Bits and Pieces

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Several quick notes today:
  1. You may have noticed that the Frappr map is back! It seems as though Frappr was bought out by and it was taking time to move everything over. I'm not sure they are completely done since I am unable to edit my own pin. Once I leave here I will delete it and re-add it to this map and others I am on.
  2. Frappr photo size - someone posted that they were unable to add a photo. That may be due to the changeover, not sure. Here is a link to the Frappr FAQ on photos if you have questions.
  3. I have added my email address to my profile. If you have a question and want me to answer you, you need to email me directly. If you post a comment I cannot email you back and if I post a comment back I have no way of knowing if you will ever read it. So please feel free to email me and I will reply as I have time (please be patient ).
Okay, housekeeping notes done.....the RV is coming along. The coach batteries were dead again, they are now recharged and we will see how they do. Frustrating that nothing definite can be pinpointed except possibly my hitting the switch at the wrong time. I'm going to see if they can come up with some way to put a lid over it that I will have to move to disconnect the batteries (it's located in a spot where it's easy to accidentally hit it).

The guys working on the Lily Pad have been great....very patient. It's beginning to look like we might get the bulk of my list accomplished with two full days left. While they have a reputation for good work but being slow, I think giving them a deadline with my items prioritized is helping.

A couple of rigs left today but another arrived. I think we are at 4 or 5 staying here. All very nice folks, enjoy chatting with them. All are couples except the gentleman from Washington state with the little Min Pin.

I wanted to take some photos but never got around to digging out the camera today. I love my new camera but it's overkill for basic little shots like this. I think I will put a cheapie little digital on my Xmas wish list. Something small, easy to fit in a pocket but no real extras. Currently when I move into the customer lounge I have my laptop bag, BoBo and a tote bag with my purse, magazines, a book, and for BoBo a small bowl for water, food, a chew toy & rawhide, water bottle, bagel and a snack for me. Hard to add a large camera bag to that mix and made more cumbersome because I can't leave BoBo alone so every trip in or out, he accompanies me.

The weather is turning colder with a low forecast for 38 tonight but tomorrow night it's 32...glad my heat works well! Daily highs are dropping from the mid-60's to the mid-50's. Winter is approaching this are and I need to get moving for sure.

Till next time - keep on rollin',

Readers Ask.....

I often get email encouraging me on my travels, congratulating me on my journey, offering advise or suggestions and telling me how much they want/hope to do the same someday. Along with the latter there are often questions so every once in a while I will answer them here. (Note: often there is no email address for direct replies)

Did you have any second thoughts when things got down to the wire?

Once in a while I would wonder if I was doing the right thing. It was obviously a major change and since I am not mechanically inclined, I worried about maintenance on my vehicles. I just had to remind myself that the house would have the same issues....roofers, painters, plumbers, electricians....none of those come cheap either.

It was harder to leave my little town and my wonderful neighborhood. My neighbors have been the absolute best. If I had to live in a town again, I would definitely look towards Sparta.

What's it like, emotionally, when you're first out on the road? Is it exciting/euphoric, or a little letdown for the first few days, or like you can't quite believe you're actually doing it?

This is one I will address again further down the road. For now I get to look back at my first three trips. I think terrifying and exhilarating are the two words that come to mind. The driving definitely fits the first and the knowledge that you are actually DOING IT fit the second. I now have a total of about 12 days (between 3 trips) in my home so harder to pin things down. Looking back at the two years my husband and I full-timed (while still working), the euphoria may have tamped down a bit from early levels but for me it never went away.

Fulltimer blogs often mention the feeling of freedom that you have living in a rig vs. a house. But RV's have problems and need maintenance too. Do you think, so far, that it's easier/more freeing to deal with an RV than a house?

This kind of comes back to my first question. To me the freeing is the freedom of being able to do what you want, when you want and go where you want. Since I am not mechanical, the need to have others work on my "home" is still there. But so far it seems easier to get recommendations on good service folks for the motorhome than it did for the house.

Got a question you'd like to see answered? Email me or post a comment and you might see it posted here in the future. Thanks for taking time to read!

Till next time - keep on rollin',

Naught turns nice....

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The day passed quickly albeit starting way too early for me. Once the shop opened I moved into the customer lounge with BoBo, his food/water & toys, some magazines, a book and my laptop. There were already three folks in there. One I met last night, a gentleman from Washington state traveling with his little red Min Pin named Missy. (She once again proceeded to let BoBo know that SHE was the alpha dog!). The other couple left shortly afterward, headed out for a day of sightseeing and by 10 am the lounge was quiet - well except for the two house dogs that arrived. Winston is a English Springer Spaniel, still a puppy by the looks of his feet. Gorgeous but very laid back. Chewie is an older pup and looks to be a Shih Tzu. I'll try to take some photos tomorrow.

I worked on the computer, read, walked BoBo and just generally relaxed until closer to closing. During the day there was a myriad of folks stopping in, BoBo protected me and the sofa admirably from them all. LOL! Between being in protect mode and playing with Winston and Chewie he had a full day.

After walking around the yard and talking with the others here, I realized that if I could get the Lily Pad moved to the end of the building with my right side exposed (no rig), there was an excellent chance I could get my satellite dish working. The owner of the last rig at the end moved his car to the other side of his motorhome and I moved down to the empty spot. I have to run off 15 amp here but figured that shouldn't be an issue for anything I am doing.

Plugged in, turned on the dish, listened to it whine - grind - chirp - whirl, then stop. Came back inside, turned it off and turned on the TV. VOILA!!!!! It now I can keep up with my prime time shows. I missed Heroes last night and tried to watch it online. Way too slow and choppy so gave it up.

Several things got done to the rig, the most noticeable to me is getting the closer put on the screen door. I had bought it but couldn't figure out the instructions so asked them to put it on. It's SO NICE to have it close behind me...I still have to latch it but I know BoBo won't push on it enough to get out (unless I left him with the door not latched). At least I can now get out the door without worrying about it staying open. Minor item to most but combined with a working TV, it made my day!

Till next time - keep on rollin',

All for naught....

Monday, October 29, 2007

The morning started out slowly, with me sleeping in until 9 am ET (my body is still in central time zone). That meant getting on the road at 11 am ET after all was said and done. Since I knew it wasn't a full half day trip, I wasn't really concerned. The sun was out and it was warming up quickly from the low of around 34-35.

The trip was uneventful except for a panic stop that threw my little table and a few other things towards the front of the coach. I will now use the tote with all computer stuff in it set across the legs of the table to keep that from happening again. There was a gas station I could easily pull into after the stop so I quickly set everything back up again and proceeded onward.

If I hadn't been pressed for time I would have stopped to take some photos. With the sun and the trees in high color I hated missing the shots. One gas stop and another to eat and I pulled into Master Tech RV Service in Elkhart, IN around 3 pm (ET). They helped me unhook the trailer and get setup in a spot with power. There appear to be at least three other rigs with folks staying in them, already met one playmate for BoBo. Plus I have broadband level access with my Verizon aircard!

Here comes the "for naught".... thanks to their metal building behind me and tall motorhomes to either side I have NO satellite reception. None, nada, zip, zero, zilch... Guess I will be doing a lot of reading unless I can get them to move me to another spot tomorrow. LOL!

They have my laundry list of woes, wants & wishes - all divided into have to, need to and want to. Whatever isn't done by Friday night will have to wait till I get further down the road. I'm burning time here in the north when I need to get south.

Well, think I will see how many magazines I can clean out and then dig out a DVD or two to watch. I need to be up at 7 am ET so they can get an early start on my work.

Till next time - keep on rollin',

Few Blog Changes Made

Quick Frappr map is gone. All the member entries were lost (and not just on my map, many other suffered a loss) so I sadly removed it. Sorry! If I can find a replacment I will try it again. I loved the visual representation of where everyone was located.

I also removed the clock on the right...took too much time to change it. Instead I have a little text blurb that will give you a rough representation of where I am, what the time zone is and where I will be heading next.

As soon as I finish my cup of coffee I will be heading north to Elkhart. We survived the cold night and all seems to be intact. Now just hope all the tires held their pressure! Will post again tonight.

Till next time - keep on rollin',

Sunday - the good and the bad

Sunday, October 28, 2007

I slept well, ignoring the fact that I'm actually in Eastern time zone since I will be in Central again next week and for the winter. It's too much of a pain to change all the clocks, computer, watches, direcTV, etc. Guess I'm just lazy....LOL!

The sun was shining and it was supposed to warm up to the low 60's....but tonight's forecast is for freezing even here. GULP! Hoping the freezing temps last too short a time to impact me. I will have the heat running and will disconnect from their water faucet. My water tank is under the sofa, right next to the main heat run so it should be fine.

I started off by checking the TV to see if my local channel feeds were working. I had spent almost 30 minutes on the phone with a real nice lady in Utah named Marie while her supervisor turned on the feeds, or so he said. This morning still not working so as soon as BoBo had his walk (and checked out the little ponies stabled behind us), I called again. Got another nice lady, she did "something" and told me to give it 15 minutes. I waited an hour, nothing again. Another call, I'm still being very nice & considerate since I know from the Escapee forums it sometimes takes an act of Congress to get this done. This one wasn't so good....while the lady tried to be patient to me, she didn't know what she was talking about and after several times telling me it would take 11-14 weeks after they received back the paperwork she wanted to snail mail to me....I said thanks and hung up.

Make another cup of coffee and dialed again. Got Paul this time and he listened to my tale of woe, understood immediately what I was trying to do and spent about 10 minutes trying to get it done so he wouldn't have to transfer me to the Mobile Services department. He gave up and with an apology to me for not being able to help, transferred my call. I got Laura, my direcTV angel! Once again I explained what was up in less then 10 minutes she had me working! Now as long as I'm stationary and the DVR is on, my favorite shows will be recorded (got them all set up). Only took four phone calls and over an hour cell usage (the reason I opted to do it over the weekend when my air time is free). Thank you to both Paul and Laura as well as Marie. It was wonderful talking to all three of you.

My old DVR was a Tivo box and the software was like an old shoe, very comfortable and easy to use. The new DVR is not since direcTV and Tivo have parted ways. I find the new software much more cumbersome, some things taking multiple steps to do what took one on the old box. But I'll get used to's not like I have a choice. LOL! The downside is that the installation is only set up to allow me to record one program. There are a couple of times when I have two shows on at the same time. That took a little thought until I realized that I have both the east and west coast feeds of the major networks. So, one show is scheduled to record from the east coast feed and the other from the west coast. I just have to remember to NOT turn off the DVR when I go to bed.

By now it was warming up nicely outside so I proceeded to open all the bins and do a bit of organizing. I pulled out my Husky Jump-starter unit, dug around till I found my good tire pressure gauge (which will be stored in a handier spot now), checked the air in my tires and just as I suspected the front driver side tire on the Lily Pad was very low as were both trailer tires. Using the instruction book I easily added air to all three tires with the Husky. I love it! Made what could have been an ugly chore...a breeze! Once done, I plugged it into the outside outlet on the RV to recharge the internal battery. EDIT: It looks like Husky has replaced the model I have with this one.

Now the not so good news, while the compressor was inflating the tires, I decided to open up the trailer and see how the motorcycle fared. Not so good....guess the tie-downs weren't done well enough and the back of the motorcycle has shifted to the right at least 6" and one of the tie-downs was loose. I fastened it back down as best as I can, not much else I can do until I get where I have help. Everything will have to be unloaded before I can even attempt to back it out and since it's crooked, I prefer to have help in back it out. One more adventure....not sure if the way it was tied down caused the problem or if my tie-downs are faulty. UGH!! Keep your fingers crossed that the bike wasn't damaged and that I can make it to Elkhart without too much more movement in the trailer (Maybe getting some air in the tires will help? I have no idea...)

The campground is nice and I availed myself of a LONG HOT shower....right now my shower has a ton of "stuff" sitting in it and since I am not hooked up to sewer, figured why not use the facilities. They have a nice laundry room with some fitness equipment, fire rings for all sites, a pool (closed for the season), tons of pull-through sites, little log cabins scattered through out and lots of trees & paths to walk BoBo. Yes, it's pricey and not in my normal budget but there didn't seem to be many campgrounds in this area, especially ones easy to get to with plenty of pull-through sites. So for two nites I've enjoyed it.

Till next time - keep on rollin',

The Lily Pad is on the move!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

The day started off wrong....oh so wrong....with the guys at the satellite dish install shop showing up at 5:30 am and waking me out of a sound sleep (that I had been enjoying for ONLY a few hours) as they came in to pick up tools for an early install. Wouldn't have been so bad except for the garage doors they DRAGGED open. LOL! Never did fall back to sleep completely so at 7:30 crawled out of bed and got dressed.

After walking BoBo we headed over to my friend Herb's house where my bike and trailer were stored. I did a pretty slick job of backing up to the trailer, if I do say so myself), by using the backup monitor. Herb made me a badly needed cup of instant coffee and then we headed out to hitch up the trailer.

First things first....test the lights. Hmmmm, problems already. One directional appeared, at first, to have a burned bulb. Further investigation showed that the directionals were reversed as well as one not working at all. Herb opened the non-functioning one up and we found it full of water. Turns out it's a sealed unit that you replace, not just the bulb. Good news is that it's a standard item at all truck stops. Fortunately for me Herb is quite the handyman, he switched the wires at the plug and then proceeded to drill drain holes in the bottom of both rear lights (the right one was dry).

I headed on my way, nervous about the trailer following behind me like a lovestruck puppy. Since there was a truck stop within a couple miles from Herb's house, I headed there to get the bulb unit replacement (and what do you know, there was also a McDonald's there <g>, can you say COFFEE?). The cashier let me take the unit out to be sure it would fit (it did and it worked), I went back and and got a second one for a spare (just have to remember what bin/tote holds the other spare bulbs...<g>).

Finally got on my way, never wrote down the starting mileage or much for tracking this part of the trip. Maybe I'll just wait till I leave Elkhart....LOL! The trailer pulls nicely, I really don't know it's back there. If anything, it helps me better judge where things are in relation to the rig. I even managed to pull up far enough to get gas. Speaking of gas, I am definitely using more with the added weight of the trailer and the final weight of the RV.

The weather was okay, swapping sun with clouds and misty rain. The temperature was in the 60's most of the day. I am now in a KOA just outside Indianapolis and will stay one more night. It's pricey but comfortable and with the lows in Elkhart forecast for FREEZING Monday morning, will wait the extra day. Only supposed to be mid 30's here early Monday. I need to continue organizing the "stuff" sitting in bags around my bed as well as figure out how to use the compressor I have to air up all the tires. The front right looks a little soft and both trailer tires do as well. So, once the sun comes up and warms it a bit tomorrow, I'll find my tire gauge, pull out the instruction book for the Husky Jump-starter unit and see how much trouble I can get it. LOL!!

Oh, the electrical problems continue with variations....the steps have stopped working completely. Yesterday when I got ready to leave they stayed halfway out, like they did on my first trip to Indiana. They eventually retracted completely but there was a clicking sound (like a relay) for several hours. That has stopped....but I'm sure it has something to do with it. The other interesting thing came to me when I realized that even though nothing works off the coach batteries, the car radio was still working when I was driving and it IS connected to the coach batteries. That gave me a thought.....I wondered if the other things (lights, outlets, etc) worked when the engine was running.

Next rest stop I tried it out...yup, everything worked. I could even start the generator. So I am guessing that when the engine is running, the solenoid that connects the engine and coach batteries is open (for charging purposes) and that lets me use them. Engine off, solenoid closes and nothing works (thanks to the flaky disconnect switch).

Oh, the other discovery is that if the hard-wired carbon monoxide detector is turned off, nothing on propane will fire....discovered that on Thursday night when I turned on the heat. Lots more to definitely remember the ones that "catch" ya!

Till next time - keep on rollin',

No more stix ‘n brix

Friday, October 26, 2007

For the first time in many years, I no longer own a sticks and bricks house. The closing today went fine (my Realtor let me know) and the funds will be in my bank account on Monday. I had to rush a bit this morning to get out, had stuff from the bedroom - bathroom - living room to transfer. Some of it is still in a muddle....stuffed in bags, totes, etc....but I will eventually get it all sorted out. LOL!

My satellite dish didn't arrive until almost 1 pm so spent all afternoon waiting on the installation (along with my new radio, DVR & DVD player). Everything works well, few inconveniences like having to keep the cabinet door open while the sat/dvr is running but I can deal with that since I only have to flip a switch to hook onto the satellite. They also ran the wires for my Sirius radio and antenna, no more cables dangling all over the place!

I'm sitting in the installers parking lot, hooked up to their power for the night. It was dark when we got completely done and since I had to clean up what they had done (boxes left behind, some Styrofoam from drilling, cabinet needing to be repacked so it worked for me) as well as still deal with the totes/bags I stuffed into the RV from the bedroom, bathroom and kitchen. Gonna take a bit to resettle things.

Can't wait to get service...right now my steps aren't working and I can hear a ticking sound that just doesn't stop. I know it has to do with the damn battery disconnect switch that is flaky. The repair folks suspect the relays on the switch are bad.

Will pick up the bike & trailer in the morning and head north. Because my batteries seem to think they are always disconnected, I have to stay in a campground instead of the Flying J or Wally World or no power, no tv, no water, no toilet, no heat! Now off to figure out where on the route to Elkhart I will stop tomorrow night.

Till next time - keep on rollin',

Weather....not Whether

Monday, October 22, 2007

In the last week I have read blogs and forum posts from RVers dealing with tornadoes, extremely dangerous high winds, flooding rainstorms and now the fires in California. While many think to themselves that RVers have it made, they can just pick up and move when the weather gets bad, sometimes the weather is TO BAD to move. I am glad I have my weather radio with battery backup, it will be very useful on the road.

Courtesy of NASA - fires as of 10/21/07

For those interested, please follow along with these camp hosts in the area of the San Diego fires. My heart is breaking for everyone out there....the destruction and devastation is heartrending.

EDIT: Just had some RVing riding friends post in the Escapee forum...they made it out just barely.

Till next time - keep on rollin',

Winding Up & Winding Down...

Saturday, October 13, 2007

What a week....the house is getting emptier with more and more things being sold and picked up. I still have some things to deal with, but for the most part I only have borrowed and not-yet-picked-up items left. Even the office is pretty bare.

Speaking of the office, I still have to resort the couple of totes of "stuff" into the RV. That is what I will concentrate on the beginning of the week. I know I am keeping too much "stuff" but at least half of it are consumable items (from my buying-on-sale habits). Once they are gone, I won't carry such a stash of those things (toiletries, canned goods, paper products).

Same thing with paperbacks, carrying too many but I will be leaving many along the way as I read and travel. Now books in general....not sure where I will end up there. I have several (too many) campground books, several (probably not enough) RVing books, and a few computer related books. I also have three old one that needs internal cleaning before I can sell it, my newer notebook-mini that needs to get repaired before it's considered stable (grrrrrrr) and my newest that I use the most. Toss in the printer, labeler (can print stamps & labels and I love it), external backup and my wireless router for my new Verizon USB Aircard. Toss in paper, pens/refills, envelopes, paperclips, stapler/staples and a lot of other assorted and sundry office supplies....needless to say, I am sure some of this is going to get culled out over the next month or two.

Yes, my Verizon Aircard arrived and it works fine....albeit definitely slower than my DSL. But once I am traveling I will hit areas where it will be faster, remember, I'm in a rural location. I'd love to have satellite Internet but just can't justify having both. I'll try to keep my big downloads (Vista updates, etc) confined to when I have access to outside Wifi.

I sold both my older digital cameras and upgraded to a newer Canon Powershot S5 IS. I even splurged and ordered two filters for it and eventually may try a lens or two. I have a lot to learn, will be playing with that for quite a while. So far I really like the camera and look forward to trying it out on the road.

Still waiting to hear on the final closing date on the house and if I can sign before heading out, thus no firm departure date yet. My target was/is October 20th but if I can't sign the paperwork first, I may be forced to stay (easier than trying to predict where I will be for next-day service). Keeping my fingers crossed that I will hear Monday or Tuesday and that I can leave on Saturday. I have two recalls I need to get taken care of, some general service work and maybe an add or two (thinking about air bags for rear of the motorhome).

So, things are winding down in general here but winding up in preparation for hitting the road!

Till next time - keep on rollin',

Saturday night's alright for......grilling

Saturday, October 6, 2007

It was the smell that got me.....first BoBo, my little pup, started going to the door to the deck, his nose sniffing the air. Then when I took him out for a walk I noticed it....hard not to, I think the humidity made it cling to the air.

I was suddenly flooded with memories of days past, warm summer nights, family & friends, picnics, fireworks and July 4th, children's laughter, fireflies, good music.....amazing what the smell of burgers on a neighbor's grill can bring to mind.

A grill is something that has been lurking at the back of my mind. I haven't owned one in several years, Mike did all the grilling and when he could no longer eat regular food, owning a grill just didn't seem too important. Add to that the fact that I almost never used a grill myself, that was always sort of the man's domain.

While I love the smell and the taste of grilled foods be it burgers, hot dogs or chicken, I wondered if I would really use one. I read all the forum posts with interest, everyone debating the best grill, the best size, the best cooking method (gas or charcoal). For small the winner was the throw-away versions sold at Wal-Mart. For taste the winners tended to be way too large for my needs (and storage space).

I have pretty much resigned myself to using my small George Foreman grill outside, even though the taste wouldn't be the same. But that doesn't stop me from reading the posts about new grill discoveries. Recently I read about a smallish (24"x15"x6" and 20 or so pounds) propane grill. It's the Coleman InstaStart PerfectFlow Portable Grill. Looks like it would be perfect for folks with minimal storage space, still a bit too large for me though.

Another favorite for those with space to spare is the Coleman Road Trip Grill. It has its own stand so it's great for those times when there is no picnic or other table available. You can even order wheeled carry case for it....high tech! ;)

I did come across what looks like it would have been perfect....shame that they appear to have gone out of business (or aren't producing it anymore). Neat little grill, EZ-Grill, that folds flat for storage, yes, it's charcoal but how can you beat under four pounds and folds flat? LOL!
EDIT: A friend sent me a couple of links to other portable grills so I wanted to add them here. Grilliput Portable Grill and Grill4All

So it's back to the George Foreman and maybe finding some nice campground neighbors that notice when I'm drooling......

Till next time - keep on rollin',

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