Monday, April 29, 2013

Roadrunner Review: 3 Items under $11

Now and then I come across some low cost things that surprise me.  One I have known about for a long time and I use it almost everyday.  The first two I just recently became acquainted with:  a tabletop computer fan and solar stick lights.

My MacBook is about four years old and gets hot on the bottom of the case.  I put it on a straw hot pad sometimes to give it some air and cool it off.  But I really wasn't satisfied it was doing the job.  We were in MicroCenter a couple of weeks ago and I picked up a 'cooling pad'.
This little jewel has a USB connection for power and works great.  $6.99

The second item we found last week at the Dollar Store.  We will see how well they hold up.
Solar lights.  They are very basic and I have tested them for three days.  So far so good.  $1 each.

And my all-time favorite:  Small camera tripod.
Again I found this at MicroCenter about 4 years ago.
I usually keep the tripod on the camera and slip it into my back pocket.  When I shoot a picture, the tripod make a good handle to steady the small camera.
At $1.99 the tripod makes a great gift.  If someone expresses interest in it when I am taking pictures, I usually give it to them.  I bought a bunch of them and love to give them away.  Try me!

So there are 3 gadgets I am liking for under $11!

Thanks for joining us today on the Roadrunner Chronicles!  Hope you have a great week.  Until next time...

Saturday, April 27, 2013

For the Love of Meghan - Thinking of her

Every year - at this point in particular - we remember Meghan.  It has been 3 years since she left us and we still can't believe it.  She and Adam were married one brief month and she was supposed to get better.  In one way she did - but in heaven.
She was beautiful and courageous and witty and fun.

She had the courage to take us on her journey as she fought breast cancer by writing her blog:  The Bees Knees.  Its all there.  Her diagnosis, her treatment, her heartaches and hopes and recovery and then how she faced the odds.  And she and Adam and their story.

And then there is the "For the Love of Meghan" group on FaceBook started by her Canada friends.  And it goes on and on.  Check out the "Press" tab on the Bees Knees and you'll see what I mean.
One of my favorites is the interview Alan Colmes did with Adam about them.
My respect and admiration are high for Alan and one day I hope to meet him.

Meghan would have been proud of the way Adam and her family (Marg and Bill and Brad and Christine) and friends have dealt with her loss.
It's really hard to know what to say except we miss her.  So many things that sound 'trite' come to mind but the simple fact is we miss her.

So on that I'll close for today, thinking of Meghan.

Friday, April 26, 2013

New Friends

Yesterday was the day we scheduled to meet Jim and Linda for lunch.  Bubbas Seafood Restaurant in Virginia Beach is near one of our favorite Starbucks and we were a bit early, so we stopped in to say 'hi' to our friend Nikos.

Nik was not at Starbucks but we got into a conversation with Amber.  Turns out Amber is the store manager and very nice.  She talked with us for about 15 minutes and we had a great time.  In those few minutes, she tried to buy us a cup of coffee saying, "Are you sure I can't get you a cup of coffee?"…

We didn't want to spoil our lunch so we politely declined.  Amber has been with Starbucks for years and loves the one she is at now.  We found out that her husband is an accomplished jeweler and she was wearing a ring and a necklace he made.
She took off the necklace and we got a better look at the Owl design.  Very different and nice.  I think the stones are black diamonds.  You can see more of his work at EngraveLifeOnMetal.com

After talking with Amber for a few minutes we went over to Bubbas for our 11:30 lunch date.  Jim and Linda were there and we had a nice visit.

They have been full-timing for 12 years now and are about ready to transition to getting off the road and settling into a place in DeBary Florida.
We selected fish and chowder and crab and a hamburger for lunch and all agreed it was good.  We have been to the restaurant for dinner but this was far less crowded and quite nice.

We talked and talked and asked Jim and Linda about their experiences over the years.  They have been to Alaska, owned 3 or 4 motorhomes and their favorite place is:  "Their next stop".  So they have enjoyed it.  They downsized to a Class B and are spending the summer/fall on the road before they head to their new (to them) home in Florida in November.

We asked when and why they made the decision to 'hang up their keys' and they said to each other, when the time came and one of them was ready to do something else - the other would agree.  So a few months ago, Jim felt it was about that time and he was ready, so that is what they did.

We also found out we are both big fans of RV-Dreams.com and have been to some of their rallies.  Pam and I attended one in Kerrville TX.  Jim and Linda have been to quite a few more although they missed that one.  And they may attend the one in Franklin, TN October 3-8, 2013.

It was fun unexpectedly meeting Amber and then gettting together with Jim and Linda.  Their blog is 'Blaines Barks'.  You can find more about them there.

Thanks for joining us today on the Roadrunner Chronicles.  Hope you have a great weekend.  Until next time...

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Projects Around the House...

While we have been in Virginia Beach for the past 10 days, we have gotten involved with a few projects at Kelly and Jon's house.

The first one we got to do was a large shelf in the garage.  They wanted some fairly deep ones (like 12" deep) and wanted it to go from the floor to the ceiling.

First - a little planning and figuring out where it was going to go.  Took a few measurements.
Next - Off to Home Depot for materials.
 Then back to work and more measuring and ciphering...
And then, after leveling and securing the shelves to the wall and a few hours later - the finished product.
The next day we moved on to more shelving in the shed.
The house they moved into has a new shed that is great!  The shed is very well built, just no shelves.  So in the shed, we followed the same process:  planning, getting building materials, building and putting it together.

And we have more shelves to build.  We are just getting started. There will be more to follow on the shelving.

Next - we got to spend a few days in Washington DC.  We wanted to go see #1 son Adam on his birthday (Saturday).  While there, we stayed with some friends including Jeff and Tiffany.  We asked if we could do a project and she suggested a shelve where a medicine cabinet was located.
 We picked up some materials and had it done fairly quickly.
Except for the caulking and final painting.

Then, when we returned to Virginia Beach, we got back in time to help with the new brick walkway beside the shed.
The bricks were reused from lining around the flower beds.

We love projects and are about to head out to continue with shelving and painting.

Thanks for joining us today on the Roadrunner Chronicles!  Hope you have a great week.

Until next time...

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Roadrunner Reflections: It Became Real 4 Years Ago

I was talking with Pam yesterday and it was exactly four years ago that we put our 'bricks and sticks' house on the market.  After about three years of planning and dreaming and answering every "What if…" question we could think of -- we put the house on the market.

Now four years later, we are completely glad we did it.  We have no regrets, no misgivings, no 'we shoulda, coulda, woulda…" moments.  This lifestyle is for us.  It works for us.  And we are completely grateful.  We are thankful.  We love doing this.  We love this kind of life.  We look forward to what next week, next month, next year brings.

It seems like it has been longer since the ball got rolling but it has only been four years.  Hopefully there will be 14 more or 24 whatever.  For us, for right now --- this is what we are glad to be doing and we can't think of anything else that fits.

Four years ago, we had plans:  when we sell the house, then we can quit work, buy a motor home, become residents of South Dakota, etc etc.  To our surprise, our house sold in four days.  We got a contract on April 18 and finished negotiations the next day.

We thought, wow!  This is really going to happen!  Being project manager, I put those skills to work, as in  the 'Project Execution' Phase…

It seemed like a whirl wind.  We contacted the motor home seller, picked a date a week after the house closed in May and set up the purchase date.  We made reservations for Sioux Falls, SD and flew there.  We spent three days there, became residents, then went back to Fairfax VA to finish off our downsizing.

Meanwhile, I let folks know at work that I was going to 'retire' and go to 'Part Time On Call' status which is working for the company with an hourly wage but no benefits.  (Which has worked out great!)

Also, Adam was living downtown in Washington DC and Kelly was finishing up her Masters degree at VCU in Richmond the first part of May.  Then Kelly and Pam drove a U-Haul to Texas where Kelly was moving to live and work.

It was busy times and exciting times for us!

Looking back and remembering all the planning and scheduling and research and budgeting we did to move to Fulltimer status RVers ~ It was one of the most satisfying 'projects' I (we) have managed.  It was not without its share of surprises (what project doesn't have those) and challenges.  But the transition went pretty well.

So as I look back a few years ago, I am excited about where we have been and what the future holds.

Another 'Melancholy Moment' from the Roadrunner Chronicles.  Thanks for joining us and being a part of our journey with us...

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Back in Virginia Beach

We spent two days driving from the Petersburg Army Corps of Engineer Park outside of Augusta to Virginia Beach.  We had an overnight stay at a good campground off I-95 RVacation RV Park in Selma, North Carolina.
The campground was a good place to stay with full hookups, drive through camp sites and easy access.
We don't always pay for a campsite for a one night stay.  Sometimes we opt for a no hook up spot at a Wal-Mart parking lot.  But since Kelly and Jon were with us, we decided we wanted to have full hook ups.  
It was fun to have them travel with us in the Roadrunner.  Kelly had done that a couple years ago with us on our maiden voyage from Virginia to California in 2009.  But this was Jonathan's first time, so it was fun to show him how we 'live the dream' day after day.
One travel guideline some people follow is - eating out on travel days.  No so with us.  Pam is a great cook and she usually fixes something.  Plus, with our residential refrigerator, we have more options.
After a couple of easy driving days, we parked at Little Creek Navy Campground in Norfolk, VA.
It is about four blocks from Kelly and Jon's home off of Independence Boulevard in Virginia Beach.  Very convenient.  Previous visits to the area we camped about 35 minutes away from where Kelly was - this is much better.

So we are in Virginia Beach for a few weeks.  Looking forward to some household projects and spending time with the kids and getting caught up with doctors appointments and such.

Thanks for joining us today on the Roadrunner Chronicles!  Until next time...


Saturday, April 6, 2013

Jekyll Island Club

The Jekyll Island Club was an island retreat built in the late 1880's for the wealthy who could afford the $600 / year membership and the means to get to the island resort.  With no roads or railroad to the reclusive island, the only way to get there was by boat.

The favorite past time of early members and their families was hunting.  A gamekeeper kept the island well stocked with pheasant, turkeys, wild boar and deer.

Among the members included William Rockefeller, Henry Hyde, Marshall Field, J.P. Morgan, Joseph Pulitzer and William Vanderbilt.  The accommodations began with the large hotel, then a 'condominium' was built, followed by some large homes on the property.

The hotel is still in use today and is quite magnificent.
The historical wharf has a little cafe and gift shop.
Tourists can view one of the homes on the property with a ticket on the tram tour, but we declined and just walked around the grounds.

Sans Souci ("Without Care") was built by J.P. Morgan and was large enough for six families.
William Rockefeller lived here for a time, then built his own "cottage" which he named 'Indian Mound'.
The grounds are well manicured and they have carriage rides which adds a nice touch.
Thanks for joining us today on the Roadrunner Chronicles!  Until next time...

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Jekyll Island - Sea Turtle Center

Last week after we left Driftwood Beach on Jekyll Island, we went over to the Georgia Sea Turtle Museum.  We learned from our time in Key West that sea turtles used to be a big cash crop and the fishing industry almost wiped them out in the early 1900s.

The Georgia Sea Turtle Center was recently opened in 2007.  It is a facility dedicated to the preservation and education of turtles, the emergency care of sick sea turtles with activities in long term care and research.  It appears well funded, well organized and very much worth the time to visit.
The museum is geared to the younger folks which makes it more understandable and easy to follow for guys like me.  They have a self guided tour of six areas with interactive videos and displays.
It takes about two months for a sea turtle egg to hatch. After they hatch, they move toward the bright lights.  So coming upon hatchlings at night (if you are on a turtle walk or hunting turtles) with a flash light throws them off.
They migrate out to the Atlantic and take long trips but eventually return to the same areas if they survive.
Some of the kinds of turtles in the region are:
  • Hawksbill Turtle
  • Kemp's Ridley
  • Loggerhead
  • Leatherback
  • Green Turtle
  • Diamondback Turtle

From the displays, we went outside and over to the hospital tanks.
The center gets all kinds of turtles with injuries or sicknesses.  Often times the turtles are covered with barnacles which are detached after spending time in regular water.

I find turtles very interesting.  They are such strange lovable creatures.  For more information no them, you might want to visit the Georgia Sea Turtle Center web site.

Thanks again for joining us on the Roadrunner Chronicles!  We appreciate you stopping by.  Until next time...

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Roadrunner Financials - March 2013


Roadrunner Recap
During March, stayed at campgrounds in:

  • Lake Griffin State Park 
  • Falling Waters State Park  
  • Pensacola Naval Air Station 
  • Hurlburt Field FL FamCamp (Fort Walton Beach)
  • Destin FL Army Recreation Area Campground 
  • Tyndall AFB FL FamCamp (Panama City)
  • Tallahassee (Tallahassee RV Park)
  • Kings Bay Submarine Base GA

We were able to see a lot of Florida and check out some great historical places.  It has been a fun month.  The bonus is that we were able to see friends in a number of places including DeBary, Pensacola, Destin and Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge.
Good News Areas We Are Under Budget
Nothing real big in this area as we ended up $262.62 under.  We did best in three areas:

  • RV and Car Maintenance. I keep a placeholder here and used $342 to pay for a battery solenoid.
  • Campgrounds. We were still under our budget though we didn't stay anywhere for very long.
  • Groceries.  For just the two of us for the month, we were please with this number.
  • Household Items.  We saw a good deal on a sturdy beach umbrella and bought a new coffee pot that was leaking.  

Biggest Expenses
Our biggest expenses continue to be eating out.  But we saw a lot of friends and decided it was worth it and were glad we did.
  • Diesel.  We obviously moved around a lot during the month.  I didn't keep track of mileage but we hovered around 7 mpg.
  • Eating Out.  Need to add this to the budget for year 5.
  • Misc (Entertainment).  Biggest drivers here were 5 rounds of golf, a boat tour and we bought some hats and a new pair of shoes.
  • 1 Time Costs - Got our income taxes done and owed a little.  That plus preparation fees accounted for that number.

Large One Time Cost Items
Income taxes and fees were the biggest item, followed by the solenoid.

Monthly Average
We are happy to be under budget this month.  That makes the tenth month in a row for Year 3 (two more months left) that we have been under budget.  Our cumulative monthly average shows us $840 under budget.

That is a recap of where our money went last month.  Thanks for taking a look at the Roadrunner Chronicles!  Until next time...