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Saying good bye is never easy
Punxsyjumper posted a blog entry in Eternal HoneymoonIt's been awhile since our last post, a lot has happened. We left PA on 13SEP17, as planned. Our first stop was Twin Lakes RV center in Lagrange IN. Had a few minor things checked out and serviced. Then it was a short hop down the road to Dan's Hitch in Elkhart to have our Roadmaster Brakemaster installed on our 2016 Nissan Frontier. I bought it in Chandler at the convention and then learned about the M&G system. I would much rather have had it installed but Roadmaster was going to charge me $200 to ship and restock the Brakemaster so I figured since I had it, I would keep it. Had no idea it would take them 6 hours to put the thing on. They did a good job but the guy at the desk, Ryan, should not be dealing with the customers at all. SOB is rude and obnoxious. Would I use them again? Heck no. Then we did a night at Walmart in Gary IN and on to Des Moines, IA. I wanted to stop there because I am still being jerked around by Remco on the disconnect I bought for the truck. Went to a real good shop called Westside Mechanics owned by Bill Bryant. Great guy and a great tech. Really knows his stuff. Took a look at the disconnect and said the remedy is for them to build me a new drive shaft. Remco didn't want to hear that. The issue is still not fixed and I will elaborate on a future post. We then stopped at the Amana Colonies and met up with a fellow youtuber. After a few days it was on to Sioux Falls, SD for our residency. For those of you wondering about the title of this post, here is the reason for it. We go into Sioux Falls on Friday the 22nd and checked in to Yogi Bear's Jellystone campground. This place is like the Chuckie Cheese of campgrounds and just as expensive. We hooked up and settled in for the night. Got up Sat morning and did our usual morning ritual and took the dogs for their walk. On our way back to the coach Penny (the white one) lost control of her back legs and laid down. I was able to get her up on over to the grass while Sweetie Pie went and got the truck. We made a few calls and after describing her symptoms, was told the animal ER was the place to go. So we took her down to the ER and got her checked in. Long story short, she had a tumor on her heart that ruptured, filling her heart with blood. Doc could have drained it but it would have just filled up again. I could see she wasn't getting any better and was actually getting worse. The options were few and none really any good. Then reality set in and I realized I was about to have to say good bye to an old friend. We get very attached to our dogs and she was only 10. This came as a total shock. I could see she was laboring just to breath so I set down on the floor with her while the Doc did her thing. I've had to do this 3 times now and it never gets any easier. I always stay with them till the end because I don't want them with strangers at the end. I want to be the last person they see before they go. So, I said my goodbyes, told her what a good dog she was and told her I would see her again at the bridge. Did I cry? You bet I did, like a freakin' baby. My eyes are misty as I write this. So, now we still have Jack and he is just now settling in to being the only dog. Penny was 10 and Jack is 8. She was always there and now she's not. For a few days he would look for her. He'd go to the back of the truck expecting her to jump out. When I would walk him, he'd stop at the corn field and watch for her. We've always had 2 dogs and now it is like we are out of balance. We will get another dog but not sure when. When the time is right, the good Lord will show us which one he wants us to have. It's always been that way. Saying good bye is never easy. For those of you coming to SD for your residency, there are a few things Dakota Post neglected to tell us. We were told once we get there to make an apt with a certain employee and she would help us with what we needed. To be honest, she wasn't much help at all. When I went for my driver's license, I was asked if I wanted the word "Veteran" put on my license. What I wasn't told was that you need to have something that says you were Honorably discharged. Even though I was, even though I had my DD214 and even though I was 100% disabled (which I'm pretty sure you have to be Honorably discharged to get), I couldn't get it. I told the dude, no big deal. I don't really care if it says it or not. So, if you want "Veteran" on your license, you will have to prove you Have an Honorable discharge. Then it was on to DMV to get our tags. No problem on the truck but to get tags for the coach, we had to show the UVW (unladen vehicle weight). Nobody told us about that but since it was listed on our PA title (which we had because the coach was paid for in full), we thought we were good. Nope, they wouldn't accept it. When I asked why, I was told that "anybody could have put that on there". Not sure about SD but back in PA, we don't write up our own titles. That comes from an office know as the "DMV". I thought that was where I was, same office, different state. I have a real hard time trying to deal with that level of stupidity so I just quoted Arnold and said, "I'll be back". I called Thor to try and get something with the listed UVW on it. The first lady I talked to found it and was going to email it to me. Great. Never got the email. So I had to call in again and the next guy I talked to said he couldn't find anything on it. Pretty much just too lazy to dig very far. I called a third time and talked with a guy who not only found it but emailed me a screenshot of it. I went back to the DMV and showed them the screenshot and was surprised when they said, "Yeh, we can accept that". They wouldn't take it off of an official PA DMV title but they would take it off of an email somebody sent me. So, lesson #2, you will need something showing the UVW if you want to get tags for your coach. Now, for lesson #3. We could have rolled out of here then but since we want to get our gun permits, we have to be residents of the same county for 30 days. What DP neglected to tell us is that you can't apply until after the 30 days and it can take up to a week before you get it. Not sure why that is but after 30 days we wanted to roll south but now we have to wait another week. Being in South Dakota around Nov 1st is pushing it a little too close for us but we have no choice. This was a long one so for those of you that hung in here for it, I do apologize. I'll try to keep them shorter from now on. Stay tuned and stay sharp.
Long Term Lot Lease
midengineracer posted a question in Destinations/AttractionsHello, We have a Class A and the husband is retiring soon from the USAF. We are looking for a long-term lot lease near Largo, MD so we can live full-time in our RV but we will not be traveling. I work in the area and he will be attending school and we are trying to stretch our money. We've lived in it full-time before, but not on a long-term lease. I'm having trouble finding mobile home parks with RV hook-ups and long-term lot leases. Does anyone have any input for finding this kind of accommodation? Thank you!
I'm Still Alive!
tbutler posted a blog entry in Tom and Louise on Tour in North AmericaI was reading a recent editorial article in which the writer had Googled himself and found that he was dead! So, perhaps I should add to my blog lest I end up with the same fate. After all, if you don't stay active in the "net" world I guess someone could conclude that you are deceased. Why else would you not BLOG? For the last five months we've been living in our new mobile home (yes, some people don't know the difference between a mobile home and a motor home). Ironically, a mobile home isn't really mobile at all. The wheels are gone and I can't imagine what it would take to cut it all loose and move it - though they do that all the time. It usually only moves one time after it's initial installation. So now I have a lawn mower, a string trimmer and a host of other lawn tools. I'm planting landscaping shrubs and watering a lawn. These are all things that I haven't done in 10 years. There is a long list of things to be fixed and improved upon and I'm tackling them one by one. Still, we're living in a place we have stayed for the last 10 winters. This is one of the great benefits of traveling in a motor home. We have been all over the US and have found a place "fits." We tried several parks on our way south our first year and then we found our current home park. It just felt like a fit and each year we made more connections, solidifying our decision to make this a permanent home. At least as permanent as any home can be. Meanwhile, the road is calling. I can't wait to get the motor home on the road again and live the carefree lifestyle we had before. Is it possible? Only time will tell...
Life After Full-Time RVing!
tbutler posted a blog entry in Tom and Louise on Tour in North AmericaAs we were driving from Texas to Missouri last weekend it occurred to me that we were in the car making a road trip. Well, I knew that! But this was the second long-distance road trip we've made in the six months since we moved into a stick house. We chose to make this trip by car because of the driving distance and the possibility of encountering some real winter weather. Somehow, driving the four wheel drive Trailblazer seemed a better choice than taking the motor home. We'll leave Missouri next Monday headed for Denver and a family wedding before returning to south Texas. So packing for this trip we're digging deep into our stored winter clothes. Now we're using suit cases instead of the closets in the motor home. We needed formal clothes for the wedding and I just had shoulder surgery so I needed clothes for the rehab following the surgery. The uncertainty of the surgery added to reasons for driving the car instead of flying commercial. The shoulder surgery, by the way, was was successful. I still have a shoulder and it still hurts but give a few days or weeks to heal, it should be good as new and the pain of a torn rotator cuff will be a distant memory. Last summer we left the motor home at my daughters home while we hauled our stored goods south to our house in Texas. I took along tools so I could do some finishing work on the house while down there. Again, I was unloading the motor home for the trip. Traveling was much simpler when we just closed up the motor home and headed down the road. Now it is a real production getting ready for a trip in the car. We need to remember to take everything we need instead of knowing it is all in the motor home. So I guess this is an adjustment I'm going to have to make. At each of our stops we have family to stay with and on the road we're staying in motels again. I can't help but compare this with the days when we hardly ever stayed at motels and our family visits always ended each day with our return to our home parked not far away in a RV park. Louise almost ran the car out of gas when she was driving. Actually the alarm would have gone off first but our fuel choices would have been quite limited at that point. She said we had just fueled up in the morning and she was thinking it would be several days before we needed gas again! Oh the joys of motor homing. Funny how the equation for making decisions changes so much once we have a house.
Putting Her to Bed
tbutler posted a blog entry in Tom and Louise on Tour in North AmericaIt's been a shocking month and a half since I've written about our motor home and the experiences it brings us. There are many excuses: busy lives, family challenges, etc. Most of all, there has been little activity involving the motor home. We parked the motor home in the driveway next to our new mobile home at Sandpipers on October 13. I buttoned her down with window sun screens, and tire covers. Then we began to unload our gear from the closets and cabinets. This was new territory for us. For the last 9 1/2 years we have been living in a motor home. We unloaded one motor home before this one and that was a direct transfer from the old motor home to the new. I carried drawers from the old motor home out the door of the old, two steps on the ground, and right into the new motor home. Louise unloaded them, packing them away in the new motor home, and I brought the drawers back to the old motor home. Three days and we were on our way in a new home! Now we were moving into a house. The half-empty motor home will sit beside our home until spring when we head north to escape the heat of the south Texas summer. The refrigerator was emptied post haste. It was near failing and we were glad to shut it down. Will it ever run again? Only time will tell. Some clothes came out right away, others as the occasion demanded. One of those rare times when I needed a pair of dress slacks I had to hustle into the motor home and dig into the closet to bring several pairs into the house. I reluctantly unpacked my tools as the jobs in the house began to pile up. After a while, my focus is on getting the house in operating condition. I'm spending less and less time in the motor home. When we returned home we made a stop at a inspection station to have the motor home inspected. We weighed in at the Flying J as we needed a weight ticket for our license plates. We planned to take it out one more time for our driving test to get our Texas drivers licenses. With that in mind, we didn't refuel on our way home. We would do that after we had completed the driving test. Shortly before Thanksgiving, Louise called the drivers license bureau to get specific details of the testing procedure. She was told we would not need to take a test and could get our license by turning in our South Dakota licenses. So we picked up all the required paperwork and headed off to the license bureau. After waiting in line for two hours, we arrived at the counter. Anna Marie efficiently worked her way through our paperwork and issued us our Texas drivers license. After checking her computer, she apparently found the information that equated our South Dakota operator license with the Texas Class B license. We were able to exchange our South Dakota drivers licenses for a Texas Class B license required to drive a motor home greater than 26,000 pounds without having to take a written or driving test! Louise was visibly relieved. Every time I had mentioned the impending test to her she got this graven look on her face that said she really didn't want to face the test now or later. I was greatly relieved because I was beginning to think that I was going to be the only driver of the motor home. So now we didn't have to take the motor home out for the test. But there it sits, with a partial tank of fuel and no fuel preservative. So I pulled the tire covers off and removed the sun screens. Several hours going through the interior to ensure that it was secure and we're ready to make a run to the Flying J. Now that I've done that, I am in the process of parking the motor home for the winter. Unlike my northern neighbors, I don't worry about securing the motor home against freezing temperatures. Here, the sun is a constant worry so the sun screens and tire covers go back on the motor home. Tires are protected from the concrete by parking on a set of boards that also help level the motor home. It will be plugged in to keep all systems live and the leveling system will be kept active. We'll keep the furnace active, set at a low temperature to conserve fuel but warm enough to prevent freezing of the water pipes when temperatures drop low during the winter. I'm working on the routine maintenance items, tire pressure, flushing the water heater, cleaning the furnace, etc. This will continue on and off through the winter with the goal of being ready to hit the road next spring. Having a house is nice but it has it's own challenges. I have a whole new set of tasks to keep me busy. I'll keep dreaming of the next trip, the new territory to be explored and new friends to see. The motor home will be there to remind me that there is still a whole world out there to be explored!
Making a House a Home
tbutler posted a blog entry in Tom and Louise on Tour in North AmericaOur house arrived on schedule and we are in the process of turning it into a home. Even when the house arrives fully constructed there is so much to be done to make it a home. I watched in fascination as the house was leveled and tied down to its foundation. Being a do-it-yourself kind of guy, I then set about hooking up the water, sewer and electric. To a specialist, these things go quickly. For me, they take somewhat longer. Not content to simply hook up water to the house, I planned a remote line to the front yard. Knowing that I will put in a tankless water heater and a solar hot water pre-heater I put in plumbing connections for a water softener to protect the water heating equipment. Each connection has its own master shut off so that any one can be shut off without turning off all the water to the house. Thus I can work on future additions without disrupting the water for showers or laundry. Electric connections are similar. An additional panel will accommodate the power loads of the motor home and the tankless water heater. A junction box provides access to the incoming line so that when it comes time for the additional panel the work will be easier and faster. The work could have gone faster but would have taken longer in the future and would have caused greater inconvenience. This was written on May 8. Picking up where I left off with this message, now a month later, we are living in the house. The whole process has been an extraordinary adventure. After getting the house up and running, there was a furniture delivery, then a concrete pour for a room addition. That pour like the first was delayed by the weather until I finally made the call and told the concrete contractor to go ahead a pour despite the forecast for rain. We got a two minute sprinkle just as they were finishing up the concrete. Nerves were on edge but everything turned out fine. The third and final concrete pour was for the driveway and was done while we were in Missouri for my son's wedding. True to form, it was scheduled to be done before we left but it rained again and we had to postpone. It was almost a week before the work could continue. About the time we arrived in Missouri for the wedding my computer just about died. The tech that diagnosed it said he didn't know why it was still running. Despite that, they installed a new hard drive with about 1.5 x the capacity of the old one. They installed most of my software, just a few things I'm still working on. I got the computer back last week just in time to return to Texas. Our return to Texas was uneventful. We rented a 5x8 foot U-Haul trailer and loaded all our possessions (other than the stuff in the motor home). We had a few things in the Trailblazer but all in all, I thought it was a pretty lean existence. Two days of hard driving and we were at Sandpipers Resort ready to go to work on the room addition. In the meantime, my mother fell and broke a bone in her leg. At 87, she is slow to recover. Right now she is in a rehabilitation facility and we, my brother and sisters are dealing with life changing decisions for her. Some of us think her days of living alone in her home are at an end. This fall was unnoticed for about 10 hours and she was dehydrated and hypothermic when she arrived in the emergency room. I stayed in Missouri until she was safely in rehab and hope to complete work on the house before she leaves the rehab facility. It looks like I'll make it, they told her 6 to 8 weeks. Now if the rain would just stop so we could get to work on the room addition. Thunderstorms this afternoon brought a halt to all work. The forecast is the same for tomorrow. At any rate, it is good to be back on board! The motor home is safely parked in my daughters driveway in Missouri and we are living in our stick house for the first time in almost 9 years. Can't wait to get back to the motor home! Will we hit the road at all this summer? I sure hope so but it looks like slim pickins (not the actor) this summer.
Living the free life! Where shall we go today?
tbutler posted a blog entry in Tom and Louise on Tour in North AmericaHere is how our travel decisions occur. As full timers we don't have a home to return to, so none of those pressures factor in. We hadn't set a definite date for our departure from Sandpipers Resort in south Texas until today. Several days ago I picked up a message that mentioned the dates for the Sun 'n Fun Airshow in Lakeland, Florida. We were planning to be in Florida for the launch of STS 125 and STS 127. Those are two Space Shuttle launches scheduled for May 12 and 15. The dates for the Sun 'n Fun are April 21 through 26. So I checked out the RV camping facilities and it looked good. We talked about it, thought about it and today made a decision to go. We'll move our departure date up about a week from what we were initially thinking. I scheduled some work at Camping World for Tuesday the 14th. They will install a new sine wave inverter/charger in our 2004 motor home. Our old modified sine wave inverter had a few things that wouldn't work; in fact it destroyed the electronics in several inexpensive items. I tried an infinite number of doorbells but none would work with the modified sine wave inverter. We also like our heated mattress pad and we've ruined several of them, forgetting to unplug them before disconnecting the shore power. With several new TVs and an ever-increasing list of electronics on board, the risk becomes greater. Last year the generator auto start function failed so we decided to replace the old inverter. Camping World had a sale a few weeks ago and that pushed us over the edge. We'll leave the bay with access to the inverter open for the repair work and then do the final packing up when we return to Sandpipers for a final night before departing on the 16th for Florida. We will have 5 days to travel just over 1,600 miles. Our original plans were to spend some time exploring along the Gulf Coast in Mississippi, Alabama and the Florida panhandle, but we'll sacrifice that for the chance to walk the flight line and see all the vintage aircraft, warbirds and current military hardware. We'll enjoy some spectacular air shows and just visiting with a multitude of other pilots. With the motor home we'll be able to eat many meals "at home." The camping is dry camping which is no problem with our motor home. We'll watch our water consumption and may have to restrict our generator use depending on where we are parked. Our costs will be less than the motel costs alone for someone staying there for the week. After the airshow we'll spend two weeks exploring Florida before we head for Cape Canaveral and our reserved spot at Jetty Park to watch the launch(s) of the shuttles. Sure hope they go off on schedule! So now we begin the final push to get everything in the motor home ready for travel. You can really get settled in when you park somewhere for five months. The motor home needs a good wash. I'll flush the water heater before we go. The water filters in the basement compartment will be changed, batteries and engine fluids checked. The tire pressure will be checked and the Pressure Pro sensors will be tested. There are things to be stored in the shed on our leased lot and things that have been stored in the shed to be loaded into the motor home. So when we get an opportunity, we are free to chase the dream! Look out Florida, here we come!