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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

17,200

We do occasionally take a break from all the activities here at our South Carolina "home" and let the grandson's get some rest. ;c)

 We do have some chores to catch up on and one was another visit to the Veteran's Administration (VA) Office in Colombia, South Carolina.  Sometimes I think I'd rather have a root canal.

Why do I keep "fighting" with the VA?  Many have asked why put yourself through all that effort that seems for nought?

Two reasons, the first is that since I served in a combat area (Persian Gulf) during time of war I am automatically entitled to free health care from the VA for five years.  Already a year has lapsed and I still am not in the system to be able to be seen.  Yes, I have Tricare (the standard military healthcare for retirees) but there are deductibles and if I can use the VA with no deductibles, that is worth it.

Secondly, I have some service connected permanent injuries that should entitle me to some monetary compensation and if I am rated high enough, the five years free health care turns into a lifetime benefit.

So after more than six hours at the VA and meeting with five different people, we're at the same place we were before, you have to wait to be notified of further instructions.  Sort of "The check is in the mail".

It is pretty sad how poorly the VA system works, the VA staff has been friendly and sympathetic, but it sure is a system mired in red tape.  I'm looking at this as helping me to learn to be more patient in life.

Speaking of patience, we have not been too patient in our travels this first year of our fulltime life.  Seems that the PDD has been very much in control.  As I studied the fulltime lifestyle from other RVer's blogs, usually the first year is very much traveled in "vacation" mode, with subsequent years slowing down and smelling the roses.  At the speed we've traveled, we haven't even seen the roses! :cO

Well, we are right on track (or maybe a bit ahead of schedule) for our first year of travel.  I looked at my travel log notes and found that since last December 5th, when we hit the road, we've covered 17,200 miles around the country and we still have a little over another month to go, with a trip to Myrtle Beach  (The Carolina Clan Gathering) and another one up to New Jersey/Pennsylvania with a return to South Carolina still on the agenda.

At this point, I'd advise anyone that is looking to increase their stock portfolio earnings, invest in the oil companies that supply diesel fuel, I'll make you rich!  ;c)

Still on the agenda is a trip to the local Camping World.  I need to make an appointment with them for December to get our awning motor replaced and I want to pick up the hose assembly to be able to use an external propane tank.  We are going to be staying in some less that warm areas and using an external tank means we won't have to move the Journey to fill with propane.

Not every day as a fulltime RVer is exciting and on the cutting edge of excitement, but we are thrilled to have made the transition.  Life is good!



Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Third Time’s The Charm

After our windblown journey in the Journey, we arrived at our South Carolina “home” and looked forward to spending a few days with our grandsons Andrew and Owen.  We have so much fun when we’re with  them.  Marti has introduced them to that time honored RV activity of Geocaching.  The boys love it, Marti loves it.  Me?  I’m the chauffer.

Today, Sunday, we had a nice sunny day.  We’ve been unaffected by Hurricane Sandy so after church and lunch, we set out on a quest to find a couple more caches.

Owie likes to use Marti’s I-phone.  She has a Geocache app downloaded on it which provides a map.

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Andrew prefers Marti’s Magellan hand held GPS unit.  He likes the technical aspect of the unit and how it measures distance and direction to the cache.

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Our first attempt to locate a Geocache failed, we gave up after a half hour.  On to the second location.

Andrew thought he was getting close, but alas, he couldn’t find anything as hard as he looked.

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Owie found something, but it certainly wasn’t the Geocache we were looking for.

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We gave up on try number two after a while and moved on to the location of a Geocache that has eluded up on two previous tries.  This time, we tasted victory!

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How did we miss it twice before?  It was here.

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Huh?

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Who’d a thunk?  Pretty clever hiding spot.

Afterwards, we went back to the Journey to hang out and unwind.  The boys love play Nintendo almost as much as Marti does.  The acorn truly does not fall far from the tree. ;c)

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Geocaching a a great activity for our RV travels and we look forward to doing more of it with the boys as we take them on future trips around the country in the Journey.

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

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Saturday, October 27, 2012

Warning! Political Blog Post

Discussing politics in an RV blog is like touching the subway's third rail...electrifying.  And yes, I'm going to reach out and not just touch that third rail, but grab on to it with both hands.

As much as Marti and I enjoyed our stay on Florida's Panhandle Emerald Coast, we had to turn our wheels and head up to South Carolina where our South Dakota Absentee Ballots were waiting for us at our daughter's house.

Let me digress a moment from the topic because I need somebody to 'splain something to me.  We left Destin, Florida heading East and fought continual headwinds all the way (250 miles) as I watched my fuel mileage get clobbered.  Today, I figured I'd do better being that we were now heading first North and then later due West so if the wind was blowing, I wouldn't hit it head on.

Wrong!  I fought headwinds all the way North, once again watching my fuel mileage suffer (yep, another 250 miles).  Later, when we headed West, the wind hit me on the right front quarter.  Seems I can never win.  So, if you want to improve your fuel mileage, find out which way I'm driving and go the opposite direction.  You'll always have a tailwind, guaranteed!

We got our ballots from daughter Heather and returned to the Journey to fill them out and then mail them.  We want to be good Americans to exercise our civic duty and vote.  America has many problems and challenges and we wanted our voices to be heard.

I opened my ballot, looked over the choices and was profoundly disappointed.  For many years, comedian Pat Paulsen ran for president in every election. 

 
Sadly, his name was not on my ballot.  Seems he died in 1997.  But why should that make any difference?  After all, don't dead people vote in this country?  Why shouldn't we elect a dead president?  Don't they put pictures of dead presidents on our money?  Besides, a dead president might just be the thing our country needs to get the economy going because he couldn't do anything one way or the other to screw it up.
 
So with the choices available, which way did I vote?
 
Did I vote for the Republicans?
 
 
Or did I vote for the Democrats?
 

 
The truth be known, I wrote in my choice for President.
 
 
Alfred E. Neuman, from Mad Magazine.  What better person to run our country than him?  
 
Now with our votes cast and mailed out we can relax and look forward to the gathering of the Carolina Clan (CC) early next month.  We'll be able to have fun, sit around the campfire with great friends and enjoy all the wonderful things there are in this country.  :c)
 
Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.
 
 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Rolling Again

After a good night’s sleep, I felt much better, not quite 100% but  good enough to head on down the road.

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We left our “lovely” campground and got back on I-10.  We knew we needed to fuel up so we hit the Flying J just outside of Tallahassee.   Flying J may not always be the cheapest, but because they have the RV lanes that I know I can easily enter and exit, I choose them as often as I can.  Saving a couple of cents a gallon and then possibly damaging the RV or toad trying to maneuver around isn’t worth it to me. 

True, there are always the truck pumps, but the reason I try to avoid them is the nozzles are so big and pump so fast I have a hard time filling my tank.  The way the tank is built in the Journey, the last ten or so gallons I have to trickle in, can’t do that with the truck pump.  I end up spilling some of that liquid gold, also know as diesel fuel.

For the first time since last winter, I also availed myself of the easy to access propane station and topped off the propane tank.  With my Flying J card, I get the best price on propane.  Today it was $2.99 as compared to some campgrounds which charge $4.00 or even $5.00 a gallon.

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It was very windy and once again I fought a very strong headwind, all the time watching my dash computer tell me I was getting 6.9 to 7 mpg.  I wish the engineers that designed these highways would have built them so you always have a tailwind (and are always going downhill as another good measure).

We pulled a “Semper Gumby” (Always Flexible) and changed our route so we’d stop for the night in Brunswick, Georgia for a special reason.  The 250 miles we covered were worth it.

Judy was staying there and we haven’t seen her since last spring.  We had a great dinner and had a great time catching up.

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It’s always great to see her.  She is one amazing lady traveling in her Class A RV with her cute dog, Emma.  She’s made a career volunteering around the country in National Parks, National Wildlife Refugees and States Parks.

Tomorrow we head off on the last leg of our trip to our South Carolina “home” for a couple of days to take care of some errands.

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Can’t Think Of A Fancy Post Title

My brain is a little fuzzy, of course that’s the norm.  Today it is much more fuzzy than normal.  Both Marti and I have been fighting colds, Marti seems to have persevered and got over hers, mine has just been kicking my butt.

Cold or not, we had to leave our wonderful site at the Destin Army Recreation Area and head on the road towards our South Carolina “home”.

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We said our goodbyes to some wonderful new friends we’ve made and drove out to Interstate 10, passing a reminder that we like (like?), no love the Emerald Coast.  Just ignore the bug splatter on the windshield.

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The Journey drove beautifully, the engine ticked over strongly, much to my relief.  When we were driving in to Destin, the engine began to run rough and miss under power again.  That worried me.

Once we had set up in Destin, I changed the primary and secondary fuel filters on the engine.  Seems that they were getting plugged up from fuel contaminates.  They did their job and protected the very very (VERY) expensive fuel injector pump and fuel injectors.

Wish I had some filters to protect me from this cold.  As the miles unfolded, I felt sicker and sicker.  No amount of cold meds seemed to make a dent.  Marti pulled out our Passport America book and located a campground for the night.  We pulled in at 12:30 (ET) and had to wait until 2:00 pm to set up.  I drove a whopping 150 miles.  A kick butt cold is not the way I want to cure myself of PDD.

For a mere $20, we have this luxury FHU campsite. 

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Remember, this is a Passport America half off priced campground.  Don’t know who would pay the regular $40 price to stay here.  Maybe their mind is more fuzzy than mine?

Hope a good rest and a good night’s sleep will clear out the cobwebs for tomorrow’s run.

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

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Monday, October 22, 2012

More Redundant Redundancy

Maybe it is because of my German heritage.  Or maybe it’s because I’ve seen amazing things break when they shouldn’t have.  Or maybe It’s because I don’t want to take a chance and have to spend big bucks to fix things.

We’ve decided that we’ll get the awning motor replaced at a dealer this December when we’re going to be in one place at our South Carolina “home” for about six weeks.  That will give us plenty of time to have the awning motor ordered and replaced under our extended warranty.  It is the best solution.

In the mean time, I had to secure the awning in place as directed by the owner’s manual.  The screw I removed to allow the awning to close is supposed to be put back to keep the awning from unfurling going down the highway (Bad, BAD Ju Ju!).

And so came the problem.  I could not turn the awning shaft enough to line up the screw hole.  I tried and tried to no avail.

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Now you know I always have a Plan “B” (and “C” thru “Z”).  Along with duct tape and WD-40, every RV should have a supply of bungee cords and plastic “Zip” ties.

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I used a couple of bungee cords to ensure the awning can’t unfurl and the arms can’t pull open.

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Then to be doubly sure, I put a couple of Zip ties around the awning arms, redundancy to be sure, but better this than dancing around on the side of the highway on a windy day trying to close an unfurled awning.  Been there once with another motorhome some years back in windy Oklahoma, almost getting beaten to death by the awning before we got it secured.

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Did the same thing at the rear of the awning, too.

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The Zip ties have to be cut off to remove them.  Everything looks secure now.

But if you think all we do is work on the awning problem, we’ve had lots of fun doing things we never had time to do before.  Like sitting and watching a sunset, we never did that before.

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We had company, too.  Looks like this stork (I know, I know, bear with me) took a break from delivering babies to enjoy the sunset, too.

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It was beautiful.

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We went out in the middle of the night to watch for the meteor shower from Halley's Comet’s tail.  In two hours we saw one meteor for sure and maybe a couple of tiny ones.  Okay, not quite what we were expecting, but fun to be out in the peace and quiet of the night enjoying the cool air, the stars and each other’s company.

Then, best of all, the crowded beach.  Sugar white sand and warm, gentle ocean waves.  What’s not to love?

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We’ve found Destin, Florida to be high up on our list of favorite places we’ve been to and we’ll surely return again and again.  Who knows, we may just have to touch base with a realtor when we come off the fulltime road in forty or fifty years.  ;c)

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

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Friday, October 19, 2012

Raising The White Flag

Of surrender.

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I like to do my own maintenance and repair work on the Journey.  Most things I can do.  Struggling with a stuck open awning should be something I can fix.  Determining why it is stuck open should be something I can do.  Fixing the awning so it operates properly?

Maybe I can, maybe I can’t.

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First things first.  I checked all the fuses and circuit breakers.  All fine and dandy.  Now what?  Umm, maybe read the owner’s manual?

I dug out the manuals and located the awning section.  Okay, I already know that to bring the awning in, I have to push the “In” button.  I also know that doesn’t work.

On to the next section.  A jumper wire is included in the Winnebago Black Bag of Knowledge.  (Every Winnebago comes with a black bag stuffed full of operator’s manuals for every system on board as well as miscellaneous items like touch up paint, caps for our Sleepless Number Bed pump and, low and behold, an awning motor jumper wire and awning strap).

I took the jumper wire, disconnected the Journey’s wires and connected it to my car battery, thereby bypassing all the wiring to narrow down the problem.

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Connect the jumper wire to the car battery and…

Nothing!  Uh oh, this is bad Ju Ju.  The motor has departed to that happy awning place in the sky.  This meant drastic action to close the awning.

This is where the awning strap enters the picture.  I slide it in the end of the awning roller tube slot.

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Then I removed a lock screw on the motor to free up the mechanism.

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With two brooms, Marti and I were able to get the awning closed by pushing on each end, while holding the awning strap to ensure the awning didn’t slam closed.

Victory.  Sort of.

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This is where the white flag of surrender was raised up.  I called an highly recommended mobile RV service technician.

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We opened the awning and he double checked my trouble shooting.

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Guess what he found?  I was right, my awning motor bit the big one.

He did not have the part, he said he could get it in a week or so and it would be very expensive.  Since we are leaving here next Wednesday, that wouldn’t work.  Plan “B” was for me to try and order the part myself from a dealer I use right next to the Winnebago factory in Iowa and have it shipped here overnight.  Of course, since it was already Friday at 4:30 PM CT, that would have to wait until Monday.

The tech was sorry he couldn’t help me more.  I paid him for his time and we’re going to move on to Plan “C”.  That is get the awning fixed when we get back to South Carolina for our extended stay in December.  I debated ordering the part (Plan “D”) and installing it myself after I picked the RV tech’s brain on how to handle awning spring (think of how a window shade works with a spring to roll it up), but since I have an extended warranty, it would be cheaper and (hopefully) less of a hassle for me in the long run.

So I have to do one last thing.  That screw I removed to roll up the awning has to be put back to prevent the awning from opening by itself while going down the highway.  I’m also going to put a couple of bungee cords around things to keep it closed, remember I used to work for the government so I’m used to redundant redundancy.

The awning will stay closed and not inhibit our travels.  The only other option was to do what Robin Williams did in the movie RV.  Drive past a pole and rip the whole awning off…

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Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

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