Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Catching up north ...

September 26 to 29 we were in Carlisle, PA.  Because it was a weekend in fall it was crowded and all the camp sights were close together.  We felt a littler crowded-in compared to what we have enjoyed thus far full-timing. We were able to put out our big awning but just barely.  Lots of campfires all around us and all the noise of kids having a great time was joyful to us.

We parked next to Dawn and Gary, a super nice couple who just retired and took to the fulltime RV lifestyle like ourselves.  Had some good chats and we wish them Godspeed as they head to Florida in their new 5th wheel.
Color in Carlisle, PA.

On the 29th we rode into the Pocono Mountains and are now camped at KOA Delaware Water Gap/Pocono Mt RV park in East Stroudsburg, PA. 
This was sunset last evening looking east.  The setting sun cast a warm glow from the west to the east. Neat!

Just in a week we have seen a time-lapse transition from summer to peak color fall.  Glorious! Yes, we are "leaf-peepers".  A leaf-peeper is a city person who drives out into the country to see the colors of autumn.  It is a term used in the tourist industry.  So if you have ever taken a ride out of town and enjoyed God's color pallet, then you, too, are a LEAF-PEEPER!

None of these photos have been run through PhotoShop. (Cause I  can't run it on this darn MS Surface RT tablet computer.)

Eww! Bugs...

Ever since we left Lake Wylie we have encountered this culprit in all the camp grounds we have stayed.  Its parents had a huge orgy some time ago and after a dormancy all the babies erupted to annoy us.  It is attracted to RVs (or so it seems).  I saw a couple RVs covered with them - hundreds. Literally. It's an insect bloom like a plague, like a locust invasion. 

It is called the Asian Stink Bug or brown marmorated stink bug accidently brought to the US from China in 1998.  It causes wide spread damage to fruits and soybeans and other vegetables.  They can get inside your house and when warmed up from their dormancy during winter months will be seen clumsily flying around light fixtures.  Motorhome friends of ours have had some of these interlopers in their rig for two years now.  I guess we will have a few now.

They get their rather noxious name from the scent they leave upon being crushed -  "pungent odor that smells like coriander".  You have to hold them up to you nose and take a wiff to actually smell anything.  We are using up a lot of paper towels and kleenex to dispose of them in the coach.

They have been spotted as far north as Eastern Pennsylvania and New Jersey.  Hope they don't follow us into New York and Massachusetts.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Enjoying God's Glorious Creation

My photos don't do justice to the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia.  We have had a wonderful time at Jellystone Park and we have not even unhooked Hope.  We have stayed right here for three days just enjoying Creation.  Walks along the trails and the James River in a camp we have had pretty much to ourselves.  My only regret is that I didn't carry my camera on the walks and take more pictures for you.
The trees up at this level are showing tints of yellow and when the wind blows acorns fall and small leaves rain to the ground.

The air has been cool and pleasant.  We have had the coach windows and door open and we listened to the field crickets and birds.  The Crows are particularly cacophonous in the mornings.  There is a wonderful feeling of Peace that envelops and permeates you if you just listen.

Yesterday afternoon was just spent being luxuriantly lazy outside watching the clouds change shapes over the mountain top.  Robert E. Lee himself road by on Traveler with a dog leaping and barking at him then morphed into a Disney character.  Joanie gave me a run for my money in a game of corn hole. We snacked on cheese and crackers and cool drinks.
Today we hit the road north again to camp tonight in Carlisle, PA.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Heading North ...
We pulled out of Lake Wylie yesterday and after topping off our LP shot up I-77 into the mountains.  I-77 ends and connects with I-81 into the northern section of the Blue Ridge.  We consider I-81 one of the better scenic interstate highways in the east so Joanie took pictures.

Today we are at Jellystone Campground in Natural Bridge Station, Virginia and will be here for 3 days.  The views from our camp sight are very nice.  The mountain air is cool - something we are not use to. 
8:30 AM outside temperature was 54 degrees. It was 60 inside as we had neither furnaces not heat pumps on.  If the sun comes out later, it will warm up.
Early this morning the mountain mist descended on the campground.

Among today's house keeping chores I have to chart our next move and make reservations at our next stop - somewhere around Jonestown, PA.

Monday, September 22, 2014

A little moment of anxiety

After Mass on Saturday evening we went to dinner with some old friends at church to say goodbye.  Yesterday, Sunday, we cleaned the "house" including washing the windows outside.  It was a beautiful day of dry, "almost fall" weather, about 85 degrees. We had just finished up, walked the dogs and were just about to feed them and watch some football when the air conditioners went off.

Of course that is to be expected in the later part of the day but it began to get warm inside and we knew the breaker at the post had tripped once again.  It has done this several times while we have been here and we even had the maintenance man come out two weeks ago to complain.  He said then that the breaker was not that old, that the post had been rewired for RVs just two years ago and that the breaker was "almost new".
"Almost new". Really? The 50 amp receptacle is newer looking but the rest of the post looks like something from the Great Depression.

Two years old? More like two decades! When the maintenance man was here I peeked over his shoulder to see inside the box.  To me it seemed the wiring was substandard for 50 amp service.  12 gauge wire where 10 ga.or even 8 ga. would be better. 

So yesterday I flipped the breaker full off to reset it and then on as I had done so many times before. Only this time the power did not return to Phaeth.  I opened the 120V electrical bay and saw that I had only one red led light on the Surge Guard.  My volt meter showed no voltage on the load side of the Surge Guard. Head scratching time. I went to my computer to look up the trouble shooting manual for the Surge Guard and read that one red light meant that there was an open conductor.  In other words, one of the two circuits that feed the electricity to the motorhome was disconnected. 
The Surge Guard has status lights that indicate conditions.  This is not a standard piece of equipment on RVs but I think it should be because the electrical supply at most RV parks is way too suspect.

The 120 volt electric bay is just behind the rear axel on our motorhome.  Besides our shore power cable (big black line) it also contains the hook ups for cable TV and satellite tripod.  It also houses the automatic transfer switch (gray box) which selects from generator or shore power.  It also houses the Battery Minder that keeps our coach batteries topped off.  Also stored here (lower right) is a space heater we just loaded and might (might? You mean WILL) need this winter in the coach.  The little yellow device is a "dog bone" which can be used to access electricity from a 30 amp outlet if 50 amp is not available.

To confirm this I probed the post's 50 amp outlet with my volt meter and sure enough, only one circuit was working.  That meant that there was a wire that had come loose or the circuit breaker had gone bad.

I also wanted confirmation from my Surge Guard so I cranked up the generator and the Surge Guard showed normal operation and the AC cooled us off.

Whew! What a relief!  The problem was not Phaeth. 

That could only mean one thing!  The campground was at fault. 

I called the maintenance guy who came out right away, replaced the 50 amp breaker and tightened all the connections.  He didn't stick around to tell me again how "new" the electrical stuff was.

Full-time RVer CSI - We Solve Mysteries!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Getting ready to leave ...

We are not pulling out until Tuesday but thought I would let you know that we have been busy.

Joanie saw her doctor and had to have some more tests that turned out OK.

We have visited our storage locker (a few times) and traded out some stuff we did not need for stuff we believe we will need as winter approaches.  Joanie wanted her canning stuff, knitting and sewing stuff, I wanted my painting supplies, some new books to read and we exchanged some summer clothes for winter ones including Joanie's boots and jackets, hats and scarves for both of us. 

This, of course, required the general reorganization of almost all our storage compartments and there is no one better for that job than the Organization Queen herself, Joanie, DW.  I helped.

I replaced our water filter cartridge with a better one; one that also removes chemicals and
voila! the rotten egg smell was gone from this campground's water. The water is now decent and drinkable.  However, Joanie bought 2.5 gallon jugs of spring water from the grocery store that we will continue to use for drinking.  A lot of full time RVers do that as a matter of course, never consuming water from their fresh water tank.  We drink "city" water in campgrounds if we deem it OK.
This is the inside of the "wet bay". The water filter is the white cylindrical device in the upper right corner.

While we were parked here in Lake Wylie, we also helped some old friends with things.  This included, among others, helping Joan and Boots, who own a Tiffin Allegro Bus and are almost "full timers", with some fix ups around their stick and brick and with their coach.  Boots needed to replace the chassis batteries which went south real fast last week.  That's usually the way with batteries - one minute they are behaving as they should and the next, they are worthless.  One day his coach started up fine - the next the batteries showed only 7.4 volts after a constant charge.  Turn the key and "nada".  Motorhomes have a back up plan - when the chassis batteries die, with the flick of a switch you can tie in the 12 volt "house" system in case of an emergency like this. It's like getting a jump from yourself.
This is my chassis battery compartment.  I have pictured it here just to give you a visual of the size of the batteries required to light up big diesel engines.

Freightliner puts two 12 volt, 1000 cold cranking amp batteries on their chassis. Tiffin adds 4 six volt batteries wired to make a 12 volt system to run the coach electrics for a grand total of 6 not-so-small, not-so-light-weight batteries. I went with Boots to have the new batteries installed just to further my education. 
The owner of the automotive repair shop where we had the chassis batteries replaced showed off his "love" he had parked out front.  It was pristine!

I also helped Boots with the repair of a small accident he had that damaged his tow electric cable. This required some crawling around under the front of their Saturn and trying to figure out the correct wiring on the plug that runs from the back of the coach to the toad. We thought we got that corrected but could only get the right turn signal to work.  After a lot of head scratching, we finally started to look at fuses.  Viola! Another education moment.

Joan and Boots are on the road today.  Godspeed.


Saturday, September 13, 2014

Oh, how the mighty have been laid low...

Thursday, about noon time, we were at Walgreen to have prescriptions filled and get flu shots.  For folks over 65 years old, they give a vaccine that is 4 times the normal dose because as we grow older we have built up immunities to the flu which will actually prevent the vaccine from working.  This Walgreen had only one "senior" dose left so Joanie got the regular shot and I got the "senior" shot.

We had guests over for dinner and soon after we said goodnight to them, boom!  It hit me.  The predicted side effects of getting the shot.  I had all the symptoms, severe fatigue and even a fever.  Thank goodness for Tylenol. 

Most of the day Friday I was still not feeling well but by noon I was regaining my strength and I ran a few errands.  Today I am 100% or at least as close as 66 years old will allow me and Joanie doesn't seem to have been affected much at all.

We have had full blown bouts of the flu in our life time, mostly before the invention of flu shots and I can attest that I do not want it ever again.  That is why we get the flu shot. I will gladly put up with this 18 hour downer for the sake of not getting the real bug.  It is very important for seniors (and small children) to be protected because bad complications can result from getting the flu for people with suppressed or compromised immune systems.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Itching to go...

As you know we are parked.  (To a full time RVer the word "parked" has a negative connotation - the natural condition of an RVer is to be moving, positive!)  Joanie still has to see her GP and we will be here for 12 more days.  We still have a lot to do - we are going to Walgreen today to pick up prescription refills which should hold us for the next 3 months and we will get flu shots today, too.  Yesterday we were with Boots and Joan Malin helping them around their stick and brick house and taking Joan to the Polish Deli in Pineville.  (You may not be aware that the Pols are noted for their culinary delicacies - at least amongst themselves.  I'm not saying any more on this subject lest I get myself in hot water.)  We still have to go through the basement and discard stuff we don't need.  So far we have added to the coach's weight and have not reduced it by an equal weight. 

Tuesday we attended the All Saints Senior Group luncheon and I went to the Knights of Columbus meeting that evening.  Between lunch and dinner at church I had too much pasta.
Being back in the old neighborhood we reconnected with the Saturday Night Regulars (going out to eat after Saturday evening Mass).  I guess we are the Saturday Night Irregulars now.
The reason we are itching to get back on the road is not only because of our own wanderlust but because we are planning to visit my sisters in Pennsylvania and New Jersey and then on to see our son and his family in Massachusetts. Since most campgrounds in the northeast close soon after Labor Day, we were very anxious to find an RV park open all year.  The growth of campgrounds in New England have not kept up with the growth of RV's.  Most are old and have not been upgraded to handle Motorhomes and big rigs.  For these reasons they also charge exorbitant rates. With our son's help we have located a nice one that is only 25 minutes away from them. We will be up in that neck of the woods for the beginning of their winter season as we plan to have Thanksgiving with them before heading back south.  We may be camping in the snow again!

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Taking Stock …

Three months on the road!  June 5th we had the closing of our stick and brick house and left.  After a couple thousand miles, we are back close to the old home stead, parked on the South Carolina side of Lake Wylie.  We are here to see doctors but will use this time to go through what’s left of our down-sized possessions and determine whether we really need them or not.  We have kept a closet at a local self storage business that contained winter clothes and too much stuff we thought we would need or just couldn’t part with. We also need to go through all the compartments and the “basement” in Phaeth to do the same.
RVers call it "the basement" - the storage areas under the living area. "Stuff" can pile up in these areas and need to be "de-stuffed".  No sense hauling around excess weight.
We have been homeless for three full months now, a quarter of a year and I am evaluating our condition as well as inventorying stuff.  Here are some things we have discovered:

We are having more fun than we thought we would have!  If you have been following us, you know we have taken advantage of the sights, attractions and culture along the way.  Of course being retired is a big help, too, in having the time to do these things.

Making “memories” is way more important than having “things”.  We have been able to see more friends and family in the last 3 months than we have in the last 3 years!  Sharing good times with old friends and family is sort of a goal we have and we strive to do as much as we can and help others as we go.  We have met a lot of new folks, as well.  We have discovered the variety and diversity that God’s children are.  We have met new friends and encountered “characters”, too.  RVers come in all shapes, sizes, colors, creeds, and backgrounds but we all share this same community – we all have “the road” in common.  There is a friendship and willingness to help one another that exists in the RV world that is not as readily obvious in other communities.
Visiting with Rose and her husband Wally recently in Lake Wylie, SC.
With Candle who is studying Nursing in New Bern is an old family friend.
Day-to-day life on the road is meeting our expectations.  We are becoming veterans of the RVing lifestyle. Our downsized domicile is very different from the old 2,700 square foot stick and brick.  Daily chores require much less time.  We boast that we can clean the whole house in 20 minutes.  There is no grass to cut, deck to paint, weeds to dig. We don’t have to go to the mail box. There will be no snow to shovel (we hope).  We can pull into truck stops with the big semis with confidence and efficiency.  We utilize a check list that we go through before the start of each day on the road which makes handling all the systems that much easier. We try to be as courteous to other drivers as can be done safely and we have learned the un-written rules of the road that only come with many miles. We have successfully “backed-in” to camp sights but we are not yet becoming “cocky”.  And we can dump waste tanks with the best of them. 

We enjoy quiet time.  We sit in silence.  We breathe easier. Our blood pressure drops with our anxieties.  We allow the Peace to enter our home and ourselves.

Lobo and Juni have adapted as well as we have.  The dogs seem to look forward to new campgrounds.  They seem to know that there will be a whole new set of “messages” to read.  They perk up when they see us going through the “breaking camp” routine and wait anxiously at the door when we reach our new destination.  They travel confidently.  They are veterans, too.
The cool tile floor is great place to recover from a long walk on a hot, humid summer day.
Living in much closer quarters has brought us closer together!  Someone will say, “Well, duh!”  We spend more time together than we ever have.  Yet we are not bored.  We never seem to run out of topics to discuss.  We “sense” each other; what the other is feeling without too many words.  We finish each other’s sentences with love and kindness. We appreciate the qualities and talents of the other.  We can sit and listen to one another in silence and peace.  We hear the rain fall on the roof and know that the other loves the sound of it just as much.






Monday, September 1, 2014

Waxing a bit nostalgic...

For some unknown reason the end of summer marked a change in the seasons for me.  It has ever since I was a kid.  Some people say I'm still a kid so I guess that's why the last day of summer is still so meaningful for me.

The day school let out for summer was also a season changer for me.  On the afternoon of the last day of third grade it came to me that I was free forever!  When you are in the third grade, summer lasts forever and Christmas never arrives!  Time stands still.  Joyously!  I had my first glimpse of what eternity might be like. Pretty good for an eight year old, wouldn't you say? Books and paper thrown into the air with shouts of glee! Let the adventures begin!

In those days, TV was black and white and held little content to keep grade school kids engaged.  We were our own entertainment.  Mom gladly saw us out of the house from sunrise to well after dark.  We would even play by the light of closest street light along with all the other kids in the neighborhood. 
PB&J sandwich is comfort food now.  We were raised on this stuff; grew taller than our dads.  "Wonder Bread builds bodies 12 ways"!

I so enjoy watching kids play outside these days. When it happens.  Our culture has changed so very drastically.  The streets are often empty during the summer.  Kids are out only when they are accompanied by a parent or more often a grand parent.  The kids wear safety helmets and are told to stay within a few feet and never allowed to test the full potential of the bicycles that look like they could go ten times faster than anything we had.  There are no pick-up ball games in the street or games of kick-the-can.  Our neighborhoods are so nice and quiet these days. 

No more sounds of summer.

The days are shorter now.  A few trees are beginning to show that they are tired and are looking forward to the rest fall and winter will provide.  The reduced daylight may be having an effect on me, too and that may be the reason I become more nostalgic.