November Blog Entries (This page is best viewed at 1024 x 768. If you have trouble with photos covering up the text try changing text size)
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It's too darn hot!
Here it is November 1st, 86 degrees, 75% humidity, and we think it's hot so we're running the air conditioner. I know, you folks who live where it's already snowed once this year will say "boo-hoo, cry my a river" but I've become quite averse to being hot. Once we become more mobile we hope to move with the "good weather", which we define as follows:
Why can't we run away from this hot weather, you ask? We're staying in one spot for a while so we can work out any issues with the coach and get all the modifications done that will enable our continued journey. Two big mods are the addition of a Datastorm, and a solar charging system for our batteries. See the Technical Issues and Projects pages to read about these and more.
Later in the evening it got a little cooler and we ventured outside. You can see the Datastorm on the coach in this photo of Chris sitting on our patio. We took a walk on the beach and Chris took a nice photo of sunset over Tampa Bay.
Now I won't spoil your fun reading this blog by telling you who we're voting for. I realize the nation is split about 50/50, so half of you likely support a different candidate. I'll just say this; I'm a small business person, and a 20 year Air Force veteran (MSgt, USAF, Ret.). I believe that the United States of America, even with all our faults, has been the greatest thing that's happened in this world in the last 500 years or so. I'm for low taxes, a strong defense, and less government regulation and bureaucracy. I think the best think that government can do for people, to give them opportunity to prosper, is to stay out of their daily personal and professional lives as much as possible.
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Both yesterday and today turned out to be a productive days at my "day job". In the early afternoon I decided to take a break and do a little fishing. Chris came along with me, and we had fun. I caught a redfish that weighed about 5 pounds. It's the first fish I've caught in about 6 years, so it was a blast. Chris took my photo, see the smile through the beard?!
Speaking of the beard, I think I may trim it. It's getting fairly long, what do you think? Should I go back to a neat, smaller beard, or should I keep working on the mountain-man look ?
When do you guys ever work?!
A couple of people have asked about our "day job" and mentioned that it doesn't seem like we have time to do much work with all our activities. I don't talk much about the job, but it's a big part of why we can have this lifestyle. As an independent recruiter, I can work anywhere there's an internet connection and a phone. With satellite internet and cellular phones this means that I can work almost anywhere! And that's the idea. There are a lot of factors that have enabled us to start our adventure now, instead of waiting until we're 65 and retired. I'll write more about why we can do this (and why we want to) in a later blog entry.
So, when do we work, and how much?
We're fairly early risers, so we do a lot of work between 6:00 AM and 9:00 AM such as internet research, reading e-mail and replying to it, and setting up things that need to be accomplished during the day. Some days we keep right on working until lunch, then after lunch we jump right back in. Other days we take a long mid-day break and do something fun (like fishing this past Wednesday). We often work in the evenings too, after dinner. Since our business is nation wide, we have to make accommodations for time zones. If someone in California wants me to call them after work that's 8:30PM here in Florida. Most days we do about 8 hours total when you add it up. Some days it's more like 10 or 11, and others we do "something" if it's only 2 or 3 hours. I suppose I average about 50 hours a week, and Chris about 30. OK, enough about WORK!
Really cool sunset tonight
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7:00 AM. It's 55 degrees this morning, and check out the 7 day forecast! Now THAT'S PERFECT!
On Friday the solar panels arrived and yesterday we worked all day on installing them. It seems every time I do a project I spend 1/3 of the time running around buying supplies, 1/3 of the time scratching my head and trying to figure out how to proceed, and only 1/3 of the time actually doing the project. This one is no exception. On the bright side, I've found a convenient excuse to buy three tools! It's always a good thing to have more tools. :-) ... story continues in the projects and technical section, click here.
Nice day for a cookout!
We are heading out to Mississippi for another shake down trip. Today we cleaned up the RV, stored everything and headed out. Went to Perry, FL and spent the night. The RV seems to drive much better since we got the tow bar extension. It doesnít seem to wobble all over the road as much and when big trucks pass it doesnít blow us around as it did before. We also discovered that we have some kind of leak from our fresh water holding tank. One of the many items that we are trying to find out that need fixing on this trip.
Sunday morning in Perry we use our new stovetop coffee pot to make coffee. We donít really like perked coffee and will have to figure out some way we can have great drip coffee using the stove.
If anyone wonders "why not just plug in the Mr. Coffee" remember that we're preparing for long periods of boondocking with solar power and batteries. Making a pot of coffee in an electric drip coffee maker takes as much electricity as watching TV for a couple of hours, or using a laptop computer about half a day. Generally speaking, for anything that involves creating heat it's more efficient to use propane instead of electric. This includes cooking, the hot water heater, the refrigerator (typical RV model) heating the air, etc.
From Perry we hit the road. We decide to try driving on Hwy 90 after Tallahassee. It is really nice on Hwy 90. Thereís not too much traffic at all and the scenery is more interesting than the interstate. We spend the night in Pensacola so that we can pick up our mail on Monday.
We pick up the mail and head out. We decide to stay on Hwy 90 since weíve enjoyed it so much. On Hwy 90 you donít go through the tunnel in Mobile, itís a tall bridge that you go over. I was nervous going over the bridge but since there was no wind it turned out to be OK. Iím a tad bit afraid of heights. Tall bridges always make me nervous. We wind up going through Mobileís historic district on Hwy 90. Pretty but hard to drive the RV through. Also the tress hang down and we are scared something could get knocked off the top of the RV. So we wonít go through Mobile on Hwy 90 anymore but will use the interstate to go through.
We get back on the interstate after Mobile. Pascagoula is known as red light city to truckers so we want to avoid that and avoid going down the beach in Biloxi and Gulfport. We arrive at 5 Star RV Resort Monday afternoon. We have a nice visit with my parents.
On Tuesday Mac goes with my dad to the eye doctor. Heís having those drops in his eyes to dilate them and Mac will need to drive him afterward. My mom and I go shopping to thrift stores and I discovered a thrift store that my mom didnít know was there. I found a few really nice shirts for Mac and for me too. We then go to Treasure Bay for lunch and a little playing. They donít have very many sugar free desserts like they used to. I hope that is just a one time thing and not what the future holds because they used to have the greatest sugar free desserts. Tuesday afternoon we head out to Casino Magic in Bay St. Louis where we have reservations for Tuesday and Wednesday night. We have $300 free play between us. We were very lucky and won about $225 from the free play to use as we want. Weíre playing the dollar bonus poker that is progressive and is up to over $6000. Boy do we want to win that. Casino Magic has a deal going on. At the end of the day when you are through playing you go to the players club and depending on how many points youíve made you earn some neat stuff daily. Mac earned a $10 gift certificate and I earned a massage in the spa.
At some point in here we went to the Grand in Gulfport. I'm adding this note a few weeks later, so memory is a little cloudy. At the Grand I played some very conservative Craps with just a $100 buy in and won $300+! Very exciting table with one guy who could really set the dice. He was throwing a dozen numbers or more every time he got his hands on them.
So on Wednesday Mac goes and gets a massage. He had been complaining of hurting and heís worked so hard that I think he deserves it and give him my massage. (I can earn another one). We decide to check out the buffet again and see if we like it any better than the last time we were there. It was pretty good. That evening after we are through playing Mac earned a free buffet and I earned another free massage.
Thursday morning I decide that I donít want a massage but I canít exchange it for anything (bummer). Itís good for 60 days but I donít know when we are going to be back. My parents come over and we all play and have a great time then we go to the lunch buffet. Afterwards, we play some more and then we decide to leave. We go up to get our free stuff and I decide we should each get the $10 gift certificate so we can spend it in the gift shop and get a shirt. We find a really nice one for Mac that is a little over $30 so we have to put in some money. Mac and my dad take the RV back to 5 Star and my mom and I go to Wal-Mart and do some shopping. I found another autumn leaves garland there, so now we have enough to go all the way across the windshield of the RV. Doesnít it look nice there? Itís nice for Thanksgiving and Mac says it hides the wires he has strung out across there from the inverter.
Friday, 11-19-04 thru Sunday, 11-21-04
On Friday we head back towards Tampa. We want to pick up our mail again in Pensacola and we want to get back to Tampa on Sunday. We stay on the interstate through the tunnel in Mobile and then we get off right after and on Hwy 90. I-10 has a long bumpy bridge there and Hwy 90 goes around on land right next to the water so it is really interesting to look at. We are driving this road and just got onto it so our speed is very low and I see an alligator. Iíve lived in Florida for over 4 years and have never seen one in the wild, not in a zoo, park, etc. Iím so excited about seeing it. We pick up our mail in Pensacola and Macís newest toy has arrived. He had ordered us a GPS. So heís having fun with that. We decide to head on down the road to Marianna FL and stay at that Wal-Mart. Mac looks it up and plots the course on the GPS. It is really kind of neat watching as you progress down the road and itís being shown on the computer monitor. The GPS was sitting on the far right of the dash, so it kind of looked like we were driving on the side of the road instead of right down the middle of the lane. The Wal-Mart that I wanted to go to in Marianna is so new that itís not on the 2005 street map software. I remembered from before that it was at the Hwy 71 exit off of I10. We go there and spend the night. Itís a nice Wal-Mart, the people are very friendly and the parking lot is nice and big. There are 6 other RVs spending the night there and some 18 wheel trucks too. We get up Saturday morning, work for a while (gotta make some $$$) and then head out. We spend Saturday night in Chiefland, FL at the Chiefland Market Place RV Park. Itís a nice park and only cost $10 for the night. Unfortunately, the spot we parked in had a big tree limb that blocked our DataStorm view for locating the satellite; so no internet that night. We get back to MacDill AFB on Sunday afternoon November 21 and take a nice long nap.
On this shakedown trip we determine that we will definitely need two more batteries for boondocking, we need to devise something for better coffee, need better privacy shades in the bedroom, need those shaded visor extensions for driving towards the sun.
Thanksgiving Day we go to Piccadilly restaurant with Macís mom. It was a nice day and we had a great visit and meal. That morning as we were leaving the base we saw a huge iguana in the median of the road. We do a u-turn and Mac takes a picture. It is the biggest iguana that we have ever seen! It must be at least 3 feet long. We go back down and tell some security police about it. It may be someoneís pet that has escaped. When we get back to where the lizard is the lizard is crossing the road towards a small pond. We figure that the lizard must live there. Now every time that I pass that pond I look hard to see if I can see the iguana there.
On Friday, the day after Thanksgiving we went to Best Buy and got there around 6:10 in the morning. It is already so packed with people and the line for computers is so long that we decide the bargain isnít worth waiting in line and we probably wouldnít be able to get one since there are only so many per store. We go over to Dennyís and have breakfast. I know that 2 thrift stores are having a 50% off sale and I want to go to them. We go to the first one thatís open and we find lots of bargains on shorts. We buy a large bag of clothes for only $7.21. What a deal! Some of the clothes are brand new still have the tags on them. We go to the other thrift store and I picked up 2 T-Shirts for a bargain.
Mac worked in the water area to try and find the leak there. He found that the inlet screen housing was cracked and thatís where the leak was from and probably where the air was getting into the system when we are boondocking and using the water pump. So, we go to Camping World to get the part that is needed to repair it and also to pick up some compressed gas door props (those tubes like the ones that hold up your hood) to replace worn out ones on some of the storage bins underneath the RV. While we are at Camping World looking around we find fluorescent light fixtures on sale. We had determined that we were going to get some of those because they use less electricity than regular light bulbs. We decide to buy one and if we like it we can buy more. Camping World doesnít carry the door props so we have to go to the LazyDays parts department to get them. I was looking in their huge catalog and discovered that the item that weíve been wanting but didnít know the name of is called a ďSunblockerĒ. (INSERT PICTURE) After we get home Mac installs the pump part and it fixed the leak. Yea! Mac is great at fixing stuff! Saturday night Iím looking on the internet for the Sunblocker. We have to decide how big of one that we want, etc. They are not cheap (over $100). Iím starting to think about other ways of making one that would do the same thing. Maybe go to a business that makes awnings and go through their remnants and make one. We want awnings for the bedroom windows and they are really expensive, about $225 each. So, for two windows thatís about $450 including shipping. Thatís a lot of money to spend on shade! We will be thinking of something there also that we could make that would do the job.
Mac decided that he was finally going to change the spark plugs on the generator. He went looking for his spark plug socket and couldnít find it. So, he decided to organize his tools. Tools were spread all over the picnic table. He went through them and disposed of some, gave some unneeded ones away and organized the rest. He hasnít really done that in almost 20 years. He found a tool that he used on his MG Midget that he had before we were married! He finally got rid of the tool, donít think heís going to have a Midget any time soon.
There is always the need for better storage. In the bedroom we have short closets on each side of the bed and a large double closet on the wall opposite of the bed. We donít have a lot of hanging clothes since we donít work and donít need so many nice clothes. We have lots of foldable clothes, shorts, T-Shirts, etc. I measured the closet space and looked around at Wal-Mart, Home Depot, etc. for ideas on what could be used in the short closets beside our bed. I found a plastic shelving unit that would fit the space at Wal-Mart for less than $10!
I put it together and it fit beautifully. Now, I had a bit more storage for folded clothes but I need more. Now Iím looking at the bigger double closet and thinking about using half of it for folded items and use the smaller bedside closet for my hanging items. We were at Home Depot and I found a bigger shelving unit that I could put together and that would fit in the space. Mac didnít think it would work but it did! The bigger shelves I turned sideways and then took the other shelving unit out of the short closet and it fit in there together perfectly.
Now I had room for all my folded clothes and also the towels, washcloths and sheets, etc. I cleared out one storage area that previously held the towels and found one of those collapsible laundry carry mesh bags that fit in there. That is now our dirty clothes hamper and itís out of sight. Previously I was using a laundry basket on the floor, now the floor space is cleared up and looks much better. Iíve got my eye on the second half of the big closet for making storage for just the towels, etc. and free up the other space for just my clothes. Mac said I could use that space so now my thinking cap is on thinking of the best way to use that space.
Macís shorts and T-Shirts are stored above the bed and they fit up there nicely. I had cleared out another drawer when I put in the shelves so now he has a drawer for just underwear and a drawer for socks. We each have a drawer at our bedside for our own personal stuff. There is a huge space under the bed for storing stuff and that is still on my list to organize. We have a storage bin under there with our winter clothes in it. Thereís also the bedspread and pillow shams under there and misc. junk that we havenít decided what to do with. Around this space there is a bed skirt. It hangs onto the floor for about 2 or 3 inches and it isnít that attractive. Iíve got my thinking cap on about that space too. Iíve seen some shoe storage for that space at Camping World and I think I can devise a better way to use it myself that wouldnít cost so much. I donít have a lot of shoes and would like to store them better than they are now. They are shoved into the bedside closet under my hanging clothes. So the clothes touch the shoes and Iím not crazy about that.
I decided not to quit smoking today, will try tomorrow. We go shopping at Wal-Mart and I pick up another storage shelf for the closet that Iíve been working on. Now Iím happy with the storage setup in this closet. There is room for towels, sheets, clothes, shoes, etc. Iím really quite pleased with how it turned out. What do you think of it?
Well, today I did it, I quit smoking again for about the hundredth time. Weíll see how it goes.
Talked with our neighbors about where they got their Sun Blocker and they had made it. You can buy the material from any Home Depot, Lowes, etc. Itís also used to shade plants. We are thinking of making one to fit our RV. Mac has found a company on the internet that he contacted and they would make one to our measurements for around $60. In the evening our neighbor told us about someone in the RV park selling a Sun Blocker for $30 advertising at the Laundromat. We go right down to look at it. The lady had made it and it includes a side Sun Blocker. We like it and buy it.
The adventure continues... Click here for December 2004 blog