Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Reservations create Chaos

Are you like us? You plan, organize and strategize for a future adventure only to be blind sided by the unknown variable. That is what this week has been for us.
First Hurricane Irene blows in and the trip to DC for the MLK memorial is cancelled. Then Iren blows out of town and the notion of spending Labor Day at the OBX and Cape Hatteras is scratched from the agenda. Today I read that tropical storm Katina, still west of Jamaica, will be a Hurricane by Saturday as it goes past Puerto Rico coming north...
Then this week, Mary is offered an opportunity to work with her sisters back in Michigan as a real estate appraiser. Becoming a licensed appraiser is a 2 year process. There are classes to take, an exam and an apprenticeship Mary will have to do before applying to take the exam for her license.
This is a great opportunity as it is extremely difficult to get a licensed appraiser to even work with a trainee. So our summers may be spent "on the road" in Michigan and our winters either in New Mexico or North Carolina.
Mary hasn't been to New Mexico and she keeps asking and wondering if she is going to "fall in love" with it once she sees the area. I tell her that no matter how beautiful an area is, the next one will be even better.
When I rode through the Rockies on a bicycle, it was so different from the car drive back in 1976 with my parents when the family went to Las Vegas in a travel trailer. The Rockies are majestic no matter what you see them from. But seeing them on a bicycle and actually riding up to the summit of Hoosier Pass is not to be compared to a car ride.
Perhaps the nice part of Mary going into appraisal, when we are traveling the off months (September / October through March) we will not be as focused on working. This will allow us to interact more with the communities we come to and seriously enjoy the road as opposed to squeezing in a dedicated 8 hour work day.

Above my desk I have a 12X8 inch wall plaque I had bought from a mail order catalogue from public broadcasting. In the center is a Chinese symbol for CHAOS. UNder that it reads---


Before the beginning of great brilliance, there must be chaos.
Before a brilliant person begins something great, they must look foolish to the crowd.

Monday, August 29, 2011

All summer North Carolina has temps at or just above 100 degrees. Not sure id the rain is really much needed relief or just weather that will keep us stationary.
We started organizing papers we have collected from our trips. Documents like maps, campground passes and tickets for attractions we have experienced.
This will inevitably become another cluster, but for now it makes a great scrapbook.
I took on this task after I found my scrapbook in the back of the closet. Way back in the EARLY 1980s, I bought a giant "scrapbook" on the local public television station in Detroit. I have never seen another like it since. It has the pictures from the TransAmerica bicycle tour, favorite news articles I have collected over the years and a great assortment of bumber stickers I collected during various bicycle tours.
The book weighs close to 25 pounds and probably won't find its way into the Coachmen as a permanent fixture.
Which gives rise to the notion of having a very good quality scanner. It would make sense to scan these teasures, there by allowing us to always have them with us. The actual books can be placed in the hand of our family members for safe keeping.

Everything has weight, and that must be a consideration when we finalize our manifest in 2013.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Looking forward to cooler weather---mid-80s.

Seems the fall might have arrived in our part of North Carolina. Mostly mid-80s during the day and low 70s at night.
We are straightening and cleaning as we anxiously await our next trip. Due to Hurricane Irene, the MLK dedication scheduled for August 28 has been rescheduled to September or October of this year.
I am always looking at what we need to organize and have in the Coachmen for our comfort. Other than the basic utensils and plates, what will we need to really enjoy being out on the road.
I have this Compass metal detector I bought back in 1983. It is a great machine and I would really like to include it as part of our gear. Other than being banned from many federal and state areas, I think it would be a worth while gadget to carry around.
I also want to add a three burner coleman stove to our kitchen. However, I am investigating the Rocket stove that has been engineered for use in Africa and other third world countries. It burns wood and other combustibles but is so effecient it uses hardly any wood.
We feel most of our cooking will be outdoors, on a stove or over an open fire when weather conditions permit.
I am still arguing with myself about the tools I think I need to carry. I am sure I have too many, but I am also obsessed with those what if scenarios. Maybe if I have a can of black paint and spary the handle of the tools I use over the next year and dump the ones that aren't painted?

I am also debatingthe 5th wheel hitch situation. We are currently using a goose-neck adapter to connect the Coachmen in the Dodge. Mostly beacuse I have the ball already welded to a humongous channel that in turn is welded to the truck frame. I just think that a traditional hitch will be easier to connect and disconnect, particularly whe the Dodge is angled differntly from the Coachmen. I have ONE rail and the 15K Reese hitch. I will probably have to buy a new set of rails and the installation brackets to mount the rails in the bed and to the frame.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Irene didn't keep us in all day....

We saw Iren come into the Fayetteville area around 7:00 A.M. Some rain and 20-30 mph winds. By noon, Mary and I were restless and wanting to get outside.
We headed out towards Fayetteville, as I was thinking about stopping at Weymouth Woods. BUT my directions were off. I had the correct address and stree--WRONG town. Weymouth Woods is in Southern Pines. Fortunately we were able to us the EVO to check the address on the web.
We were looking for Longleaf Pine needles. Though we have an abundance of Loblolly pines, their needles are 6-8 inches. Longleaf pines are minimum 8 inches and as long as 18--probably on a GIANT Longleaf. We didn't see any needles that long at Weymouth (which was closed due to Irene).
Mary is going to do some basket making with the Longleaf needles. Hopefully the needles will cooperate.
Located just south of Sanford, Southern Pines is a beautiful town. Nearly all the streets are lined with pines and hardwoods. Many of the homes (outside the downtown area of the city proper)sit on at least an 1/2 acre lot. Even in the downtown area it looks like they build around the trees.
Next week we will have a few more upgrades for the Dodge--weather being in agreement. We ordered the #10 fuel plate, so that means we will also be modifying the AFC and starwheel. If UPS is in sync with us we will also have the new lift pump and fuel pressure gauge this weekend as well.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Less than 1/2 inches of rain?

Is that ALL Irene is good for? OK, we will take it, but NOT one inch more.

Mary and I are discussing fit-it boxes. There is a company that sells Dodge Diesel parts (Geno's Garage) and the have a BOONIE BOX. Stuff that breaks when no o ne else is around and the nearest auto parts store is at least 25 miles back the other way.
Right now we are shopping for fishing tackle boxes. Plano makes a model that is soft sided and has removeable boxes. Inside the boxes you can move the dividers around to create different sized compartments.
We want to make one for the Coachmen to carry our screws, nuts and bolts. The ironic thing is, the fix-it box will probably be used for crafts and NOT repairs. I see us stuffing the box with crafty stuff, like string and small screws to attach pieces to other pieces.
We might find the duct tape useful one day. We might even have need for the 90° angle brackets to install something in the Coachmen. But the box will be most benificial as a craft supply box. At least that is my expectation.
We just have to decide on a color...

What hurricane?

SOOOOOOOOOOO Irene is going to pass us bye. She is heading for the OBX and might miss that as well...
There is still rain to deal with. They (weather forecasters) sa rain Saturday and sunshine Sunday.
Mary is finishing her online classes for grant writing and I am busy with copywriting and writing in general.
Today Amazon delivered a new book. Since we are here in north Carolina, and there are zillions of BIG pine trees, we are investigating pine needle art. Specifically, pine needle baskets. We have gone throug about 100 different ideas for creating income on the road. I suppose that is the real reason we started planning and preparing for full time in 2013. We need the time to organize our employment (though I am still planning on Amazon the fall of 2013) checkout the truck (because we ain't buying new) and finally to be familar with the Coachmen 5th wheel.
As soon as I can find one more rail I am going to install the traditional 5th wheel hitch. Mary has a hard time alighingthe gooseneck ball with the vertical coupler. I believe the 5th wheel hitch will be so much easier to align.
We are also assembling fix it boxes for the Doage and the Coachmen. The Dodge will contain extra oil and fuel filters, radiator hoses, serpentine belt, starter contacts, 5-40w oil, antifreeze, and other parts and pieces that can keep the Dodge running if we find ourselves in a stituation like Green Bay again. If I had the fix it box then, I could have just replaced the contacts and the solenoid in the starte and been road ready in 30 minutes.
The fix it box for the Coachmen will be a tackel box with removable drawers. In it we will keep a variety of screws, hooks, nuts, wiring, fuses and other pieces and parts we use to keep the Coachmen up and running.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Irene is heading this way

We are preparing for the possibility that Irene will make land somewhere between Charleston SC and Myrtle Beach. It could be in SC by Saturday. With that trajectory it is possible it will track very close to us here in the Fayetteville area. The standard joke is to stock up on Milk and bread or you could die. Actually, this far inland, the worse case scenario would be no electric for a week or two. Though the possibility of severe damage is a concern, so we are not thinking we are in the clear by any means.
We continue to map out NOLA for Christmas as the Category 2 (might be Cat 3 by landfall)storm hovers just south of Florida. Mary is also researching areas in southwest Michigan for a homebase / domicile.
We are watching the forecast and waiting.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Mapping and planning

We were shut down last night when a loud thunderstorm blew through the area. I am fearing the PC I am using is ready to crash.
We are spending our days palnning. Mart has sent requests for travel guides from Mississippi and Louisiana. We have a general idea what we are doing in New Orleans. We have been given serval attractions from people that sound super. We are less familar with Mississippi. We would love to see the "Crossroads" in Clarksdale Mississippi. But that means traveling to the NorthWest corner of the state. Unfortunately, we are under time restraints (until we are officially fulltime in 2013) and need to be back in NC Januaruy 01, 2012.
We have also installed the NEW dash in the Dodge. It actually looks new again. Next week we are replacing the lift pump (aka fuel pump to all you gassers) and installing a fuel pressure gauge as well.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Blue Road Publishing

This is just one ideas we have developed in the past 3 days. Along with the internet, using writing as a means of weaving our income web. We know that at this pount it still sounds disjointed. It really is just organized rambling. As Mary and I go through the brainstorming phases of income development.
Our vision is slowly taking shape.
As we explore this "inter"-net environment more, we are realizing that such potential has yet to be, for lack of a better word at the moment, harnessed. So many people are using the web as a way to attract customers and build their business. Website promote, sell, entice, and convince others that they can benefit from the service being promoted. All too often the web ignores that concept that others just want to consume time. This does not lump those online games or other forms of amusement people log into with the customer driven businesses. Those gaming sites are providing a service for a very specific ninche`.
Rather we are pointing at the forums and merchandise for sale sites that rely on some marketing strategy to attrack followers. It can and does work as witnessed by the huge success some websites and forums have become. But, such success has taken time, sometimes years before they are profitable.
We want to build a "web," what some in the business world may think of as a monopoly, based on the written word.
It is not our intention to be vague or avoid vivid imagery of our aspirations. But as we sit around (waiting for our next road trip Labor Day weekend) we have the opportunity to allow our minds to wander. Some ideas may very well be sheer lunacy. Other, with some clarity, might become viable. Hopefully, you will take time from your busy schedule to touch base with us as we work through the cacophony rining in our minds.

Where was I?

Oh, talking about using the internet to generate income. Even with just a few months of developing internet "income" it is all too obvious that blogging for dollars isn't working for us. Possibly if we devoted another 5-10 years we would be rolling some cash. But since we don't want to wait 5-10 years, we have to work the web, much as we discussed using time. The web is there waiting for us to exploit it. Kind of like the idea of being a great sales person--if you can sell an Eskimo a refridgerator, you can be successful selling anything.
As with any endeavor that is intended to generate income, it has to be "branded." This is now the crossroads at which Mary and I stand. Just because we know it has to be done, we still need to figure out what it is that we want to brand.
So while we work on that dilemma, we can say what we want the branding to become, besides just income.
Perhaps it is just a dream? But we do know that up to this point every step we have taken has led us to where we are right now.
We are looking at creating a brand centered around the written word. Words that go beyond just a page of our website. Words that reach outside the blogger's box. We believe the power of the word can be defined in a song written by McElroy, Thomas Derrick/Foster, Denzil/King, Jay A and I belive first sang by David Allen Coe--

The Ride

Well, I was thumbin' from Montgomery
I had my guitar on my back
When a stranger stopped beside me in an antique Cadillac
Well he was dressed like 1950
Half drunk and hollow-eyed
He said "Its a long walk to Nashville
Would you like a ride, son?"
And well I sat down in the front seat, he turned on the radio
Them sad old songs comin' out of them speakers was solid country gold
And I noticed the stranger was ghost-white pale
When he asked me for a light
And I knew there was something strange about this ride

He said "Drifter can ya make folks cry when you play and sing?
Have you paid your dues, can you moan the blues?
Can you bend them guitar strings?"
He said "Boy, can you make folks feel what you feel inside?
Cause if you're big star bound let me warn ya, its a long, hard ride"

Then he cried just south of Nashville
And he turned that car around
He said "This is where you get off boy,
Cause I'm goin' back to Alabam'"
As I stepped out of that Cadillac
I said "Mister, many thanks"
He said "You don't have to call me Mister, Mister.,
The whole world called me Hank

Chorus x2

If you're big star bound
Let me warn ya its a long, hard ride

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Work is indeed the curse of the middle class

Perhaps there is nothing worse than time. While time is generally a rather nice thing to have a round when you want it, there is either never enough when you need it or way too much when you cannot do what you want to.
The proverbial case in point is being at home base and thinking about the road. As nice as home is, and despite what Dorothy thought as she clicked the ruby red slippers three times, waiting at home is mondane and lonely.
Realizing we need to be prepared for traveling, Mary and I are starting to investigate new avenues for generating an income. We are looking for the ones that can be done regardless of our location. Careers that will allow us to establish relationships, not just throughout the immediate area, but possible across the state or region where we are at any given moment.
As we have mentioned previously, that means it has to be internet dependent. At least using the internet as a means of communication. We had initially toyed with doing sales on eBay or Craigslist. We quickly realized that probably wasn't a workable concept. Too much to carry around, and we would be tethered to a post office--not to mention the packaging and shipping material required to send items.
We also thought that we could make money just off the content we posted on the internet. We read several bloggers were making high 5 low 6 figures from blogging. We would draw advertisers to our site(s) and and watch the money accumulate over time with page views and clicks. While this approach might get a few dollars, in the long run it is nothing more than a a small supplement and probably cannot be relied on for paying the bills. Those who do either have multiple blogs or developed a regular following of subscribers that convince advertisers to pay sizeable fees every month.
In the past few weeks, we have started to see the internet differently. Rather than the internet being the cash cow we hoped for, we see it as a means to create income.

We are busy busy busy...


We are busy getting ourselves organized. As Tim said, we are going through our stuff and deciding what we really want. It is somewhat a cathartic process. Each item we look at has some kind of history to it. Even going through the stacks of papers that tend to accumulate have a history. The campsite tag from Savannah or the no longer used casino token. The Super 8 motel from our first trip together.

Treasures are another story. Tim and I love the hunt. Going to a garage sale, or flea markets and finding that one thing that is the deal of the century. Tim takes the hunt to the highest levels. He really does not want to buy anything unless it was hunted and bagged in the most basic primal way. For him, I think, the value of something is in the acquisition not in the actual item.

An example of this is the new dash cover he got in the mail yesterday. There are about 4 companies that sell replacement dash covers for the Dodge. He spent about 3 months researching each company and choosing the one with the best over all performance for the money. It was the hunt for the best deal. Which was a good thing since the old dash crumbled into chunks when it was removed.

Getting back to treasures and the emotional freedom of tossing treasures into the trash or giving them to a local charity. This is a little tough on Tim. For me, we really are attached to only a few items and the rest can go. We are working on a happy medium. One where we can both function in a positive environment and respect each others needs and wants.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Start Of The Year


For us it is the beginning of the year. As educators our seasons go with the school year. Tim starts back to work officially tomorrow. I will be starting a new career from home. I was hit by the State of North Carolina budget cuts. As a result I will be unemployed until I find another career. I have been taking online classes for grant writing. I am also looking into Copy writing. Not to be confused with copy rights.

I am a little bit out of sorts. I just realized today that there are going to be a lot of lonely days in front of me. I will not have my work friends to banter with during the week. I am 12 hours from my daughters and grandkids. There is so much more to losing a job then just losing a paycheck. It is losing contact with that energy that is human interaction. I was too busy and too tired to be too home sick when I was working 10 hour days.

I am not sure how I am going to battle being lonely except to put in just as many hours on my new career and hope I become successful so that Tim and I can venture on the next phase of our adventure.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Almost organized!

Mary and I are back on track.. almost. We have cleaned out the third bedroom for Mary's office space. She is starting two more on-line classes for grant writing. She also has space to start some crafty projects that we will sell while on the road.
My space is now neater. There is still much we need to sell via eBay or Craigslist. There are collectibles from NASCAR, Danbury Mint and three shoe boxes of sports cards. Once we have photos, we will start posting on-line.
We are also going through past editions of OUR STATE
href="http://www.ourstate.com/"> magazine. We are saving the reciepes and some of the destinations we haven't been to yet. We have plans for Labor Day in Asheboro, NC at Holly Bluffs Campground. We are going to Statesville, NC for the Balloon Festival and Lexington, NC for the East vs. West href="http://www.barbecuefestival.com/"> Lexington BBQ Festival. BUT the Balloon Festival is the same weekend; October 21-23. We will have to drive the 85 mile round trip to Lexington and back on the 22 of October...
There is still a lot for us to see here in North Carolina before we go full time in 2013. We will take our extended trips over Christmas and summer so we have time to see more of our current home state. Remember it is still warm here up until Thanksgiving. It tends to be in the 30s & 40s December through March. Come April we will be back touring North Carolina until June 13, 2012 when we start our big summer trip.
This summer we will research and choose a domicile while we are full timing. Actually we are kind of set on Michigan, what with having family and all there.
We are looking forward to our new found organization, and the ability to start doing more with the website and our means of earning our keep while full timing.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Discounts and memberships

Slow morning. School starts for me on the 17. Mary and I stayed up watching "Storage Wars" until the wee hours. Breakfast this morning is a hodge-podge of potatoes, onions and peppers with some mystery containers I found in the fridge. I was very tempted to chop a few cherries, but the pits made them more trouble than the added flavor would be worth?

As we start scheduling and making reservations for Christmas in New Orleans, we are thinking budget. It is a given that a week in NOLA will be expensive. Not many ways to avoid that. Mary's brother has been 3-4 times in the past 5 years. We know the French Quarter will cost $ for almost everything we want to see or do. We have heard the restaurants / bars all have a one drink minimum at $6.50 each. Some are said to have one drink per set where there are bands playing.
The Fires on the Levees will be just under $100 each, as will the riverboat dinner cruise. But sometimes you just have to go along with the establishment if you want the experience.
Then there's the fees for overnighting in NOLA. As much as I would like to hang out at a Wally World, Mary is insistant on staying at a "real" facility with hook-ups. The closer to the French Quarters the better.
We have a Good Sam card, but that only gets us a 10% discount. We have read about other discount membership groups that get you up to 50% for 1-10 day stays. We had made a mental note, and saved to favorites on our browser, several of these groups. It wasn't until this morning, while reading a post about membership clubs on RVNetwork that we realized one of these memberships MIGHT get us a discount while we are traveling this Christmas.
There are several campgrounds in NOLA that participate in different discount clubs. Two campgrounds are affiliated with the Camp Club membership offered through Camping World. The campground closer to the French Quater (French Quarter RV Park) accepts the Camp Club card for a 1 day at 50%. There is another RV park just off Lake Pontchatrain that accepts Passport America and they honor the 50% discount for up to a week stay (except holidays and special events). We are hoping holidays mean just the specific day the holiday falls on and not the entire week of the holiday. We called and left a message and hope to hear from the RV park by Monday regarding the terms of acceptance.
The balancing act of waiting to go full-time and actually being full-time on the road is delicate and fraught with financial decisions that you need to prioritize. These decisions and the list is constantly changing. The discount membership clubs are a perfect example. We knew they were there. We believe they can be very useful. But if we immediately think they do not apply to our PRESENT situation, we forget about them and miss out on the benefits.
We are learning that our preparation list has to be dynamic and evolving. Once we become complasiant about the list, the list becomes just a bunch of ideas we tend to overlook and soon we are doing another list that will face the identical fate--left for dead along the roadside.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Another cycle is beginning

Isn't that the way of life? Every moment is another opportunity to begin anew. When Mary and I look around where we are currently living, we realize there is so much more that what we actually see.
We are currently painting several rooms of our rented house. We have been here since January and feel it is time to make it "ours" in so much as it can be done cheaply. The previous tenants painted it some shade of green--not a nice green like cactus or meadow--rather it was a cross between LIME--CHARTRUSE--and MARGARITA obnoxious kind of green. Some people just don't see the small details.
That was the point of our discussion yesterday. MAry and I went to a big box home improvement store in Erwin, North Carolina. It is a small town, one where the original downtown has been by-passed by a new divided highway. This creates two towns out of one. The old town where businesses struggle and the "new" town where all the big franchises and chain stores are built.
You can tell a city that has been invaded by these chain stores because it is hard to fin the mom and pops retailers. Generally they are the store fronts with FOR RENT signs in the windows, or they are off the main drag, hidden 2-3 blocks away.
Anyway, after our big box store purchase, we went in search of a place to eat that wasn't fast food or franchised. The Garmn has a points of interst button and one choice is FOOD----> find all. Not sure where Garmin gets the lists, but usually 50% of places listed are out of business. So was the case as we went looking for Ron's Sandwich Shop in Dunn, North Carolina. 2 blocks off US 421 (Main Street) on Broad was supposed to Ron's. What we found at 325 Braos Street was Noah's Pizza and Grill. It looke kind of gimmicky, but there were no other places that were opened.
We walked in and the place is empty. Despite the 15 cars parked outside? Mary asked if they were open, and we were told yes. We sat down and took a few minutes to order. Mary had the Chicago Style Gyros and I the Philadelphia Steak & Cheese. Considering we are in Dunn, North Carolina,it was quite a risk. After we ordered the waitress, who we later found out was starting her junior year in high school, stood at our table chatting for 15-20 minutes about all kinds of things. We started off talking about some food that had been on the Food Channel--Deep Fried Greatness of teh South or something. That led to a talk about the fryers at Noah's going up in smoke one night after closing. That was precipitated by a conversation about Holt Lake BBQ in Johnston County that had burned last year and has since been rebuilt.
That was when we were once again remind that there are so many stories, so many places we haven't experierenced. To go somewhere and "see" it, like going to the Grand Canyon, is shallow and superficial if we haven't experienced the actual community surrounding the place.
Right now we are feeling overwhelmed. There is so much we want to see. So many people we want to talk with. So much to learn about life and living.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Memories contained in stuff

So it has started. What hopefully will be the final dispersal of our stuff. We have boxes for trash--did we really haul 3 boxes of just trash stuff around since 2009?? There is a shred / burn destroy all "evidence of" box. There is only one of those--may be because we still have some papers we think are important? And we have the box of "shouldn't we keep this" stuff. Papers from our hound dogs adoptions, marriage, diviorce, and some school papers from 1995 that for some reason seem important.
Then we have the chotzky boxes. Those items we hold on too for so long we forget we had them. The salt and peper shakers my grandmother had. The shakers that look like pheasants, ducks and other assorted animals. Old bumper stickers of radio stations now gone and forgotten. The original sales receipt for my "THIS END UP" corner shelf unit I bought in 1983. I still have the shelf, as well as a file cabinet and the large bookcase. All made from Carolina pine. We have boxes of trinkets we had at one time set out around the house.
Mary found several CD-roms that had some great stuff. One had a lot of genealogical stuff related to my great-grandmother, a full blood Cherokee and her people--HIGHTOWER. Another CD had 600 pictures we had downloaded off the computers before we left Michigan. On ot are pictures of our house when we first moved in. Then the interior after we had lived in it 3 months and ripped the walls, flooring, plumbing and electrical out. We lived in it while we were renovating the entire house. We literally removed 5 walls and eliminated 3 rooms. When we were finished all we had left on the main floor was a bathroom and wide open space from the kitchen to the livingroom. We had to add 3 lam-beams where we tookout support walls--one beam was 24 foot across and supported the entire upstairs!
Then there were pictures of our dogs. Kramer (2004) and Lola (2006)came along when we thought the restored Craftsman house was our forever home. As we looked through the recently discovered pictures, we found pictures of our first rescue dog--Darla. She was a Australian Shepherd-Husky mix. We had seen another dog on the adopt a pet segment of the morning news and Mary wanted to see if "Jake" was still available. As it happened, so did 20 other people. I guess people want to adopt the dog that was on televison so they can tell all their friends? Anyways, we saw Darla and that was all she wrote. 8 months later Darla was taken sick and died. 3 months later the contaminated dog food story broke. We had been feeding her Iams diet--which was number one on the list of contaminated food...
But I suppose that is why pictures are important. The one regret I have related to my TransAmerica bicycle trip is that I didn't take a camera. Perhaps the thing to do is track down the other 11 riders and see what pictures they have. It would be a great excuse for a reunion huh?
One of the last pictures on the CD is of Mary and me with my siblings and their wives and kids taken with my mom at Yogi Bear at Lake Barton Indiana.
That was the year before she passed and the last time we were all together.
There is stuff we just cannot afford to lose.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Returning to our STUFF

As I fend off the desire to scratch and Mary is searching the web for potential domiciles, we are reminded that there is still a room of stuff that we need to address.
Actually one full room, a closet and a storage shed out back that are all full of stuff. We did haul about 400 pounds to Michgan this summer for the girls. As we get closer to full timing, the stuff is now seen in terms of weight.
The back room has most of our Christmas decorations and left over books from our Amazon store. The Amazon store became too time consuming as we were selling 1 or 2 books a month and trying to upload new stock. Amazon charges like 10% when it sells and only allows $3.99 for shipping--which works out 75% of the time.
We will be donating the books this coming week to our local PTA Thrift Store. The remaing items will have to go in an end of summer yard sale or face being donated as well.
This year we will also have to unload some of our household stuff like dinnerware, silverware and furniture. If we don't do it soon, it will still be waiting in May 2013 for us to deal with.
Hopefully I will be over this poison ivy and able to get somethings started before I return to school on the 17 of this month..

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Using time to focus

We are once again busy with planning. The internet is way too fast and easy to locate information. We managed to schedule our Christmas Eve on the levees, after Christmas Cruise on the Mississippi, a walking tour of the French Quarter and an old cemetary and know where we will go on the trolley via the Jazzy Pass to the Oaks. All that is left is our departure date of December 16.
We have revised our schedule and will now leave on the 16 at 4:00 pm and asphalt dock at the Cracker Barrel in Columbia, SC. From there we will make it to Atlanta the night of the 17--another asphalt dock. Our third and fourth nights are in Mobile, AL. From there we will drive to The Shed. We will spend the rest of our stay touring Mobile and the coast.
We have yet to draft our budget form for the month of September. It will be a work in progress as we look to minimize our expenses both for our homebase and travel.
The Dodge is running and awaiting its new dash. I have few other repairs to start this week including the AFC and I want to remove the power seat and verify the wiring. May be I can get the saftey belt light to go off when I snap the buckle.
I am off to nurse this case of poison ivy I picke up doing some yard work last week.
We2 need a few more suggestion on what to see in New Orleans. We wanted to see a Saints football game, but tickest start at $114 each...

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Our next big adventure

While we are looking forward to a few weekend trips here in North Carolina, we are also planning our next extended adventure.
With 2 weeks to travel during Christmas break (December 17-January 01, 2012) we have targeted New Orleans as our next great destination. As of now, we will be staying at the KOA West--given location and costs, KOA is close to a best of.
We are currently mapping our trop from Lillingyon, North Carolina to New Orleans. We want to be in New Orleans on December 21 or 22. That allows 5-6 days travel to New Orleans. Departing December 26 gives us 4-5 days in the city.

On our way down we are looking at an overnight near Columbia, South Carolina and a visit to the art museum. Another over night between Augusta, Georgia and Atlanta--possibly an hour past Atlanta. The third night we wold like to be in Montgomery, Alabama to tour the city and see its history. Our 4th night in either Mobile, Alabama or Biloxi, Mississippi before pulling into New Orleans for 4 days of adventure.
Coming back home, we are stopping in Hattiesburg, Mississippi along I-59 on to Birmingham, Alabama.

Any suggestions on what we should see along our route? Any road houses in Mississippi?

On a side, we are planning to be in Washington D.C for the unveiling of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial on August 28, 2011 at 11:00 A.M.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Maintenance and upkeep duty

So if you read the previous posts, you know we are starting the "found the problem, now fix it" mode of our preparations for going full time in 2013. This week the focus is mainly on the Dodge 2500. I pulled out what was left of the original dash and the lower support piece as well. I thought I could fix the lower support piece (plastic) with some JB Weld. WRONG. It didn't hold under the slightest pressure. I have NEVER had any luck with these epoxy bonds and super glues. Fortunaely all the "fixes" are hidden from sight and I was just hoping to strengthen the support.
This morning before the heat, I reassembled the lower dash and installed the switches and air ducts so the Dodge can be driven. There are some plugs that didn't go to anything so I am reviewing the Factory Service Manual (FSM) I ordered from Geno's Garage on CD-rom. It is so much quicker that the paper edition. Wonder if I can up load it on the Kindle? I do have it on the laptop so that is probably easier to search than the Kindle.
Now all I have to do os order the dash from LMC Truck. I might just get the bezel piece as well. On the cummins forum there are pictures of the Dodge with a NEW dash and it really is quite amazing how good they look.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Is it really coming to an end?

Mary is feeling better. The congestion is just about gone. The Dodge is coming together and should be up and running tomorrow. We still have to order the dash from LMC. This weekend I will pull the AFC and swap the fuel plate and dial up the star wheel.
Meanwhile, I have to divide my time between the Dodge, the Coachmen, and now work. That dreaded 4-letter word. Teachers are back on August 17, but I have some in services to attend before that.
We really want to get to Asheboro and get a look at Holly Bluff Campground before it gets cold here in North Carolina. They do have seasonal sites and storage available. Not that we are considering the option of storing the Coachmen, it is a service provided by the camp.
We have yet to go through the Coachmen and do an analysis of its performance during the maiden voyage. We will need to rework the cabinets to keep contents from sliding. We are also developing a design to mount the yet to be purchased television hat will be mounted above the window on the curb side.
Mary is searching for a public camp near Statesville that has water and power for our stay during the North Carolina Balloon Festival October 21--23, 2011. We would prefer a county park or fairgrounds, but we might be able to find a national or state forest area to set up even if it means boondocking with our power and carrying our water with us.

We should have a budget sheet done on Excel this week and will post the draft for any comments or suggestions.