Venture Out - Cudjoe Key

Venture Out - Cudjoe Key
Fox at Quail Run

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Dirtiest House in the Country

It was thundering and raining yesterday so we had to stay inside.  Somehow we started watching the tv show, The Dirtiest House in America.  The premise of the show is that they find the dirtiest house (who would want that distinction, I don't know),  force the people that live there to let go of all their clutter, and then magically, come back and give them a clean and beautifully decorated house.   It is kind of interesting seeing the ways people justify keeping and collecting all their "stuff."    These houses are way beyond clutter, the one today was absolutely filthy and disgusting.  However, when they finished the house all is clean and beautiful.

After watching the hour long show, it got us motivated!  We went into the "stuff" room and made some tough choices.  One batch to the consignment shop, one to Goodwill and one to trash!  I guess we need to watch that show every week!

Nellie wrote in her blog that she was very happy on trash days.  We felt like that when we went through the moving process when we left Tampa.  We got trash pick up twice a week and about half the time one of our trash days fell on a holiday, so we missed it that week.  Here in the country, we have no trash pick up!  We have to haul our trash to the community dumpsters and it's kind of nice, because every day is trash day!  With our property off the highway, even if someone came to pick it up, we'd still have to haul it up to the road, so it's not really a problem.  Now of course Al may tell a different story, because it's his job to haul the trash :)

Al is feeling a little better today, but is still having some problems.  He has become sensitive to smells, dust, chemicals and cleaning products.  These kind of things bother his lungs.  I think he may have a sinus and respiratory infection.  He had some antibiotics (z-pack)  that he got last year so he took them.  He started to feel much better right away, but then yesterday he started going back down hill again.  I think he started doing too much and relapsed.  Anyway, we decided to look into an indoor air-purification system.  With the cats, we have lots of dander and dust from kitty litter.  Maybe this will help.  I did a lot of research and we ordered  this:  Rabbit Air MinusA2 Air Purifier SPA-780A - Pet Allergy (White)   I ordered it from Home Depot, so if we don't like it, it's returnable.  It was expensive, but since he's having lung issues, I think it might be a good thing.  Once we're living in the motor home, we'll be in closer contact with the cat dander and kitty litter dust, so hopefully it will help him.




Monday, June 28, 2010

Campground in Michigan Hit by Tornado

Although it hasn't been confirmed yet that it was a tornado that caused the damage to this campground in Michigan, the following video makes it pretty clear that it was indeed a tornado.  Note how some rv's were thrown around and others right next to them were perfectly fine? 

Campground Damaged by Probable Tornado

The above video was taken from the air so you can see the destruction very clearly.


How many of the people in this campground knew the storm was coming?

How many left their rv's for a more substantial structure?

How many had weather radios?

How many with weather radios had them turned on and set to the county they were camping in?

Do you have a weather radio?

Weather radios are cheap and can give you enough warning to leave your rv and maybe save your lives.  Is it worth the cost?

What are you waiting for?

You can get weather radio's just about anywhere...Walmart, Walgreens, Target, Home Depot, Lowes....
You can also get them at Radio Shack but I don't' recommend their brand. 


This is the exact model we have had for the last few years.  One thing I really like about it, is that it's portable.  You can grab it and take it to the shelter with you and still keep track of the weather, so you know when it's safe to go back to your home or rv.  I have actually had it with me in our below ground storm shelter and it worked.  I had to move it around a little to get a good signal, but it worked!


Don't wait for that middle of the night storm (and they always come in the middle of the night) and wish you had one.  Get one, take it with you when you are camping, and make sure it's on and set to the county you are at!

That is a very scary video and this year it seems that these storms are hitting areas that rarely get tornado's. 

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Visit From The Realtor

We had the Realtor who originally sold us the house come out Friday.  We liked her and she did a good job for us when we purchased the house, so we figured we'd probably use her to list the house when we get ready.  I explained to her that we weren't quite ready to list it, but just wanted an idea of what she thought it was worth now. It was idea to come out and look at the property.  She sold us the property, but was not the listing agent, so I wasn't sure she actually knew all she should know about our property.  After we talked a while, I gave her the golf cart tour of the entire property.  I wanted to make sure she knew exactly where our property lines were, that the pasture is fenced, where the out buildings are, that we have a storm shelter, etc.

She was all set to put the for sale sign up, but we explained (again) that we were not ready for that yet.  She left with some comps for previously sold houses in the area and a few more of ones that are currently listed.  The trouble is that here, we are in the country and there are no other properties that are really comparable. It's very different from when we listed our house in a subdivision in Tampa.

In some ways, I wonder if we should just go ahead and list it and continue to work to get it ready.  After all, what if our one buyer is out there, just looking for this type of property?  On the other hand, I don't want to scare off the one buyer with a house that isn't in as good of condition as it should be.  Plus, if a realtor called and said they had someone wanting to come look at the house tomorrow...I'd just panic.  No way am I ready for someone to look...everywhere!

It was stressful enough making everything presentable enough for the Realtor.  We tried to get everything all mowed, trimmed, and prettied up outside.  Inside, I basically cleaned and de-cluttered the surface areas.  The cupboards need work and the two other bedrooms are full of  "stuff".   We're trying to keep everything picked up and start living like we expect company :)  Boy, do I hate that!

So, I guess we are going to try to get some of the outside painting done and work on the two "junk" rooms and try to get it listed before the grass turns brown!

Al has been under the weather the past few days, so we haven't made much progress.


Friday, June 25, 2010

The Long, Long Trailer

After a rather busy day, and a visit from a Realtor, we decided to watch the old 1954 movie,
The Long, Long Trailer.  I think most rv people have already seen it, but somehow we missed it.  I always “Loved Lucy” and this one is particularly funny.

Please tell me that when we get ready to travel out west that we won't have elevations to climb like they had in the movie?   Please tell me that was only a movie and a 12-14 % upgrade isn't like what they showed in the movie?   Please tell me the roads in the mountains are much wider??

Remember, we're Floridians where the highest elevation anywhere in the state is 345 feet!   As much as we want to head west, we have to admit we're a little (lot) intimidated by the thought of driving in mountains. 

It's been a long day...more tomorrow about today's  visit from the Realtor.  We need time to digest things.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Motivation

Al and I have been talking about our options and were wondering if we could take some extended trips in the RV before we sell the house.  We may be able to find some shorter work camping jobs to keep the expenses down.  The benefits would be that we wouldn't have to wait for the house to sell before we can start exploring some places we've been wanting to go.  Even though we lived in Florida over 30 years, there are still a LOT of places we haven't been to, or explored enough...believe it or not.   If you have never lived in Florida, you can't imagine all that it has to offer.

Most of our time in Florida we were scuba divers, not rv'ers, so the kinds of places we went were different than the kinds of places we enjoy now.  We still intend to dive though and there are lots of places that offer both.   We have not explored the east coast of the state nearly enough.  Al wants to start at Jacksonville, and work his way down.  Sounds good to me.  We were thinking if we work camped, the cost of living in the rv would be about the same as if it was just parked here.  We may be able to save a little on the home a/c, but the other expenses would be about the same. We're not thinking of doing this for a while because for one, we're not ready to put the house on the market, and two, too much yard work to do this time of year.  BUT, some January, it may be a possibility...if we continue to get rid of STUFF!    Hummmm??

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Comments on photos - Juniper Springs Run


A few readers have commented on the new picture I posted on the blog header.  It is a pretty picture isn't it?  I hadn't seen it for a while and it almost made me want to go back there......almost..

Let me tell you a little about the place where that picture was taken.  It was one of our first kayak trips and as it turns out...one of the most difficult.  The only other place that rivaled it was the Econfina Creek RunIt was quite a few years ago.


Juniper Springs Run is located in the central portion of Florida in the Ocala National Forrest.  There is a wildlife reacreation area that is a very nice park.  It's a great place to spend the day even if you don't want to kayak. It's a beautiful spring fed river, which starts out with crystal clear and very shallow water.  I'm talking inches deep at first.

We put the kayaks in to very shallow water, like you see here.

There are a lot of downed trees that you have to navigate and duck to get under.  It's very pretty though.


It's a 7 mile float downstream.

The water changes colors often.




After a few miles, you get to a different kind of river. It starts to look less like a spring run and more like a regular river, and the current picks up.  We stopped to stretch our legs (well Al had to pee). He got out on a muddy, slippery bank.  About the time he made a few steps, I saw a gator coming right at him.  I screamed, the gator ran right past Al and dove into  the water and swam off.  By the time I was able to get a word out, it was all over.  Somehow  Al slipped on the muddy bank and ended up flat on his butt.  It was all over before we had a chance to realize what was happening.
 
Lesson learned:  When you stop to get out on  a river....make a lot of noise and let any gators know you are there..before you get out of the boat!  We scared the gator more than he scared us. We saw him floating down the river..well away from us.

 

When the river changed, it became full of hydrilla (water plant) and it was so thick you could not paddle anywhere else except the narrow path of water.   We came to a spot where there was a rather large alligator parallel to the path we were about to be in.  Normally gators are afraid of people and they will quickly swim away.  Lesson 2:  If there is a gator underneath your kayak, don't hit him with your paddle!  No, we didn't do that...we always try to "'paddle shallow" if that is a possibility.

When we came upon this gator, he stayed put and stared at us as we passed within 6 feet of his very large body.   He never bothered us, but he unnerved us since he didn't appear to have any fear of man.   footnote:  the very next week, someone was killed by an alligator in that very same river.  Al always thought it was that same gator who had no fear of man (or woman).  Another time we were scuba diving in the Rainbow River someone was killed by a gator a short time after that trip. Alligator attacks are very rare, but they do happen.

After we got past he gator, it started to storm....lightning, thunder, and rain.  We paddled like heckl the rest of the way until we reached the takeout point.  We were sure glad to get to the end.  It was a very nice and scenic river, but between the gator issues, the weather, the shallow water and low trees, it was a tough paddle.  One day I guess we'll have to try it again.  It was a beautiful river. 

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Slow and Steady?

We spent Monday just hanging around the house.  Al had to take an online continuing ed class for his Pest Control License.  He's not a computer whiz and needed some assistance occasionally.   On top of the computer issues, he wasn't feeling very well, so he was a little grumpy :)

I spent some time cleaning out cabinets.  I don't know why, but I just can't bring myself to toss out very much stuff.  I know once we get the house sold and we're under the gun, I'll have no problem with most of it, but for now I'm having trouble tossing things like spices, rubs, seasonings, hand creams, perfumes, and that kind of stuff.  Most of what I found I didn't even remember I had it, but most of it is usable.  I just need to USE it!  Why do we have so much stuff?  We buy it, forget we have it and it gets put away in some place never to be seen, or remembered again.  I guess a little at a time and we'll eventually get there.  I've read several blogs and one thing I find pretty consistent is nothing really gets done until the house is sold and you have to go like hell!  I know Al and I work better under pressure so we'll probably be doing the same thing.

Our big old heavy Tv started acting up again.  We were hoping it would last until we were ready to hit the road, but it appears it may be dead.  Yesterday we got sound, and no picture.  We got it fixed and it was fine.  Today it was fine, then all of a sudden the color was gone.  Later on, the picture and sound were gone. We moved it out and checked all the connections and they all seemed fine.  It's such a big monster that we have to use a hydraulic table to lift it.  We were hoping to be able to sell it to 2-3 really big guys so they could take it out of here.  Al is going to mess with it a little and see if he can figure something out, but more than likely it's a dead soldier. 

We sold an item on E-bay.  I had two things listed and only one sold.  It almost seems like more trouble than it's worth.  Last week, Al found a bunch of old albums and 45's that his parents had collected.  We went through a few and thought we'd hit the jackpot.  There was a John F. Kennedy memorial album. It has a bunch of his speeches on it.  We thought we might be rich!!  I checked on E-bay and it appears a few dozen other people also thought the same thing.

Little by little, we're selling things.  Last week he sold a speargun and power head.  We aren't really in a good area to have a garage sale and there are no good flea markets close by, so I don't know how to unload large quantities of stuff quickly.  I'm thinking Goodwill is sounding better and better.

The Realtor is coming by Friday to help us get an idea on how much to list the house for. We're not at the point where we are going to list it, but we wanted to get an idea.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Next Step to Full-timing

Yesterday,  we decided to contact the realtor that sold us this house.  We thought she could give us an idea of a good asking price for our property.  I sent her an e-mail, so we're waiting to hear back from her. We're not actually ready to list the house, but we want to put it out there and get an idea of value.

We have got to step it up and start doing something on a more regular basis.  It's cloudy today so maybe it will be a good day to make a trip to Goodwill.  It's been so stifling hot that it's hard to get motivated to do anything that involves the outdoors.  It's almost 10am and the temperature is only 77 degrees!  Hallelujah!


Saturday, June 19, 2010

4 Sale-11 acres, Georgia

HOME5

Well, we’re not quite ready to put the place up for sale, but I was on Google Earth today and was finally able to find our property.  I never could find it before. We’re in a very rural area and there aren’t a lot of landmarks.

I think we are going to post it on Zillow.com in the “Make Me Move” category.  You can post some photos and a Google Earth photo,  so I wanted to make sure I could locate our property.  I think as soon as we get some of the main stuff done, we’ll put it on Zillow just to see what happens. With the housing market the way it is, it may take a while.

It’s kind of cool to look at our place from this view. I can see our house, pool, garage, barn, pond, pasture, chicken coop, the motor home, well house and even the “hidey hole” (storm shelter). I was trying to find my clothes line, but can’t quite see it.  You can see the pasture area on the top of the screen.  What you can’t see is our private road through the woods on the left of the screen.  That is the road we use to enter the property most of the time.  The house is actually considered to be on the highway, but we are a good way off the road and have lots of privacy due to all the woods.  The road on the bottom of the picture is a gravel road that we use to take the motor home out.  The road in the woods is a little narrow and tree lined, so we  don’t use it for the motor home.

We are trying to do some work on the house and paint the porches but it’s been so darn hot, we can’t do it.  We did take another load the the consignment shop today.  We had sold some stuff that we brought a few weeks ago.  We made a whole $12, but of course I found something I wanted for $2.  At least we are ahead.

We came home from the consignment shop to find our big Sony Tv wasn’t working.  We had hoped it would last until we were ready to go full time, but today it had no picture.  We messed with it and still nothing.  Finally we changed the cables out to a new S-video cable and it worked again!!   We could have used a tv from the  “motor home”  but they are only 26 inches and that is a little small in the house.  We would have made do, but thankfully the Sony is working again.  I don’t really know what the problem was and really don’t care anymore :)

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Scuba Gear for Sale?

Maybe not!  Al pulled out all of our scuba gear and we went through it all.  I even tried on my old Buoyancy compensator.....it felt good to have it on, kind of like an old friend.  We haven't been diving for probably 10 years but we still intend to do some more diving before we're too old to lift a tank!  It's just not as convenient now that we don't own a dive boat.

What brought this on is a friend is interested in buying some of our dive gear for her husband.  Al is willing to sell a speargun and I have a dive computer that I had actually forgotten about.  I turned it on and it started right up and reminded me how user friendly it was.  Do I want to sell it?  Probably not.  It's small, doesn't weigh much and is very expensive to replace, so I would probably never buy another one.  Someday soon, I hope we can get back to diving.

I think we will get rid of some of the stuff though...like those old wetsuits that must have shrunk.  I hate diving in a wetsuit anyway.  We will need this stuff when we get a chance to dive again, but where will we put it?   The Geeks on Tour do a lot of diving when they winter in Fort Lauderdale and they find room for it, so I guess we will too.

It's going to be difficult to put all of our toys into one 32 foot motorhome! 



Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Progress

The heat has been terrible the past few weeks. It got up to 99 degrees yesterday and that has been pretty typical the past 10 or so days.  It's still 95 degrees at 7pm, so there is no good time to work outside.  That's a good thing though because Al and I always prefer working outside and now that it's just too hot we are working inside and making PROGRESS!  It's forcing us to stay in the house and work on some projects that need to be done before we put the house on the market.

Unfortunately, the heat is keeping us from loading up stuff and taking it to the dump, Goodwill, or the consignment shop.  It's just too darn hot to go outside.  We need to do some painting outside on the porches but the heat is making that impossible.

We read a  blog about a couple that are in the process of finding a motor home, and selling their house and becoming fulltimers when they retire next year.  They listed their house on  Zillow-Make me Move  just to test the market.  They got an offer on the house and were needing to be out of the house by mid July!  Rush Rush.....however they had no Rv to live in and couldn't find a rental in their town for 6 months.  In the end, the contract fell through and they are back to square one.  Check our their blog....it's definitely interesting. 

After reading about the success they had on Zillow, we had been thinking about listing ours there under the "Make me Move" category.  We need to get a little further along though, because if some fluke would occur and we would get someone wanting to come look at the house...we'd just.....????   Well,  I don't know what we'd do! 

Anyway, we're working towards that goal and since it's been too hot to work outside, we're actually making some progress inside!

Today is our 37th anniversary, but I don't think we'll do much celebrating.  We'll go out for a nice dinner the next time we go into Tallahassee, but just don't have the desire to do it today.  Heck, maybe I'll make Al a special dinner tonight....I'll put some extra pepperoni on the frozen pizza!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Arkansas Campground Floods-What Would You Do?

I'm sure everyone has read about the horrific and deadly flash floods in the campground in Arkansas. Our hearts go out to all of those affected.

Weather is one of my biggest concerns about living in an Rv. You're in an area that you are not familiar with, you don't know the weather patterns, or when they normally have severe weather. You also may be in "vacation" mode and be enjoying your travels so much that you let your guard down.  You are much more vulnerable while traveling than when you are at home, in my opinion.

The people in Arkansas were enjoying a wonderful camping trip when seemingly without notice sudden heavy rains caused the flash flooding of the rivers. Tents, Trailers and Motorhomes all washed down the river.  One body was found 8 miles down stream. I believe 18 people, many small children are confirmed dead and dozens more are missing.

It happened in the middle of the night when everyone was asleep. The rivers rose several feet in minutes.

How could this have been prevented?

What would you have done?

Would you have gotten any warnings ahead of time to move to higher ground?

Would you have known where to go in the middle of the night?

A weather radio may have saved some lives.

I heard on the news that a "flash flood" warning was issued before the flood, but since people were sleeping they didn't know about it.

With a weather radio, it sounds a very loud alert to warn you before the event.  You would not sleep through it...I guarantee it.  Those people in Arkansas would have had some warning and it may have saved lives.

How many people take a weather radio camping, or tent camping?  Not many I would imagine, but I think they should.  We take ours with us when we travel and bring it back to the house when we come home.

This is the type of weather radio we have.  It's an Oregon Scientific.  It's portable and uses either electricity or 2 double A batteries.  That's nice because if it's storming, you frequently won't have electricity.  One night we spent an hour in a campground bath house because of a tornado warning.  We had the battery operated weather radio with us and knew when the danger had passed.

This is the exact kind we have, but there are lots of others. I believe we paid $50 for it.  It looks like the price has come down :)   I would not recommend the one they sell at Radio Shack though.  We had several of them and they worked a few months and then quit.  We actually had a tornado come pretty close one night and that was the night the weather radio decided not to work...again.  We've had this Oregon Scientific radio for several years and it always alerts us to severe weather.  We've gotten many warning for "flash flooding" but I don't worry because of our location.

They can be annoying because they will tell you there is a severe thunderstorm...usually I've figured that out by that time:)

The main issue I see for travelers is that you have to get a "code" for the area you are in.  You get it on the internet or you can call an 800 number.  You then key this location code into the radio so that it knows the area you are located.  I wish it had some type of GPS locater to know where you were at automatically.

If you don't have a weather radio, I urge everyone to get one.  You can find them at Home Depot and Lowe's during hurricane season down here.  The cost is minimal for peace of mind and to potentially save your life.  I have no doubt it would have made a difference in Arkansas.  They sell them at Sam's Club, and I think Ive even seen them at drug stores.  Of course you can always get them online.  I would never buy another one from Radio Shack though.  We had 5-6 of them and they all failed!




 

Karen  shared her  her link to NOAA Weather SAME Codes  She keeps a printout with her, of areas she frequently camps.  

You need to know the county you are in and then key the code into the weather radio. 

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Getting Rid of Stuff

I spent some time yesterday posting a few items on Craig's List and E-bay. I posted a few camping items last week and someone wants to come look at our camping stove today.  I just need to keep at this, it's a slow process, but I guess one by one, I'll get rid of my "stuff."  I keep listening to the George Carlin  video, and it cracks me up each time.  Thanks Nellie for sharing.  I reposted it here because I loved it so much.

I ordered my extra Tire Pressure Sensors on Wednesday and they were in my mailbox on Friday!  How fast was that?  No tax or shipping charges either!  If you are looking for a Tire Pressure Monitoring system, I would recommend  Truck System Technology.  I am not affiliated with them in any way, but we have been real happy with our system.  Today, we will need to put the other 4 sensors on. The ones on the inside dual tires, will be a little trickier.

Al got back in town last night and we took a ride around the property on the golf cart.  The heat was so stifling hot that even the breeze we got from the golf cart movement, didn't help.  We came in soaked with sweat and miserably hot. It was 95 at 7pm and the humidity is over 90%.  It's been like this the past few days.  I didn't even do any mowing yesterday, which is rare for me.

I think we will go pick some more blueberries today and have breakfast out and then the rest of the day may be devoted to reading Rv blogs, and watching movies!  I don't even want to plan a camping trip, because it's even too hot for that...unless we went north!


Thursday, June 10, 2010

Campground Selection

I have been doing some research on different campgrounds for a possible trip.  My searches have been fairly limited because we normally just use State Parks.  I am just realizing that there are a lot of other options.

Howard Payne from RV-Dreams website did a very complete article Here.  He went into great detail on his process for selecting campgrounds.  They like the same kind of campgrounds that we like, so I felt this was a good place to start.  I am putting these links all together on my site for my own quick reference.

We are very particular in the type of campground we choose.  We like natural settings, verses paved campsites in paved parking lot type "resorts."  We like lots of trees and woods, rivers, lakes, beaches, but we don't care about swimming pools or game rooms. We want to be sitting at our campsite and looking at something pretty....not the 12 rv's next door.  I'm sure this will change somewhat when we go full time and are looking to stay in a particular area for a while.

The first place I look is the website for the State Park for the particular state we are interested in.  I am learning though that there are a lot of other places that give you the "State Park" feel.

We also learned that many of these Federal parks offer the "Senior Pass", which gives you a 50% discount if you are over 62 years old.  Guess who's turning 62 in November?  NO, NOT me, but Al is :)  Bring on that 50% discount.
 
Here is the link  Recreation.Gov for the Federal parks.
I did a quick search on a few campgrounds and nowhere did I find anything that said they honor the 50% discount for the Senior Pass.  I guess when we actually are planning a visit, we will have to call the campground to confirm they honor the senior pass.  I'm not sure all of them do, as there was some talk last winter of them canceling this discount altogether.  Al hasn't quite "qualified" for this discount yet but you can bet on his birthday, we are going to get the pass.   You have to go to a park, pay your money, and show your ID.  Fortunately St Marks National Wildlife Refuge is near us, so we'll head down there.

Find a Park  is from the National Park Service Website and allows you enter a
state and see what is available.  It lists all the national parks and not all of them have campgrounds, but it's a good site to find out places to see in your area as well as campgrounds if they are available.  It would be a good place to find a place to visit while in a particular area.


Another site Howard and Linda use is the  US Forest Service website.  I have added it here, but found it very difficult to find an area that had camping.  You have to dig a while to find camping sites.  It appears that they MAY honor the Senior Pass. 

The Corp of Engineer website has some good information, but again, it will require some digging to actually find what you are looking for.  The main advantage that I see is you at least know what is around.  It appears they can offer the Senior Pass, but again, will need to check with each CG first.

Another valuable resource is Rv Park Reviews.  There is a pretty good list of campgrounds listed by state.  It is a good place to get an idea of the park, however other people like different kind of campgrounds than we do, so you have to read the reviews to see if it is something that fits your needs.

If we ever are able (and brave enough to cross mountains) the Bureau of Land Management will be a good place to search for places to camp and boondock.  I know there are a lot more free places out west, and it would be something we will definitely be interested in.  I particularly want to go to is Gooseneck State Park.  Howard and Linda boondocked there and had that wonderful view right from their 5th wheel!

Another website Howard and Linda use is Forest Camping.  The site also has host positions available.  Nice!

Of course there are some hidden gems that are county run campgrounds.  You just need to know the name of the county you will be in and do an online search there.  One county campground that comes to mind is a favorite of ours in St Petersburg, Florida.  Fort Desoto  It's a great campground but a little on the pricey side!  We went there often when we lived in Tampa and just spent the day.  It's the best place I've ever been to for watching the sunset and sunrise!  The way it's situated you can see both and the beautiful Sunshine Skyway Bridge makes a beautiful backdrop.  Here are a few pictures...see what I mean?



It's too bad there is not one link for campgrounds for all the counties in the US!

I think when we start fulltiming that we will join Passport America.  I believe it costs $44 annually and you can get some a 50% discount for one or two nights during the week.  I don't know how much we would use it, but for the price, it might be worthwhile.

We previously were members of Escapees, but have let it lapse because we just weren't using it.  It is $70 for new members and $60 for renewals.  This is really a good deal as the campground rates are VERY reasonable.  The cg's I have looked at aren't really our dream location, but they will serve the purpose and save money.  There are a few around Tampa and we may take a trip there with the MH and spend some time with my Mom and brother. 

Another campground finder is on the Rv-net Campgrounds page.  It's part of Rv-Net Forum which is a great source of information on anything remotely related to Rv'ing. 

There are more places to search online for campsites and I will add them as I find them. 



Stuff

I read quite a few blogs written by fulltimers and just discovered this one called  Midlife Cruiser.  It is about a couple in their mid 30's that have sold their home and are preparing to start out on their fulltiming adventure.  She has quite a sense of humor and a flair for writing.  Check out the blog. It's so funny.  They are in the process of getting rid of stuff, just like we are and she posted this funny George Carlin video. It's about STUFF!   It is so appropriate but there are a few bad words...just a warning.  



Decision Made

We have been trying to figure out a new name for our blog once we start our new fulltiming Rv lifestyle.  We are not very creative but have been running through a few things.  With Blogger, you have to make sure no one else has already chosen the name you want, so what I did was "reserve" a few names. 

A few I was looking at were:
Going Fulltime
Rv Trip
Expedition RV
Rv Freedom
Rv America
Home is Where the Rv Is
RV-Wanderlust

I told you I am not very creative! Sure wish Al's dad was still alive. He would have come up with a great name!

I think we have decided to go with Rv-Wanderlust.  I think it kind of fits how Al and I have always been.  We definitely have a case of wanderlust.  We have always enjoyed just getting into the car and exploring new places.  It's sure been a lot more enjoyable since we've had "Jane", our GPS.  I think that's what our new blog will be called once we go on the road.  Now if I can only figure out how to transfer it over, or link the new blog to the old one?  Any suggestions?  Of course I am not changing anything until we officially become fulltimers and with the housing market like it is, who knows when that will be.



Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS)

I just love good customer service and Truck system Technology Systems  has provided it.

If you remember, we purchased a Tire Pressure Monitoring  System from Camping World about a month ago.  I had done some research online and liked the TST system, mainly because of the good reviews and the fact that it monitors not only tire pressure, but temperature.

The problem was when we got the TPMS they only had one available and it only had 6 sensors.  We needed 10 for the Motorhome and tow vehicle, but we figured 6 would be better than nothing.  The system was easy to set up and the directions were in English!

We had been trying to get the additional 4 sensors for a while now.  Camping World had them on sale for $74.99 for two, but were out of stock.  I checked their online site again today and now they don't even show these sensors.

I called TST to order them, but they were listed at $100 for two sensors, but they said they would honor CW price, even though they were no longer doing business with Camping World.  Anyway, I ordered them and my total cost was $150...no tax and free shipping!  They are to be shipped today, so we'll have them by the end of the week

Having those sensors gives you one less thing to do at the last minute before you take a trip. The tire pressure is constantly being checked, so you don't have to worry about that.  I feel much more secure driving that big motorhome knowing the shape of the tires.  Sometimes the peace of mind is worth the cost.


That is one more thing to check off of my list of things we want/need when we start full timing.

Cooler Weather?

It's been very hot and humid here in south Georgia, and we've been wishing we could pack up the motorhome and head somewhere a little cooler.

I was reading a blog yesterday and the people are work camping at FDR State Park .  It's north of us in the central part of Georgia.  They said the weather has been very nice with low humidity.  Hummm....?  We have never been to this park but have heard from some friends that it's very nice.  Callaway Gardens is close by and looks like a beautiful place.  Franklin D. Roosevelt spent a lot of time in this area, in the town of Warm Springs.  He felt the warm spring water helped his polio and he build his "Little White House".  There is a lot to do in the area and we've never been, so we're putting it on our "maybe" list.  We have also been thinking of another trip to Savannah. We were there 2 years ago, but really didn't get to see much of the city.  Of course it will be hot there as well.

We should really quit thinking about taking trips right now and use this hot weather to stay inside and work on getting the house ready to sell.  We have so much stuff to sell, donate, and throw away, but a camping trip sounds like so much more fun!


Tuesday, June 08, 2010

RV Fulltiming Budget

Over the past few years I have been reading a lot of blogs from people that live full time in their RV's.  I am trying to get a sense of the actual costs of this lifestyle. I understand that the more money you have, the more you spend.  We don't have a lot of money and will need to keep a close count on it, but it appears to be something that is doable.

I went over some figures from the actual living expenses of Howard and Linda Payne, from Rv-Dreams.

They document every expense and have complete records for 4 1/2 years.  That gives me a pretty good idea of the cost to actually live full time in a recreational vehicle.  Of course we will have differences in actual expenses depending on how much or little we travel and how much or little we decide to work camp.  At this point, we are thinking of doing quite a bit of work camping, as long as it still leaves us time to explore each area we will be staying at.

I have come up with some initial figures but need to tweak them a little more to make sure I am accurate.  Some things I can only guess on until the time comes.  One of them is RV insurance.  It will change/increase when we become fulltime rv'ers, but I'm not exactly sure how much. 

It's just another step in the process...run the numbers.

I am also trying to get a sense of all the things we will need for the motorhome, like solar power, new window awnings, etc. 

A week or two ago, I walked around the house and gave everything a once over, thinking what would go with us and what would not.   It may be a tight fit to get all of our stuff inside the RV!


What I need to do now, instead of writing on this blog...is go clean out stuff and start tossing junk!

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Zillow.com?

A few days ago I was reading some of the blogs I follow.  Most of them are written by full time rv'ers but a few are written by "wannabees."

This one had an interesting post that immediately caught my eye.
On The Road To Retirement

It is written by a guy who is researching the purchase of a Class A motorhome so that they can live full time in their RV.

They are going to retire in February, 2011.

He mentioned that he had listed their house on Zillow.  I was familiar with the old Zillow, where you could enter an address and find out the houses that sold in a nearby area.  It was helpful when we put our house in Tampa up for sale.

It appears that Zillow has changed some and now you can also list your house on the site.  There is a part where you can list it called, "Make me Move."  From what I read, you list it there for what you would like to get (when you are ready to sell) and if someone comes with an offer that will "make you move" early, then you have a deal!

Well, this couple listed (for FREE) their house under the "Make me Move" category and 3 months later, they got a call that someone wanted to come see the house.  Of course they needed a few days to "make it ready."


The bottom line is....they SOLD their house and closing is July 16th!

Their intention is to sell everything that won't fit into the motor home they DON'T have yet and hit the road when they retire early next year!  WOW....that is a lot do do!

We're not quite at that point yet, but we are considering doing a "make me move" listing on Zillow.   We're in a rural area in a small town,  but we're hoping to market to people that survived the winter and are looking at relocating south. 

It sure gives us something to think about!  I need to do more research on Zillow to  educate myself on their fees, etc.


Friday, June 04, 2010

Gulf of Mexico Oil Spil

Al and I are sickened about the massive amounts of oil continually spilling into the Gulf of Mexico.

We have spent a LOT of time by, on, and underwater in  the Gulf.  We did a lot of scuba diving in the gulf and I shudder to think about what is to become of the beautiful waters that we love so much.

A lot has been discussed about the shoreline, but have you considered what the effect of all the disbursements they  have sprayed onto the oil to "break it up"?  That potentially poisonous gunk will just settle to the bottom and kill everything it touches.  Now many people have a good idea what the bottom of the ocean looks like, but I can tell you it's kind of like a flower garden.  There are beautiful colorful fish and sponges. There are schools of shimmering silver fish that shine when the sun hits them.  You can be on the bottom in 80 feet of water,  look up to see the sun shining down.  It's not dark and gloomy.  Or at least it didn't used to be.

I have tons of underwater photo's but are on film.  One of these days I intend to scan them to the computer and I'll share some of them. 

We're wondering what is to become of our beautiful place on Keaton Beach.  There are a lot or marshes there and the oil will not only kill the existing wildlife, but it will kill the entire marsh and it may never come back.  The marsh is shallow water where the fish lay their eggs.  If these are destroyed, much of the fish will be destroyed and have nowhere safe to lay their eggs.




Wednesday, June 02, 2010

We're Getting Anxious

Maybe it's because of our successful camping trip last month with all the kitties.  Maybe it's because I have been reading a lot of blogs where people are traveling all over the country.  Whatever it is, we're both getting anxious to hit the road and start our fulltiming life.

We've been trying to do something each day in preparation for putting the house on the market.  Today, we stopped by a newly opened consignment shop and found out how it works.  They sell our items, and we split it 50/50.  Sounds like a good deal to me.  All we have to do it load it up and bring it down.  We price the items together.  We brought some clothes, lamps, lead crystal, table cloths, some cd alarm clock radios and some other miscellaneous items.  We tried  to price it cheap enough so that it would sell.  I sure don't want to be hauling it all back home :)

Another project was to get an appliance serviceman out to look at our just out of warranty dishwasher.  This is the second Whirlpool appliance we've had recently that malfunctioned way too early.  We used to always swear by Whirlpool, but I think we've changed our minds.  Their quality doesn't seem to be as good as it used to be.

We have some outside painting to do.  We couldn't do it last summer, because it was too hot.  We somehow missed Fall, and of course it was too cold in the winter.  So guess what...it's summer again.

Tomorrow is another day.










Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Holding Tank Maintenance

One of the little chores of having an RV is emptying and maintaining the black and gray water holding tanks. 

I read a couple of Rv forums and have learned a lot about the care and maintaining of a recreational vehicle. 

I found the following article on the IRV2 Forum.  I think it had some interesting ideas and thought I’d share the article.  The author said to feel free to post it at campground bulleting boards and share with other campers, so I thought I’d post it here.  I can’t vouch for anything, but it seems reasonable.

 

 

Black and Gray Water Holding Tank Maintenance


The Geo Method
By Charles Bruni
cbruni@mindspring.com
Renton, Washington
U.S.A.
Everyone who owns an RV should be concerned with maintaining its wastewater tanks. Problems with wastewater tanks can and should be avoided. Wastewater tank repair is expensive. Due to health concerns, many service facilities will not work on wastewater tanks and lines until the tanks have been completely emptied and sanitized. This may be quite difficult when the tank(s) is in need of repair. So, common sense dictates that the tanks should be kept relatively clean at all times. Additionally, improper use of the wastewater tanks can lead to a build up of solid wastes, which in itself may cause the system to fail.


I've discovered very simple, effective, and inexpensive methods of maintaining my wastewater tanks in a relatively clean condition at all times. I developed these methods myself through my understanding of chemistry, physics, and biology with a smidgen of common sense thrown in for good measure. I also read my RV owner's manual. Although we are not full time RVers we use our fifth wheel camper at least one weekend a month. We never use public bathing and toilet facilities. In other words, our wastewater tanks are fairly heavily used. Since I've met a number of RVers who don't seem to know how to maintain their wastewater tanks I thought many RVers would find my tips useful. If you have not been maintaining your tanks I believe you will be pleasantly surprised the first time you employ these tips. I do these things and they work.
RVs are equipped with waste water HOLDING tanks; NOT septic tanks. Those holding tanks are nothing more than chamber pots. Chamber pots should be cleaned and sanitized after their contents are disposed of. The Geo Method is based on this fact.


1. DUMP A FULL TANK
When you are camping and your RV is connected to a sewer/septic intake, leave the drain valves closed until the tank is full and ready to dump. Dumping a full tank provides a sufficient quantity of water to flush solids from the tank. Leaving the drain valves open allows the water to drain off without flushing out solid waste. That solid waste will collect in the tank(s) and cause problems over time. If your tanks are not full when you are ready to dump them, fill them with fresh water first, and then dump them.


2. DUMP TANKS IN ORDER FROM DIRTIEST TO CLEANEST
In other words, dump the black (commode) water tank first, then dump the galley tank, then dump the bathroom tank. This way you will be flushing out the dirtiest water with progressively cleaner water.


3. USE WATER SOFTENER, DETERGENT, and CHLORINE BLEACH
This stuff is amazing and it works. Buy a couple of boxes of powdered water softener at the grocery store. You'll find it located with or near the laundry detergent products. I prefer Calgon Water Softener because it dissolves quickly in water. Cheaper water softeners work just as well but dissolve more slowly. Dissolve two (2) cups of the water softener in a gallon of hot water. Then, pour the solution down the drain into the empty tank. Use two cups of softener for each wastewater tank in your RV. The tank's drain valve should be closed otherwise the softened water will just drain out. Then use the tank(s) normally until it is full and drain it normally. Add a cup of laundry detergent to the black (commode) water tank at the same time you add water softener. This will help clean the tank. The gray water tanks should already contain soap through normal use.
The water softener makes the solid waste let go from the sides of the tanks. If you've ever taken a shower in softened water you know that after rinsing the soap from your body your skin will feel slick. That's because all the soap rinses away with soft water. Softened water also prevents soap scum from sticking in the tub. Get the connection? With softened water gunk washes away instead of sticking. The same thing applies to your RV's wastewater tanks.
I use a clear plastic elbow connector to attach my sewer drain line to the wastewater outlet on my RV. It allows me to see how well things are progressing during a wastewater dump. Before I began using water softener regularly the black water tank's water was brown, the galley tank's water was brownish, and the bathroom tank's water was white. The first time I added water softener to the tanks the water coming from the black water tank was actually black (not brown) and the kitchen tank's water was also black (not brownish). The bathroom tank's water remained white. That told me that the water softener had actually done what I had intended for it to do and made solid waste, which had been stuck to the interior of the tanks, let go and drain away. I added water softener (and laundry detergent to the black tank) to all the wastewater tanks for the next few dumps to be certain all the solid waste possible had been cleaned away. The wastewater only appeared black on the initial treatment. I now add water softener and detergent to each tank once after every few dumps to maintain the system.
Too little water softener may not be of sufficient concentration to work effectively. Too much water softener will NOT hurt the tanks. So, if the amount you used didn't quite do the job, then use more the next time. Don't forget the laundry detergent.


Occasionally, I pour a half gallon of liquid bleach into each tank to deodorize, sanitize and disinfect them. I add the bleach when the tank is about half full, and then continue to use the tank normally until it is full and ready to dump. I no longer use the blue toilet chemical because it isn't necessary. I have no odors coming from my black water tank. The chlorine bleach kills the bacteria, which is primarily responsible for waste water tank odor. Generic brand liquid bleach is cheap and very effective.


4. USE A WATER FILTER ON YOUR FRESH WATER INTAKE LINE
Most fresh water contains sediment. Sediment will accumulate in your wastewater tanks and your fresh water lines. It also tends to discolor your sinks, tub/shower, and commode. I use the disposable type and have found that they eventually fill up and begin restricting the fresh water flow resulting in low pressure. That's how I know it's time to get a new filter. It works, it's cheap, it avoids problems, do it. When I fill my fresh water tank I attach the filter to the end of the hose and fill the tank with filtered water.
SOME OTHER THOUGHTS
WATER, WATER, WATER - and more water! The Geo Method assumes you are hooked up to a plentiful clean water supply, and that you have access to a sewer. The water softener will make the gunk let go. That's only half the battle. After the gunk lets go it must then be flushed through the relatively small drain opening in the bottom of the tank. That takes water. Lots of water.
Will The Geo Method work even if most of the time I'm NOT hooked up to water and sewer? YES! Just use common sense. If you dry camp ninety percent of the time just keep water softener and detergent in your tanks (especially the black tank) while you're dry camping. This will keep gunk from sticking to the tanks. When you are hooked up to sewer and water take the opportunity to fill the tanks with fresh water and flush the tanks. Keep flushing them until the water runs clear. I know it works because I've done it.
Never put regular toilet tissue in your RV's black tank. Only use toilet tissue which is approved for RV and/or septic tank use. Regular toilet tissue may eventually dissolve, but not before causing a clog in your black tank.
I believe occasionally traveling with partially filled wastewater tanks that contain softened water promotes cleaning by agitating the water. The same goes for chlorine bleach.
I believe this process works faster and more efficiently during warm weather. However, I know it works well even during cool/cold weather.
I believe the process works best the longer the water softener remains in the tanks. So, I don't add water softener during periods of heavy wastewater generation. I wait until I know we won't be generating wastewater quickly so that the softened water remains in the tanks for several days before dumping.
If you have an older RV you may have to use water softener and detergent several times initially to completely clean the tanks of residue.
I add a small amount of chlorine bleach to the fresh water tank twice a year to disinfect and sanitize the fresh water tank and fresh water lines. A weak chlorine bleach solution will not hurt you. However, it certainly makes the water taste bad. When we have chlorine in the fresh water system we use bottled water for drinking and cooking until the chlorine is gone. YES, we drink the filtered water that we have in the fresh water tank. NO, it has never tasted funny or caused any problems.
No, I do NOT do the ice cube thing. The Geo Method works just fine without ice cubes.
My tanks are plastic and my pipes are PVC.
Don't be afraid to use your tanks. Just use common sense about their care and maintenance.
These tips are inexpensive to do. Some of them don't cost anything. You have nothing to lose in trying them and I encourage you to do so. I actually feel a certain amount of pride in the condition and cleanliness of both my waste and fresh water systems. Naturally, these tips make dumping a much more pleasant and sanitary procedure.
If you have odors in any of your water systems these procedures should eliminate them. Odors indicate a sanitary problem and degrade the enjoyment you derive from your RV.
When my RV is parked and not in use I place stoppers in the sink and tub drains. This forces the wastewater tanks to vent through the vent pipes to the outside instead of through the drains into the RV. Water evaporates. Once the drain traps dry out during periods of non-use, nothing is there to prevent gasses (odor) from venting into the camper. Use stoppers when your RV is stored.
copyright(c) 2004 Charles Bruni
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Please consider printing this information and posting it on bulletin boards in RV parks and campgrounds you visit. Fellow RVers will benefit from your consideration.
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