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

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

a walk on the wild side

A couple of weeks ago Rudee took a day trip with some of the "motorcycle ladies". They drove to Cincinnati and went shopping  at Ikea and a grocery store called Jungle Jim's. Our daughter Amanda went along as well and they came home with these.

We breaded and fried the alligator using a cajun seasoning and it was really good. The elk and kangaroo were made into patties and grilled. The results were pretty mixed. The alligator was a big hit, the kangaroo not so much. :-)

Now here is my idea of cooking out.

This was dinner last night with our son in law Ryan manning the grille. Our son Matthew and his wife Mandio were visiting and we all had a great time just sitting around the table eating and talking. Ryan even pounded some stakes in the ground and we pitched some horseshoes. Thanks Guys! I have needed a night like that for a long time!

The appointments for Rudee's treatments have started. They are looking at surgery as early as next week and we have 3 more appointments between now and Friday. We are anxious to get the treatments started and get rid of this cancer, it just doesn't fit our lifestyle and has to go!

On the insurance front, the trailer has been totaled and we received a very fair offer. The bike, on the other hand, is moving at a slower pace. They were supposed to call yesterday to give me an update but, as usual, no one called. Geico has yet to fulfill even one expectation they have set for themselves and I find this very disappointing. When I called and reported the claim they told me I would be contacted in 2-3 business days, I ended up calling them on  business day #4 because no one had called. The adjuster then told me he would call me by 10am the next day, never happened. When I called him the following day he was full of excuses, "3rd largest insurance company in the Nation", "busy with lots of storm related claims" etc. I really didn't care to listen to his excuses, he set the expectation, he needs to live up to it! They finally decided the motorcycle was totaled and are due at some point to go and evaluate it for a settlement offer. I have been told this should occur by tomorrow but have my doubts since I didn't get the call yesterday, communication and follow through have been non-existent on their part. I do still have some contacts in the insurance business so I can "shake a few trees" if I have too. :-)

Yesterday on our way back home from the doctors office we stopped and did some mushroom hunting. I love Morel mushrooms! Blame my Dad, he taught me to mushroom hunt as soon as I could walk! Eagle Creek Park is a really nice city park on the northwest side of Indianapolis. The park is more like a State Park then a city park and has a large woods surrounding a reservoir where we could try our luck. We hunted a couple of areas but the ground was still really soggy with some areas of standing water. Moving to higher ground we spotted a good looking area and started walking into the woods when Rudee yelled "snake"! Needless to say that ended our day of mushroom hunting! Snake 1 Mushrooms 0. :-)

We will be busy with Rudee's appointments for the next several days, but maybe I can coax her back into the woods to look for some more mushrooms. I'll keep you posted.

Friday, April 26, 2013

and the hits just keep on coming!

We have been set up here in our daughters driveway for the last few nights. Howard and Linda from RV Dreams refer to it as "mooch docking". :-)
Our plan was to leave here tomorrow and head for South Dakota for our summer work camping job. We have enjoyed our time back "home" visiting our relatives, spending time with friends and spoiling our grand kids. I could have done with out the flood but that is just small potatoes in the bigger picture of life. We have also been busy doing our annual routine medical exams while we are nearby our family doctor. We got our prescriptions renewed for another year and Rudee took care of those "female" exams and xrays. She had to go back for an additional, more extensive, mammogram. This has happened several times before because the normal screening just does not provide a clear enough view. The day before the flood we drove to the appointment in Indianapolis for the additional exam. This time they called us back into a consultation room after reading the test results. They saw an abnormality and wanted to do a biopsy. They assured us that 85-90% of these type of abnormalities were benign. We were both concerned about this but Rudee wanted to keep it to ourselves, "no need worrying people when there is only a 10% chance of it turning out bad".
Monday was the day for the biopsy and it went very well. The tests results on the removed tissue would take 2-3 days to return, again they kept emphasizing that 85-90% of the time nothing was found but we were still uneasy. We anxiously waited for Wednesday to come so we could actually start planning our trip west except that no word came on Wednesday, and we could not get an answer Thursday either. First thing this morning Rudee did get in touch with the right person and her results were in. Breast cancer! :-o The words hit us like a two by four to the forehead!
We are both two very scared people right now.The cancer was caught very, very early, in fact they are calling it "stage 0" and her prognosis is extremely positive. We have an appointment with the oncologist Monday morning to schedule surgery and lay out a game plane for her treatment.
In the meantime, we have talked to our boss in South Dakota and she is very supportive. We may still be able to work there, arriving later then planned, but it all depends on Rudee's length of treatment. We were both really looking forward to working at Mt. Rushmore and are disappointed things are not working out for us to do that like we planned.
Rather then just sitting around I may be able to pick up some "diesel fuel money" working for the local Ag supplier here. Our son in law, Ryan, works there. He talked to the boss and they may be able to use me some this spring to drive a truck delivering product to the guys using the sprayers and spreaders in the field. They are well aware of our situation and are willing to work with me on scheduling and availability.

In other news, both the cargo trailer and the motorcycle have been "officially" totaled by their respective insurance companies. We are still waiting for the offers on both but are hoping we can get them settled by this time next week. I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

hurry up and wait

Man oh man, what a week we have had. We did get moved back into our home on Sunday. The weather cooperated with my efforts to get the basement compartments cleaned out. I removed all of our "stuff" from the basement storage and rinsed all the mud out that was left behind by the flood. I used our small space heater to dry the indoor/outdoor carpet that lines the compartments. By Monday afternoon I had them all cleaned out, dried out and all the stuff put back where it goes.

Tuesday morning the insurance adjuster for the cargo trailer arrived (right on time!) to look at the damage. He took some photos and gathered some information but said he would have to pass it on to a specialist to resolve it. I understood, after all most of the adjusters out there are trained to look at cars and trucks. Cargo trailers are something they don't see a lot of.
Later in the afternoon I received a call from the specialist who went over the coverage's  deductible and what was and was not covered by our policy. He did say the trailer would be a total loss and he would call me back before the end of the week with the settlement amount.
The motorcycle, on the other hand, is still sitting and I have not heard a thing from the adjuster assigned to handle it. When I called I was told it would be 2-3 business days before someone would contact me to schedule an inspection. I think 2-3 days is a little long to wait for just a phone call and I'm not real happy with the service right out of the box. I guess we'll have to wait and see how it goes.

Tuesday afternoon we drove to Lafayette to our son, Matthew's, home. He had purchased a new grille and asked for help putting it together. When we arrived he had started the job already. I quickly found out this was not an ordinary grille. The directions to put this "Nasa Space Shuttle" size grille together was a small novel. There were 34 steps to the assembly and the directions were all pictures, no words at all!
Matthew was on step #3, only 31 more to go. :-)
We worked most of the afternoon and got the grille together and working fine. Pretty cool, no trips to the emergency room and only one screw left over!
While we were working the rain started. Rudee and I are both pretty tuned in to rain fall right about now. I knew they were predicting some light showers but as the day wore on the rain got heavier and heavier. Oh No!
We made it back to the motor home right as it was getting dark. I did a quick survey of the water level in and around the campground making a mental note of the height. The rain not only continued but got even heavier! By 10pm I was on my 3rd trip around the campground and it was obvious the water was rising! :-o
We decided we were not going get caught in it again and started packing up. I got soaked but we found out we can go from completely set up to road ready in 20 minutes! I don't recommend it but it can be done! :-)
We pulled out of the campground and headed towards the Wal Mart in Brownsburg about 15 miles away. Once we arrived I changed my mind and decided to move to the Lowes right up the road. The Wal Mart was a 24 hour store and was in a busier area then Lowes. We got parked and were both happy to be away from the flood risk. We could hear the rain hitting the roof most of the night so we are sure we made a good decision to leave. I'll keep you posted.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

wading back in

We got up early this morning and headed back to the campground after spending the night at Rudee's Mom's. She loaned us her car to get around in and we sure appreciated that. The campground is about 30 miles away and since it was early we decided to stop for breakfast. I guess it could have also been a case of "the nerves" and we were trying to delay finding out about the bad news.
After breakfast we knew we couldn't procrastinate any longer and were ready to meet our fate, good or bad. About 5 miles from the campground we started seeing white stuff on the roofs and on the edge of the road. SNOW! Man oh man, we just aint livin right. :-(
The road to the main campground entrance which was totally blocked by deep water yesterday now only had a small amount that we easily drove through. We got our first glimpse of the campers parked on the front row of sites and it was not good.

This motor home had the ground underneath it washed away and was barely hanging on, others were pushed off their jacks and were sideways in their sites. The entire front row looked like a war zone, it was really sad and our hearts sank.
They wouldn't let us drive past the office which was fine because a lot of the roads were either flooded or the pavement had washed away leaving large holes. We parked the car and started walking back into the campground. There are probably 300 sites at this park and maybe eight to ten roads. We picked our way along the roads staying in the areas where the water had receded and got to within one road of our motor home. We could see it but were blocked by water getting to it. I finally found a shallow section though and waded across.
Once at the motor home I could clearly see the level of the water and it wasn't too bad. The water stopped about two to three inches above the bottom of our outside storage compartments.

The interior of the compartments were damp but not really soaked like I expected. The inside of the motor home was high and dry! We were extremely relieved to find that. Next I checked the Dakota. The water only reached the bottom of the bumper and did not come inside at all. To be safe I checked the oil, transmission fluid and air filter for any signs of water (there were none) before starting it up. No problems here either.
That only leaves the Harley and cargo trailer. I made my way down to the over flow parking dodging peoples decks, stairs and firewood that had been deposited all over the place. We even had a piece of firewood that had been deposited on our step by the flood.

Once at the cargo trailer I could see that about 1/3 of the lower part of the trailer had been under water. I cringed a little and opened the door ........ not good. :-(

The water was up to just below the seat and most of the engine had been under water. I took a couple of photos, let Rudee take a look and closed the doors back.

Now it's just a matter of letting the insurance companies do their thing. We have a different company for the bike so we will have different adjusters for the trailer and bike. That also means two deductibles but we knew this going in since we were both a couple of insurance geeks in our former working life. :-)

Here are a few of the photos I had on my camera that I took during the flood:

We are both a little bummed about the bike but are very happy we have a place to live and our toad is not damaged. Things could have been much worse. The last couple of days when I started feeling down and having my own little pity party I reminded myself of the people who lived through hurricane Catrina or, most recently, the explosion in West, Texas. We have been blessed by the help from family and friends  as well as the support from our fellow RVers. Several people have offered us places to stay and offers to help in any way they can. We are truly blessed and we thank each and every one of you for lifting us up in this difficult time.

We decided not to stay in the motor home and were able to drive our truck out to the highway. We will spend another night with Rudee's Mom and will move back home tomorrow. I'll keep you posted.

Friday, April 19, 2013

where do we go from here :-(

As I write this I am sitting at Rudee's parents home. We had a large amount of rain yesterday and last night. The campground we are staying at is bordered by a creek with a large levy between the creek and the campground. Early this morning the creek flooded and the levy broke causing a flash flood. We woke up and the water was rising fast. We were on the higher ground then the rows of RV's behind and beside us but could not move the rig or our Dakota due to the flooding around us. The campground called 911 and the local Fire Dept. brought in a large pay loader to rescue us late this morning. The water by that time had risen to the middle of the wheel hubs on our motor home and was continueing to rise at about 1'  every hour. We tried to drive out with the Dakota but quickly found the water was too deep between us and the highway. I walked in front of the truck while Rudee drove and when the water reached my thighs I abandoned that idea and we backed up back to our site.

Once our rescue crew arrived we were loaded into the bucket and driven to the next occupied trailer and we rescued another couple and their two dogs. The water was up to the floor of their trailer and over the hood of their car. :-o

Here are some additional photos:

The Harley is parked inside our cargo trailer which is parked in the over flow parking and mostly flooded. There was a cargo trailer parked next to ours which was apparently empty because we saw it floating across the campground.
We are safe, dry and grateful to the brave men who came to our rescue. I'm not sure what we will find when we return to our home, we are praying that the water will crest before it reaches the inside of the motor home. We'll see how it all goes once we can get back into the campground and can assess the damages. I'm still amazed at how fast the water came up, less than an hour from dry ground to "we're in trouble" :-o I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

wet weather

Not a whole lot to write about here. We have been in a cycle of rain and thunderstorms plus the temperatures have been yo yoing up and down.
Friends Rob and Jany spent another week end here in the park and we actually got to take a short ride on the motorcycles.
I did manage to rescue a piece of diamond plate that I took off the semi a couple of years ago. I had it on a scrape pile at Ryan and Amanda's place. The sheet was a 4'x8' piece that made up part of a covering for the spare tire(s) on the back deck. My plan is to cut it down to size apply some spray on bedliner material to it and have a sturdy, non-skid "runway" on the floor of the trailer for the bike.
Monday I cut off what I needed and gave the rest to Rob to do the same on his Raptor Toyhauler.

Speaking of the trailer, we used it to pick up a new refrigerator for our daughter Amanda. On the way to her house, in the rain of course :-( , we ran into a small amount of hail. :-o I was able to pull off the road and got some partial protection from some overhanging tree limbs but now the trailer has several small dimples on the front "V". Guess the "new" got worn off pretty quick on that one. We are not sure if we will turn in an insurance claim or not. The damage is pretty minor and we are weighing if the small claim is worth the risk of our rates going up. :-) We may take the trailer back to the dealer and get an estimate to see exactly what we are dealing with.
Not to be outdone Amanda was on her way home from work at the same time and her van got peppered with the hail. She has dents all over the hood and roof as well as a few others scattered on the sides. I really thought I gave all that "hail damage appraisal" stuff up when I retired. :-)

We have no real plans today and, of course, it is raining again. In fact they are predicting rain and thunderstorms everyday this week. :-(
Guess we will just roll with the flow. I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

taxes done and didn't even get kissed!

We have been getting a lot of our errands crossed off our list. Monday we were up early and drove to Lebanon so I could get a blood test done. I take thyroid medicine and need a new prescription and they need to "check my levels" before writing the new Rx. I cannot have anything to eat or drink before the test so I was starting to have caffeine withdrawal by the time it was over. :-)
We did a drive through breakfast at Burger King on our way to our next appointment to have our taxes figured. :-o
This took over 2 1/2 hours to get our returns done and has to be the very worst thing involved in our mobile, working, lifestyle. We worked in two different states last year that required we file state returns to them plus we were "self employed" for our stints as gate guards. Couple all that with the fact that I cashed out a small 401K, well lets just say we were expecting the worst. We did do our best to prepare for the "hit" but were worried how big a hit it would be.
We were both pleased to find we got a refund with our federal which almost pays what we owe for our state taxes. Our wallets are not quite as empty as we feared. :-)

Next it was Rudee's turn for her doctors appointment. We had time to do another drive through meal, this time at Mc Donalds. We pulled into the medical building parking lot with 10 minutes to spare! :-)

My plan was to work on the cargo trailer on Tuesday. One of the things I needed were some type of jacks on the rear of the trailer to provide support when unloading the bike when the trailer is not connected to the motor home. Without the jacks the tongue of the trailer would fly up into the air as soon as I tried to go up or down the ramp with the bike. They make a spring loaded, adjustable jack used a lot on pop up campers and a lot of cargo trailers have these. The problem is they are just too long and you often have to drop the front jack all the way down to get the back jacks to fold down to the ground. I have been using a hydraulic bottle jack under the center of the rear end as a temporary support and wasn't sure if I would just continue using it or get the fold down ones that you sometimes have to fight with.
Rob Runion came to the rescue though and had a great idea. Most cars these days have a scissor style jack to use when you have a flat tire and I could mount these on the rear. He grabbed the one out of Jany's car when she wasn't looking and did a "test fitting". We figured out that not only was it possible but looked really nice too. Since Jany probably didn't want to donate her jack to the cause I needed to find a couple at a salvage yard, the cheaper the better. :-)
After Rudee's appointment we drove a few miles north to a small yard I knew about from my old insurance appraiser days. The guy at the desk told us to just start looking in the trunks of the cars "out back" and see if we could find what we wanted and if we did they would be $10 apiece. Cool! We walked around their small lot and quickly found two jacks that fit the bill and I gladly paid them the $20 for two jacks that have probably never been used before. Thanks for the idea Rob!

Rudee decided to spend the night at her Mom's house so I dropped her off there and headed back to the motor home. I made it back just before dark with my Chinese take out in hand. :-)

Tuesday I got up and knew I would have a busy morning. I gathered all the tools I thought I would need and headed for the cargo trailer. I unloaded the bike and got the motorcycle chock into position and then drilled the holes through the floor of the trailer. Since the floor is made of plywood panels I had fashioned pieces of 1/4" steel plates to give the chock more support. I positioned the steel plates underneath the trailer floor and, using the wheel chock bolts, fastened it all together. That sucker aint going anywhere!

My next job was to mount the E-track on the floor. E-track is about a 4" wide and 5' long piece of metal designed with slots cut into it allowing you to lock special D-ring attachments. The slots run the entire 5' length of the E-track allowing you to change the position of the tie downs with ease. I attached the rails through the floor and into the steel floor supports on the trailer using large self tapping screws and then added additional wood screws in between those. All in all it is very secure and I can attach as many straps to the bike as I want to. :-)

In a future blog I'll demonstrate how I like to tie my bike down. I tend to use more straps then others I know (I use 6 ratchet straps) but have found this works well and gives me piece of mind that I am not going to open the trailer door and find the bike on its side. :-o
Once I finished installing all the screws for the e-track it was pushing 11:30 and I was supposed to meet Rudee in Plainfield for lunch. I cleaned up my work area and put all my tools away. The weather man said it was supposed to rain later in the evening but right now the skies were blue and the temps were rising so I decided a bike ride was in order! I grabbed Rudee's helmet and headed for Plainfield. Man it felt good to be back on the bike again. I think we made the right decision to keep it! I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

it's been a Whirlwind!

Wow what a difference a change of scenery makes. Last week we left the giggle weeds of the Texas oil fields. Our days there consisted of hour upon hour of monotony checking vehicles in and out of the gate. This past week we have tried to catch up with family and friends plus take care of the business and errands we need before heading for the summer to South Dakota. Needless to say, we have been a couple of busy folks.
Thursday morning we were up early and headed the 300 miles to Barberton, Ohio where our Mighty Hauler Motorcycle Lift was built. We were returning it because the steel plates were tearing and the lift was ready to fall off the back of the motor home taking the bike and our towed car with it! They had agreed to return the $$'s I paid for the unit but refused to return the money I paid them for their labor to install it or the costs we incurred for us to get the bike back home and the lift to them. We arrived just after noon and met with Joe the owner. He very briefly looked at the lift and said he would unload it with the fork lift. He gave me a check for the part price and I explained we were still out well over $1200 because of the failure of the lift. He told me he was not liable for any of that because they could not control how the lifts were used once they left his factory. I explained it was used exactly for what it was designed to be used for, showing him pictures of our set up and asking him what he thought could have caused the lift to fail. He still refused and said he was "doing us a favor" by returning our purchase price and said he had no idea why the lift failed and said maybe we "slammed on our brakes too hard". Really??!! I mean you have to be kidding me, right!!?? We presented him with the receipt for the U-haul trailer and after some discussion reluctantly agreed to pay for those fees and wrote us another check. Once the lift was taken from the truck I told him I was giving him one last chance to do the right thing by us and return all the money we paid him, once again he refused saying he was "entitled" to the $800 labor cost because they welded two additional receiver tubes to our hitch and I could get the use out those. I have no idea how I would ever put those to use and, frankly, they make the rear of the motor home look worse than before so I don't see any advantage to having them.
We left it at that and I will explore some options through Good Sam and of course let everyone know just what happened to us and how this company responded to our issues. The Internet is a powerful tool and I am thinking the company has the potential to lose a lot more than my $800 in future profits.

On to better things ...... We have not spent much time hanging around the motor home but have a couple of friends coming to hang out with us this week end. Rudee and I did make a run to Harbor Freight and bought a new wheel chock, trailer dolly and e-track for our new cargo trailer.

I will work on getting those installed this next week and are thinking of options for some shelves and a way to hang some of our motorcycle gear.

Tomorrow is tax day ....... YUCK! I used to do our taxes on the computer using one of those free tax programs but since going full time our taxes are not so cut and dried. We have several 1099's as well as a couple of W2's each and I need some help figuring out what is deductible and what isn't these days so we pay a professional to do our taxes now and our appointment is tomorrow morning. Wish us luck! :-)

There is supposed to be some rain moving into our area for the next several days. The good news is the temperatures are staying above freezing and the campground has turned the water on to all the sites. Yay! :-)
Maybe now we can take some longer showers and get the last of the Texas dust cleaned out of the rig! I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

moving forward from here

After a lot of talking, comparing, discussing and general chaos we have landed on a workable solution for our motorcycle dilemma.  We bought a cargo trailer!
The plan right now is to pull the bike (in the trailer) behind the motor home during the summer and Rudee will follow along in the Dakota. Since we tend to work as gate guards most of the winter we will store the bike and trailer here in Indiana for those few months and tow the Dakota behind us. We have always migrated back to our daughters home (gotta get that grand kid fix) in both the spring and fall so this seemed logical to us. Amanda if you are reading this, can I park a small trailer behind your barn? Please, Please, Please? Have I told you recently your my favorite daughter. ;-)
We have not ridden the bike much during our winter travels and I never rode it during our stints gate guarding in the oil fields so we think this will work out OK for us.

We have been on the run everyday since we parked here in Thorntown. Monday we had lunch with friends Rob and Jany in Brownsburg where we also picked up our back logged mail. We then drove to Lafayette and went to dinner with our son Matt and his pretty wife Mandy. They have recently moved from an apartment into a small house and we were anxious to see the new digs. They are still unpacking and getting settled (does that ever stop after you move?) and the house is very nice.

Yesterday we did some serious trailer shopping and ended up buying a new 6' x 12' Stealth trailer. We purchased it in nearby Frankfort Indiana where our friends Steve and Trish live. They met us for dinner at Applebee's after we got all the paperwork done and picked up the trailer. By the time we made it back to the campground it was dark so I'll try and post some pictures soon.

Today our plan is to head for Plainfield where I will drop Rudee off at her Mom's house. She will get to visit her Mom and do our laundry while I go to Indianapolis to buy a motorcycle wheel chock and some e-track rails so we can secure the bike in the trailer. Tomorrow morning we will head to Ohio to return the motorcycle lift and get a refund for the purchase price. They are expecting us and told us they would have a refund check ready so we are hopeful things go as planned. I'll keep you posted.