Photo taken near Monument Valley, Utah

Monday, June 20, 2016

Ugh! We're Stuck Here in the Texas Heat (But Not For Long)

At Northlake Village RV Park, Roanoke, Texas...

One of the things we had been looking forward to after jettisoning the house was escaping to cooler climes for several summer months before the unrepentant Texas sun begins its fiendish rendering of my ample adipose tissue. Well, that escape hasn't happened...yet. We're sitting here in north Texas for a while, working on a special project that, hopefully, will delight grandsons Mason and Pryce. I'll tell you about the project a little later; certain things have to fall into place for it to happen as hoped. We were planning to have made our trek to Colorado before now, even having made reservations at Mountaindale RV Park near Colorado Springs. We were to join several of our friends there in the cool mountain air. 

Sure enough, after a spring that was about three days long, the summer sun has begun its usual microwaving of the north Texas plains, and here we are, reluctantly, in the middle of it. It's easy to tell when the temperature outside approaches 100 degrees: All three of Phannie's air conditioners are humming during the daytime.

But not for long. The things required of me--routine medical tests, mostly--will be finished in a couple of weeks and we will then launch for Durango, Colorado just after the July fourth holiday. Mindy and Tyler and the grandsons will fly into there later in the month; we will see them along with Bubba and LouAnn, who will arrive in their motorhome. We have tickets to ride the old steam train from Durango to Silverton. Grandson Mason--and his brother, Pryce, to a lesser extent--are batty over trains, and they will have a grand time doing this.

We are set up pretty nicely here at Northlake Village, north of Fort Worth, for a month. This is a nice park, and we were lucky enough to get perhaps the best spot in the whole place:

Here's a photo of the park office:

Another real plus is the park wi-fi, which is remarkably fast, unlike the dreadful drip of bandwidth of most other RV parks. This proves that good internet can be had, if the park owners are willing to spring for it. Good for you, Northlake.

During this interlude, Sandy and I went to our dentist, Dr. Novo Cain, for a cleaning and checkup, only to find that I had a small cavity beneath an old crown. Sandy, who has had almost no cavities in her lifetime, also had none this time, of course. I went back the next day to get the cavity fixed and a new crown installed which, of course, made another payment on Dr. Cain's Mercedes. I grumble about our constant visits to health professionals but, by golly, I haven't been around this long without doing something right, I guess. I'm glad they found the cavity on the routine x-ray before I even knew there was a problem. By the time it would have begun to bother me, it would likely have been much worse. 

How about an update on our new residential refrigerator, now that we've had it for a couple of months? Well, I can report that this upgrade may be the best one we've done so far. It would be difficult to describe what a profound difference it has made, especially since we are fulltiming. It was one thing to put up with the old Nevercold while we were part-timing but, somehow, the new fridge makes Phannie much more homelike than we ever imagined it would. If this upgrade is something you may be contemplating, I think your reaction would be no different from ours.

I'll close with a shout out to my friend Ed Dray, another fulltimer whose new book, "My Journey to the Clouds," is now available on Amazon as a Kindle e-book and soon will be available at Barnes and Noble for those with Nooks. Ed asked me to edit the book, which I gladly did. Although I've done a good deal of writing, this was the first book I had edited. I am grateful to Ed for his acknowledgement of my effort, one that turned out to be an enjoyable and illuminating experience for me. Ed also asked me to provide an introduction in the book, which I was happy to do. If you enjoy reading, I think you would find Ed's book to be an interesting perspective of the life of a corporate pilot and the value of perserverance in pursuing your dreams. There is much more, however, in terms of personal stories and the value of faith, family and a positive attitude when terrible things happen. You can find out more here.

Since we're largely in a holding pattern here in north Texas, posts will be a little more sparse until we start moving again. But never fear, I'll be back soon.

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

Monday, June 6, 2016

Homecoming: We Visit Our Folder

At Escapees Rainbow's End RV Park, Livingston, Texas...

I know I was going to talk about an average day as a fulltimer, but I've changed my mind; It just doesn't interest me very much. In fact, it's because of do-nothing days that I am not a daily blogger. I just think that if I'm not interested in what I write about, the readers will be disinterested as well. I have evidence of this in reading the blog statistics. When I publish under a post title that sounds interesting, I get a lot more hits, and vice versa. And frankly, I have difficulty making something interesting out of, say, vacuuming the car. Now, that's not to say anything against daily bloggers, some of whom are good friends. (I can hear you typing your snarky comments now.) Curiously, I enjoy reading a daily blog; I guess I'm just too lazy to write one.

I will say a couple of things about our routine days: 

1) Our habit patterns from pre-fulltiming days haven't really changed much, and I doubt if yours will, either, if you're thinking about doing it. For example, we like to sleep in in the morning and stay up late at night; we always have. We will get up and get going early for special occasions, like going to church or going with friends on an adventure, but we're not sure what kind of company we are when we do that.

2) If we have a do-nothing day, we always try to do something productive as well, so as not to feel that it's  a wasted day. Since the RV is our house, there's always some small household chore that needs to be done; it's just that we don't spend much time doing these. In a tiny house, chores are tiny, too, but they still give a sense of accomplishment. Then there are all the entertainment resources, books to be read and the Internet. How in the world could anyone be bored?

Okay, that's about all I'm going to say about do-nothing days; my eyes are beginning to glaze over. Instead, lets talk about our trip "home" to Livingston, Texas:

We have returned to our current residence of record, the sprawling Escapees complex in Livingston, Texas that houses our mail folder--that serves as our "home" at 237 Rainbow Drive. Our folder is quite nondescript among the 15,000 other folders of fulltimers and, although Sandy would like to spruce it up a bit, maybe by adding a plastic flower or something, I don't think they would go for that here at Escapees Mail Service. They're pretty serious about their business.

Escapees Mail Facility in Livingston, Texas
We are not here merely to pick up our mail, which is usually sent by Escapees to wherever we tell them. Our mission is to get new registration stickers for Phannie and Mae, an annual obligation that requires us to return here once a year. Obtaining a sticker requires a vehicle inspection, and we will have to get that, too, while we're here.

The Escapees headquarters is about six miles southeast of Livingston on state highway 146, identified by this sign:

While you're looking at that sign, take a look at the original photo below from which I removed some unwanted objects with a really cool program called Movavi. (I've mentioned this before in the blog, but for you new readers, you need to see it again; you need this. It's not nearly as complicated or expensive as some other programs. By the way, I have no connection to Movavi other than as a customer.)

Notice the overhead wires and the speed limit sign above. These are not to be found in the preceding photo. Removing them with Movavi is so simple; you just highlight the areas to fix and click on a button, and the program does the rest. It seems to know what is supposed to be in the background behind the objects removed; I can't imagine how it does this. Yes, there's a small cost for Movavi Photo Editor--about forty bucks. But that's not a lot, considering what it does. I haven't even gotten into the other editing features; just the unwanted object removal is more than worth its cost to me. 

We have a nice shady parking spot with just enough of an opening for our dish to see the satellites it needs. The concrete pad is still wet from where I gave Phannie a bath. It wasn't a full bath; she was only dirty from about her waist down. Saved myself more than a hundred bucks.

We're parked very near the RV park office:

It contains a very nice laundry room:

Here's the main headquarters building where the mail service is:

Here's our house:

The inspections and the sticker acquisitions went off without a problem, except that our bank account is nearly $500 smaller.

We ate at a very good catfish joint just south of Livingston on U. S. 59. Here's a photo of Hughes Catfish Inn, and I'm adding it to our favorite restaurants list.

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

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Fulltiming: Things That Didn't Surprise Us

At Sunset Shores RV Park, Willis, Texas...

The simple life. Before we pulled the trigger on fulltiming, we already knew that we were going to simplify our lives dramatically. Having owned Phannie for over four years while part-timing, we knew, for example, how easy it was for me to maintain the coach and for Sandy to do housekeeping chores. And so it has been. There's really not that much to do, maintenance-wise, other than keeping the tires aired up, the fluids checked, the tanks dumped and the occasional wash job (often done by mobile wash services). Oh yes, and then there are the minor things that break and that can be fixed by someone inept like me. We occasionally need the services of a professional if we need some work on the entertainment system or the house electrical or plumbing systems or something like that. Other than regular maintenance visits--for which I am fanatical in their accomplishment--I can think of only one time in five years that Phannie had a mechanical problem that required her to be towed to the shop, and that was because of a broken throttle link. 

Sandy is equally delighted with the ease of housekeeping. Vacuuming takes all of ten minutes, and the rest of the inside chores about twenty more. When we think about the large houses we've owned, one with acreage, our mind reels as to what we were possibly thinking back then. God was good finally to give us clarity of thought.

Accepting, and even celebrating, change. Sandy and our daughter, Mindy, will admit that they were never very fond of change. I think women, especially, need to feel secure and are leery of anything that threatens that security. Change can certainly do that, to a greater or lesser degree, depending on the individual. 

Change, however, is inescapable. In a preceding post, reader Bob made a comment about the inevitability of evolving in our thoughts and opinions over time. He reminded me that the only thing really constant in life other than our faith and devotion to each other and our family is change. When I look back over the ten years represented by this blog, I am astonished at how radically our thinking and our circumstances have changed. Who would have thought that someone like us would be our happiest living in less than four hundred square feet when we once thought we had to have four thousand? The fact that we were able to make a change like that is evidence that we had finally obtained the wisdom that maturity is supposed to bring. We were not surprised, then, when we drove away from the stick and brick house with no regrets. 

We celebrate change now, even though every new destination represents the unknown and the unfamiliar and yes, change. Not everyone is comfortable with that, but we see it as new opportunities for learning and adventure. I can't imagine staring at the same four walls day after day instead of experiencing the excitement of what the view might be like around the next curve.

We knew the RV community.  I can't tell you the number of folks who, when we told them of our fulltiming plans, wrinkled up their noses as if they smelled something unpleasant; or worse, they audibly gasped, as if we told them we had leprosy. One thought we had fallen on hard times and were being forced to go and live in "one of those trailer parks." Little did he know that our financial circumstances were probably much more solvent than his. Indeed, at the time he was making his sneering comment, he also revealed that he was about to spend tens of thousands on repairs to his house. Pity, I thought.

The fact is that the RV community, like the rest of society, is diverse. There are some parks in disrepair or in scary locations that cater to a questionable clientele, but these are the exceptions. RV parks, in the large majority, are patronized by folks just like us. Some of the nicest, most well-adjusted (and, dare I say, well-heeled) people we have ever met in the last ten years have been found among the RV community. So we weren't surprised at this aspect of our new fulltiming life either. We were going to be among our own kind (except for the well-heeled part).

Okay, there you have some of the things that didn't surprise us. Next time, we might talk about a typical day when we have no outings planned. That should put you to sleep, if nothing else will.

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