Sometimes we look at sights in nature but don't really see. While hiking in the woods the other day, it became a realization that we need to open our heart and eyes to see the beauty of the simple things in nature with each season. There is so much order and purpose in His creation. God has given us awesome beauty in this world to see and enjoy... if we would but stop to see and feel it. Join us as this blog is about stopping to see the real beauty around touch and feel it... "Through the Lens".

Our Friends

Thursday, December 31, 2009


The beginning of this year found us living in our sticks and bricks and Mike working extremely long and tiring hours. We had almost given up on the housing market and had taken the house off the market for a "rest" during the winter months. We hadn't gotten around to putting it back on the market when I got a call from our realtor that a former student's parents wanted to move back to LaGrange and wanted to look at our house...would I be willing to show the house? I did and the rest is history. They purchased our home at full asking price and we purchased our "new to us "motorhome. Mike was able to retire in August and we became full-time RVers in August. The realization of a five year dream had come true!!

Mike's health has improved, his back is much better and I have lost 20 pounds (but have more to go). We are living a healthier lifestyle.

On a sadder note - in August we lost our very special Shih Tzu, Molly. Molly lived with us for almost 18 years. She suffered quite a bit during the last year of her life and wasn't going to ever improve. She began her final decline beginning in June when diagnosed with a mammary tumor. She hung on for a few more months and in August we gave her the peace she so deserved. She will forever be missed by her family.

Our son has a good job with possibilities of promotion in 2010. We are so proud of him and thankful for this, especially during this slow job market. He is a great son and we are a great family. Much to be thankful for.

We completed our first volunteer job at Hagerman NWR in Texas just after we began full-timing. We fell in love with Texas and really enjoyed our experiences at Hagerman. We plan to return there in the future. We discovered that we really enjoy volunteering as a big part of our full-time lifestyle. We hope to do more during 2010.

Even though we haven't met many of them, we have become friends with many new full-time friends via the internet.....forums, blogs, facebook. We feel very fortunate to be part of this wonderful community.

We are so grateful God blessed us with the ability to enjoy this wonderful lifestyle. There are so many awesome things to see and do in this great country….we’ve only just begun.
Do we miss anything from our former lives? No, nothing. We brought the most important things with us.
Do we have any regrets? No, not the first one. Every experience in our lives helps to shape us for our future. Our former careers, students, friends, places we’ve lived and our families helped make this possible in their own way. To each of these we are thankful.

It has been a great year, we feel very blessed. We are hopeful that 2010 is just as good or better. We wish all of you a very Happy New Year and may this next year be one of your best also.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Taking Christmas Down

Well it is over for another year! Isn’t it funny how there seems to be such a build up to Christmas and then when the last package is unwrapped it seems to be over. I hate to see it end because I love the lights and soft colors they produce both inside and outside. However, all good things must come to an end. Today Mike and I took down our tree and other decorations in the motorhome. It was a great occasion to do a really good cleaning of the motorhome so we did just that. We dusted, swept, packed up seasonal items and put back out the things that normally stay out in the motorhome. Everything looks pretty clean and ready for our next journey in a few days. We have been sitting now for about two months and I understand the term “hitchitch” so much better now. We have really enjoyed being in the Pine Mountain area and near our son for these past two months but we are looking forward to exploring new areas. We plan to travel to Rainbow Plantation in Summerdale, Alabama and stay in this area for awhile. We look forward to meeting several folks that we have gotten to know via the internet……forums, blogs and facebook. It will be nice to put actual bodies and faces to these good folks. Being an Escapees Park we know there will be lots of activities that we can join in on and get to know many new folks. We are also hoping for some warmer weather but so far this winter they have had their fair share of cooler temps also. We will just hope for the best.

We certainly hope that all of you had a wonderful Christmas and doing the things that have the most meaning for you. We certainly had a good one and once again managed to create many new memories that we will cherish of being together as a family.

Thank you for joining us on our journey and hope to report some interesting discoveries from lower Alabama (Gulf Shores area) in the near future.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas from,

Mike Gerri & Stephen
Casey, Nick & Cody

Monday, December 21, 2009

Santa Came Early

It all started when we got our periodic e-mail from P&J. P stands for Peggy and J stands for John and their last names are McDonald. They are a wonderful full-time couple that have written several books for Rvers. The one we own and have read several times is RV Living in the 21st Century. They have a website and we are on the mailing list for their weekly, sometimes bi-weekly newsletter. If you have not read this book we highly recommend it for those thinking about full-timing or those that have already started the journey.
Anyway, back to the story, they sent a recent newsletter that showed some interior pics of their motorhome where they had removed their sofa and replaced it with two Euros, replaced the eating area with more of a desk area and several other decorating upgrades. Well, we didn’t want to remove our sofa, at this time, because we want a place for our son to sleep. We already had a very comfortable Lazy-boy black leather recliner that was part of the motorhome when we purchased it. We also have the desk/credenza with the matching table and a couple of upholstered chairs. We started thinking about how often we actually use the table as intended…..a place to eat. We also started thinking about the placement of the TV. In a motorhome it is usually up in the front in the middle above the dash. Those that are lucky enough to have purchased a newer model motorhome may have discovered that motorhome manufacturers are changing that arrangement some and giving the option of placing the TV at the rear of the coach. Not the case with ours. We know a couple that placed their TV on a table under the side window behind the passenger seat and I love that arrangement but for us we needed a little more seating plus we already had the one recliner and didn‘t want to get rid of it.. So what to do???? The dinette table is just large enough for two people so whenever we have someone over to eat, we use those individual folding patio tables from Camping World or we eat outside.

Well, we started playing around with the current arrangement. We removed the table and one of the upholstered chairs, placed the other upholstered chair under the middle open space like a desk. We then moved the black leather recliner next to the sofa and stood back and took a long look. That is when the epiphany occurred. What if we had another Lazy-boy recliner in the space by the window on the passenger side and left the other recliner next to the sofa. Now we have two very comfortable places to sit and watch TV as well as another place to sit for company conversation. The desk/credenza is still functional, the only thing missing is the table for eating. It is all about give and take. Will we miss the table? Perhaps but we figured the comfortable sitting, conversation and TV watching arrangement was a better trade-off for us.

Another thing that was a concern was what to do if we wanted to have someone over to say play Mexican Train, Monopoly or some such game. What would we do? Well, we decided to purchase a card table from Camping World that can be stored in the basement when not in use. Camping World has several such tables and the next time we are near one of their stores we plan to take a look and make a purchase. Now we didn’t want to get rid of the dining table because it was made to go with the Credenza so we placed it along with one of the upholstered chairs in the climate controlled storage building.

It’s cozy, it’s functional and I don’t have a crick in my neck from watching TV. We still have a sofa for our son to “crash” on whenever he wants to visit us or take a much anticipated vacation with us. We are happy with this new arrangement and I guess we must have been pretty good this year because Santa has already been to visit us.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Rain Rain ..... Go Away

Gerri and I woke up in the middle of the night Thursday to a heavy downpour of rain. You know that sunken feeling you get when enough is enough with the rain. Well it hasn’t stopped all day and the temps have hovered between 36- 39 degrees. I checked outside and our motorhome wasn’t floating yet… maybe we should have got that option where it can go on road or in the water. I couldn’t decide whether to get my boat out or just try a winter swim, so we just kinda stayed inside and just hung out. But you know, it could have been worse, it wasn’t snow or ice, so I guess we aren’t too bad off.

We are staying warm and dry, and our propane tank is still half full. Our heat pumps have managed to keep us warm during the day despite the mid thirties temps. Since the early morning temps have dipped into the mid twenties, we have turned on the furnace a few times. Newmar has a basement heater fan that circulates warm air thru the basement to help keep water lines from freezing. When the furnace kicks in, that fan pushes the warm air in the basement. Man that gas heat sure does feel good.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

A Drive Through Fantasy in Lights at Callaway Gardens Resort

Thursday night Stephen came down and the three of us went to Callaway Gardens Resort for our annual drive through Fantasy in Lights. Nestled amidst wooded landscape of Callaway Gardens, Fantasy In Lights is the Southeast's most spectacular holiday light and sound show with more than eight million twinkling lights celebrating the holiday season. There are 12 different light themes each with their own musical background on the five mile drive. If you want to weather the cold, you can even ride on the "Jolly Trolly" through the lights.

As we drove through the lights, Gerri did a great job taking pics. There are some that are blurred a little, but with the movement of the car and the fact that it is dark out, all turned out good! The weather was cold but the night was clear.

So sit back and enjoy the Fantasy in Lights through our collage of pics. If you want to learn more about Fantasy in Lights or Callaway Gardens Resort, go to

A Sunny Day... A Clean the Basement Day

Well the sun finally came out! What a beautiful sight and to make it even better the temperature was pleasant.. It is amazing how a little sunshine can change a person’s outlook and up their energy level.

We have been talking for some time about doing a really good clean up and purge of our basement and then continuing that purge to our storage building. When you move into an RV to full-time you really aren’t sure what you might need. It is, at best, an educated guess. The rule of thumb goes something like this, if you used it in the sticks and bricks you might use it in the RV. If you didn’t use it in the sticks and bricks don’t bother to bring it cause you most likely won’t be using it in the RV either. Now notice I said you “might” use it. Your lifestyle changes so much when you full-time. Example, I didn’t cook a lot in our other life. We both worked and it was easier most evenings to just grab something to eat out. Now I am doing more cooking. I have the time and it helps the budget not to mention the waistline. We are eating healthier and we like it that way. We have both lost weight, Mike more than me, isn’t that unfair?? We eat our biggest meal in the early afternoon and eat a healthy snack at night. I have found that I didn’t bring nearly enough kitchen items. So whenever we find the kitchen box in the storage building we will go through it and bring some additional items back to the motorhome.

We also brought way to many clothes and shoes. We have already purged our clothes and shoes once and we will do that again. We have found that we wear jeans, shorts and both long and short sleeve t-shirts. We each have a couple of sweaters and a couple of button shirts. Our shoes consist of hiking, tennis and sandals. We each have a dress outfit and shoes to wear to church or some event that needs to be dressier.. As we begin to travel more I hope to collect a souvenir t-shirt in various places. You just don’t need that much. When something wears out you just replace it.

Now the basement was a different story. We organize much of our stuff in clear tubs. We found that many of the tubs could be consolidated and this has really opened up more space. We actually emptied four tubs today. We usually store our Sea Eagle boat in its storage bag in the back of the Jeep. The hard floors for the boat are stored in the basement. Mike has most of his tools hanging on a pegboard in one of the bays. This is very handy. We opted to not have the slide out cargo trays in the basement. We had two of these in our last two motorhomes and although very handy, they take up some of the storage space We actually get a few more tubs in the basement this way. Mike is going to get a PVC pipe at Home Depot to slide the fishing rods in and suspend them from the basement frame. We tried to categorize the different areas in the basement so we would know where to look for things when we need something. Example, the driver’s side of the basement has the motorhome related items located there and the passenger side has personal and home items located there. We also store our chairs, patio mat and grill on this side.

This is an ongoing process. It is so easy to just accumulate stuff and in an RV, you have to be keenly aware of space and weight. As this lifestyle evolves for us, we will probably be finding that our needs will change and therefore make more adjustments. As the rule goes…..something in something out.

It has been a beautiful day and we have accomplished several items on our “to do” list. Now it is time to take our two mile walk while the sun shines.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Our Traveling Companions

The weather has been just awful. We woke up this morning with fog so heavy you could not see to the other side of the campground. As it started clearing, then we had drizzle and rain…and then more rain. I can’t imagine how Noah must have felt! Several folks have asked us about our pets. Since the weather is so yucky, let me tell you about our traveling companions. First there is Cody, our 10 year old Golden Retriever. He has spent most of his life in our back yard and in our house. Now he is a full-timer living in our motorhome with us. He is so well behaved and all he wants to do is please us; isn’t that typical of a golden? He follows me about everywhere I go and sleeps on the floor at the foot of our bed. He is so loveable and gentle, like a big 65 pound baby.

Then there are the Shih Tzus. Casey is 12 years old and all she wants to do is be in your lap or sit beside you. She is very attached to Gerri and wherever Gerri is, you will find Casey. After a certain time at night if you head back toward the bedroom, she thinks it is bed time and high- tails it back to the bed. Lastly, there is Nick. He is a 4 year old full of personality and very much in love with Casey. What’s odd is that Casey has been spayed so there is nothing there to lure Nick on. But he is soooo attached to Casey I kindly refer to them as Romeo and Juliet.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Our First Geocache

Several months ago Mike and I decided to learn more about geocaching. Many of our RV friends geocache and talk about how much fun it is. We went to the geocaching site and read about this fun activity which is technically a treasure hunt in which you use a GPS to key in your coordinates to help you locate your cache. A person can place a geocache anywhere in the world and then pinpoint the location using a GPS and then share this information on line. The main idea is to locate hidden containers, that are called geocaches, which are hidden outdoors and then share your experiences online with others. If your cache has a treasure in it you can take it but you must leave something in its place. You must also sign the log book to let others know you have been there and found the cache. There are many different “levels” to this hobby but Mike and I are at the basic entry level. This is a great activity for getting outdoors and enjoying and learning about a specific area.

Like I said, several months ago we decided we wanted to begin geocaching so we investigated into a good handheld GPS and decided to purchase a Garmin eTrex Legend HCx. Perhaps we are technology challenged, which is highly possible, but we have been experimenting and playing with this little device for awhile and today we actually figured how to get it to help us locate a cache. We ran off the clues posted on the geochaching website and placed the coordinates in the GPS and set off to try to locate our first cache. Well what do you know…….we found it!! I won’t go into how easy this geocache was rated but to say beginning level would be a compliment.

We have much left to learn about this fun activity but there are dozens of geocaches hidden in the Pine Mountain area as well as Callaway Gardens so we should be able to get a lot of practice in while we are in the area. It was a fun day!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

And the Winds Came..

Last night we had our first experience with extreme winds. We had rain off and on all day and the weather report said there would be gusty winds the next day from 6 am to 7 pm eastern time. Well the rain stopped early in the night and I thought the worst was over. Ha Ha, little did I know when we went to bed for the evening around 11 pm, the worst was yet to come. The wind started picking up. Boy did it begin to pick up. I got up and lowered the satellite and upon Gerri’s strong suggestion, I also looked at the weather on the internet and guess what, we were under a tornado watch until 7 the next morning. Boy what a difference a few hours can make. I guess the winds came in early. The net said the gusts would be around 40 mph and by the way our motorhome shook, it must have been every bit of that or even more at times.

The winds would not let up, it was relentless and constant. The awnings over our slides made a terribly loud noise, so we got up and brought the slides in. So in they came with all the ambiance of boondocking. I walked out several times to check the wind noise for that famous train sound and check out the coach and trees around us. Luckily no train sound, whew!! All trees where in the upright position which is the way we like them.

Gerri and I decided that getting dressed might be a great idea just in case we wanted to flee to the bathhouse for safety. After we got dressed we laid back down on the bed hoping the winds would stop or at least die down. About 2:30 am we checked the weather on the internet again and saw we had one more bad cell coming thru. Estimated time was 4 am. We drifted in and out of sleep from 3:20 – 4:30 at which time the last bad cell arrived. We were so exhausted by this time we must have fallen sound asleep during the passing of this cell because the next thing we both remembered was our son calling us at 8:30 to say “good morning.” You just gotta love it!! He didn’t even know we had a storm.

What a difference a few hours can make. The rest of the day was beautiful, the sun came out and the temperatures went to about 72 degrees. It was a rough start but a beautiful ending. As they say, “its not how you start that counts, it’s how you finish.” We hope you had a great finish!!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

The Shrouds are Here

We got a call from Opelika RV Wednesday morning informing us that our shrouds had arrived.

To update you, we had one of the covers (shroud) on our air conditioners to fly off on our return trip from Texas. We stopped in West Monroe, Louisiana at an RV dealership to get help when we discovered a leak in the living area coming from one of the air conditioner vents and when Mike got on the roof we learned that our shroud had flown the coop. They repaired the leak by putting on a new donut (gasket) and sealing the area around the air conditioner. They also sold us a generic shroud with the assumption we could purchase the mate when we returned to Georgia. What we discovered was that we couldn’t find a mate and that the generic shroud was not the correct one for our rig. We then called Opelika RV and gave them the information they needed to purchase a matching pair of shrouds. We waited several days and when they arrived they were not the correct ones either. Not only were they the wrong color they had no air vents on the side. So what shroud will fit a Penguin air conditioner for a Dutch Star? We called Newmar to get the correct model of air condition unit installed on or coach and finally found the correct shroud. Opelika ordered them a few weeks ago and now they are here. They are the right color and they have vents on the side. Not only that, they are much sleeker looking than the originals.

So today, the coldest day so far this year, Mike is up on the roof installing the new shrouds. If he doesn’t blow off or freeze to death he should be finished in about thirty minutes with our new shrouds in their proper places on our roof.

Just so you’ll know…today it is very windy with temperatures only about 42 degrees at 1:00 in the afternoon. We just aren’t far enough south but goodness the Gulf was expecting snow yesterday. What is with that?????

Monday, November 30, 2009

Decorating for Christmas

Well it’s the Christmas season. It is official because it is after Thanksgiving. I agree with Darrell Patterson,, that Christmas officially gets kicked off with the Thanksgiving Day parades and NOT the day after school begins. I must confess that I am an avid Christmas decorator. I got that “bug” naturally because my Mom always loved to decorate for Christmas. One of the “emotional” aspects of full-timing for me was the dilemma of what to do with half of an attic full of Christmas “stuff.” I certainly don’t have a 2400 square foot house to decorate. So what’s a girl to do?

Last Christmas, as I was busily decorating, I told Mike that this was getting to be a big job. It took us one entire evening to get the things down from the attic. Then it took the better part of one to two complete days to get it all set up. Then comes the trees. Yes, I said trees. We had three. One, all clear lights, in the living room. One, multicolored lights, in the den and one small “sports” tree that I had set up for our son years ago and you got it, tradition, means we put it up each year. By the time I got all the inside completed came the hanging of the greens outside. We put wreaths at each window, candles in each window and our sweet little deer, two of them, in the natural area. The entire time I am doing this I am thinking about how much work is going to be involved in putting it all back up in approximately four weeks. It was about this time I looked at Mike and confessed that now I understood why my Mom and his started to do less and less each year. Gee, I thought all this time they were just being old scrooges. Not so. It all looked nice when complete but oh the work that went into getting it that way.

Did it make Christmas more meaningful? Not really. It was just something I did each year. On cue right after Thanksgiving I just did it. This year was going to be different. How would I survive without the week of hard labor to get in the Christmas spirit?
Well…. we put up a 4 foot tree (because I couldn’t find a 3 foot one) and I went through all our ornaments and picked out the ones that were “special” and mostly nonbreakable. We added a string of LED lights in the windshield. The steering wheel table was draped with a Christmas cover and one of my favorite Santas stands on it surrounded by cotton snow and clear battery operated LED lights. I put the rest of my Santa collection on the desk/credenza with a few nutcrackers. I laid some multi-colored battery operated lights around them. A couple of pillows and I was finished. It took me all of about an hour from getting out the Christmas tub to turning on the lights. The lights add so much color, it makes the motorhome so warm and well…. Christmassy. I am not tired and stressed out and I haven’t wondered one time how much work would be involved with putting everything back up.

The motorhome looks nice and festive. The city of Pine Mountain is all lit up to support Callaway Garden/Resort and their Fantasy in Lights. Mike and I have walked downtown several evenings and just enjoyed the moment. We spent several hours at the Callaway Christmas Village which is soooo nicely decorated complete with wonderful music. We look forward to our drive through Fantasy in Lights before Christmas. Several mornings we have eaten our breakfast by listening to Christmas music playing softly on the stereo system in the motorhome. Our son has even put up his “sports” tree in his apartment and it feels good to know it has found a new address, his address, just as it should. Yes, it is Christmas and it is all good…….life is good.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Direct TV

This weekend Pine Mountain Rv resort accommodated over 200 rv families for a fun filled extended weekend. They provided a free Thanksgiving dinner for all who wished to participate, had nighttime fires in their large fire pit and just had an all round great time for the campers. When Sunday came, we knew there would be a mass exodus from the campgrounds. Sure enough, the Hoover vacuum worked overtime sucking the campers out. Since it became dead in the course of a few hours, I thought I would take this time to share some information regarding our television service.

We decided to use direct tv for our television service. We have the Choice Extra plus HD / DVR. We had local stations included which gave us HD television for the national stations. We found that each time we moved we needed to call Direct TV and give them the zip code we were located in to get the national stations, Fox, ABC, CBS, NBC. That seemed awkward and there were times when we talked to customer service, some of the staff could not make that transition of location for us. Getting frustrated, I searched further and found we could apply for something called Distant Network Service. In order for us to get Distant Network Service, we had to sign a waiver that stated we did not own a home and that our only home was an rv. There is an additional fee for this service of $14 a month. If you choose to pursue this service and want the stations in hi-def, you need to specifically request them. The process to get this complete takes a couple of weeks.
Once this is complete, no matter where you are in the continental states, you will get the national stations. You will have the opportunity to get them from the east or west coast. In fact, if you do not record a show that you miss, tune in to the west coast and see it later in the night.

We have been very happy with this transition, and for us it is worth the difference in cost.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Traditions... An Awesome Day

Words can’t express the thankfulness of spending quality time with your family and enjoying every second you spent together.
This year we had the awesome opportunity to spend our Thanksgiving Day together with our son Stephen. We went to Callaway Gardens Resort for our Thanksgiving meal. Each year they put out an incredible feast in the Plantation Room as well as the banquet ballroom. In the ballroom, they have a pianist playing during the meal. After we ate, we spent almost an hour just visiting with each other at the dinner table and enjoying the grand ambience of the area.
When we left the resort, we came back to our motorhome and just chillaxed. As the evening approached, we went back to Callaway Gardens as they open up there resort to a “”Fantasy in Lights” 7 mile drive thru with over 8 million lights and different musical themes throughout the drive. You can drive your car or you can ride in a trolly. They also have a large Christmas Village you can walk thru and have many different Christmas items for sale… many unusual items as well. We did not drive through the lights tonight, but will do so later. We just strolled through the Christmas Village and enjoyed all the sights of Christmas. What a wonderful way to spend the evening together and to kick off the holidays.
As I reflect on all the blessings we have, I am humbled by God’s mercy on me and on our family

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thanksgiving....Being Thankful

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving! Can you believe it?? This is the traditional time of the year when we stop and take the time to think about all of our blessings. We have so much to be thankful for and isn’t it nice to live a lifestyle that always allows you the “time” to think about those blessings? We used to get so caught up in the hurry of life that it wasn’t always so easy to do this. For us, life was like a marathon where you look toward the target or goal and somewhere toward the end of the marathon you start to get tired and struggle and just push, push toward that target. We didn’t take time to turn around and look at all the territory we had covered. The things that we had accomplished, the blessings that had been poured out on us. It is all different now! Every morning we wake up beside each other and move through our day together enjoying the wonderful benefits of this lifestyle and it is a blessing we NEVER take for granite. I am thankful for my family. I have a wonderful husband that happens to be my best friend. I am thankful that God has allowed us to retire together and begin to live our dream of travel and seeing this great country. We are grateful and humbled for this experience. I am thankful for my son, Stephen. He is not only a wonderful son but a great friend. We have fun together and truly enjoy being together. I am thankful I have been able to see him grow into the man he is today. I am thankful for my friends, both past and present. I am thankful for those of you who stop by and share our adventures with us. We know you are busy so we really appreciate your time with us.

It just wouldn’t be right if I didn’t mention how thankful I am for the men and women that serve this great country both here and in foreign lands. I am thankful for the brave men and women that went before my time to protect, defend and even give of their lives in order to give us the freedoms we enjoy every day. I am thankful for our forefathers that had the vision, wisdom and courage to establish this great country. Last but certainly not least, I am thankful for the present men and women that are serving on battlefields in strange lands many hundreds of miles from their families and those here in this country that dedicate themselves to protecting our freedoms each day. It is these men and women that have provided our….freedom 2 roll. God Bless and……Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Learning Picasa Web

To make our pics better and be able to display them better, I am working with picasa web. I am experimenting and trying different apps of picasa web to show different picture styles. They offer a self turtorial and you learn by trial and error. So I will be putting in different collages and pic styles as I zoom in on the types that Gerri & I like. Please be patient as I try different approaches. If you have comments about them please let me know as I am learning and having fun.

Posted by Picasa

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Searching for a Shroud

We’re looking for a shroud. No, not that kind. The story began on our trip back to Georgia from Texas. The weather was anything but kind. It rained very hard with lots of strong winds. We made our way to Louisiana and stopped for the night. The next morning as we were getting ready to leave I heard a drip, drip,drip sound coming from the living area. Not a good thing. I called to Mike to investigate that scary noise. Sure enough, we had a leak coming from the ceiling where one of the air conditioner vents is located. Mike went outside and up on the roof to take a look and quickly discovered a cover missing off of one of our air conditioners. Being newbies we first thought that the air conditioner being uncovered was causing the leak. We called around and found an RV dealership that thought they could help us get the air conditioner covered and back on the road. We drove to Clay’s RV in West Monroe, Louisiana where they discovered that the seal around the air conditioner was the cause of the leak. They replaced the seal and sold us a shroud, yes that is what it is called, in order to get us back on the road. It took them almost two hours to complete the job so between the labor at $100 per hour and the parts we left there $400.00 lighter. Now I am not sure they helped us or if they“saw us coming.” All I know is the leak stopped but the rain did not. What we discovered upon returning to Georgia was that the other shroud had also cracked and they had used duck tape to hold it together so it wouldn’t blow off. What a nice fashion statement! Now we needed to purchase yet another shroud and we wanted to have them look the same. We checked our numbers in the Penguin book (our air conditioners are made by Penguin) to order the correct shroud and found out what we purchased in Louisiana was a generic shroud and not necessarily the one for our unit. We even tried to find the number of the one we had already purchased so they would match and couldn’t find anything with that serial number. We also discovered that the generic shroud had no “air” vents and the original ones did. Yikes, now we might need two shrouds that match and are made for our unit. So the hunt began. Mike checked our serial number again on our Penquin book and we called Opelika RV to place the order. Today Opelika RV called us and in our talking with the parts manager we found out the ones that came in are also without vents and in the wrong color. Great….now we are trying to find out why the originals have vents and the replacements don’t. Mike called Newmar and gave them our VIN number and they identified the correct Penquin units that were put on our unit. We called Opelika RV and gave them this information so they could begin the search for the correct shroud for our Dutch Star.

So the search continues for the missing shroud.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Making Plans

We have finally been able to finalize some plans for after the holidays. We have been able to rent a site at Rainbow Plantation. As many of you know, Rainbow Plantation is one of the parks owned by Escapees. This park is located in Summerdale, Alabama which is only a few miles from the Gulf. As with most Escapees parks, there is an area where you can camp on a first in first out basis. There are also 22 ERPU lots that can be leased for $14,500 one time cost plus $750.00 for annual maintenance fees. There are also deeded lots on which owners can build homes. We are renting a site on Jerry and Linda Christie’s deeded lot. It seems the folks that rent on deeded lots are referred to as “squatters.” Cute!! This is a nice, level full hookup site.

We have heard so many great things about the “Plantation” we can’t wait to experience it all for ourselves. They have scheduled activities every day of the week which allows plenty of opportunities to meet other full-timers which Mike and I are really looking forward to. It appears the clubhouse is the place to be to enjoy the ice cream socials and covered dish suppers and many other fun time gatherings. Mike is also going to need to get his Alabama fishing license because there are a lot of fishing opportunities in the many lakes, rivers and ponds. There are several golf courses including one designed by Arnold Palmer. From what we hear there are some unique places to eat in this area also. Of course you have Mobile, Alabama and Pensacola, Florida within driving distance.

So we look forward to our time here in Pine Mountain over the holidays with our son. It will be a good time to relax and enjoy the season. It is great to see Stephen and see how well he is doing with his career and watching him grow into such a wonderful young man. We always enjoy our time as a family. It is a blessing from God and we are thankful.

Friday, November 13, 2009

A Lifestyle and not a Vacation

I have had a hard time with this concept. Being a newbie you just want to see it all and see it NOW. That would account for the fact that many newbies travel way too fast and furious in their first year. I found myself feeling kinda “down” that we are stationary for a few months and we don’t have neat and exotic places to write about. After all, we are now right back where we started from in August. How exciting is that? What is new to see here? The truth of the matter is not everywhere we go will be an exciting place with tons of things to see and do. In the winter, especially during the holidays, many full-timers travel to a place to share the holidays with either family or their RV family. Warm weather draws full-timers like a magnet. Who wants to be stuck in snow in a cold climate in their RV? Oh, I know, full-time units can handle it but what about the full-timer? Can they handle it:? Do they want to handle it? Probably not. Our travel and exploration will slow down in the winter. That is a fact of life and I will have to adjust. This is our lifestyle and we are not on vacation.

This topic came up in several of the journals I follow. It came up in journals of folks that have been full-timing for several years. Sometimes we just do the ordinary type of things. I did the laundry, vacuumed the carpet, fixed lunch. Mike continued to work on the outside of the coach. He cleaned the windows and gave the Jeep a bath. Later in the day we took a walk around the campground. We have been trying to walk everyday that the weather allows. We sat outside and enjoyed the beautiful weather. Just the ordinary things of life. Oh, there are tons of things in this great country to see and we can’t wait to experience as much as we can. However, it is awesome to remind ourselves that we have as much time as we need, as long as the good Lord allows, to get there because we are not on vacation. This is our lifestyle and life is good.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Cleaning the Roof

We are sitting here watching the clouds roll in ahead of Ida. The rains are scheduled to begin this evening. Georgia has had its fair share of the rain this fall and so now they are concerned about more flooding. We have several friends that are now at their winter “home” in Summerdale, Alabama and hope that they will remain safe. The good thing about living in an RV is you can avoid such weather conditions as hurricanes and tropical storms by simply leaving the area. This particular area of our country has been pounded in the last few years and we certainly have these folks in our prayers.

No grass to mow, no weeds to pick, no weed-eater to run but there is maintenance to perform on an RV. I decided today would be the day we begin cleaning the outside of our motorhome. I climbed up on the roof and began cleaning this area first. This is quite a job and usually takes about a couple of hours. We had to take the sunscreens off the front windows and pull in the awnings. Gerri’s job was to turn the water off and on and snake the hose up to me. What a stressful job for Gerri!! About two hours later the roof is nice and clean. Now since the rains are coming we will finish the rest of the coach after the rains.

An uneventful day but at least we have a clean roof!!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Country Drive and a Covered Bridge

It was such a beautiful day that Mike and I decided to take a leisurely drive through some small towns in this area. We began by driving Highway 109 from LaGrange through the community of Mountville. Mountville is the oldest settlement in Troup County. The community hasn't changed much through the years. I t consists of the First Baptist Church of Mountville and the First United Methodist Church of Mountville. There is an elementary school, you guessed it, Mountville Elementary. The land is beautiful. We followed Highway 109 until it brought us to Greenville. Greenville is a quaint little town with beautiful antebellum houses. We stopped off the road to snap a few pictures which included the courthouse. From there we continued on the same highway to Woodburry and took highway 85 north until we came to Covered Bridge Road. We turned east and
followed this road until we came to Red Oak Creek Bridge. This covered bridge was built by Horace King, a freed slave. He built many bridges in the west Georgia area but this is the last one of this type standing. It was built in the 1840's. It is the oldest covered bridge in Georgia and probably the sturdiest. Cars can still cross through this bridge and did while we visited. The length of this bridge spans 391 feet including the approaches. The bridge was constructed on the Town lattice design with web planks that criss-cross at 45 to 60 degree angles and are then fastened at each intersection with a total of about 2,500 wooden pegs or trunnels. A little piece of history.

The saddest part was seeing the abuse the bridge is taking with graffiti being written all over the wood. It really makes me angry and sad to see such beautiful structures treated with such disrespect. Everyone that walked up while we were there made the same comment about the graffiti and how sad it was.

We left Woodburry and followed Highway 85 until we got to Manchester and from there we drove over "the mountain." The mountain being Pine Mountain which led us into FDR State Park.

We topped our day off with a stop at San Marcos for a soft taco and chips/salsa.

It has been a wonderful day! The temps have been around 72 degrees and the sun has been shining in a deep blue sky. We enjoyed our Saturday afternoon drive through the countryside and discovering a little bit of covered bridge history.

Friday, November 6, 2009

What's Up With This Feeling??

It really amazes me! We have only been full-timing for three months making one trip to Texas for a couple of months and now we are back where we started from in August. Apparently alot happened in that three months. We shed our old lives and took on a new life.....that of a full-timer. We have been to LaGrange several times this past week taking care of various forms of personal business. Each time we go there we feel strange, almost a cold and awkward feeling. When you go back to where you lived your former life, you feel like you should fit in. What we are discovering is we don't fit in, we are different. We no longer care about the things that used to matter....the material stuff we collected, the social graces of our community, the career climb and so on. It all seems superficial. Instead we find ourselves thinking about the lake at Hagerman and wondering if the birds have arrived. We wonder if anybody discovered where the Great Horned Owl relocated in the refuge. What about the coyotes? Are they still howling at the moon each evening? We wonder where some of the great folks we met might be "camping" this week. It is the simple things that truly matter.

We are different. We have discovered what it feels like to be free, really free. To open our door and to be out among nature and hear the birds, see wildlife and be out in God's creation. Our lives are simpler and we like it that way. We are happy and content.
We came back to spend the holiday with our only son, who is single. This is where our son lives and no longer our home.

Our home is wherever we are, wherever we travel to and whomever we are with.
We are fulltimers!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Leaving Texas

Our six week trip to Texas was our first real outing as full-timers. We went there to volunteer at Hagerman NWR and to explore the areas we came across as we were there. We came away with so much more than we gave. Texas is a big state in so many ways. The obvious is the amount of territory the state has. But for Gerri and me, the bigness showed up in so many other ways. The wide open land that exposed God’s great sunrises and sunsets, and the beauty of the skies because the land was so open made it grandeur. The grandness of the people and their simple but heart-felt life and their convictions about life itself was very obvious. The people are real and sincere and we met so many great folks; we were blessed. Another bigness of Texas for us was their great state pride; everyone we saw was proud of Texas and what Texas is and stands for. When you are in Texas you can’t help but to be proud to live in America and feel full of life. We have only begun to explore this wonderful state! We will return!!!

We arrived back at Pine Mountain RV Resort Wednesday afternoon. Now, just for clarification, we traveled way to fast for full-timers. The only reason we went as fast as we did was our son had been sick for about three weeks and didn’t seem to be getting any better. His last trip to the doctor revealed a severe sinus infection and some other congestion that indicated that he was just steps away from pneumonia and being admitted to the hospital. We felt we needed to get back and check on things for ourselves and since we were going to be there for the holidays we decided to go ahead and proceed. He is now doing much better.

We are back in our same site, set up and ready to experience the Thanksgiving holiday. Everything is much as we left it except the trees have turned beautiful shades of red, orange and yellow. It is fall and there is a crispness in the air. It will be good to sit outside and enjoy this beautiful season and have a wonderful campfire……if only it will stop raining.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Leaving MCDInnovations

We spent a week and one day at camp MCD Innovations! While there we met some really fantastic folks. You just naturally get to know people that you are parked next to especially with nothing much to do but wait. We have heard so many times that RVers are the nicest people you will ever meet. It is true!! We got to know the couple parked next to us, Neil and Karen Cole. They have been full-timing for ten years. Three days just wasn’t enough time to learn from folks like Neil and Karen. They travel the country in their beautiful Teton fifth wheel and a matching MDT. We have been in touch via e-mail ever since they left and hopefully we will be able to meet up with them again down the road. For Mike and I it is a real treat to be able to sit and talk with other full-timers. Then there was Sherry. She travels alone in her beautiful 2007 Dutch Star. Yes, you heard that right…by herself. The day we arrived we met Sherry. She is part of the solo full-timers and is the most active lady of her age I have ever met. There were others that we met during our week at MCD.
There were other fantastic people at MCD such as Bobbi, the “go to” lady. She manages the office and does about twenty different jobs at one time. If you should call MCD you will most likely talk with Bobbi. She is good at her job. Waiting is hard and she knows how to help make it better. The team that makes the shades appear in your rig are Tyler, Brandon and Andrew. Of course, they can’t make them appear unless there is a production department. We never saw that part of the production but we know they were on the job because we have wonderful MCD duo shades in our coach. The entire crew is very talented.
While there we decided to have our valances replaced in the coach. Tyler was the man that made the valances and then with his help we picked out the color fabric (vinyl) that would go with our interior. The valances were sent out on Thursday and back on Friday. That is pretty good service ,don’t you think? In order to help us meet our timetable Tyler and Andrew were willing to come in on Saturday to put up the valances and begin the install.
Thank you MCD Innovations!! We love our shades and valances!! They have made a huge difference in our motorhome. We can’t recommend them enough.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Dallas Cowboy Stadium

Last Friday Mike and I left the Fort Worth Stockyards and headed for the new Dallas Cowboy Stadium. One of the couples at MCD told us tours were conducted at the new stadium so we thought it might be a neat thing to do. When we got there we found out that they were not giving tours that day due to a Star Wars concert that evening. We decided to go ahead and purchase tickets for Saturday. This particular Saturday they were only giving tours until 12:00. We decided that since it was Saturday we would arrive at the starting time of 8:30 and boy were we glad. At 8:00 there was already a very long line waiting to purchase tickets. Since we already had ours we were sent on ahead and ended up in the first tour.
If you ever go there we would highly recommend purchasing tickets in advance and arriving early.
The facility is quite awesome! The tour was well organized and quite educational. There were many, many facts given during the tour that we just can’t remember but a little later this year there should be some information on the web telling about the stadium. The few facts that we can remember are:
1. The television hanging in the center of the stadium is 7 stories tall. In one picture you can see a man in a booth that gives this perspective of size.
2. The duct work is 2 ½ miles long.
3. Each speaker hanging in the stadium would fill the flat bed of an 18 wheeler.
4. The old stadium was 900 thousand square feet and the new one is over 3 million square feet.
5. In the Cowboy’s locker room each locker cost $10,000 to build.
6. There are 3,000 Sony TV’s throughout the stadium and in the near future there will be an additional 2,000. The giant screen is a Mitsubishi.
7. There are no bad seats, no poles blocking vision.
8. There are 2 arches that help support the stadium and the opening. Each arch is larger than the arch in St. Louis.
9. Field level is 300 below ground level
10. By the 2011 Super Bowl they will be able to seat 105,000 people.
11. The city of Arlington gave $330 million of the $1.4 billion cost of the stadium and Jerry Jones picked up the rest of the tab.
12. Jerry Jones is a very rich man. No relation.

They gave out so much more information than this but you just can’t remember it all. As I said it should be published by the end of the season. The pictures tell it best.

It was a fun day and we are glad we got to see one of the “new” wonders of the world.