Friday, September 8, 2017

The downsizing dilemma

I have moved more than 20 times in my life, sometimes from a larger house to a smaller one. But always I had storage options. Even when I bought my co-op in Chicago, I had a storage space where I could stash boxes I had not opened in 20 years. (Yeah, I carted them all over the country. My moving costs were most always paid by my new company.)

Moving out of 40-foot motorhome that had around 400 square feet of living area and  huge "basement" storage compartments into a 26.6-foot (OK, round it to 27-foot) motor coach (RUV) is challenging, to say the least.
This is only part of the downsizing mess. I've already unpacked several boxes. We have many more in the garage. Jim has yet to sort through the tools and other "basement" items (such as chairs) we need to keep with us.

As I was boxing up our stuff from Junior, I found items we had forgotten we had and had never used. I even found a half-set of knives still in its thermo-plastic encasing!

Of course, we had to have an iron, "just in case." (I don't think we ever used it.) We had to have a pot and pan in every size, should I ever need it. We had to have several sets of sheet (even flannel ones) and several blankets, in case it got really cold or we had company stay over night. (Never happened. Well, it did get cold a couple times, but we didn't need so many blankets.) We had to have duplicate tools, again, just in case. We had to have several rain ponchos (never used).

I could go on.

We had seven or eight mid-sized boxes stowed in our attic. I filled all of them, and found other containers to fill up--all with precious "stuff" from our motorhome days. Now my dilemma is, "What do I do with all of this?"

Downsizing requires making tough decisions and getting back to basics. So, right now I am going through each of these boxes and deciding what we really need. Probably not nearly as much as we had. We just had the luxury of space in our first two RVs. Not so, now.

The other dilemma is how to stow the things we need. Our new RUV has quite a bit of storage in the cabin and bedroom areas, but it is not the same type of storage as in Junior, nor is it in the same places. I will probably forget where I put things. Oh, well. Eventually we will find them.

I'd better get back to my work.

Until later,

Your Reluctant RoVer,

Linda

Thursday, September 7, 2017

A new generator and...

We bought a new generator yesterday. If the power should go out here when the storm from Hurricane Irma hits, the generator should be able to keep our refrigerator going, our TV on, and probably a couple of fans to cool us off.

The generator is quite mobile; it is located in our new RV, which will be parked in our driveway during the storm.


Yes, we did it again.

"Junior" was such a bratty "child." Very cantankerous. And the older he got (he was fast becoming a teenager), the worse his behavior became. It got to be that Jim was always working on something in that RV. RVing was not as pleasurable as it should be. So, we made a decision to either sell Junior or to trade him in.

When we went to the Tampa RV show last January, we saw some RVs we really liked--a new type of class A motorhome called an RUV, a recreational utility vehicle.

Junior was a motorhome, in the truest sense: At 40 feet long and with its three slides open, it offered around 400 square feet of living area, as well as a very large storage capacity in its "basement." It was truly a house on wheels, with all the comforts of home, including a washer-dryer combo.

Junior (and before him, "Baby," our 38-foot, one-slide 1998 Dutch Star) met our needs quite well. We traveled from Florida to California and back (twice), up to the Midwest, and within the Southeast. The motorhome was very comfortable for long trips, especially with pets.

Although we may still make long, extended trips, our needs have changed. We decided that if we were ever to buy another RV, it would be much smaller, one of these new RUVs.

So, last week we started looking. The particular model we really liked was hard to find, especially in pre-owned. New and used RUVs fly off the lot like hot cakes. If we did not find what we wanted (and at the price we were willing to pay), we would not buy; we would just fix and sell Junior.

But, we finally found what we wanted and bargained a price we were willing to pay.

Our new RUV (which does not have a name yet, although Tiny or Midget seem appropriate), is a 2016 Thor Axis. It is only 26.6 feet long, with one slide. That slide extends the back of the RV to accommodate a full-size queen bed. It is about 7.5 feet wide and only 11.5 feet high (compared to Junior's height of 13.5 feet). It does not have any side slides.


Our 2016 RUV is only 26.6 feet long and 11.5 feet tall. Quite diminutive, compared to Junior, which was 40 feet long and 13.5 feet tall! If you look carefully, you can see the slide-out in the back of the RV. This is the bedroom extension. 


Here is the floor plan for our RUV.

Despite its compactness, the RUV can actually sleep four people: two in the queen bed, one on the jack-knife couch, and one on the bunk that lowers from over the driving section of the coach.

Above the chairs is a drop-down bunk bed. (There is safety  netting behind the bed so that a sleeper cannot fall out.) We don't require the bed, but we will probably take the mattress out and use the space to store my printer and other items.

It took us many hot and sweaty hours to pack up and clean out Junior. We found stuff in the corners of drawers that we did not even know we had! Needless to say, we have to be selective in what we store in our newbie.

Jim just took the RUV down to fill up its gas tank (gas, not diesel), so that we are prepared in case we have to use its generator. I have to get back to sorting through boxes and provisioning the RUV with linens, kitchenware, and miscellaneous items.
You can see the full queen-sized bed with storage cabinets over the top and drawers on the bottom of the platform. On the left of this short hallway is a 6 cubic foot refrigerator as well as a good-sized closet and drawers. On the right is the bathroom with a pocket door.

The shower (not shown) is to the left of the toilet. Lot of storage here, but no drawers. We will learn to accommodate.

This view shows the cabin as I am standing in short hallways. The three-burner stove is to the right, along with the round sink. The RV also has a compact microwave. In addition to the pedestal table (which uses the couch for seating), there is a pedestal coffee table that goes between the two captain's chairs, which swivel around for conversation of TV watching. We have a TV over the doorway, one in the bedroom, and even one outside! There is also a built-in radio in the bedroom.

The comfortable jackknife couch and our kitchen tale. In front of the passenger seat is a desk area, where I can place my laptop.

The fridge is small, compared to what we had in Junior, but it works well! Note the storage over the refrigerator.

My kitchen is small, but it also has a flip-up counter to the left of the sink, for additional work area. We have a tentative plan on how to accommodate our coffee pot, coffee grinder, and toaster. We have to be creative!

We don't know when we'll be taking our first trip, but it won't be too far into the future. And I will keep you up-to-date on our hurricane situation via Facebook.

Until later,

Your (not so) Reluctant RoVer,

Linda

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Catchin' a few

August 23, 2017--More often than not, when we go fishing, we don't go catching. But this time, we did!

The RV park where we stayed in South Carolina, is on Lake Marion, a huge lake created by the dammed-up Santee River. We found the park through Passport America (half-price RV stays) and were grateful that they had an open spot for us so that we could watch the eclipse in its totality. The park is more like a fish camp, with probably at least a hundred permanent RVers (full-time or seasonal), and more than 600 spots for vacationers. All but three were taken for the eclipse-viewing.

The park has a long fishing pier, where we fished almost every day. That is where we had our luck, catching what locals call bream (pronounced "brim") and what we northerners call blue gills. The first one Jim caught he threw back, claiming it was too little.

It wasn't. Jim was used to needing to catch bigger fish, since we generally fish in salt water, and fish have size limits. After throwing back that first one, we kept all that we caught.

They were delicious.

The lake is famous for its catfish. We met an 11-year-old boy who was visiting his grandparents. This lad was quite a fisherman, even at his tender age. His grandma said that is all he wants to do. While we were fishing, he caught a two-pound perch (or something like that, not a bass). He showed it to his grandpa, then later released it. The next day, he fished with his grandparents on their boat and caught two catfish--an 18-pounder and a 26-pounder! He said he had to have help reeling in the larger one; it was just a bit too much for him.

We didn't have that kind of luck, but we certainly did have fun, fishing off the pier as well as in our kayaks.

We took the kayaks out yesterday for a couple of hours. We fished from them, but did not catch anything. (I believe it was too hot.) We had a good time, but I have to admit that I have not made up my mind about kayaking. Jim asked me what I thought--did I like it or should we sell the kayaks?

I told him we should try it out one more time, at least. We had put a different seat in my kayak, but unfortunately, it did not provide much lumbar support. The discomfort detracted by the possible pleasure of kayaking. Also, I was not completely comfortable riding the very small waves in the lake. Although we were near the shore, I did not feel secure. So, I think I would like to try kayaking one more time. Then we will decide if we want to keep the personal boats or sell them.

Until later,

Your Reluctant RoVer,

Linda

Monday, August 21, 2017

Just simply AWESOME!

August 21, 2017--It was awesome!

We arranged chairs outside of our RV and waited for the sun to disappear. Gradually, the moon did its job, and little by little, the bright orb in the sky started to darken.

We used two different types of eclipse glasses: a regular pair and a 2x binocular. Each worked equally well. Unfortunately, we could not easily mount the glasses to the camera to take pictures as the moon did its "thing." I did, however, take a photo of the actual eclipse with my cell phone.

We were lucky. Just as the eclipse approached totality, clouds started to roll in. Fortunately, they did not obscure the sight, but once totality passed, the clouds stayed. We could not watch the second "half" of the eclipse as the sun came out from behind the moon.
Totality in Eutawville, S.C., Aug. 21, 2017

I was a bit disappointed in one respect: I expected night-time darkness. It appeared more like sundown, or a twilight, not nearly as dark as I was led to believe.

Despite that minor disappointment, I am glad we traveled to South Carolina to get the full experience. It was worth it.

A selfie at the eclipse.


We have learned that the next total eclipse in the United States will be in April in seven years, starting in Texas and heading through Indianapolis. It should be total over my older sister's house in Texas as well as over my brother's in Indianapolis. Either place sounds like a good place to go to see it, assuming we are still in good health and can travel.

Until next time,


Your Reluctant RoVer,

Linda

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Ready in S.C. for the sun to darken

August 20, 2017—Tomorrow is the day that earth stands still. No, wait. It won’t stand still, but it will get dark in the middle of the day when the earth experiences a total eclipse.

We are in Eutawville, S.C., on Lake Marion near Santee. The RV park is in line of the total eclipse. Our hope is that the clouds will disappear and we will be able to get the full experience of this once-in-a-lifetime happening. After the eclipse, we intend to launch our kayaks on this large lake and seek out some unsuspecting bass, pan fish, or catfish. We don’t care what, just so long as the beasties take a bite of our bait.

It wouldn’t  be an RV trip without  misadventure or two, would it? (I guess we made an exception to that rule the last trip that we took, but all good things have to come to an end.)

Several months ago we had a new cooling unit installed in our refrigerator. It worked OK the last couple of trips we took. But when we turned the fridge on Friday (it takes a long time to cool down adequately), we discovered that it was not cooling. Not good.

The unit itself is under warranty, but that doesn’t help keep our food cold on this trip. So, we took down a couple of ice coolers and are camping the old-fashioned way, at least with respect to keeping our food stuffs cold.

Our other misadventure is relatively minor—a dead battery in our tow car. Fords are notorious for this malady. Jim had installed a trickle charge, but for the last two trips, we have suffered a dead battery. Thank goodness for those portable battery charges. At less than $50 on eBay, our charger has saved the day for us. (I highly recommend having one on-hand. You never know when you will need a jump-start.)

I am writing this on Sunday evening, but I don’t know when I will have it posted. My mifi connection is weak; I may have to wait until I get home.

Until later,

Your Reluctant RoVer,
Linda


Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Suwannee River, an armadillo, and a black eye

When most people (at least, we northerners) think of Florida, they picture sunny skies, palm trees, and a deep blue ocean (or gulf). But there is another Florida, much different from the Yankee version. It exists in the north central area, where palm trees do not grow naturally and the ocean is a long way off. We visited here a few weeks ago, when we stayed at two different RV parks on the Suwannee River. Seeking somewhere to get away and try our new kayaks, we again sought out the river, but this time we are staying at the Suwannee River State Park outside of Live Oak, Florida.

After we finished parking Junior, we were greeted by a baby armadillo burrowing for grubs in a nearby open space. Armadillos are quite myopic, so we were able to get pretty close before it ran away from us. They are also usually not seen during the day, and when they are spotted, it is usually as road kill.



This state park (and all Florida state parks) is a real bargain for us old RVers. We get a 50% discount. I believe staying here for three nights cost us about $40--and that includes water, 50 amp electric service, and even sewer! We are nestled under the shade of live oak trees, only a few hundred yards from the boat ramp, where we launched our kayaks yesterday.

Late last year, Jim and I purchased a number of different kayaks. The first two were 10 footers. Nice kayaks, but they were sit-ins. They were not as stable as sit-on-tops, and they were much, much more difficult to get into and out of, especially for me.

We sold one of those kayaks and gave the other to Jim's granddaughter. We then decided to purchase two pre-owned 12.5-foot fishing kayaks. Lots of storage and rod holders. Pretty stable, and they were sit-on-tops. We bought them for a good price. The problem, though, was that each weighed about 60 pounds. Jim made dollies to transport them from the car to a launch site, so weight was not a problem in land transport. But putting them on top of the car to carry them was another story. They were just too much for the two of us.

We sold them. I don't think we lost any money on them, either.

A few weeks ago, Dick's Sporting Goods had some 8-foot sit-on-top kayaks on sale. They only weighed 39 pounds. We decided to get two.

I practiced paddling in our pond, and I also put a kayak in our pool to practice getting on and off in water (should I roll off). If I were in deep water, I would be in trouble, but as long as I can step off the bottom, I can get on and off all right. The kayaks are also surprisingly stable, very hard to roll. That is a good thing!

So, yesterday, we did our official first kayaking jaunt up and down the Suwannee River. We also fished (did not catch anything). We were out on the river for several hours.

Our biggest challenge (Jim's really) was getting the kayaks back on top of the car. I am sure practice will make perfect, and maybe he will learn a better technique, but it is still a struggle to strap those babies down. Jim is currently wearing a badge of honor--a black eye, which happened when the strap's ratchet swung back and hit him under his right eye.
My kayak warrior and his black eye.


Ouch.

I am not sure if we will go fishing or kayaking again this afternoon. Tomorrow we go home, where more palm trees grow, the sun shines, and the ocean is only 10 minutes away. But, we have enjoyed our getaway.

Until next time,

Your Reluctant RoVer,

Linda


Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Any (mis)adventures this trip? Well...

We are home. It was a great vacation, even though it rained a lot and we didn't catch any fish. And, it was almost uneventful. A Segall-Cullipher trip wouldn't be complete without a little (mis)adventure, would it?

With rain definitely in the forecast for early evening yesterday (the forecaster did not lie), we decided to head into Live Oak, to find an auto parts store for a light bulb and to go to dinner.

The first two auto parts stores did not have the bulb, but the third one did. He came out of the NAPA store with his 69 cent light bulb, happy as a lark. He started the car, put it into reverse, and...backed into a post! At least it wasn't a palm tree.

I suppose we could blame the ding on the backup camera. The Ford Edge's camera has been screwy for some time now but currently works--sort of. Its images are in clear color but are upside down! Neither of us has quite mastered the upside-down pictures, so we do look over our shoulder and in the rearview mirror as we back up. I guess Jim didn't look closely enough. And he didn't pay attention to those annoying warning bells either. Oh, well. It's just a little owie.

Just a little ding...

We had a second (mis)adventure just as we got onto I95 in Jacksonville. All of a sudden, the engine lurched a bit and then quit working. Jim, as usual, was driving in the right-hand lane and managed to coast to a stop safely on the side of the road.

The problem? We ran out of fuel.

A couple of years ago the fuel gauge in the RV stopped working. Jim had worked on it, and it seemed to give a read out, but he didn't trust the sensors. Instead, he uses mileage to gauge when we should get more diesel. Unfortunately, we had been running the generator quite a bit since our last fill-up, and it must have used more fuel than he realized. (The generator uses the same fuel as the engine.)

Good Sam came to the rescue, however, thanks to our roadside assistance insurance. So did the Florida Road Ranger. We called our emergency road service number and told them we ran out of fuel. While we waited for the road service to come to our aid, a Florida Road Ranger pulled up and asked how he could help us. When we told him we were waiting for roadside assistance, he said he would wait until they came. He put out traffic cones to help ensure safety and even offered us water!

Roadside assistance came, provided us with five gallons of diesel, primed the fuel injector, and even made sure we made it to a filling station.
Filling up an empty Junior
The nearest filling station we could get into had a very slow diesel pump. I think it took us nearly an hour to put in 100 gallons.

So, we did have our little (mis)adventures this trip. Thank goodness they were small.

Until next time,

Your Reluctant RoVer,

Linda