The Land Yacht

The Land Yacht

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Spring Is Almost Here...Time To Get The Morothome Ready!

Finally the snow is melting! The temps are good for working outside, and the snowbanks have receded around the motorhome!  The past two days have had me working hard on prepping for the summer season.  Last fall after buying my land yacht I was only able to drive it to storage, cover it with a tarp, and say goodnight to it as winter immediately buried it in snow. Spring is shortly here and I'm real anxious to get this thing on the road and enjoy traveling in comfort.

First item on my to do list was re-installing the start batteries. Sitting in the dealers lot the two AGM Yellow Top Gel Cell batteries had been allowed to discharge to a state where I feared they may not come back. Luckily, by applying a slow charge for an extended period of time, they came right back up to full potential.

I cleaned all the terminals and connections and hooked them back up.  I have a battery maintainer solar panel on the roof and not only cleaned it for better operation, but tested it with a volt meter to make sure it was indeed charging all 6 of my batteries.

That done, I hit the starter button and was pleasantly surprised at how easy and fast the motor caught. In no time I had both the drive motor and the diesel generator purring away for the first time since last Oct. Yay..Big Time!

Next it was inside for the big project of the day. Replacing the 20 yr old dirty and faded carpeting with new chocolate colored carpeting. I won't say it was a snap, as it took a full day to take out the seats, remove the old carpet, cut the new to fit, and install with a fair amount of grunting and swearing in the process.

I had to unbolt and remove the front seats and partially disassemble the sofa. The center console had to be unbolted too.

I spent a couple hours pulling staples out of the floor, and used that small remaining piece of old carpet under the steering wheel as a pattern to precut the new carpet before I installed it,  it was a long hard day's work but there was plenty of satisfaction that I took the time to do it right.

Was it worth the effort?  You tell me...I love the fresh new look!

Now to get that pink swivel recliner out of there, paint the walls a light spring green, and bring in the electric fireplace that will be going on that nice empty passenger wall.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Understanding The 1%ers

Life is all about finding what makes you happy. What drives you, where your priorities lie. For me, especially now that I'm retired, chasing that dream of contentment is much higher on my to do list.  A recent blog entry, from one of the more philosophical gentlemen I met last fall at the Grand Canyon, enlightened me about the life and motivation of those seemingly so far below the poverty line, it's amazing some of them survive at all.

Back in the 50's and 60's, after a news report labeled them, the bad boys of the motorcycle world adopted the label of 1%ers.  99% of all motorcycle riders being decent upstanding citizens, only the remaining 1% could be considered outlaws.

It's from that perspective that I look at society as a whole.  We have 1%ers all around us, many of whom are very interesting people.

My friend wrote of talking with a number of people living in tents and lean too's near Yuma AZ. Tucked between some bushes with makeshift enclosures created from sticks and twigs, these bare bones minimalists for the most part are content with their lives. They are choosing this lifestyle over anything more complex.

One in particular flying out from the east every winter to enjoy the mild temperatures and solitude. Having more substantial means, he prefers to leave civilization behind during the hard months out east. Yet others existing on very meager means still managing to pass their time reading such authors as John Updick.  Some bicycling into town to work jobs, others just choosing to live without accepting societies handouts and religions charity.

I also have some good friends on the east coast that are 1%ers. It's the opposite end of the scale, they earn well over $250.000 a year.  According to national figures, only 1.2% of the population have household incomes over $250,000 annually.

These friends have a definite disconnect from the opposite end of the scale, or for that matter most of the other 98% of the population. I say this with no malice, because all of these friends are very generous with their time and lifestyle. When in their circle, they are very open, giving, and welcoming.

The disconnect comes in to play because they simply can't relate to the day to day financial concerns the vast majority of the population carries with them every day.  The best way to qualify this is they put as much thought into spending $1,000 as I do to spending $100.

Knowing there are many others that take my comparison to the opposite extreme, thinking long and hard about expending $10 to my opulent $100, only makes me question my priorities even more.

I shop at Walmart...I stay in Walmart parking lots when I travel...Do I say this like an alcoholic admitting to his addiction? No, I say it because Walmart allows me to live closer to the life I choose.  I like to travel, I like to live simply, I like to make the most of what assets I have.

Walmart's lower prices, especially with their store brands, allow me to buy what I need to get by, and still leave me the ability to enjoy life beyond just existing, or enduring it.  That makes a pretty decent statement for society. We all like to enjoy something special now and then.

Most living in the bottom 1% of the population rely on Walmart to survive. Without modestly priced goods their basic needs couldn't be obtained without charity. Walmart provides a way for them to maintain their independence, their lifestyle, their dignity.

One of my friends in the other 1% group has commented to me that he/she doesn't shop at Walmart because "Those people just give me the creeps". Hence the huge disconnect between the two so dramatically different groups of people.

Wealth and social position have no bearing on the worth of a person. Every one of us has an opinion, ideals, and desires. Everyone of us is capable of showing compassion, and caring. What makes the Wall Street yuppy in the Brooks Brother's suit any better than the old guy in blue jeans, pocket tee shirt, and suspenders.

At the beginning of this article I thought I was floating somewhere in the middle. Not belonging to either of the two 1% groups, but somewhere in the middle. Maybe that's not true. Because I can seamlessly blend into either group I will take my place in a third group.  The 1% of the population that holds no bias toward any other small group of non-conformists.

We all need to be more understanding, more accepting of those around us. We all have the right to freedom and the right to live life the way we choose, as long as we don't infringe on the same rights of others. Every one of us has worth. You may have to dig for it in some, but if you take the time to do so you may be surprised at how much happier you will become for the effort.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Sebastian Inlet State Park. It Was A beautiful Day!

About 30 miles south, down hwy A1A, is Sebastian Inlet State Park. Just far enough down the road to get away from the busy city of Melbourne, this scenic little park really is what Florida is all about.

We took a day, and enjoyed the slower paced ride down the barrier island. The sky was clear blue, the temperature about 70. It was the perfect day to spend quality time with a special friend.

Once you leave the hurry hurry of everyday life behind, you can enjoy quiet conversation, beautiful scenery, and just connect with what Florida really
has to offer.  This truly is paradise!

It's been many years since I've been to Florida. Stationed in Jacksonville during my Coast Guard days, I attended Aviation Electrician school at the Naval Base.  Then in about 1987 it was the Disney experience that brought me back again.  Neither times did I  really get to know Florida, this trip opened my eyes.

Life along the ocean is peaceful.  The blue/green of the water brilliant and warm. This is a place where you can be alone as a couple and not even notice
that others are around you. It was a great way to just walk, talk, and feel the warmth of the sun giving the top of my near bald head a bright red glow.  You do have to be careful, the sun will sneak up on you.

While some surfed on wake boards, and others toted coolers and fishing gear down the pier, we just kicked back. Taking seats at a picnic table, my friend caught the attention of a gentleman walking unknowingly dragging a long scrap of fishing line caught on his heel.

We talked a while about the lost fishing tackle and
the danger it poses for birds and other wildlife in the area.  It all seemed so comfortable and natural, complete strangers chatting away like they were old friends.  That's how it is when you're in paradise, everyone is your friend, and it's all about enjoying the day.

We stayed for a couple hours, exploring the small fishing museum on one side of the highway than walking in the sand of the wide warm beach.

This time I managed to keep my pants dry, a good thing as we enjoyed a lunch of very good burgers
and fries at the onsite restaurant.

Built to resemble a beach house, the building contained both a gift shop and eatery to satisfy both your belly and the need to bring something back with you as a reminder.

As we walked out on the pier, some were walking back after a morning of fishing.

One older man was all dressed in a Carhartt jacket with knit cap on his head.  That's a clear sign of the difference between locals and snowbirds.
Local's think anything below +80 is cold and when it drops into the 60's it's absolutely frigid.

I know I was very comfortable in short sleeves, but this guy needed winter wear just to be outside.

For me, just the memory of this time in Florida will stick with me forever. I can understand why the locals call this place Paradise.  It truly is a great way to live.

Rest assured, I will be coming back soon!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Satellite Beach In Melbourne Florida

What's Florida without the beaches! Even before we went out to lunch, the first place my friend wanted me to see was the ocean. Off we went to Satellite Beach, a small ocean front community with, you guessed it, a wonderful open beach.

The most amazing feature of the great expanse of sand was that it was practically deserted! We spent a couple hours watching the waves roll into shore, walking down the water line in our bare feet, and just enjoying the mild temperatures.

An older gentleman was standing on the walkway
and my friend struck up a conversation with him about his camo styled suspenders. The plain blue suspenders I was wearing when I arrived just didn't measure up to her style requirements. Note the more acceptable Hawaiian shirt I was wearing instead.

Naturally her attempt to have me pose by the water was a complete ploy. While I mindlessly smiled for the camera, the incoming waves just got closer and closer.

In a matter of minutes, while she snapped away, it finally happened. Just as she had planned, the water
finally came in far enough to soak me half way to my knees.

No matter, I survived. We enjoyed our walk, and our time together telling old stories about family and friends from 40 years ago.

I collected a few sea shells, got a bit of a sunburn, and spent the day pretending to be a local instead of a snowbird.

The difference between the two is easy to spot. Snowbirds wear shorts and light weight shirts. The
locals actually wear their Carhartt's on days when it's in the mid 60's.

We dusted off the sand, put on our shoes, and headed back to the  house to change wet pants.Then it was off to  lunch at Grills Riverside.

Lunch At Grills Riverside Tiki Bar On Florida"s Space Coast

The Florida lifestyle for many seems to omit most home cooking from their daily activities. It's easy to see why with the huge proliferation of quality eateries ranging from hot dogs to fresh seafood or the best in quality steaks.

We started our week with lunch at Grills Riverside Tiki Bar. Arriving early for our noon meal, we avoided the usual crowd.  Securing a quiet table in the back corner, it was a great way to look out over the water and get a first taste of Florida cuisine.

We ordered the grilled Mahi-mahi fish sandwich.
combined with a tall glass of iced tea, it was both tasty and filling.

Mahi-mahi picks up the flavor of grilling very well and the freshness left no fish taste to take away from the perfect seasoning.

It was the perfect setting for two life long friends to reacquaint after many decades living there lives apart.

For this northerner, the weather was perfect.  For locals, they complained of the cold.  I know I was
very  comfortable and really enjoyed the meal, the company, and the setting.

After we ate, a stroll out on the pier gave us a great view of our surroundings and a chance to see some of the local birds and other sites.

The water along the Space Coast of Florida is a beautiful blue/green teal.  Very pristine, there is no pollution or debris.  Just clear water you can see through to the sandy floor.

For my first day in Florida this was the perfect start
to a wonderful week of enjoying everything the Space Coast has to offer.

Nothing can compare to enjoying the company of a special friend, an excellent meal, all while being in paradise.

I could really get used to this life!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Friends…New And Old!

Some would think a winter trip to Florida requires no more reason than to escape the grip of winter. True,
nothing beats a couple weeks south, when all is frozen and desolate back home.  Granted the timing seemed ideal to enjoy relief from the -20 below that was plaguing Northern Minnesota a few weeks back, but there was another reason to make the journey.

This trip was also intended for reuniting, and meeting, some long time friends,.  Some of which go back 40 years, one in particular that goes back 49 years. All the way to our early teenage years, when I became the somewhat adopted son that blended in so well with her family.

I’ve spent the past week enjoying the gracious hospitality of a special lady that I was very close to way back in the 60’s.   As teenagers we spent hours rowing around the lake at her family cabin, just talking.  Her quick wit, and sarcastic manner had us throwing jabs at each other whenever we were together.

In time she married, I married, we went our separate ways. A few years later her brother died, and I lost all contact with the family.  A few years ago she contacted me to see if I was interested in doing lunch.  We did, exchanging business cards, and off we went.  Back to our lives in opposite ends of the country. I emailed her a month later, but no response.

Recently I found her on Facebook.  It took modern technology for us to finally rekindle our friendship, and catch up on the past 4 plus decades.

These are special bonds between people. The ability to drop out of their lives for years at a time, yet when you come together you become closer than you ever were. Today we are from two different planets, our lives so dramatically different. No matter, we are still the best and closest of friends who can sit for hours and share memories and experiences.  Where life has taken us, what our hopes and dreams for the future are.

During the week I was able to spend time with her sister as well.  Stories of her brother, and our escapades as we grew from boys to men flowed late into the night.

This evening I will be meeting another friend, one whom I’ve yet to see in person.  Six years we’ve been writers for the same blog, The Fun Times Guide.  Me about RV’s and him about Coins and Weather.

Tomorrow a stop in Northern Florida to reunite with the brother of my old Coast Guard roommate.  We all used to ride dirt bikes in the mountains of Virginia back in the 70’s.

Then the Stealth Van gets pointed north again, it’s time to return home to more months of winter.  At least I took a break from the cold this winter.  Enjoying the warmth of the sun in Florida, and the warmth of some very dear friends.

Yes, this has been a grand trip.  It’s all about friends, both old and new!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Stealth Van Dweller's Headed For The Space Coast!

That's it, I've had enough!  It's time for the Stealth Van to again blast off for new terrain!  The year isn't even over, but the winter blahs are already here.  Up to my ears in snow, bundled up like an Eskimo just to go get the mail, I surrender!  I'm headed south!

If Mary was able to retire, we would have been gone months ago. For me, using the excuse to reunite with a life long friend and shake hands with others I've known only through the internet, it just feels like NOW is a good time to travel!

Instead of shoveling endless drifts of snow, it will be long walks on a deserted beach.  The uniform of the day, shorts, Hawaiian shirt, and good old flip-flops on my feet.  I think they have a law down there requiring everyone to wear flip-flops.  For sure there will be nary a snowshoe to be found for thousands of miles.

Yes, I have been carrying snow shoes in my Jeep all winter.  The unusually heavy snows have required it to gain access to my cabin.  It's saying something when you can't make the 1/4 mile trip from the road with a Jeep.
Now the bed is re-installed in the van, and I'm packing for warmer climates.  Funny, it will take more clothes than normal for this voyage.  Leaving in weather that requires parkas and winter boots, it will be at least a two day drive before I can switch to shorts.

To assure adequate warmth until I get there, I have a sub-zero sleeping bag, and a 12 volt electric blanket. The Stealth Van has 2 house battery's providing enough capacity to run the electric blanket all night long if I need it.

January's forecast indicates warmer than usual temps. across the country.  I read that to mean the snow belt will end further north.  I hope so, there will be no love lost getting out of the Great White North.

I can wish it would all be gone when I return, but alas this is only a 2 week reprieve.  There will still be plenty of winter left to enjoy.....NOT!

Give me a few more years, then it will be adios to snowy winters for good.

For this year, I'm thankful for an economical way to get the heck out of dodge.  At +30 mpg, the Stealth Van will make the voyage comfortable, and most importantly CHEAP!

By the middle of January, I'll be down in paradise, working on my tan.  Hemingway was inspired by the South Seas surroundings of the Florida Keys. Who knows, maybe there's a classic novel locked up inside me too.

The only way to find out is to go where the trade winds are warm and the palm trees sway in  the breeze.

I'm really going to hate coming back to reality!

Friday, December 20, 2013

My New IRULU 10.1 Android Tablet!

Recently, while sitting in the waiting room at the hospital, I noticed of the 12 people in the room, 9 where busy with their noses buried into some sort of electronic device.  I was as guilty as the rest, as I had brought my briefcase containing my Acer notebook computer, power cord, and assorted accessories.

The one thing everyone else had over me was, while I took up half a coffee table with paraphernalia, they had one simple handheld device.  I think it's time for an upgrade!

The lady sitting next to me had this handy sized tablet and was reading a book on it.  It struck me as the best size because I have big fingers and using smaller devices gets very clumsy and awkward real quick.  What I also liked was that it came with a case that included a very usable keyboard for times when you may want to create a more extensive document.

Though I was unfamiliar with the IRULU name, on line research  seemed to confirm that for the price it was a  pretty complete unit that offered plenty of usability.  It would also get me away from excessive support gear, definitely what I had in mind.

Van dwellers need to find WiFi signals where they can.  McDonald's is my favorite choice because when on the road, they're just about everywhere.  With this little jewel, I can easily pick up my breakfast, and take care of business while I eat.  Neat, clean, no cords or add on's.  No need to purchase cell service, though that is an option for those who desire it. Myself, I get by with finding free internet access, which is becoming more prevalent every day.

Though I've only had my new tablet for a day, I've already loaded up a number of apps.  Facebook, CNN, the local newspaper, and of course Gmail.  Though I've never been a gamer, I even uploaded Angry Birds, just for fun.

The touch screen responds very quickly and boot up time is about 20 seconds.  If you have it on standby, recall is almost instantaneous.

I'm sure this tablet will become my new best friend. Sure can't beat the price of $120 of  Ebay, it's well worth the money.  Now when I'm forced to kill time waiting, I  will blend in with the rest of those in the know about current technology.  I was surprised how little time it took to catch on to using it.  Good thing it's pretty intuitive, the manual is small, hard to read, and very basic.  Most things you need to know aren't even covered.  Play around with it, and in short order you can figure out how it works.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

1993 Pace Arrow Make Over Begins

So what's the first thing you do with a, new to you, second hand motorhome?  Start tearing it apart, right?  The camping season is about over here in the snow belt. Might as well get a jump on the updates we have planned for our 20 year old luxury coach.

It's only a minor inconvenience that we've already covered the old girl with a tarp.  By loosening a couple ropes, the main door still opens. The weather is cooperating for a couple days, so it's time to remove a few things we don't plan on using.

For many, the afternoon cocktail ritual is part of their daily routine. Not so for us. An ice maker, the size of a small refrigerator, was just taking up space in our small living room. Remember there are no slideouts, so things are a bit cramped.

Removal wasn't all that hard, just a handful of screws around the perimeter.  The only real issue was the front lip of the ice maker wouldn't slide over the carpet. I had to cut and roll the carpet out of the way to remove the machine.

Not a big deal though, the plan is to install new flooring too.

The cabinet around the ice machine was held in place with more screws.  Another few minutes and the space between the recliner and passenger seat was wide open.

The next item to go was the under counter coffee maker.  It slid right out with 4 screws holding the base plate.  Now we have more counter space too, which makes more sense for us.

The small percolator we've always used will do fine since I don't drink coffee at all.

Finally I removed the dash mounted AM/FM/CD radio. It's a model that can only be controlled with its remote control. Naturally that was the one remote that had mysteriously disappeared while it sat on the dealers lot.  Again not a huge deal since a new radio will only set me back about $75.

 The rest of my two day stay at the cabin was used taking care of more mundane maintenance.  I had noticed a nice layer of green corrosion on the start battery's, which cleaned up quickly with a paste of baking soda and water.  Of course I flushed the whole area with clean water when I was done. Sure don't want any corrosion to start in the battery box area.

As suspected my diligence in doing battle with rodents will continue with this motorhome, as it did with the last.  Mouse droppings had already arrived in some of the kitchen cupboards.  Luckily I found their entrance point. It was a good sized hole under the refrigerator, used for running wiring and plumbing under the floor.

I covered the hole with plywood and set traps. Last year I had the best luck using mothballs to keep squirrels at bay.  I put out a half dozen dishes of the smelly pellets.  So far no squirrels have gotten in so I think I've got the edge on critters this year.

Before the new flooring goes down, the walls will get screw holes filled and a coat of paint.  Then it's off to the store to make the decision between carpeting and laminate flooring.  It's only a 5x9 area so cost really isn't an issue.  All I have to do is decide.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Seeing A Lot While Spending A Little!

This past summer I got spoiled. Racking up 13,000 miles on my Dodge Caravan, little thought was given to how much fuel was costing me. At +30 mpg, most anyone can afford a lengthy voyage.

Now I've moved up from a small fishing boat to what amounts to a luxury liner. I assure you I'm hardly made of money, so just how do I figure on affording the operating cost of something this large?

Surprisingly this heavy weight diesel monster is as fuel efficient as the SUV, small trailer combination we vacationed in this fall.  I can honestly expect to average about 10 mpg, though I will be burning diesel which is somewhat more expensive than gasoline.

Of course oil changes will be quite a bit pricier.  Your normal car takes about 5 qts. of oil and the average oil filter runs less than $5. At the local Jiffy Lube someone else can do the dirty work for about $35.

Your average GAS powered motor home may have a quart or two more oil, but none the less, materials will cost you around $25.  It may take a little more effort to find an establishment that can do the work for you so move the cost up to maybe $50.

This big diesel pusher, with it's 250 hp Cummins engine measures it's oil capacity in gallons, not quarts.  I believe it holds somewhere in the neighborhood of 5 gallons, plus or minus.  Filters are a whole other subject. I haven't looked too close but there is probably 2 oil filters, 1 or 2 fuel filters, a coolant filter, and don't forget an air filter the size of a garbage can.

I haven't priced out the materials yet, but I expect to pay over $100 just so I can crawl under and do it myself.  Taking it to a truck stop would increase the cost to $250 for a front to back service. I'll be doing the work myself.

Lets talk about fuel. It's almost scary to pull up to the pump with this thing. The manual tells me it has a 100 gallon fuel tank. I added $100 worth right after picking the motorhome up from the dealer. The days of getting a full tank when you purchase are long gone.  After driving 60 miles to where I'm going to store the RV I added another $100 of fuel.

Right now I have just over a 1/2 tank. It will take another $175 or so to top it off next spring when I get ready to travel.

Of course this is all misleading because that 100 gallons will give me a range of 950 miles or so. I can take a pretty good sized trip and never stop to refuel.

OK, we've covered the fact that cruising this thing down the highway days on end will have me bankrupt in no time. Here's the secret to making this whole thing doable.

Pre-planning my route allows me to highlight things like truck stops, Walmarts, Corp of Engineer campgrounds, even some national parks and national forests that offer free or low cost camping.  The next step is to scour the internet for every free or low cost activity, site, or function along the route.  The more things you can find to do in each town the better.

The point is I'm retired... I don't have to be anywhere on a time schedule.  If I only drive 50 miles today, or if I stay put for 2-3 days, I spread out the financial impact of keeping the fuel tank full.  With care that $400 tank of fuel can easily last a month. Next month when the Social Security check arrives, top off the tank.

Hello Walmart!  Kmart, Cabella's, Flying J, and the rest. Any RV friendly retail chain will do. Thanks to the internet you can pinpoint the location of most likely free overnight resting spots. No need to be stealthy about it, they openly make you welcome.

I can chart my course, probably spending multiple nights in any given town by just switching parking lots each day. During the day I can unload the little scooter off my back bumper and go exploring. With permission of course, I plan to park my big rig for a few hours along the perimeter of some large retail store. At 100 mpg the scooter can take me places I couldn't manage with the motorhome.  I knew I bought that thing for a reason.

Traveling long distance in a large motorhome really only becomes expensive when you have to stick to a time frame and must be back to your starting point by a certain day.  Making the trip more or less "One Way" reduces the short term expense considerably.  The longer you're gone combined with making each daily segment as short as possible reduces the rate of spending to the point where a smaller monthly income still allows you to travel and live the RV lifestyle.

The biggest plus to "Just slowing down" is that you have the time to really see the region you're traveling through.  You might be surprised to find that many small town museums offer free admission. That's how they attract travelers to spend money at their restaurants and motels.
Little matter that you have supper in the oven and your bed is turned down in the back. You still have to buy groceries and fuel along the way.

Now comes the tricky part for me. Putting my own advise into practice. I've never been one to slow down enough to smell the roses. Maybe this time I can get it right!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Baby Steps VS Jumping In With Both Feet!

Those who've known me for many years understand I look at many things from a different slant than most people. OK, I'm not over the top daring, willing to take physical risks on a whim. I don't act irresponsibility, not caring the least about what the status of my credit report might be. What I mean is I don't spend years mentally debating the pro's and con's of a life changing choice.

Bob Well's recent article about "Baby Steps" when it comes to breaking the monotonous grip of living for the sake of perpetuating the accepted "Norm" got me thinking. If I had cautiously taken so called baby steps, would I have the memories I've accumulated over the past 60 years. I seriously doubt it.

Bob's assessment that "He who dies with the most memories" is absolutely right on the money. Possessions, "toys", mean nothing, it's what you did with your time on this earth that's important.

I've changed direction in my life so many times I have a serious equilibrium issue.

I think it pretty much started with my securing a job on an iron ore carrier before my last day of high school. The ink on my diploma was hardly dry before I was off sailing the great lakes. Pretty much the first time I'd been away from home for more than
24 hours.

The following fall I signed on for a 4 year hitch in the military, and so started a life of living life in the moment.  If it felt right, I dove in with both feet.

When it came to the idea of becoming full time travelers, the decision to "just do it" took about a week. That year, 1995, was a whirlwind of activity as we sold our house, cars, and assorted toys downsizing to a travel trailer and a pickup truck.  It's amazing how fast you can become debt free when you unload all those loan carrying possessions that
are part of what society considers "The Norm".

Since that time, some almost 20 years ago, we have stayed true to our roots. Mary and I have been partners in this roller coaster ride all this time. We're well matched as it's an open question to see who comes up with the next change of course first.

 What we do know is we like to travel, we like to experience new places. Right now I have more freedom to just go, but in a few years she'll be ready to go too.

Pretty much everything we do between now and then is aimed at finding what works best for us. We don't believe in sitting around playing "what if", we just jump in with both feet and figure it out on the fly.

During that time in '95 we once got to the point where we had a total of $175 to our name. Without jobs, things looked pretty bleak.

No matter, within a few days our luck turned and we both secured jobs. Life went on.

No matter how bleak things may seem, it all works out in the end. That's not to say your original goal or plan may not wash away, but no matter you will get by one way or another. When was the last time you saw a human skeleton laying in the street. I haven't yet, one way or another things always work out.

Now you might understand how it came that we changed our means of travel 5 times this year alone.  Life just keep rolling along!

Bummer!! I'm A Victim Of YAHOO! .....UDATE...PROBLEM SOLVED!!

I spent most of the day redoing the links from the lead-in headers to the articles.  All but 3-4 of the really older posts now work by clicking on a link located in the text. No more clicking on titles, use the link in the text.

Thank you for your patience while I fixed this problem that was either created by Google Blogger, or Yahoo Voices.  Don't know for sure which one created the headache, but it's fixed now.
.Original post:

I've been had... At least temporarily!  It was brought to my attention that access to my older articles has been denied by some snafu within Yahoo.  If you are looking for information regarding building out a full sized Chevy Express van into a mobile dwelling you may find that when you click on the article Yahoo will come back that the link is bad.

Unfortunately there is little I can do about Yahoo's continuing problems. Every since they bought out Associated Content things have been picking up speed in a downhill slide toward total failure.

With the hope that this is a temporary glitch, I can offer a way to get around the issue and still gain access to the articles you are looking for.  This is how:

Once you identify the article you wish to see by scrolling down through the list of older articles,

Right click on the title.

Click on the option:  Copy Link Address

Go to your home search page, I use Google Chrome.

Paste the link address you copied and click search.

The search results will show the article you are looking for as the top choice.  Click on it and the article will come onto your scree.

I know this is a bother, and I sincerely hope that Yahoo get's their act together soon.  If this turns into a permanent problem I will have to go back through ever post and update the link. Obviously a big project since I have articles posted as far back as 4 years.

Please be patient and I promise to monitor the situation. If it means I have to redo the links, I will but it will take a serious amount of time.

Sorry for the inconvenience,

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Upgrading To Total Comfort!!

Our recent week long excursion through Iowa provided us with some excellent sight seeing. I wish I could say the same for comfort level as we slowly churned our way up and down hills, hampering the flow of traffic as we went.

The only thing more depressing than our physical discomfort was the knowledge that our attempt to improve our economy was a total waste of time.

Today's smaller SUV's drop their reasonably good MPG rating down almost into the single digits when asked to tow a trailer with any amount of front surface area. We averaged a mere 11 MPG, about the same fuel consumption as a much larger RV.

We're somewhat spoiled, I admit it. In past years we've owned a number of larger, and more comfortable RV's. It was time to go shopping again.

Years ago I used to deliver all manners of RV's cross country for a living. I have fond memories of driving some very expensive coaches with little thought of ever being able to afford one of my own. Country Coach, American Eagle, and other high dollar rigs float effortlessly down the freeway powered by rear mounted diesel  engines.  Handling more like passenger coaches than weekend recreational vehicles, they can go many years and hundreds of thousands of miles using running gear that is similar in power and longevity to the semi rigs competing for space on the road.

Today I finally joined the ranks of owners cruising the highways in their own luxury motor coach...At a fraction of the cost!   The catch is my luxury coach is 20 years old, not necessarily a bad thing.

My new (to me) 1993 Pace Arrow is powered by an 8.3 Cummins diesel with a 6 speed Allison automatic transmission. Riding on 22" tires, the same size used on many heavy haul trucks. This, dare I say RV, rides like a dream, and can easily keep up with the big boys.  All the while averaging 11 MPG!

Having only 75,000 miles on the odometer, this commercial grade running gear is expected to last up to 500,000 miles with normal wear. It's hardly broken in.  Described as a "tank" by the salesman, at 20 years young there is nary a squeak or a rattle anywhere. This is one solid vehicle.

Hailing from California, my inspection of the underside revealed absolutely no rust. This baby has never seen snow, or more importantly SALT!

Because it was the top of the line back in '93, all the bells and whistles are included, and well cared for. Being owned, and appreciated, by an elderly couple, many things have been upgraded even further. Our biggest complaint with the small travel trailer was lack of a good nights sleep. Problem solved now, the 10" deep memory foam mattress should ease our weary bones.

Where I had to beg Mary to reduce the amount of "stuff" she was trying to take with her for our last trip, now we have more closet space and basement storage than we will ever need. The kitchen even has a coffee maker tucked under the overhead cupboard.

Our comfort will be assured with two roof air conditioners, even in the hottest climates. We can run them anywhere with the 8KW diesel generator that is mounted in the very front of the rig, opposite end of the bedroom so it won't disturb our sleep.

For times when we want to use something 110 AC, there's an inverter large enough to run everything but the air conditioners, so we won't disturb the neighbors.

No doubt about it folks, we'll be stepping in high cotton from here on out.  Rest assured our days of being exhausted after a day's drive are over. We'll arrive rested and well groomed, The bathroom has what I would claim is a "real shower" too.  When we pull into any Walmart parking lot to claim our spot for the night, we'll be able to hold our heads high, "We've Arrived"!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Trail Riding At The Cabin And Taking Life Easy!

There's no place like home...Well actually the cabin's a pretty cool place too! After enough nights of marginal rest, it was good to sleep in a real bed. Our journey had us sleeping mostly in Walmart parking lots. Though their hospitality was gracious at every request, darned if we didn't end up with a semi parked next to us right after dark.

Never fails, settled in for the night and the truck that just set his air brakes fires up it's reefer. Sure he shut off the trucks engine, but the auxiliary power plant he uses is just as bad. Two motors running, with the reefer shutting down and restarting throughout the night ends any hope of a good sleep.  Once we got to the cabin, it was time to unwind and get back to normal.

After sleeping in the next morning it was time for an ATV ride into the woods. We packed a lunch and headed off to see the fall colors just past their peak.

It was just cool enough to be comfortable, and best of all no bugs. All it took was a light jacket to be comfortable.

I even got a bit of a sunburn on my face, or it might have been windburn, either way, it was good to be outside.

We didn't get in much riding time this summer. I'm not one to go out riding alone, and Mary didn't get much opportunity for time off.

It was real nice to finish off this vacation trip with a couple days relaxing at the cabin during what is probably the last of nice weather for the rest of the year.

Knowing that Rapid City SD got buried in snow while we were gone makes this trip all that more important.

Eating our lunch at the boat landing, and making plans to bring the original white Chevy Express Stealth Van back into use was a good way to finish the day.

The 1-ton cargo van will make a much better tow vehicle and will likely get better mileage in the process. Being restricted to no overdrive, and slowing down to the low 40's to pull some hills, just makes using the Jeep impractical.

At least the past week has provided some benefit. The Jeep sure got any carbon cleaned out of it, and it runs better than when we started.

Driving home from the cabin, without a trailer behind us, jumped the fuel mileage to even better than before we started the trip.

And best of all now we can look at new RV's and dream for when the lottery check comes in.

Until next time, happy trails!