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Saturday, March 30, 2013

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

I’m beginning to think our South Carolina “home” is turning into our real home.  We’ve been here since 1 December of last year and looks like we’re going to be here much longer.

We had hoped to have all the medical appointments behind us by now, but “Semper Gumby” (Always Flexible) has turned into high gear.

On the positive side, Marti’s cataract surgery has been successful.  She has a follow up check on 9 April.  I have not received a surgery date yet for my cataract from the Veterans Administration (VA) hospital, I have to go in for a pre-surgery consultation on 22 April, then after that they will schedule the surgery date.  As to that date, I have no control or input as to when it will happen, but they will require weekly post surgery follow up checks for the month after.

My mad dash home on a plane from PA for the unexpected VA appointments for my disability claim has been a disappointment.  My eye exam last Saturday went fine, but yesterday (Friday), there was only an exam for one of my several service connected injuries and the doctor wants further tests done on that issue.  When are the tests going to be scheduled?  Who knows?  So we don’t dare go anywhere too far as the appointment can pop up at any time.

I must point out, though, in all fairness, the care I have received at the VA by the medical staff has been nothing short of excellent, and I’m very pleased with it.  As for the administrative end, that is where there is a huge disconnect.  The VA hospital here in Colombia, SC is the busiest in the whole U.S., so they are overloaded and trying to do the best they can to handle the load.  I just wish I had some  input on the appointment dates. 

All that being said, we’re not going to let the Journey’s “roots” grow any deeper.  In a case of deja vous all over again, we’re going to take some short, several day long trips, in between appointments, and not further than we can drive in a day or two, sort of like before we went full time.  Of course with my PDD (Paul Dahl Disorder – driving extreme distances in a day) that could open up half the country… ;c)

First on the agenda is a service appointment on 1 April with Cummins Coach Care in nearby Colombia, SC.  I scheduled this appointment for the Journey to have its oil and filter changes as well as required maintenance done on the Onan 8KW generator several months ago, planning it for  our departure from SC for our summer travels.  Now it’s going to be just a day or two getting the work done, then back to our campground until after Marti’s eye appointment follow up. 

Then we have a twelve day window (knock wood) before my appointment that we may actually be able to go somewhere, right now we have Jacksonville, FL and places in between in our sights.

Since the Journey has been sitting dormant since December, I wanted to check things out so we have no problem making our Monday service appointment.  Since it has been pretty cold at night the last several nights, I flipped on the engine block heater. 

Of course, this morning it was in the high fifties when we got up.  No big deal.  When I turned the key, the CAT started right up, I let it warm up a bit and ensured all the air brake pressures came up to normal.  The engine purred like the big kitten it is.  I shut it down and crossed that item off the list.

With all the high winds we’ve been having as well as the tree’s buds starting to pop open, I climbed up on the roof to sweep all the twigs and bud husks off the roof and the slide awnings.  I don’t want to roll up the awnings with all that debris in them.  Good thing I did because the roof was filthy.

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I swept off the roof and it looked somewhat better, but the awnings still needed cleaning.

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I scrubbed them off with some general purpose cleaner.

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Once they were all clean, I treated them with some water proofing spray (Thanks Karen and Al). 

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Now the awnings are clean and protected.  :c)

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I wish the campground allowed you to wash your RV.  So many, including this one, don’t.  So maybe I will run the Journey through a nearby truck wash when we are out for the service appointment.  It needs a bath badly.

One thing I’ve done to improve storage space on the Journey was remove the bottom, detachable portion of my ladder from its basement stowage position and hang it on the fixed upper half of the ladder, securing it with bungee cords.

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This keeps the ladder handy right where I need it and gives me additional space in my basement compartment.  You just can’t have too much storage space!  ;c)

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

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Thursday, March 28, 2013

Our Little Girls

Just a few pictures of our lovely granddaughters, for whom we traveled north to PA and NJ to see.  Unfortunately I had to leave and fly home for a medical appointment before we got over to NJ, but Marti soldiered on and had a nice visit.

The Pennsylvania girls:

Little Rebekah, our youngest.

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Her big sisters, Taylor,

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and Kierra.

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Over in New Jersey, it was our little granddaughter, Anabelle’s first birthday.

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The whole gang of granddaughters got together with their parents and their great grandfather.

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Almost the whole gang.  Missing was our grandsons Andrew and Owie, their dad Brian…and me!  Thank goodness for cameras so I didn’t miss everything.

Our kids, Ryan, Heather and Corey.

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One day, we hope to get a family picture with everyone.  It’s going to be hard with the kid’s families spread out over three states, NJ, SC and soon to be Missouri.  Good thing with have the Journey to be able to make the rounds! :c)

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

We Need To Lock This Guy Up

                                 And throw away the key!

                                        Who?  This guy???

 
NO!!!
 
This guy:
 
 
Punxsutawney Phil.
 
(Although the resemblance between the two is uncanny)
 
Old Phil predicted that we'd be out of this winter nonsense by now.  Man was he wrong!!!
 
Even down here in "sunny" and "warm" South Carolina, we've been freezing our tootsies off and the temps are going to drop below freezing again tonight. 
 
Of course, it could be worse, like this:
 
 
Hopefully, this cold will break soon.  Where is all that Global Warming when you need it?
 
 
Maybe Old Homer can do a better job than Punxsutawney Phil.
 
 Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.
 

Saturday, March 23, 2013

The Fun Begins

If you really want to appreciate, no love traveling by RV, just hop a flight on an airplane.  It's been a long time since I've flown commercial with the huddled masses and I was reminded how much I don't miss it.

I had a 11 am flight to get back to our South Carolina "home" so I could make the first of two appointments at the Veterans Administration (VA) Hospital.   The best flight we could find without exhausting my entire bank account and my first born child was a flight with one stop.  Philly to Detroit (!?) to Columbia, SC.  With a nice, long layover in Detroit.

Fortunately my son Ryan dropped me off early (7 am) at the Philly airport.  I needed every minute of the extra time to check in.  The airline (Delta) had the most interesting system to check in that I've ever seen.  If you had pre printed a boarding pass, you were taken first over everybody else standing in line, including First Class passengers, at a ration of about 20 to 1.  Interesting.

Finally making it to the counter after becoming life long friends with all the people I stood in line with, phone numbers and email address exchanged, I got a pretty good tongue lashing from the counter lady over not using the touch screen computer thingy in front of the counter to check in, instead of trying to have her print out my boarding pass.  So much for the friendly skies.

Checked my bag in for that annoying $25 charge and then I headed for the security check point to ensure I was a safe person to fly.

After divesting myself of my wallet, keys, pocket change, coat, shoes and what was left of my dignity, I once again received a tongue lashing by a TSA lady for not removing my belt.  I briefly thought about answering her back that it would be nice to have signs of some kinds like they have at other airports listing items you need to remove (like belts) but thought the better of it, she looked like she was big enough and mean enough to fight and beat most of the professional wrestlers in the WWE.

On to the full body scanner.  I wondered how the TSA operators would react seeing me through my clothes.  They didn't say much, but I did see them reaching in a panic for some barf bags.

Stepping out of the scanner, another new experience.  A TSA guy had me remove my wrist watch and he inspected it closely before handing it back to me.  Thankfully, he didn't discover where I secretly hit the M-1 Abrams Battle Tank that I normally carry in the watch.

Finally retrieving my stuff I headed off to the terminal wing to the gate where my flight was to leave from which was all the way down to the farthest gate of the farthest wing.  Upon arriving at the gate, there was a notice that there was a gate change.  Which gate, you ask?  Why, of course the farthest gate of the farthest terminal wing in the other direction!

I should be thankful that there was no additional charge for the exercise program the airline afforded me, it helped me get my 10,000 steps in (and then some).

From there, things started to pick up.  The flight left on time, even if the seat was a little tight.  Why are most airline seats designed to hold Munchkins comfortably?  The layover was fine and on the second flight, low and behold there was one empty seat.  And it was next to me.  Ye haw, better than striking gold!

Until...

The flight attendant came and asked me if I'd mind if a person from the back took that seat.  Seems that person was sitting next to another passenger who was seriously airsick.  I said of course and shortly a lady plopped down next to me, looking pretty green herself.  It's no fun watching someone puking, especially when you're sardined in with them.  I hoped her stomach didn't revolt after watching all that and thankfully her color returned to normal.

The rest of the trip was uneventful.  My bag made it, my rental car was ready and I got home okay.  Even though the Journey was pretty lonely with Marti still being up in PA and NJ with the granddaughters, being able to control the TV and watch the History Channel to my heart's content sort of made up for it (she'll be home next Wednesday).

It was not all in vain, it was convenient to get me home on time to make the first of my two medical appointments with the VA.  But best of all, it reinforced in my mind our decision to travel by RV... and not airlines!  :c)

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Head Spin

What started off this morning as a nice car trip up to Pennsylvania and New Jersey to visit our granddaughters Taylor, Kierra and Rebekah (PA) and Anabelle (NJ) took a totally unexpected turn about 400 miles into our 700 mile trip.

Our daughter Heather in South Carolina called to the say long awaited letter from the Veteran's Administration (VA) for my disability exam is scheduled for this Saturday for the first part with a second part a week from this coming Friday.

We've been sitting in our South Carolina "home" since December awaiting this exam and as soon as we slip out of town for a week's visit with the kids...Bam!

I'm now booked for a flight "home" on Friday, with a rental car waiting at the airport.  Marti will continue on with the visits and drive "home" middle of next week, to arrive on Thursday.

I just love it when a plan comes together!

I'm not complaining, this needs to get done and will be worth it in the long run.  It just figures! :cO

Maybe this will get us rolling sooner?


Saturday, March 16, 2013

Nickel And Dime Maintenance

It felt great to have a warm, sunny day here at our South Carolina “home”.  What better way to spend the day than hiking in the beauty of nature, or seeing amazing sights, or even (gasp!) shopping?
Naw, none of the above, it was time to do the little maintenance items that need to be done, but fall far down on the importance list.

First off, shut off the shore power and start the generator.  Onan recommends a two hour monthly run for our diesel generator under at least a 50% load.  Easy to do, I turn on the electric water heater and let the genny do its business.  A little TLC for it, by running it, not only does the oil circulate and keep all the seals soft and pliable, it helps to burn off any moisture build up in the generator windings.

Next was dumping the black tank and giving it a good flushing out.  Our Journey has a built in port to connect a hose to that rinses the tank.  A few good rinses and another item off the list.
Batteries.  The life blood of the RV.  Without them, you might as well be sitting in the dark in a cave.  Topped off the cells with my easy fill kit, a few squirts of the bulb on the hose and the cells are filled to their proper levels.

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After that, a good rinse and cleaning of the terminal connections and done with that item.

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We have a Splendide washer/dryer onboard the Journey.  It is a nice piece of equipment and does a great job.  There is no lint screen on it, but lint still can build up in the dryer vent hose.  I clean it out with this mechanical fingers device.

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It is flexible, about two feet long and has an expanding claw on the end that opens when you push the button on the opposite end.

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I gently insert it in the dryer vent and push the button to open the claws, the let off to let the claws grab some lint.

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After several tries, the claw comes out clean and there is no more lint build up.  It is important to be gentle when inserting and removing the grabber, you don’t want to tear the vent hose.

The Journey has a basement air conditioner unit with a large filter, 14”x20”x1”.  I buy new filters at Walmart or Lowe’s.  I like the three month kind.

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Do you think the old one was ready to be replaced?

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We have two Fantastic Fan units in the Journey, they work great but also require periodic cleaning.  They get dusty.

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I replaced the screwed on screens with the pop on screens (available at Camping World).  So much easier to remove and replace.

Cleaning is just a good rinsing with some soapy water and light rubbing in the sink.

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So the little items are done, with no muss or fuss.  Sure wish this campground allowed me to wash the Journey, it’s looking a little (a lot) dirty, but that will have to wait for us to move on down the road.

The campground here has mostly monthly construction workers living here in trailers, but there are several sites for transiting RVs.  A fifth wheel pulled in yesterday with something I’ve never seen before.

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Do you see it?  How about now?

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It is a “penthouse” cage for the cat.  There was one on each side of the fiver.  And people like to say “It’s a dog’s life”.  Pretty clever, eh?

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

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Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Sting Like A Butterfly, Punch Like A Flea

It’s hard to find decent programs on TV, too much blood and guts and other stuff are common fare.  Most of the time we watch the DYI Channel and laugh at homeowners trying to keep up or upgrade their homes, it’s especially funny to us because we don’t own a house anymore and have been through all those antics.  Nope, don’t miss it at all.

But we’ve found a great TV show that we watch religiously,  Duck Dynasty on A&E.  It’s a show about some real rednecks in Louisiana that invented a duck call and became multi millionaires.  Sort of a square peg in a round hole situation where their redneck ways don’t quite fit into modern society.  It’s a ton of laughs and it’s clean, well sort of, they do hunt in swamps.

Today I got to meet one of the stars of the show, Willie Robertson.  To memorialize the moment, he graciously agreed to let me have my picture taken with him.  We look so much alike, we could almost be twins.  Almost.

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Willie was so nice, he would have done anything for me.  And not complain one bit.  After all, he was kind of quiet.  Maybe it was because he was a cardboard cutout?  At least he stood still long enough that I could get a clear picture.

One last tidbit, the post title “Sting like a butterfly, punch like a flea” is one of the many famous lines that one of Duck Dynasty’s main characters, Uncle Si, spouts out.  He’s not quite all there.  Maybe he and I are more like twins…

The real highlight of the day was meeting our special RV friends, Mike and Terri.  They have taken a workamping job at a nearby COE campground until mid July, so we’ll get to see lots of them.  That’s a treat for us because the campground we’re in is mostly all construction workers who are never around.  During the day and on weekends, it seems like a ghost town, or maybe a ghost campground.  It was great to talk RV and catch up with real live people. 

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A great day all around and tonight, Duck Dynasty is on.  That makes me “Happy, happy, happy!”  Life is good!  :c)

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

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Monday, March 11, 2013

Life In The Slow Lane

Out of the blue, I received a “robo” call on my phone from the Veterans Administration (VA) Hospital.  I had an appointment scheduled for Friday.  Of course, the robot making the call didn’t happen to mention where at the VA my appointment was for.

After I made several calls, I found out it was an eye appointment with an ophthalmologist.  Maybe we’re getting somewhere?

After meeting with the eye doc, who confirmed that I have a cataract in my right eye, I now had to get an appointment with the anesthesiologist to ensure I am healthy enough (?) to have the surgery.  That appointment is scheduled for 22 April.  So, it looks like we’ll be sticking around in neutral longer than we could have ever anticipated.  As for the actual surgery date, who knows?  This is starting to look like the makings of a disaster for any spring and possibly summer travel plans. :c( 

In the mean time, Marti’s cataract surgery with a civilian doctor will be on 18 March.  That’s good news, at least one of us will be able to see straight.

The biggest event we’ve had recently was a pancake dinner to raise money for grandson Andrew’s youth group to make a summer camp trip.  The pancakes were flowing fast and furious. Marti and daughter Heather enjoyed plates full of pancakes and sausage, as well as nice fruit salads.

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To make the dinner more enjoyable, we had a special guest, our son Corey had flown down from NJ to visit Heather’s family.  It was good to see him.

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Owie got really tired of pancakes, he ate so many he looked like he’d bust at the seams.

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We tipped our waiter well to help raise money for the camp trip.

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Who was our waiter that did such an excellent job?  Why Andrew, of course!  He got the best tip, a special hug from his mom.

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Life goes on, we’re safe and secure here in South Carolina, even if not much is going on. 

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

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Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Unexpected New Found Wealth

The old saying goes:  “Even a blind pig sometimes finds a truffle”.  It has happened to us.  No, we’re not blind pigs and I wouldn’t know a truffle if I fell over one.

Lady Luck does smile on people occasionally, after all someone has to win the lottery.  Lady Luck did smile on me, finally, after all these years and I didn’t even have to buy a lottery ticket.

When we sold our house back in November 2011 to hit the road full time, there were a number of deposits to get refunded for various things associated with homeownership.  Cable boxes, water meters, phone equipment, HOA dues and so forth.  Some of the refunds came right away, which we made good use of as we motored around the good old USA.

Other refunds took a while, including three months worth of mortgage payments the bank (Wells Fargo) automatically withdrew from our checking account after we paid the balance of the mortgage off, and had received the letter from them acknowledging the pay off.  That was fun.

So it was a surprise when 14 months after the house sold, we got a check in the mail as a refund from our electric company.

Manna from heaven!  Unexpected new found wealth.  We’ve been dreaming of how we’re going to use this extra money.  Should we invest it?  Go on a cruise?  Maybe a down payment on that new Winnebago Tour Marti has had her eye on?  We’re open to ideas.

So we’ve been hanging on to the check, waiting to cash it until we have a clear direction of what to do.  One thing is for sure, we’re only going to spend it in one place!

(Click to enlarge)

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Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

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Saturday, March 2, 2013

Reverse Geocaching

Our grandsons (and Marti, too) are just wild about geocaching.  It’s one of their favorite things to do, besides sleeping over in the Journey.  Me?  I’m usually the chauffer, driving them from place to place while Marti navigates.  We’ve found over a dozen caches so far around our South Carolina “home”.

Today, we did something different, instead of hunting for another geocache, we made one of our own and hid it.

A trip to the Dollar Store gave us a bunch of little trinkets to put inside as prizes.  A Cristal Lite container became  the item to hold the trinkets and lastly, a 35mm film canister to hold the paper log.

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It was a little too brightly colored, so we went off to the local Tractor Supply Store to pick up some camo duct tape.  A few wraps and the cache will blend in with the surroundings and make it a little more challenging to find.

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We decided to locate the cache next to a creek near the boy’s house so they can check up on it periodically and see how many people find it.  We hid it next to a tree right by the creek.  The boys decided to name their cache “Camo Creek” and after we found the exact coordinates on Marti’s iPhone, it was logged in on the Geocaching website.

Can you see it? (Click on the picture to enlarge)

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Of course, being near a creek, the boys were magically drawn to the water.  I wonder why?

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They discovered an old piece of plywood, which they shortly sent adrift.

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Then they had a blast rescuing the plywood from the creek where it grounded, using sticks.

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What did they do after rescuing the poor piece of plywood?  Why they set it adrift again and started the rescuing all over. 

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Hmm, water rescues? Future Coasties in training?

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After a number of rescues, we took the boys to recharge their batteries…with milkshakes! :c)

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A fun filled morning for everyone, even the chauffer!

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

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