Thursday, May 30, 2013

Last Night in the Eagle

Here we sit in the Camping World parking lot, waiting for tomorrow when we turn this 1998 American Eagle home over, and take possession of our “new to us” 2008 Jayco Melbourne.  We give up nearly 10 feet in length, not sure how much in height (which means less cargo space below), but we gain a four year extended warranty through either Good Sams or Wholesale Warranties (99% sure we are going with the latter), and we gain peace of mind in knowing that we are in a more reliable rig, one that Marcia can, and surely will, drive sometimes, and we feel that our new home will be able to take us places the other one “might” have been able to go to, but we probably would have never attempted it.

So here we are in the outer parking lot, plugged into 30 amp power…..
1b …with a few other folks who have business at Camping World in the morning.  We will move our HHR out of the way, pull the Melbourne straight in, and do the small exchange of items.  Small because we removed over 90% of the stuff, then re-added about 10% more just for this exchange….the rest is in the condo.  We know we won’t have as much room, and we will learn how much we can take, and how much will have to stay, and we will just live with it.  I think the hardest part will be not having a washer/dryer…so “hello laundry mats” for us as we travel.  But for the 6 years I lived in a 5th wheel, I did not have a washer/dryer there either, so it won’t be too bad for me.
Because somewhere out in the vast number of trailers and motor homes here at Camping World is our new home…and we are both excited about that.
As for Skruffy and Bubba…well, they just don’t know what lies ahead.  For them, they have been living at Marcia’s brother Mike’s house with two other dogs, two cats, two kids, and three adults…not to speak of the vast amount of others who come and go all of the time.  Their little cousin Pixie, a young (9 months or so) wired hair mix is a handful for not only Skruffy and Bubba, but for the rest of the household too.  She will calm down as she gets older….maybe….but right now, she is one holy terrier (or what ever she happens to be).

Tomorrow…. pictures of our new house.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

New To Us Motorhome, Picking it up Friday

Some of you might enjoy the process of picking out a motorhome, buying a car, buying a house….some of us don’t much like going into the grocery store just to buy food.  As for me, the faster it is, the better it is.  But when you are putting out some $$$$$ for something like a motorhome, one can’t just do it real fast.
Our process started a few weeks ago when we decided it was time to move from a Diesel Pusher to a Class C motorhome.  We started looking online, and looking at reviews, and trying to find the good brands.  Of course, then there is the “wrench” tossed at you that some of the Class C motorhomes are called “Class B+” by some dealers.  So a search of Class C may not turn up the Class B+ units, and vise versa.
Then there is the thing about slides….we are not big fans about slides…but without slides most Class B+/C units just are not large enough….and very hard to find a non-slide unit.  Well, we found one which has only one slide, and when it is “in”, it does not take away any use of any part of the motorhome other than making things a little closer inside.  And for someone who has MS, which has affected the use of the left side of their body, having things close is sometimes much nicer.  Instead of having to take a few steps to hit me over the head with her cane, she will be able to reach me from just about anywhere in the kitchen unless I am up in the driver’s seat, or in the bathroom or bedroom.
So the pictures you have seen are pictures from the website which helped to promote it.  We bought it at Camping World, but by the time we got home this evening, they had already taken our unit off their website.  But another website had it still there, but the pictures are not very good quality.  But these are better than nothing.
What we bought is a 2008 Jayco Melbourne 31B.  Amazingly it had less than 8,000 miles on it.  The tires were original, had plenty of tread, but also cracks in the sidewalls….so they are putting six new tires on it before we pick it up on Friday.  A light cover was missing, and the threshold of the entry door needs some small repair….all of which will be taken care of before we pick it up.  I plan to replace the batteries for the house next week, and perhaps for the engine too.  We also are getting a warranty which will cover engine, transmission, chassis, and much of the “house” items too.  Have a four year quote from Good Sams, and waiting on a quote from Wholesale Warranties.  Oh, more decisions….I thought this retired life was suppose to be so simple…..
We know we won’t be able to carry everything we use to carry….but besides the cabinets you see in the pictures, there is also storage under the bed, under the seats of the dinning benches, and a large cargo area in the rear which goes from one side to the other.  In the above picture, you can see the clothes cabinet to the left, which sits on a raised carpet area.  That raised area is the rear storage and it goes from the left, under the top portion of the bed, to the right side where that small stand is located….with entry doors on both outside portions of the motorhome.  I think we will find that we will be able to take more than we first thought as we started this down-sizing process.
So we pick it up Friday, we will do a shake down run the following week, and hope to be off on our trip out west by the 10th of June.  We plan to drive through Salt Lake to see my daughter and to drop off some “stuff” she asked us to drop off, and then on to California where we “hope” to be settled in by mid to late June.

One good thing is that we have already pulled much of the motorhome stuff into our condo.  Now that we know what we have, we will move the food and some of the clothing back into the “big” motorhome, where they will be transferred into the “new to us” motorhome on Friday.  Then Saturday and Sunday we will start moving more stuff from the condo into the new motorhome… and head out Sunday to Crystal River and then over to Orlando area next Thursday.
With that, here is the end of this posting…..and the beginning of many more new posts in the near future.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Our Condo

Well, we have most of the boxes unpacked, and things are coming together inside the condo.  I am glad that we came back and got this done, it will make our future trip that much better.  Although I am not ready to show inside pictures yet, here are some of the outside of our condo, and the condo complex in general.
Above is our front door.  We have a corner unit, which is nice because we only share a wall with one other unit.  Below is our “row”.
Above gives you an overall view from the outside.  The first window middle, behind the decorative post and wall, is our kitchen window, next to it is the entryway, and the next window just under the higher ceiling is our “office window”.  The window next to it is our neighbor. The small windows to the left are in our living room/dining room, and the far left nearly out of sight is the lanai, which we plan to close in with storm proof windows, put a strong, security door for access, and then knock out the sliding glass window which separates it from the living room.  This will increase the size of our living space by 10% or so, and we should get our money back when and if we sell it some day.  Below you can see the screened in lanai, and the window to the left of the lanai is our bedroom window (again under the higher roof).  So the condo is two bedrooms, two bathrooms, kitchen, living room/dining room, laundry room, and lanai.
There’s 76 condos within complex.  All are single level, all are laid out fairly the same other than corner units having more windows, and of course, mirror image of adjoining units.  (Kitchens to the left of the front door on one unit while it is to the right of the front door on the neighboring unit.)  Here are some pictures of the rest of the complex.
Mother nature sure provided a nice canvas in which to show off the condo complex this evening.
The view above is down the street looking at the pool complex. Below is a look behind me, which looking at our unit….you can see our HHR to the right in the covered parking.
Below is just a typical unit.  The condo complex is 30 years old…but all the units have new roofs, and new stucco on the walls.  With all of this work, there are a few plants which were pulled out, and they will be replaced this fall.  As with most condos, we don’t have to worry about any of the outside work, and we pay a condo association fee of under $200 per month, which includes certain insurance coverage that we don’t have to buy, and the condo takes care of all outside issues (leaky roof, for instance).  The association carries no debt…all the work is paid for through the dues.  Overall, the condo complex is in excellent condition.
Above is the view down the other side of the complex towards the front and only entrance (this road runs parallel the pictures above showing the swimming pool area).  Although it is not a gated community, with one entrance, and with the condo president living in the first unit at the entrance, it is well protected.  Just in case, there are security cameras in certain areas.  Other than a few cars which were “broken into” (unlocked car doors) there has been no crime to speak of for all the years it has been here.  Below is a closer picture of the pool area, which includes a covered building where one could have a small gathering sheltered from the sun or rain.   
Above is the entrance to the condo.  It is really a very nice place to live.  Must be 55+ to live here.  There is only one problem…and it is a BIG PROBLEM… dogs, no cats, not even caged birds.  Oh I miss my little Skruffy, and Bubba too.  But while we are here, and we won’t be here too long after this because after we look for a new motor home, we will either buy and leave, or we will keep what we have and leave.  Over the next four or five years, I expect that we will be traveling in the motorhome for 85-90% of that time.  While here, our dogs are safe at Uncle Mike and Aunt Sandy’s house where they get to enjoy life with two other dogs, two cats, two children and three adults…and many daily (or near daily) visits from us.  But oh, how it hurts to be away….Sad smileThumbs downWilted roseStorm cloudSteaming mad Ok you get the point….

Note:  Tomorrow it looks like I get to drive back to Little Rock and pick our baby up from Cummins.  Then once we get it back home, the fun begins in finding another one.  Right now, we are thinking about a Jayco Melbourne or a Winnebago Aspect, not sure if it will be new or slightly used…and we are still open to others which are similar. 

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Great News, Good News Twice Over, Sad, Sad, Sad News, and a BIG WHY

OK we will start with the GREAT news that we just found out about tonight.  The financing for the young family who is buying our house did get approved.  Closing date is scheduled for Friday, 17th, tomorrow we will see if everything is ready by the bank for that date to proceed or not.  If not, early next week will be the closing, and the end to that part of our life.

Good news is that we made it to Holiday, Florida, 900+ miles, without any food spoilage, without any problems, and with a good nights sleep in Dothan Alabama at yes, another La Quinta.  Another reason to like La Quinta....with a La Quinta Card, you earn points....we have stayed at so many La Quintas lately that last nights stay was a whole $15 plus $1.50 in taxes.  And we still have points coming in from our last stay in Little Rock.  Sweet!  Of course, some of us can remember when Motel 6 was only $6, a bit more if you wanted a better room that included toilet paper (just a joke there....about the toilet paper, not the price....) 

Other Good News, we have made some progress with getting the Condo ready to live in.  We were on our way to Wednesday night church and we forgot about the baptisms they were doing at the beach, so when we got to church no one was there.  So we enjoyed our Chic-fil-A and headed home.

Now for the Sad, Sad, Sad News.  Being home in the Condo means that my little Skruffy cannot be with me.  Condo HOA rules don't allow it.  I know she is in good hands over at Marcia's brothers house....and I know I am in GREAT hands myself with Marcia, but I think both of us are going to have some big time separation anxiety.  Skruffy came into my life 3 1/2 years ago....a rescue saved from the dangerous streets of Pine Bluff, Arkansas.  (In 2009, Pine Bluff was ranked by Morgan Quitno Press as the most dangerous metropolitan area in the U.S. and included on the Forbes list of America's ten most impoverished cities. -- source: Wikipedia)  She immediately latched onto me, and we have not been apart very often since then.  She went to the Library (I was a Library Director) just about every day.  We went on trips together where she would stay in a doggie day care while I attended meetings.  She welcomed Marcia and Bubba into our home back in 2011 with open arms, err, paws.  The good thing for her, she is in a house with three other dogs and two cats, three adults and two kids.  And they are only ten minutes away, and I plan to see her every day.  But there is no doubt that both Marcia and I will miss not only little Skruffy, but Bubba too.  Speaking of which, Bubba's leg is much better, the daily medicine we got from Pet Smart really helps his joints working.

With that....I just have to share one of my favorite pictures of Skruffy....ya gotta love that look...

Now for the WHYs in life.....

Monday night Marcia and I were just headed over to the Chili's Restaurant near the motel we were at, and my daughter Stephanie calls.  She is in Little Rock, not too far away, and I invite her to come eat with us...which she does.  Since she is headed to Utah in a few days, she asked that I look over her car, which I do.  All looked good, except for the need for window washer and her spare mini tire needed air.  She drives off and we head to the motel.  Shortly after I get settled in at the motel, there is a call from her...she got in a wreck on the freeway....and the words that a daddy cannot ignore...."can you come down here???"   "Of course, will be right there...what exit are you sure you are ok....." and out the door I go.   Bottom line....guy stops in front of a pickup, which rams into that car, and she hits the back of the pickup but keeps the guy behind her from hitting her by not slamming on her breaks all the way.  No one is hurt.  She gets a ticket.  Her car is totaled.   She does not carry collision since the car has over 200k miles on it.

We don't know WHY tragic things happen to people...they are just part of life.  You travel down a highway, your motor home goes dark, and everything is in an upheaval.  Or like her, you are just traveling home after a nice get-together with dad, and BAM, your life changes.  Oh, it could have been way worse, and we all know that.  We are all thankful that Marcia and I were just traveling a small business freeway, and not stuck out in the middle of a rush-hour freeway, or headed down a 9% grade.  We all know that there are many traffic accidents which end up in injury, even death.  But here my little daughter, who I love way more than I love my dog....but don't let Skruffy know that, just wrecked her car.  She has been working two jobs for many months now trying to get back on her feet so that she can return to her 5th+ year of college.  She has two jobs lined up in Utah, she HAS to have a car to get to the jobs.  And her car has just been totaled.....   The good news is that she has cousin who is going to let her live with her and her family for awhile.  She has a friend who has an extra "beat-up car" that she can drive until she can earn just a bit more money to buy another car.  But she asked me WHY.....and I just don't have an answer other than to say that the Lord has blessed her in so many ways, and that trials are a part of life....and trials last an entire just have to make the best of it, try not to let it get you down, and if you are lucky, you have family there to help, and if you believe, than you KNOW that you have HIM carrying you along.  I am just glad that she knows that....and that she was not hurt....and that I was able to be there for her in her time of need.
Love Ya Girl!

Little Rock Bust, now back to our condo without our home

Sunday we drove from Fayetteville to Little Rock.  Next to the La Quinta is a Hooters, and Marcia twisted my arm very, very hard and made me go over there and get a "to go order" for us to eat in the room.  After doing the online ordering (oh no!  Hooters now has my email address), I go over there 20 minutes later.  Now many of you know that I was in the Restaurant business from the age of 16 to 31 years of age.  Mothers Day is like "THE BIGGEST DAY OF THE YEAR".  But not at Hooters.  I walk in and see about 10 skimpy girls in orange shirts so tight that I wonder if they are able to breath....and about 50 guys sitting around the bar, at tables...not a female customer in sight.  As the bar girl (lack of any other word comes to mind) gets my order together, a very young "Hooter Girl" comes up behind me waiting to talk to the Bar Girl.  I say to her, "I'll bet Fathers Day is much busier than Mothers Day at a Hooters, huh?"  This young thing looks up at me, smiles a bit, and says, "Gee, I'm new here, I don't have any idea....."  I decide to end the conversation at that, and get the food and leave, giving the place one good look over again.  (This is my second time to a Hooters, never stepping foot into the place until I married Marcia, who FORCED me to go the first time, and then again on Mothers Day....)   :)

Now this is where it gets funny.....  As I walk over to the car, I spot this man, with a young child in his arms, another toddler walking next to "dad", another child, the oldest I'll bet, following them, and then there she is....the mother....walking a good 8 steps behind them all...with her arms swinging like she is very smile...a big, and I mean very big, frown.   She gets to the door after all the others have gone in, she swings the door open hard and wide, and enters....

Hmmm....make note to myself.....gotta be sure to teach my kids to NEVER pick HOOTERS as the place to take mom (or their children's mother whenever that might take place) for Mothers Day.

Monday I go over to the Cummins place, and it does not go well.  They have to order some parts for a some things that they busted while checking out the motor home.  I go back to the La Quinta and tell Marcia...she and I both feel like that lady entering Hooters the evening before...

We talk about things Monday night, wake up Tuesday and decide that we need to go back to Florida for both of our sanity, especially Marcia's.  A person with MS does not need stress...and this has been very stressful for her.  We go to a Krogers and buy some dry ice, and then to Walmart to get three $5 ice chests, and over to Cummins where I empty out the fridge and freezer, dumping just a small amount of stuff (left overs) in the trash, and get some more clothing and some odds and ends, and off to Florida we go.  Tonight we are at a La Quinta in Dothan Alabama, a 570 mile trip with a late start of 11 am by the time I got everything crammed into the HHR.

I tell the guy at Cummins that once they get it fixed, that I would like them to hold onto it for a couple of days giving it a couple of 10 minute rides each day just to be sure it works...he agrees.  After we are confident that it is fixed, I will come back with the HHR and bring it back to Florida where we are going to regroup and think things out....we currently and contemplating stepping down to a Class C.  I have lost all confidence in driving a Class A that at any moment can loose all power, leaving me driving with no power steering, no way to down shift, and just breaks to stop us.  Imagine doing that on I-80 coming down from Donner Summit?  Or on I-70 coming into Denver from the Rockies.  Oh, the list is endless.....I just don't want to think about it.   We love our American Eagle, it has been a great home for 18 months.  But we both have lost confidence in driving it, especially in a mountainous area....So it is going to be an interesting couple of months ahead of us.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Another HOG Graduation

Old Main, University of Arkansas, Public Domain Picture
Son Ryan graduated from the University of Arkansas this Saturday, following his brother Michael who graduated from the UofA in 2009.  There sister Stephanie has about a year left to graduate from BYU, all depending upon how much school she can attend while she also works while living in Salt Lake City area.  Health issues had interfered with her progress....but she is doing so much better now.

But Saturday was Ryan's day...and it was a great day for all of us...for Mom, Granddad, Grandparents who could not attend, Uncles, Aunts and Cousins who could not attend, Brother, Sister, Step-parents, and of course, Dad (me).  But it was most important to the person who earned the degree....Ryan.  The official name of his degree is Bachelor of Science in Education - Kinesiology.  If you want to know what this is/does, visit the UofA webpage on Kinesiology.  Luckily for Ryan, he just recently landed a job as a physical therapist technician for two Chiropractors in Fayetteville.  Which is great since he is very seriously considering going to Chiropractic School to become a Chiropractor himself.  He intends to apply at the Cleveland Chiropractic College - Kansas City Campus later this year.  It might take a little while to get in, but they told him that it looked like he qualified.  The Cleveland Chiropractic College is one of the better Chiropractic Schools in the nation, founded in 1922.

There he is above seated between two blond girls, actually paying attention to the speaker, soaking in the experience.

The ceremony started with a nice rendition of the National Anthem.
And a few quick moments by a few school officials
One LONG moment by commencement speaker Donna Axum Whitworth, a former Miss Arkansas who also won Miss America back in 1963.  Her talk on humility included so many "I did this" and "I did thats", or as Marcia says, "A litany of her achievements", that many in our group found it to be the worse commencement address we had ever heard.  However, it was probably the only commencement address that Ryan remembers, and he was so caught up in the day that it did not phase him.  However, I really felt that when she said, "In conclusion...." that the entire audience was going to burst out in applause.
 Next they gave out three awards to former students....
 ...and the time came that we all had waited for, the giving out of the degrees.
Below is Ryan's row still sitting, but being the next to be called up. 
 Below is a terrible picture of him walking towards the stage with the rest of his row.
 Below you can see Ryan to the far right.
 And then the BIG MOMENT, Ryan receives his degree, as you can see on the big screen TV, but also on the stage in the bottom left of the photo.
 After singing the Alma Matter, and then the proverbial "HOG CALL" (if you have never heard it, click on link for a YouTube version of the Hog Call) pictures below...

 The procession leads out of Bud Walton Stadium....
 ....and we get one last picture of Ryan on the big screen.
We then head out and across the street for some final photos.  Below is one proud dad with his youngest son...(thank you Michael for taking the shot with my camera)
Two final pictures of the graduate alone, with Razorback Football Stadium in the background of the picture below.

Finally, above Ryan poses with his favorite, most adorable sister Stephanie, while below all three kids, Michael, Stephanie and Ryan with Razorback Stadium in the background.

Now for family members, if anyone would like larger versions of any of these pictures, please just send me an email and I will email them to you.  Just so you know, the original of the above picture is 6.24 megabytes, and the dimensions is 4608 by 3456 megapixels, and would measure out to 25.6 inches wide by 19.2 inches in height.  So if you want to make a 8 by 10 out of it, you should be able to take the original to a place like Walgreens and, for a price, they should be able to give you a nice print.  And since this is only for family, you should know, or should know how to get, my private email address already.  --Dave

Note: I posted two posts very close together....if you are interested in the Crystal Bridges Museum, please see the previous blog post.