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Monday, July 29, 2019

180 Shopping Days Till Christmas! With Poor Quality Pix This Time (Don't Know What Happened)

Just a warning, July 25th was 180 days away from Christmas 2019.  What better way to spend that day than volunteering at my local USO.  Of course, if you don't know how to say "No" you can find
yourself in the strangest places doing the most unusual things.

Somehow I found myself resurrecting "Santa Paul", ie: Santa interrupting his summer vacation to visit a nearby military training base riding on a fire truck that was playing Christmas tunes.  We stopped all over the base, everywhere we saw groups of service members and brought some summertime Christmas cheer into their day by handing out candy canes and free energy soft drink hats.

Everybody wanted their picture taken with Santa.  They also took a lot of selfies with the old guy.  I think they wanted to prove to their families and friends that Santa really did visit them in the middle of a hot summer day in South Carolina, and it wasn't a mirage they saw due to being out in the sun too long.

All tolled, we gave out over 140 hats and numerous candy canes to service members in the Army, Navy and Marines.  It was great fun and just another way the USO supports our military members.

Now, Santa is back on his well earned summer vacation while those wonderful elves are keeping toy production going at the North Pole.  Me?  I'm wondering what the ladies that run the USO have in store for me next!

Thanks for visiting and feel free to make a comment.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Shakedown Trip

Since we came off the road fulltime and bought our little house in South Carolina, the Journey hasn't gone more than a few miles every month or so for a little exercise before returning to the storage lot where we keep it.  That changed when we fired it up for an extended 460 mile trip to Disney World with our daughter and grandsons Andrew and Owen.  Thankfully my brother Jon came down from NJ to stay with my Dad (who now lives with us) while we were away.

Before we left, I spent several days going over the Journey with a fine toothed comb, I serviced the generator myself but had to take it in to the nearby Freightliner dealer for the engine and chassis service.  I know how to do all that myself but I don't have the ability to deal with 20 quarts of used engine oil anymore, so I had to pay to get it done.  😟

Also my front tires needed replacing, the Michelin XRV tires, despite only being five years old had serious cracking on the sidewalls.  Not wanting to experience a blowout I replaced them with two new Goodyear G670 tires.  The rears, even newer than the fronts, are starting to show slight cracking on the sidewalls, but were in good enough condition to last for this trip.  I'll be replacing them later in the summer, we have a wedding in September in Rhode Island and we're planning on taking the Journey there.  No more Michelin tires for me. 

We've mellowed a bit.  Marti and I were heading down a day early and decided to stop halfway at a Flying J for the night, Heather and the boys were driving down the next day.  It was quite a shakedown trip for us.  I-95 in South Carolina was in poor condition and cause us a couple of problems.  First to go was a hubcap.

A little later on we heard an occasional thump from the right front area of the Journey.  I was perplexed wondering what that could be.  When we stopped, I found out that the right front fog light had come loose and was dangling from the wire harness, from time to time as it swung it contacted the back of the bumper making that noise we heard.  Thankfully it didn't come loose and I unhooked it and took it inside.  Another item to repair later.

Thankfully, that was the last problem from the shakedown cruise, I thought.  But I found another issue after we got home from the trip. 

Our favorite sign.

And our home away from home away from home.  For the week.

As always, we had a wonderful time, despite the heat and most afternoon rain storms.  We actually waded ankle deep in water down Main Street one evening in a heavy storm.  It added to the fun as we laughed with every step. 

Andrew had special fun this trip, he is old enough now to drive the golf cart we rented.  A happy camper was he.

All too soon the week was over and we headed home.  This time I drove the whole 460 miles, getting back in the PDD groove.  It felt good and has me looking forward to our next trip to Rhode Island.

We cleaned out the Journey upon returning home and I scrubbed all the bugs off the nose.  Where did all those bugs come from?  As I washed the Journey I noticed a small stain of fluid under the entrance step.  Looking into it further, it seems I have a leak at the hydraulic pump area for the slides/jacks.  I didn't have time to investigate so it's on the repair list for this summer.  Hopefully it's just something loose and an easy fix for a change.  Fingers crossed.

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

Monday, May 20, 2019

Time Marches On

It's become a bit of a "Groundhog Day" existence here at our South Carolina home.  My Dad is still living here which has really been an adjustment for us.  He is a 97 year old man with an 18 year old's mindset.  He still thinks he can do anything, until he takes a "digger" and I have to pick him up off the floor. 

One of us has to be physically present with him at all times to monitor his movements.  Thankfully we have been able to hire a respite company to have a companion with him two days a week for several hours so Marti and I can get out and do some of the things we need to do.  He doesn't like the companions, he calls them "baby sitters".  We call them angels!  :c)

Since Dad came to live with us last July, we've had three ambulance trips to the hospital, once for the broken hip, once for what appeared to be a stroke (it wasn't) and once for severe chest pains.  His ticker is getting a little worn out.  But he's happy, eating well and watching his favorite TV shows:  Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy.  I never really watched those shows before, now I'm not thrilled I watch them now, they make me feel really stupid.  Maybe I shouldn't have slept so much in school!

We are planning a Disney World trip first week of June with our grandsons Andrew and Owen.  My older brother Jon, who recently retired, is coming down from NJ to stay with Dad.  That's a great relief to know Dad will be well cared for and will enjoy somebody else to watch Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy with.  ;c)

I've been getting the Journey ready for the trip, I serviced the generator myself but had to make an appointment with a Freightliner dealer for the engine oil/filter and chassis service because I have no place to handle 20 quarts of used engine oil. On the appointment date I drove the Journey down only to find out they never got me on the schedule and were not able to do it.  Thankfully since I'm retired, I was able to reschedule another date for the next week.

Drove to the next  week appointment and ended up cooling my heels in the truckers lounge for FIVE hours.  I learned two things from this experience:  In the future, I'll stick to using Speedco shops for the Journey's service (which usually takes no more than and hour) and that truckers are very touchy-feely.  The truckers in the lounge with me were mesmerized by watching Dr. Phil on TV.  The whole five hours.  I was enlightened to  discover after five hours I am not touchy-feely.

The Journey lives in a nearby storage lot where I check on it regularly and about every 4-6 weeks run it around.  I am amazed at how dirty it gets just sitting still.  It gave me great satisfaction to be able to bring it to the paved lot next to our house (we live on a dead end street) to wash it and go over all the systems.  I tossed all the can goods we had left in the cabinets, they were all over two years old, and gave the carpets a good cleaning.  More scrubbing will be done over the next week.

I went to replace the water filter and fill the water tank to flush the antifreeze out and found the filter canister was cracked on the bottom.  A call to Lichtsinn Motors in Iowa got a new one mailed out to me, it arrived today.  It is a bit different so I may have to change some fittings to install it.  I took the Journey back to the storage lot for the next couple of days (don't want the HOA to complain) until I can work on it again and noticed one of my air pressure gauges has gone bad and when I closed the door, the step motor broke.  Another call to Lichtsinn and a new motor is on the way, I'll have to run by Freightliner to pick up a new gauge sometime next week.

I'm also replacing the front tires, they are Michelin XRV tires and although they have not aged out, they have severe cracks in the sidewalls.  A known issue with them.  It didn't matter that I've been very careful about keeping them covered and used 303 Protectant on them.  I'm done with Michelin and have two Goodyear G670 RV tires on the way, should be in next week.  The rear tires are just starting to show tiny sidewall cracks, they are even newer than the fronts, but I'll wait to next year to replace them.

I want to go to the Winnebago factory service center to have my left side slide looked at, it appears to need adjustment, it has dropped in the front side about an inch.  It still works just fine, but the slide arms ride on plastic bushings and I think they are worn.  Unfortunately that will have to remain on the back burner because of my Dad living with us.  Since we use the Journey so infrequently, it can wait.

So that's the latest, just doing what needs to be done.  Family first.  Dr. Phil, no way!

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Life As A Caregiver

We are soldiering on day by day caring for my 97 year old father.  It's hard to see him so slowed down and nearly helpless after growing up under his parenting.  He was an energetic, brilliant man who could do almost anything he put his mind to.  I learned so much from him.

Now he isn't sure what day of the week it is and needs help with everyday basic tasks.  We do whatever we can to make him comfortable and happy, whether it be putting on his favorite TV shows (Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy) to serving him his unending love for another bowl of strawberry ice cream.

We've had doctor visits, a night in the hospital when we though he had a stroke (he didn't) and have a visiting home health nurse and physical therapist several times a week to closely monitor his health.

When the weather cooperates, we have him outside enjoying the sun and fresh air for a change of pace.  We get him out to various places as much as we can but it really tires him out so we have to be very careful.

The bottom line is we will keep him here at our home as long as we can, glad to be able to provide a safe and warm environment for him.  As for our life, we have put it on hold, we have only limited days with him and would not want to look back and be sorry for not doing enough for him.

The Journey patiently awaits in a nearby storage lot.  I try to get over every other week to check up on it.  At least once a month I start up the generator and engine and drive it around the storage lot in circles for a bit.  When I have more time I take it for a long drive up and down the nearby interstate.

The house batteries are starting to show their age as the are over five years old.  I have a list of items I want to take care of this coming spring to get things up to 100%.  First on the list is an overall wash, it is amazing how dirty the Journey gets just sitting.  At least there are no new bugs stuck on the front.

We are planning a trip in June with the Journey to Disney World's Fort Wilderness with our daughter and grandsons Andrew and Owen.  It will be good to get out on the road for a bit.  We have been making arrangements for my brother to take my Dad for the time we're away.  Haven't quite figured out how we'll juggle him back and forth from SC to NJ and back but we'll find a way.

We've had occasional thoughts of downsizing the Journey to a smaller RV, but at this time  it just doesn't make sense.  We'd never get a return on the money the Journey cost (ah the joys of a depreciating asset) but we do like the large room and sleeping space (8 beds!) for our Disney visits and trips with the grandkids.   So we'll continue to hang on to it.  Hard to believe it's 12 years old already, seems like just the other day we drove it brand new off the dealer's lot.  It's got a little wear and tear on it but there is a lot of life and miles left in it.  Hopefully I have the same!  :c)