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Friday, April 29, 2011

Things Come in Threes

We felt bad for Al and Kelly of the Bayfield Bunch who lost two of their canine friends within a week of each other.  Tonight, we know even more how sad they must feel.  We lost Zoe, the Wonder Dog.

She had stopped eating last night and turned her nose up at her favorite treat, liverwurst, this morning.  We were a bit concerned that her joints were acting up.  This afternoon, when I came home, I could see she was really hurting so I rushed her to the vet.

Some X-rays ruled out any skeletel issues and she had pain in her belly when the doctor pressed on it.  I knew, deep down inside, it was bad.

Blood tests and then an ultra sound confirmed the bad news, she had cancer in her pancreas, lungs as well as a tumor on the side of her heart.  Marti rushed down as soon as she could to be with me at the vet's office.  Even though the doctor was very good and very comforting, I had to send Marti home in tears and then sign the required papers.

Zoe turned and looked me in the eyes as the vet led her away, showing her faithful love to the very end.

It was very, very hard.  We're watching a recording of the Royal Wedding to get our minds off Zoe.


Thursday, April 28, 2011

Caring Transitions

No matter how hard we've been busting our butts on the house, it seems like it has become one step forward, two steps back.  With both of us holding down full time jobs and trying to get everything done while the clock it ticking, it feels like we'll never get it all done. We don't really have the time to hold a garage sale or sit around waiting for someone to buy our stuff off of Craig's List.  To make matters worse, two houses have gone up for sale on our street!  Now we have competition, too.  It has been keeping us awake at night.

While the upgrades and sprucing up of the house are going well, getting rid of stuff to make the house presentable has been our biggest hurdle.

Thanks to our friends Mike and Terri Young, we've contacted a company that they used to help them get their house ready for sale, Caring Transitions.  They are a company that will come in, help you remove unwanted stuff, price and stage the house contents for sale, hold an estate type sale and then remove any leftover items.  They charge 35% of the net profits from the sale of items.

This will work well for us, it gives us a helping hand right where and when we need it.  Can you say PHEW!

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Curb Appeal

After tons of mulch, scads of flowers and gallons of sweat, not to mention lots of greenbacks, we're pretty happy with how the outside of our house looks.  Curb appeal.

The azaleas are in bloom.

Our cherry tree looked really pretty with its pink blossoms, now starting to fall off.

We have a jelly bean shaped flower garden in the front yard.  We call it the Jelly Bean Garden.  How brilliant is that? ;c)

 A few finishing touches need to be done, but all in all, we're pleased with what we've gotten done outside.  Now if we can just get the inside to catch up...

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Moving Into Warp Speed

Getting the house ready for sale is quite the challenge, more than we ever anticipated.  When we first decided to plan on Full Timing, the idea of putting the house on the market was more of an afterthought  as we discussed where to go, what things we wanted to bring, places to see and so on.

Now I feel like I'm a general contractor sub-contracting many jobs to others.  Next week, I have a landscaper that we've used before coming to give the property a good going over, planting some new shrubs and lots of flowers to give the house excellent curb appeal.  I've been in contact with the people that are installing the new Corian countertops in the kitchen.  I've got to coordinate with another contractor to remove the old countertop, sink and assorted plumbing, then come back and reinstall all the plumbing after the countertop in installed.

I've placed calls to a power washing company to wash the exterior of the house and deck.  My termite guy has to be scheduled to do the annual inspection, the driveway re-coated and lastly next week, Marti and I are going to pick out the new carpet and arrange for its installation.

I've been continuing on my room painting, six rooms down, three more to go.  Little odds and ends are continually being knocked off the list.  We've also booked a meeting with an estate sale company (thanks Mike and Terri!) to sell our remaining furniture.

So all this is going to get done in time (we hope) to get the "For Sale" sign up next month.  We're keeping our fingers crossed that "Sold" will be on top of the sign quickly.

Once we get everything done, I'm worried that we'll be so pleased with the finished product that we'll change our minds and cancel our Full Time plans (NOT!!!!).

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Changing the Diesel Engine Fuel/Water Separator Filter

After driving the Journey about 1200 miles these past two weeks, I finally had a little down time to catch up on some maintenance.  Diesel Pusher (DP) motorhomes require a large amount of preventative maintenance and I do most of it myself.  I don't always have the time to get everything done, so I spread it out and do it in small bunches.

I had a minor drip from the corner of my recently installed windshield, so I removed all the molding in that area and resealed it with some heavy duty silicone.  Also, I had a couple of loose screws on my awning where it attaches to the roof, so I got some longer and thicker screws and tightened them down and sealed them with Dicor caulk.

I have not had a chance to give the Journey a good washing since last fall, so it got a bath using a heavy dose of Blue Coral Wash and Wax, with another couple of ounces of Rainex Wash and Wax mixed in.  When it was done, the Journey gleamed.

My big items that were at the top of the list were changing the fuel/water separator filter (FWSF) and the air filter.  Today dawned cool and cloudy, so I started with the FWSF.  It is located on the rear of the Journey on a bracket in front of the radiator.

The yellow part is the filter and underneath is a plastic bowl that water and sediment can settle in.  On the bottom of the bowl is a petcock that opens to drain the filter.

Once the diesel fuel is drained, I used a strap wrench to remove the filter.

The sediment bowl is then removed from the filter.  It would be nice to have three hands at this point, but not being that equipped, I clamped the old filter in a vice.  Using two strap wrenches, the bowl twists off.

Using a clean rag, I wiped all the residual dirt from the bowl.

A new rubber gasket is installed on the bowl.

A very important step is to lubricate the gasket with some oil.

The the bowl is screwed on to the new filter.

No, I didn't clamp the new filter in the vice, I just rested it on the jaws and used the two strap wrenches to make sure the bowl was on tight.  While I was at it, I ensured the drain petcock was closed.

A new gasket is installed on the top end of the filter and again it gets lubricated with some oil.  The oil is important so the gasket slides into a seated position against the filter housing.  If the filter is installed with the gasket dry, there is a chance that it could tear and that would cause all kinds of trouble. 

I then reinstalled the FWSF back in place, I screwed it on as tight as I could by hand, then gave it a little additional twist with my strap wrench.

Now here is the the important part.  The filter is installed dry, Cat does not want you to pre-fill it with fuel.  The reason is the fuel you'd put in it would not be filtered and you don't want to get any tiny debris or dirt particles in the engine's injector pump or injectors.

You start the engine and rev it up as high as it will go and hold it there for several minutes.  This will cause enough suction from the injector pump to pull fuel from the tank into the filter and filter it at the same time.  After several minutes, the engine can be dropped to idle and let it run, while a visual check is done on the FWSF to ensure there is no leakage.

Everything came out well, so another task is crossed off my maintenance list.  Not a hard job, about an hour, it just requires a little muscle to twist things off and on.

  I had to put off the air filter change for another time because by the time I got the FWSF back on, it started pouring rain.  Just my luck.

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Revenge of the Stink Bugs

My boat shoes squished as I walked.  I never wear socks with boat shoes, I don't know why.  Maybe I'm a slave to fashion.

We stayed in the Journey for my mother's funeral services at my parent's church parking lot.  Ryan's family stayed with us.  There were six of us, four adults and our two granddaughters, Taylor and Kierra.  After two days of boondocking with no hook ups, we drove an hour South to our son Corey's house.   Staying in his driveway, we used the onboard water and holding tanks and just hooked into his electricity.

We used the showers in the house, but it was nice to have the bathroom in the Journey for use at night.

We had a great time visiting, Ryan and Corey were enjoying seeing each other for the first time in over three years and Amanda and Amber, Corey and Ryan's wives, got a chance to really get to know each other because of the distances they live from each other.

We took the girls to an Easter Egg Hunt put on by the town, they had a blast and got lots of candy.

Inside the Journey, we still have some Stink Bugs. 

 When one appears, I grab a tissue, catch it and flush it down the toilet, sending it to "Poop Beach".  After seeing how long a Stink Bug can swim we figured they were having a great time down there in the black tank. 

Checking my tank levels with the six of us, the black tank level showed full by Monday night.  We looked online and found, just 10 miles away, a campground at the Navy Base at Earl, NJ.  We called Tuesday  morning and spoke to a super nice lady who said come on over, we could dump our tanks for free!

Free is good and in no time, Marti, Taylor, Kierra and I headed over to the campground.  The campground is on a former mobile home site, the mobile homes that once were there each had a nice cement slab to park on.  The sites are all FHU, the only odd thing was that the sewer connection is about three quarters of the way up the slab, right in the middle.  And the connection pipe is about eight inches high.  Perfect for a mobile home, but a little difficult for the average RV to use.

Marti guided me as I backed the Journey into the site and I stopped with the back end of the Journey just even with the sewer connection.  I carry two 15 foot sections of sewer hose and they can be connected together.  Putting the two hoses together, I just reached the sewer pipe. 

Being very careful, after getting everything hooked up, I released the grey tank for a couple of seconds to make sure it would work.  The theory is if something went wrong, you'd only spill soapy water. 

I did everything right, the grey water flowed fine.  I picked the hose up starting from the Journey's connection and "walked" it towards the sewer pipe to get the water to flow.  It worked well.

I then went and opened the black tank valve and "walked" the sewer hose toward the sewer connection, bidding all my Stink Bug "Friends" goodbye.

Suddenly, the connection holding the two sewer hoses unhooked and there I was standing between the two connections, with 15 feet of black tank sewage shooting all over me from each hose.

Thanking my lucky stars I had my mouth closed, I quickly ran and shut the black tank valve, but the damage was already done.  There was a big puddle of black tank "stuff" all over the ground and I was covered from chest to toes with that "stuff".  I swear I heard dozens of tiny voices laughing at me, the Stink Bugs got their revenge on me for flushing their beach.

I reminded myself that I changed many dirty diapers in my lifetime.  I sloshed around and re-hooked my sewer hoses back together and made doubly sure the connection was tight.  I gingerly re-opened the black tank valve and finally got the black tank emptied.   To add insult to injury, one of my hoses sprung a leak, squirting a small geyser of water up into the air.

I took out my grey water hose that I use to flush my black tank and started washing down the area,  also using a broom.  

I made an amazing discovery.  Black tank chemicals don't help with smell.

I washed down the area and then I spent some time picking up "things" and putting them down the sewer pipe.  Marti, with her great sense of humor, took my picture while I was doing that task.  Yes, I love that woman of mine.

I spent about a half hour getting the site cleaned up.  When I was done, I walked into the Journey and took off my clothes, dumped them in a plastic bag and took a good long shower.  Twice.

It wasn't a total loss, Taylor and Kierra had a blast playing around the campground and climbing some trees.

We've taken a new direction in dealing with the Stink Bugs, when we see one, we now grab a tissue and catch it, wrap it carefully, squish it and then put it in the trash.  Next to my boat shoes.

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Silver Lining

First of all, let me say thanks to all my Blog and RV friends for your prayers and support you gave us after my mother's passing.  We certainly found strength in it all. 

Marti and I pulled out of the RV-Dreams Rally on Thursday in Sevierville, TN and booked home 500 miles.  We pulled up in front of the house, grabbed some clothes and hit the road again to get to New Jersey.  I was pretty tired and after an hour, we pulled into a Walmart and overnighted.

It was a good stop for us for several reasons, one to rest and one to resupply the food in the Journey.  We had originally bought enough for the two of us to carry us through the Rally, but while we were traveling, we got some great news.

Our son, Ryan is stationed out in Oregon in the Coast Guard.  He wanted to attend my mother's services, but the air fare costs were too prohibitive.  His wife, Amber, did some looking on line and found a special package deal where if they rented a car, the whole family, Ryan, Amber and our two granddaughters, Taylor and Kierra, could fly in for less than the cost of a single ticket for just Ryan!  Have I mentioned I love Priceline?  We were thrilled, we have not seen them since last August.

So we re-provisioned with lots of extra food and snacks that the girls would love.

They flew into JFK in NYC and drove out to were we were in Northern New Jersey.  We were able to boondock for two nights in the parking lot of the church my parents attend, and Ryan's family stayed with us in the Journey.

The viewing and the funeral service went well.  It was very hard, especially for me.  My family asked me to do the eulogy.  I was able to do it and got through it without breaking down, again feeling the support of many thoughts and prayers.

It was bitter sweet.  Almost my entire family was there.  And for the first time in several years, my three kids, Corey, Heather and Ryan were together again.

My brothers and sister were all here and we took a family picture with my Dad.  It was also the first time in over ten years we were all together.  My brother Jeff, (on the left) was in the hospital for a leg infection and was able to get out and make it.  Answered prayers.

After everything was over, we all kicked back in the Journey and made plans for the next couple of days.

We packed up and headed South about an hour's drive to Corey and Amanda's house, our son and DIL.

The Journey fit nicely in their driveway and we were able to plug into their electricity. 

We've stayed close by my father's area to help him with some issues, today Marti and I met with him and took him to lunch to make sure he's okay and will do well.  Sadly, we have to leave tomorrow, (Wednesday) to head back to Virginia and say goodbye to Corey, Amanda and Ryan, Amber and the granddaughters who will fly back to Oregon.

It was a sad occasion, but it was wonderful to see family and our kids.  A Silver Lining.  Another reason we look forward to full time RV travel, we can visit them more often and stay longer.

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Off Line for a Few Days

Due to my mother's passing today, we'll be off line for a few days while Marti and I travel to Northern NJ for her viewing and funeral.

My mom had Alzheimer's and has been in a nursing home for the last three years.  We are glad her suffering is over and she is in a better place.  It's been a long good bye.

Marti and I are leaving the RV-Dreams Rally here in Sevierville, TN and heading home tomorrow morning to pick up some clothes and then continue on to NJ.  We'll find someplace to overnight on the way.

Once again we're glad we have the Journey to travel and stay in.

Paul and Marti

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Withdrawal Symptoms and Stink Bugs

It was tough to get through the day yesterday, but we did not go to Walmart.  Going out for a morning drive, we made it past the Walmart without making a right turn into the store.  It only took a mile or to for the shaking to stop from the withdrawal symptoms.

We spent most of the day just sitting and chasing the shade around the Journey.  It was a very warm day and the sun was hot.  Unfortunately our campsite here at the RV Dreams Rally is in a North-South exposure and the awning doesn't give us much shade at all.  So we placed our chairs in whatever shade we could find from the Journey and kept moving them to the next shady spot as the sun rose higher in the sky.

I purchased a Bissell Carpet Cleaner yesterday and it worked really well on the carpets.  Even though we vacuum them often, the dirt it got up was amazing (embarrassing, actually).  It cost $78 and is a keeper, it is much small than normal sized carpet cleaners and will store easily in our bedroom closet.

It is amazing how we've been feeling since we had nothing to do yesterday but sit around and relax.  Our fast paced lifestyle of go-go-go all the time made us feel strange just sitting still most of the day.  Marti and I talked about how weird it felt and I wondered how long it will take once we are on the road full time to get over the guilty feeling of lazing around.

Later in the evening we went over to Howard and Linda Payne's campsite, our hosts for the RV Dreams Rally.  They invited all the Rally attendees to come and hang out with them.  Many folks showed up and we had a great time visiting with old friends and making new ones.

Of course, that infernal phone of Marti's reared its ugly head and she had to send several texts back to her office to solve some problem.  She wasn't a happy camper.

This morning, our four legged alarm clock woke us up.  I took her for her morning walk in some cool and overcast skies.  By the time I got back, the rain started.  I walked in to the Journey to find Marti suffering from her foul and evil liquid addiction, also known as coffee.  She wasn't pleased at all.  I found she had the "hood" up on her Keurig Coffee maker, it wasn't making anything at all.  We've had this problem several times and even had a the machine replaced under warranty once already.  We've followed the instructions on every month or so flushing it with vinegar as recommended.

While Marti was on the phone with the Keurig customer service people, she was leaning over the sink making strange faces.  I had to see what caught her attention.  You won't believe it.

I have wondered why I have not been run out of the State of Tennessee for all the undocumented illegal stink bugs that have hitched a ride here on our Journey.  Since we've been here, we've been catching a dozen or more every day and flushing them down the toilet.  Now we may have to rethink our disposal method for stink bugs.

In the sink, in a water filled container was a stink bug, swimming around, doing the back stroke.  We watched it for more than five minutes, it looked like it was enjoying the water.

I plucked it out, wrapped it in a paper towel and gave it a squish before tossing it in the trash.  Marti is now concerned about all the stink bugs we've flushed, she thinks they may be having a beach party down there.  My next item for today is to go out in the rain and dump the black tank and remove "Poop Beach" along with all the stink bugs.

Before all you nice readers come running over to the Journey with a mercy cup of coffee for Marti to stop her withdrawal shakes, we fired up our installed coffee pot so she can feed her addiction.  A whole pot full.  As usual, we're Semper Gumby, always flexible! ;c)

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

Sunday, April 10, 2011


We arrived yesterday for the RV Dreams Rally at the River Plantation RV Park.  We got settled in and enjoyed a good night's sleep.

Early the next morning, Zoe, the Wonder Dog sounded off and woke us up.  I took her for a good walk, stopping to chat with some of our RV Dreams family, Bill and Nancy and Bruce and Laura.  We had a great conversation and lots of laughs.  Laura said I reminded her of John Candy, much skinnier, of course.  I kinda wondered if that was a compliment, after all he's passed away.  Maybe it's because of my "Dead Pan Humor"?

About that time Marti sent me a text, breakfast was ready, so I hurried back to the Journey.  It looked pretty in the early morning light.

After breakfast, the top job was to give the Journey a good cleaning inside.  When you are not a fulltimer, you don't always get a chance to keep everything and neat as you'd like.  We returned from our Disney trip last month and never got a chance to even give the Journey even a once over.  So this was the time to get it clean and sparkling.

The carpet need a good cleaning, first a good vacuuming and then I took out my handy dandy little carpet cleaner, it's the size of a hand vacuum.  Filled it up with carpet cleaner and soap, got down on my knees and turned it on.  I got a faceful of warm, soapy water, it was sort of like bending over a lawn sprinkler.
I quickly turned it off and looked it over.  It died.  Evidently the rubber seals inside it had dried out and crumbled away, letting the water spray all over.  Now what?

Trip number four to Walmart. To buy a new carpet cleaner.  We are now officially suffering from WMOCD, Walmart Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. 

Returning I hit the carpets and in no time they were looking much better, I was able to get all the polka dot spots from the grandkid's juice boxes cleaned up.  A few more minutes and the mirrors had all the little finger prints scrubbed off (why do RV manufacturers put so many *&^$#% mirrors in an RV anyway?).

As I put away the cleaning gear, Marti took Zoe, the Wonder Dog for a walk to the doggie park.  Evidently, Zoe felt left out with all the cleaning going on in the Journey and decided to get in on the fun, she found a nice pile of doggie do and rolled in it.

Knowing what was coming next, she decided to try and hide.

I always seem to get elected to do this job.

Marti gave Zoe a good toweling off.

The finished product, looking none too pleased.

We don't call her the Wonder Dog for nothing, because we always are wondering what kind of fun we're going to have with her next. ;c)

Later, we visited with more RV Dreamers and ended up going out for pizza with Mike and Terri.  They have been such an encouragement to us as we all are getting ready to hit the road.  Knowing we're both experiencing the same issues and being able to share how we're solving them is such a blessing.

Many RVers have specific travel plans, some want to visit every MLB baseball stadium, others want to visit every National Park, or camp in every state.  Marti and I have come up with a new challenge for our full time RV travels...we're going to visit every Walmart in the country!

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.