Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Gold Manor Update #2

We are in the middle of a 32 day renovation.  Kelly and Jon put together an aggressive schedule and we are all doing our part.  "All" includes the subcontractors, Kelly, Jon, Pam and me.

This has been one of the (if not THE) most fun projects we have been a part of the last few years.  So far no major glitches and we are learning a lot.

Here are a few before and 'in-progress' photos:

First the kitchen.  This is looking from the door into the garage.
Here is a look from the hallway.
Here's what it looked like after they removed the counter, sink, shelves, dishwasher and oven.
Those rooms look a lot bigger when they are empty.

The photo below shows the wall separating the kitchen and the living room.  The stove and some cabinets had already been removed. It took the workers a couple of hours to do this.  The foreman loved swinging that sledgehammer to demolish the old stuff.  We had already removed handles, latches, hooks and any other pieces Kelly wanted to keep.
It was looking cleaner hour by hour.

If you look closely in the living room to the right of the light, you can see where the contractor had marked where the wall was going to be removed in the living room.  Kelly walked around with him a few days prior to that and they measured off and marked what walls needed to stay and which ones were to be modified.

Some people like Kelly and Jon can walk into a place and see the potential of big changes.  They can envision walls coming down and opening up the combined area.  They did that in their current house and decided this place was another good candidate.
Looking from the front living room back to the kitchen.

The next day they took out the studs to complete the wall removal.
This doorway and the one next to it are both going to be removed and opened up into the hallway to give the area a more spacious look.
It worked.  I asked Kelly if she had seen this done in her graduate studies for her Interior Design work and she said, "No, some people are good at math, this is just how my brain works.  I see things like this."
This is what the debris looked like piled up on the porch.  It easy to throw it out the window and cart it off to the dumpster.
Here is a look at the bar that was taken out.

Instead of a bar, they decided to build a half bath and a pantry next to the place of what will become their dining area and den.  They took off the brass railing and footrest.  Kelly applied some Norwex cloth elbow grease just to see if the foot rest would shine up. 
It did!  So that will likely find a place after their rehab is done.
The empty area looked like this before they started building it out.
The photo below shows the project well underway.
Another room that was 'demoed' was the Master Bathroom.  Pam removed the cabinet doors below the shelving and the whole vanity came out.

The shower doors and frame were removed as well as the vanity and mirror.
Once removed, the flooring was now exposed and had to be filled in.  Also the space near the tile cup holders on the wall had to be filled in.
It took a while to piece in the area under the vanity but it turned out fine.

That's a quick snapshot of what some of the areas that were removed and readied for renovation.  A lot of activity was going on with more to follow!

Thanks of joining us for Gold Manor Update #2 on the Roadrunner Chronicles!

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Busy at Gold Manor

Kelly and Jon sold their current home and are renting it back for a month.  That allows them to get some things done on their new home.  Move in date is a few weeks away.

"Some things done" is codeword for 'major renovations'.

Once a contract was in hand, they marshaled all their home building/construction, general contractor, property management and interior design skills to bear.  They put together a plan, a schedule, lined up the resources and materials and developed a critical path which began the day after closing.

Move in date was about four weeks away from closing.

The former owner on the Gold Manor allowed Jon and I to work on the yard before the close of the sale.  That enabled us to get a jump on clearing some shrubs, underbrush, ivy, and unwanted overgrowth.
We got with it and started reclaiming the flower beds along the front of the house.  It was no small task.  We used a chain saw to hack the shrubs back and to remove the overgrowth.  Along the side of the house, I cut back the shrubs to uncover an access way to see what we had in that area.

It was a classic case of a neglected yard which had been left in a sad state for years and years.

After a few hours making a dent on the front of the house, we spent a couple more hours on the back yard.  Jon saw some steps from the sun room in the back when he opened the door.  As we dug the 8" of vines, needs and leaves away, we found more brick work on a walkway.
As we continued to dig up the leaves and needles, we found some bricks on a pathway.  In fact the pathway went from the back of the sun room to the lake.  And another path crossed the yard and went around to the back of the boat house.  We found another 40' of brick walkway. We were stunned!

The more we cut and cleared away, the more brickwork we found.  Now only if we had an unlimited amount of energy!
After we gathered up our first batch of debris, we piled it into the dumpster and filled it up.  We completed a good days work with more to follow.

After that weekend, I went back over to the house and 'worked out' about an hour at a time.  I used a pick and shovel to loosen up the pea gravel driveway to fill in some pot holes.
 It was not the quickest way to get the job done and I had only done about 1/3 of the length of the driveway.  But it is progress.  When I started there was no concrete border visible.  Again, little by little we are getting the job done.

The next weekend Jon used the weedwacker and edger to uncover more of the yard.  I spent a couple of days going back over it to see what we were working with.  Also, I continued on the driveway working an hour here and there.
 After a number of days at it, I had completed about 40'-50' of the driveway that is over 125' long. My first priority was getting rid of the large potholes by loosening up the gravel in the middle and spreading it out over the low areas.
With shrubs and big piles of yard waste, it was a beautiful thing to see the first dumpster come and go.
That's a of many updates on what has become one of our most favorite 'volunteer' work efforts over the years.  There is a lot to do here and there are half a dozen sub contractors scheduled to come and go over the next few weeks to get the Gold Manor to 'move-in-ready'.

Thanks for joining us on the Roadrunner Chronicles!

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

The Next Steps

I thought a little bit about the title of this post and it could be, "Stepping On It" or "Working On the Steps" or "Regular RV Maintenance - The Steps".  But I settled on "the Next Steps".

We got to Virginia Beach for our next stay.  We are planning to be here until the day after Christmas and then head out West for the winter.  While here in Virginia Beach, we get to see the grandkids.  Its been almost four months and a lot has happened.

Brooks (2 years, 8 months) and Harrison (9 months)are both growing up like little people. Brooks turned the corner and know is glad to play with his little brudder.
They talk to each other (in their own language) and giggle and have a good time.  It is really fun to see.
We love being around and helping out and playing with them.  Sometimes they even help me...
OK - I took Harrison over to my laptop for a minute and then Brooks followed and wanted to see what was going on.  It was all I could do to hold these guys for a second while Pam snapped a quick photo.

So in addition to being around the grandkids, we are able to spend time with Kelly and Jon and get a few things done around the motor home.  I have had "repaint RV steps" on my To-Do list for a long time.  Last year while in Red Bay, I was anticipating getting the project done and I bought some reflective non-skid tape for the steps.

Last week I finally got on the project.
My list of steps to repaint/update the steps included:
  • Wash/clean off the steps
  • Peel off old reflective tape
  • Remove sticky residue on steps from tape
  • Use oscillating sander with 60 grit to sand off rust
  • Try "The Mouse" Black and Decker sander
  • Put small sanding drum on end of Dremel tool to sand
  • Switch to flap wheel sanding bit in electric drill
  • Clean residue
  • Lop on Navel jelly, let set, wipe off, wipe off with water
  • Fit cardboard box around the outside of steps and on ground (even with the drop cloth in place)
  • Tape plastic drop cloth all over area
  • Shake can of flat black Rustoleum paint well
  • Fit cardboard box around the outside of steps and on ground (even with the drop cloth in place)
  • Get wet rag ready in case needed
  • Spray into extra cardboard box to get desired spray flow
  • Cautiously spray entire step areas 
  • Let dry for a couple of days
  • Wipe off steps
  • Cut new reflective tape to desired length
  • Apply tape to steps
  • Get small can of flat black paint
  • Touch up as necessary
 And the final product - Looks better than it did a couple of weeks ago.

Lessons Learned:
- Tape up drop cloth ($1 at Dollar Tree) 4 times more than you think is needed
- Navel Jelly did well
- Best sanding tools were Dremel drum attachment and drill sanding flap wheel bit
- Reflective stair way non-skid tape:  $10 each step at Red Bay; $6 at Home Depot for 1 piece big enough for both steps.

That's about it for this edition of the Roadrunner Chronicles. We're enjoying the grandkids and getting some things done around the motor home.

Meanwhile, we're about to get real busy.  Stay tuned.

Thanks for joining us!

Monday, September 25, 2017

Playing Tourist in DC

We played tourist a few days ago and had a nice day downtown.  We went to the National Museum of the American Indian, had lunch on 7th Street at some food trucks, then went to the Ford Theater and Peterson House.

This post is about our experience at the National Museum of the American Indian and lunch at the food trucks.

After living in Fairfax VA for 17 years we saw a lot of new museums and monuments get built in the downtown DC area.  A few of the new ones we haven't seen.  Yesterday was a mix of that.

We started off at the National Museum of the American Indian.  We drove in from our campsite from Haymarket, VA which is about 37 miles and took an hour.

The traffic was typical morning rush hour and we were glad we were able to cruise along in the HOV (High Occupancy Vehicle - 2 people) lane.  After finding our way to the Washington Mall and heading toward the U.S. Capitol (near the Indian Museum), we saw that there was plenty of parking.  What?  Yes!  They no longer have meters with coins but use one every 5 or 10 cars and they all take credit cards.  I like the fact that the parking spot was limited to 3 hours which makes it very convenient for tourists and visitors.

We arrived about 9:25 AM, got our parking spot near the museum (and there were plenty more on the street available).  Next, we asked around for the nearest rest room.  Since the museum didn't open until 10 AM, we had some extra.  And a McDonald's was about 2 blocks away.  Perfect.  We used the facility, got a couple of cups of coffee and split a sausage biscuit.  And then we people watched for a few minutes.  The McDonalds may have been the nicest one I have ever seen.  Large,  updated furniture and traffic flow, fast and friendly service. It was exceptional.
We were only a block away from the museum and walked around to the front and took two pictures.
The fountain was a very beautiful one.  I could imagine sitting near it for lunch our just spending time enjoying it.
This is a better picture of the fountain that I got off the internet.
This notice caught my attention.

Inside, we stopped at the front desk and talked with a couple of people in charge.  They explained this was not a museum of US American Indians but of the Western Hemisphere Indians.  That included North, South, and Central America.

During our 90 minute stay we saw 13 minute orientation film, and the galleries:  Nation to Nation; The Inka Road, Native American's in our Nations Armed Forces

We have been to a few really good museums that had galleries and artifacts of (US) American Indians and I expected a more complete group of galleries explaining the hundreds of different tribes and a lot of their history and such.

The museum was more about a sampling of a lot of Indians in the Americas/Western Hemisphere including the Native American Indian.

The museum was a large and beautiful four story structure with an open area in the middle.  Almost like a rotunda of a capital building without the murial or guilded ceiling.  Or like an Embassy Suites hotel with the walkways around the center of the building which is open.  It was an impressive looking building both inside and out.

The structure itself cost $199 million with an additional $20 million for exhibits, public programs, and opening events. The facility itself was quite large and sits on a 4.25 acre site near the U.S. Capitol.

We went to the top/4th floor and began our tour walking through the explanations and artifacts of the diplomacy, treaties and betrayals of the U.S. government with the Native Nations.
The gallery was very well done with enough information to explain the agreements while not getting too complicated.  It very informative.
 In each of the nine treaties on display, viewpoints of the Indian and the US government leadership were explained.  It did not seem to be too harsh on the injustices the Indians have endured time and again.

After time in that exhibit we viewed the 13-minute Orientation film:  "Who We Are".  It sets the tone of the museum with a documentary of Indians in the Artic, Northwest coast, and the plateaus of Bolivia while introducing themes of the cross cultural lives of Indians throughout the Western Hemisphere.  No photography or video recording was allowed in this exhibit.

The next gallery we walked through was The Great Inka Road: Engineering an Empire.  A bilingual series of displays explained one of the engineering marvels in history.  The road is a network of roads spanning rivers, deserts, mountains and tropical lowlands.  It traverses the countries of Columbia, Ecuador, Peru, Boliva, Argentina and Chile.

I snapped a few photos of some of the many displays:
Our niece was Peace Corps volunteer for two years in Peru and we have since been interested in learning more about that country.  My brother and wife (her parents) visited her and have since volunteered for that last ten years and participated in a Disability effort of providing wheelchairs to those in Peru.  They are going to Peru again in November for their 11th trip.

The last gallery we visited was about American Indians who were veterans of the U.S. military:  Native Americans in our U.S. Military.  Though it was off to one corner and relatively small, it was one of my favorite.
 The last display discusses Ira Hayes who was part of the famous Raising the Flag at Iwo Jima.
He is pictured on the left side of the men raising the flag.

We also visited the bookstore and gift shop but didn't find anything we couldn't do without.  Next, we headed over to the other side of the mall and parked near the Ford Theater in an underground parking lot.

The costs were a little different, ($24 vs $6) but all in all it was nice to get a safe spot to leave the car and walk around downtown DC.  By now it was lunch time.  We asked around and were directed to 7th Street over by the National Portrait Gallery.

Wow - 7 or 8 trucks of delicious food.
I got the falafel and hummus plate and Pam had a burger.  A definite treat on both accounts.  It was fun to see the customers walk up and order.  The clientele were all quite different.  It was great for the taste buds and a time of some more interesting people watching.

That's a quick look at our time in the National Museum of the American Indian and lunch at the food trucks in DC.  Look for my next post on Ford's Theater and the Petersen House.

Thanks for joining us on the Roadrunner Chronicles.