Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Location, Location, Location

In many ways life the last couple of weeks has been fairly routine. We went to work each day; came home each evening; seemed to go out again most nights for one thing or another; and spent time seeing friends and family. Joan says "We are always doing something. We are hardly ever at home" and I agree. We both like it that way. When we grow up we want to be like Florence.

Our friend Florence (89 and counting)
Florence always says she'll sit down to read or watch TV when she gets too old to go places and do things. She lives near Boston and still walks several miles a week. I'm playing softball a couple nights a week; Joan and I both workout at the gym 2-3 times a week; and we have started a gentle yoga class.

In addition to our normal routine we also hosted Thanksgiving at the lake for a group of 40. Joan is the oldest of 7 and her dad is also 1 of 7. Between brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts, nieces and nephews, 2nd, 3rd, and "to infinity and beyond" cousins there is a large community of her family close to us. My family put up a 9 spot of participants, hers the balance. It was great. Weather was in the low 70's with a brisk breeze. everyone spent most of the time outside.

My Over 50 softball team The Kardiac Kids participated in and won our monthly tournament the weekend before Thanksgiving (we won all 4 games; came back from an 18-4 deficit in the first game to win and had to score 22 runs in the last 2 innings of the last game to win; we scored over 100 runs in 4 games).

And Joan and I have been actively researching workamping opportunities; We submitted applications with several workamping organizations and individual campgrounds with job openings throughout most of the western states. Last week we received two emails asking if we would be interested in camp hosting positions; one just outside Yosemite National Park and the other near Mt Hood. We contacted the operations managers of both opportunities to discuss specifics. Both positions sounded great and we felt comfortable accepting either opportunity. We talked about it, slept on it and finally decided on Location, Location, Location. I called the operations manager in Oregon and we have accepted the position just outside Mt Hood National Park. YAHOO! Our first workamping job! We are really excited! And scared!

We have a call scheduled next week to discuss the details; when, what, etc. Until then we are trying to keep from over-reacting. We think we know what we're getting into but you just never know until you go out and do it. The normal 9-5 may not be everyone's perfect job, but it does have its merits: regular paychecks, benefits, and usually a routine you can count on. Workamping will be a whole new ballgame for both of us. We've always lived in Florida (so where do we pick for our first opportunity? About as far away and different from Florida as you can get in the continental US!). We have a good friend in Washington, but both of our families are spread across the southeast. Look out Skype, here we come!

We're thinking that we'll need to wrap up our normal jobs early to mid March in order to be in Oregon by the 1st or 2nd week in April to start orientation. We don't want to rush to Oregon in 'Vacation Mode' traveling 400-500 miles a day. It's approximately 3300 miles from here to there so if we keep it at 150-250 miles a day, that will still take 2-3 weeks of travel if we don't stop to visit or see the sights along the way. Our original thoughts about a workamping lifestyle were driven by a desire to slow down and experience new things. We might as well start off on the right foot by taking our time.

Location, location, location.....that's something we expect to change regularly from now on. There are a lot of locations that we want to see and explore. And workamping will allow us to do just that!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Shake Down Cruise.....There's Still a Ringing in My Ears......

10/15/11 - I wrote this just after we sold the Class C and purchased the Class A in August 2010. Couldn't find it for a while and just stumbled across it. Thought I would publish it now...

......Just got back from the first trip in our new RV. We've had a 25' Class C for 3 years which we sold a few weeks ago. Two weeks ago we bought a used 40'DP and decided to take it out for the Labor Day holiday weekend. We knew there would be a lot of new things we needed to learn as we moved from a small gas chassis to the larger diesel. So we started planning a short shake-down cruise.

What started out as a short drive - long weekend for two trailering the motorcycles soon morphed into a 700 mile roundtrip for 9. How did that happen? Something like this:

“Let’s invite Jim & Debbie to go"
"OK. Only fair since they helped us do all the RV shopping"

"We'd love to go. Where are you headed?"

Then a few days later.....
"We've been invited to go the beach near Debbie's sister. Would you guys like to take the RV there instead? You can set up the RV at their house and we'll have access to their boat and ...."

"Sure, one place is as good as another"

And a few days after that.....
"We've been asked if the grandkids can ride with us. We'll just take the car and follow you guys....."

"No need to do that. We've got plenty of room in the RV. We'll put them in the back room with some DVD's and ....."

And after that.....
"Since Jim and Deb's grandkids are coming how about we take ours too? Jim, Deb and their grandkids will be staying in her sister's house. The 5 of us should be fine in the RV"

So next thing I know we're on our maiden voyage with every seat taken and all the storage bays full of gear.

Not a problem...right! The kids will be in the back, we'll be up front enjoying the new ride, checking things out. Until.....

"We can't seem to get the DVD to play on the rear TV. The kids are getting restless, so can we let them watch their movies up front."

Did I tell you about the great 12 speaker home theater sound system in the front of the motorhome. It's great! Just like being in the movies with Dolby Surround Sound....you can actually feel it when things really get cranked up..I don't think we've ever heard a system like that outside of a real theater. ..it's really great....except when the you're attempting to drive a 32,000 pound 40' motorhome on your maiden voyage!

Next thing I know I'm surrounded with bears, John Candy and Dan Ackroyd (The Great Outdoors); Sasquatch (Harry and the Hendersons); The Water Horse (whatever that is????); and Avatar playing at a decibel level high enough to be heard by a group of 5 kids riding in a diesel motorhome....Oh yeah, did I mention that two of the primary speakers are located about two feet behind my head! 

I'm sure it was great for the kids and everyone else watching. Some of movies they even watched twice. Yahoo.....Me on the other hand. Well I did manage to keep 16 tons of RV between the lines even with crashes, guns and bombs going off unexpectedly every few minutes. But there’s still this ringing in my ears????

The beach was great. And our hosts could not have improved on two great days of swimming, beaches and marine wildlife. We even got to go see dolphins. And then it was time to drive home...and watch the movies again! Double Yahoo!

We learned a lot about the RV. We need to get better organized. We need to determine places for our stuff and make sure it gets put back when we're done with it. We made a list of things we need to pick up before the next trip. We subsequently learned how to get the DVD to play on the rear TV!

And we learned that this is going to be a lot of fun!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Was It Real or Was It My Imagination?

Saturday was our 3-week anniversary and we were moving back into the MH. After 13 days in the repair shop we are finally back home. Funny how that works. After only 3 weeks full timing (2 of which we were staying at the lake while the MH was in the shop) it does feel like home. I told Joan that earlier in the week; that I wanted to be in my home, in my chair, with my stuff.

Kudos to the mechanic Jim who worked on the repairs. Not only did he take the time to call me and discuss my concerns, but when he identified issues that I had not listed he updated me to see if I wanted them addressed along with the other items on the repair list. All in all I'm pleased with the outcome of our little rainy day adventure (Happy Anniversary?). And the warranty I purchased covered almost everything; I paid the deductible and an additional $85 while the warranty covered $1100+. Wahoo! And the warranty still has 4 years left before it expires. The primary issue was the water leak in the ceiling. In the picture you can see the seam above the door awning that was separated.
We picked up the MH Thursday afternoon and managed to get it back to the CG, leveled and plugged in before dark. But we had too much stuff at the lake that needed to be moved back before we could move back in; that would have to wait until Friday. As soon as we were off Friday afternoon we headed out to the lake to pick up our stuff. We slept in our own bed Friday night and rested well. Saturday morning was cool and it felt good to be snuggled under the blankets. We had numerous errands to run and spent most of the day taking care of them and along with getting ready to attend my 40th High School Reunion.

The reunion went well. Joan and I grew up in neighboring towns and even though we didn't attend the same schools there were several attendees that she knew. We spent the evening reconnecting with long lost classmates, meeting their spouses and catching up on their lives. One of my secret high school heart throbs came up to me and asked if I recognized her. "of course" I said, "I even remember a little make out session we had one day." She looked stunned...because she didn't remember. Shades of Animal House. I felt like Otter when he was told that he wasn't that good! Well I think it happened, but after all it was 40+ years ago and it is possible it's a fantasy turned reality in my mind! Oh well, I'm keeping the fantasy if that's what is is.

Sunday was another cool day and Joan and I decided to take the bikes out for a spin. We stopped at a neat little place called Avalon Diner.

This was our second time there and we were not disappointed. We left there headed to Clermont to see Joan's cousin who has started a new career as a chef. Paradise Pizza is his new venture and he was set up at a Farmer's Market of sorts. He has a wood fired oven that he transports to different events and catered parties. He prepares pizzas, frittatas and even breakfast burritos. Something new he's trying is 'Meatballs on a Stick'. They're pretty good!

We got back to the MH and I began to tackle some of the little jobs that needed doing. I disassembled and cleaned a small fan that we wanted to use in the MH. It's one that has been around for years and it had accumulated lots of dust and dirt. After that I started setting up the portable satellite dish we purchased a few weeks earlier. I set the dish on its stand and began to connect the coax and power cables. As I was laying out the cables I failed to watch where I was going. With my head down and the car parked next to the MH funnelling me closer to the unit I failed to notice the very large and very hard bedroom slide; the edge of which was lined up directly with my forehead. Ouch! Nothing broken, no blood but I do have a rather large knot on my head to remind me to watch where I'm going.

I wonder if the knock on the head will jog loosen any more memories (or fantasies)?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Happy Anniversary

Our first week fulltime in the MH was busy. Lots of stuff to move in; some stuff to move out too. Tweaking the places we put stuff; adjusting pictures; etc. By Friday we felt we had a good start on getting things just the way we wanted them and we were looking forward to the weekend. Our one week anniversary in the MH. And what an anniversary it turned out to be.

The weather forecast was for rain most of the weekend, but that was OK because we had lots of errands to run. The rain started Friday night. I kept thinking what a pleasant sound it made on the roof. We went to sleep with the soft sounds of raindrops over our heads. And the raindrops just kept on falling.

We slept in Saturday morning and woke up to the pleasant sound of raindrops. I got up first and went into the living room to read. A short while later Joan got up and the first thing I heard was "Oopps". That didn't sound good. And then I heard "The floor is a little wet on my side of the bed". That sounded even worse. I got up to check. There was a small wet spot on the carpet in the corner of the rear slide. Not too bad, but it needed to be checked out. Probably just a gasket along the slide that needed to be 'smoothed out'. I put on a raincoat (really just one of the $1 clear plastic ponchos) and headed outside to take a look. And the raindrops just kept coming.

I checked the gaskets along the sides of the slide and everything looked OK. There is a gap between the top of the slide and the awning that I couldn't see into without a ladder. With all the rain and wind it was possible that water had been pushed along the top of the slide and under the gasket along the top. I got out our step ladder (I knew bringing it along would pay off), opened it up and climbed to the top step. The third step. Approximately 2' off the ground. **Note to self....get new ladder** The ladder we brought was one for inside the house. You only need 2' to be able to reach all the light and fans and other things inside the house. Not so good for outside the house when the roof is 12'6". With the top of the slide 11' feet off the ground, even with my 6'2" height I still couldn't see the top of the slide. But I bet I could see along the top of the slide if I was on the roof.

So up the ladder on the rear of the MH I went and oh so gently made my way to the edge of the MH. With the awning over the slide I had to get my head out over the side of the MH and lower than the awning. Only way to do that was lay down on the roof. So down I went and the water was cold. Crept out over the edge and peered under the awning. AHA! Just as I thought. The top gasket was still pushed back towards the interior of the MH, not out like the gaskets along the sides. So I got my handy dandy gasket fixin' tool (that's the long slender awning rod) and proceeded to straighten out the gasket. And for good measure I decided it wouldn't hurt to check the other three slides for similar problems. It didn't take long and I was done. Wet and cold, but done. Went inside, got some towels and mopped up as much water as we could. Pointed the fan at the wet spot to help it dry. Then took a nice hot shower and off we went to take care of our errands. No rainbows, but lots of rain.

We came home a couple hours later and went straight into the bedroom to check things out. More water. And it was spreading. It might be water that was already past the gasket before I adjusted them, just making its way down. But we could still have a problem. Just for good measure I thought I would adjust the level of the MH so the rain falling on the slide would shed away from the MH. That done we called my son and asked that he bring over the wet/dry vac so we could attempt to vacuum up as much water as possible.

The day progressed and the soft sounds of raindrops serenaded us throughout the afternoon and early evening. As I watched the early news I noticed a report that some parts of town had gotten over 8" of rain since Friday. We really needed it and it wasn't one of those driving, street flooding type rains. Just a gentle continuous rainfall. About 10pm Joan looked up and ask "What's that?" That didn't sound good! I looked up and noticed a small drop of water....hanging from the edge of the light fixture on the ceiling. Joan must have noticed the first drop because the carpet under the light wasn't even wet yet. I immediately turned off the overhead light switch and proceeded to remove the fixture from the ceiling (I knew bringing those tools would pay off).

For those of you who haven't ever seen the innards of a MH, the ceiling is lined with a foam insulation that is about 1" thick. I'm sure it’s there for sound and temperature insulation, but it also makes a great sponge. Wherever I touched the edge of the foam, water beaded up and ran down my hand. This section of the ceiling appeared to be soaked. I quickly removed the next light, but the insulation around this one was dry. That was good news; the leak appeared to be localized.

Only one thing to do now, get back up on the roof (I knew bringing that tarp would pay off). This time I donned my bathing suit along with my raincoat (another $1 poncho). The rain was still steady, just not as pleasant sounding. Ever try spreading out a 30' x 16' tarp 10:30 at night on top of a MH in a steady rain? Not something I hope to ever have to do again. This took about 30 minutes but with the wind blowing we still needed something to hold it down. Joan came up with a great idea....the lawn chairs. She handed them up and I spread them out along the edges of the roof to hold things down. About that time there was a slowdown in the rain and one of the neighbors came out to walk their dog. She saw me up on the roof, wearing my raincoat, in a slow drizzle of rain, spreading the tarp and she just had to ask "Do you have a leak?"

"No maam" I responded, "just decided to save a little water and take my shower outside tonight. Didn't want the soapy residue to get on the MH". (Here's your sign). I really didn't say that but wished I had.

That done I went back inside; made sure the AC units and fans were turned off as they had nowhere to vent; took another hot shower and went to bed....to the soft sounds of raindrops falling on our tarp.

Sunday dawned overcast and wet. Rain was forecast for all day. We had made the decision to move back to the lake house so we could put the MH in the shop (I knew moving into the MH 6 months early would pay off). First we packed everything we thought we'd need for a week or two; put it all in the car; then I put my bathing suit back on (and boy was it cold); then went back out to pull in the slides and disconnect everything in preparation for moving the MH Monday morning...in the not so gently falling rain. That done we made sure the tarp was secure by attaching it with bungee cords. There are not a lot of places to attach bungees on the side of a MH so we had to improvise: we bungeed to the pine tree; we bungeed to the picnic table; we bungeed to the awning attachments; we even bungeed to the ladder (see below). With everything secure we said a sad good bye and headed back to the lake.

It's Monday and the MH is in the shop. Hopefully it won't take too long to repair. The packing was good practice for future moves. Thinking positive here. Joan and I wish we'd taken pictures as all this happened, but we were in emergency mode. We did get a picture of the MH the next day. Kinda' has that Beverly Hillbillies look!

What an anniversary. One we will not forget. 

Monday, October 3, 2011

10/1/11 The BIG DAY!

Six months and counting!
After 5+ years of talking about it; 4 ½ years of trial and error; and 1 year with the 40’ DP Saturday was The BIG DAY! Move-in day; no more talking; just action. But let’s catch you up on what’s been happening.

During the last year we’ve made a few changes to the MH. One of the first changes was to remove the pull out dining room table that stuck out into the room. That left a hole in the cabinet that measured about 4” x 30” where the table mounted. We had a carpenter come in and turn it into usable space by adding a bottom ‘shelf’ and fabricating matching cabinet doors.
He did such a good job. You’d never know it wasn’t original. We replaced the dining table with a ‘wing’ table from IKEA. The table has ‘wings’ on each side that will fold down when not in use. When closed the table is only 10” wide. And the table has additional storage space with 3 drawers on each side of the base.
Our MH floor plan had an entertainment center rather than the standard full-size couch. It’s one of the design features that drew our attention when we were shopping. However the small couch that came with the coach was not that comfortable. So we sold it (Craigslist is great!) along with the dining room table and chairs.

 We replaced them with two Poang chairs from IKEA.  These changes really opened up the living room and made it feel much larger.

Now back to the present. We made the decision to go full time about 2 months ago when we elected to rent out our townhouse. We started at the beginning of August giving away large items from the house to family members. Then an indoor ‘yard sale’ (it was 97 outside and holding the yard sale in the A/C was a great idea) to get rid of the smaller items. A couple of car loads to Goodwill and a large stack of ‘stuff’ curbside. Then we moved our remaining possessions to my parent’s house on the lake for an interim stay.
The view of the lake from every room made it feel more like we were on vacation. Going to bed each evening and waking up every morning with a view of the lake was wonderful.

Being able to see the gorgeous sunrises and wildlife was great.


But finally the day had come. The BIG DAY!

Saturday started early with us up and out by 7am. A good breakfast at Carlos’ to get us started, then off to pick up the MH and take it to the campground. Lot 78.

Our new address until we hit the road April 2012. The car was packed with our clothes; at least the ones we thought we would need and be able to fit into the MH closet. Joan put a lot of thought into where we should put things. Hopefully we’ll be able to remember where everything is; at least until we decide it needs to be somewhere else. One of our goals is to keep things put away.  Clutter drives Joan crazy!

Then it was back to the lake house for the next load. Two carloads this time. Groceries and refrigerated items; the last dregs from the liquor cabinet (if you saw all the liquor we gave away as well as the bottles we kept you would think we were real lushes); pictures and personal items; and some of the office ‘items’. At one point I thought Joan was going to have a ‘melt down’. But I just gave her space, let her take her time and catch her breath. One thing I did do was only allow her one box at a time. She wanted me to bring them all in and I disagreed; rather only bringing in one in at a time and only bringing in the next one when the previous one was empty and all its contents put away so we didn’t get overwhelmed. By late afternoon we were worn out and ready to call it a day.

I have to admit it looked pretty good. Joan did a great job! And we have pics to prove it.

Saturday night we slept in our memory foam bed (Joan loves this bed!). When we woke up Sunday morning we were ready for a break. We decided to take our motorcycles for a breakfast ride with our friend Tom.  Our bikes were still at the lake house so we told Tom we would meet him there at 8. He was right on time. But he was not alone.  When he came down the drive there were four more bikes following him. So instead of a quick ride to breakfast we ended up with seven bikes and 11 folks on a ride that lasted most of the day and covered over 100 miles. It’s always fun to meet new people. It was a great ride on a beautiful Florida day!

So that’s it for now. Wish us luck as we start our new adventure. Hope your weekend was a good one too!

Friday, September 30, 2011

FOSJ 2011 Arkansas Vacation

Well I’ve been telling Steve that he needs to post something to the blog a little more often than he’s been doing.  He hasn’t taken the hint so I’ve decided to write something.

We’re back in Florida now. We spent 7 days in the MH on the White River.  We put almost 900 miles on the bikes while we were there.

Arkansas had some nice curvy, scenic roads to ride. But then we’re from Florida where the roads are flat and straight so most any road with a little rise and a slight curve will excite us!
We met some really nice people in Arkansas.  If you want a really good breakfast then go to the Hilltop Restaurant in Yellsville. The biscuits were wonderful.  And for BBQ you have to eat at RazorBack Ribs. The food was great and Joel, the owner, was such a nice guy! 

Tomorrow we move the MH to a nearby campground.  We are moving in and will live in it fulltime until we leave.  We hope to be on the road sometime in April.  We have given away or sold most everything we own.  We’ve kept what we think we will need for life in the MH but there are still more boxes of “stuff”.  We will be doing more paring down this weekend.  It’s a little intimidating to get rid of so many things that you’ve spent a lifetime accumulating.  I’m just keeping my eyes focused on the goal.  Traveling is what Steve and I want to do.  We hope to be able to enjoy this life for many years to come. 

Monday, September 12, 2011

FOSJ 2011 Arkansas Vacation

Well we're finally here in Arkansas for our annual motorcycle trip. The drive up took a little longer than expected and we decided to stay in a Wal-Mart parking lot Saturday night rather than drive 2 more hours in the dark on unknown curvy mountainous roads. Good decision.

Took a short ride Sunday afternoon and a little longer one today. It is really hot! Could have stayed in Florida and rode in the 90 degree heat. A front is expected Tuesday and temps are supposed to cool off by Wednesday to 50 degree nights and mid to low 80's during the day. Looking forward to it!

Not much else for today. See ya!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Headachey Day

Woke up this morning with a headache. No matter what I tried it wouldn't go away. Just one of those things you have to live with I guess.

It's been a rough couple of weeks since we leased our house in Sorrento. We finished moving out last weekend and the new tenants were moving in 9/1/11. Nice couple. Joan and I are getting settled at the lake house. Each day we try to find at least one box that we can sort through and make decisions as to how we want to proceed with the contents. After giving away all of our big furniture, holding the yard sale and donating a carload to Good Will we still have boxes everywhere as we try to decide what we will need when we go full time next year.

I've had good luck selling items on Craigslist including some motorcycle parts, a 70's phone booth and even a pivoting TV mount taken from the main TV in the RV. Sold an extra jacket and the only large furniture item left over; the armoir.

We had a carpenter working on some cabinets in the RV and he did a great job improving the TV mounts and recovering storage space behind the TVs that had been inaccessible. Covered the 'hole' left in the cabinets where the table was removed and added a shelf for additional storage.

With the holiday and preparations for vacation next weekend this will be a quick work week. We're planning a short ride Monday with Ernie, Jim and Debbie. We plan to leave early and return before noon when the temps and humidity will really begin to hear things up.

That's it for now. Talk to you soon.