Photo taken near Monument Valley, Utah

Sunday, May 30, 2010

The Light Bulb Saga

Saturday was largely just a day to vegetate.  It's very dry and hot outside so, except for a little watering of the xeriscaping that is, uh, not supposed to need much water (according to Justin, the landscaper who installed it), I didn't do much. 

We had gotten a call from Explore USA RV earlier in the week about a 2010 Cameo 37CKSLS that had been returned by a customer after only a few months' use.  Since that is the model we're interested in, we decided to trek out to the dealership in Mesquite to see what it looked like.  I considered calling to see if it was still there, given the 30-mile distance from our house, but decided against it because I knew I wanted to go anyway, irrespective of whether that trailer was still on the lot.  Besides, I had to stop at Light Bulb Depot to pick up a replacement halogen light bulb for one of the overpriced light fixtures in the master bathroom.  

The bulb was a very unusual frosted one that looked like a suppository with a couple of silver wires forming a curly mustache on the end.  I knew that a specialty store would be the only one to carry such a strange bulb.
I sauntered in to the counter, behind which the attendant, a large man with a red beard and wearing cutoffs, was standing, looking annoyed at having to tend the empty store until four o'clock.

"Well, have I got a challenge for you," I said, and handed him the burned-out bulb.
He studied it for a moment and walked to one of the aisles where a jillion boxes of small bulbs were stacked to the ceiling.  He grabbed a nearby ladder and started climbing.  Near the top, he plucked out a box and said, "How many would you like?"

"I'll take two," I said, wishing to have a spare on hand, as there were three fixtures in the bathroom with this same bulb.

As he walked back to where I was standing, he said, 

"Now I have a challenge for you!"

"What would that be?", I asked.

Grinning, he said, "Paying for it.  That'll be 24 dollars for the two bulbs."

After the paramedics left (not really), I was able to pull the cash out of my wallet, but the bearded guy had to pry it from my fingers.  I think I'm still noticing one of my eyelids twitching at the thought of what could only be called 'robbery by light bulb.'
We continued on to Explore USA without incident, but I was wondering silently if shaving by candlelight would be so bad.

We weren't terribly surprised that the 37CKSLS they called about had already been sold.  It's a very popular model, and Clint, the salesman with whom we've been working, was quick to point out that the factory could make another one if I would merely leave them a check.  I asked him if being a smart aleck came naturally, or did he have to work at it.  Actually, we like Clint, an energetic and polite young man, and we feel we know each other well enough now to do some teasing.

We looked at several other Carriage models while we were there, but none, not even the more expensive Carri-Lites and Royals had the floor plan we liked in the Cameo.  We were also disappointed to learn that Carriage offers only leather living room furniture in its coaches.  Sandy and I have always preferred fabric, and this likely means that we will have to replace the brand new furniture as soon as we get the new rig.

After roaming around the RV lot, we headed for Wal-Mart, where we did our part to help the economy.  We used to hope to get out of that place for less than a hundred bucks; now, it's two hundred.  And we didn't buy any light bulbs!

Friday, May 28, 2010

This is What I Think I Know - About Planning

The older I get, the more appreciation I have for John Lennon’s famous observation that “Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans.”

Sandy is more of a planner than I am. She’s not necessarily a long-term planner, but she has a need to know at least what we are likely to be doing on any given day. While this is not necessarily crucial information for me, there are vastly important wardrobe and makeup considerations for her, and she can be very convincing as to the pitfalls that can accompany less than full disclosure in this area.

I must hasten to add, however, that I have noticed a significant lessening of these obsessions as we have been engaged in RV travel—and in fulltime RV living, which we did for several months while our current house was being built. Certainly contributing to her more relaxed mindset has been our interaction with fulltiming RV friends we've met like Ed and Marilyn and Gordon and Juanita—and many other cyber friends whose blogs I read, and who seem to have perfected the art of simplifying their lives.

As for me, I generally don’t do detailed planning, because there are so many unexpected events that can come out of nowhere to blow my plans to smithereens. Having had this experience far too often, I just tend to point myself in the direction of broadly-defined goals and depend on the good Lord to make it happen—or not, as He sees fit.

There are times, however, when one can’t avoid planning, as when I have to make reservations well in advance for some event for which a bunch of other people have had the nerve to make plans as well. Now this is incredibly annoying, but I grit my teeth and do it when absolutely necessary.

“So,” you might ask, “what is your point?”

Well, I mentioned in the previous post that I would elaborate on our future plans; I used the preceding narrative to explain why those plans may seem a little, ah, squishy. One plan that is not squishy is retirement. Sandy has already retired, and I will have reached that long-anticipated status no later than June 3, 2011—371 days from now, if anyone (like me) is counting. At that point, I will have been with the FAA for 15 years, with enough resources available, hopefully, to preserve the basics of life: Air conditioning and iced tea for Sandy, and a recliner and TV remote for me.

The main thing we’re having trouble planning is what retirement will ultimately look like in terms of living arrangements. Shedding the responsibility and expense of maintaining a house is extremely attractive to me. However, it’s not as attractive to Sandy, who isn't quite ready to embrace a totally nomadic lifestyle (yet). Having had this discussion on innumerable occasions, we attempted to reach a compromise in 2008 by building an inexpensive, low-maintenance RV port, which we chronicled earlier in this rag. It turned out exactly as we hoped, except for the “inexpensive” part. I'm afraid we got a little carried away.  So, what we'll probably wind up doing is part-timing for a while and, reluctantly, hang on to the house until my worrying and fretting about maintaining it reaches a saturation point with Sandy. The idea of finally being free of that responsibility makes me almost giddy.

Larry didn't help much today; he's an employee of mine whom I hired a few years ago into our facility. At the time, he and his wife, Pat, were fulltimers. They moved their fifth wheel into Treetop RV Park in Arlington, and after a year or so, decided to sell their RV and buy a house and small surrounding acreage out in the country. At the time, I asked him if he was sure he knew what he was getting into, as he and Pat had seemed very happy in their little rolling home. He was emphatic in his desire to get back to a roomy living space and the satisfaction of being a landowner. That was a couple of years ago.

Today, Larry came to work looking pretty haggard, and I asked him what was wrong. He said, “I had forgotten what a pain in the neck it was to keep up a house and big yard. Pat and I are selling our place and going back to fulltiming.” Go figure.

By the way, I have been considering making regular blog posts when we're not traveling, something I have been reluctant to do because 1) this is supposed to be a TRAVEL blog, and 2) a typical day in our life would hardly seem interesting to anyone.

I've come to realize, however, that most daily blogs I read reflect pretty mundane stuff, too, yet keeping up with them is still compelling, somehow. I think most people have a little voyeuristic streak or perhaps are just a bit nosy, and that's the reason for the popularity of reality shows, Facebook, Twitter and, well, these blogs.

So, I may give it a try. This is the first episode, which is admittedly overly analytical. What do you think?

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Exit the Hornet, Enter Lucille

Yes, I know it's been ages since I've posted anything. But, nothing much has been happening.  Until now, that is:  There’s a new woman in my life—Lucille!

No, not that kind of woman—Sandy would hardly approve. Lucille is pretty, sleek and has big hips, but I would not want to cuddle with her on a cold night!

For those who don't have the curiosity (and who would?) to go back in this blog and find out the meaning of its title (“Homer and Lucille”) and its former moniker (“Homer and the Hornet”), I'll give you a brief primer here.

Sandy and I have always had a habit of attaching human names to some of our inanimate possessions. The reason for this is not clear, except perhaps to mental health professionals who may stumble upon this blog. I suppose one could postulate that such juvenile behavior can be ascribed to empty nest syndrome or the fact that we don’t have any pets. (It’s not that we don’t like animals; we just don’t like the bondage associated with their care.) However, this can’t be the reason, because we have given names to things since Sandy and I were hitched back in 1976, irrespective of children or pets in our home. Our vehicles have almost always had names, and the 2003 Dodge ¾ ton pickup we just sold was named “the Hornet” because it was painted a metallic green color and had a rather noisy diesel engine. The (new to us) replacement is a 2006 Dodge one-ton diesel dually (hence the big hips mentioned above), silver in color, and her name, “Lucille,” is reprised from several other trucks I have owned in the past. (I’m sure Little Richard would be pleased with the reference to his rock and roll hit of the fifties, but that was not a consideration in choosing the name; it just fits, somehow.)

I found Lucille, this unbelievably pristine truck, on eBay, advertised by a fanatical owner in Florida who kept it looking, literally, as the day it was built. (He would put it on a lift in his garage and wash the underside if he drove trough a puddle.) I bought it on the spot after flying down to look at it. This was typical of my vehicle acquisitions; I simply cannot bring myself to buy new, even though I can afford it. I would much rather find one like this—barely used—and save about twenty grand. Besides, this was the last year for the 5.9 Cummins engine before all the emissions junk got loaded onto the 6.7 engine in 2007. Perfect for many years of RV travel in my upcoming retirement!

Homer II, our 2006 Forest River fifth wheel, is our second fifth wheel and gets its name because it is a rolling home—Homer—get it? (I told you it was juvenile.) Our next rig—probably a Carriage Cameo—will also be named Homer--Homer III. More about Homer and our future plans in subsequent posts.