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Thursday, May 31, 2012

There Is No Place Like Home...Except Maybe Disney World

Just a quick update, we've arrived at our favorite campground, Fort Wilderness after splitting the 450 mile trip into two short (for us) days, with a swimming pool at each day's end for the boys.

We settled in with two minor speed bumps, the campsite sewer connection was damaged by the previous visitor, but it was repaired for us quickly, then the six passenger golf cart we rented broke down.  The golf cart company gave us two four seaters instead, we pay for one and the other is free.  Nice customer service, we can get used to that. :c)

Pictures are forthcoming as I get a minute or two (and I take some).  Vacations with the boys are a blast, at least that's the story I'm using for another chance for Marti and me to get to Disney World.  ;c)

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Remembering A Shipmate

Not all service related deaths are from enemy action.  In fact, many happen from accidents, equipment failures, disease and even natural causes.

I remember today Chief Boatswain Mate Richard E. Martin, my friend, coworker and shipmate.  He passed away one stormy March night in 1996 of a heart attack.  He was just 36 years old.

He left behind a wife and three children.  His passing turned their world upside down.

We lived next to Rich’s family at the Coast Guard base on Sandy Hook, NJ.  Our kids were just about the same age and played together, went to school and church youth groups together and were very close.  Over the years, they still stay in touch.

Today, his daughter posted a picture of her son visiting his grandfather’s grave, the grandfather he never knew.

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Please remember not just those that gave their lives in the line of duty, but also their families that were left behind.  Their pain will never end.

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Saturday, May 26, 2012

A Whole Lot Of Nothing

We're happily settled in our "Home Base" in Irmo, SC, two miles from our grandsons Andrew and Owie.  We've been enjoying seeing them almost every day and we've even had a sleep over, "practising" for our Disney World trip with them.  I'm not saying they're excited but they seem to be jumping up and down whenever we talk about it.

We've booked an eight day stay at Disney World's Fort Wilderness campground.  Oh, if we were only wealthy enough to stay there year round!  It is our favorite campground and we've many happy memories of visits there.


This year we bought tickets for a "Four and Four", four days of theme parks and four days of water parks.  We are going to do three theme park days and three water park days so the boys will still have a theme park and water park day left on their tickets for a return weekend with their mom and dad later in the year.  There are enough things to do around Fort Wilderness that two days off will be a nice break. 

New this year is we're renting a golf cart off site.  Disney only offers 4 seat carts and we've found a company that will deliver a 6 seat cart for more than $100 less than a Disney rental.  Why a six seater?  The boy's parents, Heather and Brian will be with us for the first weekend, then they'll drive home and the boys will be with us the remainder of the time.  The boys have gotten so big that we can't fit anymore on a 4 seat cart.


The campground we're at here in Irmo is nice and reasonable but just in case we can't book a site when we need it, we took a drive to check out some other nearby campgrounds as a backup.  One is a state park which is okay, but not good for a long term stay due to the hookups.  The other is a commercial campground, the Barnyard Campground, which is okay but for a weird policy. 

We're looking for later this year to book some month long stays.  Barnyard has a good monthly rate but they require on top of the monthly fee an additional $200 deposit, all paid in advance.  They will return your deposit via a check in the mail after you leave.  We've never seen anything like that before and the explanation was that it is to protect the park owners from monthly campers that don't pay.  We still can't figure out that issue.

We've been doing little items like getting paper plates so we don't have to do dishes at Disney, to getting a new radiator in the Element.  We also have solved our quandary of our "Tadpoles", the motor scooters we carry in the Element.  We don't always have the time or the place to ride them, but when we do, they are a blast.  The past five months we carried them about 10,000 miles and rode them for barely 30 miles (in the Quartzsite desert).  When we have them, they take up so much room, we can hardly fit groceries in, let alone passengers.

Instead of selling them, we bought a storage shed for our daughter and son-in-law's house, big enough to store the scooters and still give them a bunch of room for their lawn and garden equipment to get it out of their garage.  This way we can pick up the scooters when we're going someplace where we'll use them (like Key West) and leave them behind when we're not.  Yes, we're leaving the keys so they can ride them.  :c)

So, aside from holding down our lawn chairs, we've been busy with the boys.  Little Owie just loves being in the Journey, he is very inquisitive and wants to know how everything works.  He certainly is learning the "ins-n-outs" of it.


Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

RV "Truisms"

After almost 10,000 miles of traveling around the United States in our first five months on the road as full timers, we noticed certain things that we call RV "Truisms".  Things that  affect or are a part of life, living and traveling in a recreational vehicle.  Here's our list, destined to grow as we travel more and more.

The size of the bug splat is directly proportional to how clean your windshield is.

A bug splat will always be at your eye level.

The cheapest fuel will be at the station you just passed.

You will always have a headwind, no matter what direction you are traveling.

A rare tailwind will always start one mile from your destination.

Your destination/route change will always be on the crease in the map.

The 30 mile long, single lane construction zone will not have any workers actually present.

The rest area you've been waiting to get to for the last 50 miles will be closed for renovations when you get there.

At a rest area, no matter how far away you park in an empty lot, a truck will always park along side you and leave its engine running.

Likewise, at a campground with 100 empty sites, a camper will always pull into the site right next to yours.

Cars entering the freeway rarely yield like they are supposed to.

It didn't look that far on the map.

The 18 wheeler that just passed you will slow down once it gets in front of you.

The higher the cost of tolls, the worse condition the road will be.

Gas pumps rarely have receipt paper.

You never win arguing with your GPS.

Cell phone coverage is lost right when you need to make that important phone call.

When there is a vehicle in the breakdown lane, there will always be a car to your left so you can't pull over to give it more space.

A narrow bridge will always have a speeding truck coming the other way.

When your exit comes up, you are always in the wrong lane.

The car in front of you brakes for no apparent reason.

Texting drivers are worse than drunk drivers (because there are lots more of them).

At rest areas, the truck/RV parking spaces always smell like a urinal (without the cookie).

The restaurant you want to stop at won't have any place large enough to park your RV.

The predicted 10% chance of rain pours on you all day long.

Family events will be scheduled at the same times in opposite areas of the country.

The bird always poops on the door handle.

And lastly, the car that just passed you makes an immediate right turn in front of you.

Here's looking forward to learning more RV "Truisms" in the next 10,000 miles.  :c)


Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

We’re Feeling Old

After landing safely in South Carolina, the fun has begun with our visits to grandsons Andrew and Owie.  They’ve been growing like weeds and continually amaze us with the things they do.

Andrew has developed some amazing interests.  At eight years old, he thrives on studying math and science and loves to watch TV shows on Animal Planet, Discovery and NatGeo.  He has even taken up a serious passion for chess.

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Yep, he kicked my butt, and I’ve been playing for over 40 years (sniff).

Owie is ever the funny man.  He loves to laugh and have fun.  He can’t wait to go to Disney World, he was even modeling one of Pa’s desert hats that he’s going to wear to keep cool.

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Of course he gets tired of Pa trying to get the perfect picture.

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Tonight we attended a musical put on by Andrew’s school.  It was lots of fun.  Marti was snapping away with her camera in an attempt to get the most memorable shot.

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Andrew sang his heart out and it was so much fun to see another one of his talents. (He’s in the top row, right).

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I was able to snap a picture of this little girl.

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Who is she?  Why she is Andrew’s girlfriend!  Boy do we feel old! :cO

Just one more thing, an update on our granddaughter, Taylor.  Last week, due to a very bad ear infection, her eardrum ruptured.  It ruptured so badly, the entire membrane was destroyed and the doctor referred her to an ENT specialist.   Yesterday, her parents took her to the ENT appointment and her eardrum has completely healed, the membrane is completely intact with no holes, plus a hearing test revealed no hearing loss.  It has been a miracle to behold and we want to thank everyone for their positive thoughts and prayers.  We are very grateful for your support to our granddaughter.

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Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

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Sunday, May 20, 2012

That Used To Be Us

I'm in the doghouse.  I was up early and pushing Marti to get ready to leave the Raccoon Valley Escapees RV Park...before she had a chance to finish her second cup of coffee.  She did pitch in, but kept giving me the Stink Eye.

I was just anxious to get on the road to complete the last 230 miles to "home", the Woodsmoke RV Campground, just two miles from grandsons Andrew and Owie's house.  We haven't seen them for a couple of months.

Today was Sunday and in the past, before we hit the road, it was always a sad day.  Sundays were the day that we had to leave our busy, "relaxing" weekend in the campground and head home to start another stressful work week.  Perspectives change, we lived for weekends, now we find them a bit annoying.

We actually have to share the campgrounds with those "weekenders" who are cramming a great time into less than 48 hours.  How rude.  ;c)

We hit the road and were amazed to see all the weekend campers speeding down the highway on the way home.  It was a sad sight to see.


That used to be us.  Now it is no longer.  Everything we went through to get to the full time life that we're loving was worth it.  And seeing Andrew and Owie running to greet us was the best part.

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Raccoon Valley Escapees Park

We rolled along yesterday to light traffic and sunny skies with just a little wind. I am amazed at how we've become sensitized to wind while driving the Journey. It seems you never notice wind while driving a car but in a large motorhome with huge, barn door flat sides, even a breeze gets serious attention.

The drive to Tennessee lasted to just around 300 miles, it would have been a bit shorter but I-75 was closed right at the Indiana-Tennessee boarder, necessitating a looping, winding hilly detour of about 50 miles through scenic back roads Indiana. There were a number of UPS double trailer trucks that were flying through those roads while we cautiously negotiated the sharp turns and steep hills of the detour. I thought those drivers were running quite recklessly and for all their high speeds, we caught up to them at the intersection where the detour ended and I-75 was open.

We always like to use our Escapees membership campgrounds when we're in the area where one is located. We saw that the Raccoon Valley campground was right on our way so we pulled in for a two night stop.

The entrance/office building where we registered and got our hugs. Marti was prepared for a hug this time, unlike our visit to the Escapees campground in Branson, MO last year where she was startled to get a hug from a total stranger.

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Inside, along with the office is a large gathering room for various activities.

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The sites are all level and gravel with good hookups.

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A centrally located comfort station.

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And a nice pool, which was not open yet because local regulations require it to be inspected every year before it can be used.  Of course the inspection is slated for next week after we’re long gone. :c(

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There is a pet walk, but I’m not sure if the sign indicates that it is under the bridge.

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The only real downside we found were these cheesy, weather beaten picnic tables.  The seats must have been designed for munchkins, they are way too narrow for adult sized bottoms.

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For $16/night, you can’t beat this park.  We’re glad we stopped over.

Thank you for all your thoughts and prayers for our granddaughter Taylor.  She has an appointment next Monday with and ENT doctor to see what is the best course of action for her ruptured ear drum.  She has had a number of bad ear infections and with the last one, it appears the ear drum membrane was so weakened it ruptured from the pressure.  We are hoping that the ENT doctor will have a good method of treatment for her so she gets well and has no permanent damage.

Picture of the day for Rebekah:

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And Anabelle:

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Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

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Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Next Best Thing To A Tailwind

It is no wind at all.  Luckily for us, that is what Mother Nature presented to us this morning.  And a sunny day to boot!

So the mpg stayed high, not quite as impressive as the other day, but anytime I can shortchange an Arab Oil Tycoon, I'm happy.

312 miles down today and a night in a Passport America campground.  $16.50 (cash).  Cute little town of Corydon, Indiana, with quaint old streets and stores.  Their claim to fame is they are the location of the only Civil War battle fought in the entire state.  I guess they figured out one was enough.

We pulled in around 4 pm (CT), which gave us a chance to dump the tanks, take on fresh water, have a nice dinner and most importantly, get the satellite TV locked on so Marti could get her American Idol fix.  A happy wife = a happy life.  ;c)

We did receive a bit of distressing news from our son Ryan tonight.  Our granddaughter Taylor has ruptured her ear drum.  It is severe enough that she might need surgery to repair it.  The doctor told them to contact an ENT specialist right away.  The rub is along with a brand new baby, they are moving cross country to Ryan's new assignment on May 31st.  So they are under some pretty heavy pressure.  We'd appreciate prayers and positive thoughts that everything will work out well.

Tomorrow, onward towards South Carolina.  We're thinking of stopping tomorrow night at the Raccoon Valley Escappees campground in Knoxville, TN.  That puts us in striking distance of a short day's drive to finish our trip.

Today's shameless granddaughter pictures:


Taylor, Kierra and Rebekah


"Pa will get raspberries if he forgets my picture on the blog."

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Hit The Wall

Figuratively speaking.  All the rushing to get to Sioux Falls to get the residency requirements and the trip back finally did me in.  Yesterday, with the last 100 miles fighting crosswinds was the last nail in the coffin.  

We have found that we have morphed into destination travelers.  We outline where we need to be and when, then do whatever it takes to get there.  Long days, high miles.  We have not reached the point where we can really slow down when we travel, we have zipped by many things we'd like to see but can't.  One of these days, we'll get it right.

I canceled our appointment with our investment advisor in Virginia, I just couldn't make it there by Friday.  We still are heading for South Carolina and will be there Sunday.  But I had to stop early today, just couldn't do it, only covering 220 miles.  An early day, with more rest and I will be ready to hit the road tomorrow.  Only 900 some miles to go.  Plus can't miss American Idol for Marti...

We pulled off into a Flying J just short of St. Louis, MO tonight.  I often am questioned as to why I take advantage of Flying J's, Walmarts and other businesses that welcome RVs.  It goes again to the destination type travel, the prize for us is arriving at the end of the journey, so we don't care where we stop.  The shades go down and it is home.  A quick start of the generator and on goes the air conditioner, (or the heat) and we don't hear anything going on outside.

It's not a matter of being cheap.  We stay at campgrounds when we arrive at our destination, however when burning up the road miles, it is hard to swallow paying full price for maybe an eight to ten hour stay.  Last night, we paid $34.00 after a Good Sam discount, and it was a cheesy park.  Not even a pool, let alone a hot tub.

We use Passport America parks whenever we can, but often they are few and far between or so far off the road it doesn't pay.  Figuring the Journey averages about 7.5 to 8 mpg, driving ten or fifteen miles to get to the PPA park and then back just about wipes out the saving discount.

Wow, I didn't mean to get so philosophical.  Just a peak into my crazy mind.  Don't worry, we will slow down one of these days.  I might even get a few good pictures of some birds while we're lazing down a river somewhere in our Sea Eagle (have to buy one soon).

There still are things that brighten up our long driving days.  Like these beautiful little ladies:

Anabelle:


Rebekah in the arms of her proud big sister, Taylor:


Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

I Left My Heart In Sioux Falls

Actually, it was my hubcap.  At least I think it was Sioux Falls, although it could have been along the road in South Dakota, or Iowa, or Missouri.

I stepped out of the Journey to set up the utilities and instead of seeing this,


I saw this.


I guess we'll swing by Gaffney Freightliner in South Carolina on our way to see our two grandsons.  It's only money and I'm proud to do my part to support the economy.  :c)

We did a leisurely 312 miles today and we found ourselves accompanied by that very rare phenomenon, a Tailwind!  It was really blowing, too and followed us for almost two hundred miles.  The Journey's dash computer flirted with 9 mpg, but settled down to 8.9.  That is some of the best mpg we've ever gotten, so I'm tickled.  Of course, for the last hundred or so miles, the wind shifted around to broadside, or maybe it was the way the engineers built the road.  Eventually we had the mpg drop down to 7.9, which is still really good for us.

We have stopped for the night in St. Joseph, MO at a campground.  Of all the sites that were open, they assigned us the one with a tree blocking the satellite signal, so no TV tonight.  That means we might actually do something constructive...

Now for all you grandbaby addicts, two pictures for the price of one! 

                       Little Anabelle:


and littler Rebekah:


They are why we enjoy our new fulltime life.  :c)

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Alternative Resources

The reason we came to Sioux Falls was to become South Dakota residents.  We were a little bit intimidated with all the details we were going to have to accomplish so we could turn around and continue our travels.

We should never have worried.  Alternative Resources is much more than just a mailing service, they guided us through the whole process of getting drivers licenses, registering our vehicles and getting set up to vote.

First off, the very friendly folks at Alternative Resources recommended we stay at the Tower Campground in Sioux Falls.  The campground staff took down our information and carefully put our names on the receipt exactly as they would appear on our new South Dakota drivers licenses.  The state requires a minimum one night stay to prove residence and accepts the receipt as proof.

We set up for a two night stay and I gathered together all the documents we’d need to get everything done in one day.

We started the day with a visit to our South Dakota “Home”, the Alternative Resources building.



Just a simple office in a row of offices.  Inside there are all the mailboxes.

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At the front desk they had all the forms we needed to register to vote, so we’d be able to quickly accomplish that task.  We were given maps to the County Center a few miles down the road where we could get everything done in one stop.  Off we went.

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First stop was the license office.  I had my folder with all my documents ready and we hit the first snag.  My Social Security card, which I received in 1965 was not acceptable.  Evidently over the years, the design changed and mine did not have the required blue column boarder on it.  Didn’t matter that it was still stapled to the card from the Social Security office stating in bold letters to “Keep this card in a safe place”.  I had no other means to prove my SSN.  My current passport didn’t have the SSN on it, my military retiree ID card didn’t have it, either.  So the only thing they would accept was a copy of my W-2 with the SSN on it.

Of course I didn’t have one with me, so it was a 20 minute drive back to the campground to get one from my last years tax forms and return.  The W-2 passed muster and Marti and I sat down to wait for our number to be called.

About a half hour later, our number came up.  A fast eye test, a photo, twenty bucks (each) and we had shiny new South Dakota licenses.

Next stop, voter registration.  One floor down, the voter registration office and the vehicle registration office were located directly across from each other in the same hallway.

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We registered to vote first, using the forms from Alternative Resources.  In just minutes we were set and even got a chance to cast our first votes as South Dakota citizens in the primary election.

Then the long walk across the hallway to register the Journey and the Element.  That took all of ten minutes and we had four nice new license plates.  One important note, on a motorhome or trailer, you need to have a copy of your vehicle weight sheet showing all the weight capacities.  Make sure you use the Unloaded Vehicle Weight (UVW) for registering as they charge by weight.  Our Journey was 25,495 lbs. empty and cost $335 to register.  That will be approximately the same amount every year.

All in all, it took us only a couple of hours to complete everything, and everyone was very nice and friendly.  What to do next?  Why be a tourist and go explore Sioux Falls!

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We had to take a “We were there” picture of our new hometown.

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As a side note, Alternative Resources can register your vehicles for you via the mail, but you have to appear in person for your drivers license. Also, the DMV does not accept credit cards, cash, check or money order only.

And sadly, there will not be a real “R SANITY” South Dakota license plate on the Journey, the DMV will not issue customs plate unless you have an actual physical address in South Dakota.  We’ll have to get some signs made up to continue the tradition.

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

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And Then There Were SIx

Ah, life on the road, with all its challenges big and small.  This is a fast update after some slow Internet issues that have been worked out.

I finally got a post up that I had been struggling with.  Evidently, with slow connections, the post kept timing out.  I went back and edited it down to a shorter version and it finally went through (See the previous post).

We had smooth sailing all the way into Sioux Falls.  We are at the Tower campground, recommended by Alternative Resources.  We were tickled to meet some RV Dreamer friends here, Joe and Carolyn and had a nice dinner out with them (more to follow).  They've just joined the fulltime life too and it was fun to share our experiences with each other.

Upon arrival (Sunday) we found out the DMV is closed on Monday, but you can still get licenses at the County Courthouse.  We'll do that and then get the vehicles registered on Tuesday.

We're going to visit our "home" today, too:  Alternative Resources Box 2941.  They have been great to work with and we highly recommend them.

Then we received the news we've been waiting for.  At 12:05 AM, 14 May, our sixth grandchild (and fourth granddaughter) was born in Seaside, Oregon.  Here is Rebekah Jane Dahl, 6 lbs, 15 oz, 19 1/4 inches long and healthy.  We can't wait to see her sometime in mid June after her family relocates to Pennsylvania.




 Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.