Maintain, Fix and Repair

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

I am so lucky to have such a mechanically inclined husband - and he enjoys it! Earlier this month he replaced the fuel bowl drain valve on the diesel engine in our F250 pickup, Scooby.




Now he is working on getting the A/C fixed in our Freightliner (Freddie).



He changes the oil in all our vehicles, changes the brakes, and does basic maintenance and repair as well. He has done several on-the-road repairs that still stagger me to think about them. Tire changes on the 41' toy hauler, brakes lines and shackles, too. He's replaced belts on the Freightliner, taken care of fuel filter issues, too. There are many more things but my lazy brain just doesn't remember them all.

Then factor in all the carpentry work he has done - work on our shed and pavilion back in TN as well as outfitting our new cargo trailer for optimum storage.

Say, maybe I should have saved this for a Father's Day tribute. Oops!

Ciao for now!

Leesburg Bikefest - First Day

Saturday, April 23, 2016

When we realized we would be staying in Florida until early June, we were happy for one main reason. Leesburg Bikefest! We attended in 2011 and really enjoyed it.


Our campground has seen several toy haulers come in for the weekend as well as several more hardy tent campers.


This year we knew we wouldn't attend more than one day and we opted for the first day when the crowds would be smaller. We were glad we did - the event has probably doubled in five years. Wonderful for the town!










We walked both sides of main street, stopped for lunch, enjoyed some of the custom bikes (especially two firefighter bikes from NJ in the TRIKES ONLY parking area that we didn't know about), as well as a few sweet cars.
















The afternoon was capped off with a Blues Brothers performance.




We took the long, scenic way home, passing Gator Harley (can you say PACKED?) and ending with a movie. Life is good!



While we enjoyed ourselves, we realized something. Now that we aren't in buying mode, we spend a lot less time browsing the goods (and buying). In fact besides lunch and a bottle of water, the only thing we bought was a t-shirt for Stu (he says he's low on light-colored short-sleeve shirts). So while we enjoyed it, I'm not sure we would go again. And always, you can see our full album HERE. Oh, and this is the first time I've used my iPhone SE exclusively for photos - no camera!

Ciao for now!

Only a week?

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Is it possible it's only been a week since we moved to our lot? We've gotten quite a bit done, best told with photos, I think.
  • Dug out all the bushes along one side of the lot
  • Had the pavers extended on both sides of the "bump-out" all the way to the road (or the tree on one end)
  • Bought big plastic planters, filled with rocks & Sacrete with an anchor in the middle, used to tie down the awning(s)
  • Bought new solar lights - our old ones were dead
  • Bought a new grill
  • Bought a fire pit
  • Bought a little seating set
  • Put out a few other accessories (flag windsock, spinning frog on a motorcycle, etc)
It's starting to feel like home!









And Stu decided to mark his (our) territory in the concrete they put on the edge of the pavers!


On a sadder note, yesterday coastal Ecuador suffered a massive 7.8 earthquake with some areas having close to 100 aftershocks. It was felt in Cuenca but no damage there, fortunately. As a developing country, the result was devastating. You can see some photos here. We have friends who live on the coast who have lost everything but their lives.

One final note - if you have read and liked my books, are on Facebook but haven't liked my author page, please do! I am THREE likes away from 1000....wow!!! Also, I still have a couple of openings on my HOOT TROOP. Read more here and contact me if interested. While I haven't gotten a lot of writing done, I have squeezed in some research and the first three chapters of my next mystery book, #3 in the Klondike Mystery series, "Almost a Touch". To stay updated, you can follow my author blog, my Facebook page (Klondike Mysteries & Lia Rules, too) and sign up for my free newsletter! Please....[wink]

Ciao for now!

Do we? Ecuador vs the USA

Friday, April 15, 2016

It seems as though everyone we talk to lately wants to know one of two things. Are we are happy here in the US? Do we miss anything about Ecuador?

The answer is YES and YES. We are both happy to be back 'home'. We never intended to stay in Ecuador permanently but we did plan to stay a bit longer. So here are a few things we are enjoying and missing.

First, what do we miss about living in Ecuador?
  • Our friends are the one thing we miss the most. Our Ecuadorian friends as well as those from the US, Canada and other countries. We stay in touch, somewhat, with Facebook and email, but needless to say, it's not the same.
  • Twelve hours of daylight, every day, from approximately 6:30 am to 6:30 pm. Yes, a benefit of living close to the equator.
  • Inexpensive fruits, vegetables and dairy products. Need I say more?
  • Chicken, eggs, bacon that had a lot of flavor. This is definitely a case of missing things after trying their counterparts in the US.
  • Walking the city - it was so easy to grab a bus into El Centro and spend the day walking around, always seeing something new. Here it depends where we are parked. Our current campground is great for walking - unless it gets too hot, then it's off to mall walking. 
  • The spontaneity of the people and the city. I will never forget my two middle of the night mariachi band experiences! The flute players by the cathedral. The parades that popped up unannounced.
  • The friendliness - always a smile in greeting, bigger if we were the first to extend it. Here in the US, everyone looks so grim. I go out of my way to smile and greet people, just as I did in Ecuador.
And here are the things we are enjoying back in the USA.
  • Everything is easy. Need something from the store? Hop in the car and go. Want to watch your favorite TV show? Find it in the recorded list on your DVR. Need to pay a credit card? Use your own secure Internet connection, no VPN required. Need something legal, financial or medical? No translator needed. A regular grocery store trip took hours (walk to bus stop, wait for bus and of course you just missed the last one, ride bus to store, shop, wait for a taxi - you get the idea). 
  • Good beef, something that was somewhat lacking in Ecuador (although the bacon there - OH MY!)
  • Our motorcycle - Stu often gets on it to move it and ends up taking an hour or more ride. We try to get out a couple times a week (he goes out more often while I write).
  • Our home - our RV is our home with all our things and we both missed it. We had very nice apartments in Ecuador but they still weren't ours. When we spend money on upgrading or furnishing, it's ours.
  • Hot water almost instantly! In our last apartment it could take up to ten minutes to get hot water in the bathrooms. After midnight there was often none. Now we just turn in the faucet!
  • I'm writing again. For whatever reason, I could never find the motivation to write while we were living in Ecuador. Too many things to see and do!
  • Availability of things - yes, we still need things (and like things). No waiting for someone to mule something back to you or paying an exorbitant price. Just order and it's delivered.
  • Thrift and second hand stores. I love browsing these and reusing/recycling things. In Ecuador, everything is reused/recycled until it no longer exists.
  • Ability to travel easily. No four hour drive to the closest airport. We can book last minute cruise specials. We can hop on the bike or in the pickup and take a mini-vacation. All relatively inexpensively and easily.
Then there are the benefits we gained/learned from our time in Ecuador that are advantages we can utilize here in the states.
  • We appreciate living with less, more than ever. Seeing how little the locals live with, we realize we don't need many of the things we "want" to buy.
  • We understand more Spanish than we ever anticipated. We are enjoying reading signs and knowing what it said, listening to conversations and actually getting the gist of it, seeing the smiles when we greet or thank in Spanish.

Are there things we dislike about being back in the states? Sure, just as there are things we don't miss about living in Ecuador. But the positives outweigh the negatives on both sides. And, for us, the positives are a big part of what drew us back.

Ciao for now!

Moving day and our annivesary

Monday, April 11, 2016

We've been in the same place since the middle of October, a VERY long time for us. A lot has happened with the rig. New jacks, new washer/dryer, some of the carpet pulled out, new refrigerator/freezer, and smaller things like changing out the bucket that stored our kitchen utensils.

But today was the big change, we moved on to our own lot here at Bee's RV Resort. It's tight with everything on it, next year we will store Freddie in their storage area. We also plan to extend the pavers from the middle bump-out (where the cargo trailer is right now) all the way to the street on both ends of the lot. That will also give us more space.

We were finally settled around 2:30 and had the Directv dish setup by 4:00. Time for a late lunch, early dinner. We watched a little TV and then it was time for dessert. We love that our freezer is cold enough for ice cream. Stu did up some Grands biscuits in our convection/microwave and we had sliced strawberries sitting in sugar for two days - lots of syrup. Yummy!




Here are a couple of photos....





Oh, and today (April 11th) is our 7th wedding anniversary. We both feel doubly blessed to have found each other. We will celebrate with dinner and a movie!

Ciao for now!

Donna's Cruise Must Have's

Sunday, April 10, 2016

By now, you know this is our year for cruising. I have always been an overpacking but after our simpler lifestyle in Ecuador, I have been working on fine-tuning both my clothes and other accessories. Finding things that pack well is critical as is my comfort.

So here are a couple of things I've found that now go on every cruise.


COCOON TRAVEL BLANKET

I originally got this for the times I am sitting around somewhere on the ship, either writing or reading, and my legs get cold. While great for that, I also used it A LOT for taking naps in the cabin without disturbing the bed. (Yes, I know they will remake the bed.)

I love that it folds up so small - 4"x7" stuff size. I used it doubled in half but the full size is a generous 55"x70". Lightweight, perfect for travel.


THERM-A-REST COMPRESSIBLE PILLOW

Traveling with a bad back can be bad news. I sleep with a small pillow between my knees to alleviate back and  hip pain. I could use a regular bed pillow but that becomes cumbersome, especially in the middle of the night when you need to move. On our last cruise I bought this compressible pillow and feel in love with it. I used it behind my head with sitting up on the bed reading, watching TV, etc. and then I used it at night.


It worked out so well that I now use it at home as my night time knee pillow. It takes a little effort to compress it back but since it folds into it's own storage bag. To save space, I sometimes just clip it outside of my carry-on bag. The first time you open the pillow, allow a couple of hours for it to expand. You will be amazed!



And just for the ladies....those of you living/traveling in an RV, understand about limited storage space. So wardrobe items need to be easy to store and serve multiple purposes. That means, I don't normally have dressy clothes. For cruises, I had been combining a pair of dressy black slacks with a couple of tops for dinners. At times we like to dress up a bit more and do the steakhouse and while my choice worked, I really wanted a dress. I found this one and am in love!!!

LEGGINGSQUEEN WOMEN'S 3/4 SLEEVE, SHIRRED WAIST, LONG MAXI DRESS

While they come in many colors (red, magenta, green, burgandy/black, gray, eggplant, burgandy, navy and more), I opted for the simple black/white combination.

These are the two I ordered. They don't wrinkle, they stretch, they pack small (and don't wrinkle) and best of all, they hide the rolls that have decided to reside permanently around my mid-section.

Perfect for travel, they take up little space when folded (mine are stored in a drawer). The best news? They cost $25. Color me HAPPY!




The last thing is something for both of us - very handy. Not a requirement but we love not worrying about our cruise tags. We no longer have to wrap them in packing tape so they don't get wet, don't have to staple them on our bags and worry they will get torn off. We highly recommend these for anyone who cruises.



Ciao for now!

Hey man, we're COOL! New refrigerator...

Friday, April 8, 2016

First it was the COOL bedspread (which is working out EXTREMELY well - we both like it and I don't have to turn the night-time A/C down so low).

Now it's the COOL refrigerator/freezer! As many of you know, our nice 4-door Norcold refrigerator gave up the ghost. The ice maker leaked so bad, we disconnected it a couple years ago. Then the compressor went (not fun, ammonia smell - ugh! - and Stu was out of town in  Maryland).

Norcold 1210
We planned to have it fixed but after talking to several friends, we opted to install a residential unit instead. We were very fortunate to have Protech RV loan us a small fridge until ours new one was up and running. We bought a Samsung RF18, meaning we went from 12.1 cu ft to 18 cu ft!
The little borrowed fridge under our TV, beside our old fridge (waiting for removal)
Why? Better insulation, more efficient, more storage, longer lasting, lower price than a new RV propane/electric refrigerator. We had been worried about boondocking, but for now, the only real need to do that is for 2-3 nights while running from south to north and vice versa. Everyone that has a residential unit told us it stayed quite cold for up to eight hours of no power. We're keeping our fingers crossed!

Amazingly, Stu managed to get our old fridge out. First removing the doors, bins, etc, then undoing all the screws holding it in and finally using some wood to slide it down onto on old beach towel. He dragged it to the door where, between us, we managed to slide it outside using wood planks on our steps. Phew!



The changeover required the drawer underneath the old refrigerator be removed as well as a little side molding. The new unit was taller than the old one. Once installed, it also required bracing under the front because it stuck out a bit further, even though we got a counter depth unit (24"). We still need to stain the wood we jammed in underneath (screwed once it was wrenched up high enough to let the unit slide).

Taking out the drawer
All cleaned up and waiting for new fridge.
Lower vent/access panel covered with bubble wrap.
The only other somewhat major issue was getting the fridge delivered INSIDE our rig. We bought it at Home Depot and they called the delivery company who assured us that 1) they could bring it inside our RV and 2) they would have the doors off (to fit through our door). Three hours after dropping it in our campsite, another crew finally appeared to bring it inside. Stu ended up taking the doors off. Oh, and we paid $15 to have them them haul the old fridge away (well worth it).

Waiting for crew from Home Depot to carry it inside.
Stu took the doors off and put them on our new COOL bedspread.
Here are a few more key photos of the delivery and Stu's installation - you can see them all in our SmugMug album.






He also created a wooden, felt covered lock to keep the doors from opening when we are moving. Others use velcro on the fridge doors and soft ties attached to the sides (for the freezer). We will see how this works. We already had the scrap wood or it would have been wider. That maybe our weak point. We used self-sticking felt on it.


Here is a peek inside the fridge (more than enough room - oh, and we saved a couple of bins from the old fridge to use. They work great. The big one holds all our yogurt and the smaller one (our old ice maker tray), holds bottles of beer. Important since we now have glass shelves.


The freezer has a top sliding drawer where the ice maker is located (we will never use all this ice!). I also use a large reusable shopping bag to keep the veggies and meats separate. I have another in case I decide to put the meat in one, but for now, this works. And yes, it keeps ice cream - so hard that we have to put it in the fridge for an hour or so before dishing it out!


Ciao for now!