Transporting Toxic Materials

One of the more unpleasant parts of RVing is emptying the holding tanks in your rig.  There are typically two tanks, one for the gray water and one for the black water.  As you might suspect, the black water is from the toilet and the gray water is from everything else, the sinks, shower, and washing machine.

Most people use an expandable hose that connects from the outlet of the holding tank to the sewer connection at the campsite.  The hose is held in place by a twist-on connector at the RV end and a 90-degree elbow that extends a couple of inches into the pipe at the other end.  If you want to be sure you have let everything drain from the tank, there are clear connectors that you can add to either end to give you a visual indication. This hose is oftentimes called a, “Stinky Slinky”.  How cute.  There is also a plastic holder for the hose that opens like an accordion and allows you to slope the hose toward the sewer connection.  The typical cost for this setup is about $50. 

It never ceases to amaze me the things that companies come up with to try to and get you to part with your money.  One of the things I was looking at today was a sewer hose that costs $129 and a stand to put the hose on that costs another $79.  That’s almost $200 just to get your poo from your holding tank to the sewer.  If the 20 feet of hose that is supplied with this kit is not enough, you can spend another $166 for another 20-foot extension.  Wait, the extension costs more that the full setup.

Let’s face it, this is not a very elegant task, so I want to spend only enough money to reliably get the contents of the tanks from point A to point B.  I don’t need the same type of connectors used on gasoline tanker trucks even though my contents may be just as highly flammable though certainly not as valuable. And to make things more interesting, the lever to turn on this contraption is about 6 inches from the business end of the hose and not the 15 feet away like the cheaper options.   http://www.lci1.com/waste-master

Then there is a $400 electronic gadget that will connect to the central electrical system in my RV and let me turn on or off any light by logging into an application on my iPhone.  The light switches are less that 40 feet apart for my whole rig.  Surely, I can make it that far.  And if pressing the buttons on my iPhone is too much work, I can connect the Google Alexa to it and only speak the words, “Alexa, turn on the bathroom vanity light.”  You know, I was really getting tired of turning on that light by actually pressing it, so I’m glad there is a solution now to that problem.  I know, if we are away from the rig and it gets dark outside, I can use it to turn on the outside porch light so we don’t have to walk in the dark from the car to the RV’s door.  For $400, I’m ok with walking in the dark a little.  Oh, wait, I can use my $700 iPhone as a flashlight. 

But I think my favorite useless item are the lights that go under your RV that light up at night and make the rig look like it is floating just off the ground.  They come in every color imaginable and it seems the folks that have them, turn them on when they are inside their RV.  THEY CAN’T EVEN SEE THEM.   Perhaps the most obnoxious are the string of LED lights on the awnings that rotate through about 10 colors every 30 seconds.  If the people who turn them on were outside under their awning, they would either shut them off or choose a single color.  This is the very definition of “Light Pollution”. It’s ok not to have outside lights on at night, especially if you are inside. 

That’s just my opinion, we welcome yours, as we are RVingTheCountry.

Leaving Florida

We moved out of sunny Florida to Tannehill State Ironworks Historical park in McCalla, Alabama.  It is on the National Register of historical places and was a major supplier for Confederate ordinance during the Civil War. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tannehill_Ironworks It also has a grist mill, a cotton gin house and the Iron and Steel Museum of Alabama.  If you bring your corn on Saturdays, they will grind it for you. It is a neat little state park and just before you enter the gates to the recreation and camping area is a sign designating, “The Geographical End Of The Appalachian Mountains.” I have hiked to the southern terminus of the Appalachian Trail at Springer Mountain, Georgia, but it seems the mountains themselves extend on for another 200 miles or so. We spent three nights there so we could visit some family and friends in the area.  There was a nice little creek that ran behind our campsite and the ground was covered with leaves that had fallen from the hickory and oak trees.  It was such a peaceful and quiet place and I wish we had more time there.

Our second evening there, we visited with my nephew Andrew, (it was Andy when he was a kid), and his beautiful family.  He and his wife Cathy have two rambunctious boys, Tucker who is 7 and Liam who is 4.  They just added a new little baby girl, Nora Cate, into the mix last week and she is absolutely beautiful.  There are a few situations in your life when you get to witness such an unconditional love that it just touches your heart.  That is what I got to see when Cathy was holding Nora Cate and looking into her eyes and at her beautiful little face.  It was such a privilege to witness.  Liam likes to sit and listen to Bluegrass music with dad.  He likes different kinds of music but says that Bluegrass, “makes my foot jump”.  Greensky Bluegrass is one of his favorite groups and he can sing the whole album.  We also got to visit with Cathy’s mom, who was there helping for a few days, and my brother-in-law Mike.

We spent the next day taking care of errands, shopping and some maintenance items.  That evening we had dinner with my cousin Anne and her husband James at the Bright Star Restaurant in Bessemer Alabama. The restaurant has the typical dining room with tables and booths, but we were seated in a private dining room that was where Bear Bryant always sat when he ate there.  His picture was hanging on the wall. 

Opening in 1907, it moved to current location in 1915, and built its reputation serving Greek-style snapper and steaks, seafood gumbo and pies. http://www.thebrightstar.com/about/ Since Lynette and I were first time guests, we all received a sample of their gumbo.  It was absolutely out of this world.  They bring in whole fish from the Gulf of Mexico daily and they prepare the fish themselves.  I had the broiled snapper and Lynette ate most of the seafood platter. Since we are still on our diet, and losing a few more pounds, we skipped the wonderful looking bread and I only took a couple of really small bites of my baked sweet potato with cinnamon and sugar.   We can’t wait to go again and try their steaks.

It was so much fun catching up with Anne and James and remembering old times.  Anne reminded me of things I had not thought about in years.  Family is so wonderful that I think we all need to take more time to just visit.

The next morning, I met my friend Alan for breakfast at where else, the Waffle House.  His wife Cindy was going to join us but had a dentist appointment.  Lynette was going to join us as well, but said I needed some “guy time”.  She was right as usual.  We had such a great time catching up on what was going on with our families, our plans for the future, and lastly, what was happening at AT&T.  I am even more convince than ever, I left at a good time. 

After breakfast, Lynette and I started our trip to the Tiffin Service Center in Red Bay, Alabama.  There are a few more warranty items that I need fixed, so we figure we will be there for about a week.  About an hour into our trip, Lynette spotted a Whitman’s Chocolate truck broken down on the side of the road.  She looked out the window and yelled, “Hey buddy, do you need any help?”  How generous for her to offer her help to the driver of a chocolate truck.

We arrived on Thursday afternoon and turned in our list of needed repairs to the front office.  Shortly after 7:00 on Friday morning, Norris, the man who checks everyone in, came to our RV, reviewed our list and told us the wait time was about 2 weeks.  Norris is a bit of a celebrity among those of us who take our RVs here for service because he has quite a sense of humor.  He told us the story of going into an RV once to go over the list with a man and the man’s wife came out in just her panties and a cropped top too short to cover all of her assets.  After about 15 minutes, she went back to the bedroom and put on a pair of sweatpants.  Apparently, she was quite attractive.  I joked that that must have made his day.  He just responded, “Oh My.”

Whenever you visit here for service, Norris always says it will be two weeks before they can start. I just laughed, and we were called that afternoon and told to be in Bay 34 Monday morning at 7:00.

On Saturday, we drove over to 40 miles over to Muscle Shoals to shop at Aldi’s and stopped by the Coon Dog Cemetery on the way back.  http://www.coondogcemetery.com/ It’s just down the road from the Rattlesnake Saloon.  We saw the final resting place of Ole Blue, Red, and about a hundred and seventy other hunting buddies.  https://youtu.be/Fs0VUxVnWLg  Watch the video, it’s worth it. (Sorry for the ad)

We are definitely going to have to find a warmer place to spend some time after we leave here.  We have definitely gotten used to the 70-80 degree weather of central Florida during the winter and although it was pleasant here for the first day or so, it’s now down in the 30’s at night here.

Sometimes I have to remind myself just how blessed Lynette and I are.  We are getting to see more of this country that most people will ever get to experience.  As an added bonus, we meet some of the nicest people and are now running into people we have met before.  I got a note the other day from a man I met who used to be the Chief of Police for the City of Tyler Texas.  We met at the Freightliner Training Center in Gaffney, South Carolina and e-mail each other from time to time. He was in Red Bay but unfortunately was leaving one day before we were set to arrive.  He and his wife are headed to Arizona for a rally and we may run into them somewhere out west.  However, we did run in to Connie and Brown who we met here last November.  They own a body shop in Denver, Colorado that their daughter is now running for them.  They said that business is great, because, with all the legal marijuana shops, folks are crashing their cars like crazy.  That is probably counted in the economic impact numbers the proponents of legal pot tout as to why it is good for the economy and how it creates jobs.  Crazy.

We are looking forward to another week of life on the road as we are RVingTheCountry.

 

 

Planning Out 2017

The past week has been pretty busy.  We have been having a problem with the battery on our towed vehicle, also known as a toad, being dead when we tow it behind the RV and arrive at our destination.  Through a friend of mine, I found out about a battery charging device that can connect to your battery that will constantly charge it from the RV as we travel.  It works through the electrical connection from the RV to the toad.  It is pretty simple to install if everything is already wired properly.  That’s where the fun came in. 

I took the electrical connector off the toad to see if anything was connected to center pin. Nothing was not, and that was great because that is where the battery charger wiring is supposed to be connected.  Unfortunately, there was not a lot of slack between the Honda and the connector, so when I pulled it off, a few of the wires came loose.  I looked on the internet to see how they were supposed to be wired, but you may have guessed, there are several configurations.  Fortunately, I had the cell phone number of the guy who originally installed it and he gave me the information I needed, so I am back in business.  I haven’t bought the charger yet, but plan to in the next few weeks. 

I had to see exactly what day last year we bought the RV because our one year warranty period is coming to a close soon.  Fortunately, Tiffin Motorhomes will allow me to send them a list of things that need to be repaired under warranty since I won’t physically be there until about a week after the expiration period.  I put together the list, tracked down the person I needed to send it to, and got a quick response they would put it in my file and repair these items for free.  There is nothing major here, mainly just cosmetic items.

Much of the rest of the week was consumed by planning out our spring and summer travel plans.  Though we don’t usually do any real detail planning, such as actually booking places to stay, I found we do need to plan the general places when they are weather friendly.  Obviously going to the northeast in the winter is not my idea of fun, but last year we wound up in Las Vegas at the end of June and it was already 115 degrees during the day and down to a balmy 98 degrees in the evening. 

Our general plan for this year is to visit the BIG 5 National Parks in Utah and the Pacific Northwest.  The Utah parks are Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Park, Capitol Reef National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park and Zion National Park and we plan to spend about a week at each of them.  That gives a few days to explore each one, see the surrounding area, and just relax.  It’s easy to get burnt out if you don’t take some down time.  
https://www.google.com/destination/map/topsights?q=visit+utah&espv=2&biw=1440&bih=674&site=search&output=search&dest_mid=/m/07srw&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjM0qGzxZfSAhXD6IMKHULwCHUQ69EBCDcoAzAA#trifp=skpm%3D/m/0lgt

In addition to the places to see and the times of year to visit, I also have to determine the driving time and route.  Google Maps is a good tool for that and Google Earth lets me see what the area actually looks like.  I also check for things to see and do on each leg between camping sites.  I hesitate to use the word “Camping”, because this isn’t really camping.  Tiffin has as a motto, “Roughing It Smoothly’.  Air Conditioning, a Sleep Number Bed, a full-size refrigerator, and four HDTV’s aren’t really, “Roughing It”.

Here is our plan for the spring and summer:

Clermont FL to Marianna, FL 4 hours 30 min 2/19-2/20
Marianna FL to McCalla AL 4 hours 15 min 2/20-2/23
McCalla AL to Red Bay AL 2 hours 15 min 2/23-3/01
Red Bay to Summerdale AL 5 hours 45 min 3/01-3/08
Summerdale AL to New Orleans 2 hours 45 min 3/08-3/11
New Orleans to Shreveport 5 hours 15 min 3/11-3/15
Shreveport to Dallas 2 hours 45 min 3/15-3/22
Dallas to Amarillo 5 hours 45 min 3/22-3/29
Amarillo to Albuquerque 4 hours 15 min 3/29-4/05
Albuquerque to Cortez, CO 4 hours 15 min 4/05-4/12
Cortez, CO to Arches National Park 2 hours 15 min 4/12-4/15
     
Arches National Park to Canyonlands National Park 30 min 4/15-4/30
Canyonlands National Park to Capitol Reef National Park 2 hours 40 min 4/15-4/30
Capitol Reef National Park to Bryce Canyon National Park 2 hours 15 min 4/30-5/07
Bryce Canyon National Park to Zion National Park 1 hour  30 min 5/07-5/14
Zion National Park to Salt Lake City 4 hours 30 min 5/14-5/21
Salt Lake City to Boise, ID 4 hours 45 min 5/21-5/28
Boise, ID to Bend, OR 5 hours 15 min 5/28-6/04
Bend, OR to Newport, OR 3 hours 45 min 6/04-6/11

We are planning to spend the summer in the northwest and then take the fall to make the 3,000-mile drive back to Marietta for the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, and my kid’s birthdays.  If I can catch Wisconsin on the back, I will have been to 49 of the 50 states, only Alaska to go. 

Another project this week was installing a Magnashade Sun Screen on our huge windshield. http://www.magneshade.com/  It is designed to block out a lot of the sun, heat, and UV rays that come in through the windshield.  Even though we have a solar shade on the interior, there is a tremendous amount of heat that builds up between the windshield and the solar shade.  It can be as much as 10 degrees hotter at the front of the coach than the middle or rear, when the sun is shining directly at the windshield.  They are custom made for each coach and have to be ordered 3-4 weeks in advance.  Ours arrived this week, after the UPS driver delivered it to the wrong address and I went and retrieved it, So Lynette and I watched the video and then jumped in.  It only took about an hour to install and it looks great.  I also ordered them for the driver’s and passenger’s windows and the front door, but haven’t installed them yet. You may notice, it doesn’t extend all the way to the top of the windows.  That is because super powerful magnets have to be placed on the windshield inside the coach and the screen is held in place by additional magnets that are actually sown into the screen on the outside. The top part of the windshield in inaccessible on the interior due to cabinets that are build in there.  

My next project was to research a product that makes deionized water.  What is that you say and why would I want it?  It is water that has had all the mineral content removed and it eliminates water spots when you use it to rinse your RV, car, motorcycle, house windows, etc. after washing them.  Washing an RV is pretty simple, it’s the drying part that is time consuming and really makes the difference in how it looks.  I learned from the RV dealer that the trick to making your coach look great is to use deionized water to rinse it.  These have been around for years, mainly for industrial use, but there is a company that makes them for residential users.  I think this will be next on my wish list.  https://crspotless.com/
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/simplechuck/simple-chuck-produces-the-purest-h2o-on-the-planet?ref=email

Lynette and I decided that if we want to see more of the places we visit, we both need to drop a few pounds, ok, maybe more than a few.  We started a couple of weeks ago and I am down about 11 pounds and Lynette is down about 7 pounds.  Yes, I did ask permission before I posted this. We are eating much healthier and feeling better.  I am doing pretty well with this plan and there are only a few things that I really miss, like honey buns, cookies, cake, croissants, fruit, diet sodas, milk, pies, and a couple of other things, but all in all, it’s going pretty well. 

On Sunday, we will be leaving our pretty park and headed to Alabama for a week or so and then start our trip westward. While there, we will get to visit with my nephew Andy and his family, my cousin Anne, and her family, and my good friends Alan and  Cindy.  If we weren’t traveling, we probably would not get to see any of them.

Clerbrook RV and Golf Resort.  The view from our rig overlooking the Spanish Moss and the 10th hole of the golf course. Did you catch the squirrel running across the street. There are hundreds of them here.

Life is fun and we are having a wonderful time RVingTheCountry.

 

 

Tackling The Beast

Well, we have finished up another week, living our dream of a nomadic lifestyle. We have been here in Clermont, Florida at the Clerbrook Golf and RV Resort for a week now.  It is a beautiful place and we got to visit with some friends we made here last year, Bill and Ellie, from Pennsylvania.  We have a standing invitation to park on their property any time we are around Bethlehem, PA. 

It has been a year this week since we bought our new RV, so that means it is time for the annual maintenance.  I have a spreadsheet with all the things I need to do before each trip, monthly, quarterly, twice a year, and then once a year.  Obviously, this was the one that takes a long time. 

Here is my list.

 

Every Trip Monthly Maintenance Quarterly Maintenance
Check Oil Level Clean microwave oven filters with Green Works cleaner, then wash & dry Lubricate slide out rails
Check Transmission Fluid Clean sink with Bar Keepers Friend Treat slide out seals (Thetford Slide Out Rubber Seal Conditioner)
Check Coolant Level Exercise the Generator and load to 1/2 capacity Spray lube on jacks and wipe off
Check air pressure Check Generator Water and Oil Lube the hinges in the folding stairs
Put 12 oz of Pine Sol in all drains and toilet and add 10 Gal water to each tank Clean window weep holes with a cable tie or popsicle stick Lubricate the exterior door hinges and latches with silicone lubricant
  Check House Battery Levels Check battery terminals for corrosion
  Clean AC filters Test smoke alarm and CO2/ LP gas detectors
  Clean Fantastic Fan Filters Check shower for leaks and reseal
    Wash AC Return Air Filters 
    Check windows for smooth operation. Clean and lube as necessary
     

 

Semi Annual Maintenance Annual Maintenance  
Vacuum under the refrigerator and blow off  Wash & Clean the roof & appliance covers  
Empty water from air tanks behind the front wheels (see mtce DVD) Check roof seams and caulk as necessary  
Replace house water filter Check all caulking and replace as necessary  
Replace refrigerator water filter Change smoke alarm batteries  
Replace hose water filter Change CO2 detectors battery  
Check the Supplement Coolant Additive (SCA) with test strips (see mtce DVD) Check hydraulic fluid levels for the slides and jacks. Must be retracted. (see mtce DVD)  
Check battery terminals for corrosion Have AC and Heaters checked by a technician  
Check washer dryer hoses for deterioration Sanitize the fresh water system  
Check fire extinguisher Check and replace electric water heater anode rod as needed  

Lynette takes care of most of the inside things and I get to do the outside things, though she does help me. 

Much like the pipeline workers who were building a 115-mile section of 16” to 30” pipeline while we were staying in Cartersville, GA over Christmas, these folks are staying in Travel Trailers and 5th Wheels in various campgrounds around here.  The section in Florida is a 126-mile long part of a 685-mile pipeline running from Alabama.  Both of these pipelines will be used to fuel power plants with natural gas instead of coal.  Most of the workers here are from Texas and a few from Louisiana.  Many of them have young children and their families with them.  I am amazed at how many nomadic workers there are working around the country.  I suppose in some industries, you just follow the jobs.

Since retirement, I have become much more aware of how we spend money.  We don’t really do without anything we really want, except for maybe that new silver Corvette, but we do think about, “Do I really need this right now?”  Where will we store it?  Do I already have something that I could use instead?  Living in an RV, we try to buy things that can serve at least a couple of different purposes.  We were needing a little more storage space, so we bought an ottoman.  It is hinged along one edge and lined on the inside.  We use it to store the documents we need to keep such as owner’s manuals for all the onboard systems, as well as insurance documents, tax returns, etc. and it serves as a footstool.  Not too shabby.

One of the best parts of this lifestyle in not only visiting new places and staying in warm climates when it is cold, it’s meeting people who do things a little differently than I do them.  I met a couple this afternoon from Carolina Beach who are staying down here for a week.  They were using a cleaning product on the outside of their coach that I have looked at and researched, but never could quite pull the trigger on buying it.  It is a dry wash and wax product that originated in the aircraft industry. 

You just spray it on a cloth and clean a section, then wipe off that section with a clean cloth.  There is an extension pole that holds two pads in a triangle type design, where you wet one side to apply the cleaner/wax and then flip it over to wipe it off.  Their rig looked great after they finished.  It’s a bit pricey and since I just washed and waxed this beast, I think I will hold off for now.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B006AFAWYI/ref=wl_it_dp_o_pC_nS_ttl?_encoding=UTF8&colid=2OLC1IIGTLK55&coliid=I29REWU87I0FGD

I will have to plan our route up to Red Bay, Alabama this week to get a few warranty items finished up and then we will be on our way out to Arizona.  We are planning to stop by and see my nephew Andy and his beautiful family who will have a new addition to their family by then, a little girl.  It is great having the flexibility and opportunity to visit family. Life on the road is great, as we are RVingTheCountry.

My Junk Mail Folder

What’s in your Junk Mail?

It’s amazing the e-mails that are sent to me that just wind up in my “Junk” folder.  Though most of the time I just take a quick look to see if there is anything useful that went there by mistake, and then just delete them, sometimes I find it amusing to take a look and see just what has been sent. 

Just this week, I received 4 offers to save money on printer toner “for one day only”, but it was sent on four consecutive days.  I am a little suspicious of this one.  I don’t think that understand the meaning of, “for one day only”.

Then there are a couple to save money on 2017 SUVs.  I wonder if anyone has looked at an e-mail and then decided, “Hey, I think I need to buy a new SUV”?   This one also seems totally worthless.

Next, I don’t think I need any “3 Day Blinds”, “Celebrity Diet News”, or “Dental Insurance.  Nor do I need a “Cruise to Cuba”. The folks who live there have been trying to get away for the past 50 years or so.

I think Mrs. Doris Omar, Exchange Manager at the Bank of Africa from Cotonou, Benin Republic is going is going to be very disappointed in her “Very Urgent” e-mail that I am not interested in a 40% stake of $12.25 million for being her foreign partner.  Darn, all I have to do is give her my bank account information.  Interestingly enough, if you Google that country, yes, it is a really place (I had to look), the first thing Google  brings up is a “Fraud Warning” from the US State Department.  I guess I will have to live with the disappointment of not having all that money.

The same goes for Princess Zenab Warlord from the Ivory Coast even though she has $27 million to share. It seems she has an evil step-mother but the Princess knows where her father hid the money.

Then there are the offers and fraud warnings from Chase, Credit One Bank, Indigo Platimum MasterCard, and USAA.  I’ve been getting e-mails about fraudulent account activity on my account USAA for a couple of years now, the only problem is I have never had an account there.

The winner for the most persistent spammer, aka, the most e-mails this week is, drum roll please, Globe Life Offer.  It seems that I am eligible for “Life Insurance For Seniors.” I suppose that since I am now so old, I need them to send me the same offer 9 times in 6 days.  You know, those of us at this age can be a bit forgetful. 

I suppose at my now advanced age, I now need services from, “IT Cosmetics”, a $150 offer for only $39.95, three offers from the “LASIK Vision Institute” for only $299 per eye.  Sure, everyone wants cut rate Laser surgery.  How about a $1.99 nose job to go with it?

Does anyone need a job that pays $300-$400 for a day of being a secret shopper?  It seems Gail Buttner has a deal for you.  All you have to do is, “CLICK HERE”.  I don’t think so.

Only two offers this week from Liberty Mutual Insurance, LifeLock and Lull Mattress but 8 emails from Match.com.  They must think I am really lonely, but Lynette and I are really doing quite well.  Unlike many married men, I am not going on there to look for Wife 2.0, 3.0, 4.0, etc.  Version 1.0 has been just fine for the past 38 years and still has all the features and functionality I need.  Truthfully, we are both probably version 1.8.  We have made a few modifications over the years.  Just in case, SeniorPeopleMeet.com has me on their radar also.

I’m not eligible for Medicare yet, and way past the need for Proactiv+ skin care.  It seems the spammers have both ends of the age continuum covered.  I must admit I was a little flattered about the Proactive plus offer.

It seems I also don’t need Tire Coupons, Ting Mobile, The Zebra Auto Insurance, Optima Tax Relief, or Schwan’s Home Service.  The apostrophe is actually a question mark in their e-mail, Schwan?s.  Seems they are not sure either. 

So this week, I’m not buying a new SUV or tires, changing car insurance or buying life or dental insurance, don’t need a new main squeeze, or have my eyes lasered or my face Proactiv+’d, become a foreign business partner for a princess, get new credit cards, enroll in Medicare, buy a new mattress, Cruise to Cuba, start a celebrity diet, or get LifeLocked.  I don’t have a house, so I don’t need an ADT security system or buy new blinds.

Wow, I don’t feel like I have accomplished anything this week.  Well at least anything that I didn’t really need to do in the first place.  Oh well, such is life on the road as we are RVingTheCountry.

Finished Out January In Florida

We had been at Wekiva Falls RV Park in Sorrento, Florida for a month today, so it was time to move about an hour down the road to our next stop, the Clerbrook Golf and &RV Resort in Clermont.  We were able to get back into the travel routine and living on the road in the RV at Wekiva Falls and it felt great.  We met more great people there.  Dave and Diane were from Winnebago County, Iowa, and she worked in quality control for Winnebago Industries.  Dave worked for the county and this time of year would have been running a snow plow.  He just recently retired and said he did not miss the snow a bit.

Brent and his wife, sorry, I can’t remember her name, are from Illinois and stay here from November through March.  He has a big Class A motorhome, and pulls a large trailer filled with his Harley and all of his “Man Cave” goodies.  There are a couple of small refrigerators, lots of tools, a washer and dryer, and of course, a TV. 

Dale was from Lakemont, GA, up near Dillard, and was down here for a couple of months visiting with his son and his son’s family.  He is retired and single.  Dale said he tried Match.com but found that virtually all the women he met, at his age, were either too set in their ways, or had too many issues.  The ones set in their ways typically had lots of money from either an inheritance or a divorce and really didn’t want someone in their lives, even though they said they did. I joked that I married the first time for love and the next time it will be for money.  He laughed and said there are lots of rich older women out there, but it wasn’t worth the effort or aggravation.  I am so glad I don’t have to go through that. 

Terry and Sarah are from McDonough, GA and have a beautiful new 45 foot Entegra coach.  They travel the country like we do.  Terry is a retired truck driver and a super nice guy.  At first, he is a bit imposing, about 6’3” with a long goatee and mustache, and a super deep bass voice.  I ordered a new sunshade for the windshield and he offered to help me install it, but it won’t arrive before he leaves. 

A couple of weeks ago, Lynette and I drove over to Osprey, near Sarasota, to visit with my brother for a few days.  We hadn’t seen each other for a few months since my step-mother and his mom died.  We had a great time, just reminiscing about old times and some of the really dumb things we did as kids.  Suffice it to say that if our parents had known of some of our shenanigans, we might not be here to tell about them today.  He used to jump our dads Silverado pick up over a dirt ramp and let it go airborne.  Of course, I was the perfect child and never did anything wrong, if you don’t count that run in with the police. 

Scott has a beautiful Corvette that will pin your belly button to the back of the seat.  I’ve been trying to figure out a way to tow one behind our RV, but that just won’t quite work.  He offered to let me drive it, but I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to fight the urge to have one, so I just rode in the passenger seat.  Besides, he can drive it a bit more aggressively than me since he is the owner. 

A week or so after our visit, he came over to our place for the day and took the grand tour of our rig.  It only takes about three minutes to see all 440 square feet since you can see the living room, dining room and kitchen just standing at the front door.  The bedroom, bathroom, and closet complete the tour.  Dinner at Fred’s Fresh Market Restaurant capped off the end to a perfect day. Fred’s is local family owned restaurant that started out about 40 years ago as a gas station.  Fred would work on cars and his wife would cook their meals there.  Soon, people would just seem to “show up” around meal time.  The food was so good, it became more popular and profitable than fixing cars and pumping gas.  It has gone through several iterations, but now is in a new building and the food is still wonderful.  After eating there with Scott, we took our good friends Randy and Karen there before we left.  It was just as good the second time.

I got really industrious and decided to wash and wax the RV.  It took several days because it is so large and one side faces south and gets constant sunlight all day long.  I kept thinking of Mr. Miyagi from the Karate Kid, “Wax on, wax off”.  I had to wait for an overcast day to wash and wax the sunny side of it, but got it done in one day. 

We have a cell phone booster for our phones that will boost the signal significantly, usually improving the strength from a single bar up to three or four bars.  The output power is about 3 watts as opposed to the 0.3 watts that most cell phones use. I had to register it with the FCC since it is essentially an additional antenna on AT&T’s cellular network, but that wasn’t a big deal.  I did a temporary installation when we first bought it about a year ago, running the outside antenna wiring through a rubber gasket on one of the slide outs.  I finally got around to doing the permanent installation, installing it on the roof and fishing the antenna wiring through the roof of the RV down to a cabinet at the front of the rig and permanently mounting the booster itself.  It is great to have that feeling of accomplishment, when you do something you have never done before and it turns our right. 

No matter how long we have been RVing, we always discover something new.  I read a blog and subscribe to a newsletter from Technomadia.com.  They are definitely the mobile internet experts and do a lot of testing on new equipment.  I found out from them that AT&T offers a wireless home phone service that includes 25 or 50 GB of cellular data for $60 or $100.  I had to buy the AT&T router which was $199, but the cellular service is a lot less than I would pay on a mobile phone plan.  I can take it with me anywhere and it’s a good complement to our cellular phone data plan.  The good news is that any overages add a gig of data for only $10 vs the $15 on a regular cellular plan, or, I can have them just throttle the speed and there are no overage charges. 

After we drove over to our new RV Park, we went to unhitch the car before we actually went to our camp site.  Bad news, we had a dead battery on the Honda.  I have a little battery booster, but I think it wasn’t fully charged or the battery was really dead or both.  I got someone to jump me off, found the campsite, got set up, and then headed out for a new battery.  We had been having a problem with it going dead for a while, and I had just been putting off the inevitable.  I like to use AutoZone to buy car batteries because they will test your old one and install a new one if you need it, all at no charge.  Also, they are nationwide and have access to my records no matter where I am.  I have had to use their warranty a couple of times for batteries that did not last as long as they should have, and they treated me fairly. 

While I was there, three other people came in with battery problems.  I got to talking with one lady and it turns out she and her friend would like to start RVing when they retire in a couple of years.  I shared some of the information I have learned over the years regarding finding places to camp that are reasonable priced, and some equipment that is useful if you are going to be on the road for an extended period of time.  They were very appreciative and said they felt like their battery went belly up, just so they could meet me.  It seems I encouraged them to follow that dream of travel.

We will be at this park for a couple of weeks since it only costs us $3.00 a night for power, water and sewer.  We are parked in a grove of old live oaks with Spanish moss hanging from them near a golf course. 

Pretty darn good for the price.  We are going back up to Red Bay, AL to the Tiffin factory to get a couple of warranty items fixed since our one year warranty is up at the end of this month.  Then I think we may visit New Orleans again for a few days and then head west.  We haven’t decided if we want to spend the rest of the winter in south Texas, or head on over to Arizona.  Maybe we will decide in the next week or so. 

Well, that was our first month of 2017 and we are excited about the next eleven of them as we are RVingTheCountry.

 

 

 

Time To Go To Warmer Weather

We spent about a month at the Allatoona Landing Campground and Marina in Emerson, GA, just north of Woodstock.  It was a nice park with full hookups, fairly large lots, and was not crowded at all.  It was a bit difficult finding a place to stay for a month because apparently a new 40 inch natural gas pipeline in being built in the area that is about 60 miles long, and workers from across the country are using the RV parks as a home while they are here working on it. Our next door neighbor was working on it and lives in Arkansas. This park was a little pricey, so maybe that’s why it wasn’t very crowded.  I think the largest crowd was a flock of about 25 ducks that would greet us most mornings and follow us around until we fed them.  I went to a feed store and bought a 40 pound bag of food, fed them most mornings, and became their favorite friend to visit.  Unfortunately, they left quite a few “reminders” they had been eating well behind, so I had to wash of the patio every couple of days.

It was great spending time with our family, seeing our kids and grandkids, and visiting with friends.  We miss them while we are on the road, but it’s fun catching up with them, especially the hugs and kisses, when we get back.  

We made it down to Florida on January 5 and are staying at the Wekiva Falls RV Resort in Sorrento, FL about a half hour from Orlando.  The park is a favorite destination for a lot of “snow birds” and holds about 800 RVs.  The sites where we are staying are fairly large, (extra charge) and our neighbors are great.  There is a heated swimming pool and a large lagoon that is spring fed, along with a dock with access to a nearby lake. http://www.wekivafalls.com/

A couple that we met here last year and have become friends with, Randy and Karen, are also here this year and have now become full-timers as well.  They sold their house and all their belongings and hit the road a few month ago.  They just ordered a new RV and it will take a couple of months to build it, so they will be here for a while.

One of the things I have been working on is establishing our residency in Florida.  We got our mail service set up and are now residents of Bushnell, Florida.  We don’t own any property there but are members of the Escapees RV Club that allows us to use their address as our legal residence. They will forward our mail to us anywhere and as often as we like.  

That was the first step, followed by changing our insurance policies to show our new address. Of course, the company we used for the past 30 years in Georgia, does not write auto insurance in Florida, so we had to change companies as well.  Fortunately, we have a great independent agent who found us the best deal and did a great job getting everything moved over.

Then there was the process of registering the vehicles, getting new driver’s licenses, registering to vote, and filing a Declaration of Domicile. The whole process is a bit interesting.  In order to register our vehicle from out of state, the tax office representative had to visually inspect our VIN number.  That’s not really an issue for a car, but a motorhome is a bit more difficult.  Instead, we called the local Sheriff’s Department, who sent out an officer and signed off on a form that will allow us to register the RV.  He came about 20 minutes after I called and was really nice.  If you haven’t heard, there was an Orlando police office that was killed when she approached a suspect who had killed his pregnant girlfriend. Another officer was killed on his way to help when a 78 year old driver pulled out in front of him.  There is a massive manhunt being conducted now.  I thanked the officer for his help today and for the job he does.  I commented to him, “I hope he resists arrest.”  He said, “Me too”.

The folks at the Driver’s License and the tag office were super nice.  Some locations will do both and some just do the tags.  We only had to wait about 15 to 20 minutes at each of them and the people were very friendly and helpful.  One of the things they do that is really smart is to have you first check in a receptionist who verifies you have all the proper paperwork and documentation BEFORE you wait in line to conduct your business. (I started to say do your business, but that reminds me of taking my dog out for a walk.)

Owning a motorhome is a lot like owning a regular home when it comes to chores.  The list for the rest of this week includes:

  1. Register the RV
  2. Recharge the water softener
  3. Clean the wiper blades on the car and RV
  4. Clean the back up camera lenses on the RV
  5. Send additional address documentation to the car insurance company
  6. Get the “Intent of Domicile” notarized, get a money order and then mail it
  7. Complete the list of 18 monthly routine maintenance items
  8. Wash the RV roof in addition to the sides, front and rear.
  9. Polish the RV rims

Next month includes getting to wax this beast.  I’m not complaining, it keeps me busy, saves a lot of money, and gives me a sense of accomplishment, but it is a lot of work.  I am sure that no one where the temperatures are in the 30’s has much sympathy for me sweating down here in the 70’s and 80’s.

Well, we are getting back to the routine of life on the road and it feels good.  This year our plans are to stay in each place we visit about a month or so and get to really know the area.  About the only real plan we have made is to be in Oregon, Washington, and Idaho for the summer, but getting there is wide open.  We are having so much fun, as we are RVingTheCoutnry.

 

Home For The Holidays

We arrived at the Tiffin Campground in Red Bay, Alabama on October 26 and were finally able to get almost everything completed and left on November 29. Red Bay is a nice little town, but a month there is way too long.  We had a long list of things to be repaired, so I knew it would take some time, but didn’t expect it to take more than a month.  There were some major things like the heated floor not working, a cracked floor tile, water leaking from the ceiling when I ran the air conditioner, the slide out rollers marring the porcelain floors when it was extended for living and then retracted for travel, and the windshield needing replacing.  The windshield was not a manufacturing defect, a rock hit it while going through Texas, but all the others were under warranty.  In total, I had about 40 things that needed to be fixed. 

To my surprise, about half of the roughly 95 motorhomes that were there for repairs were 2016 and 2017 models that were still under warranty.  It appears Tiffin has a new RV quality problem.  Nevertheless, they have the highest customer satisfaction rating among the major manufacturers.  I met one RV owner who said part of his strategy in buying a new rig was to check on their service responsiveness after the sale. He called the service centers for all five of the major motorhome manufacturers twice.  One of them even had five repair centers across the nation, so he called each one of them twice.  He did not get any calls returned from that one, so he quickly marked it off the list.  To his surprise, Bob Tiffin, the owner of Tiffin Motorhomes, called him back within a couple of hours and apologized for taking so long to get back to him. 

If you are interested, here is my list of repairs:                                                           

     Flooring

  1. Front Flooring heat does not work. (Bad heat sensor)
  2. Hallway floor tile under thermostat is cracked
  3. When walking in the bedroom, there is sometimes a sound of sheet metal flexing under the floor. 
    Cabinets
  4. Cabinet door over dining table does not latch
  5. Cabinet door over dining table broken wire stop
  6. Cabinet door over passenger side windshield broken wire stop
  7. Bathroom door molding inside at the bottom needs to be replaced.  It is too short. (This actually turned out to be the wall not being in the correct location and the wall had to me moved in slightly, so the door would close.)
  8. Bathroom door swings past door jamb in low humidity. (Same solution as above)
  9. Bathroom door to bedroom won’t lock. (This was actually my fault because I broke it, but they repaired it at no charge)
  10. Repair wood panel over TV and in hallway
  11. Kitchen waste basket door will not latch 
  12. Molding above the dryer has broken loose and it has mold on it. (The mold was caused by the water leaking in from the AC drain. They replaced the molding)
  13. On the washer, I cannot check the filter because it is covered by molding 
  14. Fireplace rattles when both front AC units are running
  15. Stain inside of window trim over buffet, sofa, recliner and bedroom chest. (This is not something they stain when they manufacture the unit. It is only visible if you have the windows open and the unfinished wood can be seen from the outside.  They took the valences off and stained it for me at no charge.)

Electronics

  1. Buzzing speaker over recliner when overhead and ceiling lights are on.  This happened after the dealership changed the ground wiring for one of the lights because turning on the DVD player made the lights in the den come on. 
  2. DVD Player is broken
  3. The lights on the slide out controls above the driver’s seat dims or goes out while the others stay lit. 
  4. Cannot get the USB port on the stereo to work. Shows connected but no sound.
  5. Replace RV splitters and check Direct TV connection

Exterior

  1. Bad paint spot on side near driver’s window & entry door.
  2. Paint outside door near handle
  3. Wet bay door latch needs to be adjusted
  4. Diamond Shield under passenger rear fender has come loose
  5. The driver’s side mirror won’t adjust upward. 
  6. The deadbolt on the door lock jams.  The bolt slides upward inside the door.  
  7. Dented chrome over rear tail lights
  8. Cover missing on Driver’s side slide out topper
  9. Driver’s side rear slide won’t retract occasionally. I think it is loose wiring in the controller.
  10. Replace the cracked windshield

 

Interior

  1. Adjust roller for fridge slide-out so it doesn’t mar the floor
  2. Driver’s side seat solar shade won’t stay down
  3. Driver’s seat will not lock firmly in place
  4. Passenger’s seat comes disconnected from power source 
  5. Knob on dash fan is broken
  6. Gasket on right side refrigerator door is torn
  7. The recliner on the sofa is extremely hard to open
  8. On humid days when the AC is running, water will pour out of the AC vents in the kitchen and the ceiling in the closet. Could this be a problem with the AC Condensation drainage system? (When the rig was made, someone drove a screw through the drain line. It took them two attempts for fix this, but I think everything is good now.)
  9. The trim around the passenger’s side window falls out regularly.  May need new Velcro.Bathroom
  10. Bathroom faucet on left side is scratched 
  11. Bathroom shower bar bracket is rusted
  12. Bathroom shower door is missing the stop at the bottom and the magnets are broken and missing that hold the shower door closedMisc
  13. Replace Tiffin Info bag. It has separated at the seams.

Everyone I worked with went out of their way to be helpful, except the guy who was responsible for the electronics.  I finally just gave up on him and plan to get those things repaired at the dealership.  He did get most things working, except the in-motion satellite system now only works on one TV.  The two technicians who did most to the work, actually found a couple of other things that needed to be fixed while they were working on my list and took care of them as well.  The service center isn’t very fast but they are thorough.  Unlike any repair center I have ever been to, Tiffin encourages you to stay with the technicians while they are working, to be able to learn how to repair things yourself and learn more about your coach.  I certainly took advantage of this, and was with them most of the time. 

Tiffin has their main factory about two miles away, so I spent about a half of a day there, seeing how they are build.  The tour took a couple of hours and I learned a lot.  Afterwards, I asked if I could go back to the assembly line area where they install the fiberglass roof and front cover to see how the antennae wiring was run.  I want to install a cellular booster antennae and needed to see if I could tap into the wiring chase that was already run. I explained to the guys on the assembly line what I wanted to do, and they took me up on the roof and showed me what I needed to do.  It doesn’t appear to be very difficult, but now I know I won’t be tearing anything up.

Hopefully, I won’t have to go back for repairs any time soon, but if I do, I know there are really knowledgeable people there who can make it right.

During our time there, we made several trips back to Atlanta, once to attend a birthday luncheon for one of my granddaughters, another time for my youngest daughter’s birthday, and a third time for Thanksgiving.  It’s about nine hours round trip, so that drive got to be a bit tiring.  Our little Honda CRV isn’t quite as good of a ride as our 35,000 pound bus, but the gas mileage is definitely better. 

We are now staying up in Cartersville, GA at the Allatoona Landing RV Park and Marina for about a month.  It is a great place with full hook-ups, level campsites and paved roads and RV sites.  Our plan it to stay here and visit our kids and grandkids through Christmas and then head to Florida for January.  From there, we are not sure if we are going to south Texas and become “Winter Texans” or make our way on to Yuma, AZ where it is also nice and warm. 

My main project while I am here, is to set up our mail forwarding service in Florida.  This will allow us to become residents of Florida and eliminate the 6% income tax that Georgia charges. The mail forwarding service will send our mail to us anywhere we tell them and as often as we like.  They also scan the envelopes of all the first class mail daily and I can go on a secure website to see what I have received.  They will also open and read me mail if I ask and even scan it and e-mail it to me (for 50 cents a page).

That is one of the great things I love about the RV lifestyle.  If you are ready to move on to somewhere warmer or cooler, more populated or less populated, wide open spaces or lots more trees, you just pick up and go.  Everywhere we go, there are really nice people and we are making friends from all over the US as we are RVingTheCountry.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Camping In A Parking Lot

We arrived in Red Bay, Alabama, the Home of Tiffin Motorhomes, on October, 26.  We had to spend one night at an RV Park across the street because all the camping spots at the service center were occupied, but were notified the next morning, there was an opening for us.  So we moved over where the camping is free if you are still under warranty, otherwise, it’s $20.00 per night. That is still not bad considering they have 50 amp power, water, and a sewer connection.  There are 93 pull-through sites that are easy to get in and out of and I am told the area used to be an old airport runway.  You can still see the markings, faded on the asphalt, runway 88.

The service center has 42 bays where they can take care of everything a coach might have.  Our list has about 45 items on it, everything from a bad paint spot, to some rattles, a broken DVD player, broken tile, and the floor heating that does not work.  When we arrived a week ago, we were Number 26 in line and after a week, we have moved up to Number 23.  I hope the line moves a little more quickly this week, or we may have to stay through Thanksgiving. That’s not going to happen.  The worse case is we will leave the coach and drive back the four hours to Marietta to celebrate Thanksgiving with our family.  

It is a pretty good system  here. When they are ready for you, they will call you and let you know which bay to be at and at what time.  You pull your coach over at your assigned time, and they work on it.  If they finish with all the items they can fix at that particular bay, you may have to drive back to your camping spot and wait for your turn for the next specialty, like moving from painting to the wood shop, or slides, or mechanical issues.  They encourage you to stay with the technician that are doing the repairs so you can learn more about your rig and maybe repair things yourself once everything is out of warranty.  That works great for me because I like to know how things work. The good thing is that each evening, you drive the coach back to your camping spot, spend the night, and then back to the service bays the next morning.  That sure saves on motel bills.  We haven’t been called yet and I am looking forward to getting the process started.  

We have met some of the nicest people here, Bob and Sandy who are from California, to Brown and Connie who are from Colorado.  One thing I always do is get advice from people who are full-timing about the best places to camp and sites to see in their states. There is nothing like getting advice from first hand participants.  Bob and Sandy have spent a lot of time RVing in the Pacific Northwest, so since we are planning to go there next summer, I plan to spend a lot of time with them.  Brown and Connie gave me some copies of the park brochures where they have stayed and even gave us suggestions on which sites to choose at parks in Colorado.  

Bob owns a Paint and Body shop in Colorado that his daughter and a manager run for him.  I was curious how he kept the front of his coach so clean, since mine always seems to pick up so many bugs that I have to spend lots of time cleaning off.  His secret, get the windshield washing fluid that also cleans off bugs.  He says that when he uses it, some will drain down on the front of the coach and make the bugs much easier to clean off.  Also, just use it on a cloth and they will come off pretty easily as well.  That’s how I spent about an hour this morning, washing off bugs.  The RVing lifestyle is not always scenic vistas and cool breezes, it has the mundane things also, like washing windows and cleaning the inside of the shower stall.  I do most of the outside and Lynette does a great job taking care of the inside.  

There is a special cleaner to clean the front since it has a protective film on it, but the cleaner is $40 a bottle and makes about 5 gallons.  I bought a gallon of the bug cleaning windshield washer fluid for about $4.00 and used about a half of a cup to clean everything.  A big thanks to Brown for the tip.  

Speaking of the mundane, someone hacked my website. Really, hacking my website?  You know there is such proprietary information here and with all the revenue it produces, ($0.00), I don’t quite get it.  It wasn’t too bad though, they did something to keep me from replying to comments.  When I tried, I got back a snide remark and was told to have a good day.  I fumed for a few days, thought about what I would do to them if I could catch them, and then settled in to researching what I needed to do to get things fixed.  Unfortunately, neither Bluehost, my hosting company, nor WordPress, the company that I use to publish the blog offered any help.

Fortunately, it only took about an hour to figure out and not too hard to fix.  At least I didn’t have a really malicious hacker that wiped out everything.  After I got the site working again, I immediately backed up everything for the past year and a half.

Lynette and I drove over to Marietta and then out to Winder for our granddaughter Hannah’s Birthday party.  Her actual birthday was a few weeks ago when we were in Maine, and she had a slumber party.  So this past weekend, the family all got together to celebrate with her.  She just turned 10 and our daughter-in-law’s mom had a wonderful brunch for her and we all had a great time.  We stayed over until Monday so we could vote. It only took us about 30 minutes and we got to see some friends from church.  Then there was the four hour drive back to Red Bay.

When we left here, the TVs all worked fine.  When we got back nothing worked.  So the past two nights, no TV and it was actually pretty good.  We got in some reading and actually talked for a while.  Today, I spent the day trouble shooting the system.  It was not simple since it has four TVs, three HDMI splitters, fiber optics, a DVD player with surround sound, an in-motion satellite system and an HD satellite receiver. I finally figured out the problem was that one of the power supplies for one of the splitters had gone bad. Sounds pretty easy to fix, right?  So I went to the camp store, and of course they were out of them.  But, they would have some brought over from the warehouse and they should be delivered within the next couple of hours. Things are looking good.  

I picked up one and commented to the salesperson that it looked a lot different than the one I had.  She assured me it was the right part so I came back and plugged it in.  Big mistake.  Lynette pointed out to me that  the new one was for a newer model and had 1.5 amps of power and my old one had an output of only 0.6 amps. Sooo, it fried the splitter and I wound up having to replace it as well, to the tune of $150.  I’m sure I can work out something with Tiffin where they will pick up the cost under warranty.

Tomorrow is a visit to the actual factory, which should be fun.  I hope to learn more about the monstrous beast we now call home.  Life on the road is not boring, most of the time, and I am always learning something new.  Camping in a parking lot for a couple of weeks is not all that great, (though it is great for the budget) but it is just part of RVingthecountry.  

From Maine To Alabama

I haven’t posted anything for a while so I have a lot of stories to share.  About a six weeks ago, I came down with a cold.  Lynette had had one for about three weeks and finally went to the doctor to get some antibiotics because it was actually a sinus infection.  After two weeks with my cold, I realized it was much more than that.  I found a doctor’s clinic in Brattleboro, Vermont and they were able to get me in.  It turns out I had a sinus infection, ear infection, bronchitis, and pneumonia.  It’s no wonder I was feeling so crappy.  The closest CVS pharmacy that had all the medicine I needed, antibiotics, steroids, cough medicine with codeine, etc. was over in Keene, NH, about 30 minutes away.  I thought there was a CVS on every street corner throughout the country, not so.

Erin’s Visit
While we were in Winter Harbor, Maine, our daughter Erin flew up for a visit.  She was on fall break from school, so the timing was perfect.  We made the three-hour trip back south to Portland to pick her up at the Portland Jetport.  I am guessing it was named when jets were first coming out and “Jetport” made it sound really futuristic.  Now, it just sounds a little cheesy.  Trusting a GPS is sometimes not the wisest thing to do.  We put in the address of the “Jetport” and it took us to a residential street on the wrong side of the Fore River which has a draw bridge over it.  So we used a different GPS, went back over the river, past the area we had just covered and took a different turn.  Luckily, we got to the airport about five minutes before Erin walked out to the curb.  We picked her up and started the three-hour trip back to Acadia National Park.  We had so much fun on the way back, catching up on what we had all been doing. We got back to the campground about midnight and all just hit the sack.

The next day, Erin and I took a ferry over to Bar Harbor and Lynette drove over.  We were meeting Chris and LaSydia Patterson from our church for lunch.  They were taking a Princess Lines cruise up the east coast and Bar Harbor was one of their stops on their way to Nova Scotia.  It was a bit strange meeting at the Route 66 Restaurant.  Lynette and I had taken various parts of Route 66 on our trip out west, and Bar Harbor looked nothing like it.  However, the restaurant was pretty authentic and looked like it would have fit right in in Oklahoma or Arizona.  We had so much fun and after lunch, spent some time walking around the city and just exploring.

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Bar Harbor is a beautiful little town and we met a couple from Scotland while we were there.  They talked about the little coastal towns in Scotland that were much like Bar Harbor, but did not have the visitors or fishing industry anymore and were slowing dying out.  I could feel the sadness in their voices as if a part of them was dying as well.  We all took the car ride back to Schoodic Woods because the last ferry ride back, left well before we were planning to return.

img_0048-1

The view from Cadillac Mountain down into Bar Harbor overlooking the Princess Cruise Ship.  It was so large, the other ships had to clear out of the harbor for it to come in.

We spent the next day back over in Bar Harbor exploring the main part of Acadia National Park.  We drove up to Cadillac Mountain which is the tallest coastal mountain on the east coast.  On the way up we stopped several times to look out over the ocean and just breathe in the views.  At one stop, we saw a car with Gwinnett County license plates.  I asked the folks where they lived in Gwinnett and they started laughing.  They were actually from Blue Ridge, Georgia, had flown up to Boston and that was the rental car they got.  Small world and a funny coincidence.  Erin and I got out at Cadillac Mountain and did some hiking along the rocks.  It is such a majestic pace.

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The cruise ships normally travel between ports at night and offload their passengers during the day. Most times there are two or three in port at any given time.

In another part of the park, we were driving down one of the interior roads and off to one side was a six-point buck standing majestically as if to say, “I know I am in the park and no one can mess with me.” So then he just strutted across the road in front of us.

On the way back, we stopped at a little hole-in-the-wall restaurant for dinner.  You go in one side to order, walk back outside to another area where they are steaming lobsters and shrimp, and pick up you order, and then walk back into another dining area.  It was a fun little place where everyone talks to everyone else.

We spent several more days seeing the sights and taking in the atmosphere and then it was time to head back to Portland for Erin to take her trip back.  We were all having such a wonderful time, we hated to see her leave and she hated to go back.  She had never ridden in our coach, so Lynette gave her the passenger seat up front so she could experience the view from the five foot by eight foot windshield.  We had a great trip back, set up the RV in a local RV park and then dropped her off at the Portland Jetport.  That still sound a little funny.

New Hampshire
Lynette and I only stayed one night in Old Orchard Beach, Maine, and then it was on to our next stop in Freedom, New Hampshire.  I love driving the back roads and going through small towns.  In one little town, there was a sign out front at the local Elk’s Club, advertising a benefit dinner for a local family.  I have no idea what need that family had, but I do know the community wanted to help them.

Another place on our trip, I noticed a car parked alongside the road and there was a couple out by a pasture fence taking pictures.  To my surprise they were photographing a double humped camel.  What?  A camel in New Hampshire?

While in New Hampshire, we took a ride along the Kancamangus Highway.  It is a 34-mile scenic highway that stretches from Conway to Lincoln through the White Mountains.  I saw in one travel magazine that it was one of the Top 10 scenic drives in the U.S. When you think of autumn in New England, this is the poster child.  It switches from tree lined canopies to wide open mountain views that seem to go on forever and everything in between.  There is a river that flows along most of the highway and reflects the beauty of the trees off it crystal clear water.

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My friend Bob Andrew has been up this way several times and taken some incredible pictures.  He is a real photographer whereas I just take pictures.  When I told him I was going to be up here and see the leaves, he had only one word to describe the area, “WOW!”.  He was so right.  It is just not a place to see, but rather an experience to enjoy.  I definitely want to come back here.

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Vermont
Leaving New Hampshire, we drove westward and camped at the Kenolie Campground in New Fane, Vermont.  When researching campgrounds in the areas we want to visit, we never really know what we will get until you get there.  This was such a place.  We turned off the main road and soon got to the turnoff for the campground.  After about 100 yards, the paved road turned to dirt and just wide enough for two cars to pass in opposite directions if they wanted to become really close friends.  Fortunately, me made it the mile down the road without any traffic before we tuned up a steep incline that took us into the park.  At the top of the hill, the campground was a large open meadow with some large tree.  It was a pretty place with mostly travel trailers of people who camp there all summer and everyone seems to know everyone else.

As we arrived at our site, one of the residence told me, “I was wondering when you were going to deliver my new rig.”  We had a good laugh and got set up.  She invited us over to share their campfire that evening, but I was still under the weather, so we told her we wouldn’t be able to make it.

It turns out that weekend was the weekend for the town’s annual fall festival, celebrating all things Vermont.  We stopped at one place where the local middle school was selling fresh pressed apple cider and freshly baked apple pies.  It was a fund raiser for them to take a trip to Costa Rica next spring.  When  I say the cider was fresh, I mean there were piles of apples on the ground, and an apple press right beside them.  As the apples were smashed, they would fill gallon jugs with the fresh elixir.  It was $6.00 for a gallon and it was by far the best cider I have ever had.  Just to help out the kids, we also bought one of the apple pies as well. Yeah, help out the kids.

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Just like everywhere we have been, the people here are wonderful, friendly, helpful, and fun to be around.  I asked them for a recommendation for a good local restaurant.  They said we needed to visit the Dam Diner for sure, just five miles up the road.  It gets its name from a nearby dam that was built to raise the water level in a local lake.  The Dam Diner was great.  It is definitely a local hangout as everyone that came in always stopped at two or three table to talk to their friends.  There were lots of folks talking politics and I saw a “Bern with Bernie” t-shirt.  I’m not real sure what it meant, Burn?

The diner had a huge collection of maybe 200 kitchen utensils hanging from the wall with green wooden handles, the kind your grandmother used to have.  It turns out the owner collects them.  Also, there was a collection of maybe 150 green glassware items placed on the shelves in the front window.  One little boy about 5 years old was there with his dad who had a big crocheted hat covering what I suspect were his dreadlocks.  It was obvious there were regulars as well.  The boy went straight for a glass jar that held little toys, like bowling pins that were maybe two inches tall and a little ball to knock them down.  None of the chairs matched, most were wooden but there was one porcelain metal table.  It made a great surface for the bowling pins.  This was definitely my kind of place.

One thing I keep learning over and over in life is to not judge people by their appearance.  The man with the dreadlocks is not someone I would normally have been drawn to, but this guy had a great smile and a peaceful presence about him.  He was very tender with  his little boy and this is something I have always admired.  As we left, I made sure to tell him he had a great little helper with him.  He gave me a great smile and thanked me.

By the way, the food at the Dam Diner was great.  That’s just fun to say.  The weather was definitely getting cooler up here with the low temperatures at night getting down to the mid 30’s but warming up during the day to the high 50’s and low 60’s.

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The view from Hogback Mountain. I felt like I was standing in a Bob Ross painting. We bought some Vermont syrup at the at the store on top of the mountain.

Connecticut
Next up was Wolf’s Den Family Campground in East Haddam, Connecticut near Hartford.  I wanted to visit this area to see one of my former students, Nicole Douglin, that I had met when I was teaching in AT&T’s Business Sales LeadershipDevelopment Program.  Lynette and I met her for lunch in West Hartford, which has a great little small town atmosphere.  It is definitely much smaller than its namesake and a fun place to visit.  We spent a couple hours talking about old times and catching up on what each of us was doing now.  One of the fun things with friends is that you can just pick up right where you left off, no matter how long it has been since you last saw them.  It was just that way with Nicole, she is an exceptional young lady.

While in East Haddam, one of our neighbors was a lady who had starting full-timing with her husband two years before.  After they had been on the road for a year, he unexpectedly passed away and now she was doing it on her own, sort of.  She had two dogs, three cats, and a bird.  The bird had learned to mimic the sounds of the big diesel engine and the transmission shifting.  Sometimes when she would be driving down the road, the bird would chime right in with the sounds.  Occasionally, it would get to be a bit much and she would shout out a big, “Shut up bird.”  We really admired her for her courage and tenacity.  She was on her way to New Jersey for her son’s wedding and then heading south for the winter.

Pennsylvania
From Connecticut, it was down to the Pennsylvania Dutch Campground in Bernville, Pennsylvania. We had only planned to stay there one night but it turned in to two.  About midnight on our first night, the power to the coach went out.  I got up and checked the power pedestal outside and my surge/fault protector indicated a hard ground.  I was glad we had six six-volt batteries in our rig that could keep the refrigerator going and had a propane heating system because the low temperature for the night was going to be in the low 30’s.

I let the park office know about my problem and they had their maintenance guy come out and “fix” it the next morning.  I asked them about a free night since I didn’t have power the night before and they were fine with that.

Later that day, a saw a familiar coach pull in.  It was Loyce and Diane, two ladies that had attended the Freightliner school in Gaffney South Carolina, the same time I was there in August.  We shared where we had been and what we had been doing and then swapped information on which RV parks to stay at in different states.  They were headed to Virginia for a couple of weeks and then making their way back to their homes in Florida for part of the winter.

That night, the same thing happened with power again.  I didn’t realize it, but the power had gone out at my site earlier in the day, and the batteries were almost drained.  I have a system on the coach that automatically starts the 10 kw generator if the voltage in the batteries get too low.  It kicked on sometime during the night and we stayed nice and cozy with the heater fans blowing when they needed to.   It was time to move further south, so I didn’t worry about the power at this campground any more.

Virginia
Our next stop was Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Campground in Natural Bridge Virginia.  It was supposed to be a five-hour drive, but because of one wreck, turned into a seven-hour ordeal.  We had to endure creeping along in bumper to bumper traffic for a solid two hours.  I would have preferred the road being completely blocked so I could have laid on the couch and taken a nap.  I’ve done that before and it is so relaxing, just park on the interstate, turn off the engine, lay down on the sofa, and sleep.  By the time we got to the campground, we were beat.  Then it was nap time.

The main reason for staying hear was to visit our friends, Kent and Sheila Heath, who live about an hour away in Forest, Virginia.  Our kids grew up together and we all have such wonderful memories of those times.  We went out to dinner and laughed about the old times and caught up with what is going on with our children now.  Even though we haven’t talked in about a decade, we just seemed to pick up right where we left off.  It is funny how time and distance really never separate good friends.  We are all going to do a better job staying in touch.

While at the campground, we met Joe and Maggie, who were new to the RVing lifestyle.  They were learning the ropes and so I shared some of the things I had learned like the best squeegee for cleaning a big front windshield and not letting your rear tires lift off the ground when leveling your coach. Those are the wheels that have the brakes applied when you park and lifting them off the ground while leveling could let the coach roll backwards.   They were super people and fun to be around.  I wish we could have spent more time with them but they were moving on as well.

Tennessee
Our next stop was Heiskell, Tennessee, just north of Knoxville.  We try to keep our trips about three hours a day if possible.  Since leaving Maine at the end of September, our main goal was to arrive in Red Bay, Alabama around November 1.  We have a bunch of warranty work to get done before our one-year warranty period is up and also want to be back in Georgia in time to vote.  The only two things we really planned to do along the way was visit Nicole in Connecticut and Kent and Sheila in Virginia.  The rest was just a trip to Red Bay.  As you can imagine, no matter how wonderful the scenery is, traveling every day or every couple of days gets really tiring.  We were pretty much getting to that point, so we stopped here for about a week.

It was nice not having to go anywhere or see anything.  We did go to Walmart to stock up on groceries but other than that, I just did chores around the RV.  Most campgrounds don’t allow their campers to wash their cars or RVs, but this one did.  So I took the opportunity to wash the car so the white color would actually show through all the road grime from Main to Tennessee.  I also spot cleaned the camper but didn’t see much point in doing a thorough cleaning since we were going to be back on the road in a few days.

When owning an RV, there is always something that needs to be done.  I had to repair a camping chair, clean the RV windshield, (about a 45-minute job), and check the tire pressure in all 10 tires.  Of course, some of the tires needed more air, so I had to pull out my air compressor and top them off.  I have a tire pressure monitoring system that broke, so I had to reprogram all the tires into the replacement.  Then came planning the next couple of campgrounds.  I’m not complaining, it’s actually quite therapeutic and gives me a sense of accomplishment.  Lynette takes care of the inside and cooking and my job is the outside and driving.

One of the things I admire about Lynette is that no matter how far we have driven or what we have done during the day, and how tired we are, she always seems to come up with a great meal for dinner.  Most of the time, we just prefer to eat in the RV instead of going out to restaurants unless it is something a place in famous for, like lobster in Maine or seafood along the coast.

Once again, we met some great people here and got some recommendations for campgrounds in different parts of the country.  One couple in particular had spent this last April through September in Kalispell, Montana, just south of Glacier National Park and gave me some ideas on where to stay and things to do in the area.  Another couple spent time volunteering in State and National Parks in return for free camping. They shared with me the process for getting those jobs and what to expect.  It’s not something we plan to do right now, but it’s definitely a possibility in the future.

Alabama
Yesterday, we made the three-hour trip from Heiskell, Tennessee to Parnell RV Park in Woodville, Alabama.  We stayed at this park in July of 2013 when we brought two of our granddaughters, Hannah and Emily, to the Space Center in Huntsville.  They tried to wear out the water in the swimming pool, and spent a lot of time giggling.  It was so much fun.  We are only here for a couple of days since we both of us hate to travel on back to back days.  The park is family owned and we try to support these types of parks whenever we can.  The owners are super friendly and accommodating and the park is right on our way to Red Bay.

So tomorrow we should arrive in Red Bay at the Tiffin factory.  I suspect we will be there about a week or so since we have a lot of work to be done.  Most of it is pretty simple stuff but just takes time.  There are a couple of major things, like a sizeable bad spot on the paint and the floor heating not working, but Tiffin has the highest customer satisfaction rating in the industry, so I am sure they will take care of us. They also have their own campground that is free for customers who are still in their warranty period, so I looking forward to saving a little money.

All Caught Up
I know this is a long post, but it’s been about a month since I have felt much like writing.  The bronchitis and pneumonia made me feel tired most of the time and I haven’t felt like doing too much.  I was usually feeling good for a couple of hours and then crash for a few hours.  I still have a cough but I think I am finally about to get well.

Life on the road is good as we have had a great time moving from Maine to Alabama.  I missed a lot of things that would have been fun to see but now I have an excuse to make the trip again, not that I needed one.

From Red Bay, the plan to is to head back to Georgia for the elections and the holidays and then down to Florida in January.  From there we plan to be winter Texans and head to south Texas for February and March and then start making our way out to visit Oregon, Washington, and Idaho.  That’s about as detailed as our plans are right now.

Next year we are planning to stay in places longer to get a deeper experience of the areas we visit and not travel so many miles.  Several years ago I read an article that said there is only one right way to RV, and that is the way that is right for you.  Sage wisdom.

Lynette and I are loving our new traveling lifestyle and are trying to make the most of every place and every day as we are RVingthecountry.

 

 

We Are Loving Maine

I once heard a comedian from Canada say that Canada was kind of like the attic for America, we don’t go up there very often but when we do, we find out there is some really cool stuff up there. I have found that to be so true and it also applies to Maine. We have been up here for about a month and have seen so many of the most wonderful places.

Maine has such a unique character. There are so many lakes, streams, rivers, and bogs, that it seems almost everyone owns some kind of boat. About half of the trucks or cars pulling travel trailers, or RVs pulling toad vehicles have kayaks or canoes strapped to them. One thing that I think you will only see in Maine, is a canoe sitting on top of a pickup truck parked in a shopping center that had, “Johnson For City Council” painted on the side. With all the lakes in Minnesota, maybe they advertise on the side of their canoes too.

We are now in Acadia National Park just outside the little town of Winter Harbor. It is only about an hour and a half from our last stop in Herman, Maine, if you don’t take a wrong turn, or about 20 minutes longer if you do. Ask me how I know. It was bound to happen sooner or later, as I got off by one day where we were supposed to be and when. I accidently left our old site a day too soon and thus arrived here a day early. The park rangers were very accommodating and found a site for us for the night since the site we had reserved still had someone in it for another day. The park has free Wi-Fi service that is available at the main check-in site and at the restrooms. To our good fortune, our site for the night was right beside the restrooms, so we had good free Wi-Fi. Out next site was further away, so we lost the free internet access but the AT&T signal is good here, so we are still in business.

At around 4:30 on our first day here, a thick fog rolled in from the ocean. It was like the ones you see in horror movies, where it is so thick, you can see it coming like a sheet of white mist and you know scary things are about to happen. Well, there were no monsters, but we could hear the fog horns from the lighthouse in the harbor and from boats out on the water. It was so thick, visibility was only about 30 feet. We felt so good to be inside our little fiberglass can on wheels. Just before dusk, we took a ride along the Schoodic Loop Road down to Schoodic Point, hoping to catch a glimpse of a moose. The road mostly follows along the coastline and we could hear the water lapping and sometimes crashing along the rocky water’s edge. Occasionally, the fog would lift long enough for the moon to shine through and we could actually see the ocean. I believe this is the darkest place I have ever been. The road is lined with dense forest on one side and the rocky coast line peeks through the trees on the other side. Sometimes, all you can see is black ocean. It is really an other-worldly experience.

A couple of years ago, The National Park Service opened the Schoodic Woods Campground. It is, by far, the nicest public campground we have ever visited. It is in the deep lush Maine woods but has wide paved roads to the camping sites. All of the sites have 100, 50, 30, and 20-amp power service along with water. There are no sewer connections, but there is a dump station close by with wide vehicle access. Our grey tank holds 66 gallons and our black tank holds 50 gallons, so if we are frugal, we can last for about a week before we need to empty them.  All of the sites are wide gravel pull-throughs, pretty level, far apart and have lots of vegetation and trees between sites. There is no traffic noise, only birds singing. This place is the very definition of tranquility. What more could we ask for?

The distance between Winter Harbor and Bar Harbor is only six miles, by boat, and takes about 45 minutes by ferry. If you choose to drive it, it’s about 40 miles and takes about an hour because they are located on opposite sides of a huge inlet. We opted to take the highway for our first trip over and get a better feel for the area. We are planning to take the ferry when our daughter Erin comes to visit up next week. She is out of school for Fall Break, so it will be great having her for a few days.

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We got to see some uniquely Maine sites along the way. There was “Sawyer the Chainsaw Artist” who could use a chainsaw to carve up fascinating sculptures out of wood and lots of places that started with the name, “Mainely”, like Mainely BBQ, Mainely Hair, and Mainly Jellies. There were lots of lobster and crab pots stacked up along the road, and small fishing boats being repaired.

Maine is certainly a lobster lover’s paradise. Stop at one of the many roadside stands and get a “World Famous” lobster roll or pick out a lobster and they will cook it for you right there. Eat in or Carry Out only $5.99 per pound. How many days do you think you could eat lobster before getting tired of it? Can you image, tired of lobster? It’s not a big deal for me, I don’t even like lobster.

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Bar Harbor is a beautiful little town. We didn’t spend much time there, but plan to come back for several more visits. All of the shops and restaurants seemed to be locally owned, no franchise operations anywhere. We made our way over to the main part of Acadia National to see all it had to offer. I know it is going to take several more trips too.

The northeast coast is so different from the beaches in the southeast and Gulf of Mexico. They are more like the coastline of the Pacific. In the south, there is flat land and sand for miles and miles leading up to the ocean, the northeast has mountains and rich soil. The coastline is very rocky and the places to swim in the ocean seem a lot more limited. It is so amazing to watch the ocean crash against the rocks and see the spray lift high into the air against the blue September sky.

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I like the way this part of the park is laid out. It has two lines with one-way traffic done in a loop. If you want to stop and see something, you can also use the right lane to park. Also, there is a paved walking path along the ocean with side trails leaning down to the water at points where the cliffs don’t just drop 50 feet down.

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The pace is really slow, and that’s good because there is so much to see. We spent several hours there, getting out of the car to see the sights and just enjoying the experience. We watched the lobster fishermen setting their traps and hauling in the day’s harvest. There are little buoys everywhere in inlets, bobbing up and down with different colors and in distinct patterns so the fishermen will know which string is theirs. What an amazing place.

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This is home for the next couple of weeks, so I know we have a lot more sightseeing to see. Life is really good as we are RVingthecountry.

Wow! What a Year!

It is hard to believe that we have been on the road for a year now.  We left McKinney Campground on September 14 and haven’t looked back. Lynette and I feel so blessed that we have been able to see the sights and visit places we had only read about or dreamt of.  We have seen a lot but we know there are even more that we haven’t yet experienced.  We spent most of the winter in various places in Florida and met some wonderful people, some our ages, but most a tad older.  Those are great people to learn from.

From there it was on to Alabama, Mississippi, and then Louisiana for beignets and coffee at Café Du Monde along with some of New Orleans’ other world famous cuisine.  I particularly enjoyed crossing the Lake Pontchartrain causeway, the longest continuous bridge over water in the world at almost 24 miles in length.

Next we spend about a month exploring Texas.  It truly is a world unto itself.  The Alamo, the hill country, the desert, the land of oil wells and horrible roads, big cities like Houston, and small towns like Lake Hills.  Big Bend National Park was so large, it was 40 miles from the entrance of the park to the Park Lodge.  We sat and watch the Rio Grande meander along the Mexican border only a stone’s throw to the other side.  A beautiful place.

Onward to New Mexico and Arizona, states neither of us had ever seen.  The White Sands National Park and missile range in New Mexico, and who can go to Arizona without a visit to Tombstone and the Saguaro National Park with its cacti that are THE symbol of the Old West?  The daily temperature swings in the desert were routinely around 40 degrees.  Hot during the day and a bit nippy at night.

Then it was out to San Diego for Lynette to visit her uncle at Rosecrans National Cemetery and a visit to the USS Midway, the place that ended World War II. We watch skydivers near our campground and visited with our friend Cristin who lives there now.  Our daughter, Melanie, and granddaughter, Emily, flew out for a couple of weeks and visited Ventura Beach, Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz, Monterey, Carmel, Pacifica, and San Francisco.  Any of these places could be a spectacular vacation in itself, but to be able to see all of them was overwhelming.  We got to see whales migrating up the coast and watch the Pacific Ocean from 100 foot tall cliffs.  Then it was time for Melanie to fly back home and Emily make the cross country trip with us back to Georgia.

Though we got to see so much on our way back, the 115 degree heat in Las Vegas and the nighttime temperatures in the 50’s near the Grand Canyon were quite remarkable.  We spent time riding a train to and from the Grand Canyon, and visiting some of the small towns that are still alive along Route 66.  We got to experience making chocolate bars in Hershey, Pennsylvania and fresh lobster in Maine. We walked where great people such as Robert E. Lee, Thomas Jefferson, and George Washington walked.  It has been amazing.

All in all, it has been a remarkable year with visits to Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, California, Nevada, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Tennessee, West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine, and soon to be Vermont.  We may venture over to New Brunswick and Nova Scotia over in Canada since they are pretty close to our next stop in Bar Harbor.  Our daughter, Erin, is flying up to spend some time with us next week, so we want to go to somewhere else really cool.

A total of 26 states in one year has been a dream come true, but also way too many to cover in such a short about of time.  Next year, we plan to go to one state and spend about a month there.  That gives us more time to get to know the real personality of an area.  Texas and California will take quite a bit longer obviously.

Plans for the upcoming year include a visit to Glacier National Park in Montana, and trips to Idaho, Washington, Oregon, Colorado and Utah.  We also plan to change our residency to Florida, since they have no state income tax, an instant 6% tax savings over Georgia.  There is so much to see and we plan to make the most of our time, but also slow down a bit.

Life on the road is fun, but it’s also a lot of work, just like living in a regular “sticks and bricks” house.  The biggest difference is figuring where we are going to park our “house”.  That’s not a complaint, it’s just time consuming with a lot of decisions to be sure we stay within our budget and see all we can.

People often ask how long we are going to do this, and the answer is always the same, “We don’t know.”  The nomadic lifestyle suits us for now, and when it doesn’t, we will make that decision.  For now, we are just RVingthecountry.

 

Moose Hunting in Maine

Maine is such a beautiful state and the people we have met have been wonderful people. We have found the best travel advice comes for the local folks who know the area, no big surprise there.  One of the folks who lives full time in the park here told us about Moosehead Lake.  It’s about 90 minutes away and turns out this weekend is their annual International Fly In for seaplanes.  Also, there is an abundance of moose in the area, so Lynette and I decided to go moose hunting, not the gun kind, but the camera kind.  It was a beautiful drive along Maine Highway 15 through little towns like Levant, Kenduskeag, and Dover Foxcroft along the Piscataquis River.

One of the towns is Monson, Maine.  It’s not a very big place but is located along the Appalachian Trail and is the last town before entering the 100 Mile Wilderness, on the way to the northern terminus at Mt. Katahdin in Baxter State Park. The trail is about 2200 miles long and winds its way through 14 states from Georgia to Maine.  I’ve hiked about 300 miles of it over the years and it is beautiful and remote.

There are lots of rivers and streams to cross up here and the scenery is wonderful.  Some of the waterways they call streams are as wide and deep as rivers.  In a few places along the way, there were signs warning of moose crossings.  In one place in particular, there was a warning that it was an area for a lot of moose-car collisions.  We wanted to see one, but not on the hood or our car.  The moose here are up to 6 feet tall at the shoulders and can weigh 1200 pounds.  We kept our eyes peeled, especially along boggy areas, but no luck in spotting one.

As we arrived in the downtown area of Greenville, we spotted one part of Moosehead Lake off to our left just as a single engine seaplane was about 50 feet overhead and was coming in for a landing.  That was so amazing to see. Watching planes land is always fun, but seeing one with pontoons landing on water was amazing. We stopped and parked along the water for a while and just watched the planes land.  From there is was up to Lily Bay State Park further north on the lake. Moosehead Lake it the largest lake in Maine.  As a comparison, it is 120 square miles compared to Lake Lanier at 59 square miles. Lily Bay is a fairly small state park but has good camping, boat docks, tennis courts and a large playground.  Lynette and I rode through the park and then stopped and sat on a bench that overlooks a huge area of open water. We were only about 40 feet from the water in a nice shaded area.  The sky was so blue with white puffy clouds drifting overhead, in no real hurry to get anywhere.  There was a sweet little breeze that would come and go, so we just sat there and soaked it all in for a while.  It is so wonderful to find a time and place where I am totally at peace, this was such a place.  It was quiet with the only sounds being the water lapping up on the shore and the wind wandering through the leaves.  We were in no real hurry to be anywhere, so we just sat and enjoyed ourselves. It was one of those moments where all was right with the world.

Going around the lake is 400 miles, so we decided to skip that and go back through Greenville.  We stopped at a little ice cream and burger stand downtown that was across the street from the “runway” for the seaplanes. This is the kind of place that has two walk-up windows to order your meal, or ice cream if you prefer, and a couple of benches in front of it along the sidewalk through town. As we sat, we watched more planes take off and land.  I thought is was so cool to watch the water drip off the pontoons as the planes struggled to become airborne.

We made out way back to Pumpkin Patch RV Park, looking for moose along the way, but didn’t have a successful “hunt” this time. That’s the way it is with hunting, if you always got what you were looking forward, it would be called shopping””, so the hunters tell me.

Maine is so beautiful and the temperatures are in the 70’s during the day and the 50’s at night.  There are a few trees starting to turn, but I am told the peak season starts in the next couple of weeks.  We are looking forward to seeing the brilliance of the colors we have always heard of.  After spending some time in Bar Harbor, we are planning to drive the Kancamagus Highway back in New Hampshire and then over to Vermont.

I talked with my friend Alan Davenport this morning, or “monning” as the locals pronounce it.  He laughed that names like “Moosehead Lake” and “Kancamagus” sounded like places out of a Chevy Chase movie.  Maybe Chevy visited up here too.

We are excited about the time we have here and the new surprises that lie ahead as we are RVingthecountry.

 

All The Way to Maine

We made our way from Epsom, New Hampshire to Old Orchard Beach, Maine along US 202 and then mostly up Interstate 95. Though I would rather have taken US 1, which parallels Interstate 95, it would have taken a couple of extra hours of driving because of the small towns and traffic lights.  Also, I have found that roads like US 1 in the northeast are usually so crowded, it’s a lot like sitting in big city traffic, which obviously is not much fun. The downside of the interstates up here are the tolls, one of them costing $10.50 and a couple of others ringing up a modest $2.50 each.  While in New Hampshire, we stopped in at a Department of Transportation Service Center and picked up an EZ-Pass.  It’s good in about a dozen states on the east coast and even provides a discount at some toll booths.  It also saves me from having to fumble around for cash, since many locations don’t take credit cards.  It also is helpful in keeping up with expenses.

Orchard Beach is a pretty little New England beach town with a small amusement park downtown.  The main road parallels the ocean with businesses on one side of the road and old beach houses on the ocean side.  There are a couple of modern hotels that are about eight stories high, but it is mainly small houses that look to have been there since the 1950’s.  It is so much more quaint that the big high rise condos that many of the big beach towns promote.  The whole developed area is only a couple of miles long, and then it’s just shoreline.

We stayed at the Wagon Wheel RV Resort which has 280 spaces.  It is only open from mid-May through mid-October and then closes up for the winter.  About 200 of the spaces are seasonal residents, some who move in for the entire summer and others that commute from big cities like Boston for the weekends.  It is one of the most well kept parks we have been in that has a lot of full time residents.

I have always contended that the best part of traveling full time in an RV are the people we get to meet.  This was never so true as the family we met there.  Ted is a firefighter and his wife, Jamie is a corrections officer from NY. They have two adorable kids, a girl and a boy, ages six and four.  I met Ted while he as busy cleaning the aluminum wheel on his big bus. Though this was vacation time for him, he said he really enjoyed polishing them up since it was pretty much the only time he had some spare time.

Ted and his dad went in together to purchase their rig and share the time with it along with the expenses.  Ted is one of those guys you meet that you immediately relate to, outgoing and never met a stranger.  His wife is a bit more reserved but just as much fun.  Lynette and I fell in love with them and their kids.  Their daughter is absolutely stunning for her age, and could have been a double for Dakota Fanning at that age.  Their son is all boy, pushing the limit on everything, but the sweetest heart you will ever find.  It was fun watching their excitement over everything, especially make s’mores. There were burnt marshmallows and lots of chocolate, the things that make great memories.  The best thing about this family was the example the parents set for their kids.  They openly shared how God had blessed them and the grace He has shown them in sharing their faith in their jobs. The whole family was an encouragement to Lynette and I.  We are hoping to me able to stop by their house in New York on our way back south.

We belong to a camping club called “Passport America”, that provides a 50% discount at over 1600 RV parks nationwide.  There are often restrictions, like not valid on weekends or only good for two nights, but many parks will let you stay as long as you want at half price. It only costs $49 per year for membership, so it usually only takes using it a few nights to break even.  The reservations center would only let me use if for two nights at this park, but when I checked in, I asked the park attendant if I could make a separate reservation for two more nights.  We had to move to a different site for the last two days, but it saved us $60 in camping fees.  Fortunately for us, the park manager understood it was better to make half the money on a site than no money.  We plan to stay there again for a night on our way back south.

Our next stop was in Hermon, Maine at the Pumpkin Patch RV Park. http://www.pumpkinpatchrv.com/aerial.shtml  It is a beautiful little park with lots of flowers and really friendly people.  There is one guy here that sits under his RV awning each evening and plays his banjo.  This guy is really good and he always gathers a crowd.  I think the folks here might throw us out if I broke into buck dancing, if I knew how.  They might think something has possessed this strange Southerner.

The weather here is wonderful with the high temperature yesterday at 75 degrees and the low in the 50’s.  It funny, after being in the mid 90’s for a while, the mid 70’s seem a little chilly, especially when the wind blows and the sun sneaks behind the clouds.  No complaints for us though.  We came to New England for the fall to experience the leaves changing color and a few of the trees have already started to change.  This is such a peaceful place, cool and breezy.  I understand why folks love it here in the summer.

Hermon, Maine is only 8 miles west of Bangor.  The Bangor International Airport is the easternmost major airport in the US. It is so far east that the sunrise here is an hour and fifteen minutes earlier than Atlanta.  So the mornings start early here but the sunset also comes early. When there is a problem with a flight from Europe to the US, this is the airport where the planes land.  I think we are in the flightpath of one of the runways, since a couple of times, we thought a big plane was going to set on top of us.  No worries, it just adds a little excitement.
https://www.google.com/maps/dir/Bangor,+ME/Hermon,+ME/@38.4682496,-83.0174738,5.1z/data=!4m14!4m13!1m5!1m1!1s0x4cae4b46101129bd:0x4d0918b0a7af7677!2m2!1d-68.7778138!2d44.8011821!1m5!1m1!1s0x4cae351b05a03581:0x970cde61e64f7aa4!2m2!1d-68.9133724!2d44.81007!3e0

If you would like to see more pictures of our journeys, visit Lynette Land Myers on Facebook, as she does a great job capturing our travels as we are RVingthecountry.

The Dirt

It is kind of funny how so many towns look just alike.  You can drive through the main drags of just about any medium size town and you they could almost be interchangeable. Yesterday, we went to the Costco in Nashua, NH.  The “Shopping” street had the usual fare, Bed Bath & Beyond, Chile’s, Ruby Tuesday’s, Toys R Us, Party City, Men’s Warehouse, SuperCuts, The Vitamin Shoppe, Michaels, Honey Baked Ham, David’s Bridal, McDonald’s, Burger King, Taco Bell, Mexican, Chinese, Indian, Mom & Pop Restaurants, Name Your Bank, and so much more.  Cities are now so homogenized, most of the local flavor is gone.  That’s one reason why I like to visit much smaller towns.  Yes, the selection of goods and services is so much smaller and the prices may be a little higher, but they have character and a personality.

As we travel the country, we make it a point to visit small towns and stay off the interstates as much as possible.  Many times it’s a bit difficult to take the back roads because they are not really built or maintained for big busses.  When driving the rig on backroads, I really have to look out for low hanging branches that have grown over the right hand side of the road. Even a one inch branch hanging down can take out one, or two, or three air conditioning units, antennas, and make a permanent reminder on the windshield.

We are in Epsom, New Hampshire and it has been a bit of a surprise.  Instead of the rich dark dirt of Pennsylvania and even Connecticut, the soil is very sandy.  There are still a lot more hardwood trees that evergreens, but this looks like parts of eastern North Carolina. The park here has about 60 spaces and it seems that most of them are rented out for the summer, with a lot of them being rented out to local folks.  The park is only open from the middle of May through mid October to coincide with the “camping season,” As such, the locals park their travel trailers here for the summer, work mostly during the week, and then show up on the weekends to “party hard”.  It was pretty noisy on Friday night with lots of beer bottles and cans stacked up on tables as a reminder of the night before.  It didn’t really matter much to us since we run a fan at night and it tends to drown out the outside noise.

Tomorrow, it’s time to head up to Maine for a month.  We are hoping for cool weather and to see a moose.  That is definitely on Lynette’s bucket list and I haven’t seen one in the wild for many years.  Since neither of us has ever been there, we are really looking forward to this new adventure.  So onward as we are RVingthecountry.