Saturday, April 30, 2011

How did they put that carpet down?

After breakfast, our plans changed. We put off the Lillington trip until tomorrow. So we started cleaning the house, which lead us to cleaning the 5er. Obviously, that in turn lead to ripping up the now faded blue carpet--a task I started last week but with the wind and rain, I decided to put it on hold.
We originally had the carpet from the front half way back to the kitchen, with the entry area near the door being matching rolled linoleum with the kitchen. Who ever decided carpeting was a good thing for travel trailers? There was dirt, and more dirt. The previous owners lived in it for almost 8 years. Naturally it was going to be dirty. Guess they didn't have one of those vacuum cleaners the door-to-door folks sell...
We managed to get a little over half the carpet out when Mary started suggesting options for the new floor. We had initially discussed a faux wood covering similiar to pergo. After sleeping on that idea for a week or two, the new direction was just linoleum squares. So we headed off to a different Lowes (our regular Lowes is under re-construction) for tile.
Parking lot rule #3--Do not try to park a Dodge 2500 LONG bed in the first spot from the doors. Seems I got a little too close to a mitsubishi something and the owner had a fit claiming I tok his bumper off. Note to myself--PARK far away from others when driving the 20 foot truck.
But, we did find a tile we liked and will start installing it tomorrow. PROMISE we will have pictures of the project here and on Blue Road Blogger .

Let's do some work on the road.

We are ready to explore our current home town of Lillington, North Carolina.  Though we have  always supported local business whenever possible, we haven't really familiarized ourselves with all that Lillington has.
We recently added our 1998 Coachmen 5th wheel to our insurance policy. After getting several quotes we realize the importance of shopping around.   Our friends at
AIM insurance might be one resource to consider. We were reminded how important it was to have coverage when the empty lot next to our house caught fire several weeks ago. North Carolina has been on high alert regarding fires as the water table had dropped significantly. We had just brought our 5th wheel home a week earlier and thought we would have it insured soon.
Seeing how rapidly the fire spread in just brush, made us realize waiting to insure the 5th wheel was not necessarily a wise idea. We tried several online insurance companies as well as our brick and mortar agency here in North Carolina. Seems most traditional insurance companies don't really want to deal with recreational vehicles and have them underwritten by other agencies similiar to AIM insurance.
LAst week when the tornadoes rolled through North Carolina, we were fortunate enough to be between their paths of destruction. One passed just 7 miles west of us and extensively damaged the city of Sanford. Another passed 20 miles east and destroyed the homes of two familes my wife works with. We were grateful the tornadoes missed us, saddened by the destruction of our neighbors' and friends property, but EXTREMELY glad that no one we knew personally was injured or killed.
Our 5th wheel came through the storm without a blemish. As concerned as we were, we also knew that having the coverage similiar to what AIM insurance
can provide brings some peace of mind.
We are off to do some exploring and will post our adventure here and on Blue Road Blogger

Tim and Mary
Sandhills of North Carolina

Friday, April 29, 2011

A little R & R

Sometimes you just have to step away from the work.  Doesn't matter who you are working for, even if you are the boss.  Mary talked me into taking a short break  today.  Not that it took much conversation to convince me.  The nicest day of the whole week.  By noon I was extremely glad I took her suggestion.
Today was the Special Olympics in Johnston County.  All the schools were there, all grades from 1st through 12th had special olympians.   Watching the events reminded me why I have taught for over 20 years in special education.  The kids don't know the difference between 1st or 3rd.  But they know about losing, when no one else cares about them, when no one else takes the time to say "Great job !"
They know that today wasn't about winning or losing.  They know that today is really about participation.  Being present is being a winner.   SOmething too many of us forget.

Tim and Mary
Sandhills of North Carolina

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Spring Break and RAIN?

SO all my plans for the break have been washed away.  The Dodge did not get its transmission.  The 5er did not get organized.  The yard wasn't picked up.  Though we did manage to get some HTML done and add some cool features to our web site  Some how I have to relocate the boxes that were scheduled to be moved into the 5er  out of the living room.  Maybe Alabama / Arkansas will stop sending the storms and tornadoes to North Carolina and I will have the opportunity to do in ONE day what I had planned to do this past week.

Boot camp Linda

Its time to get busy livin my best life.
I have joined boot camp Linda. I am overweight. I know this and so does everyone else that come in contact with me. I could go into all of the deep rooted and twisted reasons of why I have fought this fight most of my life. But in truth, it’s boring to me. If it bores me, I know it has to be really boring to everyone else. I will talk about what I am doing about it though.
Boot camp Linda is my sister in law. I went home over spring break. Home for me is Garden City Michigan. It’s where my heart lives, my daughters and grandchildren. I had the chance to talk to Linda at my youngest daughter’s wedding shower. She is a trim healthy 50 something that has the energy of a 30 year old. Me, I drag myself home every day. I do put in a lot of hours, but I am to young to be this tired all the time. I have things to do and places to go. Its time to get busy livin my best life.

More circles

More Circles
A friend of mine commented on my reference to circles. She said that circles are also a path that can take us home again. That is true, circles will take us to the same place--- over and over and over again…. I am not sure that we can go home in the literal sense. The place that was “home” might still be there, but we have changed and so has everyone else. That’s a good thing. I am not being negative here. What I AM referring to is the need FOR change. There is nothing wrong with exploration. No matter how old or young, we are always changing. How we change is up to each and every one of us.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Web site building 101 continues to take shape.  We are reaquainting ourselves with HTML.  I had jumped into web design and digital photography back in 1998.  I still use the Canon D30 DSLR I bought for $1800!  I had been very familiar with the Adobe Photo Shop program as well.  My Gateway Solo 9500 laptop that I paid $4500 for in 1998 finally quit working in 2007.
Today I am using a Toshiba laptop and Mary has a very nice e-machine that is more than adaquate for our needs.
The web site is a work in progress.  Using HTML gives us more control over the appearance of the site, but it also is very time consuming.  We are still designing the site on paper and we try to update it at least once a day with new features.  I am starting on two new pages that will ink from the HOME page.  Though I am hesitant to do our biography (putting your life story out top the public is difficult), we know there are folks who will need to know where we have been and why we are going in the direction we have choosen.
Please check out site at least once a week and let us know how we are doing...


Tim and Mary
Bunnlevel, NC

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

When it starts coming together

Sometimes IT is just there.  You are standing in line waiting for the guy in front of you to finish explaining why the coffee pot he bought 3 months ago should be exchanged and IT is there.  You are driving along an all too familiar route when you ask yourself where are you and IT is there.  LAst night Mary couldn't sleep.  The end of her spring break and back to work on Tuesday, and just as she really wants to snooze, IT is there.  IT is the idea you have been looking for, but could never quite describe.

Ten minutes after Mary was in bed, she pops up and tells to me as I sat in the office, "STORY TELLING!"

I said that story telling was a great way to share with others, a book or history brought to life...

"We are story tellers!" she clarified.  "That's what we do everyday in the classroom."

I knew this had some relevance to something we must have been talking about at sometime.  Grabbing a banana from the kitchen Mary came into the office at reminded me that some time ago I talked about the National Storytelling Festival ( ) that happens each year in Tennessee during October. 

Mary sat in the chair waiting for me to jump on the idea.  She then laid out her thoughts about being storytellers and using that as a means of earning our keep when we go full-time on the road.
I guess the point here is that ideas, like knowledge and trees, take awhile to grow.  Once they have sprouted you have to nurture them and feed them to keep them alive.

Bruce Springteen, whose music I love, but politics leave something to be desired, has a song The River with the line:

 "Is a dream a lie if it don't come true or is it something worse..."

The theme of the song is growing up doing what friends and family expects you to to--

After high school you get married, get a job like dad, have kids and live off the memories of what you THOUGHT you wanted out of life.  Kind of a circle that breaks.

So last night, Mary and I were on the same path, a new circle. 
It was the answer to our "We don't know what we are looking for, but we will know it when we see it."

Monday, April 25, 2011

Will it fit, do we need it?

Today we start the task of stocking the 5er with essentials.  Taking the stuff we have in the house that we have doubles of and placing it in the Coachmen.  We have quite a bit in our plastic tubs and the time has come to sort it, keep it or donate it.  Yard sales are fine and all, but we do not thionk they have as much an attraction here in the Sandhills of North Carolina--unless you live in an old farn house and folks think you may have some undiscovered treasures.
We dropped the Dodge Cummins Turbo Diesel at the transmission shop here in Lillington for its evaluation.  The owner seems to know what is up concerning the Dodge 47re automatic transmission and their original short comings with low pressure, weak torque converter and sloppy bands / clutches.
As we are sorting through what is left of our stuff, we wonder what to do with ALL the Christmas decorations.  Will we decorate the 5er during Christmas?  Mary's sister told us about a great park in Charleston, South Carolina where ALL the campers do a light show and everyone from miles around drives through the park.  We have plans to go Christmas 2011.  We will have pictures on our web site right after the holidays.

Tim and Mary

Time to see the trans doctor

It has been almost a year since we brought the Cummins home from Waynesville North Carolina.  The transmission has done remarkably well pulling way more than it had a right to.  Our plans are to head up north to Michigan via I-77 into West Virginia.  Having traveled that way more ties than we can count on two hands, we are all too familiar with its steep grades.  Without an overhaul, we just do not think the Cummins will make it with 12K pounds strapped to its back.. 

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Designing and building the web site.

It was a glorious day here in the Sandhills of North Carolina.  Temperature around 80 and after battling clouds, the latter half the day had sunshine!
We spent the day organizing our web site and developing a design for it.  We know we will want to show you the places we are at as well as the people we meet.  After all, a place is just a place, but people are important.  There is so much to ponder as the web site come together.  How long does a story have to be?  Where do you place the pictures?  what about frames or tables?  Ultimately we realize a program like Front PAge would be very good to have.  There would be a whole lot of HTML to write.
Tomorrow we have an appointment to have the transmission in the Dodge 2500 CTD looked and and hopefully rebuilt.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

How the circle got broken

People need to keep moving, hopefully in a direction they want to go. Many of us move in a circle. Repeating the same choices over and over. That circle is comfortable. We know what to expect and there is almost a tradition to them. Good or bad, its what we know. Some people have circles that work great. Their circular gears churning away at a fabulous life where repeating the same good choices as been a path to success.
I am not one of those people. My circles sort of flip, flop and wobble along every which way without a plan or a destination. Making the same choices over and over again is not working for me. I am guessing is doesn’t work for most of us.


How the circle got broken
I seem to have gotten caught up in all things conventional and in “doing” what is expected. In the sprit of being honest, I liked being conventional. There was a security in the boundaries and in creating deep roots in one place. People who know me are a bit surprised at the turn my life has taken.
I do not mind sharing a little bit of my past history because, it is one that a lot of women out there share. Married young, three daughters that are incredible young woman now and still own my heart. Divorced at 43, remarried at 45. Still married and happy at 52. Fighting a major weight problem. I started breaking my circles in 2009 with a drastic move away from all things safe, conventional and comfortable.
North Carolina here I am

Ready to transition on the road full-time 2013

I have been trying to come up with reasons why we need to do a blog.  Everyone has one and I seem to be the last one on e-Earth to do so.
We are going to join the growing number of people who have sold, given up, lost, or otherwise left their permanent home and become modern day nomads.  21st century Ma & Pa Joad heading wherever the winds will guide us.  Us being myself, Tim and my wife Mary.
Part of it is the disillusionmment with society.  We have been teachers for nearly 25 years.  We have barely gotten by on teacher's salary and when our eldest daughter, a high school graduate, is earning more after being employed 7 months than we are after 25 years...we feel society has spoken clearly about what they feel for teachers....
Part of it is adventure.  To be able travel and see the country, for which we can thank Ken Burns and all his great documentaries on PBS, before the landmarks are either destroyed or we are too old to enjoy them.
Mary and I have been married eight years this May 23.  Our house was a quaint bungalow built in the early 1920s.  We loved the place from day one.  We tore it apart and put it back together again--inside and outside.  But the real estate bubble burst just as we were beginning to see the light at the end of that proverbial tunnel. 
But, before it happened, before we left, the RV bug had taken hold.  We bought a 30 foot 1968 Holiday Rambler travel trailer.  Suddenly, we were talking about what it would be like to be on he road during the summer months and beyond.
We left Michigan vowing to never own real estate again.  LOW rent was our objective, and money for travel.  Just the two of us and our two hound dogs--Lola the Plott Hound and Kramer the Wonder dog--born to be wild.
We quickly realised that living full time in an RV would require more than a 30 foot trailer 8 foot wide.  So we found ourselves a 33 foot 5th wheel with two slides--the sofa / dinnette slide and the bedroom slide--which seemed to have more room than our first apartment in Detroit had--in fact it is bigger.
So this blog is dedicated to the 21st century Joad families, on the road for whatever reason.
And to our parents, who gave their children the sense of wonderment and adventure.

We will be chronicling our preparations to be full timers while we continue to explore our adopted state of North Carolina and our summer trips to Blue Road we pay homage to William Least Heat-Moon and his book Blue Highways, our final inspiration.

Tim and Mary Johnson
Bunnlevel, North Carolina