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

Thursday, January 23, 2014

golf and fishing

I have been playing golf with some of the guys here in the park every Monday and Wednesday mornings. The weather has been a bit on the cool side when we tee off at 8 am but usually warms up by the time we finish the front nine. My game is starting to come around a little. I have been hitting the ball better and am working on my accuracy and consistency. I have no disillusions of becoming a pro on the senior circuit but just want to be able to be the kind of player others like to play a round with. Golfers will understand that last sentence because it seems the worse your "partner" plays the worse the round is, or at least seems to be. :-)
Tuesday Rudee and I drove to the Clearwater area to do some sightseeing and some fishing off the public pier in Reddington Beach. We used to come to this area for vacations when the kids were young and we could afford renting a small condo on the beach. We have a lot of great memories of this area. :-)
I have fished at the pier before with mixed success and was just looking for some relaxation and to enjoy the view.
My son had given me a Gander Mountain gift card for Christmas and I was able to stock up on tackle so the only thing I had to purchase was some squid for bait. We got all set up and after about 20 minutes I was hauling in the first catch of the day.

Holy Crap, that's a Hammerhead Shark! That sure makes you pause a little knowing I caught this only a few hundred feet from the beach where people swim. I know it was just a baby but it's Momma (and Poppa) are out there somewhere. :-o

I ended up catching two Hammerheads before the wind and clouds picked up and after a couple of hours we called it a day. The weather is supposed to remain on the cool side the next couple of days and we even had some frost this morning. While it is certainly not as bad as it is back home I am still looking forward to playing golf while wearing my shorts. I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Gettin' it handled

When we purchased our motorhome I knew things would go wrong with it and I knew who would be the one working on it. Moi! The morning we were to leave Indiana I tried to unlock the deadbolt on the front door and the little plastic handle for the lock broke off in my hand. I was able to use a pair of pliers to open the lock so no big deal, there is another lock on the door anyway so we will just use that from now on. Last Saturday we did some running around and when we got back to the rig the door handle would not open the door! The handle felt like it was disconnected from something. Luckily we found the drivers side window unlocked so Rudee volunteered to climb through and was able to open the door from the inside. I got my tools out and took the handle apart figuring a rod had come loose. I got everything off the door and found the outside handle has a sort of "paddle" lever that hooks to the latch mechanism on the inner part of the handle. All the parts were real "loosey goosey" and no way to tighten them up so we needed a new handle. I put everything back together again since we didn't want a 4"x 4"  hole to the outside and headed in to do some research on the internet. I found some information on the iRV2  forums including the name of the manufacturer and a "do it yourself" adjustment procedure. Since it was Saturday and the manufacturer was closed I decided to try and do the adjustment to see if that worked. Back outside I was able to try the adjustment which consisted of tightening a small nut through a hole in the door jamb. I got the handle to work twice then it failed again and would not work no matter what I tried. We ended up just leaving the door unlatched so we could get in and out because Rudee didn't want to climb in the window again and we were afraid the neighbors would begin to stare and point. :-)
Monday I was able to call the manufacturer and they helped identify the handle I needed and placed my order. Friday while we were at the RV show UPS delivered the handle right to our doorstep and I got it unpacked. Since it was dark when we got back I decided to wait until Saturday morning to install it so we only had one more night "locking" the door with a bungee cord. :-)
Saturday morning I removed the old handle and the installation of the new one was pretty easy. The new one fit perfectly in the door and all the screw holes lined up! I got everything tightened down and gave it a try. IT WORKS! The handle was kind of pricey ($160.00) but this is not something you can just pick up at Home Depot either. I did save a bunch by doing the work myself and it only took some basic hand tools and I didn't even need the first aid kit that Rudee had handy, "just in case". :-)
here is the old and the new (excuse the dirty fingerprints).

I'm not sure what my next repair will be but so far I have replaced the water heater thermostat and pressure valve, replaced the hydraulic motor, replaced the door handle, repaired the sliding step cover replaced both the TV's with flat screens, replaced the day night shades and replaced the slide out awnings. Maybe I should open a mobile RV repair business ...... hmmmm. :-) I'll keep you posted.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Florida RV SuperShow Day 2

Larry and Sue arrived at our rig right at 8 am and we hopped in the Dakota to head for our second day at the show. We made a stop for breakfast at the Sunshine Eatery in Zephyrhills. Every time we pass this restaurant the parking lot is packed and we figured that was a good sign. When we arrived we got one of the last parking spots available and there were only a few empty seats in the restaurant. Breakfast did not disappoint and the servings were HUGE. Rudee and I split a meal like usual and I think all four of us could have shared our meal, it was that big!
After eating we were more then ready for a little exercise. When we arrived at the show we were pleasantly surprised to find it not as busy as yesterday. Our first stop was the Amazon booth where we caught up with the crew working there. We then made our way to the seminar tent where we attended the "Weight and Tire Safety" seminar given by the RVSEF and presented by Howard Payne.

We then spent the rest of the afternoon wandering through all the different vendors. I couldn't talk Larry and Sue into buying a new rig but they did get a sign to display in front of their motor home. :-)

We made one last pass through the last vendor building and ran into Howard and Linda Payne. We had the chance to talk with them for awhile and enjoyed being able to catch up.

Rudee and I really enjoyed our days at the show, the place really is huge and if you are seriously looking to buy a new rig this would be a great way to comparison shop. They also have factory representatives at almost every dealership who could answer all the "hard" questions. :-)

We are not sure what is in store for us the next several weeks. We are still on the hunt for part time work and have put out some feelers but no real possibilities yet. We answered an ad in Work Camper News for a job working at the Strawberry Festival next month. The job will only be for about 10 days but at least we'll be making a few $'s for some diesel fuel. I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Florida RV SuperShow Day 1

We were up fairly early so we could try and beat the crowds at the RV show today. They hold the show at the fairgrounds on the east side of Tampa and it is only about 20 miles away south of us on US 301. We made the short drive, paid the parking fee and walked to the gate where we had to pay the admission for the show. The price is $10 per person but that is good for two days so that kind of takes the "sting" out. :-)

Our first stop was one of the buildings where there were vendors set up.

We had fun seeing all the different products for sale and happened onto the Amazon booth where some of our HR people from Campbellsville were handing out literature and answering questions about work camping there. They had a flat screen TV set up showing a slideshow of different jobs and Rudee yelled "Hey, there we are!" They had included the photo of our whole group of work campers from "Single Toys, D shift nights". There was a couple there asking some questions and we helped answer some of them from the work campers point of view. :-)

As we walked around the building I saw a familiar face walking towards me. "Hi there Linda Payne". There was that second of "who is calling my name" look in her eyes before she said "Phil and Rudee!" Her and Howard are the founders of RV Dreams and were one of the first full timers we ever met in person. We had not seen them since 2007 but had emailed back and forth several times over the years. I started following their blog in 2006 and maybe they have checked in on mine a time or two as well. :-)
They are presenting a seminar here and were heading over to get things set up so we only had time for a quick "how ya been" but hopefully we can get together again before they leave.

We eventually worked our way out to the massive display of rigs. They were lined up for as far as the eye could see. There was every type and style of RV imaginable was on display.

We had a mission to find a specific toy hauler to check out for Rob and Jany back in Indiana. We found our way to the Grand Design RV display and they had two Momentum Toy Haulers. We took a few pictures for them and even talked to one of the owners of the company who invited them to the factory for a tour. He said he would show them around personally! Time for a road trip Rob!

As we were walking around we found a vendor selling name signs and decided it was time to replace ours. We sure were lucky they had one with our names on it! :-)

Actually one of the gals manning the booth hand paints the names on while you wait. They were doing a brisk business and we had to wait about 45 minutes for our sign to be ready, but it wasn't hard to kill that amount time in this place!
We toured a few rigs and kept telling each other "when we win the lottery .....!"
Tomorrow we are heading back for day 2 with Larry and Sue (Single Toys buddies!) and see of we can help them spend some of their Amazon money on a new rig. :-) I'll keep you posted.

Monday, January 13, 2014

settling in

We have been getting comfortable here in Dade City. Our park is really nice, all the roads are paved, there is a nice pool (if it warms up enough to use it!), all of our neighbors have been super nice and there is a large club house where the park hosts events.

 They have clipboards hanging inside the club house where you can sign up for different events. I decided to sign up for a golf outing for this morning. Rudee dropped me off at the golf course and I was able to hook up with a couple of the other guys. Clyde and Lee were my partners and we all three hit it off right away. I was pretty nervous since I had not played a round of golf in 15 years! The practice I have been doing at the range paid off and I really didn't do too bad. I had a couple of "blow up" holes but I also had some really good holes to make up for it. I ended up shooting a 92 so that's not super embarrassing. Besides meeting two new friends the biggest highlights of my round was a 30' putt for par and I actually birdied a hole! The course was nice and the price was a bargain at $16.00 and that included the cart, sweet!

I sent Rudee a text when we were on the 17th hole and she pulled in to pick me up as I was leaving the 18th green, perfect timing. My phone rang as we were pulling out of the parking lot and Dale and Diana Beason were just arriving in the area from Indiana and wanted to meet. We gave them directions to Doc's Bar and Grille in Dade City and met up with them for lunch. They are on their way to Bradenton where they have a place rented for a few weeks in the sunshine. :-)
We had been wanting to try this restaurant since we arrived and we were not disappointed. Rudee and I shared a burger which was the "daily special" They also had draft beer at $1.00 per mug! Oh ya, good golf followed by good friends and cold beer, life is good! :-)

We are making plans to attend the Tampa RV Supershow on Thursday and Friday. The admission of $10 per person is good for two days so we decided to take our time and see it all. I'll keep you posted.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Welcome to the Sunshine State!

Thankfully the last leg of our trip south passed uneventfully and we arrived at Grove Ridge RV Resort just before 4 pm Sunday afternoon. The office was closed but we already had our site number and instructions to check in Monday morning so we headed straight to our new home for the next month or two or maybe even three. :-)
This park is a mix of RV sites and permanent park models, the latter being mostly in the front of the park.  They have a nice large pool as well as a club house and laundry. Our site is grass with quite a bit of room on each side. We are able to park the bike trailer on one side of the rig and still have lots of patio room on the other. I'll get some photos posted of our layout soon.
The really good news was the temperature, it was in the lower 80's when we arrived! I even broke a sweat while setting the rig up!

Our week so far has been just getting settled in and comfortable. Our first venture out was to stop in and say "Hi" to my parents. Purple was my Mom's favorite color so we brought her some flowers as well.

Wednesday we were invited to Crystal River where we met with some old and new friends whom are all full time RVers. We had a nice lunch and some great conversation.

Afterwards we got a tour of Karen and Al's (Wish Upon an RV Star) new rig. Nice, nice nice!

We have been keeping busy getting things cleaned and organized after our mad dash out of the frozen North. The storage bays all looked like I just stood back and threw the stuff into them as I was packing up to leave which is pretty much what I did. :-)

Next week we are planning to attend the big RV show in Tampa. This is one of the largest shows in the nation and takes more then a day to see everything. We are both looking forward to it and, of course, I'll keep you posted.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

and they're off!

There is no nice way to say it .... living in an RV in the northern states in the winter SUCKS! This was the temperature that we woke to Friday morning.

Our hope was to hit the road by 9 am but there was no way I was going to risk traveling in that bitter cold weather. Instead I took Rudee out for breakfast where we met our good friend Jany at Flapjack's Restaurant in Brownsburg. Very slowly the temps started to rise and by 10:30 it was a virtual heatwave at 5 degrees so we decided to start packing up once we got back to the rig. I had turned the motor home's engine heater on the night before but was still nervous when I turned that key to the "on" position. I was relieved when that big Caterpillar fired up. Next step was to build up enough air pressure so we could operate safely. We have had an occasional issue building air in the past but it is very intermittent, unfortunately today was one of those days and our air gauges wouldn't move. I crawled under the motorhome and laid in the snow and messed with the air dryers some. This has worked in the past but I couldn't help but think something had to be frozen. I'm not sure what I did, or maybe it was the prayer Rudee said, but once I got back into the motorhome to check the gauges they were slowly starting to rise. :-)
The next hurdle was to get the jacks up so I turned the controls on and hit the store button. I went outside to make sure they were storing properly as well as pick up the boards they were sitting on. The front jacks were doing fine but the back ones hadn't budged .... hmmmmm. I thought they might be frozen to the ground because they had snow around the base so I got out a pry bar and mallet. I was able to break the bases free of the cold ground and they started rising. Whoo Hoo! Another hurdle conquered. The next test was to get the slides in. I was a little concerned that the temps might be too much for the new motor I had just installed but, with Rudee hitting the retract button inside the motorhome and me watching from the outside they closed just like they are supposed to.
I thought we were home free now, all I had to do was back off the boards the front wheels were sitting on. I got in the drivers seat, released the emergency brake, put her in gear and ...... nothing. I pressed the accelerator pedal a little more ..... nothing. Oh Oh, looks like the brakes are frozen to the hubs. Back out into the cold, get the mallet back out, crawl through the snow under the rig! I beat on the hubs a few times hoping to break them loose, of course there is no way to know if you are doing any good until you get back inside and try to move again so after smacking them a few times (as well as my finger once!) I crawled back out, brushed myself off (again!) and got back behind the wheel. This time I tried going forward, then back, then forward and finally tried backwards once more and with a loud "pop" they broke loose and we were free! With a final wave to the grand kids :-( we pulled out onto the highway for our trip south.
My plan was to stop for fuel once we were south of Indy, easier said then done. I heard on the radio that there had been a serious accident on the south side of Indianapolis and traffic in the area was at a stand still. We were able to detour around the wreck but this delayed us over an hour as well as gave me the opportunity to practice driving on snow packed side roads. :-o
We ended up getting back on the interstate about 30 miles further south and we both breathed a sigh of relief, "we're home free now". We actually made pretty good time and were soon seeing Louisville in our mirrors. With the delay getting started as well as the traffic tie up in Indy we didn't get as far south as we had hoped and ended up pulling in for the night at Singing Hills Campground in Cave City Kentucky. The park is about 2 miles off I-65 and decent enough for an overnight stay. We paid $18 for a full hook up site using our Passport America discount. One thing I needed to get done fairly quickly was to empty the black tank. The last time I had emptied it was just before leaving Campbellsville, Kentucky two weeks ago, needless to say it was time for a dump!

I got everything hooked up and gave the valve for the tank a good tug and ....... nothing. The valve was frozen shut! OK, get out an extension cord and borrow Rudee's hair dryer ( I didn't tell her what I needed it for, shhhhhhh) and start thawing out the valve. Well I got the rod that you pull to open the valve to move a little and figured with one more good pull I would get a nice big gush of "stuff" down the sewer hose. Wrong! I guess I gave it a little too much of a pull and the dadgum handle broke off the end of the rod slicing my hand along with it. See, told ya winter sucks! I gave up trying to use the hair dryer and got out the space heater. I put it inside the compartment and closed the door to let it "cook" for awhile. Rudee had supper ready by this time so I snuck her hair dryer back inside, wiped all the blood off it and sat down to eat. Once our meal was done I tried the  valve once again and it opened all the way this time! Yay! Wait a minute though, nothing is coming out the pipe! Oh no, it's blocked by frozen .... (well you can insert your favorite term here since my grand kids may read this). I shut everything back up and went back inside hoping the heater would thaw out the blockage soon. Another hour goes by and I'm back out there again, this time I was able to finally empty the tanks. Hooray! We can use our own bathroom again! :-)
On a side note, I don't think I will be able to eat another one of those frozen fudge bars again. Just doesn't bring up good images in my mind. :-)

On a happier note we have confirmed a site for the next month in Florida. We will be staying at Grove Ridge RV Park in Dade City for at least the first month. This is close to our rental property as well as being a central location to follow up on some of our job prospects. We hope to arrive there and get set up late Sunday afternoon, we are both ready for a break. I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Happy New Year

Happy New Year everyone! We spent our last days of 2013 visiting family and getting things ready to head back down the road.
We were able to spend an afternoon with our son and daughter in law. They had just returned after spending the holidays with her family in Pennsylvania so we were able to celebrate a slightly delayed Christmas with them. :-)

We decided earlier this week that Friday would be our departure day hoping to avoid a "possible" nasty winter storm that is supposed to hit early next week. Unfortunately we woke up this morning to this

We have about 2" on the ground and the temps are supposed to drop into single digits tonight. They are saying no more snow for a couple of days so we should have a window where we can safely leave as long as the rig isn't frozen to the driveway. :-o

With our departure looming there was one more project I wanted to get done and that was replacing the rear TV with a new flat screen. The install wasn't too difficult and I am going to finish out the interior cabinet so we can use it for additional storage.
Here is the original "boat anchor" TV

and the new "lightweight" flat screen

Our plan right now is to head to Florida for some warmth and sunshine. We are still looking for a couple of part time jobs to help slow the flow out of our savings account and have a couple of remote possibilities but no firm offers yet. We have a couple of small projects we want to do on our retirement home down there but then we'll be free to land just about anywhere. The work we have planned shouldn't take but a couple of days so even if we land a job elsewhere we can still get things done.

We have also decided to take the Harley south with us. We were torn and had almost decided to leave it here in Indiana and pick it up next spring. The kicker was the fact that if only one of us gets a job or we get jobs at separate locations it would be nice to have two modes of transportation. Well that and Rudee got tired of finding me out in the cargo trailer sitting on the bike going "Vrooom, Vroooom" with a sad look in my eyes. :-)

We are both looking forward to a great 2014. We are hoping the challenges we experienced in 2013 are behind us, we need the break! :-) I'll keep you posted.