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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Eyes Have It

Just a little "Clean Up" post to answer a few questions that some of you have asked concerning a couple of the things we've talked about on our blog.

First of all, Marti's eye is doing very well.  She had a macular  pucker, which basically was a wrinkle in her eye.  Surgery removed the wrinkle and she's sees clearer every day.  Not sure its such a good thing, though, because one morning she'll wake up, see what I look like clearly and be scared half to death.  In a couple of months her eye will be perfectly normal.  Hope her pulse will have recovered from her scare by then. ;c0

We want to do some volunteer work with the SOWERS group, which goes to different building projects around the country for churches and other faith based organizations that don't have the money or labor to construct needed facilities by themselves.  The receiving organization, in exchange for free labor on their construction project provides a month of free camping for the volunteers.  The volunteers put in six hour work days, five days a week for three weeks and then can remain the fourth week to sight see in the local area.  Building projects are posted on line and you can sign up for opportunities that work with your schedule.

Many folks have commented on my technical posts that I must have been a mechanic in a past life.  That is actually true, I was a mechanic in my past life.  I always was a tinkerer and was fascinated with mechanical things.  As a boy, I was building go carts and mini bikes.  In high school I got a job at age 16 washing school buses in my town.  That job turned into me helping the mechanics who taught me a lot of things and trusted me to do minor repairs on my own.  That led me to attend technical school for automotive and diesel vehicles while still working part time at the bus garage.

Upon graduation from technical school, I was hired as an assistant mechanic and began to do all kinds of repair and maintenance work on school buses, vans and other school board vehicles.  I eventually was promoted to the head mechanic position by age 21.

Eventually I moved on and worked for a GMC truck dealer, then a large tree company, repairing all kinds of equipment.  When the economy turned sour in the early 80's, I joined the Coast Guard as a machinery technician, maintaining the engines and gear on the boats and cutters.  While servicing in this capacity, I went to college at night and obtained a degree in Criminal Justice.  I remained in the maintenance field until I changed careers in 1992 and became a special agent in the Coast Guard Investigative Service, where I served the last 19 years of my career.

I never regretted getting a technical education first, it has served me well being able to do my own repairs on my vehicles and motor homes.

Our immediate plans are now to leave Virginia this Friday after Marti's last day of work (Yippee!) and head to NJ to our son Corey's house for the weekend to attend my dad's 90th birthday party and spend the rest of the weekend with Corey and DIL Amanda.  Monday, 5 December, we're leaving for Sioux Falls, SD to get our residency established, new drivers licenses and register the Journey, the Element and our two scooters.  Then it's off to Oregon to our son Ryan's house to spend Christmas with his family, DIL Amber and granddaughters Taylor and Kierra.

We are going to watch the weather carefully and alter our Westward trek as needed to avoid that funny snow stuff.  We'll wait out things if we need to.

In early January, we're heading South to Quartzsite to visit with many of our RV blogging friends.  Phew!

More of our plans to follow.

One more fly in the ointment.  I've just been diagnosed with an early cataract in my right eye, causing some blurred vision.  I'm going to see about getting it removed while we're in Oregon.  After all the fun we've been through getting on the road, this seems to be just a minor bother.

Tonight we had Marti's retirement party, but that's for the next post.

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

We Have Ignition

For all you nail biters out there (us included), the house closed today at 4:30 EST.  We are now officially houseless.  Sometimes it felt like we'd never see this day come.  Now that it's behind us, we've spent the evening making a big dent in stowin' and throwin' the "stuff".

We've come at it with a new angle, we don't need more than two of most anything.  We filled another big bag of giveaway things to drop off at the Salvation Army donation center and a couple of bigger bags at the dumpster.  After the drop offs, we'll actually have room to sit, lay down and most importantly, see out of the windshield to drive.

A couple of busy last days lie ahead.  Tomorrow we have a follow up eye appointment for Marti.  We're also going to stop in at my old agency headquarters and get fingerprinted for our application to Sowers.  They require a complete background check before they'll accept you to do volunteer building projects for them.  We plan on doing one or two a year, to give back (or pay it forward).

I have to run by our Honda dealer and get a trade in price on Marti's car.  We no longer need the Accord, I had it appraised at Car Max and they offered to buy it at a fairly low price.  After the dealer gives me a price, I'll know if  we're going to sell the car to Car Max.  I have a friend that would sell it for us, but it could be a long time in selling and it may be best to just let it go.

Tomorrow night is Marti's retirement party.  So far the guest list has topped 100.  Her staff is going all out and it should be quite a shin dig.  She deserves a nice send off, she put her heart and soul into her facility and staff and has already received some heart warming cards from some of the staff thanking her for her time spent with them.

I've gotten the final insurance quotes from Milers, thank you all for your suggestions and help.  I'm amazed that my current company, Nationwide couldn't be bothered to even return repeated phone calls.  So I'm taking my money where I'll get service.

We've stopped for the evening, we are now relaxing, listening to Christmas music and enjoying each other's company.  We're looking forward to many more times like this.

Thanks to all our blogging friends and RV "family" for all you kind words and encouragement as we struggled to get the house sold and reach this goal.  Now that we're going to be on the road, we hope to visit many of you in person (as long as you won't be embarrassed to be seen in public with us! ;c)

Monday, November 28, 2011

D-Day Gets An "F"

When the buyers of our house asked for a 28 November closing date, we gulped and said "Okay".  Not beating a dead horse (sorry JB), but we dug in and did all we needed to do to "Git 'Er Done".

Long hours, multiple trips to the dump, the Salvation Army donation center, Lowe's and the medicine chest for more Motrin.  Two rental trucks hauling furniture to two of our kid's homes, one in NJ, one in SC for items they chose from our house.  Getting our new mailing address in South Dakota.  And best of all, squeezing clothes, dishes, plates and other stuff (Marti's Wii video games) from a 3400 square foot house into our Winnebago Journey.  That battle is still on going, hopefully we'll be able to tuck enough of this "stuff" away so I can at least see out the front windshield when we pull out for the last time on Friday.

Then the last detail, cutting off the utilities and closing the accounts.  Our Realtor said we had to have the utilities on for the final walk through on the day of the closing, then we could turn off the utilities.  Also the homeowner's insurance could be cancelled.

I spent all morning listening to "Our Menus have Changed", "Press '1' for English" and "Please Wait for the Next Available Representative" recorded messages.  Then I'd finally get the Representative that must have forgotten to press "1" for English because it sure didn't seem like that was what they were speaking.  I set up all the utilities to be turned off tomorrow because most required a 24 hour notice.

When I got to the homeowners insurance, all I had to do was send them an email cancelling the policy.  With all I was doing today, I didn't get around to it, but figured I could do it tomorrow.

So everything on our end was completed.  D-Day was finally here and all we'd have to do was sit back and wait for the money from our sale to hit our bank account.  Except for one "small" issue.

After not hearing anything, I called my Realtor and left messages, then sent an email.  I figured if there was anything wrong I would have heard already.  Finally this evening, he called.

D-Day didn't happen.  Not because of anything we did or didn't do.  Not because of anything the buyers did or didn't do.  It was because the settlement company didn't get the work done.  Seems they took off last week and every closing that they were supposed to do was not done!

Mike, my Realtor was very baffled at this lack of service and said that hopefully Wednesday we'll close.  Unbelievable.  Just goes to show that poor customer service is not limited to just RV repairs.

So I'm sitting back on my couch and having my nervous breakdown.  I worked hard for it and I'm going to enjoy it.  It 's mine and I'm not going to share it with anybody. ;c)

So D-Day gets an "F".  Good thing I didn't cancel that homeowners insurance policy.  Another speed bump on the way to fulltiming.

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Marti's Musings: validation

So, since my last post, we have accomplished quite a bit...  the house is empty, final papers will be signed on Monday 11/28. yikes!  We will be house-less not homeless.... as many RVers say...

My surgery appears to have been a success - I no longer look like something from a horror movie.... sure glad the grandsons never really noticed, and now - 8 days later - there is not much red and my vision improves every day little by little.  Hopefully, the surgeon will agree that it was a success...

We sure have enjoyed our extended visit with our daughter and family....  oh. so. fun.

And the validation comes:
 - from the calls and texts that have been coming from work, the last several days...(sure won't miss that!!)
 - from the joy felt all around during a visit with family
-from the excitement and anticipation for future extended visits, complete with weekend sleep-overs with the grand-treasures; and planning our first long vacation with the grandsons
-from the building excitement that we are feeling with the final days before we officially 'hit the road'!

So, as we head back to VA, to finish settling into the RV (read: finding spots for all the stuff still waiting to be stuffed somewhere!) - I finish up my last days of work...  it sure seems surreal that even a week from now we will be retired, and full time RV-ers.  We are confident that this is so right.  Isn't it great when validation comes from so many areas? 

God is good, life is good. 

See ya down the road!

The Last Details

We're having a great time visiting with grandsons Andrew and Owie this Thanksgiving weekend.  The turkey was fried this year and was delicious.  What a great way to cook a turkey!

Our dining room table looked great in Heather's dining room.

It was a wonderful day with too many goodies to eat and lots of football to watch while digesting all that food.

The next day, Black Friday, was spent not shopping, but getting set up for the next big event...Christmas!
Out came the boxes of decorations.  Daddy Brian and the boys went to work assembling the tree.

Andrew got to put the star on the top of the tree.  Owie supervised him to make sure he got it in the right place.

Now for some obligatory Christmas pictures of the boys.

Sadly, we won't be spending Christmas with the boys this year so later today we'll let them open one gift we've brought them.  We're going to spend Christmas in Oregon with our granddaughters Taylor and Kierra.  We haven't spent Christmas with them since their daddy, Ryan, was transferred from NYC to Astoria, Oregon almost four years ago.

Sunday, we leave South Carolina to head home to the Journey in our car (with cruise control and XM radio!) to finish Marti's last week of work.  I have the last little details to take care of like sell said car and get all the utilities for our "old" house turned off and finish the last of the address changes.  We have a follow up visit with Marti's eye doctor and her "surprise" retirement party Wednesday night.  She already figured out her staff was up to something, it's hard to pull the wool over her eyes.  I've been trying (mostly unsuccessfully) to do it to her for years.

A week from today (Saturday) we'll be heading North to NJ to start our trek to Oregon via Sioux Falls, SD.  We can't believe our full timing plans have come to fruition.  Somebody pinch us, please!

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Ten Pounds of Stuff in the Five Pound Bag

I've come to realize that having cruise control in a vehicle is one of mankind's greatest inventions.  And how did I learn this?  By driving a heavily packed (crammed in) U-Haul truck 500 miles that didn't have cruise control.

Marti and I pulled out of our almost formally driveway yesterday (the house sale closes on Monday) with the tow dolly empty.  Trying as hard as I could, in the pouring rain, I could not get the tire straps to release, so we decided to drive to the U-Haul place and see if they could rectify the problem.  Marti followed me in the car, (driving with one eye) and arrived safely with no mowed down trees, cars or pedestrians.

Then the U-Haul store manager helped me undo the tie downs.  When we had picked up the truck and dolly the day before, the employee that gave us the equipment never showed me the secret to what position the tie down ratchet handle had to be in (straight up) before it would release the strap.

In no time we loaded the car, secured it and headed down Rt. 95.  At 11 am.  Nothing like an early start.

Marti rested her eyes, the eye she had surgery on is doing well, but it looks awful.  It is bloodshot and when people see it when we're together, I get from them these funny looks, like they know I'm a wife beater.  Anyway, every day is an improvement and she should be fine in another couple of weeks.

I drove and after a while my gas pedal foot started cramping, so I tried changing positions, sliding higher in the seat, sliding lower, moving more to the right, finally giving up and trying to use my left foot.  Nothing really worked well, I'd have used my hand on the pedal but then I wouldn't have been able to see over the dashboard.  So I suffered along and had to shake my leg and do stretching exercises at every gas stop and potty break.  Yes, I've been spoiled.

We arrived at Heather and Brian's house at about 8 pm and Andrew and Owie were standing out on the front porch waiting for us.

Then came the fun, unloading the truck and carrying all the boxes we were storing in their attic.  The proverbial 10 pounds of stuff in the 5 pound bag.  I don't  know how Brian did it but he jigsaw puzzled all the boxes away and fit them in somehow.  Did I ever tell you how brilliant my son-in-law is? :c)

We gave Heather our dining room table, chairs and hutch.  They look very nice in her dining room, much better than in our Journey...

Today, we had some Turkey Day preparations going on.  Marti, Heather and the boys were making some Oreo cookies turkeys.

This is what they look like when they are finished.

                                          This one looks like Marti's eye.

While they Oreo cookie turkeys were being assembled, Brian, the nuclear engineer, was assembling the turkey fryer.  He said building nuclear reactors are easier.

So we are on our way, on Monday, the closing on our house takes place and we are officially fulltimers.  As we look back on the adventure to get the house sold, we couldn't have done it without the help of our kids, early on Heather and her boys spent several days helping us clean out the basement, then Corey and DIL Amanda helped us get things sorted out and packed away, and helped me load the truck.  At South Carolina, Brian, Heather, Andrew and Owie helped unload, carry up to the attic and stow the special things we're keeping for our someday in the future stix-n-brix.  Even though our son Ryan and DIL Amber are way out in Oregon, they kept in touch with us and offered lots of encouragement to keep us focused.

We are thankful for many things but especially our kids.  They are the best!

So we hope you all have a great day tomorrow!

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

Monday, November 21, 2011

We've Got An Empty Feeling

We used to be full of, clothes, appliances and other assorted household junk, er, necessities.

As of about 5:30 today, the house and the storage unit were completely empty (we won't talk about what's in the Journey right now, but we might make the TV show Hoarders).  As my dearly departed grandmother used to say, "A place for everything and everything in its place".  Right now the campground dumpster is looking like a very good place for everything...

The estate sale finished yesterday and lots of stuff sold, many of the neighbors now have our "treasures".  I don't know how much we made off the sale, I don't expect a huge profit, but a little diesel fuel money for our trip to Oregon via Sioux Falls, SD will be appreciated.

It was interesting to see what sold, and what did not.  Our nice kitchen set did not go, but an old, dirty workbench in my garage went quickly.  Much of our bedroom furniture did not sell, but an old rocking chair and a crib went right away.  And the couple of items, including our 3 month old dryer that I added the "1" to the price tag sold at that price. :c)

The leftover stuff went to a church based organization that helps homeless people get back on their feet by supplying them with furnished apartments.  We feel good about that donation to help others.

The leftover, leftover stuff went with the junk man.  A whole truck full of things were piled in back of the truck and away all that went, out of our hair.

The one fly in the ointment was our piano.  It didn't sell.  I did not know what we were going to do with it, I figured we'd have to rent another storage unit, one of the heated ones for the next six months until our son Ryan, in Oregon, gets set up in his new duty assignment.  But at the last second, our next door neighbors, great friends, offered to hang on to it for us.  Problem solved, at least one, anyway.  It took four of us to move it, for a little upright spinet piano, it sure seemed like it was heavier than I remembered.

So the U-Haul is packed for the trip to SC to our daughter Heather's.  I rented a tow dolly to tow Marti's car behind us.  Originally she was going to drive, but with her eye surgery, she doesn't feel ready enough to drive safely.

Marti's eye is doing great and healing well, getting better every day, but she says it's like looking through a fishbowl, the vision is still distorted.  As long as she notices daily improvement, she's happy with that.  Right up front she was told it would take some time to get back to normal.

As for me, I'm on a regimen of antibiotics, Claritin and cough medicine to kick this cough and sinus infection that's been fighting with me the last couple of months.  I feel better now and hope it'll be a quick recovery for me too.

So, an empty house, a full RV and a bright future.  Marti finishes her job on 2 December and we're outta' here.  Thanks to all of you for your kind comments, suggestions and information on insurance companies. We're leaving our old friends behind in our old neighborhood but are looking forward to meeting y'all new friends on the road!

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Staying On Course

We're glad Friday is over, for a number of reasons.  First of all, the surgery on Marti's eye went well.  Her operation was over in less than an hour.  She even left the surgery center wearing a new accessory.

She only had to keep the patch on for the day, by evening, when the eye surgeon called to check up on her, she was allowed to take it off.  She has a bit of double, blurry vision but it is slowly clearing up.  It will be a while before everything is back to normal, but she is on course to make a full recovery.  Thanks for keeping Marti in all your thoughts and prayers.

After getting Marti back to the Journey (home), I went over to our house to finish removing the last things that we needed to take out before the  estate sale started on Saturday.   As I walked around the house and looked at the prices the estate sale folks had put on some of our things, I felt they were pretty low.  I added a number "1" in front of some of the prices, hope they don't notice the change and collect that amount.

I loaded up the Element to the roof. We've got a few piles in the Journey that Marti and I are working on to find places for, a closet, a cabinet or a bag slated for donations.

I got our DirecTV service changed over to the Distant Network Service (DNS) and sent back the old boxes we no longer need.  It went very easily.  Our new mailing address in South Dakota is in all set up.

I wish I'd have better luck with our transfer or purchase of vehicle insurance.  You'd think in this economy, insurance companies would be chaffing at the bit to get new business.  With all the ads on TV, you might believe they are dying to make more money.  Not.

I have been looking at three different companies and I can't get any agent to return my phone calls or emails.  I don't understand it, I brush my teeth, shower regularly and wear deodorant.

Sunday evening, I have to go back over to the house, hopefully an empty one, and take out the trash.  Monday, we sign our portion of the house sale papers and then pick up the rental truck to clear out our storage unit.  Tuesday, we head down to South Carolina to our daughter Heather's house to store those items and enjoy Thanksgiving with her, Brian and especially Andrew and Owie, our grandsons.

We are on course to get it all done.  It's slow going at times, but it'll be great to leave it all behind and roll on down the road.

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Marti's Musings: Just a quick note

Just wanted to make a quick note -

While I have been busily going full force at work, keeping things running as well as trying to wrap things up, Paul has been busily tying up loose ends.

You know those silly little things, like address changes and banking changes....  never mind trying to grab the clothes we need for the next 'X' number of years (good grief, if you only knew how much I pack for a long weekend!!!!) ...

On top of that, this daggone eye surgery scheduled for tomorrow (and a big THANK YOU for all the well wishes) and today Paul went to the doc for a chronic cough and general malaise (hard to believe with all that is going on, but he has been feeling under the weather for too long) - so he is on antibiotics for an upper respiratory infection, allergy meds and cough medicine.

So, as usual things around here are boring as all get-out with nothing to do.  HA!  If you believe that one, we are selling a beautiful bridge in NYC.  

We'll post more later.  Thanks for your support, it sure helps!  ~Marti 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Holding Our Own

Busted some butt today working with the estate sale folks getting things set up for this weekend's sale.  I had two workers with me today moving and shaking things up.  I felt a bit like a ping pong ball as I was trying to get things I needed to do done and each one kept asking me questions:  "What about this?" or "Is this for sale", etc, etc, etc.  It really slowed down my work.  Marti was able to come home a couple of hours early from her office and that really helped take the load off my shoulders.

I brought the Journey over from the storage lot and we moved lots of things into it.  Funny, none of my clothes made it in, so I'm a wee bit under dressed, fortunately I found some gym shorts and a tee shirt to change into after my well needed shower.

We're sitting in the Journey listening to the rain on the roof at the Bull Run Regional Park campground.  We pulled into our site in the pitch black darkness. The campground in heavily treed and with all the leaves fallen it was hard to even see the road.  To top it off, we pulled into the same site that our friends Bob and Linda from Because We Can had when they visited here last week.  They had a problem with the 50 amp circuit on the power pedestal and it is still not fixed.  My Progressive Surge Guard indicated one of the two power legs in the socket doesn't work.  No biggy, we plugged in to the 30 amp plug and we're comfortable.

Going to hit the ground running again tomorrow, lots of details to do and things to cross off the list.  Please pardon us if we fall a little behind on the blog.  Marti has her eye surgery early Friday morning and with all the traffic in the Washington DC metro area, it'll be a very early morning for us.

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Panic Attack!

As hard as we've been working to get the house ready for closing, we just don't seem to get anywhere.  Culling through our closets to pare down our wardrobes feel like an endless task.  We've taken at least a dozen trash bags full of clothes to the Salvation Army, but the closets still seem to be bulging.  I'm thinking the clothes have some rabbit DNA in them and breed in those dark closets!

Not to mention the clothes we want to take along with us, that pile grows and grows.  I'm thinking we're looking at the proverbial 10 lbs of stuff needing to be fitted into the 5 lb sack.

So I've been working in various rooms, trying to economize my steps.  When the shredder auto shuts down for its 30 minute rest, I move on to another room.  Stuff more give away clothes into a trash bag, then haul it out to the car to take it to the Salvation Army donation center.  On the way back in, I toss a few more items in the garbage can.  And so on around the various rooms in the house.

So with a mess spread all over the place, the estate sale people showed up right on time.  Panic mode!  How can they start working on placing items stored in the basement when I had stuff everywhere?  Fortunately for me, they've seen this before and after a quick tour of the house, they set in place a plan of organization and went to work, leaving me to concentrate on things I have to get done.

One major project I worked on today was to sort through a bunch of boxes that I've kept paperwork and records from my military career and discarded unnecessary documents.  I had kept every scrap of paper and that paid off when I put in my retirement paperwork.  There was no documentation in the Coast Guard's computer data base to prove all the years I spent in the military!   They didn't even have any record of my enlistment from 30 years ago.  I did and provided it.  If I didn't have that, it would have drastically screwed me out of hard earned money in my pension. (Phew!)

Now that everything is settled, I shredded a bunch of stuff, keeping the important stuff and highlights of my career for display someday in another house when we come off the road, hopefully not too soon!

The estate sale folks have gotten a lot done today and say they'll have everything finished by the end of the day tomorrow!  I will bring the Journey over in the morning and start loading that 10 lbs of stuff...then tomorrow night, we're staying at the Bull Run Regional Park campground for the next two weeks.

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Grinding Away At The Grind

Things are moving into high gear now.  The closing date is growing closer and we're hustling to get things done.  I already killed one paper shredder and I keep overheating the new one I bought, it has an auto shutdown feature which takes 30 minutes to reset.  That slows down progress. (Grrr!)

I had to start the day by running down to my Honda dealer, the battery on the Element started acting (actually not acting) up and barely cranking the engine over since the cooler weather has hit.  It also needed an oil change, a transmission fluid change, a brake fluid change which I was going to do next week, but got it all done today, plus an alignment and tire rotation.  I want to have everything done when we hit the road in about 20 days.

Spent a good amount of time in between shredder shut downs going through my closet again, weeding out even more clothes to send to the Salvation Army.  Never realized I had so many T-shirts.  Plus I've been playing phone tag with a few insurance agents to get our vehicles insured in South Dakota.

Tomorrow the estate sale folks come to start setting up the house for this weekend's sale.  We don't feel like we're ready but we'll rely on their expertise to get it done.  We're going to dedicate our front den room as the last to be set up so we can stack the items that are going into the Journey so we can get them out of their way.  Wednesday I'll bring the Journey over from the storage lot so we can load (stuff) it and then Thursday we're starting our two week stay at the Bull Run Regional Park campground.

The biggy is Friday Marti has to have an operation on her eye to correct a minor issue before it becomes a bad problem later in life.  Originally the surgery was scheduled for last month but there was an overbooking of the operating room so it got pushed back to this Friday.  She'll be off all next week to recuperate.  Hopefully she'll not have any post surgery issues because we're taking a load of furniture to daughter Heather's house in a rental truck next Tuesday.  She'll have to follow down in our car so we have a way home (to the Journey).  We'll spend Thanksgiving with Heather, Brian and the boys before coming home for Marti's last week of work.

All the chaos is a bit daunting (read downright scary) but we're sure it will all work out well.

When it's all done, we'll be out on the road and look at each other and realize there is nothing left to do... it'll be a great feeling.

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Stopping Niagara Falls

Actually, it was more like a little leak.  But it kept getting bigger and bigger.  And I had to fix it or never take another shower in the Journey.

A while back, I noticed the Journey's on board water pump would occasionally bump on for a second every hour or so.  At first I thought it was just the icemaker refilling, but that usually took two two second bumps of the water pump to fill it.  Didn't think too much about it.

Then in September, while camping at Branson, MO, I noticed a little damp spot under the hot water heater compartment.  Ah Ha, thought I, the pressure relief valve has dribbled a bit (which they sometimes can do) and dismissed it as the reason the water pump bumped on every once and a while.

Then, when I went to pick up the Journey from the Freightliner dealer after the engine valves were adjusted, I found a rather large puddle underneath the hot water heater compartment.  Not good, this deserved a serious look.

It was not my pressure relief valve, it was dry as a bone when I checked it.  Crawling underneath, I found a steady drip of water coming from the back side of the hot water heater compartment.  Uh oh.

Now that we're going to move into the Journey mid next week because all the furniture in the house will be gone in the estate sale (we hope!) I had to determine where the leak was.  I was lucky, in the infinite wisdom of the Winnebago engineering process, there was a small panel under the hot water heater compartment that I was able to remove to see where the leak was.

I was hoping (yes praying) that it wasn't the hot water heater tank, but something simple.  My prayers were answered, it was something simple.  Just it was going to take a heck of a lot of doing to fix it.

On the back of the hot water heater tank, there are two connections, with hoses allowing cold water in and hot water out.  The hoses are PEX plastic hoses and they screw into brass fittings on the tank.  One of the plastic hose connections had a tiny crack and that was where the leak was.

 You can see the tiny crack on the large end right about in the middle. 

Now the fun part, being able to reach the plastic connector.  Picture a saltine cracker box with one end open.  Looking inside, picture something the size of a strawberry at the other end.  Now picture yourself removing said strawberry with that much room.  I had to make it work, or I'd have to remove the entire hot water heater tank.  That would not be fun.

My first thought was to tighten the fitting, I could see it was scraped up right from the factory, there were teeth marks from a wrench on it.  Someone over tightened it when the Journey was being built and over the years vibration caused it to crack.  The next problem was to figure out how to get a tool on it to tighten it.

I have a collection of tools that I've purchased over the years.  They went to my son's house yesterday (sniff, sniff) to keep for me.  Fortunately I was able to grab a little pipe wrench I've had for over 25 years.

It fit in that little space and allowed me, millimeter by millimeter to tighten the fitting a bit.  Of course, that didn't work, it made the leak bigger.  So the only other option was to remove the fitting and get a new one.

Easier said than done.  Reverse turning, millimeter by, well, you get the idea and unhook the line from the brass fitting on the tank.  It took a while.  A long while.  And no four letter words were used in the process.  :c)

Once I unhooked it, I was able to pull the PEX line down far enough to remove the fitting.  And then off to Lowe's, my favorite store.  After multiple looks in the plumbing department and two Lowe's plumbing expert's assistance, it was determined that they did not have that fitting.  Uh oh.

Marti suggested I try an RV dealer about 20 minutes from our house that is pretty good with parts.  And more interestingly, they closed in 30 minutes.  We jumped back in the car, dashed down there and made it with 10 minutes to spare.  And, drum roll please...they had the fitting in stock!  $4.98.  Some days you win one for the Gipper, or in my case, the Journey.

Back home, installed the new fitting, millimeter by millimeter and it was Niagara Falls no more.

You can be sure that little pipe wrench will be with us as we travel full time.  As big as motor homes are, they sure have some tiny places to have to fix things.

I've said it before and I'll say it again, if you weren't handy with tools before you bought an RV, you will be after purchasing one.

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Marti's Musings: Checking off the Lists

So, Paul's multi-colored lists are getting checked, and items crossed off little by little.  Today was a pretty productive day.  Our son, Corey and DIL Amanda were in town for a wedding, and came by today to take their share of stuff back to NJ.  Yeah!  The garage is emptier, the storage unit is now half empty and we can see progress!

I guess we better, huh?  By Thursday we will be moved into the RV, so time is running out.  Paul had the RV home for a repair he had to do (I'll let him post about that); so Amanda and I took some loads into the RV for sorting and putting away  later, when the slides are out, and closets are more accessible.  I will have to now plan on a week's worth of work clothes, so.....  closet space may be at a premium.  The coat closet has been weeded out, and selections made.  Again, closet space....we will need warm coats for an Oregon Christmas, something we hadn't originally planned on.  We were going to keep the winter stuff in NJ...  Semper Gumby.... 

Next weekend is the estate sale.  Tuesday, Caring Transition's Carol, and her team, will be in to set up for that.  Remember that huge pile in the basement who talked about?  They will be setting all the stuff throughout the house to sell it all.  By the end of next weekend, the house will be empty.  Either by sale or by donation (of which we will get the tax deduction). 

The following week is Thanksgiving, when we will head to South Carolina to spend it with our daughter and family.  We will be renting a truck to bring her share of  goods.  We return to my final week of work.  WOW!!!

If we had time, we might be getting excited....ha ha!  Really, there are so many details to work on, the excitement pokes through the craziness at odd moments.

Yes, as many of you predicted, many of my co-workers have expressed their jealousy at our plans to retire and travel for an indefinite amount of time.  There are those, too, who cannot quite grasp the concept of getting rid of everything, and just walking, er driving, away.  I guess they can't see what we are driving TO! 

So, soon, very soon - we will be seeing many of your folks down the road!!

It is exciting that we now have 100 followers!!  Welcome aboard, and thanks for joining us!

As always, thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.  ~Marti

Friday, November 11, 2011

How a World War II Japanese Pilot Saved My Life

This is a story of two young men, both in their early twenties.  This story took place over sixty seven years ago.  The two young men, who if they had met under different circumstances probably would have become friends.  But with World War II raging around the globe, they were enemies, one of the young men was from the United States, the other, from Japan.

With their nations locked in a bitter struggle, the two young men answered the call of their country to serve in the armed forces.  Both men found themselves serving in their country's air corps.

July 1944 found the United States forces closing in on the Japanese homeland.  The young Japanese man became a pilot, flying the Mitsubishi Zero fighter plane, which could be equipped with a bomb.  He found himself stationed on an airfield on the island of Iwo Jima.

The young American airman was trained to service the engines on his country's new fearsome weapon, the B-29 Superfortress.  The B-29 was built to carry bombing missions to the Japanese homeland.  The island of Saipan had just a week before been invaded by the U.S. Marines and before all the Japanese defenders had been subdued, American troops, including the young American had been landed to start building the infrastructure and airfields for the B-29s to begin the bombing campaign that would ultimately end the war.

Even though the island of Saipan  was being turned into an American fortress, the Japanese were not going to give it up without a fight.  The fight was carried on by the Japanese pilots that flew bombing and strafing runs from airfields at Iwo Jima and Formosa.

The American forces landed more and more troops and supplies, including radars and anti aircraft guns to provide protection to the ever expanding air bases on Saipan and the next door island of Tinian.

The Americans worked around the clock, including the young airman while the Marines were still fighting to subdue all the remaining Japanese Army troops on Saipan.  Gunfire and explosions off in the distance told of the ongoing deadly struggle.  Long days of labor began to carve the runways, revetments and buildings for the soon to arrive  B-29 bombers.

The construction machinery, the bulldozers, the graders, the dump and cement trucks ran 24 hours a day, when there was a shift change, the oncoming operator would run up alongside the truck or grader and jump aboard, then the off going operator would jump off to get some food and rest, the vehicle never ceased working.  When the runways and roads were completed, the construction vehicles, which had run for weeks with little to no maintenance were just driven off to an area where they were junked, totally worn out and used up.

With all the activity going on, there was always a watch on the skies, Japanese air raids were an almost  daily occurrence, sometime several raids took place in a day.  Despite the radar, which was very primitive by today's standards, Japanese bombers were often able to sneak up on Saipan  by flying just above the waves and popping up just as they reached the island to carry out their raid, a hit and run before the anti aircraft guns could lock on them, or American fighter planes could launch.

One such day, the young Japanese pilot was briefed on his next bombing run.  It was a run down from Iwo Jima, to drop his one bomb from his Zero and the strafe any target of opportunity he found before returning back to his base.  He felt very uneasy, on his last mission, his plane had been hit by anti aircraft fire and only his skill and lots of luck brought his plane home, so badly damaged it never took to the skies again.  As he sat in the cockpit of his new plane awaiting takeoff, he began to sweat and his hands shook, he feared the American guns.

On Saipan, the young American airman was working on getting his engine repair shop set up.  He had dug himself a foxhole next to his tent where he would jump into during air raids, but his foxhole was on the other side of the base.  Because of the intense work schedule, no foxholes were constructed near his shop.

The Japanese air raid had taken off and had been in flight for some hours as they approached Saipan, skirting just above the wave tops.  As the island came into view, looking like the shape of a giant cake on the horizon, the Japanese pilot began to ready himself to pop up from the ocean surface, gain some altitude, find a target and drop his bomb.  His hands began to shake even more.

As some of the planes popped up to begin the raid, the American anti aircraft guns started to open up.  Black bursts of flak from the guns began to dot the sky as they targeted the attacking planes.  The Japanese pilot started his climb.

The American airman heard the guns open up and the air raid siren begin its wail, he dropped his tools, grabbed his helmet and looked out the door of the shop at the sky to see what was going on.  Because there was no air raid shelter or even a foxhole nearby, he decided to stay at his shop for the time being.  Other men ran wildly all over, seeking shelter, some were cut down by bullets from other attacking Japanese plane's machine guns.

The Japanese pilot gained some altitude and saw a building he thought would be a good place to drop his bomb.  As he started to climb higher, the flak around his plane became intense, and he dropped his plane lower to throw off the gunner's aim as he headed for the building.

The American airman saw the Japanese plane heading towards his shop, he began to look around for some safer place, he stepped out and froze for a minute.

The Japanese pilot, terrified by the flak bursts closing around his plane, pressed the button that released his bomb.  The plane leaped a little higher in the air after losing the 250 kilo weight of the bomb.  He turned on his wing and headed back out to sea, relieved that he had completed his mission and headed back towards his base.

The American airman saw the bomb drop from the Zero and head right towards him.  He flopped flat on the ground, trying to make himself as flat as possible, clenching his helmet tightly on his head as he waited for the blast he knew was coming.

He felt the bomb hit, the ground shook, but only a little bit, there was no explosion.  He lifted his head, peaked out from under his helmet and saw the bomb stuck in the ground just feet from him, unexploded.  He leaped to his feet and ran away to a place of better safety.

After the raid was over and the "All Clear" was sounded, the bomb disposal team went to work to remove any unexploded bombs or anti aircraft shells to make the area safe.  The American airman asked why the bomb that landed near him did not explode.  The bomb disposal man told him that the bomb was dropped too low and the little arming propeller on the bomb's nose didn't have enough time to spin to arm the bomb.  The Japanese pilot dropped his bomb too early and too low so it didn't explode.

The young airman's life had been spared by the Japanese pilot's error.  He survived the war despite many more air raids until the U.S. Marines captured Iwo Jima in February 1945.  Then living on Saipan became much safer.

After the war was over, the young airman came home and went to college on the GI Bill.  Some years later, he met a wonderful young lady and they married.   They began a family, but he never told anyone of the close calls he had, or some of the other horrors of war he had seen while serving on Saipan.

Today is Veterans Day, the day to pause and remember all our brave men and women, from all generations that stepped up to protect our country's freedom when the nation called.  If you see a vet walking around, wearing a military cap or a jacket, stop and say thanks.  They, at one time put their lives and dreams on hold, and took up arms to preserve our nation.

So, how did the Japanese pilot save my life?  The young American airman was my dad, Corporal Mel Dahl, U.S. Army Air Corps.  He served from 1942 to 1946 and only just recently told me this story.  If the Japanese pilot had dropped his bomb just a little higher, I wouldn't be here today.

Here's to honor all my family members that have served or are serving in the military today:

Pte. Oscar Wallace Measom, English Army Machine Gun Corps, WWI (my grandfather)
Cpl. Mel Dahl, U.S. Army Air Corps, WWII (my dad)
LT Brian Bedford, U.S. Navy, Afghanistan 2007 - 2008 (my son-in-law)
MK1 Ryan Dahl, U.S. Coast Guard 2000 - present (my son)
CWO3 Paul Dahl, U.S. Coast Guard (retired) 1981 - 2011

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Last Minute Maintenance

As we wind down our time living here in Northern Virginia, along with the myriad of details to accomplish to sell the house, our new "house", our Winnebago Journey, has some items that I want to finish while I still have access to my large tool collection (soon to go into storage at my son Corey's house).

Diesel pusher motorhomes are wonderful vehicles, with the engine in the rear, the ride up front is very quiet and enjoyable, you actually can hear yourself think, or in my case, my stomach growl when I'm hungry.  Along with the engine in the rear, the radiator is back there, too.  A large fan on the engine pushes air backwards towards the rear of the motorhome and through the radiator to keep the coolant, well, cool.

When the radiator is well maintained, everything stays cool as a cucumber.  But if certain maintenance is not done regularly, the rear engine/radiator combination can be a real Achilles Heel.  Overheating can occur and if not watched carefully, serious engine damage can happen.

What happens is as the fan blows air through the radiator, dust, dirt, leaves and other debris can be picked up and lodged between the radiator cooling fins, clogging them and reducing the airflow.  The funny thing is you can't see the clogs looking in at the radiator from the outside.

You have to periodically clean the radiator from the other side (at least annually), and that is from inside the engine compartment.  Only a few, easily purchased items are required to do the cleaning, some Simple Green cleaner, a garden sprayer and a water hose, as well as whatever tools you need to open the engine hatch from the inside.

On our Journey, the one item I loathe (actually I dislike it strongly) is removing the top step in our rear bedroom.  It is a fight every time, poorly engineered.  First there are some screws that have to be removed along the edge of the step.  In the picture, the screwdrivers are pointing to where the screws are located along the edge.

After removing the screws, I use a large screwdriver to pry up the step.

The step has to be worked up out of place.

Finally the step can be slid out of the way, exposing the engine hatch.

Four bolts hold down the insulated metal hatch cover.  Remove the bolts and the engine and engine side of the radiator are exposed.  Sorry for the lousy quality of the next couple of pictures, the lighting was a little hard to control, plus I had warmed up the engine, so there was some steam when I sprayed the Simple Green and the water on the radiator.

Spraying the Simple Green all over the radiator, then let it sit for about 10 minutes.  Give it a really good soaking, making sure to get the cleaner all over the radiator, even the outside edges because that is where lots of dust is thrown by the fan.

Then finally a good rinsing with fresh water.

Another simple to do, but important maintenance item to keep the Journey running cool.

Now for the fun part, getting that &*#$)%@! step back into place. :c)

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.