Wednesday, December 30, 2015

What we've been doin'...
Our youngest son, Chris, graduated with his Masters Degree in Geology on December 12.
Katie, Katie's mom, Kathy, Deaglan and Joanie in the bleachers at UNCW before the graduation ceremony.
The grad. 

On December 6th we went to see Emory's performance in the Nutcracker.  Her grandma presents her with flowers after the show.
A great deal of artistic license was taken to E.T.A. Hoffmann's story that Tchaikovsky wrote the ballet to.  The story was set in Wilmington, NC just after the American civil war and the toy soldiers who do battle with the mouse king were Yankee soldiers carrying American flags.  The local audience did not seem to have any problem accepting this version of the Nutcracker.
We had Christmas Day dinner with old friends Candle, her sister Jeanie and their family.

Jeanie's daughter Sydney did some "posing" for the camera.

And another pose.
As most of you know winter has been postponed on the east coast. Every day in December the daily temperature flirts with 80 degrees and mother nature is trying to create a rain forest here.  Rain, rain please go away!

During a break in the rain, I got this shot of our Christmas tree which we put in our picture window this year.
The day after Christmas we took the grand kids (and their folks) to Bounce.  For hours Deaglan and Emory just burned energy at an unbelievable rate.  

This place has state of the art bounce equipment. 
 Of course Emory had to do everything her big brother did.
After Bounce, we went to a nice Italian restaurant but Emory could not stay awake.  She was totally out of gas.

Later we played with Christmas presents.

Did I mention that it is raining? For Christmas I got Wellingtons; AKA Wellies.  Anyone who has watched PBS knows what Wellies are.  Rubber boots. Did I tell you that it is raining? Even as I write this, a summer thunder storm rages outside.  The ground is super saturated.  Flash flood warnings, rivers spilling over their banks are causing untold problems. 

We are high above the river and creeks and our lot drains as well.  But there is mud everywhere. Therefore, the need for Wellies.

I made this Wellie stand the other day.  The rain washes off the mud while the boots stay dry inside.

This is our latest modification to "Plan B".  A small shed to keep shovels, rakes and a place to store the trash can and recycle bin when we travel.
We expect to break camp here and move Phaeth and Hope to the KOA in Wilmington on Sunday.  We will be helping Chris and Katie with the kids while Chris travels to the OBX for three weeks.  The GeoEngineering company he works for will have him working on their barge taking core samples for the North Carolina DOT. He will be the resident geologist identifying soil and rock samples.  He will be coming home on weekends when grandma and I will rest.


Thursday, December 17, 2015

"Plan B"...

When Joanie and I started out on our adventure of full timing we knew that we would not be able to do it forever.  We knew that health issues and our age would cause us to come an end sometime.  The question we had then was "What would we do then?".  Where would we park Phaeth for the last time? 
This is the lot before any contractors began work.

The first thing we did was to put in the water line.  There existed a frost proof  yard hydrant out near the street which when moved back about 60 feet, was perfect for an RV site.  The valve is 18 inches below grade protecting it from freezing.  A 4 foot rod that opens and closes the valve runs down the middle of the water pipe making it very easy and convenient to turn the water on or off.  It also opens (when valve is off) and closes (when valve is open) a weep hole below grade to let water drain out of the stand pipe, preventing it from freezing. Recycling this hydrant saved us some $.


At first it seemed like a question with no good answer but after thinking about it, we came up with some.  (1.) We could park in one of the long term campgrounds in Florida, Texas or Arizona and just continually rent the space.  It is difficult to find a good place and they pack you in like sardines.  (2.) We could buy a space in one of the upscale "resort" RV retirement places where there is greater "elbow room" but those were out of our budget range.  (3.) We found out about a progressive nursing RV village in Texas that sounded very nice but Texas is far from any of our relatives or friends that we would like to see.

Next, a septic tank had to be installed.  This system has no drain field.  Instead, it has an electrically operated lift pump which, because the ground here does not "perk", sends the liquid effluent of the tank to a city sewer line. The septic tank had to be vacuum tested  and certified by an inspector against leaks which is what is happening here.

We decided to create our own "alternative" that combined all of the above and give us everything that we wanted.  We decide to build our own permanent campground with plenty of "elbow room", is in a quiet location with moderate weather and close to friends and relatives. 

The truck that delivered the septic tank got stuck in the Carolina clay (which is why the ground "don't perk") that makes up most of land along the Neuse River.  The excavator's Bobcat had to help pull it out.  The wet clay is like a powerful vacuum that sucks things down into it.  It is like a very slow liquid that will stick to everything. Cleaning it off requires much water and effort.

We found and purchased a lot that is two thirds of an acre on a dead end road on the Neuse River in an unincorporated section of Craven County, near New Bern, North Carolina. We are not "on the river" but are across the street from the waterfront properties. The lots across the street are tax valued ten times greater than what ours cost because of their "waterfront" nature. 

It is far more peaceful and quiet here than in some campground or RV resort.

We bought the lot in June and came back in November to start the "build".  For more than a month we have tried to coordinate contractors, inspectors, city water, sewer and electric providers all while dodging one of the wettest falls this part of the country has seen in a long time.
This year's El NiƱo is causing a record warm December.  I have no problems accepting the warm weather and hope January and February behave themselves, too. But the rain makes it difficult to get work done.

We had a standard 200 amp service installed mostly because it was the least expensive route to go.  From this panel a sub-panel was installed for the sewer lift pump and controller.  From this main panel an RV 50 amp plug was installed.  The breakers for this plug are in the main panel, again to save a few bucks.

The essentials for life while living in an RV, water, sewer and electricity, are finally in and we have moved Phaeth to her new campground, our campground.  I have to admit that it was frustrating at times.  We have a lot of "refining" to do as we have mud all around us.  Maybe we will get a pair of "Wellies" to put on whenever we leave Phaeth.

 The excavation contractor also installed the circular driveway and parking pad of ABC stone gravel.  He had start by striping away the sod.


We plan on staying here until Spring,  enjoying the Christmas holidays with our son Chris' family and friend Candle and her family, taking our time doing the "refining".  Should the weather turn too nasty for our taste, we will just drive away.  We have never stayed for this long in one place living in Phaeth. We will need to exercise her every so often to be sure she stays in shape.  We hope to celebrate Chris' birthday then head north to Massachusetts to celebrate Don's and Sherri's birthday. Then, perhaps head West until fall when we will come back to "Plan B".

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

The Blue Neuse...
It was a gray, cloudy day yesterday until sunset when the last of the setting sun made a very brief appearance. The night, closing in, made everything look very blue.  This picture was made looking West North West at three old cypress tree stumps I call "The Three Sisters".