02.28.13 Roy is Retired!!!!!

Over 40 years ago a young boy named Roy started his first job delivering newspapers from his bike in Metairie, Louisiana.  After holding various jobs in his youth and early manhood he worked for 30 years as a self-employed carpet installer.  Today he retired from being a full-time computer technician at Southeastern Louisiana University.  One more step towards freedom!

His department, Client Services (fancy name for the Computer Help Desk) had a really nice going away party for him today.  Roy and I have the same boss, Donna Methvien, who is one of the most creative people I know.  Her creative talents really shined today! During their weekly meeting (which they postponed from Monday so they could properly tell him good-bye!)  she presented him with two “Care Packages” containing things he’ll need in his new life and something to remember them by.  Our daughter in law Liz, and granddaughter Madisyn were there, and you can see Madisyn peeking into Paw Paw’s care package below!

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There was even a mini baking pan for our mini house!  2013-02-28_17-31-02_300I’ve included pictures below of a couple of the things he got and of the care package. They all had cute little sayings attached to them, pertaining to whatever the object was as it relates to Roy’s retired life.  You can read what they say in the pictures.

bananas

He received a second smaller care package with a message on top of an egg carton “Since you’re going to “fly the coop”, here is a reminder of the main things you’re leaving behind!”  Inside were a dozen fresh yard eggs that the 12 staff members wrote their names on.

eggs insideeggcartonRarely do I see Roy choked up, but as he told them all good-bye he was.  He’s enjoyed working with this group of people so much. He’s especially enjoyed sharing with them all the little tricks and things he’s learned about repairing computers, making images, etc.  Both Donna Methvien and his immediate supervisor Tommy Mocsary have become good friends with Roy and admire and respect the quality of his work and his knowledge a lot. Roy worked independently for so many decades, set his own hours, worked a lot outside and mostly by himself.   I was concerned when he started to work a 7:30 – 5:00 job inside with other people that he might not like the structure and confinement, but to my surprise he’s adapted well and made many new friends in the process.  I could tell by the staff’s comments today that he is well liked and appreciated.

I’m going to miss having my hubby working across the hall, eating our lunch together watching “Green Acres” reruns in the conference room with our boss Donna and others who might join us, or eating outside in the Student Union park watching all the students.  Before long I’ll be saying good-bye to these same people and that will be very sad for me.  However, Dora and the big USA are waiting for Roy and I to visit, so off we’ll go!  Celebratory rib eye steak and mashed potatoes tonight, RV style!

Ya’ll come back now, ya’ hear!

02.26.13 Making rock candy, Roy’s retirement, When Jesus Saves, Dear friends visiting, Open house~~~

Granddaughter Madisyn ‘s 4th birthday party is Sunday.  rock candy finishedThe Pop Rock Princess theme is conjuring up a lot of neat food ideas, etc.  Her mommy wants to make candy rocks on a stick and I’m getting to help!!  You know the ones we loved as kids.  I only remember getting them when we’d visit Rock City near Chattanooga in Tennessee.  She found the idea on Pinterest and it will go great with the Pop Rock theme.  The recipe says to make the mixture at least a week ahead of time so last Saturday was the Pinterest project day!

2013-02-24_13-42-59_197Our son Chip, his wife Liz and Madisyn are living in our sticks and bricks house until they can find an apartment of their own.  It’s nice having them back together again as a family and we sure enjoy getting to play with Madisyn often!

Here’s a picture of all the cups lined up with either hot pink or purple sugar solution in them.  It sits for a week while the sugar crystals form rocks on the wood sticks.  We’ll see next weekend how successful we were.  However they turn out, we  had a deliciously sweet fun time making them!

Our dear friends, John and Donna Mollere, came to visit us on Sunday afternoon.  They are the couple who allowed us to bring their Class C motor home to our house and live in it a while so we could get a real feel for RV life. We really learned so much from that experience and it helped us make a more informed decision when we chose Dora.  They haven’t seen our sweet Dora since we purchased her and today they came to meet her!  John and Donna have a lot of RV experience and John gave Roy great guidance when we were learning and looking for one.  They both approve of our Dora!  Donna told us about their visits to the  Amish country in Pennsylvania and we’re thinking we’d love to take our RVs on a trip there.  They are some of the only people we know personally who have an RV.  While they don’t live in their motor home, they love to travel in theirs and can really be good guides to us in our travels.  It would be great to see them while we’re on the road.  Anyone else who would like to do some traveling with us, get hitched and come along with us or meet up with us!  We’ll be posting blogs of where we are and where we plan to go so you’ll know where to find us!

2013-02-17_18-17-56_233 In this picture I am holding up the red tube used to empty Dora’s “stuff” every two weeks. The tube has its own holders (the grey things underneath) but it seems to dip just before those grey things start holding it up and we want to make sure it’s really empty and cleaned out so I help hold it up a bit!  My friend Susan told me this picture reminded her of Eddie emptying his RV tanks in his bathrobe in the snow on the movie Christmas Vacation.   I’m at least a little better dressed for the occasion!

We had another Open House for the sticks and bricks Sunday and again no one came.  On Tuesday (today) we had a broker’s open house and 20+ came through the house.  I think this would have been a great thing to have four months ago, but at least they saw it today.  Their comments were encouraging, yet they recommended a price reduction since the real estate market is just not supporting what it should.  We really don’t want to cut the price again but may have to at some point.  Once Roy’s computer stuff is cleared out of the upstairs computer room we’ll consider it, we’re just not quite there yet.  There is no real urgency to selling the house, just our desire to be on the road now that the weather is so beautiful!

We just completed the Healthy Church Conference II – Awakening at our church, Trinity Baptist Church in Pumpkin Center, LA.   It started Friday and we heard three great sermons from three wonderful preachers.   Our choir director Jessica Davis Bryan is brilliant at picking songs that perfectly support the sermon message.  One of the choir specials was “When Jesus Saves”.  I’ve never heard it before and the words of the song were such a perfect depiction of what happens to us when Jesus saves us, not just the salvation part but how our lives change in amazing ways.  I wanted to share the words of the song here but couldn’t find them anywhere and I know lots of tricks for finding lyrics to songs!  I did find a You Tube video of the gospel group Gold City singing the song.  While they are great professional singers, but I really loved hearing our choir delivered the message so powerfully!  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=18zUPOs7qu8.  I am going to miss the Trinity Baptist Church choir so much when we leave.  There is something about hearing them sing Christian music that comes in a close second in my heart to a great sermon.  Whether it is hymns, psalms or contemporary I love almost all Christian music sung by anyone!  The rock Christian stuff is not my taste but as long as the message is true to God’s word I’m sure there’s someone that it can reach.

Roy’s last day of work before retirement is this Thursday, February 28th.  He’s worked in several fields over the 40+ years he’s worked.  He’s delivered papers (as a kid on his bicycle), assisted in making dental crowns, he’s welded, sheetrocked, remodeled houses (with me!!), some air conditioning, installed carpet (for 30 years) and most recently repaired computers at Southeastern Louisiana University.  Probably some things in between that I’ve forgotten about.  He can truly do or fix anything!  Just ask Madisyn!  I’m proud of all2013-02-24_14-05-39_258 he’s accomplished in his work life.  Roy has a strong work ethic which I believe he’s passed along to our sons.  He’s worked very hard our whole marriage doing his best to provide for me and the boys.  He’ll still be available at home for computer repair so give him a holler and he’ll fix ya up! This is his new computer repair area (previously known as our dinette booth in the RV).  It will undergo some cosmetic changes to better fit it for computer repairs but for now this will be his new work home!  Happy Retirement Roy!!!

Again, this has been a random collection of thoughts and events but that’s what’s going on for now! Ya’ll come back now ya hear!

02.18.13 All I know about Work Camping aka Workamping AND You can do this too!

This blog post is about work camping which is what we plan to do while we are exploring America.  The picture immediately below has nothing to do with work camping but is a recent picture we took of Dora, Roy, myself and our granddaughter Madisyn.

royrosalynmadisyndora

Work camping is described as anyone who has chosen to work either part-time or full-time while living in an RV of some sort.  In my case, the plan is to work part-time for 2-6 months at a time in one area while exploring the cities and country sides around there in our free time.  We’ll then move on to another location and either not work or work camp there.  We originally planned to go west when we start traveling.  We’ve now decided that the part of the country we want to see first is north to northeast from Louisiana.  I’m kind of hoping for a nice long stay in the Tennessee area first, but we’ll see where work, etc. takes us when the time comes.

Owners of campgrounds, state and national parks and other businesses will hire RV owners to work for them for a few hours each week in exchange for full hookups at their campground and some pay an hourly rate for any hours worked over the exchange.  Some want full-time workers and/or just pay wages (no full hook up exchange).  I’m opting for the part-time work with full hook up exchange.  I’m not ready to just stop working totally and the part-time work in different places around the USA is very appealing to me.  Plus, saving on campground fees will help us afford the traveling we want to do!

Places like Disneyworld, Disneyland, Dollywood and other theme parks are big employers of work campers and even give free admission to their parks as part of your hiring package.  I definitely hope to do that at each of those locations some time along the way.

Work campers do a variety of jobs including office work, taking reservations, food service, manning a visitor’s center, interior and exterior maintenance, grass mowing /lawn care, tour guides, gift shop sales, cleaning cabins, cleaning fish and pretty much whatever is needed.  I’ve signed up for a website where employers list their open positions.  It’s at www.workampers.com if you’d like to read more about them.  They teach you everything you could ever want to know about work/camping which they call “Workamping”.  Some of the teaching is free and some you pay a little for.  The annual membership fee is around $40 which gives you access to a lot of things as well as their bi-monthly publication Workamper News where employer list their employment opportunities.

One of their features is providing a place to create and host your work camping Awesome Applicant resume on the web.   They have a course, which they charge for, that teaches you how to have the absolute best resume, but I’m cheap and chose to do it myself.  We’ll see how successful I am when I start applying.   You show what your earliest start date is, the states you are willing to work in and what job responsibilities you want to do, include pictures of yourself and your RV and post it on the Workampers website.  One of the sections is where you sell yourself and tell all about your skills and about yourself personally.  Normally weed pulling, plant tending and party planning aren’t skills I’d put on  my work resume but it sure is on this one!   They have hundreds of employers who check the database and will contact you if they like what they see!  You can also apply by responding to any of the positions posted, by state, in the Workamper News magazine which comes on-line and on paper.  It may sound like it but I’m not trying to sell anyone on going with them.  They are just the only company that I know does this and they seem quite successful.

There aren’t a lot of face to face interviews so phone interviews and pictures are all the employer has to go on.  They can send the applicant a link to their website and answer any questions the applicant has over the phone.  My application states that I’ll be available by July 1st (Please somebody buy our house!) which seems a ways off but these employers have to make sure their places are staffed way ahead of time so that’s the way it works!

Roy will be continuing his computer repair service at each campground we stop on our travels.  People who live full-time in RVs don’t usually have access to a computer repairman and most everyone in an RV has a computer.  We believe he’ll be able to have a good business doing this on just a part-time basis. He will also be considered a work camper even though he will be self employed.  Work camping in all of its forms has made the full-time RV life affordable for many more people than you’d think.

Lots of people have said they wish they could be doing what we are and probably most of them could.  If you list all your current expenses and see what would be eliminated by living in an RV (electricity, property taxes, trash pick up, water bill, some reduction in TV and internet) and how much you could sell your house for and all your stuff for to pay off all your debts you’d be surprised how doable full-time RVing can be.   While I’ve talked often about what a lot of work selling everything has been I wouldn’t trade it for the freedom it will give us from being tied down to “things” and being able to travel the USA and experience new cultures and all that makes America the wonderful country that it is!

02.18.13 End of my garage sale era, Roy’s freaky finger, Dora’s bobo slide

GARAGE SALES FOR ME ARE NOW OVER!!!!!!!!!!!! Hallelujah! No more pricing hundreds (felt like thousands) of things, putting signs out in the neighborhood, newspaper ads, Facebook notices, emails to everyone I know and working hours and hours and hours on garage sales!  A couple hundred folks came through on Saturday, buying the last of our earthly stuff!!!  I love visiting with the folks while selling our stuff and seeing nice people take home the little things that have meant something to me.  Other than the money it brought in, the visiting was the most rewarding to me.  My daughter in law Liz and granddaughter Madisyn helped me with this sale and sold some of their stuff too!  Madisyn was quite the little sales lady.  She’d take all the children over to her toy section and help them pick out the toy they wanted mommy or daddy to buy.  And of course the toy section was sold out by the end of the sale!

What’s left was displayed in front of the garage and notices sent out to come get it free.  Cars were in and out all evening until 11 pm (and someone was even there this morning when we woke up!) since I posted it on Facebook’s Tangipahoa Buy, Sell, Trade page!  That has been the best source for selling things I’ve found.  If you live in this area you can sign up on their page and check out all the things folks sell and if you ever want to sell something it’s just a click away!  The last of the things will be donated to a church garage sale today.  We now have a mostly empty garage and all of our stuff is completely out of the house. Won’t someone please buy our house!

Roy has several computers and lots of computer stuff still to sell but that’s his thing and while I know I’ll be helping him some, it won’t be my responsibility which makes me a happy girl!  His retirement date is coming up on the 28th of February and then he can dedicate his time to making that happen.  Once the computer stuff is gone we’ll really be finished with the shedding of our earthly possessions!

It’s taken so long to sell the house that I’m kind of hoping it’s because God’s just been waiting for us to be truly rid of all the “stuff” we own, before he sends us a house buyer!!!  Last weekend we had an open house and zero people came.  It was raining and Mardi Gras parades were rolling.  Next weekend we’ll try again and hopefully someone will come see our beautiful home!

Roy had a freak finger accident this week.  He was peeling a banana and went to flick off the little black tip into the trash can and disjointed his finger.  The ligament running on top came off and his finger was all contorted when I first saw it.  He went to the walk in clinic and then to an orthopedic doctor and was told it just has to heal on its own in a finger splint.  Being a man who makes his living fixing tiny things on computers, we didn’t know how he’d do it.  He has amazed us with being able to continue working without missing a step.  He’s of course enjoyed telling people that I hit him which broke it!  Little old sweet me wouldn’t hurt my honey like that!

Roy spent the afternoon Sunday under Dora working on the slide, wounded finger and all.  All that you could see of  Roy while he was working under Dora - just looked funny to me!The motor to move the passenger slide in and out broke two weeks ago and a part had to be located, received and installed.  I looked under Dora to see him and just found it so funny that he wasn’t laying on the ground working but was sitting up with his head not showing. I didn’t realize there were spaces under Dora where you could do that.  I took a picture of what I could see of him so you can see what I’m talking about.

Madisyn got a little concerned because she couldn’t see Paw Paw’s head so I

Madisyn looking for Paw Paw's head!

took a picture of her looking for him.  It’s  such a joy having her around.  She’s one little girl we’ll miss tremendously when we finally hit the road.  We’re setting up Skype on our computers to visit with her better when that happens.

As of today there have been visitors to my blog from Ireland, Lithuania, Canada, Philippines, Korea, El Salvador, Panama and the United Kingdom.  I’m not sure how they all came to find it, but it’s really neat to think that they did!  I also have 18 followers now who receive emails when I post a new blog.  If you are not one of them, and would like to be notified when a new blog is posted, please go to the main blog page and enter your email address in the “Follow us via email.”

I plan to write in my next blog about Work Camping which is called Workamping by some.  If you’re interested in what that’s about stay tuned!

02.06.13 Hospital Dora, stamp memories, sharing a blessing, Open House, china for sale!!!

I intended my blog to be solely about our adventures traveling but that seems to be on hold waiting for the sale of our home.  In the interim I’ve been sharing what’s going on and what we’re learning about living in an RV.  We still love living in our RV.   Or in Dora’s tummy, like our granddaughter announced one day.  We get in through her ear (the door) and make Dora happy by being in her tummy! We just wish we weren’t still living in our own driveway!!  I now don’t know why we ever thought we needed so much space in our sticks and bricks homes. People have asked what we do when we want alone time.   There are two doors and a small hallway between the living/dining area and the bedroom which provides us all the separation we might need.  I feel like I’m in my own cocoon in our bedroom when reading before bedtime.  It’s a wonderful feeling.   Neither of us feels like we’re in a confined space as you might think we would.

Roy and I have both been sick with congestion moving from head to chest to ears to throat for the last many days and are holed up today in the RV with the windows all covered so now Dora’s a little mini hospital trying to get her Explorers better.

I’m not a very good sit still sick person, so for the last hour or so I’ve been working on taking stamps out of an album of un-cancelled stamps my dad and I collected over the years.  Stamp collecting was a wonderful hobby we both loved.

A page from the un-cancelled stamp album from the 1970s
A page from the un-cancelled stamp album from the 1970s

2013-02-06_18-04-18_127 I have five albums we can’t take with us so I’ve been trying to sell them.  No progress until today when I got an email from a man who has asked for pictures of cancelled Great Britain stamps recently.  He wants to buy the album those are in and I’m delighted.   I brought them all to the estate consignment store this week to hopefully find someone through there who will give them a good home.  I’ve contacted several dealers and auction houses, etc. with no one interested in purchasing them.  Seems stamp collecting has not made it into this generation’s radar and anyone who use to collect them has all they want.  The un-cancelled stamps I am removing from that particular album will be used on Christmas cards, etc. in the future.  Might as well get some use out of them since they are still perfectly good usable stamps.     I have unused  stamps back from 1922 and every year until around 1980 when Daddy died so it will make for some interesting envelope decorations!  There are many beautiful stamps in this collection.  If anyone wants some for craft purposes let me know!  I’d be glad to share.

I’d like to begin sharing some things that are special to me and I hope touch each of you in some way.  The other day I stumbled across a blog, A Holy Experience,  written by Ann Voskamp, a Christian woman, farmer’s wife, mother of six  and it meant so much to me I’d like to share this link to her page with you.  Look around her pages and read previous blogs if it interests you.  Her writing is a wonderful inspiration to women and mothers and I feel lead to share this with those who might be reading my blog.  I can feel Christ speaking through her love and dedication to Him.  I don’t have the type of talent she has but I hope through my blog you’ll be blessed by hers. Be sure to start with her February 4th entry “God Made a Mother and You — So Farmer On!”    It has some similarities to the Super Bowl commercial called God made a Farmer.  Women have unique needs which her writing seems to speak directly to.  Can you tell this has taken hold of my interest!  I believe you will be blessed by it.

Our first Open House is this Sunday from 3-5.  If anyone would like to tour our humble abode and bring a friend who might be house hunting, please join our lovely agent Pat Tucker as she continues her efforts to sell our sticks house!  With football season over we’re hoping folks will be bored and will be driving around and buy our house!  One can only hope.   Our garage sale has been moved to the following Saturday, February 16th.   We have next Monday and Tuesday off work for Mardi Gras and moving the date gave us a couple of good days to get the last things out of our computer room down to the garage for sale.  Roy will have several computers, monitors, keyboards and many other computer items for sale.   How much more ready can we get to hit the road!  I still have a beautiful set of china for sale if anyone is interested.

01.27.13 Santa Paul, RV trash cans, 2 tsp of detergent, stinky foods, Sam’s visit…..

Roy's brother Santa Paul
Roy’s brother Santa Paul

Two months ago we purchased a medium size bottle of laundry detergent. Since we only use 2 teaspoons per load in our tiny Splendide washer/dryer I still have two week’s worth of detergent left. By comparison, in my previous life living in a sticks house with a regular washer/dryer, I purchased one of these size bottles every two weeks, if not more often.

Roy’s older Brother Paul came to see our RV for the first time. He looks so much like Santa with his long white beard (it was way longer than in the picture) and body shape that our granddaughter Madisyn is convinced he’s truly Santa. We had such a fun evening visiting with him and seeing Madisyn in awe the whole time. She thanked him for the bicycle he brought her last Christmas and gave him her next Christmas order! His wife Lois called Paul while he was visiting and his ring tone is a Christmas song. Madisyn’s eyes got huge when she heard that and then he told her “Oh, it’s Mrs. Claus calling”. She was in little girl heaven totally convinced that Santa was her Uncle Paul! We showed her his Facebook picture where he has his Santa costume on and she was totally sold!

We’ll have the most prepared house ever when we finally get to show it. Our son Chip has been helping a lot lately with those finishing touches. Removing all the outside porch globes and cleaning them out, painting the front riser part of the inside steps to the second floor, trimming back plants that died in a recent frost, etc. Our agent says we’ll have an Open House in February and we’re considering lowering the price again so hopefully things will move along then. Soon the grass will need cutting and of course we sold the lawnmower, weed eater, etc. All are gone, and the pretty little green blades of grass that I normally cheer about are not a welcome sight this year! Our sweet neighbor Jeannette offered to loan us her lawnmower, but we’re truly hoping to be long down the road before the lawn mower is needed too often!

We're living here in our driveway!
We’re living here in our driveway!

We’re still living in the driveway of our sticks home seeing more of our area than we did in the house.  We have windows everywhere you look in the RV and it’s lovely to see outside, even in our own yard!  Maybe one day we won’t live in a driveway!  Roy’s underneath the back in this picture doing something!  He’s promised me to write a couple of blogs soon about the work he’s done getting Boots, our toad, ready and all the incidental work he’s done since we purchased Dora.  I’m sure it will be him dictating and me typing if it ever does happen!

I’ve made some great progress on preparing for our final garage sale. I don’t think I’ve had three garage sales in my entire life yet after this one we’ll have had 3 sales in 6 months! Several tables are set up with goodies displayed and priced. Roy and Chip gathered all their old carpet/flooring installation tools and loaded them up in Roy’s truck bed. Roy use to work at Halpin’s Flooring in Baton Rouge and stays in contact with the owner Elizabeth, who is just the most delightful young woman. Now instead of installing flooring for her, he repairs all their computers. Elizabeth brings us fish, deer, fresh peaches and other goodies when Roy works on her computers. I love to hear that she’s coming with a computer cause we always know a goodie will accompany her! She said he could bring all his old tools to her and hopefully the flooring installers there now will want to buy a lot of his work goodies! This cleared a lot of space in the garage to set up sale items. It’s taken 5 months to clear out our house and garage and we’re not finished yet. Several pieces of furniture are still at the Estate Consignment Center in Hammond. They’ve sold some and there are still some there to be sold. February 9th is the garage sale date and if all goes well we should be close to cleaned out! Whoo hoooo!!

We have avoided cooking stinky things or pots of food that have to cook for a while to avoid smells accumulating inside our new home. This was something we were warned about on another RV owner’s web site.  Last weekend I decided to cook some fresh vegetables to serve with dinner during the week. I was not thinking about the smell when I chose cauliflower and turnips bottoms! They did smell while they cooked but after a little airing they left no lasting smell that I can tell. We (or at least I am) are trying a new healthier food approach. I want to be a trimmer version of myself when we are on the road and be able to climb hills and cycle around at will so I’m eating healthier and trying to be more active. No marathons for me yet, but a few more stretches and walking more is a start at least!

Our trip to Sam’s today was totally different than previous visits. We only go about 4-6 times a year and haven’t been since we moved into Dora. We’re use to getting whatever we can afford because storage was no problem. Our RV refrigerator/freezer is larger than most we’ve seen in motor homes but it’s not the same size as in a sticks house. Ours is now packed and at least half of the non cold stuff we purchased is headed to the storage bins beneath (I call it the basement). At least we have that space for our “overflow”.

Amazon Trash Can - paid 11 cents!
Amazon Trash Can – paid 11 cents!

One thing we have taken care of is our trash can. May not be a big deal in a regular home but in an RV it is. We tried a small one under the sink but that lasted about a week since  we had to empty it every day. We’re use to having a trash compactor that only needs to be emptied once a week so once a day was not going to work.  Then we purchased a tall plastic one with a lid. Well, it was white and when you walked into the RV the first thing your eyes locked onto was the white talk trash can. Not the look I’m trying to achieve! I shopped in all the stores around here and found nothing. Didn’t want white, didn’t want too small. I really wanted it to just disappear into the room. Finally on Amazon I found the right one. It doesn’t disappear into the room but at least it doesn’t shout, look I”m a trash can! When I checked out I found I had a large enough cash back balance on my Discover Card that the trash can only cost me 11 cents! We’ve received it and it’s in use and it is perfect! For owners looking for one, this is a picture of the one we got from Amazon.

I know this is a blog with very random thoughts, not many related. Yet that’s how our life is right now, all over the place so this is probably a good reflection of the current life of Dora, Roy and Rosalyn the Explorers!

01.19.13 Domicile state, mail fowarding, insurance, family pics, Dora/Boots signs, RV weight – whew!

Our trusty washer and dryer from our sticks house left home recently for the last time.  Now the laundry room and the pantry room are empty, cleaned up and ready for new owners!   We have buyers for my desktop computer so we know it’ll have a good home.  We’ve had zero interest in our wonderful home but we know the future buyer is out there somewhere and they just don’t know it yet!

We haven’t weighed Dora yet and I’m beginning to be afraid she may be as overweight as we are!  Having a diesel pusher eases that concern some, but we’ll see how it goes when she finally gets weighed.  After seeing how easy the diesel moves this huge motor house, and how easy it was to talk to each other in the front seats while the engine is running in the rear, I can see that the RV salesman who initially made these claims about a diesel pusher was very correct.  If he is right about the weight load being higher, he’ll be batting a thousand.

More household items have been priced. We’ve done so much that you’d think we were out of things to get rid of or sell but nooooooooo!  Several of these items were sold on Facebook’s Tangipahoa selling site, many more on eBay, and many others are now boxed up in the garage ready for the next garage sale.  2 big bags of trash from Roy’s computer room were sent to the landfill. Most of the “trash” was old outdated computer parts that wouldn’t be useful in any modern computer. Several other computer things were priced for sale and more toys culled and priced for sale.  Our next garage sale is planned for February 9th which should help clear out most of the remaining “stuff”.

I finally tackled going through all our family pictures.  Made up a huge box of picture for our sons to have if they want them and kept a shoebox filled with pictures to scan for keeping digitally.  40 years of marriage and 60 years of life have produced way too many pictures.  Some are priceless and bring tears to my eyes when I go through them all.  The ones I scan will be added to the box our oldest son whose name he asked us to remove and Chip will get.  This has a long and time-consuming process.  Even though the scanning is all that’s left, that in itself takes a long time.  It’s a necessary thing to do since we have such limited space and weight is a concern.

We went to work recently after being off for 2-1/2 weeks for our Christmas Break.  Over that break we got to spend time in our RV, learn some, have fun and really get to enjoy it.  We feel stronger than ever that this was a very wise decision.  For anyone considering this lifestyle change, it takes much research, learning, seeing lots of RVs, and reading other people’s experiences in order to be successful.  Each step we’ve taken was thought through, prayed about, discussed a lot and when a decision was made, we took that step.  Roy and I haven’t always agreed about each step, but after 40 years of marriage we’ve learned how to compromise and it certainly worked well with this process.  It really is more of a process you go through than step by step.

Two things we’re deciding on now is our domicile state and mail forwarding service.  The first has been researched extensively and we’ve narrowed it down to a few.  I created a spreadsheet with all the information gathered from various sources to aid in this decision. Your domicile state is the state you use for voting, motor vehicle registration, jury duty, health insurance, Dora and Boots insurance, inspection stickers, ease of handling some of these things through the mail, whether they require that you live in the state any length of time, and several other things. It may sound straight forward but there are so many things to take in to account that before we change anything we have to be sure the state choose is a good choice.  Everyone bases their decisions on their own personal needs.  It may seem like we could just choose to keep Louisiana as our domicile state, but Louisiana’s automobile insurance rates are the highest in the country so that ruled it out immediately.  If we can choose another state and take advantage of that one thing it is beneficial financially to do so.  We were both born and raised in Louisiana so it will always be our  home state even if it’s not our domicile state!

Once you’ve decided on the state you want to use based on your personal needs you choose a mail forwarding service.  They give you a physical street address to use for all these things since that’s a requirement on most of them.  They receive your mail at their address and at either predetermined times or when you ask for it send your mail to you.  They offer services such as filtering through the mail, sending your mail electronically, among other services that we’re just learning about.  Finding the one that has a good reputation, with the services you want at a price you want to pay will make the final selection complete.  We’re not there yet but we’re working on those two decisions now.

One concern I was recently able to lay to rest was our health insurance.  We have excellent coverage through Blue Cross Blue Shield of Louisiana at work which I’ll be able to continue after we retire.  I’ve contacted their office and they said that we’ll be able to use our coverage with them throughout the USA.  I verified it through an online search of various cities, large and small, across the US and there are BCBS providers in network in all physician types everywhere I looked.

Another cool thing in the works is that Roy laid out a plan for two sign type things for Dora and Boots.  We’re looking for someone to make them now.  Dora’s will say Dora and the Explorers with a picture of Dora and will go on the back of the RV.  Boots sign will have his name and a picture of Boots on the back of the Dodge Dakota truck that is our toad.

I love seeing new followers sign up for our blog.  The comments have been both helpful and enjoyable.  Please keep them coming!  We now have 15 followers of our blog, so hopefully by the time we get to start our travels we’ll have more and if they see our Dora and Boots signs on the road, they’ll know We’re the Explorers!

01.13.13 Changing Dora’s Oil, God is Great and Atlanta Dirty Birds!

Roy changed the oil in Dora our RV last weekend.  It should be changed every 11,000 miles if you use standard oil.  He used Mobile 1 Full Synthetic Oil so it’s good for up to 75,000 miles.  They say a good rule of thumb is to change it once a year, Roy says he hopes to never change it again!  He also replaced the oil filter which was about a foot tall!  Everything Dora uses is supersized!

When we picked up the RV from Berryland Campers they walked us through everything and told us about all that was replaced and changed, etc.  One of the questions Roy specifically asked was if the oil was changed.  Tim, the technician assigned to us, told him yes.  Roy believed him so he didn’t check the oil.  We were very happy about that and took it home.  Before we left for Disneyworld Roy happened to check the oil.  What he found was very dark unchanged oil and the oil filter was rusted with the paint coming off.  We called Berryland three times and our salesman wasn’t available so we left a message each time.  He’s never called us back.  There were a few other things we were told by the technician had been taken care of, but weren’t.   The same attention we were given before the sale does not seem to be carrying over to after the sale.

Lesson learned: When you buy an RV don’t just trust everything the technician tells you, check it out yourself.  There is so much unfamiliar stuff in an RV, that taking someone very familiar with RVs along with you is an extremely good idea.

Roy decided to change the oil himself.   He priced the oil at Wal-Mart, AutoZone and online.  Wal-Mart has the best price on Mobile 1 Full Synthetic 10W40 Oil and it comes in 5 quart containers.  Each Wal-mart only has 2 of these 10W40 containers in stock at any time.  The Amite store wound up having 3 of the containers so he went to the Walker store since our Hammond Wal-Mart store didn’t have any.  He couldn’t find the oil filter locally so he ordered it off the internet.  He could find substitute brands but he wanted the Caterpillar brand filter since we have a Caterpillar motor.

He had no trouble getting the oil out but finding out where to put the clean oil in was quite a task.  No where could we find documentation about it.  Not in any of the manuals and not on the internet.  He looked inside, he looked outside and finally found what he hoped was the oil fill hole!  Roy’s a smart man and figured it out right.  He had to get the oil funnel higher than the oil fill tube so he needed to stand on a ladder.  Since we’ve sold all our ladders he had to make do with an old table.  The legs on the table broke and he crashed down to the ground.  I didn’t hear him hollering for me, so he says he was laying there “writhing in pain” for a while and nobody came to help him.  😦  He’s got a bad chest bruise and his back has hurting him really bad since then.  He must have made it worse this weekend because he had to take a pain pill and is now snoring on the sofa.

After the table fell apart and he got injured, Roy used a milk crate on top of the table with no legs.  The step-ladder was yet another item we shouldn’t have sold too quickly! Poor Roy working so hard to take care of Dora and me.  Two hours after he started he finally had the oil changed.  No 15 minute speedy oil change for our Dora!  She’s all smiles now and ready to get on the road.  Please someone buy our house!

Roy changing Dora's oil on the broken table and milk crate!
Roy changing Dora’s oil on the broken table and milk crate!

Previously I wrote that we were going to try a tank cleaning method called the GEO method.  Roy bought the necessary ingredients (Calgon water softener and Dawn original blue dishwashing liquid) at Wal-Mart and we put them in the gray tank and black tank.  The combination of these things stops “things” from sticking to the sensors and the bottom of the tank. Keeping “things” off the sensors gives us proper tank level readings.  If you don’t know your tank levels you don’t know when to dump! Keeping things off the bottom of the tanks makes it smell better!  Knowing when to dump and smelling better are important in RV life.   Here’s a link to a webpage about the GEO method if anyone wants to try it also.  https://sites.google.com/site/cbruni/.  This website explains better than I did about why you need to do this and what these products do.  This particular website doesn’t say to use Dawn dishwashing liquid but other blogs did.  If you can’t find Calgon water softener you can use Borax.  Roy got multiple bottles/boxes of all of them.  That’s my honey, he likes to be prepared even in an RV with limited storage!

Church this morning was what my heart needed.  Our new Baptist Hymnal is great.  It has some modern contemporary songs in hymn form, some songs our choir has sung as specials, as well as many of the traditional hymns we all love. Our choir also sang a beautiful song Praise to the Lord the Almighty the King of Creation.  It’s one of my favorite choir specials and I know every word of it!  Christian music has such a strong message to me. Our pastor’s sermon was about Grace and Love going together.

One thing he said was about church being like a little slice of Heaven.  At work, shopping, anywhere else, I never am with a group of believers like at church.  They know my faults, I don’t seem to be able to hide them, and they still accept me and love me!  None of them and myself are perfect, but we love each other in a deeper way than we love other friends.  Knowing that these are the people I’m going to spend eternity with makes our feelings different.  We know each of our church members stumbles in our human lives and are there to support us when that happens so we can get back up and live for God like we are supposed to.

Being at church is very different from being out in the world.  At church, no one is cursing (which cuts me to the core as I listen to many people at work just curse away every day), no one is talking about how much they drank or how hung over they were (I’m certainly not saying none of our church members drink) and their love for the Lord guides their attitudes and how they relate to others.  Churches are not perfect, as none of us is perfect, but it is as close to being a little slice of Heaven as I’ve found on earth.

If you would like to learn about church love and church family, please come visit us at Trinity Baptist Church 42062 Pumpkin Center Road.  If you’re RV traveling and want a place to worship God we’re off of Exit 35 on I-12.  Pumpkintrinity oval Center/Baptist is the exit name.  The church is about a mile down on the left hand side.   The website for more information is: http://pumpkincenter.org. To sum it all up God is so Great!  I will miss these folks dearly as we travel, but we know that Trinity will always be our “home church”.

We are sitting in Dora this rainy Sunday afternoon.  I love the sound of rain but it’s gone on day after day for over a week now.  Sunday afternoons are perfect for the rain since we can nap.  We’re also watching the Atlanta Falcons pound away on the Seattle Seahawks.  The Atlanta Dirty Birds are the least favorite team to loyal Saints fans.   Since the Saints are not in the playoffs I’m watching the Falcons today with a different mindset.  I can see that they are a great team with strong talented players.  I will put that out of my mind when the new season starts later this year and they’ll go back to being our bitter division rivals, the Dirty Birds from Atlanta!

01.10.13 Big Birthday Cakes and Tiny Washer Dryers

Today’s blog is about my Honey Roy’s 62nd birthday and our tiny RV washer dryer.  They have nothing in common but it’s my blog so they go together!

Roy celebrates his 62nd birthday today!  Retirement age at last!!!!  He also turned in his resignation this week effective February 28th of this year.  Not that we can start traveling then, we still have to wait for the house to sell for me to retire.  But is it certainly another step in the plan we laid out for all this.  Our granddaughter Madisyn and son Chip came to the office to surprise Roy with a visit.  He didn’t know that they also brought a giant lemon/chocolate doberge cake from our local bakery Caronna’s.  Doberge’s cakes have been a tradition in our family for many years.  Lemon is my favorite and Chocolate is Roy’s so we have to get a half and half!  If you’re not from the New Orleans area or have never had a doberge cake here’s how Wikipedia describes it:

“Doberge cake is a layered dessert originating in New Orleans.  Still popular in the area, the cake is made of multiple thin layers of cake alternating with dessert pudding. Very often the cakes are made with half chocolate pudding and half lemon pudding. They are covered in a thin layer of butter cream and a fondant shell or, alternately, a poured glaze on the outside.”

All of his coworkers, Chip, Madisyn and I sang Happy Birthday to Roy and shared the delicious cake. He’s never been big on birthdays but I knew this was my last chance to have an office birthday party for him so we did it and he was happy!  Our coworkers haven’t seen Madisyn for several months since she moved to Florida so they got to see how much she’s grown.  She even sang “Twinkle, Twinkle” and the “ABC” song for them and wasn’t shy about it at all.  She’s becoming a great little performer!

Our Fleetwood Excursion came with a Splendide combination washer/dryer pictured below.

It is in our bedroom behind louvered doors in the wall next to our closet at the back of Dora our RV.  The bedroom TV is positioned immediately above the washer/dryer.

 It’s really cute and small.  It can hold an outfit for one person (example: pair of blue jeans, a shirt and underwear) or a similar sized load of other clothing.  Probably ¼ of a load in a normal washer.  I do not know where the water goes to because Roy says there is no tubing coming out of it to drain the water.  I’m sure we could learn but it washes and dries fine so I’m happy.  It’s a mystery to me how it goes from washer to dryer and everything comes out fine each time but I sure won’t question what works! One unit changes from a washer to a dryer all on its own!  I only use 2 teaspoons of liquid, not concentrated laundry detergent and 2 teaspoons of liquid fabric softener per load.  Quite a money saver there! It has settings for cotton, permanent press and delicate like a normal washer.   You set the drying time from 30 minutes to 120 minutes.  The washing cycle is very brief compared to the drying.  It usually takes 100 minutes to dry and about 20 minutes to wash.  While that’s a long time it’s okay because I put a load in when we leave for work, fluff it when we get home and hang things up.  Laundry takes just a minute to put away because you have such a small quantity of clothing per load. 

Now for the weird part about the washer/dryer combo.  About four times during the spin and dry cycles it gets to going so fast and hard that the RV shakes and it sounds like a jet landing.  Roy says it shakes his teeth! It doesn’t bother me as much as it does him.  Our new flat panel TV is in the space above the washer/dryer and I was beginning to think it must be doing damage to the components in the TV with all the shaking but  the TV picture is still fine.  Roy investigated the shaking this week and found the washer dryer has blocks holding it in place and you can reach it through a panel in the closet.  He couldn’t do much without disassembling a lot of things but whatever he did seems to have greatly reduced the shaking.  I stopped doing two loads a day when the shaking started being a problem.  Since he worked on it I do what I wore the day before the next morning and wash after work what Roy wore during the day.  It’s not at all like doing two loads of laundry in a house.  It is a very mini version of it and quite doable.  Once we retire we’ll have shorts instead of long pants so the loads will be smaller!  We have a laundry bin built into one of the cabinets and it’s mostly empty since all our laundry is done each day.

Discussion on RV forums indicate that some people who don’t have the washer/dryer like to use the space for storage and they do their laundry at a Laundromat once a week or so.  For now we’re good with storage and I like my little Splendide.  I’m sure I’ll have to take blankets and bedspreads to a commercial establishment when the time comes.  It’s an odd little machine and has a couple of limitations, but otherwise I think our little washer/dryer will do just fine!

One of the very best things about our tiny washing machine is it’s location.  It’s right next to the closet and the bed.  When the clothes are finished I take them out, lay them out on the bed, grab a hanger out of the closet and hang the clothes up.  All without moving from standing in one place!!!  No more carrying a whole load of clothes from the bedroom all the way to the laundry room and then carrying the clean clothes back to the bedrooms.  The laundry basket, closet and washing machine are all in the same 5 square foot area!  Plus I can watch the TV over the washer while doing all of it!

Just heard today that our Saints quarterback Drew Brees will take RGIIIs place in the Pro Bowl!  Now we have a reason to watch it!