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Weeks 29 - 30.5 - The Final Days Before Hitting the Road (July 16, 2005 - August 2, 2005)
Saturday, July 16, 2005
Got My Wish For A Rainy, Lazy Day
Well it was a rainy day as I had hoped, so I sat back and watched the British Open. I took the opportunity to do some website work. You can't see the results yet, but I am working on a page dedicated to our RV and truck as requested by several. I am also working on adding various products that we have found useful in our short experience to the Resources page. And I am working on a Selecting A Home Base page. I also made a couple minor changes to the Earning A Living page.
Linda also took advantage of the cooler, rainy morning to do some cleaning and laundry before her hair appointment (the last one). I would say "we" cleaned, but that would be an exaggeration, since she cleaned and I did small favors at her request.
The one thing that I did do (a very small thing, but one Linda liked) was check out our refrigerator manual to determine why we had so much condensation on the outside of the box that was dripping onto the wood drawer below. I found that there was a climate control switch that needed to be in the "on" position. I would be lost without manuals.
After Linda left, the new recliners arrived about half way through the British Open - not as early as I had hoped, but earlier than I expected. Time out for a test drive. Then the test drive turned into a nap - tough day. :)
After Linda got back, we got a call from one of my employees asking if it was okay to come over and take a look at the car. Absolutely! They arrived and took a quick tour of the RV. Like most people, they were surprised to find that it was more like a house than they expected. They test drove the car (it's for a daughter) and will get back to me on Monday. We're keeping our fingers crossed, but if it doesn't sell before we leave, we will leave it with a friend that has knack for selling vehicles and pay him a commission.
The evening ended with me back to work on the website. I was trying to find all the weight ratings for both the RV and truck. I cannot for the life of me find the RVIA label in the RV. It is supposed to be in one of the kitchen cabinets, but I cannot find it anywhere. I guess I will call the dealer and Keystone.
Well that's it for another day.
Sunday, July 17, 2005
Some Good Stuff Today
It was another rainy day. We really needed the rain to green up the farm and reduce the risk of field fire during our party in two weeks. It was another peaceful morning watching the British Open again in our new recliners.
Then, out of the blue, I got a phone call. It was one of the three guys I had called to try to get them to come out and do our fire inspection so we could get the RV titled in Kentucky. It was about 9:00 am and he said he was on his way! I actually did a little dance. They had all said they might come out, but I just knew we were going to have to uproot and pull this thing out for this silly inspection. So it was a nice surprise to have someone coming to us at a time when no schedules needed to be arranged. Of course the inspection went fine and we got our $95 sticker (plus the $50 we paid the guy for coming out- that part was a bargain). Now we can get registered and be legal.
After a late breakfast, we decided that we needed to work on cleaning the little log cabin overlooking the pond. We wanted it to look nice (and be safe) for guests at the party. Since it was raining, there was not much else to do anyway. We worked for about 6 hours cleaning and making the place look presentable. It's a cabin and not used a whole lot, so it needed a lot of sprucing up with all the cobwebs and critters that had camped out. By the end of the day, there was still some work left to be done, but we made a huge difference.
All day long, well except for those six hours in the cabin, we were treated to the constant squeaks and buzzing of hummingbirds (all ruby-throats) coming to our window feeders and chasing each other. Linda calls it "hummie wars". They are such territorial little rascals. But it was great fun to watch their maneuvers and to watch one little female stand her ground and sneak to the feeder from cover. We also had a bunch of chickadees visiting our window sunflower feeder. We both really enjoy getting to see all these tiny birds up close.
Well, time to get some rest for our last week of work!
Monday, July 18, 2005 through Thursday, July 21, 2005
Winding Up Work
The week started out a little tense. I had gotten approval from my superior to end work a week earlier than planned. When I emailed my successors of this plan on Monday, they were none too happy and tried to make a big deal about it. Big mistake.
As for the rest of the week, blah, blah, blah, whatever ...... - it's over. Let's get to the big day.
Friday, July 22, 2005
Linda's big day was actually Thursday, but our big day was today. I had a lot to wrap into one day, but it looked like it was going to go pretty smoothly and I would be out no later than 4:00. I had the opportunity to go visit "my" Louisville employees in their new space and got lots of hugs and avoided tears (holding off for the party).
I received a couple of farewell cards and even a gift of a gas card from a couple of thoughtful folks. Then my afternoon started going downhill. The one file I was working on turned into a nightmare and I had to deal with another legal issue that I couldn't just dump in someone's lap. I was supposed to pick up Linda at 4:30 for our last 9 nine holes and dinner at the country club.
That wasn't going to happen, so I had to call her and tell her to meet me. And I was starting to panic that I was going to have to come back into the office one more time to finish a couple of work items and clean out what was left of my personal stuff. I really did not want to do that, so I kicked into high gear and got everything done about 15 minutes before I was supposed to be on the tee.
I felt good knowing I had done what I could to not burden those staying behind too much. But I was still in a rush. Fortunately I made every light and made it to the golf course just in time. Walking up the hill to Linda's waiting golf cart it finally hit me - I'M ACTUALLY RETIRED. I can't imagine the size of the smile that must have appeared on my face.
We joined another couple and teed off. My focus on the first shot without having any warm-up at all was amazing. I was so relaxed and my swing was smooth. We played a scramble format, but I birdied the hardest hole by myself. A staff member brought cocktails to Linda and I on the second tee - I guess that could account for some of the relaxed feeling (by the way, I don't think drinking bourbon fast through a plastic straw is the recommended method).
By the end of dinner, we had gotten hugs and handshakes and headed home. I'm going to miss Standard Country Club and our friends there. But on the way home, I was riding in my big ole truck, with the music up loud and lettin' out some soul cleansing WOOOOOOOOOO HOOOOOOOOOs! Come on and join us for a couple - it will do you some good. Ready. Deep breath. Go. WOOOOOOOOOO HOOOOOOOOOOO!!! One more time. Don't hold back. Let it go. WOOOOOOOOOO HOOOOOOOO!!! If you did it right, you are smiling right now and feeling pretty good.
Thanks to all of you out there who have been going through this journey with us one painstaking day at a time. A new chapter now begins - WOOOOOOOO HOOOOOOOO!!!!!
Saturday, July 23, 2005
This Is Retirement? :)
First of all, I saw a national news report launching an investigation into all the strange WOOOOOOO HOOOOOOO sounds coming from houses and campgrounds across the country! Thanks for joining us in the personal celebration of our retirement. Now prepare for a long post - it was a long day.
First thing this morning our space efficiency expert, Sunny, showed up with our cabinet re-designer, Ike. They were supposed to come this past Thursday, but had to postpone because a storm Wednesday night felled a tree on Ike's garage and car. And, as Linda had predicted, they were now doing hours of installation on the hottest day of the year with it topping out about 98.
Linda unloaded cabinets and closets so they could be revamped with the new items Ike brought. I am going to try to describe what modications were made. They may be helpful to many RVers, but they will mean most to other Cambridge owners. Feel free to skip this section.
Bedroom - The main bedroom closet contained a very flimsy plastic bar to hang clothes on. Also, though it has nice shoe slots for shoe storage, the slots are all in the back of the closet behind all the hanging clothes. Keeping the closet floor free of shoe clutter meant getting down very low and fighting through the clothes. So Ike replaced the clothes bar with a sturdy metal rod, and he placed it higher in the closet. This created more room below the clothes, so he was able to add a couple of risers under the clothes to organize the shoes that we wear most often. They are now organized and easily accessible and we have more room in the back of the closet to store our "situational shoes." The only issue with this reorganization is that the closet gets smaller at the top where the new bar is, so we have to make sure we use our smallest hangers so they don't interfere with the sliding doors.
The only other thing we did in the bedroom was modify the lower cabinet on the right under the TV closet. In that cabinet we have our satellite controller and Direcway internet equipment. Ike created a shelf to get the equipment up off the floor giving us more storage space underneath. The other modification was to the door on that same cabinet. If the satellite equipment does not get air flow and gets too hot, it has a safety feature that shuts it down. So we had to keep the door open most of the time (which Linda hated because it did not look good). So Ike took the door and replaced the wood center panel with a black mesh. Now air can get through with the door closed and it still looks good.
Kitchen Area - In the kitchen, we have a very large floor to ceiling pantry. The shelves could be adjusted to any spacing. However, the shelves were cheap and were bowing shortly after we filled up the pantry. So Ike brought more solid shelves with lips to keep everything from shifting to the front (and thus fall out when the doors were opened). He also brought more shelves to make more efficient use of the space.
The other kitchen modifications included installation of risers and a plate rack to make better use of the space in the very tall overhead cabinets over the counter separating the kitchen from the living area; the addition of one shelf in the laundry closet right inside the entry door; a lock on the very large, heavy drawer under the refrigerator to keep it closed during travel; and a three bottle wine rack in the small space between the overhead microwave and the refrigerator.
Living Area - Ike made the most changes in the living area. Most of the modifications revolved around the desk area. The top of the desk area included our all-in-one printer/copier/fax/scanner, our laptop docking station, our flat screen monitor, our wireless mouse recharging station, and of course our surge protecter where everything is plugged in. This set up, in order to fit, had everything off center and had cables going everywhere - it looked a mess and caused Linda great anxiety. :) Also, the large desk drawer that runs the width of the desk nook had a cover over it that was used to place the keyboard on when pulled out. The problem was the keyboard was too high and uncomfortable to use, and the desk drawer was almost useless because of the heavy cover. Under the full width desk drawer are two file drawers on the right (they were fine) and a very deep cabinet storage space on the left. The cabinet storage space had two doors and a plank divider between them that made storing anything large difficult and getting anything out of the back of the cabinet even more difficult.
So how did we attack these problems? Well, Ike placed a solid wood riser on top of the desk that holds the printer up and allows the laptop docking station to be slid underneath. All the cables now are hidden behind the riser, and everything is centered, looks nice, and is functional. Ike removed the large full width drawer and used the space to create a smaller, usable drawer at the top and a sliding keyboard tray below that at proper height. The keyboard tray has a facade that looks like another drawer when closed and folds down out of the way when in use. Ike then inserted two sliding shelves in the lower left cabinet area to create more efficient space and to allow us to pull the shelves all the way out for easy access. In order to do that, he removed the center plank between the doors and attached it to one of them, so when closed it all still looks as it did before. These changes are all exceptional - we may even send the photos into Keystone for future modifications.
Over the TV in the entertainment center is another very deep cabinet that we use to store office supplies. Again it was difficult to get to anything in the back. So Ike created two more slide out shelves. He made two because the cabinet is so large the weight across a full shelf would have created too much stress when it is pulled out all the way. Finally, Ike installed more risers to help organize the small storage cabinets over the desk area and the cabinets at the rear of the RV over the recliners.
All that made for a long, hot day for Ike and Linda who was loading and unloading closets, cabinets, and drawers, and cleaning up as Ike finished in each area. But we are very pleased with all the practical (for us) modifications. My biggest concern was the additional weight that these changes would make. But in some cases we actually lessened weight, so I don't think there will be much overall effect.
So what did I do all day? My job was to get the truck in shape to transfer items from the "basement" to the truck bed (now that we have our cover). The first thing I did was to take everything out of the basement to get an idea of what could go in the truck bed and what we wanted to stay in the basement. I then thoroughly washed out the bed to get rid of the dust and dirt that was left from the workers that sprayed in the liner and the ones that installed the bed cover. Afterwards I decided to just go ahead and wash the whole truck - it was 98 degrees so playing in the water was not such a bad idea. It was the first time in probably 10 years or so I actually completely handwashed a vehicle and it was the first time I ever had to use a ladder to wash one. But I probably did the best job I had ever done - it took me all day.
Then I loaded the truck. I put a large plastic camping supply bin in, then our two medium sized suitcases that have colder weather clothes stored in them, then our sleeping bags that were taking up a lot of space, then a three step ladder we are hauling for washing the truck and RV and for whatever else might come up, then a couple of coolers, and finally our golf clubs in the back for easy access. So far the new bed cover has kept the bed very dry in all of our recent rain, so all of this use of the bed depends on that continuing. But the worst that can happen is that we ruin a few clothes in the suitcases that we are hoping not to use anyway.
I then reorganized the basement. Wow! What a difference it made to put all that other stuff in the truck. We are now able to use our basement slideout tray for our most used items - the grill (and accessories) and our lounge chairs. We have so much more room. Everything can be accessed easily without having to take stuff out to get to what we want. Linda already sees an opportunity for shopping, but I am trying to emphasize that we have weight issues and we can't take on anything else. I doubt I will be able to push that argument very long.
As it was getting dark, I pulled the truck over to the RV to vacuum. I have to tell you the central vac where we can attach a hose in the center of the RV and clean the whole place and where we can attach in the basement and clean it and the vehicles is an absolute must have.
I finished the evening giving the car a quick wash and Linda finished up putting things back in place. Boy did we work hard and we were worn out. Like I said - This is retirement?
P.S. You may have noticed that you can now access the Our Home On Wheels page for some information on our rig. It is not quite set up the way I want it, but the basic info is there. I will add the modifications detailed above to that page and I will get some more photos up there soon. I also want to get some links set up to some vehicle weight rating sites because that information is so important in selecting tow vehicles and even the RV itself.
Sunday, July 24, 2005
It Is Hot! And I Wanted A Haircut
First thing this morning I got up to more congratulatory emails. It still amazes me that folks read this journal quite often. I am humbled and appreciative.
After returning emails, it was time for Linda to attempt her first hair-ectomy. The first step was to watch the DVD that came with our clipper set. It had a couple of tips, but none of the three examples were what I needed. I kept telling her it would be easier than those on the DVD because I just needed her to pick a blade guard and give me the ole military cut (well not quite that short). She kept telling me it was a good thing I had five days for the hair to grow back before the party.
So I set up a chair and stand under the awning and awaited my be-hairing. She was nervous and went slow, but ultmately gave in to my requests to just put on the blade guard and go. She actually did a pretty good job for the first time. There are just a couple of bare spots around the ears, but it's not like I have a big business meeting or presentation tomorrow. :)
By the time my hairs had been amputated, it had gotten so hot, my motivation to work outside was gone. So we hung out with a couple of fans, listened to some music, went through all the owners manuals for the systems in the rig (where we did find our RVIA weight sticker by the way), worked on finalizing some financial stuff, and threw away other accumulated paperwork.
Included in the above was the purging of much of the contents of my wallet. By the time the wallet had been emptied of the bar association cards, the frequent flier cards, rental car cards, and credit cards we will never use again, my back pocket was feeling much less stressed. My wallet has never been so flat. I have to keep patting myself on the rear to make sure it is really there - the wallet that is, the rear is quite evident.
I then sat down to write a very long email to a visitor that inquired about health insurance in preparation for full-timing. That is a hard subject to write about, and I am by no means an expert. But you would be surprised by the number of people that have absolutely no idea where to start. I did most of our research on eHealthInsurance.com and recommend it highly.
What do I like about eHealthInsurance.com? Well I love the fact that you can actually get a quote without filling out an application (or giving any personal information at all for that matter); you can compare up to four plans at once; you can research plans and premiums for different zip codes easily if you are not sure where you are going to set up residence; and it has a wealth of information to help wade through the health insurance swamp. If anyone out there has found a better site, please let me know.
After that long email, Linda and I were going to finish cleaning the cabin, but instead decided to go see a movie where the air conditioning would be somewhat better. We enjoyed "March of the Penguins" which is a National Geographic film about the life of Emperor Penguins in Antartica. And some of us think we have it rough.
Then after a wonderful milkshake and a brief grocery stop, we headed home and to bed. Tommorow is still Monday, and we still don't have to be anywhere. :)
Monday, July 25, 2005
Some Leisurely Errands And More Of The Weighting Game - A Tire Lesson
Today I had lunch with a friend. I dropped off one remaining key at the office - that felt strange, but I made sure I was in and out fast (left the car running). I stopped by two offices of folks that won't be coming to the party just to say goodbye, but neither were in. I heard a radio commercial for CarMax about their appraisal and cash offer gurantee, so I dropped in at the nearby dealership and got the car appraised and received a cash offer guaranteed for seven days just in case we can't get it sold otherwise (the offer is less than I want, of course, but it is reasonable). And I stopped by our old house to transfer a warranty we had from Circuit City for electronics we sold with the house, to pick up junk mail, and to ask permission for the Louisville Courier-Journal newspaper to take photos of the house.
We were contacted this morning by the Courier about a story on our lifestyle change. They interviewed Linda and I over the phone and wanted photos to show our lifestyle before and after. We have also been contacted by a local TV station, and we hear a national show is interested, but we don't have any expectations about that.
When I got home, Linda was sitting in the shade with her new best friend, Mr. Fan. It hit 100 degrees today. The heat index was 115 with our Ohio River valley humidity. We could go in the house where there is air conditioning, but we both feel like that would be cheating, and we want to prepare ourselves for being on the road. So Linda keeps her hair wet, and we move Mr. Fan in, out, and around the RV with us for a little relief.
As the sun started going down, I jumped on a riding lawnmower, and my Dad and I, with dueling mowers finished cutting the large field we will use for our party and parking. I have to tell you that it was the first time since I left this farm as a kid that I have volunteered to cut grass. But tonight there was a certain enjoyment to it on several levels.
Then Mom, Dad, Linda, and I plotted out the layout of the party and where we would park the RV so we could give tours and not have to leave the party area. It was a bit of a surreal moment right at dusk, looking at the beauty of the farm and discussing our departure and the upcoming attempts to sell the farm. This full-timing thing sure taps the entire range of emotions during the process. Wow.
After dark and reviewing more of the sweetest emails from visitors, I determined that I needed an education on tires and tire pressure and weight capacity. All I see keeps saying the information I need is stamped on the tire. Well, after crawling under the slideout with a flashlight and writing down what I thought were the pertinent set of numbers, I jumped on the net and went to the Goodyear website. They actually have an RV section and load/inflation information charts. Of course I might as well have been reading Japanese. So my next step was to Google the phrase "how to read a tire." To my surprise several sites popped up.
Here is what I learned about our RV tires which are Goodyear LT235/85/R16 126/123L. The "LT" stands for "light truck" as opposed to "P" for "passenger" as seen on car tires. The 235 is the width of the tire in millimeters; the 85 is the "aspect ratio" which is a percentage (the height of the sidewall compared to the width - huh?); "R" means "radial" construction; the 16 is the diameter of the tire across the "doughnut hole" (i.e. a 16-inch tire has to go on a 16-inch wheel - that one I get); the 126 indicates the load capacity (you have to have a chart to decipher these - 126 corresponds to a load capacity of 3,748 pounds; the "123L" is the maximum speed rating (75 mph for this tire) and once again you need a chart (most tires just have a letter for the speed rating, so I am not sure why this tire has a number and letter). So basically, I can't tell a whole lot just from looking at the numbers and letters. They only help me identify the tire in the appropriate charts.
So back to the Goodyear site I went with my numbers and letters and checked out the Load/Inflation chart. I found our tire and it showed me the load limit in pounds for each level of tire inflation (PSI). But what PSI am I supposed to have our tires inflated to? Back out with my flashlight. I found more info. Max Load 3750 @ 110 PSI, Load Range G. So this tells me that our tires are rated for a maximum load of 3,750 pounds each at 110 PSI and the Load Range G (I found after more digging) indicates how many plies (?) the tire has which is an indication of strength (G is very good). So I am thinking that I am supposed to have my tires at 110 PSI and they can each carry 3,750 pounds for a total of 15,000 pounds for the four tires. That is what my RV sticker says and my axles are rated for 7,000 pounds each, so my tires can support my maximum axle weight easily. But reading further, I keep seeing that most manufacturers do not recommend keeping the tires inflated to the maximum. So I check my chart again and determine that I can be as low as 100 PSI (the lower the PSI the less weight the tire is rated for) and the tires still be able to carry more than the axle weight rating.
Sheeeesh! Why does everything have to be so complicated? Well, I hope I have simplified things for you a little bit with respect to tires. Basically, identify your tires and get your tire manufacturer charts to see what the tire load capacity is and what inflation level is optimum for load and safety.
I am starting to get comfortable with the weights and load capacities. It has now been hammered into my head how important it is to understand your weights for maximum safety and longevity of the RV and other vehicles. I still learn something new every day - got to keep this old, retired mind sharp you know. Wink.
Tuesday, July 26, 2005
More Final Preparations and A Nice Visit
We headed out early this morning with a schedule (I am already trying to rebel against schedules). First we hit our local bank and closed all of our accounts. We took the money from our old accounts and deposited them into our Merrill Lynch checking account.
Sorry, but I have to do this sidebar on the Merrill Lynch thing. I think I have done it before, but I have to tell those that may not have been reading at the time about this banking option for full-timers. Like many full-timers we wondered how we would do banking all over country. It's not the big deal it once was with online banking and ATMs. Yet we wanted to know that we could go to a branch anywhere in the country if we had to.
We discovered the Merrill Lynch Beyond Banking checking account option by accident when we were breaking the news to our brokers that our income was going to plummet and their annual management fee was likely to be trapped in our dreamworld. Here are the benefits we have discovered: 1) Merrill Lynch (ML)has an office in every state in the country, 2) the account is interest bearing, 3) we can write checks, use a Visa debit card, or do online bill pay, 4) we can monitor everything online, and we cancelled paper statements to get online statements, 5) we can set up alerts to give us email notifications when any deposit is posted, when a specific check clears, or when our balance goes over or under a certain amount, 6) we can get cash at ATMs all over the country and ML reimburses our account for all ATM fees charged by the ATM owning back, and 7) all charges made on our Visa debit card during a month are held and charged all at once at the end of the month allowing us to earn additional interest on that money. I know that everyone does not have a national investment company relationship, but if you do or can, check out their banking options.
Well, as usual, that was a longer sidebar than I intended when I sat down to type. Back to the rest of the day. We dropped off the truck to have our mud flaps installed behind the dual wheels to help keep the RV from getting splattered so much.
Then we went to finalize and sign our Wills, Living Wills, and Powers of Attorney. I am (was) an attorney, and I know all this should have been done long before now, but at least our affairs are in order before we hit the road.
After that fun, exciting exercise (at least we got to make the attorney jealous - sorry Ken), we went to Camping World to stock up. Camping World is a dangerous place. It takes more discipline than we have yet to get out of there with just the supplies we went for. But at least the damage has been shrinking with each visit. :)
Then we stopped by Sam's Club to check out their small propane bottles for outdoor cooking. They were about $2.20 a bottle as opposed to Camping World's $4.00 a bottle. Good to know. By the way, Linda has this idea to save money. She wants to get all the RVers in our campgrounds together to go in on purchasing large quantity items from large buying clubs like Sams or Costco. Usually the quantities are too large for two people, so she wants to take advantage of the cost savings and split up the quantities. I'm not sure how we would make that happen, but it's an idea.
Once back home, we had lots of company. My sister, my niece, and my nephew's wife dropped by with my nephew's little ones. As they were leaving, a photographer from the Courier Journal newspaper showed up to take some photos for an article about us that is supposed to appear next Tuesday. As she was leaving, my cousin Jeff arrived. He had called earlier in the day wanting to take my parents and Linda and I out to dinner. He and I are only a year apart, and we probably spent as much time together in our youth as any of my cousins. But, we have seen very little of each other in our adult lives. Since he could not come to our party on Saturday, I was really glad we got together for at least a few hours before we got out of town. It was good to see you Jeff.
Another day of retired life down. By the way, a cold front is moving through tomorrow, and it looks like the weather for our Bon Voyage Party on Saturday is going to be beautiful. Keeping our fingers crossed.
Wednesday, July 27, 2005
A Bad Day For Linda
A week from our departure date and three days from our party, Linda woke up to her neck being out of position. It happens to her about once or twice a year, and she is really stiff and can't move her arms much at all without severe pain. She needed help getting out of bed, couldn't bend over easily, and couldn't open our snug cabinets or the refrigerator. She is not one to just sit, so she was rather distressed especially with the timing and her sister flying in tomorrow.
And if that wasn't enough, she took a bite of a Weight Watchers snack bar and broke half of a tooth that she had "fixed" last week. Fortunately, she didn't have much pain from that because the dentist could not get her in until late tomorrow. She looked at the bright side of that situation and was glad that it didn't happen after we were already gone.
So she helped organize some of my emails, while I got out and did some heavy weed-eating by the road to make it look nicer for the party and for interested buyers of the farm. Then we finished cleaning the cabin. Apparently, Linda's neck loosened up because she did a little sweeping, cleanded the windows, and wiped down a few items (I told you she is not one to sit for long) while I did the rest.
Linda's sister, Karen, is coming for the party and wants to stay in the RV with us to "get the full experience." Of course that meant Linda wanted to clean, but wasn't able (at least not to "Linda clean" if you know what I mean). I told her that I would do it, but I think she would rather "Linda clean" in pain than take the chance I wouldn't do it good enough. At least she wanted to wait 'til morning to see if she felt better. Hopefully, it will be a better day for her on Thursday.
Thursday, July 28, 2005
The Party Seems To Be Coming Together
This morning we got up early and Linda, though very stiff, was feeling better. She was not, however, fit enough to clean. So I got shower duty, but had to do it with sarge over my shoulder before she would leave to get her sister at the airport. After finishing, I stood at attention with a "Ready for inspection!" That may not have been one of my better spontaneous actions. :)
Eventually, we got as much cleaned as we could before she had to go pick up Karen. Once she got Karen, she stopped off at a friend who has some physical therapy background and has been able to help with the neck problem. They finally got home around noon, and we all had a little lunch and watched hummingbird dogfights.
Then our event planner arrived followed by the folks that were setting up our tent and table and chairs. Wow! That is one huge tent! It's 40 feet by 60 feet and maybe another 40 feet tall at the two peaks. I'm not sure whether the neighbors will think the circus has arrived or, as my Dad said, a huge gospel revival starts this week.
The event planner, Carre, brought tiki torches, a PA system, bandana rib bibs for all guests, chocolate and graham crackers for smores, and various other little detailed touches. But before the tent was completely up, Linda had to go get her tooth worked on and the rest of us had to get to dinner at Linda's mom's place. We had to leave Carre with the tent guys.
Dinner was delicious and we all had a nice time. Afterward, it was home, one last check of the tent (Did I say it's big?), and early to bed for Karen (who had to get up at 3:15 am to catch her early flight) and Linda.
Oh, I almost forgot. For you TV junkies out there, we got our major network channels turned on by DirecTV today. As you may recall, since full-time RVers cannot get "local" channels via satellite, if we want to get network programming and can't get a regular TV antenna signal, we have to apply for an "RV waiver" (informal term).
Under federal rules you have to get network programming from the nearest local channel feeds. RVers and truckers, however, have an exemption whereby we can get network programming from New York and Los Angeles (DNS-Distant Network Service) if we can prove our satellite receivers are mobile and in our rig. To do that we have to fill out a form with our satellite account number and receiver numbers and send it in with a copy of our RV registration. Well, we finally got our Kentucky registration last week and I sent the letter out immediatlely. I got the call today that both our receivers were ready to access ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox (two channels each - east and west for NY and LA). I tested them and we now no longer have to switch back and forth from antenna to satellite. Pretty cool.
Speaking of registration, in my haste to get to day of retirement and blowing through info from Monday through Thursday of last week, I forgot to mention a nice surprise we had while registering. With our Ohio temporary registration for the RV long since expired, we finally got our fire inspection, and I was able to register the RV in Kentucky. Here was the surprise. We did not have to pay a sales or usage tax in Kentucky when we registered. Apparently, Kentucky does not have a usage tax for RV trailers - they do for motorhomes, but not trailers. I asked three different county clerks just knowing that I was going to have to cough up $4,000 or so in taxes. All told me the same thing. Since I didn't buy in Kentucky, there is no sales tax, and since there is no usage tax on RV trailers, my $14.00 registration fee is all we had to pay. I love it when not having a clue pays off! Sure we will have property tax due next year, but let's here it for dumb luck!!
Well, the satellite TV and RV registration stories were not planned for this post. But I have to write 'em when they pop into my head, or some decent info disappears forever in this retired brain of mine with the rapidly decreasing capacity. :)
Friday, July 29, 2005
It Was A Very Nice Birthday - PARTY TOMORROW!!
Well, looking back over the past few posts, I noticed that they have been long. Sorry about that. So, today we are going to keep it short.
It has been a very special 42nd birthday. We all know why with our retirement and our impending departure. I got a bit emotional with a very poignant card from my Mom, and a special gift from my Dad. Then, we all went to dinner on a nearby dinner train and had an enjoyable, relaxing time. It was good.
More party prep went on, but I won't bore you with that. I'm not sure I am ready for emotions to flow tomorrow in front of 200 people. We are extremely relaxed about the whole thing, but I am sure that we will go through every possible feeling. I know one thing - it will be memorable!!
Saturday, July 30, 2005 through Monday, August 1, 2005
Bon Voyage Party and Aftermath
I'm back!! Well Friday's post was your one reprieve from the having to read my small book chapter posts. But today, we have to cover three days since we were having satellite issues and I could not access the website. So here goes.
Saturday morning we decided to move the Cambridge to a different spot on the farm nearer the area of the party. We did this so that we could give folks tours as they arrived and so Linda and I would not be taken too far away from the action. We hitched up for the first time since May 7 and moved a few hundred feet. We learned that our custom designed truck bed cover needed a small modification. We also learned that we are getting pretty good at leveling, and we are learning how crucial a level site is.
Everything came together and we were ready when the first guests arrived around 4:00 pm. The day was beautiful, the food was great, the kids' activities were a hit, and the party was wonderful. It was a very relaxed, but mixed crowd, and it never really evolved into a roaring good time like I expected. Everyone mingled and entertained themselves while Linda and I scurried to give RV tours and talk to everyone. I know Linda did not make it to all guests, but I felt pretty good about talking to just about everybody once or twice.
During dinner, around 6:00 pm, Linda took the microphone and introduced our plans, our decisions, and what we had to go through to get ready for our new life. I then took the mike and began with our purpose for the party, which was to thank some folks and say farewell for awhile. I then thanked my parents and broke down in front of all those people while doing it. I recognized and thanked various individuals and groups of guests and broke down a few more times.
Linda and I both lost it in talking to our friends and family, but we did not want the party to be a sad occasion. So after our impromtu speeches, we tried to liven things up a little. It never got very lively, but we had some great conversations with a lot of people we had not talked to or seen in a very long time. The evening ended fairly early (around 10:00), with lots of really good hugs, lots of encouraging thoughts and comments, and a few tears (much fewer than we anticipated).
By the end of the day, we were emotionally and physically exhausted. It went well, but the whole thing went much diffently than I expected. I thought that family would arrive early and leave early and that friends would arrive later and stay late into the evening around the fire talking about good times. But it was as if everyone was there out of respect for us and because they were invited, and not there to really celebrate.
Don't get me wrong. It was a teriffic event and I have heard nothing but positive comments, but to me there was a strange vibe that I cannot put my finger on. Anyway, I am glad we did it. Our only disappointment was the number of people that RSVP'd but didn't show. We sure could use that extra money spent for other things down the road, and we really, really would have liked to have seen many of those folks. All in all it was a solid ending to one chapter and clear beginning to the next.
Sunday was very laid back. Linda took her sister to the airport early. We helped clean up a little, although most of it was done by Carre, the event planner, and the various vendors she used. I was disappointed to find that I could not get my satellite internet up and presumed it was because a large tree blocked our view of the southern sky.
We received an invitation to have dinner Sunday evening with our friends Jeff & Stephanie. So after naps and showers we had a lovely dinner, watched a movie, and enjoyed one last evening together for some time. Then it was home to bed.
Monday morning I couldn't stand being unable to communicate with anyone, so we packed everything in moved again. But now we are in an open field with a clear view of the southern sky. While I was re-hooking up with electric, water, and sewer, Linda set the satellite dish in motion to find its satellite.
Two hours later, it was still searching. Then Linda noticed that it looked like we had some problems underneath the rig at the front. It seemed that our fresh water tank was going to fall out the bottom and some brackets and rails were bent out of shape. After a few phone calls, we decided we needed to drain the 100 gallon tank. Once it was empty, things didn't look so bad and after a discussion with the service manager of Shipps RV in Chattanooga, TN, we decided that we could make it until our appointment there on August 17.
So we addressed remaining loose ends. I dealt with a couple of nibbles to sell our car and with the satellite issue. Linda worked on getting the truck bed cover modified and verified that her crown came in to fix her tooth on Tuesday. I finally made some adjustments recommended by my Motosat tech support. By late this afternoon we finally had internet access.
Then it was time to go to dinner at my sister's house. We have not had to buy or cook a meal since last Wednesday. We had another nice meal and visit. Then we headed back home and I returned a few emails before finishing off the day with this post.
Tuesday, August 2, 2005
This morning there was a very nice article about us in the Louisville newspaper - the Courier Journal. A photo of us with our RV appeared at the very top of the front page as a teaser to go to the actual article entitled "Driven Together" on the front page of the Features section. Here is the online link to the article for those that are interested:
I'm not sure how long this link will remain active since it is a daily newpaper, but I will try to get it copied and added to a web page for future reference. (They use a lot of graphics, so it takes a while to download). Let us know what you think! :)
Whew!! It is now midnight and I just finished returning all the emails from today. It's tough being semi-famous. :)
The newspaper article generated emails from people I haven't heard from in years and from complete strangers. It was fun waxing nostalgic with the folks we know and reading the enthusiasm of the ones we didn't. I even got an email from a high school classmate letting me know about a planning meeting for our 25 year reunion to be held next year. We haven't had a reunion since number five (at least one I was invited to anyway - hmmmm, maybe you have to be semi-famous).
The rest of the day went something like this. Linda went back to the dentist to get a crown for her broken tooth. The folks at Family Care Dentistry made it happen by getting her crown rushed. It was supposed to take two weeks, but with us heading out of town they managed to get it in two days! Thanks everyone! (Hmmmm - I wonder if that was because Linda is semi-famous?)
I picked up our modified truck bed cover, made one last deposit, and made arrangements to cancel insurance on the car. Linda spent the afternoon with her mom, and then we met at Steve & Patty's (Buddy's new home) to drop the car off for Steve to sell - he's a master dealmaker.
We then made it home for dinner with my parents - just the four of us. Oh boy is tomorrow going to be tough as we leave to start our new chapter.
All right. I've got two more things to tell you before I sign off. First, the Journal is going to take on a new look by tomorrow evening. I am going to archive the Journal up to today so everyone can look back at our months of preparation. But starting tomorrow, the Journal page will look totally different going forward. The new Journal will actually be a website unto itself with links back to the other RV-Dreams.com pages. It will have a home page with a brief synopsis of our journey, a map that traces our travels, and an itinerary where you can click on each day for that day's entry and photos. Photos will be much easier to upload. And you can all send messages that can be viewed on a Guestbook (it's not automatic - I can choose whether to include them or not and you can tell me whether it is okay to post your message for public view or not). Of course you will always be able to send emails as before. I think everyone will like the new format, but if not, just let me know and we will go back to the current way.
The second thing is that Linda and I are going to start a pilot program (this idea developed when Linda's sister Karen, a fourth grade teacher, was in town). We are going to start a trip journal for the travels of "Jungle Joe", a toy gorilla. We will photograph Joe at our various stops and Joe will post weekly entries with photos. Karen's class will then get online each week to visit Joe's trip journal website to learn about his travels. They will be able to submit questions and messages to Joe. The idea is to get the kids enthused about their very own "friend" out on the road thereby enhancing their learning experience and giving them practice with computer skills, reading skills, writing skills, geography, and even a little history. If the program goes well, we hope to expand it to other classes and schools, and who knows after that. Let us know what you think about this idea - soon we will have a link to Joe's website so our visitors can get a better idea of what we are talking about. We are excited about this opportunity to help kids learn!
Well, we have a big day on Wednesday and I have got a lot of website work to do. Keep your fingers crossed that I don't screw everything up. :)
Go to Weeks 1 - 4 (January 1, 2005 - January 28, 2005)
Go to Weeks 5 - 8 (January 29, 2005 - February 25, 2005)
Go to Weeks 9 -12 (February 26, 2005 - March 25, 2005)
Go to Weeks 13 - 16 (March 26, 2005 - April 22, 2005)
Go to Weeks 17 - 20 (April 23, 2005 - May 20, 2005)
Go to Weeks 21 - 24 (May 21, 2005 - June 17, 2005)
Go to Weeks 25 - 28 (June 18, 2005 - July 15, 2005)