Photo taken near Monument Valley, Utah

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Well, That Didn't Take Long!

At Northlake RV Resort, Houston, Texas...

We had a great Christmas with the kids in Houston and, oh yes--it looks like we're just about houseless! There is a bidding war for the house! The first offer came in less than 24 hours after the house was listed. The second arrived two days later, and so on. And guess what? The latest offer is for more than the asking price!

No, we weren't expecting this. We didn't know what kind of interest buyers would have in such a unique house. We thought it would appeal to, say, one person in a hundred who might own an RV.

I guess we partly attribute the quick sale to realistic pricing. We have had some local armchair experts tell us we priced it too low, but these are the same folks who have had their house on the market for a year with no interest. The brutal fact is that a house--or anything else, for that matter--is worth only what someone is willing to pay for it. We were very careful to research the comps on our own and, surprisingly, the listing agent came up with the exact same number we did. 

Frankly, we were anticipating having weeks or months to finish the purging and packing, but now that's out the window. We've got to get our track shoes on! Holy smoke!

Stay tuned as we do this belly-flop into fulltiming; this should be interesting, to say the least. Pray for our good health and at least some sanity!

Thank you, Lord, for this wonderful life; please forgive me if I don't appreciate it enough each day.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Days Ten and Eleven

At home near Fort Worth, Texas...

This is really getting old. Yes, I know we have just begun, but the triage of our stuff is perhaps the worst part. We must literally have to look at every single thing we own, even if it's just a piece of paper, and decide what to do with it, knowing that, in many cases, we're probably making the wrong decision. Now that I think of it, only one disposal path of the three (keep-toss-give to the kids) is likely to be the wrong one: It's the things we keep. I know we are doing too much of this one, but we just don't have the stamina to do a deeper purge until the dust settles a bit.

We keep finding stuff from the past that should have made the last purge when we moved from the big house. Look at this old pressure cooker from 1976, smartly showing a popular color of that era:

We've never used it and didn't even know we had it, yet somehow it survived the last holocaust of our stuff. Who thought it was a good idea to have kept it this long?

Here's something else we've had that's been made obsolete by the Internet:

Does anyone not use online dictionaries now?

I was almost glad to take a break to do a little repair on Phannie's shore power cable. Phannie's electrical compartment is on the driver's side of the coach, which is the side nearest the edge of the RV port. The power cable runs along the outside perimeter of the slab, where it plugs into the Phannie's power cord.

Because of all the rain we've had, the receptacle had gotten wet and, since water and electricity don't like each other, the receptacle on the end of the shore power cord shorted out, looking like this when I took it apart:

The grabbers on the end of the hot leads were thoroughly welded to their wires, so I had to cut all of the burned wire lengths off and fit them into a new receptacle. This took a while, since the large-gauge wires were a little difficult to re-dress and snake them into position. I didn't mind, though, as it meant I wasn't having to make a thousand judgments about what to do with our stuff! The new receptacle worked fine after the repair was complete, and I probably saved a hundred bucks by salvaging the cable. From now on, the receptacle will have the protection of a plastic box to keep it dry.   

For those of you who haven't yet had the kind of fun we're having in preparation for fulltiming, although you intend to, we offer these observations:

1. If we had waited much longer to do this, we probably wouldn't have undertaken it. It seems the older we get, the more daunting such a thing becomes. And in the daunting department, our meter is pegged out right now. If you're going to do it, make it sooner, rather than later, if you can.

2. As we have gotten older, material possessions mean much less than they did when we were younger; family and friends become more important, and that makes it easier to let go of your things, including the house. A disinterest in possessions seems to be a common theme with most of our contemporaries so, since you know it's coming, why not start giving some of your excess to those who could use it? The sooner you do that, the more time you will have to make wise choices as to its disposition.

3. No matter how well a house is designed, it demands a lot of expense and a lot of attention--attention that takes away from the things we enjoy doing. We have reached a point where we come home merely because the upkeep of the house demands it, and that doesn't make much sense to us. 

We are going to take a couple of weeks' break from the purge and enjoy Christmas with the kids. The house will be on the market next week, and we'll continue purging and reporting on it after the holidays.

Thank you, Lord, for this wonderful life; please forgive me if I don't appreciate it enough each day.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Day Nine

At home near Fort Worth, Texas...

The weather was way too gorgeous today to be holed up in the house packing boxes. Yet there I was, zig-zagging around, trying to decide (with the final verdict coming from you-know-who) what goes to the kids, what goes to storage and what goes to trash. The trash is easy--I just toss it in the big trash can and, when full, tie up the bag and take it to the curb. Since this upheaval began, the garbage truck has picked up twelve huge bags that were packed as full as possible without breaking, like these:

In addition to that, the recycling truck picked up two huge bins, like this one:

The question has to be: If there was this much stuff in the house that we don't need and weren't using, why are we just now tossing it?

Okay, as I write this, I am mindful that this is the second time I have posted photos of garbage in this blog; this is beginning to concern me. Am I slowly going batty? Will nightmares be next? I think I'm paying way too much attention to this. 

But before I call over to Terrell (nearest town with an asylum) to have myself picked up, I think a little self-analysis is in order (pausing and stroking my chin, as if I had a beard). Okay, here is the diagnosis: My obsession with trash is due to two things: 1) I was weaned too early [I use this to explain most of my neuroses] and 2) keeping track of the trash helps validate that I am making some degree of progress--progress that is not always discernible amid the rest of the chaos. Pretty good, huh?

Let's just go with that; no need to call the asylum, after all.

Walking back into the house, this is what I see--boxes everywhere:

And in the attic:

Is it any wonder that I need the comfort of seeing the trash go out?

I can just see some of you fulltimers out there (you know who you are) who have already done this and are barely able to contain your glee as I wade through all the junk that we should have gotten rid of long ago. Go ahead and enjoy your deserve it. But I'll remember.

Phannie's belly compartments and Mae's cargo area are rapidly filling with stuff that's going to the kids. We've sent them lots of cell phone photos of things we think they might want, and we put it in their boxes. (But we also toss in things we don't ask about, figuring they can get rid of them if they wish. Don't tell them.)

Sandy has spent the last two days shredding papers with sensitive information; I don't think she ever wants to see a shredder again.

The new vessel sink will be installed in the guest bathroom tomorrow, and Carlos will be here next weekend to do a final cleanup of the yard. After that, the listing goes live. We will be in Houston, wondering.

Thank you, Lord, for this wonderful life; please forgive me if I don't appreciate it enough each day.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Day Eight

At home near Fort Worth, Texas...

The last couple of days together might constitute a half-decent single day of purging, so I'm going to say the last two days will be Day Eight. The tradesmen who have been here putting the best face on the house have collected their checks and finally departed. Only one thing (we think) remains to be done: The vessel sink in one of the bathrooms will need to be replaced, as it has developed a crack.

Just getting the house ready to show has cost us thousands of dollars, and it is only seven years old. Add to that the property tax bill soon to be paid, the utilities and other expenses, and we are talking some serious cash doled out to maintain a place that we can't wait to leave, only to worry about it when we do. I'm not sure why it's taken so long to come to grips with this insanity. Wait a minute...when you're insane, you aren't aware of it, are you? If that's so, then perhaps we're just slow. Very slow.

Our progress has been slowed by juggling the workers with doctor appointments and yearly lab work they insist upon. We find ourselves at the doctors' offices far more than when we were younger, but that's largely because of the increased number of medications we need whose prescriptions can only be renewed after a checkup. They've got us over a barrel, don't they? The inexorable dependency on doctors and medications is not lost on us (even though we've established above that we're slow), and we know this is a harbinger of a time when we can no longer be patched up enough to travel as we do now. This realization is not insignificant among the reasons why we're trying to free ourselves of as many responsibilities as possible. 

Another expensive speed bump was caused by both our cars' needing mechanical work. Mae had developed some wear in her front suspension, so I had new suspension kits installed on both front wheels, which improved the ride greatly. Add to this a burned out high-intensity headlight in the Escalade that set us back...well, let's just say, an outrageous amount. No, I didn't try to do it myself; you have to dismantle a good bit of stuff under the hood to get to it.
Now I'm beginning to wonder why we need two cars besides Phannie. (I told you we were a little slow.)

Even with all this going down, we were able pretty much to clear out the study and about half the cabinets in the laundry room. We also made two more trips taking discards to the thrift shop.

Oh yes, and we rented the storage unit at a nearby facility. It should be interesting to see what all ends up in there and how long it remains after we trip over it for a while and discover that paying good money to store it is yet another form of insanity. I guess the next thing you know, I'll be seeing a shrink!

Thank you, Lord, for this wonderful life; please forgive me if I don't appreciate it enough each day.


Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Day Seven

At home near Fort Worth, Texas...

We have returned from the annual shopping frenzy that is Canton, Texas. Once again, the guys were largely successful in staying far away, kicked back most of the time but industrious enough to fix dinner for everybody on one evening. Ribs and baked beans were for the grownups, and mac and cheese for the kids. I even made egg rolls, a favorite. Tyler did go out into the vendors area for a while, but we considered that a rite of passage. Everyone should do it once, I suppose.

As I predicted, Sandy bought stuff only for the kids, keeping with our commitment to downsizing. Speaking of that, I will go ahead and tell you that getting rid of stuff is tedious. At least, we sort of have a system now. We have a supply of empty clear plastic bins with lids plus cardboard boxes. In every room, we set out a plastic bin and two cardboard boxes. Into one cardboard box goes stuff we're taking to the kids; into the other goes stuff we're taking to the church thrift shop; the plastic bin holds those things that we're keeping and placing into storage. A trash can holds the discards.

I know, I know. I can just hear Merikay now, shaming me for not following her example--getting rid of EVERYTHING. What can I say, Merikay? We're weak. I fully envision our returning to the storage unit many times to get rid of more of the stuff we're keeping needlessly at the moment. In fact, I would bet on it.

I readily agree that getting rid of everything would be much easier; there would be no decisions to make as to what would be worth keeping. Our problem is that we know fulltiming will be temporary and that our exit strategy will include acquiring another house of some kind. And, if we're keeping a few things until then, why not a few more? The first things that make the "keep" list are unique and hard-to-find items. If something works well for us and is not readily available in stores, you can bet it will be kept. Photos that are not digitized will also be kept, along with too many mementos. Being sentimental is definitely a hindrance to this process, but we are what we are, I guess.

Day seven has largely been devoted to cleaning out the study, an area from which all of the triage containers were filled more than once. This, of course, creates mayhem, and the study looks like this:

Sandy spent the day going through hundreds of records in the file cabinet below the window in the photo above. While most of these papers were trashed, many with sensitive account numbers had to be shredded. At the end of the day, the shredder was smoking a little, so she took a much needed break.

One bright spot about going through our stuff is that we invariably run across photos that were long forgotten, causing us to pause and reflect on those memories. Finding old photos also affords a mischievous blogger a chance to embarrass someone like, well, Sandy, who seems delighted here as she kicks back in a washtub at age three:

Little did she know what this would portend for the future; she still likes a long, relaxing shower, although these have shortened quite a bit out of necessity in the RV world. The photos we found today are only a tiny fraction of the rest; we haven't even gotten to the attic yet. There are thousands more up there, I'm afraid.

Outside, the bent gutter is fixed, and the painters will be finished tomorrow touching up the inside. Even so, I still don't know when this place might be ready to show.

Thank you, Lord, for this wonderful life; please forgive me if I don't appreciate it enough each day.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Oh, the Places We've Seen!

At Mill Creek Ranch RV Resort, Canton, Texas...

Those who recognize the location above will know its status as the home of the vast east Texas flea market of nationwide fame. I guess there may be a larger one somewhere, but it's hard to imagine where it could be and what it must be like.  

Sandy, Mindy and their gal pal LouAnn are ravaging the countless pavilions of vendors in a quest to see everything in three days. (It's not possible.) While they are attempting this quixotic quest, the three husbands are in a quest to see none of it in three days. (We usually succeed.)

We grilled hot dogs on the Weber Q, and the menfolk took a nap during the girls' absence, unapologetic for our indolence. Left to my own devices for a while, it occurred to me that I could use this time to review some of my favorite photos from our travels. There are so very many, it was hard to choose the best ones, but here's a good sampling, in chronological order:

Garvan Gardens, Hot Springs, Arkansas

Garvan Gardens, Hot Springs, Arkansas

Iconic Musical "Texas" at Palo Duro Canyon, Canyon, Texas

The Window, Big Bend National Park, Texas

Santa Elena Canyon, Big Bend National Park, Texas

Flowers by the sidewalk in Bar Harbor, Maine

Graves of Titanic Passengers, Halifax, Nova Scotia

Quebec City, Canada

Monument Valley, Utah

Monument Valley, Utah

Monument Valley, Utah

Monument Valley, Utah

Japanese Gardens, Fort Worth, Texas

Basilica San Juan del Valle, McAllen, Texas

So many good friends we've made in the RV world

A Unique Mariachi Mass at Basilica San Juan, McAllen, Texas

Garden of the Gods, Colorado Springs, Colorado

Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

The Stanley Hotel, Estes Park, Colorado

Sunset in Estes Park, Colorado

The Portal, Moab, Utah

Arches National Park, Utah

Arches National Park, Utah

Canyonlands National Park, Utah

Monument Valley, Utah

Smoky Mountains, Gatlinburg, Tennessee

Biltmore Mansion in Asheville, North Carolina

Chattanooga, Tennessee

Sunset at Port Isabel, Texas

Sunset at South Padre Island, Texas

Thunderhead at South Padre Island, Texas

Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra, Salt Lake City, Utah

Empire Pass, near Park City, Utah

Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

Old Faithful, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Columbia River Gorge near Portland, Oregon

Sawyer Glacier, Alaska

More good friends at Port Orford Bay, Oregon

Crater Lake, Oregon

Rogue River, Oregon

Sequoia National Park, California

Port of Galveston, Texas
As I look at these and remember our experiences on these great RV trips, I cannot help but think how blessed we are to have this luxury here in the greatest nation on earth--in spite of our leaders' attempts to wreck it. Sometimes I have to pinch myself when I consider the beauties of God's creation that we've seen with our own eyes; And to think, there is still so much left that we haven't seen yet!

I also think how fortunate was my inclination to begin this blog at the very start of our RV travels. These memories, at some point, will be all we have when we are forced to hang up the keys.

I'm also grateful that I decided to retire when I did--when I didn't have to--because I wanted to spend quality time with family and friends and travel wherever and whenever I wanted. Most of all, I wanted to have no regrets; I never wanted to be carried from my office with a sheet covering my head.

If you find yourself wondering whether it's time to pull the plug and finally follow your dreams, my advice is to do it if it's even remotely feasible. After all, there will be no sightseeing and no armored car following your hearse to the graveyard.

Thank you, Lord, for this wonderful life; please forgive me if I don't appreciate it enough each day.