"And it's a great day to be alive"

Sunday, May 28, 2006

"And it's a great day to be alive, I know the sun's still shinin when I close my eyes..." A couple hours of great riding on this sunny day....and this Travis Tritt tune was constantly invading my mind. Yes, I sing to myself when I ride.....in fact I kept track of a lot of the songs that popped into my mind while traveling the country. But I digress....

It's been several weeks since I got out riding and I was way overdue. At 9 am it was already 80 degrees and I knew the storms would be moving back in by afternoon. Time for a ride - time to stretch my senses and exercise the bikes pipes. Green as far as I can see....spring is moving into summer here. But the smells, they never fail to send my mind wandering....flowers, fresh mown grass, cows and yes, even dead animal smells. All part of the experience.

It was hot but passing through the tree lined back roads, running alongside local rivers the temperature moderated. Today was the first time I wore my new Vega Nitro mesh jacket and I felt much more visible. Of course my pink shorty helmet and gloces with pink accents definitely let everyone know that I was a lady rider.

The clouds started moving in so I knew I had to head home but I got in close to 60 miles in just under two hours. Well, worth it and hopefully I'll get out again tomorrow.

Still no bites on the house....beginning to wonder if it is meant to sell. I ran into the guy who painted the house when we moved in. He told me he thought a friend of his was going to buy it, they bought further in the country - a bit smaller, a bit more expensive with no trees. Hmmmm....not sure what's up with that.

Last thought of the day...tomorrow we celebrate Memorial Day. Many think of it as a day of play, the end to a long weekend. Boating, swimming, camping and the start of summer come to mind. But Memorial Day is much more than that. It's the day when we should all honor those who have given their all to protect our country and our freedom. It's the day when we should all honor those who continue to serve to this day. Please visit http://www.remember.gov/ to learn more about uniting in remembrance on Memorial Day.

Till next time - keep on rollin',

A year ago......

Friday, May 26, 2006

For some reason it occurred to me that this time last year, the Friday before Memorial Day weekend, was my first trip through Yellowstone National Park on my way to Red Lodge, MT for the weekend. Normally I didn't make reservations but due to being out West and a major holiday, one marking the start of summer vacations for many, I planned ahead and had a room reserved at the Days Inn in Red Lodge.

Looking back over my ride journal, I realized that I hadn't really planned to hit Yellowstone at this point.
"Headed out to pick up WY and end up in MT*. Original plan was to stay in Anaconda, MT but due to late arrival last night, now modified it to Butte. Scenery flattened out but picked up again north of Rexburg, ID. Ended up going in the western entrance to Yellowstone (missed my turn - AGAIN). So glad I did, unbelievable! Saw deer, elk (several times), bison, trumpeter swans, eagles, ducks, hot springs and views to die for. Kept stopping to take photos, figured I'd just stay in Livingston (which is what I did). *Note: Remember, I was trying to ride all 48 states in 2005.

The weather was perfect, the crowds non-existent, can't wait to go back (if only the weather will hold). Stayed in a beautiful Best Western, got the second to last available room. I even got to park the bike in their secure parking garage! Headed to Red Lodge tomorrow."

I do have one memory that I didn't put into my ride journal but I will never forget the experience. All during my ride through Yellowstone, I kept thinking how much my husband would have enjoyed it and how much I wished he were seeing it with me. It had only been six months since his death. When I stopped to get gas on the northern side of Yellowstone, there were no self-pay pumps so I had to go inside. While waiting to pay the lady behind me asked if I had dropped some change. I looked down and saw two bright pennies....I picked them up and knew that Michael had been with me all day. Why? It all goes back to a poem someone sent me after his death.

Pennies From HeavenI found a penny today
Just laying on the ground
But it's not just a penny
This little coin I've found

Found pennies come from heaven
That's what my Grandpa told me
He said Angels toss them down
Oh, how I loved that story

He said when an Angel misses you
They toss a penny down
Sometimes just to cheer you up
And take away your frown

So don't pass by that penny
When you're feeling blue
It may be a penny from heaven
That an angel has tossed to you.
~Author Unknown~

Till next time - keep on rollin',

RV Life on Wheels, Bowling Green KY - Final Day

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

The time has flown and only two classes are left. The first one will be on RVs and weight safety, something I know is important but realize I need to know more. The class is sponsored by the RV Safety Education Foundation (RVSEF). Great information, knowledgeable presenters but the material was a bit on the dry side. But I did learn more and got some questions answered.

The final class I took was another given by Nick & Terri Russell, "The Frugal RVer". This one contained a lot of great information and several in the class offered additional suggestions. There are many ways to keep your expenses down when RVing.

Then it was on to the closing ceremony where we all gave thanks and then hoped we won something in the door prize drawings. Needless to say, my normal luck was running and I didn't win anything. But all in all, I WAS a winner, just from having attended. One last look around the bookstore, grabbed a sandwich and filled out my evaluation forms. Reluctantly I climbed into my car and headed back towards home.

Would I do it again? In a heartbeat....in fact, I am considering the July class in Moscow, ID where there are 5 days of classes for only $50 more than the shorter conference. Greater selection of topics in addition to those I couldn't squeeze in this time around. I left Bowling Green feeling much more confident about my ability to tackle the RVing world - finding & buying the best rig, feeling safe & secure on the road, bringing in some income and even doing periodical maintenance to my RV. Toss in the fact that I got to meet wonderful people from all walks of life, ones that have the same love of RVing that I do and you have a real win-win scenario.

Till next time - keep on rollin',

RV Life on Wheels, Bowling Green KY - Day Two

Morning came early with classes starting at 8 am. Fortunately, for me, there was a McDonald's on the way to the campus (actually, there were three ). Coffee to keep me going....a real necessity.

The first session was a tough choice. I really wanted to do "How to Choose a Home Base" with Nick & Terri Russell but felt I was better served by attending, "Personal Safety for RVers" with Dave and Sandy Baleria. It was the right decision, what a great class and knowledgeable instructors. They presented a lot of tips and hints on keeping yourself as safe as possible. Their next session was on certification in the use of pepper spray but I hadn't planned on attending that.

Instead, I headed back to another class taught by Steve Savage, "Batteries & Charging Systems". I just hoped it was basic enough for a totally non-technical person. It was....and I finally understood the difference between a converter and an inverter, when I would want in inverter, when to use a generator and lots more. GREAT class!

After lunch came another really touch decision. Steve Savage had a class on solar power and Dave & Sandy Baleria had one on guns & RVers. These were both classes I wanted to take and neither one was offered a second time (some classes get offered more than once during a LoW conference). I opted for the "Guns & RVs" and wasn't disappointed. Remember that book I bought the first day? Highly recommeded in the class...and the bookstore was already out of the 2006 book. I was glad I had jumped on it the first day there.

Needless to say, this is a tough topic. I already have a FL CCW (Concealed Carry Weapon) license and a handgun. I also have a shotgun. I also know that if my LIFE were threatened, I wouldn't hesitate....BUT neither are justifiably used to protect my property. These items were covered in the session and a lot more. [NOTE for anyone interested in a good article about guns & camping, please read this article by Derek Gore - Safety & Security: Guns & RVs.]

The last class of the day was one I had really looked forward to, "How to Inspect an RV Before Purchase" by Steve Savage. I wasn't disappointed. Packed with information, tons of hints & tips and a sense of finally having an idea what to watch for....I left there feeling like I could actually look over used rigs and make an informed decision as to whether the RV was worth my paying for a professional inspection. That information alone, made this conference worthwhile.

At the end of the day, everyone continued to mingle and meet. The bookstore saw more business as we all passed some time before being able to visit the "open rigs" (instructors, staff and attendees who posted signs to welcome visitors into their RVs). The rigs varied from a fifth wheel toy hauler (seen above) to top of the line diesel pushers to Class B or Class C motorhomes and even a converted bus. What an education and what a great time to meet more folks and get to better know that we'd already met.

I got to spend some additional time chatting with Nick & Terri Russell in their bus conversion as well as with Dave & Sandy Baleria in their fifth wheel. I also spent a lot of time with the owners of the toy hauler seen above. Turns out we knew each other on-line in the lady motorcycle rider forums and had even lived not too far apart at one time. Small world..... Oh, and yes, they have me thinking toy hauler again....their Sunny Brook was a brand I hadn't looked at yet.

Till next time - keep on rollin',

RV Life on Wheels, Bowling Green KY - Arrival and Day One

Monday, May 22, 2006

I know it's been a while since I blogged....too much life, too few hours. I don't forsee that changing for a while as I prepare for the full-time lifestyle. Tomorrow is supposed to be sunny so I plan on using the day to start taking photos of things to sell on eBay....would much rather be riding but have to be practical. That said, wanted to post a bit about the RV Life on Wheels conference I attended on May 12th-15th.

I left the house Friday morning after a leisurely breakfast at McDonald's (I know, BIG surprise ). The weather turned out to be nice but with thunderstorms in the forecast by Saturday night (both in Bowling Green and at home), the car was definitely the way to go. By the time I hit Bowling Green I really wish I had been able to ride...absolutely perfect day for it and I passed a lot of motorcycles on the road.

I checked into my hotel and went off to find the college campus where the conference was being held. I got checked in, looked around a bit, bought my first book (
2006 Traveler's Guide to the Firearm Laws of the 50 States). Headed off to find a seat for the opening ceremonies...before it started a lady from the Escapees Discussion Forum caught my eye - she turned out to be the one heading up the Graduating Class of 2006 (SKP members moving into the full-time lifestyle in 2006). After the session I met another lady from the RV America Women's RV Forum.

Joanie and I chatted while we waited for the shuttle bus that would take us to Camping World for our reception. Had a fun evening meeting and chatting with folks from all over, some with rigs, some without (we're known as the Wannabe's). Headed back to the hotel and spent time analyzing the courses to see which ones I wanted to attend.

There was a great mix of courses ranging from one I had previously attended at an
Escapade (Fire Safety), to very technical sessions, to lifestyle discussions and more. For my first class on Saturday I opted to attend "Basic RV Maintenance - Not for Women Only" by Steve Savage, a Master Certified RV Technician based in Bristol TN and the founder of the Motorhome Review Online. This was a perfect course for me...helped me feel better about taking care of basic preventative maintenance (PM) on whatever rig I get. I know there are things I will never do, but now I know of many things that I can do and I know when to do them.

I followed that with an introduction on Satellite TV systems....unfortunately it covered many things I already knew, some I didn't care about, and little about areas that I needed to know more about. Fortunately the instructor, Mike Steffan, was more than willing to take on any questions and help me through to a better understanding.

After lunch, I headed to "Work Your Way Across the USA" given by Nick Russell. Nick is also and Escapee and we had chatted in that forum so I looked forward to meeting him and his wife, Terri. I already knew he had a great sense of humor - his 2 minute intro at the opening ceremony had everyone laughing. I learned a LOT in this session....there are a lot more ways to make money than just workamping as a campground host. Leaving the session I felt a lot better about my future finances.....at least there are alternatives out there.

The last session of the day was supposed to be "Solo Travelers' Connections" but due to an family emergency, the instructor was unable to make Bowling Green. Unfortunately there wasn't much else that I really wanted to take so I sat in on Mike Steffan's "Computer Troubleshooting". Learned a bit, passed along a bit, just generally enjoyed.

The day over, I opted to skip the 7pm general presentation on RVing history and headed back to the hotel for the night.

Day two coming.....

Till next time - keep on rollin',

A Promising Weekend Ahead

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Tomorrow I head out to Bowling Green, KY to attend the RV Life on Wheels educational conference. I have met several folks online who are also going, makes it nice to somewhat "know" people there. Most are couples but one is a solo lady who will be retiring early in a couple of months.

I've picked out the sessions I want to attend and a backup as well. Having done something similar, Escapees Escapade about 8 or so years ago, I know that sometimes you quickly know that a session isn't for you - maybe the content is more basic or too advanced, or maybe the speaker is going to put you to sleep.

The classes offered vary greatly - here are a few examples:
  • Fire Safety
  • Insurance Tips
  • The Frugal RVer
  • Satellite TV
  • RV Weight
  • Boondocking (dry camping with no hookups usually in the middle of nowhere)
  • Trailering - Hitch Systems - What to tow - What to to with
  • Guns & RVs
  • Choosing a Home Base (for those who give up their house - stick home)

Tomorrow is registration and orientation, the actual classes start at 8 am on Saturday and go until 4:30 pm. From 6-7:30 pm on Sunday we get to tour the RVs of attendees who have volunteered to open up their rigs for inspection. That is always the best, as I remember from camping, seeing how others do things. Where they store stuff. What unique little gadgets they use. What multi-use applications they have for everyday items.

I've already bought a few things for the eventual rig. A fairly large rechargeable indoor/outdoor lantern (with a dimmer switch), a cute little lantern (with a remote control), a folding dish drying rack, soccer cones to help me line up when backing up (and spot where the hookups are), some 1# diving weight that are orange vinyl-covered and will be used to hold down the corners of an awning mat.....can you tell I'm having fun?

Till next time - keep on rollin',

Waiting is good....really!

Wednesday, May 3, 2006

Waiting is a good thing, honest it is. I find that it is making me really evaluate what I need vs. what I want in my motorhome. I know that I can easily live in a 30' version but I also know that I would like to have the combo washer/dryer and there just isn't room in the smaller rigs. I have to better evaluate gas mileage, prices aren't going to go down much from here. Even though I don't plan to drive every day, it will add up. Plus I need to consider what to get in a toad.

The Jeep Wrangler seems to be quite a favorite due to the ease of towing. Seemed like a good way to go, easy to find a good used one for a decent price. But then I noticed the average gas mileage. Hmmm, if I want to take a trip in the Jeep I could be spending quite a bit more than if I got a new Chevrolet HHR or Cobalt. Even a used Saturn Vue would be better....

Coffeemakers are a hot topic, too, since they pull a lot of power when brewing. Can I forgo that? I don't think so...guess I need to evaluate those as well. Already downsized my crockpot and ordered a small (one person) electric frying pan. Wish I could find a small blender but that doesn't seem to be a big item. Blenders are cheap but they do take up a fair amount of room for something that doesn't get used a lot.

Back to the rig....storage - convenient storage.....definitely keeping an eye on that. Basement storage is wonderful, especially for the heavy items, outdoor things and totes full of "stuff" that you don't need very often.

I picked up my new toolbox and am starting to build a list of the "must keep" tools. While I am not very mechanically inclined, I know it will be best to at least be equipped for emergencies. I also splurged (hey, it was only $20) and got one of the folding chairs with a built-in footstool and cupholders.

I've subscribed to Workamper News and received my first issue this week. Fascinating reading and a wide variety of jobs. I'm learning how to "redo" my resume, tailoring my past work experience for those skills valued in the workamper environment.

See, I'm not just sitting back, feet up, casually waiting for my house to sell. I really am using the time wisely....or trying to!

Till next time - keep on rollin',

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