Time to begin the new chapter

It has now been almost three months since Dana passed. So many things have changed and so many really have not. I did take a huge step towards starting the new chapter in my life. After 30 years I decided it’s time to retire. We planned carefully to make sure there was enough money to do this together starting at the end of this year. I couldn’t wait that long so as of June 30th I will be free.

You know it’s funny all the “rules” they have after the loss of a loved one. Number 1 is not to make any big decisions for at least a year. Do the people that make these “rules” even have a life? There is no sane person that can go an entire year under the best circumstances and make no big decisions. Not only that, what exactly is “Big”. For me, somedays just deciding to go outside was a big decision. I guess I blew that one. Then there is rule number 2.

You think rule number 1 is arbitrary, rule number 2 has no answer but you must follow it strictly “do not date anyone too soon”. Opinions are anywhere from 6 months to years depending on who you ask. Heaven forbid you dishonor your late spouse by being happy again. It’s like having a child die and saying “well no more kids because we can’t dishonor the one we lost”. No matter what anyone says or thinks the only person that can know what is “too soon” is you and it only applies to you. I can tell you the risk of being hurt again vs being miserable everyday is well worth it to me.

Fate is funny in how it handles things. Sometimes it comes and takes things away and sometimes it hand delivers them to you. Because being alone was making me miserable, I had been considering breaking rule #2. I signed up for a couple of dating sites, that’s apparently how you do it now, just to see what was out there. It didn’t take long to realize there is no way I can ever do this with a stranger. So many stories, so much baggage, so many unknowns. I only thought I was doomed before. Maybe it was “too soon”. As it is, fate brought me an olive branch. A long time friend and I were hanging out reminiscing and we really connected. We were very close back in high school but never actually dated. When you know someone it makes it so much easier to be open and honest about things and it feels so much more natural. In this stage of life being friends is a number 1 priority in any relationship. We have been on several dates and continue to grow closer. Of course there are some speed bumps but how could there ever not be. She has agreed when I hit the road we will figure out how to do it together. Most of the family is onboard. They know I have a level head and don’t do rash things. Those that are not onboard are still grieving for themselves and I understand and respect their opinion. They are not ready for me to move on but I can’t change my feelings and have to live for me. I can assure this to all, I am not in anyway “over it” and never will be. Just because I have a new companion does not mean I do not still love and miss Dana. She will forever be in my heart and nothing will change that.

On to the RV lol, now that liftoff is imminent, several thing on the bus have started to breakdown. Genny is acting silly, I have a random diesel leak, The FW tank drain is leaking ….. at least in retirement I have time to fix things. My loose schedule is to take a long trip before winter. Reality is first of the year. I want to continue to build on my new relationship and get everything working properly before heading out. There is, of course, planted in my head “do it now no more waiting”.

That’s all for this issue. I will try to remember to take some pictures and make some posts that are actually RV related. My life is still a conundrum but as time passes the focus is returning and I again have purpose. I will say it again though, “Seize the time… Live now! Make now always the most precious time. Now will never come again.”

3 weeks in

I have been at the COE campground solo for a week now. I wish I hadn’t chosen this particular site as it is really isolated from other people. In the past this would have been a good thing but now even seeing others is a relief. It’s funny how one day you don’t like people then the next you miss them.

The campground is busy on weekends but pretty empty on weekdays. I am glad to be back at work but honestly I don’t know if I will make it to year end. I need to bank all the extra money but I just don’t know if I can do it. It’s also hard to stay busy when you are away from you’re home base. I did go explore some local venues like the outlet mall, Bass Pro, Camping World, and a local actual mall. Seeing others was a relief but I ran across no one to actually talk to. I tried to binge watch some TV series on Hulu but it seems like suddenly every single show has someone doing CPR or losing a spouse. Having witnessed this makes watching impossible, maybe I just didn’t notice before. Overall it has been a decent week. I had a couple of old friends come by for a great visit. I really missed them and am glad we got to catch up.

I did have a couple of times this week that it all caught up to me. I know this will happen for a long time but hope that it will get better. It’s funny how the smallest memory can trigger it. I have a special rock I carry at all times. Dana loved her stones. She had these on her bedside table and they are supposed to have emotional healing powers. I had the twin to this one put with her remains. Having this with me makes me feel as if she is present on my new adventures. It may seem silly but it definitely brings me comfort.

Overall I guess I am doing “better”. Loneliness still creeps in at night. Singles sites are a joke and no one could ever be a close match to what I had. I am a shy person and probably could never meet anyone anyway even if I wanted to. If I had to rate my recovery now vs last week I call it even. Perhaps with a little more time it will improve. Next week I go back to home base for a week maybe having a little more interaction will help. See you then.

First Solo Outing

Before life changed for me I had started this blog to have a record of and share our growth into the rv lifestyle. We were very busy getting ready and I never really had time to post to the blog. I am now going to attempt to capture my transition to a solo lifestyle while living in the rv. Although it is titled Enjoying Life, honestly that is not the case right now but I hope you can see the transition back to that.

Ironically the site I had reserved, we picked specifically because it faces the woods and provided isolation from passing traffic and the other campsites. Once I was set up I realized I would really like to see other people. I have not adjusted to the living alone thing just quite yet and in reality haven’t actually been alone with the family across the driveway. Even Sofi wondered where all the people are.

It is a really nice site. Level and lots of room. There is also plenty of shade if it was summertime. This will make a good starting spot for getting back into my cycling and running. Luckily for the times I get lonely I can call a friend and talk. Sofi has been a great companion through all of this and we talk alot too.

Sometimes I think she wants me to stop talking.

The first night was very quiet. No problems other than the normal reflections and slept pretty well. Day 2 came and I was able to stay busy most of the day walking and piddling around the campsite. after dinner I had a couple of drinks and was going to build a campfire but it seemed like a lot of effort for just me so I didn’t. Where a couple of drinks normally loosened things up all it did was seem like a waste. I made it almost to bedtime then suddenly had to talk to a real person so I got on the phone and talked for 2 hours. that really helped me and I was able to sleep well again. Sunday provided an opportunity to get back on my bike. Also I was going to get to talk to real people as a couple of friends were going to stop by for a few minutes. I don’t know if it was that or the beautiful weather but I got in a decent ride for the second time out in a year. 20 miles. I ran into a couple of folks on the trail I recognized also.

Tonight is a little better. I got my people fix and feel good getting in some exercise. No alcohol tonight and I will be ready to go back to work in the morning. We will see what that brings. I will come up with a schedule of when I will make updates but based on my previous record we shall see how it goes.

Life goes on, somehow.

Life is such a hustle. You do your everyday things, you shop, you eat, you plan. Someday we will …… but we have to do this first or we can do it when we are ready. Sadly sometimes time catches up with us. Today I ponder the purpose of my new life and struggle to find the answer.

April 3, 2021. A day that will be burned into my memory forever. My confidant, the love of my life, best friend of 39 years, and wife of 34 years passed away suddenly. She had been diagnosed with breast cancer but the treatment was going well, till it wasn’t. Until you have lost your life companion you won’t understand. Every aspect of life has changed. There is nothing you do throughout the day that didn’t involve your partner you just don’t realize it till they aren’t there. The frenzy of friends and family, funeral planning, attending the funeral, all a whirlwind that keeps you busy with bursts of emotion between . Now that the funeral has passed I had hoped to turn a corner but the corner is not there. All the well wishers, while invaluable and greatly appreciated, have returned to the everyday hustles. I am still alone. Alone sounds terribly selfish since I have 2 wonderful sons and an amazing daughter in law that I could not have made it through without. Alone even though I have spoken to lost friends that I lost touch with years ago. None of that can replace the crater that has been placed in my heart.

The decisions that now have to be made are overwhelming. Do I keep this or that? Can I stand to look at it? Do I wear my ring still or not? Is anyone going to judge me if I am not crying? Will they judge me if I am crying? Do I go back to work? So many things to do. Insurance, banking, titles changes, retirement accounts, all have to be changed and no one to help with the burden. Simple decisions are the hardest. The latest one is what do I eat? Cooking for one is a little pointless and going out leaves you at a table alone. It seems there are no correct answers.

I have to remember everyday how lucky I am. Lucky, really? Yes I am lucky. I was lucky enough to have experienced life with my soulmate. Not everyone will get to do that. We had wonderful children, travelled to many many places, and enjoyed each other side by side almost 100% of the time. Our RV plans put me in a place where I didn’t have a giant empty home to go back to and don’t have tons of stuff to get rid of because since my last post we sold the house and are living in the bus full time just not travelling. Our plans also put us in an ideal place financially where I could retire now if I choose to. But what would I do? I will endure, that’s what I will do.

Thanks for reading the Blog. I will again be away from it for a while till I find some direction but I will be back. This time the blog will possibly be my new purpose. Cherish every moment, Live each day as if it is your last, and embrace those you love because you never know what is to come.

Stir Crazy Yet ?

Well no that isn’t us, lol. I don’t think I could go that route but it is cool.

Folks it has been a long few weeks. I know we aren’t the only ones going crazy with this ever present “Pandemic” but we are fortunate enough to have a place to stay and a job that is still open and signing paychecks. Enough about that though, it is time to catch up from the last post.

Prior to the stay at home recommendations, we were camping at our favorite local COE park. I had worked extra hard to book us for the riverfront spot we love for all of spring and early summer. We were going to spend 2 weeks at the home and 2 weeks in the bus alternating. Then for the second time in 2 years they closed all the Vicksburg district COE campgrounds. At the same time, Arkansas closed all the state parks. Suddenly, we were home bound like everyone else. I decided to do a little work on the bus since we couldn’t use it.

First up was replacing one of our vent fans with a Max Air fan. The old Fantastic Fan worked ok but having to reach up and turn it on was tiring and it was loud, we needed a remote. I did the same install on the fifth wheel and the instructional post there is basically the same so I didn’t take pictures. I do have another one to change out so when it is done I’ll get a final shot.

This project also is the beginning of a roof reseal using Eternabond tape and Dicor. The sealant that is on there is something weird and rubbery and nothing will adhere to it. It isn’t leaking but eventually it will. If you ever decide to do this the trick is to use a heat gun. It makes removing the old sealant so much easier.

While admiring the new fan install I noticed how ugly the antique satellite dome was and decided it was time for it to go. The old SD technology doesn’t work anymore anyway. Removal was easy but they really didn’t want that thing to go anywhere. Twenty four bolts later it was gone and the holes sealed. It took 2” off our max height and made more room for future solar panels.

We were really missing camping so I dug deep and found an open RV resort. A water front site was needed and Catherines Landing in Hot Springs, Arkansas was perfect. Since business was slow I got permission to take a week of unscheduled vacation. We used contactless check in and check out for a beautiful site and probably one of the cleanest parks we have been to.

They even had great WiFi throughout the park that allow HD streaming with no issues.

Good thing because cell service was iffy and although the ATT hotspot worked ok the Verizon was dead in the water. I will be looking into a booster to address this in the future. I did try a couple of internet tricks and surprisingly it worked to some degree lol.

You know nothing on a trip ever goes perfect. This was our first longer trip pulling the new car. Everything went well and there were no problems. As soon as we hit the freeway …

Bye bye mirror. Replacement was easy enough but couldn’t do it till we got back home so had to be very careful of the blind spot. Also in this paper product shortage era I couldn’t find our paper towels. I did locate some at the store and of course ….

I had simply hidden them from myself.

It was overall a well needed break and a great stay. I highly recommend this park. It is a little pricey but worth it. Hopefully things will start getting back to normal soon. Hope to see you out there !!

Just a little catching up to do.

Most people consider this the off season but we still like to go camping for a couple of weeks at a time. We enjoy staying in the bus as much as being at home and we can easily get the sites we like that overlook the Arkansas river.

Recently we upgraded our 2015 Equinox to a loaded 2020 model. I had to remove the front of the car and splice into the wiring harness while the car had only 100 miles on it, talk about nerve wracking. Everything went well and we saved a ton of money. It isn’t as easy as the video says but on a scale of 1-10 it’s about a 4. The upgrade was well worth it with the added options and updated technology. It should last us for a very long time.

I needed a second hand here but I figured it out.
Dana did help me put the front facia back on so I didn’t scratch it up trying to do it alone.

Next up was a little bus maintenance. Our Hydro Hot heating system was working pretty well but if you didn’t turn it on for a few days it was hard to get it to start back. Once it lit it would work perfectly until the next time you left it off for a few days. We had a cold snap coming and I wanted it working correctly. Following the very detailed troubleshooting guide indicated the burner controller was bad which is a common issue. I ordered the part and $400.00 later I installed it. The unit fired right up and ran for 2 weeks no problems. It got warm and I shut it off. Another week passed and switch on…. nada. After further research I found a consensus that the ignitor coil would act this way so another $300.00 and walla another new part. It has never failed to light since. I hate throwing parts at things but I guess sometimes it can’t be helped and by doing the work myself I basically did the same thing a shop would have done and saved a few hundred dollars on labor. Everyone is afraid to work on these for some reason but they are actually pretty simple. I didn’t take a picture of the process but there are plenty of videos around if you’re interested.

Having everything operational led to an unplanned trip to our favorite campsite again for 2 more weeks. After hanging out in the rain and cold and letting our thoughts wander we have decided to look into selling the house and living in the bus. We have actually talked about it before but I think we are ready to actually do it. I managed to work the reservation system and we are now scheduled to stay for 5 weeks straight. It will be our longest time in the rig but I don’t anticipate any issues. We know we can stay in it full time. The challenge is finding a suitable piece of property to locate an rv pad on. I don’t want to rely on campsites since we have to remain within driving distance of my work. I’ll keep you updated on the progress. Currently, after the 5 week campout, we have scheduled 2 weeks camping and 2 weeks at home through July so we are almost living in the bus anyway. We also recently scheduled our two week-long yearly trips. In Late May we are going to Gatlinburg, Tn and for Christmas it’s back to Destin, Florida for a Gulf/Beach front site at Camp Gulf. We are really excited about that. Spring will be here soon so keep hanging in there !

Saying Goodbye is hard ….

Well it is a bittersweet day the “Condo on Wheels” has moved on. It is always difficult to see something you have learned to love, created memories in, and worked so hard to make just right, move on.

Just as a review I had listed the ad on RVTrader.com, RVT.com, Facebook Marketplace, and of course Craigslist. Surprisingly, I got a very small percentage of resellers bugging me and only one suspected scammer that almost had me but I figured it out. The vast majority of responses came from RVTrader. I had nothing from Facebook, zero from RVT and a couple from Craigslist. It took me approximately 16 weeks to sell which I consider not bad for the off season. The buyers came from the RVTrader ad. If you are looking at selling or buying this is the place I recommend.

Hopefully the new owners will get as much enjoyment out of it as we did. I know they will appreciate all the upgrades I did. It was not doing it justice to be sitting in the back yard unused so I am glad it will be starting a new journey.

This is always a slow time of year for using the RV because of holiday commitments and of course crappy weather. We will be doing a 2 week stint at the local campground for New Years to celebrate “The Bus” and honor the “Condo on Wheels”.

I hope everyone has a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year as our adventures continue ….

First Road Trip

It was finally time for a real test. We were making our yearly trip to Florida. Typically we drive down and rent a condo overlooking the gulf. We have been doing this for 10 years. Since the bus is 95% complete and I found a spot at Top Sail State Park and RV Resort in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida we decided to take our first RV trip to Florida.

Because it was the first road trip, I decided to stay on mostly interstate instead of the normal “shortcuts” we typically use. As it turns out it was about the same time just slightly more miles. I-40 to Memphis was as always a caravan with 18 wheelers. We only had one issue when there was a fatality accident ahead of us. We were lucky to get by before they closed the road but it was a sad scene. I am pretty sure texting was involved as there were no skid marks just a high speed impact into the rear of a trailer. Jumping onto I-55 brought us across the Mississippi River. Traveling through Memphis is always nerve wracking. The rest of the morning took us down I-22. Lunchtime came and we pulled off the side on an exit ramp, made sandwiches, and fed the pups. That is a great feature of travelling in a class a. Now that the dogs had full bellies, Sofi found her happy place.

Switching to I-65 took us to Birmingham. Just on the other side was a Camping World and Cracker Barrel. We were going to boondock on our first leg. Camping World was a bust they had no real overnight spots and the lot was very crowded. Moving on to the CB they had a spot in the back that was just big enough to park and leave the car hooked up. We had a good dinner and retreated to the bus. I ran the generator till about 9:00 to top of the batteries and even with the heater running and the residential fridge we were able to go all night on batteries no problem. We fueled up a few miles down the road and followed our directions to the RV Park. It was a very nice park with pretty, private, and spacious sites.

There are lots of biking and walking paths. They also have a pool, shuffleboard, an kayak and bike rentals. For beach access there is a shuttle to take you to the boardwalk over the dunes then about a 1/4 mile walk to the beach.

A nice relaxing week brought us to time to return. I had been looking at the computer and realized Tiffin Motorhome was located in Red Bay, Alabama. It was only 30 minutes off of our return route so a factory tour was in order. The drive to Red Bay was about 25 miles of two lane road from the interstate. Not a bad road but it did get dark on us. I found out that the headlights on the bus are useless. I will be replacing those in short order and until then no more night driving. There are multiple small rv lots around the factory for those awaiting service. The first two we tried were full but third times a charm. It was basically a gravel lot but had full hookups for $25.00 a night. I did have to unhook the car but I was going to use it the next morning anyway.

The next morning off to the factory tour.

The tour was very informative and you were really up close and personal with the production lines. For the cost of FREE it was well worth doing.

The rest of the trip home was trouble free. We really enjoyed of first road trip and using the bus is just so much easier all around than pulled a trailer. We made no real plans except for our destination reservations. Playing it by ear was so much more enjoyable than having to be at stop one at this time … and so forth. For me in the future this is the only way to travel.

Thanks for keeping up with us and look forward to sharing more as the adventure continues ..

Back in the swing ….

We are currently on our second stint in the “Bus”. For my birthday week we spent 10 days trying out everything we had remodeled, repaired, and tweaked and it went without a hitch. There are still a lot of things on my to do list but nothing major. The biggest surprise however was how much we love the residential fridge. If ever you are considering this upgrade it is a no-brainer.

I know I have mentioned how much we loved our fifth wheel before. We made it very comfy and easy to use. During the reno on the Bus I was concerned we wouldn’t be as comfortable and would have to make compromises. There was no merit in those worries. I believe there is actually more living space now and because of the extensive work, is even more tuned to our living style. All the counter space in the kitchen makes it so easy to cook now. I could never cook inside in the 5th wheel. I do slightly miss having a sofa to stretch out on but the loveseat we bought is so comfy it works fine. The added amount of storage is unbelievable. The Bus has worked out to be everything we had hoped for. So much easier to drive, setup, and breakdown even with the hooking/unhooking of the toad ( towed car).

This trip we are staying for 17 days. As I write this I can’t believe we are already at day 14. The larger tanks let us easily go all 17 without dumping and I believe we can go 21. I am really wanting to boondock somewhere once the weather cools down. Because everything is working, we have been able to really relax on this stay and just enjoy the alternate location. Even the puppies have settled in.

We are excited for our next trip. We are actually travelling this time and taking the Bus to Florida. I have a reservation at Top Sail RV Resort in Seaside, Florida. I will be sure to post a review. See ya next time and if you are in the market for a nice 5’er look me up.

Ready to move in !!!

Finally finished with painting and replacing shades. It is now time to unload the fifth wheel and officially move into the bus. We have a spot reserved in 5 days to stay on our inaugural camp out for 10 days. We are so excited. It’s funny how as we get closer to completion the list doesn’t get any smaller it just shuffles up. Most of the items slated for upgrade or replacement now are superficial and don’t affect the operation of the RV.

Once the new carpet was installed things started moving pretty fast. All the furniture we had removed got to go back in.

More kudos to Dana for the awesome window surrounds.
That old tv will be going soon.

Since I had to remove the old toilet to paint behind it and it was awkward to get to the flush pedal I decided to replace it with the same model we liked in the fifth wheel, a 17″ Thetford Aqua Magic Style II. Of course the waterline didn’t mate up. I needed 3″ more to reach. $125.00 later I had all the tools to make that happen. It’s much easier to flush and is a self cleaning design unlike the old one with a hand sprayer. Well worth the investment.

Thinking about covering the walls with some type of tiles.

Our new love seat was still a question. Would it fit? I had measured 1000 times and the tape says probably. I went to put it in place and it was tight. A little pull here and shove there and bam it fit. When stretched out it clears the window box by 1mm, it clears the front slide wall by 1mm, and there is just enough room to get my fingers in to operate the buttons.

Verified seating for 5 + 2 in the dining chairs.

After getting everything installed, I found that by pulling straight up across the driveway I could actually dump the tanks at home which allowed me to calibrate the level sensors and flush everything to clean them. No pictures needed there. We then made a test pull of the toad using my truck. I still need to drill through the firewall to wire in the braking system but everything else is ready to pull.

The next time I post we will be camping 🙂