04.16.13 Countdown to departure – 10 days!

its a southern thingNow that we’ve set our departure date of April 30th everything needs to be finalized.  The lists are made and added to daily! This past year I’ve had four eye surgeries and now have wonderfully non-cataract, non-floater eyes and no longer wear contacts thanks to Dr. Greiner and Dr. Allison.  I’ve had brain tests galore and am back to having a somewhat normal brain for a blonde thanks to Dr. Shamsnia and Dr. Andrews.   I’ve seen a couple of doctors at Ochsner in Metairie for other things and they are done with me.  They have all released me to live my life and flourish.  Now, all that’s left is to have our primary care physician Dr. Valdes do one last blood work and physical for both Roy and I and we’re good to leave Louisiana doctor wise.

We’ve already checked with Blue Cross to be sure our healthcare coverage is good all throughout the United States, just like here.  We’ve always used a local pharmacy, Scott’s Pharmacy  since moving to Hammond.  We see them once a month and in between as prescriptions change.  They are like family and moving to a national pharmacy is not one we want to do.  But we must.  I worked with Scott’s to transfer everything to Walgreen’s.  I’ll get them filled once more before leaving town to make sure everything got transferred correctly!  I would have preferred Wal-Mart (just because of experience with our Walgreen’s here taking forever to get prescriptions filled) but decided against that.  The Walgreen’s is about an hour away in Minnesota and Wal-Mart was 3+ hours away.  There is one close by in Canada but not knowing what would be involved in getting prescriptions filled there  I chose to not go that route.  Walgreen’s has our prescriptions now and will mail them to us every three months which will work out perfectly for our  new traveling life style. Gonna miss our good old Scott’s Pharmacy but onward we go!

After a doctor’s appointment in Covington I stopped by Sam’s to pick up on a “few” things and left $500 lighter!  Our new home in Minnesota is in a remote location so I decided to buy at least three months of essential things to prevent those trips to “the front” as Roy puts it in his New Orleans slang.  “The front” will be many miles away instead of one or two like here!  Sam’s is just my favorite store to buy these mass quantities of food and supplies and the closest is about 2-1/2 hours from our new home.  Anyway, if the resort runs out of coffee, sugar, coffee mate, mayonnaise, etc, etc. we can stock them up!

Roy and I are both exhausted trying to get so much accomplished now that we have a departure date set.  While we’ve been working on this for months there are somethings you cannot do until you know you are leaving.  Our list is long and everything on the list is either emotional and/or time consuming.  This week Roy has cleaned the RV roof, pressure washed the back porch and sidewalks at our house, cleaned by hand and pressure washed and painted  brendatrellisthe stain on the huge deck (with benches and trellis) at our rental house, painted some things in our sticks and bricks house, fixed the RV a/c in the dashboard, listed and prepared for shipping at least a dozen things on EBay.

My list isn’t as physically demanding but I’ve worked full time every day and also taken care of: consolidated everything in Dora’s storage areas to make room for the new outdoor TV and BBQ pit, pressure washed the garage exterior, created cute business type cards to give to family/friends and new friends we make on the road, went to Sam’s to stock up, stored everything purchased at Sams (quite a task in an RV) cancelled the trash pick up, transferred all our prescriptions, scheduled a grass cutter for our sticks and bricks house, scheduled final doctors appointment and blood work,  boxed all the left over computer stuff for The Fuller Center to come pick up, changed our Dish billing to Pay As You Go so we can cancel it the months we don’t need it when we have free cable at campsites.  All this in about four days time. No wonder we fall into the bed at night and sleep soundly all night!  There are still a few major things to do and I sure hope the pace slows down a bit.  At least we have a nice leisurely trip north to look forward to!

At work I’m trying to wrap up everything I do so there is nothing left pending. I’ve documented step by step all of my responsibilities and duties.  Even with that friendshipoakdone, these last few days (trying to make sure all the details are done and teaching my procedures to others) have been grueling.  Tomorrow I’m scheduled to teach our Computer Help Desk staff how to answer questions and help the campus community with their telephone needs so they can try to field some of the questions.   Once I turned in my resignation I found out that because of all the budget cuts, layoffs and future layoffs they will probably not be able to fill my position.  Now one person won’t be doing my work, it may be distributed.  After receiving the campus email today telling us that next year’s budget cuts could be (in my words) “catastrophic”, far worse than any of the previous deep cuts, I feel that  maybe we’re leaving now on our own terms is a good thing.   Southeastern has been a wonderful place to work, however it’s been greatly affected by seriously deep budget cuts since 2009 and for me it’s time to move on.

Our precious granddaughter Madisyn spent yesterday evening, last night and this morning with us.  We went to the movies to see the 3D The Groods.  It was cute and we chipmadisynscooterdid what we call “Junkering Up” on the Sno-Caps, popcorn and ice drinks.  Then we went to visit her daddy Chip for a while. She spent the night and so did her babies who needed to sleep with us.  She helped me with the pressure washing this morning and now that she’s gone I’m crashing for a bit to finish this!  Then onto the gardens to get them weeded one last time.  We have a lot of flower beds so I’d better get started!

Ya’ll come back now ya hear!

04.10.13 Northward bound to live in Minnesota!

Big News!  Not that we haven’t been planning for this forever and ever and ever but finally the moment has arrived, well soon anyway!  No we haven’t sold the house.  However, Dora, Boots and the Explorers (Roy and Rosalyn) will be heading north on April 30th or May 1st to LIVE and WORK at Northern Lights Resort in northern Minnesota on the Canada border.  We’ll begin work between May 8th and May 15th and work until October 1st before the snow starts falling!  We got a workamping job there where they will pay us salary plus a full hook up RV site.

resortlayout.This is from the Northern Lights Resort home page “Our beautiful family-friendly cabin resort is surrounded by wilderness in a secluded bay on 16 acres, with nearly ¼ mile of shoreline. Lake Kabetogama (Ka-be-tow-ga-ma) is one of a chain of wilderness Border Lakes with majestic scenery and part of Voyageurs National Park on the Minnesota, Ontario border.

Northern Lights Resort (NLRO) is just a few miles from the Canada border and we will be able to see the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis) from there.  Roy’s always wanted to see that.   They say it can be seen 200 times during the year.  Sure hope that’s while we’re there!

When we got the job offer call from them this morning I had to repress a big scream of happiness but turning my resignation in this morning was rough.  My boss Donna is my dearest friend and while I know she’s personally happy for us she’s not wanting to lose an employee.  I’ll be starting the retirement paperwork in the morning, with April 26th being my last work day.  We’ve retired one time before about 7 years ago but certainly didn’t move out of town much less 1,450 miles away!  That retirement lasted two years, let’s see how long we can make this one last!

We’re hoping to spend plenty of time with out little Madisyn before we go and she’s coming to spend the night tonight and play with Paw Paw while Grannie goes to work in the morning. Paw Paw has all the fun!

Then we’re headed to Pass Christian for a little taste of RV traveling life and will be staying in an RV park there not too far from the coast.  First time we’ll be taking Boots our toad on the road and I’m hoping for a good experience with that.

Don’t know how much posting I’ll be able to do now that we know crunch time is here but I know we’ll be posting about our travels through the US towards Minnesota.  If anyone has suggestions for RV parks along that route, please lt us know!

Ya’ll come back now ya’ hear!

04.03.13 Family Easter and Computer Sale!

Easter is over and Spring is here!  We shared a wonderful family day at our empty house the Saturday before Easter with our son Chip’s family and my sister Harriett’s family.  They are all genuinely kind and caring people and I cherish each time we’re able to get together.  We had plenty of food to go with our traditional meat – Popeye’s Chicken!

madisynandeggsMadisyn spent last Friday with me decorating (with the things my coworkers gave me so the house wouldn’t be totally empty and have a somewhat festive spirit about it!) decoratedeggsand cooking.  We had a wonderful time together.  One of the things we did was decorate eggs.  They were yard eggs that our friend Elizabeth gave us and were naturally green, blue, pink and light brown.  So no need to dip them to get them colored.  We put little pastel rhinestones and smiley face rhinestones on them and not only did we have a great time doing it but they came out precious!  A first for me to have pretty Easter eggs!

hunting eggsThe youngest  children, Madisyn, John and Sally enjoyed the Easter egg hunt.  My sister came up with the idea of having 12 eggs per child (six of one color and six of another color).  Each child was assigned two colors and were instructed to hunt huntingfor their colors.  It was a wonderful way to cut down on the everyone for themselves that egg hunts turn into.  They were helping each other by telling the person with a blue egg that they found one instead of scooping up the egg and keeping it.  Everyone got the same number of eggs and they were all happy!

twohorsesI included some pictures of the hunt and of our visit to our next door neighbor’s house where her white miniature horse had just given birth two days before to a little horse.  The children enjoyed seeing that and the other miniature ponies in the coral.  Someone said the other day that we live in the country.  I don’t see it that way at all since we’re close to the big city of Hammond.  However when I think about the fact that we live next to property with ducks, chickens, a donkey and horses I guess we are in the country!

This Saturday is the long awaited Computer sale. Probably no one’s been long awaiting it but us though!  Tables in the garage are all laid out with computer parts, cables, keyboards, mice, 10 computers with monitors and keyboards, desks, bookcase and a table with chairs for sale.  There are even around 150 tire stem valves. Perhaps everyone has this many but since I seriously doubt that.  It’s just another one of Roy’s purchases where he couldn’t resist getting an over abundance just in case they are needed.  I’m thinking that if we didn’t sell them we would be passing down tire stem valves to our great, great grandchildren and still would never run out.  A few household items and tools round out what’s for sale and I can’t wait for this last sale to be behind us!  Not that we’re going anywhere yet, but we could at the drop of a hat when all the selling is over.

Ya’ll come back now ya’ hear!!

03.11.13 Wonderful food and saying goodbye to Roy’s computer toys…..

Philippians 4:6-7, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” (NL

Roy finished his work on the washer/dryer after recovering a hand full of change, a Saints earring and a necklace from the pump.  He’s totally familiar with the little washer/dryer that was a total mystery to him before.  I am now charged with searching all clothing before washing it to make sure nothing is left in them that could clog up the pump again.

My retired husband surprised me one day this week by vacuuming, taking out the trash, doing 3 loads of laundry, cooking dinner and several other wonderful things to chickenbrocollicome home from work to.  He cooked baked chicken and fresh broccoli and cauliflower with cheese.  He even served it to me!  What a nice thing to come home to after a long work day!

Another day he cooked real mashed potatoes to go with the roast and carrots that were cooking in the crock pot.  That’s an ongoing issue between us.  I make mashed potatoes from a box of potato buds and he’s always wanting real mashed potatoes so when it was his turn to cook he made the real ones.  One of the presents in his care package from his co workers when he left work was a bag of potatoes and a recipe from our boss, Donna, for real mashed potatoes.  He made good use of that and they were delicious!!  Here’s a picture of  that meal.  I promise I won’t post a picture of every meal we have but this was such a big deal I just had to!

We’ve begun the formidable task of going through all his computer accessories, programs, disks, parts and computers getting them ready for his computer sale.  Chip and his friend Stan helped us by moving the two desks and bookcase out to the garage this past week.  Yesterday at work I received a text message from Roy that said:  “I’m a hoarder.  I can’t do this by myself.  I need your help.”  I could just hear the desperation in his voice.  When I got home we spent Friday evening getting the garage ready with the tables, two desks and bookcase.  He placed 6 of the computers, monitors and keyboards in place.  Today we worked in the computer room for several hours dividing things into piles of things to keep, sell or trash.  The sale pile got priced and packed in storage bins to make out to the garage. Seeing him sitting in the middle of all his little toys with a dozen jump drives around his neck I had to take a picture of him.  He made comments like “This is a sad, sad day.” and I made comments like “You have more computer stuff than any 10 families should have.”

royincomputerroomHowever we look at it, we’re making progress and hopefully by tomorrow night the room will be mostly empty if not totally empty!!!  Hopefully we’ll have the computer sale the Saturday after Easter.  Here’s a picture of the garage with a few of the computers set up.  There are more to come! computers in garage

We’re having our family over to our empty house for Easter.  It will be totally different from any other holiday we’ve had but with everybody bringing their own chairs and a table and food, we’ll have fun just being together, hunting Easter eggs and playing games! My sister and her children’s families are very special to us and this might be our last holiday at our sticks  and bricks house with them.  Some parts of this taking off and traveling does make me sad and leaving our families is one of those.

I was especially thankful to our friend Rhonda who is buying our garden wagon but has allowed us to keep it until we’re finished with it.  We made very good use of it today hauling things out to the garage.  We stopped sifting through computer “stuff” long enough to cook dinner and eat and we’re going back up there to do some more.  Having a completely empty house is the goal and we can see the goal in sight!

Ya’ll come back now ya’ hear!

03.04.13 Madisyn’s 4th birthday, bad bad Dora, new asking price and hot nutritious dinner!

We have had visitors to our blog from Greece, Australia, Pakistan, Italy, Panama, Qatar and Ireland since the last time I updated countries.  Still can’t figure out why but I think it’s cool!  We also have 23 followers now.  I love to look at the stats and see the countries, how many followers and what they searched for to reach us.

We’re still stuck on not knowing what state to consider our domicile.  We have been researching Tennessee heavily due to its extremely low automobile insurance rates.  It would be perfect for all aspect except for mail forwarding. We’re still trying to find a good mail forwarding service there.  I’ve searched Google, Yahoo, many RV forums and don’t find that one key thing.  If we don’t find one in Tennessee we’ll go with South Dakota.  They have all the attractive RV friendly aspects and a few mail forwarding services.   I see us more as Tennessee residents but if we must do it, off to South Dakota we’ll go since you have to spend one night there to get our driver’s licenses!

Precious Madisyn’s 4th birthday party was this past Sunday, the theme was Pop Rock Princess and she certainly was just that!  For once I’m very thankful we hadn’t sold our house already because the party location was changed to our 574862_301198886673503_305735208_nsticks and bricks house (where her mom and dad live) due to the cold, windy weather and it was a smashing success.

2013-03-02_18-22-20_260Our empty dining room provided plenty of space for setting up three tables and all the decorations. Her mommy Liz’s creative ideas all came together with some really cute decorations, food and favor ideas.

The children had a blast jumping in the castle inflatable, dressing up, breaking open the rock guitar pinata, eating rock candy, star shaped sandwiches, rock star cake and just plain old playing!

46954_300842490042476_853496952_nThe rock candy I wrote about before wasn’t a total success. About half of them didn’t grow any rocks and the other half grew about half the rocks we hoped for. It still 2013-03-02_18-20-21_977came out cute and we used the ones that did grow. Check out the picture of the ones that did grow!  That was probably as much sugar as the kids needed anyway! We believe they didn’t grow to what we hoped they would because the directions said to set them in a warm sunny window and they sat in a cold house with very little sun coming in the window.

Some of the Pop Rock Princess theme foods and decorations 2013-03-03_13-54-05_764 2013-03-03_13-54-14_629are shown in the pictures.

It’s events like this that cause us to pause and wonder how we’ll handle not being around for all this fun when we’re on the road.  We’ll just have to plan to be back for birthdays and Christmas.

We’ve really enjoyed Madisyn’s little visits when we get home from work and other times.  Now that Roy’s retired he’s getting to spend more time with her which he cherishes. She puts a smile on our face when we’re down or not feeling good and is just so loving and such a bright little girl.  Since we’ll be 602723_300839843376074_436011214_ntaking to the road soon, I guess this good thing will come to an end in due time.  I like to think that God is giving us this time with her to build memories that will hold us in between visits when the time comes for us to leave.

On to why there is a Bad, Bad Dora in the title.  Dora has been difficult about filling her rear air bags, the motor in one of her slides broke and was changed, the lights went out in the bedroom night before last and the air conditioning that runs when we’re driving wasn’t putting out cold air.  I’m sure she could be doing worse things than this and we are thankful this is all that Dora’s up to but it’s frustrating to Roy to say the least!  Hence Bad Bad Dora! They are probably all things Roy will be able to take care of now that he’s retired. He’s already changed out the slide motor, he found the fuse that was causing the lights to go out, and when time allows he’ll work on the air suspension and air conditioning.  The two air conditioning units in the RV works great, just the dashboard a/c is a concern.   Being retired you’d think Roy would have the time to just jump right on it, but as of about an hour ago he has 5 computers he’s working on for customers.  It’s a good start to his part-time business!  When we go on the road he’ll be offering his services for hire to other RVers at parks where we stay.  If anyone reading this in an RV ever need their computer worked on look out for our Dora and the Explorers sign!

My honey had a hot nutritious meal ready for me when I got home from work yesterday.  What a treat that was!!!  As busy as he is now, he is still at home and I’m not.  It sure is nice to come home from a hard day at work to a nice dinner.  Really makes me feel loved!

We made the decision to once again lower our asking price for the house and our agent is making the change known.  The current problem in our area is that contractors are building brand new homes for between $85 and $95 a square foot.  Since we are competing with them for sales we have to lower our price to at least $95 a square foot.  Another couple we know who are selling their house got the same advice from their agent and dropped their price.  I asked our agent to shout this drastic reduction from the rooftops if necessary!  Git ‘er sold!

Ya’ll come back now ya’ hear!!

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!

01.04.13 Black tanks and toilets, oh my!

Today’s blog may not be of any interest to our family and friends, unless they plan on RVing or have a fascination for all that is RV related.  If you want to learn about RVing keep reading.  This may be a very weird blog to those who really just want to know about our travels, because it’s about the toilet and the black tank.  If you are planning on living in an RV, and know nothing about an RV toilet this is good information for you.  We don’t know all yet but have learned enough to know we can share with those who are just starting out. Since the weirdness of all this is slowly becoming our normal, here goes! THERE WILL BE NO PICTURES IN THIS BLOG!

Roy and I have never camped in our lives, not in a tent, not in a cabin and certainly not in an RV.  The closest our family ever came to camping was when our sons camped out in their big tree house across the pond from our house.  Roy and I slept in our nice warm bed while they roughed it in the tree house, never more than one night at a time!

We’ve never even been in an RV until we started looking for ours.  We went into this knowing absolutely nothing about this new world of ours so the odds of making mistakes is high and the odds of us learning a lot is high as well.  Everything is new and interesting to us.  I’ve never used a toilet that didn’t flush using a handle on the toilet tank.  Our new home has a toilet that flushes by stepping on a pedal and has no holding tank behind the toilet.  This aspect of RVing is absolutely the weirdest part of our transition from a sticks house to an RV.

I’m not a plumber but I’ve seen enough plumbing work done to understand how a house toilet works.  Fairly simple and who really cares what happens once you flush.  Well in an RV it’s very different.  There is no water (or very little) in the toilet bowl.  You can add more water by pushing down on the pedal just a little bit.  which is the reverse of what you do when you’re flushing and you push down on the pedal.  That allows some water into the bowl for “special occasions”.  I don’t want to get too graphic so if you can’t imagine what a “special occasion” is, think about it.

Once you’ve done whatever you’re going to do in the toilet, you push the pedal down with your foot to flush it.  A little dome opens over a 3 to 4 inch wide pipe and your “stuff” goes down the pipe to the big black tank which in our RV goes from one side of the RV to the other.  You can look down the tank (yes I did that today!) and see all your stuff and water.  Not something I want to do again but I did learn from it.  I learned all this today because Roy took me on a potty tour to learn all about the black tank and how the toilet works.  I want to learn as much as possible about all things RV so I can be as helpful as possible when we are on the road.

The black tank is a large tank that is black that all of the toilet water, toilet paper and “stuff” goes into.  Nothing else goes into it.  The gray tank is a large tank that is gray that all the shower water and sink water goes into.  Since we are parked in our own driveway and we don’t live near anyone we have a long expandable tube attached to the gray tank (definitely not the black tank) and it continually empties into our side yard.  That allows us to not worry about filling up the gray tank and having to empty it.

We also had a problem which was uncovered today when I opened one of the empty storage bins underneath the RV (right under the toilet) to see how much room was in it.  It was empty but had a lot of pee in it which is just about as gross as it gets.  Roy had to figure out where it was coming from so he could stop it which lead to the toilet lesson for the day!  We now have one very clean and sanitized storage bin!

Something interesting about the black tank – it has sensors that show up on the control panel indicating whether it is ¼, ½ ¾ or completely full. The gray tank has the same type sensors so you know when to empty both of them.  This is a whole different aspect that is totally, totally different than a house toilet.  About every two weeks we have to empty our black tank and you do that at a “dump”.  RV dealerships have dumps and our RV spot at Disney had one.  I think a lot of RV parks have them but don’t have any experience with those yet.

We know nothing about the chemicals some use in their tanks.  Most people say to just make sure you put plenty of water in the tank so nothing gets stuck……………………  We just read about a method called the GEO Method that uses Dawn Dishwashing Liquid (blue) and Calgon Water Softener after you empty your tank and it takes care of lots of issues! We’ll try that one as soon as we buy some.   We don’t have a real problem so far. I like things always smelling pleasant and reading other people’s descriptions of “smells” makes me want to be much more proactive than sit back and wait!

Toilet paper is another “topic” of discussion amongst RV owners.  Our wonderful Charmin toilet paper is considered by some to be not appropriate for use in an RV toilet.  Most RV bloggers say they use their regular toilet paper and don’t have any problems.  Our RV Technician says that you must buy RV toilet paper or it stays forever in the bottom of your black tank and can fill it up.  He said it mixes with the liquids and makes like paper mache which is hard.  I’ve heard RV toilet paper is not as soft.  We just bought some septic tank safe paper at Lowe’s so we’ll see how that does and then try real RV toilet paper last.  There is a test they say to do that shows if the toilet paper dissolves quickly.  I put our Charmin in a cup of water and stirred it for a few days and it did get looser but didn’t come close to disintegrating like they say the RV toilet paper does.  I’ll have to put the paper we just bought to that same test and report on it!

Like I said previously this aspect of RVing is the weirdest.  I’ve never liked using the toilet on an airplane for similar reasons to why I dreaded using the toilet in our RV.  It must be some phobia I had but now I think our RV toilet is very normal.  I guess it’s our new normal!

This is definitely a basics lesson on RV toilets as we only know what we’ve learned these last two months and you don’t just naturally spend too much time focusing on the toilet!  If experienced RVers read this and can give us tips please comment away!

I plan to write about our tiny washer/dryer combo next time since that’s a cool, very different aspect of RV life.

December, 2012 – still clearing out the house, working on Boots and living in the RV

We thought going into this that finding places for our things we wanted to take would be horribly difficult. We’ve found that finding places for our stuff has been an evolving event. When we first started moving in we went through each room in the sticks house and took what we thought we’d need, including our clothes. Surprisingly, at least 75% of what we brought to the RV was kept out there. Each weekend when I have time to think and plan, I spend some time reevaluating what we’re keeping based on the past week’s experiences and where it’s being kept. As of today Dec 10th we have been in the RV one month and have about 20% of the storage space below the RV filled so I’m feeling really confident that we’re on target to have room to bring everything we really want to with us. It still amazes me how much not really needed “stuff” we’ve accumulated in 40 years of marriage.

As I went through the house I tried to look at each thing and decide which of three categories that thing would go into. The categories were “trash”, “garage sale” and “keep in the RV”. This process started in August and now in December we are not finished yet. I spent at least 50% of my free time in August and September on this filtering process. October, November and December have found every weekend dedicated to the filtering. In between the filtering was pricing for garage sales, showing furniture and furnishings to people interested in buying them and cleaning each room and researching every aspect of RVing we could. We just do not rest any longer, but we’re loving it!

Each person that has come into our lives in this selling spree has brought something special to this experience. There is something about someone coming into your home to buy your things, especially the ones that mean a lot to you, that really attaches you to the person.

Got a much needed 11 hours of sleep one weekend! Enjoyed the quiet morning in the RV once again rearranging things in the cabinets. I’ll get it right before long I hope! I made my way to the stick house to hopefully finish up emptying the first floor. Roy’s entire day was spent working on installing Roadmaster Invisibrakes on our toad. I pulled out the remaining Christmas decorations and our small tree from under the stairs. We purchased a smaller 4’ tree last year to go on top of one of the end tables. The tables are all sold so the tree is standing on the floor! The few decorations we kept were used to decorate the tree. It looks odd in the empty living room but our granddaughter will be here with her daddy for Christmas and she just wouldn’t understand Grannie and Paw Paw not having a tree. Used the last of our Christmas wrapping to wrap the kids presents. There’s been a lot of using up last things recently.

A lady came to see the dining room table and chairs. She and her husband are looking at our set and another set. We’re in a competition! She liked it and I enjoyed visiting with her. People are always intrigued when we tell them we’re selling everything and bought the RV to travel. Her husband may come by later to see the set also.

Cleared off remaining items from the shelves over the washer/dryer and brought two boxes of garage sale things out to the garage. The washer/dryer are being picked up next week so I put them through a good workout today for possibly the last time. Sold them a while back and kept them as long as we could, but they are needed in their new home so we must let them go!

A co-worker and her daughter and granddaughter came over to see the girls bedroom set. I’m hoping the set goes to a good home and would love for little Chloe to have it waiting for her when she gets big enough to use it.

Cooked a nice dinner in the RV. The two burner cooker is coming in very handy and I’m loving the ease and quickness with which the convection oven cooks. Roy’s finally starting to feel comfortable that he’ll not starve in the RV. Thought we were going to enjoy the evening resting when I got a call from the husband of the lady who saw the dining room set and he wanted to come see it. All of our furniture would be sold if he buys the dining room set and my friend buys the girls bedroom set. I’d love being able to be at that point. I want to be totally prepared to make a fast exit when someone buys the house! Time to crash and call it a night!

After church that weekend I went to Lowe’s to buy pansies for the gardens. Everything is starting to look very wintery, not dead but not blooming. I bought seven trays of pansies and spent three hours planting them in the flower gardens. They did the trick, made everything look a little more alive. I just know this will make a difference in selling the house! Didn’t hear from the couple about our dining table. Maybe tomorrow. Watched our beloved Saints lose another game today. They’re still our guys but I sure wish they’d play like we know they can. Back to work tomorrow, last week of work before the Christmas two weeks off work.

My coworker says she does want to buy the girls bedroom set so we’re left with just two dining room pieces! Someone came to see the buffet server today, he’s buying it for a friend for Christmas.

We are heading out to Disneyworld with our granddaughter Madisyn on Sunday the 17th. This will be our true first adventure on the road. A 12 hour driving trip is a good test. I have such confidence in Roy’s RV driving ability already. He’s done very well each time we’ve gone out, all except for dipping into our ditch when returning home!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The last time out was just a tiny, tiny dip so he’s improving on that.

We’ll blog about our Disney adventure and try to post some pictures. I hope to add pictures to past posts in my blog as I get time and more knowledge about this blogging process. I wanted to get my thoughts down first and then move on to the pretty stuff!

ONE DAY CLOSER TO OUR DREAM!!!!!