"if you are not living on the edge, you are taking up too much room"

Monday, October 31, 2011

Gate guarding at Hinkle A-2H

We had to be ready to leave for the gate by 8:00 so we were up early getting things packed up and "road ready".
Hunter showed up at the yard and hooked onto the two flat bed trailers that held our generator, fresh water tank, black water tank and all of our other supplies. We followed him out of the yard where we turned east to head towards Cotulla.
The drive took us a little over an hour and we pulled into "our" gate. We are the first gate guards at this site as it is a brand new pad with no well as yet. The "company man", Earl, met us and showed us our spot and I backed the 5th wheel in and got leveled and unhooked. While Rudee and I got the 5er set up Hunter worked to get all of our utilities up and running.
The whole set up took him over an hour but once he was done we have 50amp service thanks to our large diesel generator, running water from our own "reservoir" tank and our tanks drain into what I describe as a portable septic system.
We have virtually no cell signal without the Wilson Cell Phone Booster I purchased before leaving Indiana. The booster unit is inside the 5er and I mounted the antenna to a telescoping pole that I attach to the rear ladder on the back of our Montana.
Once I got the booster set up we went from 1 bar of service to 4 bars. The downside is the range of the booster is limited so you only have to go 20-30' from the booster and you are back at 1 bar (or no bars!).
Our site is adjacent to the well pad so we will be able to keep and eye on all the action.
We didn't have to actually start working today, the boss man said he didn't want us checking people in and out until the rig arrives and gets set up for drilling. Right now we are just doing a lot waving :-). I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

We got a gate!

I was up early this morning even though this area gets really really quiet at night. Rudee likes to sleep longer than me so I make a pot of coffee and catch up on blogs while she snoozes.
After we took our showers I decided to take a walk around the storage yard and check out the flat bed trailers with the "gate supplies". I checked out one the trailers with a big diesel generator on it and my new boss, Roger, drove up in his pick up truck. He told me that he had a gate for me if I wanted it. Heck ya I want it! That's what I came here for :-)
We will be moving out tomorrow morning to a gate near Cotulla, Texas. Roger will be meet us here at the lot and lead us over there and help us get set up.
We are a little nervous since this is all so new to us but I'm sure we will do fine.
I have followed Kit and Jerry Bertlesen's blog http://www.kitandjerry.com/index.htm for a few years now. They are gate guards too and are deployed at a gate about 10 miles from here. They have been keeping track of our progress and gave us directions to their place so we could finally spend some face to face time together.
We made the short trip in the Dakota and pulled into the drive to their gate. The company provides an alarm bell that is activated by a hose pulled across the drive. Remember those bells that dinged in the gas stations when you ran over the hose? Same thing here.
Jerry came out of their motorhome and opened the gate for us showing us where to park. Kit joined us outside and it was hugs all around!
Before we left Carrizo Springs we stopped into McDonalds and bought 2 large diet cokes. By reading their blog I knew they loved their diet fountain cokes and didn't want to show up empty handed :-)
We talked for quite awhile and they showed us the ropes as well as giving us some great advice of things they have learned along the way. Rudee took lots of notes! :-)
Before we knew it we were having to say "see ya later". We had some things we wanted to pick up at the store before before being "tied to a gate".
Thanks guys for a great visit and helping out a couple of rookies!
Corrizo Springs has a small Wal Mart but what we needed was a super center. The nearest one is in Eagle Pass about 40 miles away so we headed over.
Thus area of Texas is really not very scenic. Lots of short scrub trees, sand and cactus. The good thing is the speed limit in most of the rural areas is 75 mph so you can make good time between towns :-)
Eagle Pass is a boarder town right on the Rio Grande. We drove down to the boarder to take a look. There was no good place to park so we just did a drive-by and headed to the store.
Wal Mart was a total zoo! I guess Sunday afternoon is "shopping day" for people from both sides of the boarder.
We wound our way down the aisles and found most of what we needed and got the heck outta there!
They had a gas station there so we filled up using our shopping card so we could save an additional .10 per gallon. With our tank full and our card empty we headed back to Carrizo.
Before arriving in Texas I expected to see a lot of the border patrol out looking for illegals. Today was our first contact with these fine folks. There is an inspection station/road block set up between Eagle Pass and Carrizo Springs. I was not sure what to expect but when I stopped and rolled my window down the young officer just made small talk while another officer with a K9 did a quick walk around our truck and that was it. Guess we don't fit the profile of human smugglers :-)
Back at the 5th wheel we put the groceries away and will probably go to bed early since tomorrow is a work day! I'll keep you posted.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

taking a day "off"

We decided to stay an additional night here at Gulf Coast RV Resort. The sites here are all pull through full hook ups with a nice patio. They are part of Passport America so we get a 50% discount on their rates making our site $17.50 including tax. Pretty good deal!
I checked out attractions in Beaumont on the computer and found a couple of museums downtown that sounded interesting so Friday morning we played tourist. :-)
Our first stop was the Texas Firefighters Museum housed in a restored Beaumont fire station. My Dad was a fireman for many years and my Brother is a career firefighter as well. I even started down that path for 5 years before becoming a cop. Both my brother and I grew up in and around the firehouse so walking into one is a trip down memory lane for me :-).
There is no cost to visit and they have 2 floors of displays. The engine bays have several pieces of apparatus including an early aerial truck and some of the old horse drawn pumpers.
On the walls were patches from Departments all over the U.S. We found several from Indiana including Lebanon and my old department, Plainfield.
Next was the Texas Energy Museum just around the corner. We had to pay $2.00 each to tour this one which traced the first oil discovery in Texas to present day drilling methods. The displays were nicely done but contained a little too much chemistry for me. I got lost a little with all the talks of molecules and strings of something or other.
We made a stop for a late lunch at Mike and Terri Hamilton's Catfish Kitchen. The special was barbecued crabs, a little pricey for us so we settled for fried Crawfish tails and crawfish ettouffe'. We tried their soup of the day based on our waitress' recommendation. I have no idea what she was calling it, she was talking southern and I was listening in northern :-)
The soup was a type of seafood stew and was really good.
Back at the 5th wheel we settled in for the remainder of the day and watched some TV. The weather was not particularly great today with the temperature barely breaking 60 degrees and the wind blew hard most of the day. I was sure glad we decided to stay put rather than try and travel in bad weather.
Saturday morning we got up early and got everything ready to hit the road once again. Today would be the last leg of our our odyssey to get to the oil fields where we will be working this winter.
We pulled out shortly before 7am and headed west on I-10 once again. The traffic was fairly light and we had an easy drive, even through downtown Houston with all of it's ramps and overpasses.
Our next big hurdle was San Antonio where we turned South on I-35. We stopped for a picnic lunch just south of San Antonio at a rest park. We turned off the interstate and onto SR 85 in Dilley Texas. Our destination was Carrizo Springs where our company, Gate Guard Services, has a storage yard. We met our supervisor, Roger, at a gas station and he led us to the yard about a mile out of town and showed us where to park.
We will be here for a few days until we get a gate assigned to us. There is one other guard couple here whose well was shut down due to a faulty piece of equipment. They will go back to the same gate as soon as parts arrive to get things back up and running again.
We have made contact with Kit and Jerry Bertleson, http://www.kitandjerry.com/index.htm fellow Hoosiers who are guarding a gate a few miles away. We made plans to visit them tomorrow and they invited us to ride along with them next Tuesday when they head back to their home park for a quick visit. Sounds like fun and will give us a chance to get to know them, of course this could all change if a gate opens up and we go to work. I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

badda bing, badda "BOOM"... AGAIN!

Tuesday afternoon we took our last ride on the bike in Florida for awhile and once back at the 5th wheel I loaded it onto the semi. Our plan was to head for Texas and start our work for this winter so we can fill up the money barrel again :-).
Wednesday morning we hooked on and pulled out of Dade City and headed North on I-75. We made good time and soon made the turn west on I-10. Hard to imagine this interstate goes virtually from coast to coast. We will be taking it all the way to Houston Texas and I'm sure we will have our fill of it by then :-).
I had scoped out a possible stop for the night in Alabama and thought the timing would be about right. That is until we got to the 174 mm and a rear tire on the semi decided to expell it's air "forcibly". KABOOM! I had my window open and my arm hanging out enjoying the ride and just about soiled my underoos when that thing let go. Rubber was flying everywhere and the noise sounded like the truck was coming apart.
Rudee followed me as I eased off onto the berm and we stopped to survey the damage. Not too bad, some paint missing on rear panel of the semi, 3 clearance lights, some black marks on the front of the 5er as well as my side to side level was broken. :-(
There was an exit ramp less than 1/2 mile away so we limped along the the berm. There was a gas station with a large lot at the end of the exit ramp so we were very fortunate for that.
I called our emergency road service and since I did not have spare they would only offer to tow the truck leaving the 5er sit. Nope not gonna do that when a tire store can do a service call and mount the tire right here.
I got the number of the wrecker they would use, called him and he gave me a local road service dealer, called him and he had the correct tire and would be there in 30 minutes. Fantastic!
Rudee pointed out that the license plate on the truck was no longer "on" the truck. I hopped in the Dakota and went back to the scene of the "Ka-blewey" and looked around but could not find any sign of the license plate or any of the clearance lamps.
I was only gone about 15 minutes and when I got back the tire guy was there and had the tire already off the truck!
He made short work of changing things out and we were back on the road about an hour after pulling off.
We paid the road service tab and will send a copy of the bill to our provider and see of they will reimburse us or not. I was not too impressed with them on the phone, she did not seem to know what a 5th wheel RV was. Not good for a place that markets to Rvers.
Back on the road we decided to boondock at Wal Mart and ended up in Crestview Florida at a super center. There was an Applebee's nearby so we had their 1/2 price appetizers as our evening meal. We also rented a Red Box movie which we watched before turning in for the night. The movie, Hall Pass, was a real hoot but there are a couple of graphic nude scenes so be warned.
Thursday we were back on the road headed west on I-10. I was still a little rattled by the blow outs and was hearing every creak and rattle the rig was making. I finally settled down some only to read a sign in Mobile Alabama that said "tunnel ahead" .... hmmm wasn't aware of a tunnel, Oh well no biggie, just drive on through.
I entered the tunnel and this thing goes straight down. As in, into the gates of H. E. double toothpicks down! Yabba! On top of that we no more get into the tunnel and Rudee calls me on the CB and says she is having a panic attack and needs out of here. NOW!
Well no where to go but up .... and out. Thank goodness the tunnel was not too long, I don't think Rudee would have made it. OK, note to self, no more tunnels for Rudee.
We actually ended a long travel day with the same tires we started out with! Seems like a first for us so far. :-)
We are set up at Gulf Coast RV Resort in Beaumont Texas a very nice Passport America park ($17.50 per night). We paid for one night but will probably stay tomorrow night as well. We need a break :-). I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Fishy business

Sunday we took a ride South to meet Keith and Marcia Russell.
We met at a restaurant near Lake Wales Florida and caught up over lunch. They were on their Goldwing so we followed them as they showed us around some of the area. We spent the afternoon riding throughout the countryside before we finally had to part company and head opposite directions for home.
Monday we drove the truck to Largo Florida near the Gulf. My Great Uncle, Max, lives in an Assisted Living apartment there and we had made arrangements to spend a little time with him. Max and my Dad were almost the same age even though he was my grandfathers brother. They lived in Montecello Indiana and we stayed in regular contact while I was growing up. I used to spend part of my summer vacation at their house and my cousin would spend time at our house as well. We used to have a great time.
Max is doing very well and we enjoyed our short visit with him. Here is a photo Rudee snapped of us before we left.
Max had to get to the Dentist and I just happened to have brought my fishing pole along ...... :-)
Rudee had no inclination to fish but was content to watch me as I tried to land something. We went to a pay fishing pier in Reddington Beach. I initially thought about just fishing from a public pier or even just off the beach. I researched and found that the non resident salt water license was going to cost $17 and if you go to the pier no license is needed and only costs $12. Of course the pier was only for 1 day of fishing but since we are leaving Florida Wednesday this was the best deal for us.
We paid our fee and bought some frozen squid for bait. The pier extends over 1000' into the Gulf and has benches to sit on every few feet on each side. We found a nice bench and settled in for some fun!
I was getting a few bites but they must have been pretty small because I could not hook anything.
Others around me were catching things pretty regularly. The lady a few feet away from us reeled in a stingray. No thanks, don't want one of those on my line!
We moved further down the pier and I started getting some more serious bites and it wasn't too long before I caught a small sea bass.
The wind was pretty brutal but we stuck it out and I caught several more fish over the next few hours. By 4:00pm we were both tired, hungry and I was out of bait so we called it a day and headed home.
We have decided to go ahead and head west towards Texas on Wednesday. We will spend most of tomorrow running any last errands and getting the circus train ready to roll again. I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

"Hello, my name is Pehhggy"

A few weeks ago I purchased an automatic satellite dish and receiver to use in the giggle weeds of Texas while gate guarding. The dish is a Tailgator from Dish Network and is advertised as the simplest dish to set up and use, The directions included with the unit are very straight forward. Just follow a few easy step, call the 800# and "poof" you have TV.
I decided to set it up Saturday morning. Our 5th wheel is prewired to hook up to an RV parks cable system or, by moving a couple of wires, can be adapted for a satellite dish. I decided that since the new dish has only one outlet for 1 receiver/TV combination I would install its own outlet on the outside of the RV. I had already purchased a protected outlet from Camping World and Rudee and I installed it last Thursday in anticipation of today.
I followed all the directions setting up the dish and connecting it to the receiver and then to our TV. Easy as pie!
I turned everything on and none of the screens I was supposed to see, according to the instructions, were coming up. I was getting a screen showing that I was not receiving a signal from the satellite but nothing else so I called Dish Network for help. That is when the fun started!
I explained my problems to the first customer service rep that answered the phone. He transferred me to a customer service rep that could help me set up my programming. I talked to her, she said no way to get a signal with out an account number. I read her the directions on the paperwork I had that said the signal needed to be "in the green" on the little built in meter and then you call to purchase programming. "Not so" says "Pehhggy" gotta buy first, so I bought. She wanted to "interview" me to help me select a package. No thanks, already know what I want and told her.
She had no idea what the "RV to Go" service was. Told her it was a package offered by her company for people to have their TV "on the go" in their RV. She put me on hold to ask a supervisor.... Oh oh.
Rudee, hearing all this, got on line and started a chat with their tech support to try and get the signal working that way. So Rudee was "computer chatting" with Jordan and I was pulling what was left of my hair out with "Pehhggy" on the phone.
I ended up getting the programming purchased but not after several "I need to talk to my supervisor" moments.
Jordan told Rudee that once we had our account number he could get us set up in a few minutes. Well all righty then, that's what I was wanting to hear.
He had us run tests, move the dish, shut things down, reset things, move the dish again, unhook the dish, hook back up, move the dish again ..... well you get the idea. Nothing worked, "no TV for you!"
After 3 hours of this ordeal I had enough and called it quits. Jordan also said there was nothing else he could do and referred us to one of their local technicians for a service call.
Rudee made contact with the technician and he knew right away the problem. The receiver needed a new update down loaded from Dish and to bring it to his shop and he would do it.
I disconnected everything and we drove to Tampa and met Bill. He hooked our receiver up to his satellite dish and downloaded the update. He told us that the update should have already been on our receiver when shipped since it was a new unit but was apparently not done at the factory. He hooked up out Tailgater and got everything working. "That will be $100 please" ..... ouch!
Back at the 5th wheel I hooked everything back up while Rudee cooked supper. Yes it is now supper time, we started this ordeal right after breakfast and it has taken the entire day!
I followed "$100 Bills" instructions and "poof" we had TV, see just like they advertise, easy as pie :-(
Rudee called Dish and complained about the charge of the service call and they agreed to credit our account for the $100 charge which was a happy ending to a frustrating day.
Zephryhills was having a Halloween festival downtown so we drove down and checked it out. There were lots of booths and the kids all had their costumes on. We enjoyed seeing the kids and browsing the booths.
We are meeting Kieth and Marcia Russell Sunday for lunch. They are longtime motorcycle friends who have retired and snowbird in Sebring Florida each winter. I'll keep you posted.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

day at the beach

The weather has been a little cool for Florida the last few days. The temps have been in the low 70's and the wind has been blowing strong. Even with the weather like it is we decided to head for the beach on the motorcycle. We had to ride through the city to get there and decided to stay off the interstate and soak up some "local flavor".
We ended up in Indian Rocks Beach just across the bay from Tampa.
In the past we have stayed here when the kids were smaller renting a condo right on the beach. We had lots of fun playing in the sand and water with our kids so we have great memories of this area.
We saw several really nice homes that sit right on the beach. I couldn't even guess what it costs to buy and maintain a house like this but I am guessing a retired cop who now works as a work camping gate guard does not live here :-)
We did find some parking and walked out onto the beach. Rudee said the water felt really warm when she touched it. The weather is supposed to warm up some more and we hope to do some more "tourist" things. I'll keep you posted.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Sunshine State?

We were up early Wednesday morning and decided to take advantage of the free waffles in the lobby here at the KOA. The host handles the cooking and they had rolls, juice and coffee as well. We were eating our waffle when Rudee got my attention and pointed out that the owners cat was inside the office and walking around on top of the tables where he was cooking the food. YUCK! Needless to say we didn't eat anything else after that.
What are these people thinking! I'm not particularly fond of cats to begin with but that is beside the point. You don't have animals be it cats, dogs, hamsters or whatever, crawling around on the same table you are preparing food for your guests.
Our destination for the day was Dade City Florida where we are staying for at least a week or more. The skies to cloudy and there was a pretty stiff wind hitting the side of the rig but at least there was no rain. Where is that famous Florida sunshine?
We arrived at Grove Ridge Carefree Resort in the middle of the afternoon. The office was just closing up and they told us to go ahead and park and settle up in the morning. The park is very nice with large grass lots with 50amp/30amp electric, water and sewer hook ups. This is more of a snowbird type of park with a lot of permanent park model units. There is a nice clubhouse with a large outdoor pool. They are a Passport America park and the rate is $16 per night for members.
We parked in the same spot we were in on our last visit in 2009, a large space on the back row where we can spread out some. I unloaded the bike and we took a quick ride into Zephryhills to visit my parents grave site.
Thursday we were up early again thanks to the rooster at the home behind us. I forgot about the neighbors across the road having chickens :-)
Oh well we had things to do anyway.
I called a tire store and found a replacement for our tire that blew and made arrangements to drop it off. Rudee called our future tenets and made a lunch date with them so we could finally meet face to face and get all the paperwork out of the way.
Heading into town we made a quick stop at Wal Mart and then to the tire store where we dropped off the wheel. They even gave me a discount for being a retired Deputy, cool.
We met our new tenets at a small restaurant and got to know them. They are a very nice couple who had to sell their home in Dade City a few years ago and move into an apartment because he just could not take care of a big house anymore. They are both looking forward to the extra space our place offers as well as living in a seniors only neighborhood.
They did decide they want to move in right away. I told them that if they do that I would not have a chance to make sure things are cleaned and ready for them. They said that they have already been in the place a few times with our current renter and all is up to snuff so they will move in the day after our renter moves out. We reminded them to change the utilities over into their name and they said they have already done that and have scheduled the cable installer as well!
With all this done we may not be staying here as long as we thought. We decided to only pay for 1 week and can add to that if we need to. Our thoughts are to head for Texas and get back to work so we have some money coming into our account instead of just going out :-)
We do have several friends and relatives in the area and hope to see them before heading west. Plus I want to do some motorcycle riding here in the "Sunshine State". I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

badda bing, badda "BOOM"

Sunday was a tough, tough day. Rudee and I were in tears several times throughout the day as our friends departed one at a time. Rob and Jany Runion gave us a card as they were pulling out. They had to leave early to go to the hospital because Rob's Dad had taken a turn for the worst. We opened the card as they were driving away, it was one of those musical cards and played "thank you for being a friend". Needless to say I was reduced to a sobbing idiot ..... damn, I wasn't prepared for this!
The worst goodbye was to our kids and grand kids. They all left late in the afternoon and we were virtually the only ones left in the campground :-(
We did get a call from Craig and Joanie Isenhower who live nearby in Sheridan, Indiana. They wanted to get together so we met them at the Pizza King for supper. Craig and Joanie are a great couple who we were just getting to know well.
Thanks to all of our friends for a great week end, we'll see you again real soon.
Monday morning we got a slow start packing up. We were dragging our feet waiting on news from Rob about his Dad. When Jany called and told us there were no real changes we decided to go ahead and get packed up and on the road.
We pulled out at 10am and pointed the circus train South.
Rudee followed me in the Dakota and we communicated by CB radio. The trip through Indianapolis was not too bad since we avoided the morning rush hour. Rudee needed gas so we stopped at a Flying J just south of Indy. We got off just in time because we could see a large back up forming just past the exit. Once we got the Dakota filled up and us emptied (too much coffee) :-) we hopped over onto US 31 and bypassed the traffic jamb on the interstate.
The rest of the trip went well and we ended up spending the night in a Wal Mart in Athens, Alabama. We rented a movie from the Red Box kiosk and I fired up the generator and we settled in for the night.
This morning we were both up early and, after showers, we returned the movie and hit the road. The drive through Birmingham was just as I remembered it, rough roads! In Montgomery we cut over to US 231 down to Troy where we took the State Road 167 "short cut". This road bypasses Dothan which has become its own traffic nightmare.
We stopped at a closed and abandoned gas station in Enterprise for a picnic lunch on the tailgate of the Dakota.
Back on the road we were soon crossing the state line into Florida. Then the rain started, just some sprinkles at first but it soon turned into a steady downpour. That's when I heard it .... BOOM. I checked the mirrors but nothing seemed wrong. I have a camera pointed at the bike and checked the monitor screen, nothing wrong there. I called Rudee on the CB, she said she heard it too. We were on a four lane so I had her drive beside me to check things on the 5er and truck. All Ok on the drivers side so we swapped lanes and she checked the passenger side, nothing wrong there either .......... hmmmmm.
We drove on and kept a close watch on things and eventually saw that the left rear trailer tire looked funny. I pulled over behind a gas station right away, in the rain of course, and saw where the side wall had come apart on the tire but it was still holding air. Weird.
We have a roadside assistance plan but in the past they have taken anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours to show up so I decided to go ahead and change it myself, in the rain of course :-(
Swapping the bad tire for our spare took us about 20 minutes and we both got so wet we had to compltely change our clothes. Our undies were even soaked :-)
One of the advantages of having an HDT truck is that you can install a retractable air hose and use the air compressor built into the truck. I also carry a small air powered impact wrench and sockets making removing and installing the lug nuts a breeze.
We decided that we had been through enough for one day and started thinking about where to land for the evening. We had hoped to get a little further and stay in another Wal Mart but since it was still fairly early (2pm) we didn't feel comfortable doing that. We decided to head for a KOA we have stayed at in the past. I headed onto I-10 to make the 90 mile last leg of this long, long day.
We no more got on the highway when the rain worsened, it got so bad at times and we had to slow down so much to see that we ran with our emergency flashers on.
We came upon 2 serious accidents where the cars had apparently hydroplaned and went flying off the road. The lack of visibility and the accidents just added to our stress levels and we were both more than ready to park this thing!
That's when it hit me .... this isn't a vacation and you don't have to be out here risking both of your lives just to get somewhere!
I decided right then and there that we would not be doing this type of traveling again. Weather gets bad, STOP. Things start going wrong, STOP.
We did make it to the KOA where Rudee was able to do all the laundry while I heated up some left overs for supper. Teamwork, gotta love it :-). The rain is still falling but they are calling for sunshine tomorrow, if not we'll STOP until it does shine :-) I'll keep you posted!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Movin Out

Thursday morning Rudee did he normal shift of volunteering at the food pantry in Crawfordsville. She started doing this once per week since she got laid off. Today will be her last shift there and she will miss it.
While she was working I got the rig ready for travel. I was hooking on and a couple came walking towards me in the campground. I thought they looked familiar and as they got closer I recognized them. Ron and Mary are fellow Montana owners and were overnighting at the KOA. We had met at the Montana Owners Rally a couple of years ago and they recognized our truck. We visited for a few minutes before they had to pull out and get on the road.
Rudee made a stop at Mickey D's on her way home and we shared lunch in the cab of the Dakota since the house was all "folded up" :-)
We pulled out of the KOA around 11:30. It was a little sad to be leaving but exciting at the same time. We had lived here for the last 2 1/2 years and it had a "comfortable" feel to it.
Our destination was White River Campground which was only 1 1/2 hours away. With Rudee following me in the Dakota we made the short drive and arrived just as the rain started :-(
We got checked in and found our site. Rudee and I both got pretty wet backing in and setting up but hey "a guys gotta do what a guys gotta do". Right? :-)
This week end is their annual trick or treat week end. We have always enjoyed this week end and have had a standing reservation here for the past several years. Several of our motorcycle buddies come as well. This year we have 10 rigs here for the week end. The sites are mostly full hook up with a mix of 50 amp and 30 amp sites (we had a 30 amp). Each site had a cement patio and have plenty of space between the sites. Our son, Matthew and fiance' Mandie, set up their tent beside our 5th wheel.
This is our last week end with the kids and grand kids before leaving for the winter. I know Sunday is going to be tough on us emotionally as we say goodbye to all of our friends but the worst part is saying goodbye to our grand kids :-(.
I will leave you with some photos from this week end. We will be pulling out on Monday and heading South! I'll keep you posted.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Getting ready to go

The weather this past week has been absolutely perfect with temps in the mid 80's and plenty of sunshine. We decided to take advantage of it and do what we love, ride our motorcycle!
Friday evening we picked the bike up from our friend Grumpy's shop. We had new tires installed and the oil and filter changed. We rode to Brownburg to meet up with Runions for dinner. On the way there Ron and Sandy Mendenhall called to see what we were up to and we invited them to join us.We all had a nice dinner at The Pit Stop Barbecue and we all made plans to meet in the morning for another ride.
Saturday morning we headed out early and all met at Flapjacks restaurant for breakfast before heading North. Our destination was Greentown Indiana and the Howard County Fairgrounds. Our state GWRRA staff were hosting a get together for everyone. We made the ride in about 1 1/2 hours and got there just in time to line up for lunch :-). I guess we ride to eat and eat to ride! :-)
They served vegetable soup and PB&J sandwiches. The entrance fee was canned goods for a food bank. We made our donation and enjoyed sharing lunch with our friends.
The trees are sporting their fall colors and the ride home was beautiful. We made it back to the 5th wheel shortly after 5pm, days like this are the reason we love to ride so much.
Sunday was a work day for us :-(. There are several things I wanted to get done to the 5th wheel before we head out onto the open road. The first item was giving the entire rig a bath! We hauled out all the stuff we would need and headed up the ladder to the roof. Washing the roof is never a fun job but has to be done. We use a car wash style brush and non-citrus dish soap. When we attended the Montana Rally a few years ago one of the seminars was from the makers of the rubber roof material and this is what they recommended. They told us if you use a citrus smelling soap it attracts squirrels and they will actually chew on your roof!
The roof took us a little over an hour to wash and then we started on the sides. I washed while Rudee rinsed and we were able to knock it out pretty quick. The whole rig took us about 3 hours not counting a lunch break and an occasional sneak peak at the Colts game.
Sunday evening all the grandkids came over and Rudee made us all a spaghetti dinner. We are both gonna miss seeing our kids and grandkids whenever we want :-( Next Sunday is going to be rough when we say goodbye to them for several months.
I still have several more things on my "honey do" list before we pull out Thursday. I guess I'll be a busy guy on my first full week of retirement :-). I'll keep you posted.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

ready ... set ... JUMP

I remember it very well, it was early in 2005 when I first envisioned living in an RV full time and traveling. The more I read about the lifestyle the more I was hooked. I kept it to myself for quite awhile before introducing the idea to Rudee.
She was open to the idea and we started planning. We both knew it would be several years before we could even think of hooking up and pulling out, but we dreamed of that day. A plan was hatched to achieved our goal and we put it in motion. Bills had to eliminated as well as purchases made always keeping our end goal in mind.
In December of 2006 we purchased our full time rig, a new 2007 Keystone Montana. I actually had tears in my eyes when we picked it up. This was "our" rig, our magic carpet ride to reach our dreams.
We kept "working the plan" and I'm sure some of our friends and family thought we were nuts. I followed others blogs that were already full timing and the fire inside me kept burning.
2008 was the year for the house. We painted and pruned and cleaned up. The house was going on the market ....... "work the plan".
December 28th our realtor planted his sign in the yard. We didn't expect anything real fast, figuring it would be summer time at least before we would move. Wrong!
Deal was signed and we moved into our 5th wheel in March of 2009 and started this blog.
We have lived here at the KOA since that time but I never really felt like a full time RVer. We still were tied to our jobs 5 days a week. We took our vacations and did some week end camping trips but nothing had really changed, just our address but we were "working the plan".
Rudee's company offered subsidized health care insurance in their retirement package and Rudee would qualify for it in March of 2015 so we made the decision to extend the plan a couple of years. I would retire in December 2014 and her day would be her birthday, March 7 2015.
May of 2011 we got the proverbial "curve ball" thrown at us and Rudee was laid off from her job. We changed "the plan" again bit this was the first forced change. I don't like forced changes but you have to roll with the punches.
The plan was for me to work until December 31st and then retire and try to find a work camp job. Well friends, I didn't make it :-). Plans change.
Thursday I told my boss that I was retiring as soon as possible and yesterday was my last day at work! Wow that went quick!
Lately the stress at work has gotten unbearable. I was a miserable grumpy man and I hated that. I'm sure Rudee and our friends and family didn't like it much either :-)
So today is my first day of being a houseless, unemployed, happy full time RVer!!
The journey to this point has been 6 1/2 long years but WE MADE IT!
We are staying here at the KOA for a few more days before moving to White River Campground in Cicero Indiana. They are having a Halloween week end and our kids and grand kids are all coming to trick or treat. We are then pulling out and heading South towards Florida where we need to take care of some business with our rental property.
The plan is to be in Texas by mid-November where we are going to be gate guards in the south Texas oil fields for the winter.
We have to be back in Indiana the first of April to start our work camping gig at the KOA in Terre Haute.
So there you have it friends, big time changes are happening here. We would like to have a little more in our savings, my 401k is only a 200.5k LOL, it would be nice of our pensions were a little bigger and our 5th wheel was completely paid off but it is what is and we are "working the plan"! I'll keep you posted.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Folding the house in

This past week was cold and wet, yuck. Work was ....... well .... work, double yuck. Enough about that! :-)
Friday we packed up the Circus Wagon and headed for Charlarose Campground which is a whopping 10 miles away. I waited until I got off work Friday to load the bike up and of course work sent me running all over the state so I didn't get home until late.
Rudee had been busy though and had everything ready to go. All I had to do was pop the bike onto the back of the semi and hook on the 5er.
We were meeting Rob and Jany at the campground. They were spending their first week end in their "new to them" Raptor Toyhauler.
They were already there and finishing setting up when we pulled in. We had adjoining pull through sites and were able to face each other so our awnings formed a nice covered sitting area.
We got set up pretty quickly and, after unloading the bike, we rode to a small restaurant nearby for supper.
Once we got back to the 5er's we joined Rob and Jany at their place for a game of Spinners which is like Domino's but has wild pieces.
Jany even served apple cake for dessert .......... ummmmmm good!
Saturday morning we got a slow start since the temps had dropped into the 30's, yikes!! I'm not ready for cold weather yet!!
Rob said his hot water heater was only working on gas so we decided to replace the electric element to see if we could get it to work on 110v. This meant a trip to the local RV shop :-).
There is a small dealership not far from the campground so we all bundled up and headed out on the bikes.
The shop was open but this place had sure seen better days. The showroom was dark, dingy and smelled like cat pee. Nasty!
They did have the parts so and we grabbed what we needed and got the heck outta there!
We made a quick grocery run while we were out and then headed back to the campground for some RV maintenance.
I had the special socket needed to replace the element from when I did ours last year. I got out the tools and we got to work draining the water heater and removing the old one. Thankfully everything went pretty well and we got it swapped out and new anode rod installed as well. We filled the tank and I switched it on ........ nothing happened..... that's good though because nothing is supposed to happen :-)
We had to wait for 30 minutes or so before the water heated up enough to determine that the electric element was working like it should. Mission accomplished!
Saturday evening we built a campfire and I cooked us all a "Hobo dinner" over the fire. Rudee had put them together. Rudee and Jany had hamburger, potatoes and carrots in theirs while Rob and I had Smoked Sausage, peppers, onions, potatoes and carrots in ours. They turned out great!
After supper we went to BINGO held by the campground in their shelter house. Our son Matthew joined us and he won a game! Got $4 for his effort. :-)
Sunday we spent the morning being lazy. I did start another fire to use up the rest of the firewood we brought. Our daughter Amanda stopped by and dropped off the 3 grand kids. She was going to a tupperware party and Ryan was working.
I already had the bike loaded when they got there and they all helped us pack up for the trip back to the KOA.
I was outside with our youngest, Olivia, when Rudee started bring the slides in. She looked at me and asked " What are they doing in there Papaw?" I told he I didn't know and asked her if she knew what all that noise was? She said "I think they are folding the house in"!
This cracked me up and we all had a big laugh about it. :-)
The kids loved riding in Papaw's big truck on the trip back to Crawfordsville and helped us get the 5er set back up in our site.
Sunday evening Rudee picked up some Chinese take out and Amanda and Ryan joined us for dinner. We had a nice evening spending time with our kids and grand kids.
Back to work again on Monday but stay tuned for a major announcement :-). I can't let the cat out of the burlap right now but should be able to by the end of week so check back and I'll keep you posted!