Photo taken near Monument Valley, Utah

Monday, November 26, 2012

Phannie's Turn for a Little Attention

At home in Fort Worth...

I hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving.  Tyler, Mindy and Mason were out of town, and we were invited over to Bubba's and LouAnn's. We had quite a Thanksgiving spread with these good friends, and we thank you fine folks for including us in your family's getogether.

Amazingly, I am making good on my pledge to devolve as a political junkie.  I just stopped watching all the pundits cold-turkey after the election, and I feel better--much better, in fact--having done so.  This doesn't mean I will stop praying for our country and exercising my voting privilege, but I'm definitely focusing more on getting ready for retirement and travel.  Maybe the next generation will be able to fix things; I certainly hope so.

I spent a good bit of the weekend tending to Phannie.  Nestled forlornly in her RV port here at the house, a little exercise, grooming and winterizing seemed in order.  She had not been moved for several weeks after returning from the ladies' annual pre-Christmas shopping orgy at Canton Trade Days, and it was time to bring the coach to life, as has been my monthly custom for years.  

Onan recommends running the genset for a couple of hours each month under load, so I cranked it up and turned on the heat pumps to warm up Phannie's interior.  After that, I fired up the Cat diesel, which started easily, and after warming it up for a while at the recommended 1000 rpm, I made a couple of passes up the driveway to stir the fluid around in the Allison transmission.  I'm not sure if all this is necessary, but it seems to be agreeing with Phannie. She has been remarkably trouble free, so I'm going to continue with this monthly ritual when she's not on the road.  And it looks like it may be a while until the next trip, as my hip surgery is getting closer--probably in December.  Gulp!

Since Phannie's RV port is not enclosed, it is necessary to drain all the water from her system between November and March.  Although it doesn't get very cold here in north Texas, we do occasionally have a hard freeze, so I never fail to perform this little chore.  Tiffin makes it relatively easy with three convenient lowpoint water drains.  After opening these, I drain the water heater, checking the anode rod in the process.  Call me lazy, but I don't replace the water with antifreeze as some of my RV buddies do.  However, in really cold weather, I run a small electric heater in the coach to make sure it doesn't freeze inside.  This scheme has worked well for the eight years we've been RVing, so I'm not going to mess with it.

Removing the drain plug and anode rod

Anode rod is still in good shape; a little cleaning is all that's needed.

After the water drained, I decided to polish Phannie's headlight lenses.  These had become a bit cloudy over time, and the old girl's headlight throw just wasn't what it used to be. It was sort of like she had cataracts! I picked up a kit at CVS Pharmacy the other day for this purpose.  The box contained a bottle of a polishing compound and a bottle of protectant fluid along with a sponge covered with fabric on one side for polishing and the other side for wiping on the protectant.


Lens polish

Voila!  Like new!

It only took a few minutes of light rubbing for the lenses to become crystal clear; I was impressed and grateful that this stuff worked as well as it did!  However, my delight at having found this product was soon tempered, as I learned from reading someone's blog that they had accomplished the same thing using toothpaste!  Go figure.  This just joins many other things in my life for which I overpaid due to ignorance; it probably won't be the last.

I did a little vacuuming in the lower compartments and, when I got to the electrical service compartment, I was reminded of the two gadgets in there that have proven to be among my favorite additions to Phannie when we bought her in 2011--the surge protector and the electric shoreline reel.  It's so nice to push a button to roll up the cable, especially for those of us with arthritis. The surge guard is valuable in giving me peace of mind that it will not allow current into the coach that is not up to par.  The last thing I need is damage to a bunch of expensive electronics.

Electric shoreline cable reel

Surge Guard

So, that's about enough attention for Phannie for a while; I have post-surgery trips to plan.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Moving On...

The election is over, and it has taken a few days for me to get through shock, anger, grief, disappointment and now, acceptance. What's left is great sadness for our nation and a resolve to focus on faith, family and friends, knowing now that the takers outnumber the makers in our country and there's not much I can do about it. For my own peace of mind, I'm devolving from a political junkie to as dispassionate an observer as my fears will allow, knowing that I must keep informed enough to try to take protective steps when the need arises. But that's it; I'm done. I will just pray for our kids and grandkids, whose future our leaders—of both parties—have mortgaged.

My new paradigm will be to get Sandy and me through our health issues and get retired and on the road by summertime. We're not sure what that will look like, because I've never retired before, although Sandy has about ten years’ experience and recommends it highly. It's a bit scary to contemplate, because I've worked for 45 years and don't know what not working will be like.
Sandy is well on the way to full recovery from her three surgeries. I still have a hip replacement to go, but that may be a few months away. I’m not looking forward to the surgery, but I am eager to get rid of “Herman,” the moniker I have bestowed on the painful arthritic nemesis that is my right hip. 

Phannie and Mae are running superbly well. We have made a couple of short trips lately, and I can’t help but marvel at this delightful mode of travel where we carry all the comforts of home with us everywhere we go. The motorhome just loves the road, and it is so much easier on Herman than the fiver; that’s been pretty important to me for a while now.

We’re thinking our first post-retirement trip will be out west. Sandy has never seen Yellowstone, and I haven’t seen it since 1956, so I don’t remember much; that’s got to be on our bucket list for sure. It doesn't really matter where else we go; wherever we want sounds pretty good. I can hardly wait to experience the freedom from the fixed schedule we have always followed in order to return to work on time.

I’m liking this new paradigm better all the time. Who would have thought that something so positive would have its roots in something as disgusting as this election? 

In any case, this the last you'll hear from me about politics.