Mar 29, 2011

It's Cold, but not Norcold

Monday morning found us at Travel Country RV in Lake Park, Georgia for a 9am appointment.

They quickly confirmed our suspicions that our new safety module was defective.  It was just a month ago that it was put on at Camping Connection in Kissimmee.  Travel Country was happy to order a new one but said that it would take 5 to 10 days to get it.  I even offered to pay for overnight shipping, but the manager told me that they have a difficult time even speaking to a human being at Norcold since everything is done online.  One more nail in the Norcold coffin.

I noticed that Travel Country RV also had a location in Augusta, Ga and since that's the direction we are headed, I asked the manager if he could have the parts shipped there.  He wasn't able to do that but he did offer to talk to the service manager there and forward our info to him so that they could order the parts for us. Thanks to their prompt service we were back on the road by 11am and heading NE.  We made it a short day and only drove 113 miles before we decided to stop for a couple of days at Little Ocmulgee State Park just north of McRae, Ga.

We went from shorts and t-shirts to long pants and sweatshirts in one day.  It's cold here. Even Mollie has her sweatshirt on again. We even had to haul the space heater back out.  I think our blood got thinned out after being in Florida all winter.

I had forgotten to give our cell phone number to Travel Country when we left yesterday, so I thought I should call their Augusta location this morning just to make sure the parts got ordered.  I talked to nice guy named Clint in the service department who already had all the details.  In fact they happen to have a module kit on hand and he was just waiting for me to call.

So tomorrow we will make the two hour drive up to Augusta to get our Norcold repairs made.  We're hoping that this will take care of our refrigerator problems, now if we could just do something about the weather.  We plan on spending a few days in Augusta stocking up and getting Mollie a haircut before moving over to a COE campground on the Strom Thurmond Reservoir.

On a more somber note, we read this morning on Laurie and Odel's blog that their close friend Ian McKee passed away last week.  We had the pleasure of meeting Ian and his wife Margaret Wright at an Art Fair in Cave Creek, Az last March. Margaret is an accomplished photographer and was exhibiting at the art fair there. We talked shop with Margaret and Ian for over an hour as well as discussing our mutual love for traveling in our RV's.

We promised to stay in touch, but it slipped through the cracks and we never did. Shame on me.  I am again reminded that our lives are so fragile and we truly do not know how many years, days, or hours any of us have left.  And the people we meet and friends we make are far more important than any problems we might have with all our stuff.  So today if there is someone that you have been meaning to write to or call but haven't, stop right now and do it.  You just never know.

Until later.

Mar 25, 2011

Our Norcold needs More Cold

About a month ago we had a second recall done on our Norcold Refrigerator. Mind you, our fridge is twelve years old and we have never had a problem with it. It just works. Well I can't say that any longer. I mentioned at the time we had the recall done that I was unhappy with the way Norcold has addressed this problem. Their fix is to stop their product from potentially burning your coach down and as a result being sued. I mentioned that their solution could cause you to be stranded with a non working fridge.

Well, it has happened. Yesterday we moved all of 30 miles and when we plugged back in to park power our fridge wouldn't turn on. If this ever happens to you, and you have had all the recalls done, check the module that is accessible on the outside of your coach.

 If you see a red led glowing, your fridge will not work. End of story. You will have to go to an authorized Norcold repair center to have it checked out. If the module has failed they will in most cases have to order a new one. So yes, you could easily be without your fridge for at least a week.

In our case, after making a few calls and checking a few things out, we have been advised that we need to have it looked at.  Either the latest recall saved our coach from catching on fire, or just as likely according to the service centers we talked to, the new module that was installed failed.

Either way our Norcold ain't cold.  I could easily bypass the newly installed module, but then if something fails, it's my fault. So we purchased a Dometic portable freezer for our frozen food, and we will put bags of ice in the fridge and use it as a cooler.

The portable freezer has been on our want list for a long time and will move to the basement of our coach when everything is resolved. We have an appointment Monday morning to have things checked out. Hopefully it is just the module and if that is the case this will merely be an annoying event.

However, if the fridge is bad than we are left with a difficult decision. We have already made up our mind that we will not replace it with another Norcold. We would switch to a residential style fridge. But it's not a simple switch, since we would also have to replace our inverter. Since we have an older coach that leads to some additional twelve volt upgrades and soon we are looking at a four thousand dollar price tag.

But, if we were still living in our stix and brix we could have similar recalls and other issues. So we'll take a deep breath and just deal with it, because when you're living your dream instead of dreamin it, that's what you do.

If you have experienced this problem and have any suggestions or words of wisdom we would love to hear from you.

Until later.

Mar 22, 2011

It's Easier Than You Think!!

Caution!! Personal opinions ahead.

I came across this blog Man vs Debt and his entry yesterday got me thinking.

It seems that some in the full-timing community think that unless you go to their rallies or seminars, buy their books or donate to their web site then you really aren't qualified to become a full-timer. Guess what? It really isn't that difficult.
Here's 4 easy steps to becoming a full-timer.

1. Sell house. According to the experts you can't really call yourself a full-timer if you still have a house
2. Sell stuff in house. This is the hard one as most of us can't bear the thought of not having some stuff
3. Buy 5th wheel, or motorhome
4. Put key in RV and drive away

Really folks that's about all there is to it. While the order may vary for some folks, that's it. If you don't own a house or you already have an RV you can omit some of the steps.

Everything else is just a version of what you do when you were living in a house. We make it far too complicated. Do we really need seminars on how to pack our stuff, prepare our food, learn where to stay, what toilet paper to use, and yes even how to dump our holding tanks. I sometimes wonder how any of us made it in the "sticks and bricks" world. I don't recall someone telling me I needed a seminar on all this stuff before I bought a house or a car. I sure don't recall going to any "rallies" on home ownership or car purchasing.

It has never been easier to full-time. With the evolution of the internet and cell phones you can now stay in touch almost anywhere.  You can handle your financial, banking and insurance online, you can make reservations online for most state and national parks, sit out in the desert boondocking with full internet access via Motosat, and even read what other full-timers do on a daily basis.  Heck you can even keep up with Farmville on FaceBook.  In short it's just like living in your old house. And with GPS you can even find your way home.

Maybe that's the problem for some of us. We are trying to drag it all with us. We want to take all of our stuff with us but unfortunately we take all of our old habits with us too. Full timing is the perfect time to start over with a clean slate. Start by throwing away some of those old habits. I'll quit preaching and list a few new habits I'm trying to develop.

1. Less TV
2. Make better choices regarding the quality and quantity of food I eat
3. Read More
4. Learning to live in the moment
5. Learning to be content with what I have
6. Grow in my personal faith

There is a new generation of full-timers out there and I enjoy reading their thoughts as well. They go to rallies too, but theirs have weird names like Burning Man and SXSW. These are people who are living simple uncluttered lives, people who aren't afraid to just go out and do it.  Here are a few examples.

wheeling it
Man vs Debt
Magic Bus

So turn off the TV, sign off from Facebook, and whatever your dream is, just do it.

Need more inspiration? You probably won't find any single ply toilet paper recommendations or ten year exit strategies here. What you will find is some refreshing can do attitude.


To be truly challenging, a voyage, like a life, must rest on a firm foundation of financial unrest. Otherwise, you are doomed to a routine traverse, the kind known to yachtsmen who play with their boats at sea... "cruising" it is called. Voyaging belongs to seamen, and to the wanderers of the world who cannot, or will not, fit in. If you are contemplating a voyage and you have the means, abandon the venture until your fortunes change. Only then will you know what the sea is all about. "I've always wanted to sail to the south seas, but I can't afford it." What these men can't afford is not to go. They are enmeshed in the cancerous discipline of "security." And in the worship of security we fling our lives beneath the wheels of routine - and before we know it our lives are gone.What does a man need - really need? A few pounds of food each day, heat and shelter, six feet to lie down in - and some form of working activity that will yield a sense of accomplishment. That's all - in the material sense, and we know it. But we are brainwashed by our economic system until we end up in a tomb beneath a pyramid of time payments, mortgages, preposterous gadgetry, playthings that divert our attention for the sheer idiocy of the charade. The years thunder by, The dreams of youth grow dim where they lie caked in dust on the shelves of patience. Before we know it, the tomb is sealed. Where, then, lies the answer? In choice. Which shall it be: bankruptcy of purse or bankruptcy of life? Sterling Hayden

What do you think?

Until later.

Mar 14, 2011

Oysters at Indian Pass

On Saturday we decided to do a little exploring.  If you head west on 98 you have a beautiful drive along the coast.  You will pass through Eastpoint, across a long causeway, and come to the town of Apalachicola.  The intracoastal waterway heads inland here and the town is home to oyster boats and shrimp boats and produces almost 90 percent of Florida's oyster harvest.

This is another scruffy little coastal working town but it also has a art community and a funky little downtown area.  More about Apalachicola in a future post.  If you continue west on 98 towards Port St. Joe you will soon come to Hwy 30A.  If you follow 30a for 7 or 8 miles you come to Indian Pass Rd.  Right on the corner of Indian Pass Rd and 30A sits a building that looks like an old general store, but is now home to the Indian Pass Raw Bar.

The Indian Pass Raw Bar has no hostess, so you pick out your favorite cold beverage from the large coolers, and find a place to sit.  Your next job is to flag down the waitress and tell her what you want.  There isn't a menu, just an old sign on the wall, but she will tell you what they have.  Basically it's oysters, and shrimp.  If you really don't want either they will fix you a burger or a hot dog.  But you come here for the oysters and shrimp.

You can have your oysters raw, steamed, or baked and your shrimp steamed or stuffed with crab meat.  I chose the baked oysters and Judy went for the plate of steamed shrimp.  That and a couple of cheap beers  and we had ourselves a tasty lunch.

Oh and don't forget a generous dousing of Ed's Red,  a local hot sauce referred to as "Oyster's best Friend".  It can best be described as Tabasco with horseradish.  It's so good we went hunting for it at the local grocery store when we were done with lunch.

I must tell you that this was one of those memorable dining experiences that makes full timing special.  If we are going to eat out this is the kind of place we look for.  Local authentic fresh food prepared by people who are just trying to earn a living and are happy you stopped by.

Until later.

Mar 13, 2011

Ho Hum Park after Dark

On Thursday it was time to move on.  We had thunderstorms and a power outage the night before and since we were in no hurry to get on the road, it was after noon before we finally pulled out of O'Leno State Park.  We were headed to an area called the "Forgotten Coast".  After my last post you might think that I forgot where we were headed, but it really is called that.

This corner of the panhandle covers the area from the little town of Panacea on the east to Port St. Joe on the west.  It got it's name in the mid 90's when a tourism group "forgot" to include information about this area on their map.  This prompted a local group to create their own brochure and they coined the phrase "forgotten coast".

This area also holds special meaning to us as we came through this area on our boat many years ago.  We remember making a  mail stop in the little town of Carabelle, so it is only fitting that we have chosen to make this area our base for the next couple of weeks.  I would describe this area as a little scruffy around the edges, but that's what makes it special and unique.  We are currently staying at the Ho Hum RV park right on the water, a quiet little park with a long fishing dock.

Our site is a little close to the road but we will be moving to a water front spot on Monday.  We had read about this park on Laurie and Odel's blog and their great RV park reviews.  It sure is nice to read reviews by other full-timers.

My next post will be about our visit to an authentic Oyster Bar.

Until later.

Mar 8, 2011

Senior Moments

OK, I know I'm getting older, but hey I'm still 56 and not an AARP member. This morning I had a appointment to get the oil changed on our toad, the Explorer at the local Ford dealer.  I really hate doing it while we are traveling because I don't trust most of the quick change places and it's not always convenient to find a dealer.  On Saturday I even broke down and tried to go to a Walmart oil change.  Boy was that a mistake.  I won't go into the details but let's just say I was not successful and  it took an extended happy hour to erase that unpleasant memory.

So yesterday I called the local Ford dealer and made an appointment for first thing this morning.  Judy had a package for me to mail, so I grabbed the box, my cell phone and headed out the door.  I drove 15 miles to the dealer, and as they are writing up the service order I realize.... yes, I walked out without my wallet.  So I had to reschedule for tomorrow morning, drove back to the coach to get my wallet, then back to the post office since the package had to get in the mail today in order to be in Portland, Oregon in time for granddaughter Mia's 5th birthday on Friday.

Okay, now that I have that little story out of the way. Which, by the way, I tell only to make a good friend of ours who just went grocery shopping without her wallet feel better. At least my wife didn't write about my misadventure like her hubby did!!

Now on to the good stuff.  I need to back up almost a week.  Last Wednesday we were still at Hillsborough River State Park.  We needed to pick up our mail in Zephyrhills, make a quick Walmart stop and finish up some food research at Parkesdale farm market.

So we drove almost 8 miles to Zephyrhills, and guess what?  I had forgotten my wallet.  Since the mail was sent in my name, and I knew the Post Office wouldn't cut me any slack, we had to retrace our path and pick up the wallet.  So I have now messed up twice in a week.  At this rate Judy will start treating me like my Mom did, pinning the milk money to my shirt before heading off to school.  Anyway, the mail was at the Post Office, Judy made her return at Walmart and we went to Parkesdale for lunch.  Strawberry shortcake for me, a bowl of strawberries with whipped topping for Judy and we shared a milk shake in honor of brother-in-law Bud.

Thursday morning we headed to the Ocala Sun RV Resort.  We had 3 days to kill before our next State Park reservation.  I'm still trying to figure out why some places call themselves a resort.  When you park on the grass, with neighbors 5 feet on either side, it doesn't seem very resort like to me but at least they had Passport America rates.  I hope I don't offend anyone but I don't understand how people can stand being in this kind of RV park all winter.  It would drive me crazy.

Sunday morning we headed 60 miles north to O'Leno State Park.  But first we needed to stop and add some diesel to the tank.  I prepared myself for the difficult task of putting four dollar a gallon fuel in our home, and go in to prepay three hundred dollars worth.  To rub salt in the wound, my credit card was denied.  This happened to us on our way into Florida back in January, when we needed to buy fuel, and now again.  A quick phone call straightened things out and we were soon on our way.  We settled into our site and are enjoying our stay here, although Mollie is a little stressed from all the squirrels.

After my mess up this morning, Judy decided that I needed a good hike to get me back on track.  So the three of us headed off for a couple of miles.  We did the river loop around a section of the Santa Fe River.

It's interesting because the river disappears underground for almost 3 miles.  The dogwoods are in bloom and the temps were in the mid 70's.

Even Mollie enjoyed our walk although Judy had to carry her the last one hundred yards.  When she's had enough she simply sits down and refuses to move.

Happy hour, a camp fire and a some chicken on the grill were the perfect ending to our day.  Mollie is resting on the couch, dreaming of squirrels, and I already have my wallet in my pocket for my appointment in the morning.

All's well that ends well.  I think that's how the saying goes.  But I really can't remember.

Until later.

Mar 1, 2011

Roller Coaster February

WOW, where did the month go?  We started the month in the Keys, went to Disney World,  and suddenly the month is over.  I remember when we attended a Life On Wheels conference in the spring of 2008 in Tucson.  In fact it may have been one of the last conferences they had.  I remember vividly a talk given by the LOW founder Gaylord Maxwell.  He held up a tape measure and measured out 90 inches.  He then used that tape as a measure of his life.  One inch equaled one year.  He went on to say that he was almost at the end of his "tape".  Little did we know at the time how right he was, he passed away that fall.  The point being we all know that as we get older time seems to move faster, it's probably because we are getting closer to the end of the "tape".

While we were at Disney World, we went to Animal Kingdom, my favorite park. Where else can you watch silver backed apes and then go ride a roller coaster.  On our visit I talked Judy into riding "Expedition Everest".  I thought it would be a mild roller coaster like Thunder Mountain over at the Magic Kingdom. I was wrong.  I knew we were in trouble when Judy mentioned that we were the oldest people in the long line.  The ride started out mild enough but soon we were in the dark, thrown in every direction including backwards at one point. I can't say we enjoyed the experience, I think it was more that we survived it.

The second roller coaster ride I went on was the weight loss roller coaster.  I started out the month great.  Building on a good January, I was confident that I would meet or exceed my February goal.  Then Disney happened.  We had purchased the Disney Dining plan along with our stay at Fort Wilderness Campground.  I gained ten pounds in only 7 days.  I chart my weight daily on a spread sheet and it was strange to watch all my hard work disappear so quickly.  I decided not to sweat it and just enjoy the experience.  The truth is, we really didn't enjoy the dining as much as we thought we would.  We didn't sleep as well, and we had to break out the antacids, which we hadn't used in months.

The good news is that when we ended our little time in fantasy land, we went back to our sensible way of eating and amazingly the pounds came back off.  Not only have I lost the ten pounds I put on at Disney, I have made my goal for the month.  I am down a net 6 pounds for February and a total of 14 pounds since the first of the year, so I am still on track for losing fifty pounds for 2011.  This combined with last years weight loss brings me to a total weight loss of 56 pounds. This is the lowest I have weighed in over 10 years.

So actually I survived two roller coasters.

Until later.