Monday, February 25, 2008

Good News, Inverter OK

Guess we're still in the learning curve with the motorhome. After 2 1/2 years!!! But, the inverter is just fine according to the service guys at Coleman Country Campers. Not only are there breakers and fuses at the foot of the bed (which I checked), but there also is a breaker on the inverter itself. And, it's right on the front of inverter as you look at it in the basement bay. But, get this; it is about the size of and looks like the end of a white pencil, not like the regular breaker switches in your regular breaker panel. It just needed to be pushed back in. Soooo, one more thing to add to the list of things we now know about this motorhome. But what a relief to know we didn't ruin the inverter. It actually worked like it was supposed to.

We should be getting the motorhome back this week and then it's off to Freightliner to see if they can figure out why the windshield wipers aren't working. The motors have been replaced twice, but the wipers still just do their own thing. LITERALLY!!! They stop and start when they want to and currently won't operate at all. The wiper controls are on the steering wheel. It's called a SMARTWHEEL and is a Freightliner product. Ha Ha We've thought for sometime that the problem was in the Smartwheel, but Mandalay insisted on changing out the motors, but they've now agreed to look further. It's just not safe to drive in rain without wipers!!! Not that we do too much of that, but sometimes we do travel on a rainy day, just as long as there is just rain and not storms.

Today brings more sorting. It really is satisfying to sort through a drawer or closet and make decisions about the "stuff". I'm only working on Tuesday this week, so hope to get a lot done at home. Two-four inches of snow is expected tonight, which just motivates me even more to get this sorting down, so we can finish getting the house ready to sell and get on the road.

Better get busy. More later....

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Water Problem Solved, Serious Sorting Begins - (Rochester, IL)

Just an update as to what we've been doing this past week.

The leaking pipes are all fixed, thanks to Dan and the plumber, and additional insulation has been added to the soffit area above the cabinets. And I can't feel cold air around the electrical outlets on the west wall of the kitchen. So, that problem is solved. Now just need to repair all the holes in the sheetrock that were made while looking for the opening for the cold air to enter the soffit and subsequently freeze the water pipes. :) And there was sheetrock dust all over everything, so had to do lots of dusting.

Have been doing some serious sorting of "stuff". I'm amazed at how much stuff we actually have. I'm sure that at some time we believed we needed or would need all this stuff. But most of the sorting is really pretty easy. It's not so difficult to decide what to keep or what to get rid of, but rather, how to get rid of it. Sell, give to kids, donate to charity, throw away or keep. Still trying to decide if we'll have a garage sale this spring, so I am putting some things on the tables in the garage which Dan put together for me last year. I price the items when I take them to the garage so that doesn't have to be done later. But since our main goal right now is to get stuff out of the house so we can get the house ready to sell, I don't have enough room to put everything we might be able to sell in the garage. We are renting a storage unit for the things going to the kids, but I don't want to take sale stuff there and then bring it back home to sell. Not sure the monetary return is worth the work.

I worked 2 days last week at St. John's and plan to work 1 day next week. I think I'll stick with that schedule. It will give me more time at home to get other things done.

Will have the income tax info ready for our accountant by the end of next week. He'll be surprised.

Lots to do, but our trip just reenforced our desire to pursue the RV full-time lifestyle. Our motorhome is so easy to live in; Kasey is a wonderful traveler; we enjoyed ever-changing views out the front window; if the weather isn't to our liking, we check out the weather channel and move to better weather.

So, better get busy. More later....

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Back in Rochester for Awhile - (Rochester, IL)

We arrived back to our house about 3:00 this afternoon. Sure is cold in Illinois. :) Had a couple of issues with the motorhome on the way back. Must have gotten a bad tank of fuel since we started loosing power going up hills. And the inverter/charger isn't charging the batteries like it should. But we were able to get it home so can have work done here and we're not stuck out on the road somewhere.

We suspected we might have had a frozen water line in the house, since we've had a problem with that in the past. Sure enough, turned the water on and guess what? Water through the ceiling in the office!!!! After tearing down the computer setup on the desk and moving all the furniture, cutting a hole in the ceiling (large hole), we then decided the problem must be in the soffit over the refrigerator. That means moving the fridge, taking out the surrounding cabinet and overhead cabinet to find holes in two water lines. After working for awhile trying to get them fixed, Dan decided to call it quits and will call the plumber tomorrow. He also has a plan to fix the original problem which involves the cold air getting into the ceiling and causing the pipes to freeze.

So the office, kitchen and living room are a real mess, but we knew we had some work to do in there anyway, so might as well get it done. Also need to get the motorhome issues taken care of so we can get it back home and live in it while we work on getting the house ready to sell.

I'll probably only post to this blog about 2 times a week, just to keep everybody updated. And I'll be more motivated to get stuff done so I'll have something to talk about.

Our next trip will be to Talladega in April for a Nascar race and then back home until Sarah's wedding in June. The plan is to have the house ready to sell by then.

No more pictures of Dan in the hammock for awhile. Too much work to do right now.

More later.....

Monday, February 11, 2008

Nice Views, New Friends - (Americus, GA)

Jennifer commented about Kasey's view out the front window and wondered how he got up on the dash with his short legs. He just jumps. Guess those short legs are pretty strong. This was his view this morning about 8:30. He was actually watching the Canadian geese, but I didn't get them in the picture.

These are our neighbors, Gerry and Joan, who we had lunch with on Sunday.

And meet Cookie, Kasey's new friend. They look like 4th or 5th graders. "I'm not sitting next to a girl."

We'll be leaving this nice sunny place tomorrow morning and will stop at Rickwood Caverns State Park in Alabama. That's where we rescued the puppy last month. Will probably be home on Friday. :( But we are both very motivated to get things completed as we get ready for this summer and more traveling. Won't have very good internet access at Rickwood Caverns, so probably won't post for a couple of days.

More later....

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Busy Week -(Americus, GA)

Since we weren't sure just how long we would be staying at Americus, we've done what we said we wouldn't do - and that's try to see everything in the area in a VERY short time period. That will change when we start fulltiming because we will not be in vacation mode all the time. So, I'll try to give you an overview of what we've done the past few days.

Thursday afternoon - Downtown Americus and an unusual ice cream shop; Habitat for Humanity International and the Global Village and Discovery Center

We started out looking for ice cream and found "Lollipop Kids". It's a kids clothing store with an ice cream shop in the front of the store. Delicious ice cream cones to fortify us for an afternoon of sightseeing.

We stopped by Habitat for Humanity International Headquarters and enjoyed the hallway of posters which chronicle the development and progress of HFH since it was founded in 1976 by Millard and Linda Fuller when they left very lucrative jobs with the goal "to eliminate poverty housing worldwide."
We then drove just a few blocks to the Habitat Global Village and Discovery Center. The Global Village is comprised of two sections, outdoors that you walk through. The first is an example of the substandard poverty housing that persists in our world today.

The second section consists of life-size replicas of homes being built by Habitat and its volunteers around the world. Some of the countries represented are Mexico, Guatemala, Kenya, Malawi, Haiti, Uganda, South Africa, India and Sri Lanka. These homes are not "Americanized", but are built using local materials and in keeping with the local customs and climate.

This walk through was especially interesting and informative. Habitat has built more than 200,000 homes in partnership with people in more than 100 countries to help people live in decent, affordable housing. This visit was very inspiring and just reenforced our plans to volunteer some more with Habitat.

Friday - Plains, GA, Jimmy Carter's boyhood home; potluck at campground, bluegrass music

Plains, GA is a small, quiet, well-kept country town. The high school is now a museum and visitor's center; Billy Carter's Service Station is still on the main street and the Carter's still live in their house on Church Street (which is the main street). There is a fence around their property and Secret Service black suburbans parked in the driveway. Their house is surrounded by a lot of trees and is quite a ways off the street, so I wasn't able to get a picture of it. But if you weren't looking for his home, you would never notice it.

The Carter Boyhood Farm is about 3 miles from Plains and is a National Historic Site. The farm is at Archery. Archery was not incorporated or organized in any way; it was just the name of the rural community and train stop. The Carter family moved to the farm in 1928. Jimmy was 4 years old. There was no electricity or running water until 1938. This was home to Jimmy Carter until he left for college in 1941. The National Park Service purchased the home and 17 acres surrounding it from the Downer family who bought it from Mr. Carter in 1949. Mr. Carter's original farm was about 350 acres. The site has been restored to its appearance before electricity. We could hear the squeak of the windmill as it turned in the wind.

This is Maranantha Baptist Church which Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter attend when they are in Plains. It's located about 1/2 mile out of town. President Carter is a deacon at the church and teaches Sunday School. There is a Sunday School schedule posted at our campground showing the Sundays he will be teaching and the public is welcome to attend. Sunday School starts at 10:30, but you need to go about 2 hours ahead because everyone has to be screened by the Secret Service prior to the service. He was not in town this weekend. We heard from some other campers that the Secret Service people are very friendly and helpful and willing to share about their experiences with their jobs.

Saturday- Village of Andersonville (more ice cream), and Andersonville National Historic Site (met Abraham Lincoln)

We found another store serving ice cream in the town of Andersonville which is across the road from the Andersonville National Historic Site and the National Prisoner of War Museum.

Andersonville, or Camp Sumter as it was officially known, was one of the largest of many Confederate military prisons established during the Civil War. It was built in early 1864 when Confederate officials decided to move the large number of Federal prisoners kept in and around Richmond, Virginia, to a place of greater security and a more abundant food supply. During the 14 months the prison existed, more than 45,000 Union soldiers were confined there. 13,000 died from disease, poor sanitation, malnutrition, overcrowding, or exposure.

The original prison was 16 1/2 acres and was designed for 10,000 prisoners who began arriving in February 1864. By the end of June there were 26,000 with approximately 400 arriving daily. The stockade was expanded by another 10 acres in June 1864. Horrific conditions existed resulting in much suffering and a high mortality.

Andersonville Prison ceased to exist in May 1865 as most prisoners returned to their pre-war occupations. In July and August, Clara Barton, a detachment of laborers and soldiers and a former prisoner named Dorence Atwater, came to Andersonville cemetery to identify and mark the graves of the Union dead. As a prisoner, Atwater was assigned to record the names of deceased Union soldiers. Fearing loss of the death record at war's end, Atwater made his own copy in hopes of notifying the relatives of some 12,000 dead interred there. Thanks to his list and the Confederate records confiscated at the end of the war, only 460 of Andersonville graves had to be marked "unknown U.S. soldier." It's very sobering to walk and drive around the prison area and then drive through the cemetery.

In 1998 the National Prisoner of War Museum opened at Andersonville and is the only National Park System area to serve as a memorial to all American prisoners of war and is dedicated to the men and women of this country who suffered captivity. Some Americans have experienced the prisoner of war ordeal for a few days, others for years. All have experienced the loss of freedom. This is the most important story told at Andersonville National Historic Site. To fully understand this loss is to cherish freedom all the more.

I took pictures at Andersonville, but they just don't describe the feelings and emotions of this place.

On a lighter note, we did meet Abraham Lincoln strolling the ground of the prison site. Dennis Boggs portrays Lincoln as a profession and was visiting Andersonville a few months ago when one of the park rangers asked, "Has anyone told you that you look a lot like Abraham Lincoln?" Mr. Boggs gave the park ranger one of his brochures and the park service asked him to spend a few weeks at the park. He visits with visitors and gives talks twice a day regarding Lincoln's life.

On Friday evening our campground hosted a barbeque. Several of the men smoked pork loins and pork shoulders all day and everyone brought a dish to share. Bluegrass music was provided by a couple of people from the campground and some local folk who just came to play. Nice ending to a very busy day.

I didn't intend for this post to be so long, but some things just don't condense very well. I have a lot more pictures and am thinking of storing all of them on so you can see all of them. Probably won't get them transferred until we get back home, but will let you know when that happens.

One more thing>>>

Went to a church with our campground neighbors, Gerry and Joan, this morning. They are from Pennsylvania and are trying to escape cold weather also. They don't plan to fulltime, but are retired and plan to do a lot of traveling in their RV. They have an 11 year old peek-a-boo who thinks she is the "queen bee". She is a very good dog, but just ignores Kasey. And Kasey just leaves her alone. They get along fine. They just ignore each other. I'll post her picture tomorrow.

We all went for lunch at Cutt's Restaurant. There is no menu at Cutt's. There are lists behind the counter which list the buffet items for everyday. Fried chicken is always served. Customers walk in the front door and proceed to the counter to view the food offered for the day. Today was fried or baked chicken, turkey & dressing, roast beef, pork chops, mashed potatoes, squash casserole, rice, black-eyed peas, lima beans, and collared greens. You choose one meat and 3 sides; then you choose either a biscuit, cornbread or flatbread. The lady behind the counter dishes up your food as you choose it. And she is very liberal with her servings. No need for seconds. We had a great time with these new friends.

More later.....

Friday, February 08, 2008

Heading north - (Americus, GA)

So glad we stayed over in Thomasville, GA. We arrived at Brickyard Plantation Golf Course & RV Park about 1:00pm Thursday, another Passport America Park. The RV park is across the road from the golf course. We've met several couples who stay here from October until March. Monthly rate is $350 and includes unlimited golf. What a deal. :)

The storm was not as bad as expected the night before, but at least we didn't drive in rain. Weather is cool (60's) but the sun is shining.

Spent Thursday afternoon checking out Americus and visiting Habitat for Humanity International Headquarters and the HFH Global Village and Discovery Center.

Just wanted to at least let everyone know where we are. Will post pictures and more details of what we're doing tomorrow.

More later....

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Detained in Thomasville, GA

Thanks to Internet access and satellite TV we awoke to the news of all the tornados in Alabama and Tennessee. So sad about the loss of life and terrible destruction. We debated about whether to stay or go. Since the weather map looked like the storm was moving east, we decided to go ahead and just keep track of the weather via the computer. As we crossed the Georgia state line, I began to check and saw that there was actually another storm right ahead of us and covering the entire area we would be driving through and included our destination. I began to check my campground book and found a campground in Albany, GA, about 55 miles up the road. Tried to call them, but didn't have good cell phone service, so we pulled off the highway at Thomasville, GA and parked in Lowe's parking lot to have lunch and assess the situation. Checked the Passport America campground book again and found an RV park just around the corner from Lowe's and they had empty spaces. :) AND, the nice thing about the motorhome is having our food and bathroom right along with us. Plus satellite TV. The only thing missing is sunshine, but we didn't drive in rain or meet up with a severe storm.

Soooo, we elected to stay here tonight and head out tomorrow for Americus. Weather is supposed to be great for the next few days.

While driving around on Sunday we came across this church sign. Yes, there is another Central Baptist Church in Cross City, Florida.

The sun was actually shining when we arrived at this campground today in Thomasville, so we decided to take a ride and check out the town. Found a quaint little ice cream shop in the historic downtown and just had to have a cone. Then as we continued our ride around town we came upon this wonderful city park and rose garden. The roses are not in bloom, so didn't take any pictures, but this lake is surrounded by a winding paved walking path which is exactly one mile long. You can see the clouds in the background, but we were able to walk all the way around and get back home before it started raining. The rain was heavy enough to knock out the satellite for awhile, but has settled down to just a steady rain now.
So we are both thinking it's better to revise plans and stop for the night away from the severe weather AND we got our exercise in before the rain. Really are enjoying the flexibility of this lifestyle.
Now if I could just remember which outside storage bay my sandy tennis shoes are in so I can get them in between rain showers. I wore sandals today and put the sandy shoes in the basement storage,but don't want to wear sandals to walk Kasey. Would look a little strange with my REI Seattle rain jacket. Sure am glad Kasey can go about 8-10 hours between trips outside if need be. Speaking of which, he's sitting by the door looking at me. Think that's a clue? And the rain has quit for now. Better go find those shoes; there are some puddles around here.
More later.....

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Movin' on down the road

Just letting everyone know we are still among the living. Really enjoying this Florida weather. Have gone on several drives in the area just to see the local scenery. But mostly enjoying long walks with Kasey and sitting outside in the sunshine. Did some laundry today and put some chicken to marinade in an orange/barbeque sauce for supper.

Met some really nice neighbors here. Both couples are about our age and have also worked with Habitat for Humanity, so spent some time sharing Habitat stories.

Dan has biked everyday and today rode into Old Town, then had a flat tire on the way back and had to walk. My bike rides are getting longer. Tried taking Kasey with me, but need to get a longer leash. He REALLY doesn't like being real close to the bike while it's moving. Not sure he'll ever like biking. But, we'll see with a longer leash.

Starting to get "hitch itch", so will leave here tomorrow for Americus, GA as we start to head back to Illinois. I know, why are you coming home to all this cold weather? We do have some responsibilities there and need to get moving along on getting the house ready to sell. Maybe by the time it's ready the market will improve. We can only hope. :)

Will stay at Americus for 3 or 4 days. More pictures later.

Plan to stay at Americus, GA for 3-4 days so will post again from there.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Just Another Busy Day in Florida

It's really a rough life. Dan says, "If it was just a little cooler, it would be perfect." "I'm almost perspiring." :) I didn't have the video camera in hand to capture his first attempt at getting INTO the hammock. Our kids gave him this several years ago and he is really enjoying it. He was resting up for a six mile bike ride out in the country. No, Gail did not ride for six miles. But Kasey and I walk many laps around the campground and I do ride my bike, just not into long rides yet. Still getting in shape. That may take awhile.

And then the other male in the family spends his time when in the motorhome, on the dash, surveying the outside world. We are so proud of him. He never barks at other dogs or people. The dog in the next camper over (about 20 feet away) barks quit a bit when his owners are gone, especially if he hears us talking or hears our door close. We've asked neighbors in each campground to tell us if they hear Kasey barking, and they've all said he just lays on the dash and usually sleeps there when we're gone. We take him with us most of the time, except for places like museums, the Space Center or where we know he can't go in. And we would never leave him in the black truck in the sun. Just not safe!!!

Actually the Kennedy Space Center had a FREE kennel for pets, so they wouldn't be left in a vehicle all day in the parking lot.

Kasey's view out our front window.

We decided to stay here until Wednesday morning. We weren't sure how long we would stay when we arrived, but this place is sooooo quiet and peaceful. And there is lots of space between sites. Several small trails go off into the woods and the long road into the campground makes for good bike riding. We've checked out some local country roads (Dan by bike) and both of us by truck. There's a wildlife refuge about 20 miles from here on the coast, so we plan to visit there tomorrow and be back for the Super Bowl in the evening. Picked up some wings from a local barbecue place today to have for our Super Bowl Party tomorrow.

We also have been eating LOTS of oranges, grapefruit and mangos. I didn't know there were so many kinds of oranges. The red navel are especially good.

We are really beginning to feel like this motorhome is our home. We're probably going to stay in it when we get back to Rochester, so we can finish working on getting the house ready to sell. Will be a lot easier if we're not living in the house. Back in 1978, we lived in our house while we finished building it (with 5 kids). I don't want to do that again as we're sorting through the rest of our "stuff" and remodeling. And I really don't want to take all the things in the motorhome back into the house, and then back to the motorhome again.

I didn't really intend to ramble on, but thought some of our readers might be interested in how we're adapting to this full-time lifestyle. We are both really enjoying it. It's not a vacation, but just a different focus of how we plan to spend our retirement years. We're making tenative plans for this summer, but selling our house is our first priority.

More later....