Tuesday, April 18, 2017

On Down the Road April 3-16

Spending a week at Up the Creek Campground gave us a chance to get used to taking our home on the road.  Pigeon Forge was hopping with folks everyone, since it was still Spring Break for many and it was Car Show week also.  We really like this campground.  It's far enough away from all the traffic to be nice and quiet but yet it is on the shuttle route for an easy trip to all the shows, shopping and restaurants.  Every site has full hook-ups (sewer, water and electricity) but some campers might be disappointed that they have no pool, playground, laundry, or bathrooms/showers.  You need to be fully self contained to stay here.  The sites are generously separated and some are upgraded with patio furniture and fireplaces. 

We have a TV on the outside of the coach, so we tried that out when the weather was decent.  Otherwise we didn't do a whole lot.  We did take one of the popular hikes to Laurel Falls, along with several hundred other tourists.  Hard to believe I actually got a photo without anyone else in it! 

We had planned to drive up to Clingman's Dome, but a late spring snowfall closed the road.  But we did get an idea of the devastation of the fires in the Gatlinburg area last fall as we drove up Newfound Gap.  Spring is bringing lots of green though and the area will eventually recover.  We didn't drive into the areas where many of the cabins and homes were destroyed but could see a few from the main roads.

Someone was brave enough to stop along the busy road to make a snowman.  He was on his way to meltdown by the time we drove by.

Another hike with fewer people was to the School House (from the Metcalf Bottoms picnic area)   Some interesting creek crossings on this one.  So after our week's stay at Up the Creek, we headed on down the road  Georgia.  We knew to avoid the Atlanta area so after a good day's drive and a stop for groceries, we stopped for the night near Adairsville, GA at Harvest Moon RV Park.  We had a nice long pull through site since we had no need to unhook the Jeep.  This park is nice and convenient to I-75 and ideal  for an overnight stop, but not really a destination unless you have reason to be in Adairsville.  

One thing we've learned is to not trust Google Maps.   It will route you the shortest and fastest way to your destination, but there is no way to tell it that you are driving a 38 foot long, almost 13 foot tall house on wheels and towing a Jeep Trailhawk!  Sharp corners and narrow county roads are nerve racking.  We could invest in a special GPS for trucks, but we've heard bad things about those too. Instead, we (or I !!) will have to learn to do more zooming in and out on my phone before we commit to a route.  

But we made it safely to our next destination, Whitetail Ridge Campground on West Point Lake near LaGrange, Georgia.  We love COE (Corps of Engineer) parks.  They usually have nicely spaced campsites in scenic but sometimes remote areas.  And the price is usually good too, especially because we can use our Senior Access Pass for half price camping fees at National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands. 

We really lucked out with our site selection when I made the reservations.  This was  super long, level and private with a beautiful view of the lake.  I had booked only three nights, but we liked the area and campground enough to book another two nights, even though we had to move.

If we were fishing people, we could have tossed out a line!  Instead, we watched the birds, squirrels and enjoyed the peace and quiet (except for some noisy geese!).  The weather was perfect and surprisingly, there were few bugs out yet. But we did have several little hopping spiders visit us and hitch a ride to our next stop! 

We enjoyed our stay in the La Grange area and explored the Pine Mountain and Callaway Gardens areas one day.  I'll save those photos for my next post since this is getting a little long and heavy on pics!

City square water fountain with statue of Lafayette in downtown LaGrange.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Welcome Home!

We wondered if this day would ever happen, but it finally did!  On March 13 we drove to Grand Rapids, Michigan to take delivery of our new motor home a Newmar Ventana 3709 at Midway RV Center. 

The first day was spent with a one of the technicians as we went through all the systems and interior of the new coach.  The heating/cooling systems including the Oasis hot water heating system, the generator, the inverter, electrical systems plus the engine and the Freightliner chassis  are all things I don't really understand, yet.  Luckily I have a husband who has been studying all of this for the past several months and since he has a mechanically savvy  brain, thrives on learning about these types of things. Now the full size residential refrigerator, convection microwave, electric induction cook top, dishwasher, washer and dryer (yes! we've got all the bells and whistles!) the solid surface counters, and wood grain tile floors are things my brain can grasp much better!  There was a slight issue with the absence of speakers for the sound system, but that was resolved as soon as possible.  We spent a couple of nights camped in the back of their parking lot to make sure we worked out any kinks. Luckily, there were few!  Winter returned to Michigan while we were there, so we found out we could live comfortably in 15 degree weather! Hopefully, that won't happen often!

We headed back home on Wednesday afternoon and pulled into the driveway of our "sticks and bricks" house late that evening.  This would be "our" driveway for only a few hours, since we were scheduled to close on the sale of our home to our daughter and son-in-law the next day.  But we had several days ahead of us of moving our few remaining possessions (that weren't going into storage) into the motor home. 

It was a daunting task when looking at the stacks of storage boxes, clothes and miscellaneous  that had to be moved into our new home.  At one point I didn't think it could happen.  But we did it!  This picture is of probably only about one third of what had to be stowed away in the storage bays and interior of the coach! I even have my sewing machine and it's embroidery arm plus supplies. (Though now that we are here, I realize I forgot fabric 😏) Pretty amazing!

So once we were pretty much moved in, we vacated our little driveway and left the house in the possession of the new owners.  Our next stop would be my father-in-law's driveway, where we've added some extra rock to make it wider and  a nice area to park when we are in the area.  We spent about two weeks parked there.  Dennis worked on the entertainment system, the wifi system (wifi Ranger and two hotspots) and I did a tiny bit of decorating with some different pillows and new throw rugs.  We also had several non-rv related appointments (doctor, accountant, bank, financial) to take care of.  I also enjoyed a girls' day out with a good friend and we spent time with family and friends before we would "hit the road". 

These are just a few photos of the interior of our new home.  As you can tell, it is already beginning to look lived in.  Note the crock pot and Yeti cups 😀  One thing I love about this coach is the flooring we upgraded.  It is a wood grain tile and it will probably never show a small scratch or spill.  Much more our style than the shiny white marble look tile that was the standard.  I also love the dishwasher. I hadn't even thought of adding one until our salesman, Kyle, suggested it.  After all, this is our home now and if building a new "sticks and bricks" we wouldn't have left it out.  The washer and dryer is a stacking unit in the corner of the back bath and so far has worked well.  But it does give the RV a good shake when in the spin mode!

Last Sunday, April 2 was our launch into true full time RV living!  We said our goodbyes to our family hosts, kids and grandkids and headed south.  After one night at Levi Jackson State Park in London, Kentucky we headed onto our first destination, Pigeon Forge, TN.  We are at Up the Creek RV Camp for the rest of this week and researching our next destination.  We have to remind our selves this is our life now, and not a vacation. Even though there are things  to do and places to explore we can take our time and do as much or as little as we want. 

Thanks for stopping by to see how this adventure is going.  I promise to update here when I can!

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

The Move Continues

We're gradually getting closer to the big move.  More donations have been made and more sorting and storing has happened.  The biggest dreaded project of going through years of old business records has been completed and a car load of paperwork went to a commercial shredding operation.  A big advantage of moving to this lifestyle is ridding ourselves of mounds of "stuff" we've been carting around for years.  We've accomplished a lot of that in the last couple of weeks.  It has been exhausting, mentally and physically.  

But we've had a lot of help!  Our son and his wife are now enjoying a beautiful bedroom suite and our youngest granddaughter now has a "big girl" bed in her room.  Grammy's old childhood rocking chair has a home with Miss Iz.


We've not had any more photos from Newmar of our motorhome under construction, but we did receive word that it is on schedule and in the process of being painted.  We are trying to get a few items ready to take with us when we go up to Grand Rapids to pick it up. The remainder of what we plan to move into the motorhome when we come back with us, will be stacked in the middle of the basement family room.  Our daughter and son-in-law and boys have already started to move boxes and some furniture over here.  It sounds like we'll all be living under this one roof for a week or so.  

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

The Dream Begins!

We are in production!  

Today we received the email from Newmar confirming our coach is in production and has entered Building 7.  Last fall, when we were researching the type of motorhome we wanted for our full time adventure we drove up to Nappanee, Indiana to tour the Newmar plant.  We watched various models and sizes move through Building 7 during the hour long tour.  Each coach spends 4 days on this part of the production line before moving on to paint and completion.  This definitely influenced our decision to Go Newmar! Usually new owners can visit the plant and watch and take photos during the time their coach is in Building 7, however due to some plant remodeling, they've suspended that service for a few weeks.  But, the sales staff has been nice enough to take some pics and forward them on to us.  


These photos are looking through the future full wall slide into the kitchen/living area and the bedroom at the rear. There's a lot of electrical work going on.  The cabinets have been placed (covered with green tape at the moment) but you can see the backsplash tile and wall covering.

More wiring! This is at the front, probably headed to the generator.  There are roughly 5 MILES of wire in a motorhome this size!

This is the rear of the motorhome.  Notice the radiator and engine ( that's why it's called a diesel pusher).

The left rear corner and the open space where the full wall slide will be placed.  Wish we could watch that put hopefully we'll get some pics later this week.  These all make it seem much more real.  

Back at the brick house, we continue to downsize.  We are on the final countdown, as we take delivery of the motorhome on March 13.  

Going through clothes has been the activity of the week.  This and a stack of jeans and shorts is  what I want to take along.  I'm not sure if they will all fit yet, and of course I'm not including what my husband plans to take.  It's been easier for him.  Since he lost weight last year, he basically pulled out everything that fit and got rid of the rest. I'm having a hard time.  I think women form more of an emotional bond with clothes.  Plus, it makes me so sad and embarrassed that over the years, I've spent good money on things I haven't really needed. Today I tried to take a nice selection to a resale shop and they would only accept about half of them. We should've been working on this for the past two or three years!  But I did order some thin velvet covered hangers from Amazon and tossed all the chunky plastic hangers.  They certainly take up less space and look more organized. 

The kitchen is still a work-in-progress.  But I did go through all my spices and downsized there.  It's hard to know which ones to keep because I'm not sure how much baking I'll be doing.  My daughter will be inheriting a few of these along with all the cake/cookie decorating supplies.

We continue to donate, donate, donate.  This is the scene on our front porch tonight.  So happy some organizations offer home pick-up!

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Forty-Five Days

Forty-five days.  Give or take a day or two or five.  That's the time frame we are working on.  There are so many things left to do, but D keeps insisting that there is not. I think he's under some type of delusion from his cold and mono.  This battle with all the viruses that have been going around is getting really old!  

This last week I packed up our wedding china, some glassware, antique crystal and the framed photos off of the walls.  We've also gone through several years of old bills and paperwork.  Our little paper shredder is getting a tough workout and I doubt it will make it through this move.  We might have to invest in a backyard fire pit!   I've also been working in my sewing room.  Another batch of fabric went to the Vendor's Village (flee market booth) where it does sell surprisingly well, and I put my Accuquilt Go Fabric cutter on a Face Book marketplace site.  Not much interest there, so I'll have to find another site to post it on.  I've got a little embroidery machine that I need to find a home for also.  

I am going to try to take my Husqvarna sewing/embroidery machine along in the RV if we can find room.  It might not go the first few trips, but I'm pretty sure that sometime in the future I will want to resume my one hobby.  So I've been trying to sort through and pare down my accessories and notions. For now, most of that along with my remaining fabric stash will be placed in storage. 

We've also begun to downsize our wardrobes.  I've actually been slowing working on this for several months but today D started on his.......socks 😊   Shoes were yesterday.  He also went through his collection of Harley Davidson t-shirts.  As most Harley riders do, we've collected souvenir t-shirts at just about every HD dealership we've visited on our motorcycle trips, plus the local ones and gifts. This is one of those things you look at when you are down sizing and wonder why.   I have my share of those too.   

Our intentions were to declutter, sort and pack one room at a time and we have made progress, but there are no rooms that are completely done.  The spare bedroom has become a staging area for the sell/donate/toss piles so  more has accumulated there than disappeared.  

The good news of the week is that our daughter and son-in-law have accepted an offer on their house! That means our moving time frame should be on schedule with the delivery of our motorhome.  Their home was on the market less than one week!  They had several showings right off the bat and lots of interest. The opening of the new Ohio River bridge and all the new businesses in the nearby industrial park have made their subdivision very desirable. 

** I'm slow getting this post published, but not much has changed in the few days since I began writing.  Still plugging away at "stuff".  A little baby quilt that is should have been gifted to a new niece a month ago, was finally finished so that sadly might be my last project for awhile.  Now to finish up the sewing room and take my machine in for much needed maintenance/service.  Everyone always asked where we are traveling to first and we hadn't made much in the way of plans.  But we now have reservations for a week in the Pigeon Forge/Gatlinburg area at a nice little RV park for the first full week of April.  After that, I'm not sure since it will be "rolling spring break".  

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Here's the News!

So here's the plan....

We are in the process of a major downsize.  Selling our over 3000 square foot home that we've lived in for 12 years and moving into a 38 ' (450 sq. foot !) motorhome requires some serious thought into how much of all the "stuff" we've collected over the 42 years of our marriage will be traveling with us.  This. Is. Not. Easy.  It's not particularly fun. Though sometimes it is nice to reminisce at times it is so incredibly sad that there have been many tears as I sort through photos, keepsakes, dishes and even clothing. I'm sure my husband doesn't stress as much about these things, but I know he's going to miss at least a few of his power tools! But we are also looking forward to the liberation from all of those things that we've been hauling around for all these years.  One thing is for sure is that we have collected more than our share of souvenirs, clothes, magazines, knick knacks, electronics and much more. And we are really just beginning to sort through it all. We should have been doing this for at least the past two years.  We've been tossing around the idea of full time RV living for several years, so even though this might seem like an impulsive decision, it really isn't but  a decision that is right for us.  

Our new home.  We've placed an order with Midway RV Center  for a Newmar Ventana 3709 DP (diesel pusher) motor home. Though we were very happy with our little Pleasure Way Pursuit that we drove to Alaska, no way could we live full time in a 22 foot RV.  There certainly are larger motorhomes  but since we like to have the option of camping in state and national parks, we wanted to stay around 38 foot to be able to fit into some of those size restricting campgrounds. After doing our research we then made a trip to Nappanee, Indiana to tour the Newmar facility. We were impressed with the quality of these motorhomes both in construction and customer service and found a dealer to give us the best price for our trade-in.  


Newmar is one of the few motorhome manufacturers that will allow some customization so we were able to choose flooring, wall covering, counters and tile that we preferred over the standard options. We are looking forward to showing it off since we think it's going to be pretty awesome! It is scheduled for production soon, with a tentative delivery date of March 15.  Usually customers are able to visit the plant when their coach is in production, but due to some facility construction, they've temporarily suspended that option :(  We are hoping someone at the factory will send us a photo or two as it goes down the line.  

In the meantime we continue the "great downsize" and reminisce as we sort through the "stuff" of our lives.  As for the sale of our "sticks and bricks" home, we are thrilled that our daughter and son-in-law will be purchasing it from us and moving here with their two boys.  It has made the transition much easier and they are even letting us store some things here until we determine how long this new lifestyle will suit us.  With two of our kids and their families living within 10 miles of us, we will be able to distribute much of our furniture amongst them.  We've also rented a booth as a family at a local vendor's mall/flea market where we've been attempting to sell some things.  If the weather was better, we probably would do better by having a series of garage sales.  I've got piles to donate, piles to take to a consignment shop, piles to take to the booth, and piles to store.  And yes, piles to toss.  I've already donated much of my fabric stash to a local quilt guild for charity projects but I need to go through what is left and do that again.  I plan on taking my sewing machine and some fabric for a few small projects, but also trying to be realistic about how much sewing I really will be doing.  

So maybe you are wondering just what type of "stuff" is causing me such angst.  

Photos.  We've always been prolific photographers.  That doesn't mean we are good at it, just that we have photos of every trip, every family event and every little thing.  Now in the digital age, that's not such a bad thing, but back when you had to develop the film and then order double and triple prints "just in case", it meant we have a TON of photos. Many are so blurry, it's hard to tell which child was performing in the program or game we were trying to photograph. Even though I've always had good intentions of photo albums and now converting them to digital, that hasn't always happened.  But after spending a long, cold weekend going through more than a few boxes, our photographic history is now down to a more manageable size.  Someday (?) maybe they will be in the "cloud" and most of that paper will be eliminated.  Can you imagine finding a treasure like this and all the copies that weren't distributed to relatives at Christmas, then scanning one copy and tossing the rest? Nope, it didn't happen.  I kept at least one :)  

My Family  1986 or 1987  

Quilts.  I've been quilting for a few years, and most of what I've finished have been gifted to babies and brides.  But I do have several things I've made.  I haven't even begun to go through those.  But I married into a family of quilters and my mother was a quilter.  

These are just a few of what I've had in storage.  There are some others that I'm not sure who made them and are even older.  The Sun Bonnet Girl quilt was made by D's Grandma Mary.  The Pansy Quilt was made by my mother.  The bottom two were made by either Grandma Mary or Grandma C. The bright green one is is good condition and will find a home on our youngest granddaughter's big girl bed.  The gold embroidered one was given to us as a wedding present and  shows that we used it for too many years.  I really don't know what to do with these other than keep them in storage.  Do our best intentions of passing along family keepsakes only add to the guilt they will feel when it is time to discard them?  Sorry kids.  

There are many things we are going to miss when we move into our house on wheels.  The king size bed, the big kitchen full of appliances, a flower garden (not D, he hates yard work!), our neighbors but mostly having our grandkids and other family close by.  But then we remind ourselves that we are thankful we are healthy enough to take on this new life and that we've got the support of our family (I think! Unless they secretly think we are crazy!)  We are looking forward to exploring new parts of this beautiful country but yet we don't want to rush around as if we are only on an extended vacation. There will be a couple places near here where we can return and park our home when we need to and we hope that we are able to visit with other friends and family around the country.  So heads up Oklahoma, Colorado, Kansas and Michigan.  We just might be headed your way!

Monday, January 9, 2017

A Year End Review

2016 has been definitely blog worthy.  Sadly, I'm a poor blogger.  So, I'm going to take an easy route to do a quick catch up post.  There is going to be more to our story that I'd like to document, so hopefully I can get back in the habit of regular blog posts.

Retirement:  In May, Dennis retired from his V.P. position he has held for the past 15 years.  Mostly, this has been a good thing.  Stress has taken it's toll, it is time to move on, even if it means a change in finances and spending habits.

Alaska RV Trip:  There is no way I could possibly write anything at this point that would describe our adventure.  We covered over 13,000 miles in our little motorhome from May through August.  We truly enjoyed ourselves and this was the perfect way to start this next phase of our lives.  At some time, I hope I can do a proper recap here of our trip.  This was truly the highlight of 2016!

Health: The summer passed with no more than a couple sniffles and a few sore muscles from hiking. But shortly after returning home, D started experiencing dizziness and strange head aches.  Even after several doctor visits, a cat scan and other tests, no diagnosis.  Finally, at a loss, the doc tested for mono.  So at 62 years old, he has a disease most often associated with college age and young adults.  Unfortunately, a 62 year old with mono, can expect to feel the effects for several months or even a year.  Then, around Thanksgiving, I came down with a "popular" respiratory virus and have been battling the sluggishness and bone rattling coughing.  Here it is almost the middle of January of the new year and we are still not 100%.   

Family and Christmas:  The downside of traveling all summer and several thousand miles away, was missing our family.  Especially, the grandkids.  We missed some birthday parties and family outings, but they all remembered us (well, the one year old sort of did!) and we got lots of hugs when we got home.

I was able to get back to some sewing projects just in time for Christmas.  There was no room in the little motorhome for a sewing machine, but then we were too busy being tourists to miss it!  Here are the grandkids in this years Christmas jammies.  I think they looked pretty cute!

The Big News: We are going to sell our home, and go full time in our RV! This plan has been in our thoughts for quite some time.  But after enjoying our trip last summer and facing the fact that we aren't getting any younger, we decided to go for it.  We've ordered a new, bigger and more livable motorhome and are in full downsizing mode.  There is so much more to say about all of this, I will have to continue here with the details!  We are getting excited, but nervous too.  More to this story for sure!