Monday, November 24, 2014

HFH Rutherford County Tennessee

As full-timers we have a number of things we make it a point to see in our travels.  Aside from historical museums and National Parks we try to see State Capitols, Presidential Museums, different State Parks, Major League Baseball stadiums, beaches and Habitat for Humanity (HFH) affiliates.

Yes - whenever we are in a new community, we look for the local ReStore or Habitat for Humanity office.  Each affiliate has similarities with other HFH.  Since we were going to spend about a week in the Murfreesboro area, we stopped in to the Rutherford County HFH office.
We walked in and introduced ourselves to Megan who is the Volunteer Coordinator.  After a few minutes we also met Terri the Executive Director and Lamyai who does the Finances.  We shared our story and learned a lot about what they are doing in the local area.
We had a good time meeting them and before we went next door to check out the Restore
We found out they had some construction volunteer work going on in the area on Saturday, so we signed up to help and found our selves on site early Saturday.

As per normal, we formed up, took some pictures, and then gathered around while Jacob explained the work for the day.
They had three main things going on with plenty of volunteer help.  They were
Painting inside,
Cleaning up the yard of rocks and debris so they could make the cement forms for the driveway
And putting up vinyl siding.  In our 6+ years of volunteering with Habitat, I have never put up siding, so I was glad to do that and become familiar with the process.
Larry is a retired guy too that volunteers 2-3 days a week for Habitat.  He and I took the vinyl siding to the top of the window before Pam and I had to leave.  We just worked 1/2 day so we could get over to see Kayla and her family at the MTSU football game.  More on that later.

It was another good day at Habitat and we were glad to be a part of it on Saturday!

Thanks for joining us today on the Roadrunner Chronicles!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Roadrunner Camping in the Cold Weather

We are in very cold weather right now as are many of you.  Three nights ago the temperature got down to 14 degrees.  Right now in the early morning it is 23 degrees.  But the good news is that we are doing fine and are warm in the Roadrunner.
We are currently at Cedars of Lebanon State Park not far from Murfreesboro, TN.  We will be here until Sunday morning and go to Maynardville, TN for Thanksgiving.

But back to how we have handled the cold cold weather and some things we have done to get ready for it.  The issue is freezing weather.  We need to be prepared when it gets below 32 degrees.

First thing we did we face the fact we are not going to be in Florida during the winter and get used to it.  We adjusted our mind and accepted it.  And we don't complain about the cold weather.  No one likes whiners and 200 million Americans are in very cold weather right now.  And so are we.

One thing we did was to re-evalutate our heaters in the motor home:
  • Gas/propane furnace heater.  We made sure we filled up the propane tank last week at the Holiday Trav-L-Park campground outside of Chattanooga.  
  • Electric ceramic heaters.  We have two space ceramic heaters and put them is use during the day.  We have to monitor things so we don't have them both turned on plus the micro wave etc. We don't want to pop a circuit breaker.
  • Space heater.  Not sure what to call this but it also is electric, just not a ceramic heater.
We felt we needed to get this Soleil heater heater at Lowe's.  We set  it a certain degree temperature during the night and have some confidence it would go on and off properly.

A major concern is freezing water and broken water lines.  Its not something we want to deal with. To make sure that didn't happen we:
  • Filled our water tank to 80+ percent.  The more water in the tank makes it easier to keep it from freezing.
  • Reeled in the water hoses and drained the water.  We just keep the water pump turned on.  (Note:  if you are an earlier rise, you may want to fill the coffee pot the night before so you don't wake anyone up.)
  • When the tank gets below 50 percent wind out the hose, hook it up and refill refill the clear water tank.  We wait until the middle of the day when it warms up.  It is going to get below freezing most every night, we again empty the hose, drain it and rewind it on the reel.
  • We also hooked up two mechanics lights (50 watt) and placed them in the wet bay and keep them turned on all day.  That small amount of extra heat helps keep the pipes and tank from freezing.
Sewer Hose
  • We don't have hook ups at our site at the State Park, but even if we did, we wouldn't bring out the sewer hose and hook it up when its freezing.  We keep it stowed. We will hook it up and use it to empty the tanks in a few days when we get ready to leave this campground.
Ceiling Fans/Skylights
  • We have two ceiling fans that having an outside opening in the roof:  one in the living room and one in the bathroom.  In cold weather we 'plug' the holes with tight fitting foam cushion fillers that are made especially for that purpose.
  • The skylight above the shower also gets plugged up with a similar tight fitting cushion.

  • Layers layers layers.  Inside we both wear an assortment of long sleeve tee shirts, sweat shirts, fleece sweat pants, wool socks etc.  If my neck is warm, I am usually fine, so I wear mock turtle necks or zip up my light fleece jacket.
  • Afghans/comforters.  Always nice to have one laying around when we read or watch TV.
  • Hats/gloves.  Need to pull out the gloves and baseball cap or stocking cap. Those $1 pair of knit gloves work great so I have a few pairs to those.  A scarf is a good idea too.
  • We got the day night and black out shades mainly for the direct sunlight on the windshield.  The currents we had at the time weren't cutting it.  But these two kinds of shades deflect the hot summer sunlight.  They also serve to block some of the cold air off the glass windows in the cold weather.  After the sun goes down, we pull the shades, even though it is not completely dark outside.  It does help keep some of the warm air inside.
  • I really don't want to think about that too much, but in case that happens, we will need to keep our toppers over our slide outs cleaned off so they don't sag from the weight or melt and re-freeze.
  • We also want to keep the heater/air conditioner units free from any snow as much as we can.  The main thing here is getting on top of the RV and being very careful so one doesn't slip and fall or worse..

How We Have Done So Far:

So far so good.  The gas furnace heater in the front worked great the first night but stopped mid morning the day after we got here.  We left it alone for a day and tried turning it on again when it wasn't so completely cold and it has worked fine ever since then.

No freezing pipes or clear water tank.  We find ourselves adjusting a little bit with a sweat shirt or a blanket if we are sitting around watching TV but we would be doing that at our old house too, even by the fire place.

That's about how it's going at the moment and really its not bad at all.  There are thousands and thousands of people living in mobile homes and RVs in the winter time, I've just never met them.  So I don't know exactly what they do to keep warm.

But this is what we are doing.  Hope you are enjoying your weather, wherever you are and are warm!

Thanks for joining us today on the Roadrunner Chronicles!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Mary Was Determined to Be Here

We were part of a team of 10 people who showed up for the Care-A-Vanner Build in Macon.  It was a good group and everyone got along well.  All were retired like us, all had RVs and the photo below shows us all set up at the Habitat For Humanity facility at their RV sites specially made for Care-A-Vanners.
Mary's RV is parked 3rd from the left next to us.

Mary is a retired firefighter from the Tallahassee area eand quite adventurous.  She had been reading about Habitat for Humanity and the RVers who travel to different places in their RVs (otherwise known as Care-A-Vanners). The thought of participating in a build interested her so she signed up to join us.

She was not concerned about the fact that she had never volunteered before with Habitat.  And she shouldn't be.  The whole volunteer concept with Habitat is for people with all levels of experience and ability.  From my perspective the main criteria is being willing to learn and able to get along with others.  That was certainly not a problem for Mary.  She is one of the most affable, friendly and personable people we've met.  And a firefighter!

But there was a small issue -- she had no RV!

But she did have a trailer with a ramp and a truck.  And she had the desire and determination and ingenuity and courage and resourcefulness to find a way to get here.

She built her own RV.
At first glance, I thought it was one of those Land Rover jeep with a camper on top jobs, without the jeep part.  The shade of paint and the matching tarp fooled me a little.

Upon closer inspection, I realized she had built it on the trailer frame.  Very ingenious.  I believe she said she had the wood she needed so she just built it with that.
She even has a couple of locking tool/storage compartments she mounted on each side.  And the frame rail across the top around the sides is the perfect support for the main body of the living area.
Then to top-it-off so to speak, she bought a very nice breathable but weatherproof  canvas coverin with grommets around the edges.  Bungee cords hold it securely in place.

Fascinating!  Who builds their own RV.  Mary.  Why--she decided she wanted to be here and found a way to make it happen.  It took he three weeks and she finished the project within budget.  (I'm not sure what it cost her overall, but the most expensive piece that she had to purchase was the tarp ~$60.)

Most other people would go out and buy a small trailer on credit and pay it off over the next ten years.  I like Mary's way better.  Its unique, shows her resourcefulness determination in joining us.  She really wanted to be here! 

Now for a tour of the inside.  With her permission, I took a few pictures of that also.
With the front door open you can see the platform bed, recliner, sofa on the left side.  There is storage underneath the platform.  It is hinged about 1/3 of the way on the platform so it becomes a lounge/recliner to do some reading etc.

Inside, you can see some shelving and windows on each side.
The frame from the outside comes through at a handy place so she can attach a clip on light.

Looking out from the front of the RV, her rear door has a latch from the inside, more shelves and easy access for an electrical cord.
We arrived on Saturday and the weather was pretty nice.  The temperatures were in high 60's for a few days then dropped into the 50's.  The nights started out being in the 40's but by the end of the first week, the temperature dropped into the 30's.

Mary had an electric blanket and an air mattress and was mostly warm.  But then when it got real cold she made other arrangements.  She built this in three weeks.  I can't wait until next year's model to see what upgrades she comes up with.

Mary also brought the campfire and we had some around the campfire sessions with her Weber pot bellied grill that also served as our campfire.
The HFH facility in Macon is awesome with showers, washer/dryers, full kitchen and a dump station for our use.  Her RV is perfect for the warm fall and spring weather, but without insulation and good heat -- it can be a challenge.

We were so impressed with her that she conceived, designed and built this and made the trip there to join us.  
She is one of the nicest and friendliest people we've met.  And determined. 

I have often said, "There is more than one way to do this".   And Mary proved that again.  It was fun meeting her and working with her and see her RV.

Thanks for joining us today on the Roadrunner Chronicles!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

2nd Week of our Habitat Build in Macon

We just have a couple more days before we wind up our Habitat For Humanity Care-A-Vanner build here in Macon GA.  It has been another good one.  We have gotten some work done, met some great people and thoroughly enjoyed it.

We have spent a couple of days at the yellow house and the one next to it but most of time has been in the brick house which was given to Habitat by the city of Macon.
It is in extensive need of some rehab before it is ready for the new home owner.

Each day we gather at the site for devotions and our "Habitat is Not a Hand-Out but a Help Up" circle.
Then we get a recap of where we are and what we need to do for the day along with our work assignments from Steve, our Construction Coordinator.
He's the best! and a great guy to work with.

We divided up and have done things in every room and outside the house as well. And under the house and in the attic.
Pam, Dot, Carol and Mary started in removing rotted flooring and drywall.  Demo is always fun.
We piled it in the driveway before the trash bin got delivered.  Dot, Robert, Andy and the whole team got debris loaded up and into the container.

And the team put in some new sheet rock
Gabe and Bruce tackled the inside of the garage conversion with the new sheet rock.

And Andy, Gabe, Mary and Dot did a lot of work painting bedrooms and doors
The garage conversion needed a facelift with some insulation and concrete siding for a new look.
Robert tackled that one with lots of help from Andy and Bruce.

We had more insulation and concrete siding on the back of the house to do. We found the support under the window was provided by half of the back door they secured into place and covered up.
That was insulated and will have more concrete siding put on to match the front.

There was an access door under the crawl space that needed to be built so Mike and Carol (our team leaders) took on that project.
Steve, Pam and I mostly worked in the kitchen.  We had to pull up the flooring and figure out what to do with termite and water damaged bands butting up against the floor joists.
This was a major effort to jack up the floor, removed the damaged wood and figure out to get the new 2 x 12s back in there.  It will be a couple more days before we finish up this guy and get the floor back down.

But it hasn't been all work work work
We have had our breaks and lunch times late afternoon hang out sessions
And we had dinners together

And went out to eat one night in downtown Macon at the Rookery

And some have gathered around the table to put together an intricate puzzle.
Its been a fun two weeks with a couple more days to go.

Thanks for joining us today on the Roadrunner Chronicles!