter

Scooter

Loaded

Loaded  (Chris and I are going to drill some new holes for the wheel chock so it sits further over to the left.)

For practice I scooted in to Golden yesterday to go to the grocery store and to check out the downtown area.  It’s super-touristy downtown.  Of course there is the famous Golden welcome sign:

Golden Welcome

Golden Welcome

Gotta go – need to scoot over to Home Depot and Camping World down the street…

My New Lazy Daze

Here she is.  A 2001 Lazy Daze Mid-Bath.

New RV

My New Lazy Daze

We are still in the Denver area – Golden actually, on the west side of the metro area.  Finally found an RV park where I could stay for a month. Let me tell you – it is very, very hard to get a month in Denver in the middle of July.  Also, I found a Public Storage spot for my rig for the month to give me time to sell it.  (The RV park where I am staying doesn’t have storage space, and you aren’t allowed to park a spare rig in their overflow parking.)  The RV park is only about 1/2 mile from the light rail line, and so is the storage spot.  So, I can use the train to get over there as needed, without having to drive the new RV.  Mass transit is so handy!

Anyway, been SO busy.  I picked up the new RV on Thursday, the 18th.  Cliff and Joyce, the prior owners, have been just great.  I was able to park in front of their place, next to the new rig, to do the big transfer.  Got almost all my stuff moved over and stuffed into every crevice by mid-afternoon so I could get the old rig over to the storage.  Cliff drove his car to the storage with me so I could have a ride back.  The RV park reservation started on Friday, so we just headed to the nearby Walmart for Thursday night.  Had to go by the storage spot the next day to finish getting my stuff out of the basement areas of the old rig, then got settled in my spot for the month.  Been organizing ever since.

The day before I got the new rig, I wrote up an ad for the Lazy Daze forum and created a website with info and pictures.  Within a couple of days there were 2 very interested parties that had seen my ad.  Eventually I also got an ad up on the Denver Craigslist and on another site that gets picked up on the aggregator Oodle.  Those brought several more inquiries and 2 more interested parties.  I did come to an agreement with a very nice couple from Michigan from the Lazy Daze forum.  I think they will really enjoy the rig, and I’m happy to see it go to someone that will enjoy it as much as I have.  They arrive on Sunday and we will make the transfer on Monday.  I’m sad to see it go – so many enhancements added for comfort and convenience.  My dad and I did a lot of work on it in December.  It was a great home for the past year, truly a cozy cottage.  Everyone that visited loved it.

While I’m here I will take advantage of the big city to get a scooter and a rack/ramp carrier.  I’ve been researching scooters for several months, and had narrowed it down to a Genuine Buddy 170i or Kymco 200i LX, finally deciding on the Kymco.  Sportique Scooters has a few stores in the area and have been great when I’ve visited,  so I will get one ordered from them in the next day or two.  Also, need to decide on a carrier, which I’ve been researching as well.  Then I will need to take the Basic Rider course from the Motorcycle Safety Foundation so that I can get a motorcycle endorsement added to my Texas driver’s license.

Chris is coming for a visit tomorrow.  He was able to reserve a week at the RV park where I’m staying.  It will be really good to see him and I’m sure we will do a bunch of touristing.  And, I’m excited to show him the new RV!  I think I’ve got it almost set and cozied up some.  Cliff and Joyce stopped by on Sunday and liked how I have the place.  It’s homey already!  Here are some pics:

I don’t have a table in the living room, so am using a shelf that I had between the couches (under the back table) in the old rig.  It works well for now.  Also, I have since added some blankets to cover the couches.  Gotta protect the upholstery and give it some coziness!  Riley knows he can only lay on his quilt.

My New Living Room.  Riley approves!

My new living room. Riley approves!

Closet storage.  I have added some wire baskets like I had in the old rig.  Prior owner Bob had added them, and I really liked them.  So, had to add to the new rig. The original idea came from Andy Baird.  Room for all my clothes, misc. stuff, and craft supplies up above.  And, there are 4 drawers under the closet.

Closet

Closet

Nice big bathroom.  Lots of storage, and a BIG shower.

Bathroom

Bathroom

Kitchen is not too much bigger than the old rig.  I like to make the stove cover into a shelf, another Andy Baird idea.  The metal underside of the stove cover gives me a place to have my “Dress Up David” magnet set, one of my favorite things.  Unfortunately, not much magnetic space in the Lazy Daze.  This will have to do.

Kitchen

Kitchen

Living room storage.  There are 3 good cabinets above the couches.  Lots of room.

Living Room Storage

Living Room Storage

I am really loving my new home.  Can’t wait to finish my tasks in Denver and get back to the forest with Chris.  It’s been nice to be able to run to the Walmart, Home Depot, and IKEA (Yay!), but it will be nice to be back boondocking in nature.  Hopefully I can get everything done before my month is up on 8/18.

By the way, I will still try to post about my travels in Yosemite, San Francisco, etc. I’ll just do it as ‘flashback’ entries interspersed with real time updates.  Hopefully that will work and I will eventually get caught up.

Update – I should clarify – the counter space in the kitchen is just a bit more than the old rig, but the kitchen itself has a great dinette that I didn’t have before.  So, the kitchen/dining/work area is really good space.

Dinette

Dinette