Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Coach Repair and Change of Plans

The adjuster came out to look at the coach and there was quite a bit of damage done from the tire blow-out.  Insurance company gave us the name of a few repair shops; we did our research and decided to take it to Russell's RV Repair in Conroe.  We cleared things out we would need in the house for the next few weeks as they said it would be at least three weeks in the shop.  What fun, we now get to "camp out" in the house for the next few weeks, good thing closing on the house is not until June 28th!!

Fred drove the RV and I followed him to Russell to leave "Our Oasis" for repair.  Ed and Debi Hurlburt met us there and we all headed for lunch.  You know we have only had the coach for a little while now, but leaving it was hard as it has become our home.  I will be glad when we get it back.  Fred suggested after lunch to help us get out of our blue  mood we should go ahead and drive to Livingston to Escapee RV Club and get our mail service set up.  I am glad we did and now we are official residence of the state of Texas for our travels with a Texas address.  Another step completed.

Now all our plans have been turned upside down and we needed to make phone calls to rearrange things.  We had planned to go to the state park close to my son so that he could get all of our electronic set up correctly (he is a computer engineer) and to go out with friends on a trip before we headed off to workamping.  With things getting turned around I have been doing some sub-teaching and have Fred running around doing errands and clearing up things so we can leave when we get the coach back.

Call Russell to check on the coach and Winnebago is going to have to build  a new fender so the repairs are going to take a couple of extra weeks.  Guess we need to go to plan "D" now - lol.  We are "camping" in the house as most of our stuff is in the coach.  This is giving me the time to get rid of the rest of the things in the house and to sort through things I wanted to keep and take with me.  Have place many items on craigslist hoping to get them sold; have given some things to the church; and just plain threw some things away.  Slowly but surely we are getting things cleared out and/or sold.  The house is looking empty and the dogs are acting funny as they know something is up but they are just not sure what. 
This has also given me the time to get with my son and get the equipment we need to make sure we have Internet on the road.  He has also gotten equipment that will help with our phone service so no matter where we are,  we will have good service - or at least acceptable service.  I wanted to make sure that we did have that so I could stay in touch with my grand kids and kids.  The technomads really help a lot in gathering the information and equipment that we needed.  Check out their site and  I am sure it will help.(
Now we are just waiting on the coach to get ready and then we will be off into the wild blue yonder again - well at least to Central Texas to do some workamping - but that will be our next adventure.  Happy Trails to you that are out there and always keep that smile on your face!!!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Our final blowout sale of things left in the house

Weekend of May 17th was our final sale on things in the house.  We received a full price contract on the house today so we were really excited about; we had begun to wonder if we would leave with the house still on the market but the Good Lord took care of it for us in his own time and way.  Now we can move forward to getting things sold.  I have been working all week trying to get things laid out and sorted for the sale but time sure goes fast.  I had to sub-teach on Friday so Fred was left to finish things up.  He  got us a storage shed as there were some things I wanted to go into storage - chest for grand kids graduation in a  few years and I have not finished scanning pictures.  He then put out signs for the sale starting at 8:00am tomorrow - well guess what  - he was hit by buyers while putting the signs out.  I have been texting with him all day regarding prices and he is just a selling stuff.  YEA!!!!

We still had a lot to sell - but I had high hopes that all would go well.  Things started off slow, but did pick up as the day went on.  It was not as well as I had hoped but we did sell a lot.

Two of our grand kids came and spent the night with us.  It was their first experience with an "RV" and they had a blast.  They thought sleeping in an RV was cool, but they did not want us to sell things.  Had to explain to them that we were not going to leave them but that we would be back to take them to see things also.  That seemed to be okay.  One of hardest things about going to this lifestyle is explaining it to the grand kids, especially the younger ones!
I read when you leave you can leave cards and/or little gifts with their parents so when you Skype them during your trips you can have them open the gifts at that time for a special touch.  I am also considering finding little things to send them while we are on the road about the area we are in, then Skype them so they can open it and tell them about the area.  You can make a lesson for them of your travel this way and teach them about different parts of the country.  They will learn and think it is fun - well maybe.  Either way it will help them be a part of your travels.

Sorry, side track there - back to the sale - we had it for two days and sold a lot but not enough.  I just could not believe how much stuff we had collected over the years.  Now to plan "C".  Lots for things will be given to charity and then others will be placed in consignment shops.  We are to close on the house on June 28th so lots of work to do!!!

May 13th & 14th - Trip home - What fun!!

Toledo Bend
We left early in the morning on May 13th to head home from Mississippi with plans to come straight home.  One of the beauties of having your home on wheels is if you decided to change your mind you can.  Fred & I have this "attitude" that when you make a trip somewhere you cannot make the return trip the same way - comes from Fred's mom.  In doing this you get to see more and you just never know what you can find.  So our trip home was planned through Natchez, MS to Toledo Bend to Lufkin and then home.  As we drove we decided to stop and stay at Toledo Bend for the night; I found a place through Passport America, called and they had an opening.  Website for the place looked great but when we got there it was another story.  It was not bad but not what was shown on the website.  The place was primarily set up for long-term weekend fishing camps and/or people who lived in their RV all the time with a few house trailer throughout.  Things were nice but it did not have the fishing pier that we were excited about as we planned on doing some fishing for dinner that evening.  Our dogs enjoyed it though as they played in the water getting completely soaked then ran through the woods  - what a mess. 
Toledo Bend is really a beautiful place and has some great fishing, to bad we did not have a place to fish.  The next morning after breakfast we took the dogs for another walk before we hit the road.  Meet a lady and her daughter that were out walking who lived in the park.  Her daughter raised rabbits for show and they took us over to see their rabbits.  She really had some beautiful show rabbits.
We then hit the road back home which should have only taken us three hours.  Fred decided he wanted to stop and visit a cousin in Huntington, TX  he had not seen in years, so we made the stop there.  Had a great visit with her and Fred took a walk down memory lane seeing his grandparents old house.  We all went to a real neat country cafĂ© for lunch, said our goodbyes then were back on the road. 

We were within an hour of the house when all of the sudden there was a loud explosion.  Scared the dogs so bad they jumped from the couch to the dash board; I was afraid that the propane might have exploded and was gathering dog leashes and getting ready to get out with them.  I looked in the rear view mirror and saw the back tire flying down the interstate - OMG - we blew a tire.  I have never heard a tire blow so loud before.  Fred pulled over and thank god for Good Sam.  We were able to get them out there, get a new tire within an hour and back on the road for home.  Fred was nervous driving but he and the dogs calmed down after a while.  The coach is bad need of repair though - when the tire blew it blew out the entire side around the wheel well and did some damage to the underside of the coach.  Contacted the insurance company and they are on the job now.  Just hope we do not get laid up for long.

Friday, May 17, 2013

May 11, 2013 - Crawfish Boil

Crawfish Boil Day
Up early this morning heading to the market to get the crawfish as they come in from Mamou, Louisiana.  My cousin, Barry, had reserved  3 sacks for us and had actually paid for them because they go fast.  By paying ahead of time we knew they would be there waiting on us; it appeared that everyone in Brookhaven had planned a crawfish boil this weekend.  Fred and I were shocked at the price because at home in Houston the cost was $2.95/pound and here they were only $1.69/pound.  We got our 3 sacks and then headed home to start all the preparation.  Barry has an old bathtub and sack by sack they were dumped for cleaning.  Man you could tell they were fresh as they were very muddy - guess that's why some people call them mud-bugs.  They were all medium to large in size and really looked great.

Barry, Fred and Barry's son, Andy got all the sacks ready and started the water boiling with the seasonings for the crawfish.  Everyone started showing up and it was great to see a lot of my dad's family again.  The last time I saw a lot of them was at my Dad's funeral in April, so it was great to see them under better circumstances.  My dad's brother Clifford, who lives in the Dallas area, even showed up this year.  Barry does such a great job cooking the crawfish and I must say his are the best I have ever eaten.  There was the  usual corn and potatoes, but he adds mushrooms, deer sausage, whole onions and even hot dogs.  The kids love the hot dogs because they get tired of peeling crawfish real fast. 

The three sacks of crawfish went fast along with all the other goodies that everyone had brought.  Lots of beer, wine, water, and soda was consumed and lots of great conversation and tales of the past was exchanged and before we knew it, it was 6:00pm.  Everyone started packing up and leaving looking forward to next year.  Everyone had a wonderful time and after all had left we cleaned up and then went inside to relax.  We feel asleep in front of the TV and I had to wake Fred up to go back to our coach.  What a wonderful day!!!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

May 9, 2013 - Our First Trip

May 9, 2013
Well our first trip did not go as well as planned because we had wanted to go with Ed and Debi to Wolfe Creek on Lake Livingston but the delay in getting the coach did not allow for that.  As things had it we needed to take some furniture to family in Mississippi and the family crawfish boil was planned for the weekend of May 11th so we decided to make that our first trip.  We worked all week getting the coach loaded (at least everything we would need to make this trip) and this morning, Thursday, May 9, 2013 we headed out.  Made the beginner mistake and forgot to put the TV antenna down but did remember it before we got 200 yards away for the house.  Then we headed for gas and propane and at 9:30 am we started out for our first adventure.  The dogs are all confused but have settled down.  Boots is one the couch and Scootin and Boogie stood between Fred and I so they could see out the front window.  We must look a site to those that notice. 
As we headed out I-10 we ran into rain around Baytown and the wiper in front of the driver started acting up.  So we pulled off the interstate and got out the wrenches and pliers and tighten up the screws on the wiper arm.  That seemed to work for about 10 miles down the road.  They started acting up again and this time worse.  I got on the internet and found a RV repair shop in Orange and they were willing to see us right away.  I would highly recommend them if you ever have a problem in the Beaumont/Orange area - they are Lloyd's RV and Repair.  Even in the rain the owner came out and looked at our problem and fixed it right there on the spot.  He did tell us that he had only temporary fixed it as we need a new wiper arm, but he did not hold us up and did not charge us for what work he did do. 
Back on the road and in Lake Charles we had a car that kept waving at us and yelling.  I finally looked at what they were pointing at and saw that our stairs were out - now what is this.  We were not in a place where we could stop so Fred pulled over to the far right lane until we could find some place to stop.  The next thing he saw was flashing lights in his and we both just starting laughing.  He pulled over and the officer waived for him to come back to his car.  As I said in my first post Fred is a retired federal police officer so when he asked for his ID Fred made sure that his retired badge was visible.  The officer told him that he pulled him over because he was not driving straight.  Fred explained to him that we just got the coach and with the wind that was blowing with the rain storm he was just getting used to handling the coach plus we had a problem with our stairs.  The officer was nice and only asked that he show him our insurance and bill of sale on the coach.  He then help us get the stair in and let us go down the road.  We both were wondering what was going to happen next.  The stair kept giving us a problem but I figured out what to do and how to get the stairs back in each time they came out.  It appears we have loose connection and each time Fred hit a bump the stair would go out.  Well with that problem solved for the moment we continued our trip on to Mississippi.
We had no more problems we made it to Mississippi only 3 hour later than we originally planned.  My cousin lives in the backwoods of Mississippi in a small town called Caseyville and she has about 400 acres of land, so I was not sure where she wanted us to setup.  We pulled in front of the house and she said for us to just stay there as she has a large front yard with a circle drive.  Now the fun began again - we started to set up for the first time ever.  The generator was not working right and was running off the batteries and not gas and Fred or I nether one knew why.  Needless to say the batteries went down to nothing and we just looked at each other wondering what to do.  We finally decided just to plug into my cousin's house and just give her some money for electric.  Guess we still have a lo of things to learn!!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

The beginning of the next chapter in our life

On March 19, 1994, Fred and I started our life together as man and wife.  He had 3 kids, 2 girls - Barbie and Vanessa and one son, Andy; I had two boys, Bernie and Brian; all from our prior marriages.  Life was interesting to say the least starting off with a mix family of 5 kids and all close in ages.  We had our good times and bad times but we made it through all the teenage years, broken hearts, teenage crisis and other rough times of our kids' life.  One main reason I believe things worked is because Fred and I both were to determined not to let the kids see us disagree about things that were happening in which they were involved.  Like any step-family we had the kids try to use us against each other but we were determine to stand fast together and we did.  We always backed each other up in front of the kids but behind closed doors we each took our turn in having our say.  I think in all the years that we have been together the only true arguments we ever had were about the kids, but the kids never knew - or let me say we don't think the kids ever knew.  We believed in the old saying united you stand - divided you fall, so we stood united in front of them.

Over the years, Fred worked as a Postal Police Office with the US Postal Inspection Services and I am a paralegal.  We both enjoyed our jobs even though at times they were trying.

In 2004 we purchased 4 acres of land in Stagecoach, Texas and decided to build the home we would retire in.  So from November 2005 until July 2005 we spend all of our free time building our home.  It was hard to say the least as my elder father came and lived with us for a year during this and he had some emergency medical problems.  All the things with building a house (we were the builder - we did not hire a builder)  could and did happened; we were continually rethinking things, doubting ourselves and starting over.  Finally in July 2005 with the help of our
children and grandchildren we were able to move in.  We spent the 4th of July weekend that year with all the kids and grand kids helping us get the flooring completed and everything clean for final inspection the next week.  It was a good time and there was lots that we could not have done if it had not been for the help of our kids, their spouses, and our grand kids.  It was the home of our dreams and something that we looked forward to living out our lives.

In July 2010 Fred retired from the US Postal Inspection Service but he was not completely ready to retire yet.  He went back to work at the Tomball Police Department as a Certified Jailer.  He truly loved this job and was no longer carrying a gun so I was happy. 

In June 2011, I made the decision to finally semi-retire from my work as a paralegal traveling to downtown Houston every day.  The long drive (80 miles) to and from work everyday was taking it's toll on me and I was just simply tired.  After 30 years the work was not as much fun anymore either.  I continued to work as a contract paralegal working from home for a number of attorneys and began to enjoy my work again.  I love the computer age with email, faxes, PDF files, scanning, and truly wonder what we did before.  Working at home in my PJ was great and relaxing.  I found I was able to get much more work completed in a day than I ever did at the office. 

Our country life was enjoyable.  We had bonfires during the winter months and had friends, kids and grand kids over for hotdogs and marshmallows.
  We had BBQ and crawfish boils during the summer months with family and friends.  We also started raising goats and chickens.  Life was fun and treating us right.  It was a lot of work and kept us busy but we enjoyed it; there was always something to that needed to be done on the farm.
In November 2011 Fred suffered an injury on the job at the Tomball Police Department.  It started out as a simple fracture of his right little finger, but before it was over he ended up losing 80% use of his hand.  He spent over 18 months with doctors trying to figure out what was wrong, but all they  ended up saying was that they really did not know why his hand reacted the way it did after the injury.  Due to the injury he retired for a second time in August 2012. 
With is hand in the shape it was all the work on the farm fell upon me, and I am not that young anymore either so the work was just to much for me to handled alone.  We sold the goats and started to downsize the farm, but soon realize that we were now left just sitting looking at each other. 

It was at this time that I started researching and approaching Fred with the idea of becoming a fulltime RVer.  Fred was not keen on the idea, but we loved to travel, we loved to camp, loved to explore new things and loved the outdoors so I persisted.  Again I love the computer age, as I started looking up things about fulltime RVing.  I gathered information, printed it out and left it laying around so Fred would find it and read it.  Then I started looking up things on Facebook to see if there were anyone on there or pages with RVers that he could get real stories from.  Boy was I surprise, there were so many pages on Facebook about RVing that I spent days reading myself. 

I finally convinced Fred to go look at some RV - at this time I was thinking travel trailer or what I knew only then as goose neck trailers (fifth wheelers).  We spent at least 3 days looking and decided we would be the most comfortable in a 5th wheeler.  I fell in love with 5th wheelers and the space they provided as well as the feel of different rooms; they were like a small apartment or home.  We looked at travel trailers and never got the same feel so we decided to continue our search with 5th Wheelers and see what we could fine.  We spent time looking at all the places we could in and around the Houston area and decided upon a Montana units.   I was jumping the gun though as we were not ready to purchase and Fred was still not sure he wanted to do this or not; so back to square one.
I now turned to my Facebook connections and pages.  I started talking to a lot of full timers out there gathering information and obtaining website again.  This time I had Fred join some of the groups on Facebook  so he could start asking question himself on the things that he was unsure about.  In talking with Janice Evans she mention they were going to be in the Houston area and I asked if Fred and I could come out and visit with her and her husband ask questions and get first hand knowledge of what it was like being out full timing in a RV.  She was more than open to the idea and invited us out to visit with them at Thousand Oak.  What a great opportunity Janice and Dave provided to us and they introduced us to Debi and Ed Hurlburt who have become very good friends.

We have spent many hours with Debi and Ed talking about the types of RV's, traveling, pit-falls, concerns and just "doing it."
Debi and Ed were a step ahead of us in getting ready to hit the road as they have already purchased a Class A coach, but Debi needed to retire.  In talking with them, going out to RV shows and visiting RV dealers with Debi and Ed, we changed our minds and decided that we wanted a Class A coach.  In making this decision we looked at a lot of issues; gas vs, diesel cost, maintenance cost, towing small car for running around versus using the tow vehicle of a 5ver, setup and take down time and process, storage space, and just simply comfort. 

Our decision to go with Class A was made because of lots of reasons and I will try to outline some for you: 1)Everything in one vehicle; 2) If we stop for just overnight getting from point A to point B then it is a much simpler process; can just stop, level, put out slides without getting out of the vehicle; 3) Should we be somewhere just overnight and a problem arises, same simple process and we can leave, so for security reasons in overnight stops; and 4)  Sightseeing/running around with a tow that gets good gas mileage versus using the truck needed for a 5ver makes better economic sense.  There are other reasons why many go with a Class A but this was our main reasons.  It will vary from person to person as to what is best for you, so you just need to do your research and figure out what you feel fits with your lifestyle.

So now we started our search.  We have spent month looking at coaches and making a decision on floor plans.  Don't be fooled, there is numerous floor plans out there as there are with homes, so take your time and find out what you like - don't settle.  We thought we had an idea and the more we looked the more we found things we liked that the last one did not have.  We kept a list of what we liked about each coach we saw and then we narrowed our search.  You have all the seating area to one side in some with the kitchen on the other side and then there are those that have seating area and kitchen  on one side and then the dinning area on the opposite.  There are front kitchens, middle kitchens; there are full baths in middle and some that have half baths in the middle with a full bath in the very back; there are those that have no TVs, those that only have front TV located in the front, those that have complete entertainment centers with a fireplace, those that only have a TV in the bedroom and even those that have 3 or 4 big screens TVs in the front area.  Take your time and shop and find what feels right for you and fits your lifestyle.

In early April all of our plans started coming together. We meet with some people that would hold an estate sale for us and started working for an estate sale for May.  We held our first garage sale for those items that they thought would not be good in the estate sale and did really well.  Our son's subdivision had a neighborhood garage sale the next weekend so those items that did not sale with ours were taken there.  Those items that were left over from were was donated to Salvation Army and/or Purple Heart.

Now our attention turns to the estate sale and the planning and organizing for that.  Having an estate sale company come in and do it for you is really great.  I did not realize what kind of work there was to doing this until I watched them.  Each item in the house - down to every nail - is itemized and tagged.  It took them about 3 full days to get everything tagged and then we meet to agree upon pricing.  Once research was completed for some items to ensure that we had the best pricing we could get, a complete spread sheet was created with teach tagged item, it's itemized number and it's price.  The Estate Sale was ready to open then and it was scheduled, advertised in varies places and on line and all we had to do was sit back and watch or so we thought!!!  The sale went fair but not as well as we had hoped for so we now had to go to Plan B - completing the sale of everything in the house ourselves.

Oh yea, I have forgotten one thing, in between all of this we have been searching, shopping, looking, and more searching for the right RV.  Twice we thought we found one and started all the paperwork to purchase it only to find out that it was not right.
In one instance the dealer was just hard to deal with and refused to return our phone calls or answer questions, so we just rescinded the purchase.  There was not way I wanted to have to deal with someone like that if we needed warranty work. 
In the second place they kept trying to tell me that I had a repo on my credit report when I was driving the vehicle that they were saying was repo and it had been paid off seven years ago.  I could not get them to understand that there was a mistake somewhere and to give me time to get things straight - they said no as they will not even consider us because of the repo.  I could not believe when I drove up there in the car and showed them it was not repo they still continued to believe the credit report was right.  Well needless to say we moved on from there and got the mistake corrected on our credit report.

Well we finally found one and with the help of Debi and Ed, checked it out completely and purchased it.  There were some items that needed to be fixed, which really is not out of the ordinary, and it stayed in the shop a week longer than we planned.  Oh well stuff happens and you have to be ready to go with the flow in this lifestyle.  We purchased used as we felt that was best for us and one that we felt would be good for us for about 3 years and then we could upgrade.  We got a 1998 Winnebago Chieftain 34" with 2 slides.  It only had 49,000 miles on it and was very well maintained, everything inside still looked new.  We picked it up on April 30, 2013.  As you see our three dogs, Boots, Scootn' and Boogie are all okay with the coach and are ready to hit the road with us.

We are now loading and organizing our coach with the treasure and necessities of life for the beginning of the chapter.  It has become somewhat of a chore trying to figure out what I needed versus what I want; putting things in the coach so we will fill like we are at home and getting use to smaller spaces.  I have sorted out things and resorted and then resorted again and have been told by many I will do it again and again over the next few months.  We seem to be getting there so we will see.

I hope to keep everyone update as to what is next in this chapter via this blog.  If you are interested you are more than welcome to subscribe and watch as we travel over the next years of our life.  Not sure where things are going to take us right now or what is in store for us.  The Good Lord has provided thus far and I am sure he will continue.  Hope to meet and see some of you on the road and if you are ever in the same area as us come over and see Fred and I - home is our "Oasis" and where ever we are!!