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 us...to touch and feel it... "Through the Lens".
Thursday, December 31, 2009
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
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
Monday, December 21, 2009
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 www.rvliving.net 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
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
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 www.callawaygardens.com
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
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
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 www.geocaching.com 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
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
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?????