Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Whacky Wednesday

It turned out to be an odd day.

Michael's physical therapist forgot her i.d.  We showed up at 0830 and she was late. She had another gal "stretch" Michael.!  I've never watched such a thing. She had him twisted in the oddest ways - and was pushing with all her weight against him.  Sandy showed up a half an hour late and both of them continued  - tossing ideas here and there for new exercises. They noted Michael's muscle tone is starting to slip - and that gave all increased vigor. They pushed him to the limit and in 45 minutes his balance was suffering and his tremors were manifesting. The new lady said, "That's good, that's how you want him to be at the end of a session."  It was 15 min BEFORE the end of the session - and Sandy hadn't pushed this hard before - but it was a good session.

Michael's next session was with the "speech therapist." Hillary's first question had to do with recommendations she had made  before our cruise. We had decided not to follow through - she pushed hard to make her point and we got to move a bit more out of denial and into the reality of what Michael needs to be fighting.  Eventually, she moved on to the exercises to strengthen his muscles for swallowing and speaking. ::wink::

We came back to our campground. I've decided to be a bit more careful in blogging and not share where we are parked until we leave.   All that to say, if you're local, please don't mention the campground we're at online. There was a man at our campground who attempted to assault THREE different women, throughout the day....and was apprehended and HELD until the police could show up by  our hero Campground host. We were clueless until we saw 5 police cars, guns, clothes strewn everywhere as we drove out of the campground.

We searched for a notary.

We realized we  have OPTIONS for dinner and everyone wanted Panda Express. Nolan's "fortune" cracked us up.

Gpa Paul had challenged the kids. "The next time we play Farkle, I'm going to win!" We headed over for ONE game of Farkle. Nolan won.

Back at the motor home we hung pictures - or stuck pictures to the wall. Command Velcro strips are AMAZING.

Am I the only one surprised to find this is the last day of November?

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

A Momentous Meeting

Day two of the week of the doctors. ::snort:: BreAnne called and asked if Nolan and Stacia could come with her to the dentist and play with Bella. Bella knows them as they spent the time on our cruise at BreZaak's. Michael went to his appointments. Alex and I stayed at the motor home and continued stowing things away. 

This enabled him to have the first Japanese lesson.....Michael came home. Bre and the kids arrived home. Nolan had his lesson and Michael, Bre, Bella and I went for lunch. 
Oh, my much cuteness

Bre and Bella are fun lunch dates

Mom G has been staying at Michael's sister's since we left on our cruise. We miss her. We'd not seen her as we have been crazy clearing and cleaning the trailer and moving into the motor home - then the appointments began. Our plan had been to get the trailer and van to a consignment lot before we left on the Thursday to go back to CA.

I checked with her and she said she'd be home all day for the next few days. We thought it would be the perfect opportunity for Bella to meet her Great Grandmother!
BreAnne, Bella and Great Grandma Mary Jean 
As we visited, Mom G asked how Michael's appointments were going. I noted they always want to schedule more.  She mentioned doing something on Saturday and I reminded her we were set to go home after Michael's appointment on Thursday. She said, "We can stay as long as you need us too." I asked about the possibility of staying until after the wedding and that seemed good to her. Rebecca agreed, so we are not going home on Thursday. That's a relief as it's taking longer to get the trailer/van taken care of than we thought (our titles are MIA and we have to send for them from Alaska...) and we are tired. Staying here this extra week will allow the kids to get a solid week of school in, us to "live" in the motor home for a bit of time before it moves again, give Michael time to get some repairs done, bake cookies for the wedding, AND allow us to be here to help CoRielle with anything that comes up. 

Monday, November 28, 2016

Monday Moving Madness

THIS was an odd way to start the day. In the moving, the bamboo tongs must have been set straddling the toaster. They split and fell into the slots. I made toast this a.m. and couldn't figure out why it smelled odd.....

Michael had his first doctor appointment of the week this morning; he'll have five this week.  While he had his appointment the kids and I set about cleaning the trailer and making sure we had cleared everything.

Of course, with every load we bring to the motor home we create CHAOS and have to figure out where to put it all. This evening Michael installed a door handle with a lock on the bathroom door, we kept putting things away.....

Krista stopped over for dinner. In the fun of visiting, putting things up, and replacing the door handle....I forgot to add a couple of key ingredients to the chili....but visiting was great anyway!

Name That RV

Yes, we name our cars and RVs. It's a fun family idiosyncrasy.  Thus, the 31 foot trailer was The Caboose.  Here are some names we are tossing around. Care to add to the list?  Michael is currently calling her, "Bessie." I haven't a clue. I'm calling her "the Monster," for obvious reasons.  Feel free to add your contributions to the list! 

Isn't she a beaut? 
Fred & Ginger (RV and Towable)

Nanu - lovesick moose

The Mother Ship

The Refuge - 避難 hinanjo or is it pinanjo

Dream Boat 2 - DB2 - Mom and Dad G's Class C (which we inherited when they were done with it ) was "Dreamboat"

The Pickle Jar - PJ



The Vagabond

The Explorer

The Courageous  -勇敢な Yuka-na May be confusing with Yuuki

The Wardrobe

Casa minúsculo

うち Uchi - My home

The Engine/caboose (RV and Towable)

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Gifts from Afar

We brought a few gifts for the kids from the cruise....Stacia was excited to get a couple of dolls. She missed the fancy ones from deployments....

Stacia loved her t-shirt

Of course we brought back some Mayan chocolate....

The source of Stacia's amusement

We're Going to Fit

The boys have taken the bunks and Stacia is currently sleeping on the jack-knife sofa. Nolan suggested we  make a hammock for her. She wasn't 100% in agreement with this option.

And that is the only photo we took of this busy day! It sounded easy to take the RV to the Caboose and move things over.....we knew where our challenges would be.  The first adaptation to the plan is we couldn't open the slides on the RV - so we couldn't reach the closets or dresser.  We brought all the kitchen stuff in, all the bathroom stuff, all the electronics, all the school stuff, and the guys moved all the stuff from the basement (storage bays) of the Caboose to the RV.

There comes a point in every RV move-in where you look at piles of stuff everywhere and your little living space and think, "This is simply not going to work." I remembered this moment from a year ago  - we couldn't even WALK through the trailer.  We pushed through and got the kitchen, bathrooms and basement organized. We bought 4 30 gal  Sterilite tubs to organize things that won't fit in the RV which were in the Caboose (Kitchen appliances not used every day, extra food storage, summer clothes) and moved them to the basement. Michael said the tubs fit perfectly and he used them to categorize stuff coming over from the storage areas of the Caboose. We also moved the school tubs from the van to the basement.

I do have quite a bit less workable counter space in the RV. It looked  the same, but when you actually use the kitchen and need to remove the covers on the sink and stove you realize it's less. I'll get some sort of makeshift something to create more space. I DO need to be able to fit a mixing bowl on the counter.😊

The bathroom is also smaller - but we moved cleaning supplies to under the kitchen sink, laundry hamper to our room, and towels to the deep shelf above the washer/dryer.

We reached a point where the couches and our bed were FULL of clothes and we needed to come back to the park so we could put the slides out and keep organizing.  We all looked at each other with relief to note all the kids' clothes items have fit.  They didn't even need the storage cupboard I'd left for them in the living area. We were able to put all the school stuff in that spot - even the GIANT Tapestry of Grace Teacher's Manual (it's been in the van and I move pages in each week). We moved their plastic drawers into 1/2 of the closet and they each got a big drawer in our dresser.

We still have the office stuff and all the wall decorations to bring over today.  We need to clean the Caboose and try to get it to a consignment lot.  We decided to try to stay here at the county park for the remainder of our visit - as it takes time to keep hooking and unhooking the RV and putting things away to drive.

It felt odd not to be at one church or another this morning, but we have 4 days of doctor appointments coming up and we need to get moved and deal with the Caboose. We'll be able to sell the van after the trailer sells...and we need that money to buy a towable vehicle.

We are going to bed  confident all the essentials from the Caboose will fit into the RV. It was a good time to go through everything - we have a couple of  yard bags full for St Vinnies. Amazing how stuff collects in a year, even in a tiny home.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

CA - OR - We Made It

We made it! Eastern FL to OR!

We woke up at 0300 and didn't want to leave quite so early. We wanted to hit the Siskiyou Pass when it was warm.

We  took the time to make a couple of videos of the outside and inside of our new RV. The new RV will shortly have a name...we're thinking and living with her for a bit before we make so momentous a decision. 😉

We stopped at a couple of stores in Yuba City - hoping to find chains.  The ODOT site recommended chains be carried  going over the passes. We didn't find chains in Yuba City. Les Schwab called ahead to Yreka and they promised to hold a couple of sets for us.

The drive was fairly uneventful. We did have snow and sleet on Shasta but nothing but rain and wind on Siskiyou.

Mom and Dad brought the kids over to the park....good to see them again. We spent a bit of time talking about the challenges of fitting all that is into the trailer into this current space....
Alex, Stacia and Nolan - the young men are looking quite Amish

Mom and Dad

We confirmed how nice it will be to have sitting area for company. 

I missed my Stacia hugs
 We did our first load of laundry in the Splendide Combo.  It shakes the entire RV - and it takes hours to do a very small load. However, I do see some advantages to tossing a load in at night....I think our sheets and heavy clothes will need to go to the laundromat. We shall see. We'll also see if it's cheaper to pay increased electricity at the RV or quarters in the laundry room.  A full load is one set of sheets, or a pair of jeans and a few pairs of underwear.

Michael went to bed and the kids and I played Farkle with the mini set Bre gave us......I joked that I could beat them in my sleep. Funny thing is that I did. I fell asleep between each roll and beat them.

It's good to be back together. 

Friday, November 25, 2016

Quartzsite to Beale AFB - #WYFF

We weren't planning on this route, but Samantha took us this way. Samantha, the RV GPS.....when we saw we were going to go by the north gate of Edwards we got in touch with Rachel. They were in Lodi with her family. We stalked them to Lodi and met on a street.....This was our first time to meet up with them since Matt went from ammo to Chaplain.  We moved to Beale when Joy as about Ellie's age...she called me looked at Michael and I and said, "You're getting OLD." ::snort:: Michael DID just have a birthday and I told him it seems he's getting close to 60. ::wink::  The boys were playing with family I'm sure.....but we loved our visit with Matt, Rachel and the girls on the side of the road in Lodi.

Ellie, Rachel, Joy, Me

Matt & Michael 
Joy seemed impressed with our new house. Ellie mostly liked all the driver snacks she found. LOL  Joy thinks the basement would make a good room for kids.  

I LOVE this gal's natural curls....and her fun spirit. 

She totally didn't remember us - but we expected that. It was still fun to see how much Ellie has grown! 
We pulled into Beale and discovered the fam camp was full. They agreed to let us dry camp in one of the abandoned housing sites down here. This works well for us NOW that we are so easily and completely self contained. No fear of running our battery down - we have a GENERATOR.  It will be QUIETER than a truck stop and the host said it was

We filled up with fuel....over $200 and approx 84 gal. We ARE getting better mileage than we are used to. I suggested I drive from the station to the fam camp. It seemed a good time for me to practice turning and breaking (things I didn't do on the highway) in a spot with very little traffic. I did fine. Michael said he's surprised how quickly I'm adjusting and thinks I'm going to be a good RV driver. The grace of God manifested - that's what THAT is.

The Coyotes are having a FIT out there tonight. I've decided not to walk up to the shower tonight.

#WYFF (Where's Your Feet Friday) is sponsored by Fulltime Families. 

Thursday, November 24, 2016

From Las Cruces to Quartzsite

Today we drove from Las Cruces, NM to Quartzsite, AZ. We were surprised how much traffic was on the road on Thanksgiving Day - but certainly less than yesterday.

The most momentous thing today is that I DROVE the Big Beast. I drove from rest area to rest areas - handed off before we hit Phoenix - but I drove. Michael commented I never went over the fog line - which is due to the fact that I hugged the center line.  The speed limit was 75 mph and many go way faster. This made it easier for me. I went 65 mph (as high as we want to go with this) and most passed me. I only had to switch lanes once to pass.  I will continue to practice and get more comfortable with it - but we're on our way. We are also looking into an RV driving course.... This is my, "I don't like Semis passing," look.  It feels like we are going to smack each other. Michael tells me the lanes are not smaller - "it's all in illusion." Sure.

 Air brakes, exhaust brakes and so many gadgets to monitor....but Michael said I did well. 

We had thought there would be an Iron Skillet or Denny's at our stop for the nigh - but there wasn't. There was Wendy' we ate at Wendy's for Thanksgiving Dinner. LOL Actually, I got a bowl of minestrone from the Flying J market and took it into Wendy's.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

San Antonio - Las Cruces

 Yesterday, Michael's trucking past kicked in and we drove like truckers. I didn't feel well - but have a bathroom. We could drive without stopping; so we did.  We were both worn out by the time we hit San Antonio. Michael was sore, achy and tremoring quite a bit.

Today, we decided to take more breaks. We got up early in San Antonio, made it through that madness and continued down I 10. My BFF from San Angelo, had emailed and asked if she could meet us along I 10. She drove 2 1/2 hours ONE WAY, to meet in the DQ parking lot so we could visit.  The day before THANKSGIVING - she took at least 6 hours out of her day to visit. I sure love this gal. We arrived before they opened, had a quick time to catch up. She brought two mugs, lemon tea, honey, and Emergen C with her! She's amazing that way. We'll be back in TX for Jamin's graduation in May. I am praying and hoping we can make it a leisurely trip....go to San Angelo for a bit, Abilene for a bit, San Antonio and Houston....maybe see the Grand Canyon on the way back....we shall see.
Deja and De'Etta Two Shoeless girls who Gelled
We drove for a few more hours and Michael was really tired. We found a rest area and he went in the back and took an hour long nap. My mission was to spend at least 20 minutes in the "cock pit" and get familiar with it all.  This I did. Then I pulled out some wipes and detailed the cockpit so it was bright and shiny when Michael woke up.
I had a lot of questions, which we discussed. I now understand how to start up a diesel, how to stop the beast etc. I know many are dying for the day I take to the road - but here's the thing - THIS IS HUGE! It's 38 feet long. My dad and husband both have driven semis, school buses and have their CDLs. My friends have husbands who drive semi-trucks. They go to TRAINING to drive trucks and they often have annual safety trainings. Why do we think a person should just be able to jump in one of these things and intuitively KNOW all the different safety risks, turning radius' etc?????? So - Michael is fine with taking his time and teaching me....and our insurance has said I can drive without a driving school certificate or CDL, but our insurance will be significantly lower if I do either of these things. We are going to look into a RV driving course somewhere - though I'll drive before then.

We headed down the road again and stopped one more time to take a walk.....and for me to do a bit of driving - a tiny bit. I also pulled it away from the pump to a "parking" spot in our last truck stop. Small steps. The traffic was really busy  - it's the day before Thanksgiving.  My plan is to do more of the driving tomorrow - with less traffic on the highways. These are TOTALLY staged - Michael was sitting on the floor beside me pointing out gauges, checking mirrors and such when I was moving the monster.

These wind shades are one of my favorite things about the RV - we get a LOT of bugs 

We stopped at a truck stop in Los Cruces - filled up, bought SOFT Kleenex and some meds - quickly realized we did NOT want to sleep here. We went and found an RV park with a 5 star rating. It was nice to put the slides out, hook up to shore power and SLEEP - without trucks running next to us and highway noise. We are refreshed and have 1800 miles to go! 

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

We're Done In

It caught up with us.

We worked hard right up to the 11th.

The 11th we drove ourselves and Mom G to OR, got the kids settled, packed and had a VA appointment.

The 12th we left Mom and Dad T's house in OR at 0430 and didn't go to bed until midnight in Houston.

The  cruise was wildly relaxing.....

Saturday was an 18 hour travel day  - it began in Galveston, TX and ended in Melborne, FL.

Sunday we bought an RV and traveled 6 hours - a late night - all in FL.

Monday we spent the a.m. at the shop and  traveled 6 or 7 hours - FL - MS. It was a great day - but late.
Nameless wonder at a Texas Rest Stop 

Today was a 12 hour travel day. We began in MS and are now in TX.  We had hoped to go a bit further - but we're done!

We still have at least 3- 12 hour traveling days -  2200 miles.   There is simply NO way I see us making OR by Thanksgiving. We may kill ourselves if we keep trying.

In addition, we've caught some bug. I got a cold in FL. I have some sort of GI upset. I was fairly sure I caught a dreaded Caribbean virus, but Michael is just as sure it's simply strange water and exhaustion - mixed with a FL cold. 😵 Michael is feeling ragged himself.

We have stopped. This is our view tonight - every other truck stop has had RV spots. This one doesn't, so I imagine irate truckers sending us packing - but we had to stop.


Monday, November 21, 2016

Refreshing Friend Day on the Road

Our first travel day with the motor home.

We began the day at Walmart. I didn't say a word, but Michael knew I'd appreciate picking up some sheets and such.....He knows me well. He loves me well.
First Walmart stop with the RV
We were at Ring Power a bit before they opened at 0800. The inspector had told us we needed to replace the generator and engine coolant before our long trip. He also suggested flushing out the transmission fluid "in the near future."  Ring was able to do all three today. It took longer than we expected...but the time was well spent.

Steve was Michael's best man. He drove to Tallahassee and spent the morning with us. It always refreshes the heart to spend time with dear friends and today was EXHAUSTING but REFRESHING.
Michael and Steve - still our best man

Bugs are attracted to our wide windshield. 

Michael pumped his first diesel for the RV

We drove up the road and stopped for dinner....and look who met us at the Cracker Barrel off I 10! So fun to see dear friends from Japan in Florida. I hadn't seen Barb for 3 years and Twyla and Joey for 5 years (or maybe 4 1/2). 
Barb, me and Twyla

Twyla and Joey
 We stopped for the night - but not before Michael washed the windshield again and filled the tank. We have a 100 gal tank and are getting a bit over 10 mpg - that's better than we got with the van and trailer.  Having a longer leash will make trips easier.
Good night!

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Picking up the Damon

It is always a blessing to catch up with former colleagues and friends. We knew Tim and Jill at Goodfellow AFB. Tim was the PAC (Parish Advisory Council) president and Jill was the R.E. (Religious Ed) Coordinator; Michael was the Sr. Protestant Chaplain. We could have spent days talking. I LOVE their I mentioned before. Here's a shot Elizabeth, their daughter, took of us.

We are in Florida to pick up our new-to-us Damon Astoria 3776. It's a 2008 38 foot Class A Diesel Pusher. It had one owner for 7 years and then John and Laura purchased it a year ago. They put it on the market in June or July, I believe. Michael began communicating with them in July. At that point, we felt our finances were a known - we were simply waiting for the VA disability retro pay so we would have a down payment and feel more comfortable with the purchase.
Michael, De'Etta, Laura, John 
Many know we are a Dave Ramsey family. After much prayer, shopping and discussion, we took out a loan. We did this as

  1. The Class A's we could get for the cash we had did not seem dependable 
  2. This is our house payment for the current season - a cheap one at that 
  3. Michael  Our dream has been to travel America and visit sites and friends
  4. The doctor's say to go chase our dreams NOW and that I need to be able to drive our rig
  5. We'll put extra principal payments down as we can and pay it off early. We did the same with the Caboose. 

Having decided to take out a loan we still wanted a GOOD deal which would allow for a small payment, reserves for repairs and the ability to sell for what we owe in a few years if need be.  John and Laura's lifestyle had changed, they were ready to sell and it didn't sell through the summer as we waited and waited for the VA payment we expected in July.  They had reupholstered the driver/passenger seats, installed a turbo charger on the engine, and upgraded with  four flat screen TV's. It has bunks, storage, the engine Michael was looking for and we bought it for 15K below blue book....

We had the Damon inspected, qualified for a loan, put down $ for a purchase option and today we picked it up and met John and Laura in person. We all signed a Bill of Sale. This is not strictly needed, but as we are making a cross-country trip before the Title arrives, USAA recommended it...John and Laura showed us the ropes and transferred keys.

Before we blinked Michael was behind the wheel and we were heading off to drive back to Oregon to show the Gherkins their new home on wheels.

Jill is one of the sweetest women I know. She thinks of EVERYTHING and gave me some white roses for our new home on wheels. They have made me smile every time I see them.