|December 14th 2010,
Somehow, I allowed my propane to become too low. I guess I hadn’t planned on such cold weather when I had budgeted and allocated its usage. Now as the temperature falls near freezing this early a.m., the meter shows just above empty. All is not lost. Yesterday I purchased a very small space heater to supplement the gas heat. The unit’s efficiency is nil in the salon however in the bedroom/bathroom area of the coach with the pocket door closed the temperature is maintained at a very comfortable 65 to 67 degrees. I’m typing while sitting on the edge of the bed because it is in the low fifties in the salon! I am expecting a propane delivery this morning before noon…and the weather is turning warmer!
Both Charlie and I are experiencing changes in our lifestyles. His whole life he has been able to come and go as he pleased through a “doggie door” both on the mountain and on the island. Now, he has to be walked several times a day. It is absolutely amazing how much strength is in his little legs. Through gentle commands and encouragement he is learning to walk with me rather than to drag me on his walks. We also have been able to work on his “meet & greet” skills with other dogs in the RV parks.
A mere six months ago, walking to the mailbox was a chore for me. Our walks together can in no way be considered “power” walking however just getting outside and moving has helped to tone my aging muscles. I maxed at nearly 330 pounds last June and with Charlie’s help have shed and kept off almost fifty of those. Imagine carrying a fifty pound bag of corn around with you everywhere you go. That’s one burden I was happy to eliminate!
The propane company failed to deliver yesterday so I had to pack up the coach, store everything, retract the slides and the levelers, drain and disconnect sewer lines, water hose, cable and the shore cord. Left the park and purchased gasoline and returned to fill the propane at the park’s large storage tank. Back to the site and reset camp. Not a problem, just wasn’t what I had planned on doing yesterday. However I did manage to clean out the rear storage area and vacuum the Jeep’s interior and get it in respectable order.
It’s fairly early Wednesday the 15th. The sun is bright and warming. Other than a chilly breeze, it is already almost as warm out today as it was in the coach the night before last. And we are expecting an afternoon high of around 73 degrees! You folks back on the island…so sorry. And you guys up in Boone…14.2 degrees…don’t even want to think about it. Anyone reading in the NE or Pacific NW?
Because of the expense of gasoline, the only way to achieve cost effectiveness is to remain in any park for one month. Rates are much lower. I had budgeted $450 per month for our campsite allotment. Sometimes there will be no charge for the site such as at the “Slabs” in California – where there will be no charge for dry camping and overnight stays at other dry camping locations which I will learn about from other full timers that have been there before me. There will be some areas that I’ll be willing to pay $500, $600 or more per month depending on location and/or amenities. Also our nightly stops are often at a premium. All in all a budget of $450 per month should be realistic and may be a little high.
Though Austin would certainly be an interesting place to visit, Charlie informed me he wants to head to cow town and since Ft. Worth is on my way to one of our original destinations, I told him we would go there next. Don’t know yet if we will stay one week or one month. The area is known for its colorful history and the cowboy way. The city claims over 500,000 inhabitants. Their calendar is usually very full of fun and interesting events. From there, we will head to Roswell, NM for a brief visit and then continue to Williamsburg, NM near Elephant Butte to possibly our first experience with “Workamping” and finding Charlie a roommate!
December 16th, 2010
Walmart. If it hasn’t been done, someone needs to write a novel based at one of the mega-stores. It’s all there. General merchandise, grocery, automotive and tires…McDonalds! Portrait studio, optometrist, banking and more!
I haven’t seen any great benefit to the consumer ... you have to be careful because the pricing isn’t all that low just the perception that it is. Perhaps I am not the average consumer, certainly not the average Walmart shopper. The greatest advantage for me is the diversity. However, choice is very limited within each product category with some exception. For example. Walmart’s website has a wonderful selection of compact digital cameras however in store the choice is reduced by more than half. Still a good selection, though. As mentioned earlier, I bought one.
Tomorrow I get to take it back. It’s a good camera and does exactly the functions for which it was purchased. There is blotch on the inside of the liquid display that ruins photo review. No problem returning and replacing it, it’s just a hassle. I already returned the belt that broke the first day worn.
No hassle except parking. There isn’t a time slot that the Livingston store slacks off. Considering the size of the town (small, very small), it is amazing how difficult is to find a parking space within a quarter mile of their storefront.
Don’t get me wrong. I really enjoy my visits to Wally World. There’s a reasonably nicely stocked camping department that has nice things for real campers…those hearty folks that pitch a tent or pull a pop-up trailer behind their motorcycle. Still fun to look. In the same area is the hunting and fishing departments. Again, fun to look.
December 17th, 2010,
Discovered a leak in the coach. I knew there was some kind of problem as my coach was the only one in the RV park that had a wet cement pad under the unit. The initial thought when I realized this, that running the two ceiling fans caused a build up of moisture on the roof and it was dripping to the pad. Last night I realized the leak was coming from inside. A quarter inch bead of liquid stood at the bottom of the carpeted step up to the bedroom and the vinyl flooring in the bathroom. Gingerly, I smelled the liquid and determined…fortunately, it was not sewage seepage. Logically it could be from the bathroom sink or the fresh water tank stored under the bed. I refrained from using the sink overnight and in the morning, the water remained.
Shoring the mattress out of the way, I lifted the fresh water storage’s lid to find a small puddle of water in a corner. While looking at it, I saw a droplet of water fall from a connection. The source! A pair of pliers and a few seconds of time and it appears the leak is fixed. Upon returning from the day’s errands, I’m happy to report no leaks found!
December 19th, 2010
Found a few ticks on Charlie and unfamiliar with Texas ticks, opted to visit the area’s premier vet clinic. The location didn’t match my “Google” search, however entry and exit from the highway was easy. A large parking lot afforded equally easy parking with enough grassy areas to please the most discriminating pup.
Though Livingston is one of the smallest towns on the map, this was a large vet’s office. The lobby was chocked full of pet products from the fun and whimsical to the expected healthcare items. Two parrots squawked and screamed while one constantly yelled, “Bye!”
I walked Charlie over to the birds because of course he is a birddog. He looked at them but was much more interested in the women behind the counter. He knew he had no business with the parrots, but the women…well women just love him and would give him great attention. He strained on his leash to get closer to them, while the birds were in a panic state having a birddog in their immediate personal space. To calm the birds, we moved to the cat side of the lobby.
Having no appointment, Charlie and I sat for thirty minutes or so before being called back to the examination rooms. Charlie was weighed and a technician reviewed his general health with me. The Doctor entered and shook hands with me using his left hand to do so while his right hand remained motionless at his side. How impressive I thought to see this man command Charlie’s attention while working deftly and carefully although one hand was virtually useless!
Charlie was given a very complete checkup, an examination of the areas where I had removed the ticks and a cleaning and medicinal application to those areas, picked out a toy from a bin on the floor, was given an Rx, a dosage of a topical tick repellent and a harness all for just under $80. And I got peace of mind.
Back in the RV park I watched as a young man tossed a football into the air. He was casually walking around a trailer a couple of rows down from mine. I watched as the ball spiraled into the air as he peered into the unit. From inside my coach I followed his movements. He walked around the blue pickup truck parked beside the trailer. He pulled on the driver’s door. Apparently locked, he went to the bed and lowered the tailgate. Disappearing from sight he returned to the truck and placed several objects on the tailgate then sat there and proceeded to eat a sandwich and drink from a red soda can.
The couple that lives in the trailer full time with their young child, dog and cat had been gone for a day or two in the other truck I’d seen parked on the far side of the trailer. Perhaps this was a brother who’d happened by for a visit not realizing his kin wasn’t there. The man finished his meal, closed the tailgate of the truck and cleaned up his trash then strode away.
Later that evening I saw the same man tossing the same football in the air as he walked around a motor coach at the far end of the RV park. Turning to Charlie I asked if he’d like to take a walk to which he replied he would and we headed toward the mysterious football tossing man.
The guy was wearing headphones and did not hear us approach. This time he was sitting on the stairs of the coach with his head down, his eyes hidden from our sight path. Charlie saw him and lunged. If you’ve met Charlie, you know he loves to jump on people for attention and this was his reaction when he saw this guy. The man leaned down to Charlie and petted him commenting on what a fine animal he was. He then picked up his backpack and headed out of the park as Charlie and I watched.
December 20th, 2010
Midnight. The chill of the past few weeks is slowly being replaced by much more pleasant conditions. Lows for the next week or so are forecast to be in the fifties with the highs approaching eighty as early as the 22nd!
Though the coach is large enough, it will be nice to spend more time outside and warmer weather will help knock down the heating expense.
There isn’t really anything of great interest to write at this time, however I feel the need clarify a few things.
The decision to sell or give away all that I own and travel the country in a motor coach was not made on a whim. For years I have contemplated living this life but had obligations prohibiting me from doing so. It was only this year that I realized after researching housing costs in the Charleston area that I could live fairly comfortably on the road while fulfilling an existing dream.
Without obligations to a family or profession breaks any chain that may have bound me. As romantic as this lifestyle may seem be sure that having a choice if a choice could be had, I would chose family. Apparently it has never been a part of the bigger picture for me to have married and to have been honored with a child or children. For those who have been so blessed, I envy you.
There are as many reasons for choosing to live in an RV full time as there are full timers. Many are “empty nesters” that have fulfilled their family obligations and are simply wandering in search of ways to spend their golden years. Others have been devastated by the economy and are mobile following the flow of work related options.
My rationale is very simple. No mystery. I just have not found what I have been seeking. I may never find the answers I seek but truly believe that I have been lead in this direction. I am following a calling, so to speak.
Entries in this journal are simply my own ramblings and or observations. Some folks following these notes may wish to embark on a similar journey for their own reasons. Perhaps they will find something in these pages that will help them or at least keep them from making the same mistakes I have either made or surely will make.
December 21st, 2010
Seventy-eight degrees! Yahoo! Feels hotter. Very little shade in the RV park but a nice gentle breeze is blowing in off Lake Livingston. I’m shirtless, wearing shorts and flip-flops. Just washed and waxed the Jeep. It desperately needed attention.
Everyone that doesn’t have to be someplace is out enjoying this great Christmas gift. Many folks wish for a white Christmas. Not I. Give me the sun and warmth and I’ll be fine.
It’s in the mid-sixties back in Charleston. Not bad. But those folks in NC mountains are seeing a warm up of only around 36 degrees. ‘Course they may very well have a white Christmas.
Charlie is in for a treat tonight. He doesn’t know it yet. Purchased my first Texas steak, T-Bone…and will grill it this evening over charcoal and mesquite! It has a nice sized bone for my buddy.
We…or I stayed up until the wee hours last night into morning to check out the Lunar eclipse. Fast moving clouds raced across the sky all evening however the moon shown brightly illuminating the park while drowning the light from the stars. By 1:00, the moon was still visible from the window in my dining nook. It was full and it was bright white. By 2:30 the clouds had become so thick, the brightness of the moon was eliminated entirely and the park was darkened. No moon. No eclipse visible from here. Hope anyone reading had better luck than us.
Giving the grill away! What a pain in the ass…pull the table out, get the charcoal and other equipment from under the coach, load the grill and soak with starter fluid, let briquettes burn until steady heat. Take mesquite wood from soaking pan and place in grill. Add steak. Wait. Wait. Oh and wait…
Steak looks and smells great! Take inside and place in microwave (safe storage) until rest of meal is prepared. Long awaited meal, cut into steak and savor the moment. YUCK! Tastes like charcoal starter fluid. Charlie gets a whole steak over the course of a couple of days mixed in with his other food. Oh and you also have to clean the grill? Yeppers, giving the thing away and buying a larger George Foreman.
Really, if you have a bunch of folks over or want a nice family evening, cooking and eating outside would make for an enjoyable repast. It’s just too much work for one person and that nasty starter fluid taste ruined a good T-bone.
December 22nd, 2010
There’s a light breeze blowing off the water and the sky is overcast. The temperature is hovering in the mid-sixties. I’m posting a few new photos including a great photo of a Texas-size Christmas decoration.
Thanks to all the comments and interest in this journal. Merry Christmas to all and Happy Holidays to the rest!
Kevin and Charlie Brown Downs